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Full text of "Sketches of the philosophy of apparitions; or, An attempt to trace such illusions to their physical causes"

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Anetot Door ia the OiMthm LilHHy. MaochMtar, fton • Dnwiag br C. W. H. 



GROTESQUE CARVINGS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE DEM0K0L06T 
OF THE MIDDLE AGES. 



To front p. 172. 



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® 

SKETCHES 

OF THE 

PHILOSOPHY OF APPARITIONS; 



AN ATTEMPT TO TRACE SUCH ILLUSIONS TO 
THEIR PHYSICAL CAUSES. 



By SAMUEL HIBBERT, M.D. P.R.S.E. 

SECRETARY TO THE SOCIETY OF SCOTTISH ANTIQUARIES, 

&c. &c. &c* 



** r the name of truth. 

Are ye fjEUitastical, or that indeed 
Which outwardly ye show?" — Macbeth. 



THE SECOND EDITION, ENLARGED. 



EDINBURGH : 

PUBLISHED BY 

OLIVER & BOYD, TWEEDDALE-COURT ; 

AND 

GEO. B. WHITTAKER, LONDON. 
1825. 



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Tk^V7^6iJ.i7/ 



CO I L £ 61 j| 



ENTERED IN STATIONERS HALL. 



PRINTED BY OLIVER St BOYD. 



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SIR WALTER SCOTT 

OF ABBOTSFORD, BART. 

PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH, 
&c. &.C. &.C, 

Sir, 

Among the pages of your various works, are many 
incidental notices of early and prevailing superstitions, from the 
perusal of which I have often experienced a more than common 
degree of interest, on account of their intimate connexion with the 
history of the Human Mind. You have, indeed, yourself occa- 
sionally adverted to the importance of investigating the mental 
principles to which certain popular illusions may be referred : in 
most respectfully, therefore, inscribing to you this little volume, 
in which such an attempt has been made, I beg that it may be 
considered as a sincere testimony of gratitude for the pleasure and 
advantage which I have frequently derived from your literary 
labours. 

I have the honour to be. 

Sir, 
Your most obedient and 

Very faithful servant, v 

S. HIBBERT, M.D. 
Edinburgh^ 29th March, 1825. 



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PREFACE. 



In the winter of 18S3, I had the honour of read- 
ing an Essay on Spectral Impressions to the Royal 
Society of Edinburgh. Whatever interest it ex- 
cited was rather due to the subject, than to the 
degree of success with which a theory of appari- 
tions could possibly be discussed in the limits of a 
short paper. This consideration, therefore, among 
others, has given rise to the present volume. 

The plan of this work may now be briefly 
stated: — 

In the first place, a view is given of the various 
opinions, ancient as well as modern, which have 
been entertained on the subject of apparitions. 
The hypothesis, however, which I have myself pre- 
ferred, is, that apparitions are nothing more than 
ideas, or the recollected images of the mind, which 
have been rendered more vivid than actual im- 
pressions. 



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vi PREFACE. 

An explanation is next rendered of the parti- 
cular morbid affections with which the production 
of phantasms is often connected. 

It is also pointed out, that in many ghost-stories 
of a supposed supernatural character, the ideas, 
which by disease are rendered so unduly intense 
as to induce spectral illusions, may be traced to 
such fantastical objects of prior belief as are incor- 
porated in the various systems of super8tition,which 
for ages have possessed the minds of the vulgar. 

But if apparitions are reaUy to be considered 
as ideas equalling or exceeding in vividness actual 
impressions, there ought to exist some important - 
and definite laws of the mind which have given 
rise to this undue degree of vividness. These, la w«, 
accordingly, form the subject of a long investiga- 
tion. 

Another object of this dissertation was to have 
established, that, in every undue excitement of 
our feelings, (as, for instance, when ideas be- 
come more vivid than actual impressions) the ope- 
rations of the intellectual faculty of the mind 
sustain corresponding modifications, by which the 
efforts of the judgment are rendered propor- 
tionally incorrect. But the reason which I assign 



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PREFACE.^ vii 

for being obliged to suspend such an intention, is, 
" that an object of this nature cannot be attempted 
but in connexion with almost all the phenomena of 
the human mind. To pursue the inquiry, there- 
fwre, any farther, would be to make a dissertation 
on apparitions the absurd vehicle of a regular sys- 
tem of metaphysics."" 

This work is not addressed to any particular 
class of refbders. As we live in an age exceeded by 
no previous one for the desire of information, and 
as there is a general interest excited on the subject 
of apparitions, which are properly r^arded as un- 
explained phenomena, I have not thought fit to 
fashion this discourse to the exclusive taste either 
of metaphysicians or physiologists ; but, on the 
contrary, have so endeavoured to treat it, that, 
without any previous study of the sciences which 
it involves, it may be fully understood. Yet the 
reader ought by no means to flatter himself, that he 
will be enabled to comprehend the laws which give 
rise to phantasms without any mental exertion on 
his own part. The phenomena, which for ages 
have puzzled the most learned men in the world, 
are not to be thus easily dealt with. 

I shall, lastly, remark, that the illustrations 



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viii . PREFACE. 

which appear in the course of this work are not 
more numerous than the treatise requires; my ob- 
ject being not only to render the principles that I 
have inculcated as intelligible as possible, but to 
direct the attention of the reader less to the vulgar^ 
absurdities which are blended with ghost-stories, 
than to the important philosophical inferences that 
are frequently to be deduced from them. The subject 
of apparitions has, indeed, for centuries, occupied 
the attention of the learned ; but seldom without 
reference to superstitious speculations. It is time, 
however, that these illusions should be viewed in a 
perfectly different light ; for, if the conclusions to 
which I have arrived be correct, they are calcu- 
lated, more than almost every other class of mental 
phenomena, to throw considerable light upon cer- 
tain important laws connected with the physiology 
of the human mind. 

S. H. 



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CONTENTS. 



PABT I. 

SKETCHES OF CERTAIN OPINIONS, ANCIENT AND MODERN, 
WHICH HAVE BEEN ENTERTAINED ON THE SUBJECT OF 
JiPFARITIONS. 

Page 

Chap. I. The Opinions entertained regarding the Credibility 

of Ghost-Stories, ... 3 

II. TheReferenceof Apparitions to Hallucinations, &c 15 
III. The Opinions entertdned that a Ghost W&s a ma. 

terial Product^ sui Generis, ^ ' ■- 18 

IV. The Opinions entertained that Ghosts were exter* 

nal Ideas, or Astrad Spirits^ . . 25 

V. The Opinions entertained Uiat Ghosts were attri* 

butable to Fancy or Imagination, - 31 

VI. The Opinions which attribute the supposed In- 
fluence of Fancy to the direct Operations of the 
Soul, - - - - 38 

VII. The Notions entertained that Ideas^ by their Ac- 
tion on the Nenres, gave rise to Spectral Im- 
pressions, ... 44 
VIII. The Opinions that Spectral Impressions were the 

Result of a false Judgment of the Intellect, 46 

IX. The Devil supposed to be a Cause of Ghosts, 48 

PART II. 

THE PARTICULAR MORBID AFFECTIONS WITH WHICH THE 
PROD^CTIOliT OF PHANTASMS IS OFTEN CONNECTED. 

Chap. I. The Pathology of Spectral Illusions, - 61 

II. Spectral Illusions resulting from the highly .excit- 

ed States of particular Temperaments, - 72 

b » 



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X CONTENTS. 

P9§e 

Chat. IIL Spectral lUoslons arinng ttom the Hysteric Tem^ 

perament, ... 81 

IV. Spectral Slusionfl oocumng from Plethora ; for in- 
stanccy from the Negplect of accustomed periodi- 
cal Blood-letting, ... 86 
V. The Spectral BliuiQiis idiich occasJonally occur as 

Hectic Symptoms, ... 91 

VI. Spectral Illusions from Febrile and Inflammatory 

Affections, ... 94 

VII. Spectral Illusions arising from Inflammation of 

the Brain, ... 99 

VIII. Spectral Illusions arising from a highly-ezdted 
State of Nervous Irritability acting generally 
on the System, ... 112 

IX. The Spectral Illusions of Hypodiondriacks, 117 

X. Certain less frequent Morbid Sources of Spectral 

lUuaions, - - - 119 

PART III. 

PEOOFS THAT THE OBJECTS OF BFECTEAL ILLU8I0KS ABE 
FBEQUEXTLIT SUGGESTED BT THE FANTASTIC IMAGERY 
OF SUFEB8TITI0US BELIEF. . 

Chap. I. Explanation of the Mode in which the Ideas which 
are suggested by various Popular Superstitions 
become recalled in a highly* vivified State, so as 
to constitute the Imagery of Spectral Illusions, 126 
II. Remarks H>n the Apparitions of Good Spirits, re- 
corded in Popular Narratives, - 138 

III. General Remarks on the Apparitions connected 

. with Demonology, - - 160 

IV. General Remarks on the Apparitions of Departed 

Spirits, - - - - 191 

PART IV. 

AN ATTEMPT TO IKVESTIGATE THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH 
GIVE RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 

Chap. I. General Object of the Investigation which follows, 241 
II. Indications affinrded by Mental Excitements, that 
Organs of Sensation are the M^um through 
which past Feelings are renovated^ - 244 



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CONTENTS. xi 

Page 
Chap. III. The Tarious Degrees (tf Exdtemeiit, oi which 
Ideas, or the lenovited Feelings €i the Mind^ 
. are susceptible, . . ^ 248 

IV. An Inquiry into those Lawa ci Mental Conscious- 
ness which give rise to the Billions of Dreams^ 272 
v. Phantasms may arise from Ideas of which the 
Mind might otherwise have been either con- 
sdous or unocmscieas, - • 282 

VI. The EBo^ of Morbific Excitements of the Mind 
when heightened by the vivifying Influence of 
Hope and Fear, ... 296 

VII. The Illusions which Hope and Fear are ci^pable of 
exciting independently of the Co-<^eration of 
Morbific Causes, - - - 305 

VIII. Mental Excitements distingui^ed as partial or 

general, .... 311 

IX. Ckneral Mental Excitements considered as the 
Result of Morbific Causes co-operating with 
moral Agents, ... 315 

X. The frequent Efiect of general Morbific Exdte. 
ments in rendering the Mind unconscious either 
of pleasurable or painful Feelings, • 319 

XI. The Influence of any pieyailing moral Disposition 
may be so increased by a Morbific Excitement^ 
as to be productive of Spectral Impressions of a 
corresponding Character, . - 323 

XII. When moral Agents which exert a pleasurable Ip* 
fluence are heightened in their Effects by the 
Co-ot>eration of Morbific Excitements of a si- 
milar pleasurable Quality, the Mind may be 
rendered totally unconscious of oppbsite or pain- 
ful Feelings, ... 340 
XIII. When moral Agents which exert a painful In- 
fluence are heightened in their Effects by the 
Co-^^>eration of Morbific Excitements of a simi- 
lar painful Quality, the Mind may be rendered 
totally unconscious of opposite or pleasurable 
Feelings, - . . . 347 
XIV. Proofs that^ during intense Excitements of the 
Mind, no less than during Syncope and Sleep, 
the Causes which exclusively act upon Organs 
of Sensation eventually extend. their vivifying 
Influence to the Renovation of past Feelings, 353 
XV. When Morbific Causes of Mental Excitement ex- 
ert to their utmost Extent their stimulating 



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CONTENTS, 



Page 



Powers^ ^ey oflten change the Quality of their 
.Auction, as from Pleasure to Pain, or from Pain 
- to Pleasure, . - - - 361 

Chap« XVI. When Causes act acutely upon Organs of Sensa- 
tion^ and are unremittingly prolonged, they oc- 
casionally change the Quality of their Action ; 
as, for instance^ from Pain to Pleasure. Ideas 
likewise partake of this Change of Excitement, 367 

PART V. 

SLIGHT REMARKS ON THE MODIFICATIONS WHICH THE IN- 
TELLECTUAL FACULTY OFTEN UNDERGOES DURING IN- 
TENSE EXCITEMENTS OF THE MIND^ - - 377 

PAIIT VI. 

SUMMARY OF THE COMPARATIVE DEGREES OF FAINTNESS, 
VIVIDNESS, OR INTENSITY SUBSISTING BETWEEN SENSA- 
TIONS AND IDEAS, DURING THEIR VARIOUS EXCITEMENTS 
AND DEPRESSIONS. 

Introduction, - - - . - 391 

Chap. I. The various Excitements and Depressions connect- 

ed with the Sleeping and Dreaming States, 393 
II. The Order of Phenomena observable in extreme 
Mental Excitements, when Sensations and Ideas 
are conjointly rendered more vivid, - 409 

III. The Images of Spectral Impressions differ from 

those of Dreams in being much more vivid, 429 
NOTES, - - - - . 441 



DIRECTIONS TO THE BINDER. 

Formula (contained in a Tabular View) of the various compa- 
rative Degrees of Faintness, Vividness, or Intensity, supposed 
to subsist between Sensations and Ideas, when conjointly excited 
or depressed, — to face page 392, 

Wood Cut of Grotesque Carvings over the Door of the Cheetham 
Library, Manchester, — illustrative of the Demonology of the 
Middle AgeSy^^io face page 172. 



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PART L 



SKETCHES OP CERTAIN OPINIONS, 

ANCIENT AND MODERN, 

WHICH HAVE BEEN ENTERTAINED ON THE SUBJECT OF 

APPABITIONS. 



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PART I. 



CHAPTER I. 

THB OPINIONS BNTERTAINBO REGAROINO THE ORBDt- 
BILITY OF GHOST-STORIES. 



'^ We thinke that to be a lie, which is written, or rather fk« 
thered upon Luther; to wit, that he knew the devill, and was verie 
conversant with him, and had eaten manie bushels of salt and 
made jollie good cheere with him ; and that he was confuted, in a 
disputation with a real divell, about the abolishing of private 
masse.** — Scoft Discovery of WttcJtcraft. 



To give a regular history of the various opinions en^ 

)tertained in successive ages relative to apparitions^ 
would form the copious subject of a large volume ; a 
selection of them^ therefore^ is all that will be here 
attempted. 

There is perhaps no age of history in which the idle 
attempts to reconcile the wild incidents of spectral 
impressions have not induced many learned people to 



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4 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

reject the whole, or most t>f them, as fabulous, or as 
the coinage of rank impostors. Hence, probably, the 
ridicule which apparitions incurred from Lucian, and 
hence the doubt which, in the 16th century, Reginald 
Scot entertained relative to Martin Luther's visions, a 
few of which were certainly fabrications. It is, in- 
deed, certain, that many .stories of apparitions are 
either gross forgeries, or are attributable to the tricks 
of jugglers. The devils which Benvenuto Cellini 
saw, when he got into a conjurer's circle, are, by Mr 
Roscoe, the learned translator of his life, referred to 
the effects of a magic-lantern. Granting, however, 
that this was the case, the excited state of Cellini's 
mind woMd greatly contribute to aid the deception 
practised upon him.* 

It must thus be instantly kept in view, that how- 
ever numerous ghost-stories may be, there are com-. 
paritively few which are to be depended upon. If 
they had their origin in true spectral illusions, they 
are, at the same time, grossly exaggerated, while other 
narratives are nothing more than the device of rank 
impostors. As specimens of this dubious kind of vi- 
sions may be adduced, the popular narratives pub- 
lished in the commencement of the 18th century, one 
of which relates, how one Mr John Grairdner, minister 
near to Elgin, ^^ fell into a trance on the 10th of 
January 1717> and lay as if dead, to the sight and 
appearance of all spectators, for the space of two days; 
and being put in a coffin, and carried to his parish, in 
Order to be buried in the church-yard; and when 

* See Note Ist at the end of the volume. 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 5 

going to put him in his grave^ he was heard to make 
a noise in his coffin^ and it being opened^ he was 
fomid alive^ to the wonderful astonishment of all there 
present ; being carried home and put in a warm bed^ 
he in a little time coming to himself^ related many 
strange and amazing things which he had seen in the 
other world." Another choice production of this kind 
narrates^ '^ how Mr Bichard Brightly^ minister of the 
gospel near Salcraig^ at several times heard heavenly 
music when at prayer> when many persons appeared^ 
unto him in white raiment; also how^ on the 9th of 
August^ at nighty as he was prayings he fell into a 
trance^ and saw the state of the damned in everlasting 
torment^ and that of the blessed in glory ; and being 
then warned of his death by an angel, how he after- 
wards ordered his coffin and grave to be made, and 
invited his parishioners to hear his last sermon, which 
he preached the Sunday following, having his coffin 
borne before him, and then declared his visions ; — and 
how he saw Death riding in triumph on a pale horse, 
— «f the message he had given him to warn the in« 
habitants of the wrath to come, and of his dying in 
the pulpit when he had delivered the same ; lastly, of 
his burial, and of the harmonious music that was 
heard in the air during his interment;" the truth of 
all which was certified by the signatures of Mr Wil- 
liam Parsons, two ministers, and three other honest 
men. A third pamphlet describes what ^' was re- 
vealed to William Rutherford, farmer in the Merse, 
by an angel which appeared unto him as he was 
praying in his corn-yard, who opened up to him 
strange visions unknown to the inhabitants of the^ 



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6 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

earth, with the dreadful wrath that is coming on 
Britain, with an eclipse of the gospel^ and the great 
death that shall befall many, who shall be suddenly 
snatched away before these things come to pass ; also 
the glorious deliverance the church will get ailer 
these sad times are over; with the great plenty that 
will folloDf immediately thereafter, with the conver- 
sion of the heathen nations, and with meal being sold 
for four shillings a boll : — ^the truth of all this being 
attested by the minister of the parish, and four honest 
men who were eye and ear- witnesses."* 

Tnily ridiculous as such pretended visions are, and 
unworthy of the smallest degree of attention, there 
are however some narratives on record, which require 
a more serious notice. Of this kind is the curious 
account written many years ago by Nicolai^ the fa- 
mous bookseller of Berlin, — a narrative which Dr 
Ferrier very properly characterizes as "one of the ex- 
treme cases of mental delusion which a man of strong 
judgment has ventured to report of himself." It is, 
indeed, a case which affords correct data for investi- 
gations relative to the belief in apparitions ; on which 
account I shall take the liberty of transcribing the 
narrative in this essay, however frequently it may 
have appeared before the public. 

" Individuals who pretend to have seen and heard 
spirits are not to be persuaded that their apparitions 
were simply the creatures of their senses. You may 
tell them of the impositions that are frequently prac- 

■ Pre&ce to the Memorials by the Rct. Mr Robert Law, edited 
by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Esq. Edinburgh, A.D. ISIB. 

8 



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BEGABDING APPARITIONS. 7 

tised, and the fiillacy which may lead us to take a 
spirit of our imagination by moonlight for a corpse. 
We are generally advised to seize the ghosts^ in which 
case it is often found that they are of a very corporeal 
nature. An appeal is also made to self-decqption^ be- 
cause many persons believe they actually see and hear 
where nothing is either to be seen or heard. No rea- 
sonable man^ I think^ will ever deny the possibility 
of our being sometimes deceived in this manner by 
our fancy> if he is in any degree acquainted with the 
nature of its operations. Nevertheless, the lovers of 
the marvellous will give no credit to these objections, 
whenever they are disposed to consider the phantoms 
of imagination as realities. We cannot therefore suf- 
ficiently collect and authenticate such proofs as shew 
how easily we are misled, and with what delusive 
facility the imagination can exhibit, not only to de- 
ranged persons, but also to those who are in the per- 
fect use of their senses, such forms as are scarcely to 
be distinguished from real objects. 

^^ I myself have experienced an instance of this, 
which not only in a psychological, but also in a me- 
dical point of view, appears to me of the utmost im- 
portance. I saw, in the full use of my senses, and 
(after I had got the better of the firight which at first 
seized me, and the disagreeable sensation which it 
caused) even in the greatest composure of mind, for 
almost two months constantly, and involuntarily^ a 
number of human and other apparitions ;^nay, I 
even heard their voices ;— yet after all, this was no- 
thing but the consequence of nervous debility, or ir- 
ritation> or some unusual state of the animal system. 



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8 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

" The publication of the case in the Journal of 
Practical Medicine, by Professor Hufeland of Jena, 
is the cause of my now communicating it to the aca- 
demy. When I had the pleasure of spending a few 
happy days with that gentl^oaan last summer, at Pjrr- 
mont, I related to him this curious incident" 

The narrator now explains the state of his system 
at the time ; but this important part of the account 
not being at present connected with our subject, it 
will be noticed in its proper place. 

'^ In the first two months pf the year 1791, I was 
much affected in my mind by several incidents of a 
very disagreeable nature ; and on the 24th of Fe- 
bruary a circumstance occurred which irritated me 
extremely. At ten o'clock in the forenoon my wife 
and another person came to console me ; I was in a 
violent perturbation of mind, owing to a series of in- 
cidents which had altogether wounded my moral feel- 
ings, and from which I saw no possibility of relief; 
when suddenly I observed at the distance often paces 
from me a figure, — ^the figure of a deceased person. 
I pointed at it, and asked my wife whether she did 
not see it She saw nothing ; but being much alarm- 
ed, endeavoured to compose me, and sent for the phy- 
sician. The %ure remained some seven or eight mi- 
nutes, and at length I became a little more calm ; and 
as I was extremely exhausted, I soon afterwards fell 
into a troubled kind of slumber, which lasted for half 
an hour. The vision was ascribed to the great agita- 
tion of mind in which I had been, and it was suppos- 
ed I should have nothing more to apprehend from 
that cause; but the violent affection had put my 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 9 

nerves into some unnatural state; from this arose 
further consequences^ which require a more detailed 
description. 

'^In the afternoon^ a little after four o'clock^ the figure 
which I had seen in the morning again appeared. I 
was alone when this happened ; a circumstance which; 
as may be easily conceived^ could not be very agree« 
able. I went therefore to the apartment of my Yn£e, 
to whom I related it. But thither also the figure pur* 
sued me. Sometimes it was present, sometimes it 
vanished, but it was always the same standing figure. 
A little after six o'clock sev^al stalking figures also 
appeared ; but they had no connexion with the stand- 
ing figure. I can assign no other reason for this ap- 
parition than that, though much more composed in 
my mind, I had not been able so soon entirely to for- 
get the cause of such deep and distressing vexation, 
and had reflected on the consequences of it, in order, 
if possible, to avoid them ; and that this happened 
three hours after dinner, at the time when the diges- 
tion just begins. 

'* At length I became more composed with respect to 
the disagreeable incident which had given rise to the 
first apparition ; but though I had used very excellent 
medicines, and found myself in other respects perfect- 
ly well, yet the apparitions did not diminish, but on 
the contrary rather increased in number, and were 
transformed in the most extraordinary manner." 

Nicolai now makes some very important remarks 
on the subject of these waking dreams, and on their 
incongruous character. Of these observations I shall 



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10 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

not fail to avail myself on another occasion. The nar- 
rative then proceeds after the following manner : 

*' The figure of the deceased person never appeared 
to me after the first dreadful day ; but several other 
figures shewed themselves afterwards very distinctly ; 
sometimes such as I knew^ mostly^ however^ of per- 
sons I did not know> and amongst those known to me, 
were the semblances of both living and deceased per- 
sons^ but mostly the former : and I made the observa- 
tion, that acquaintance with whom I daily conversed 
never appeared to me as phantasms ; it was always 
such as were at a distance." 

^' It is also to be noted, that these figures appeared 
to me at aU times, and under the most different cir- 
cumstances, equally distinct and clear. Whether I 
was alone, or in company, by broad day-light equally 
as in the night-time, in my own as well as in my 
neighbour's house ; yet when I was at another per- 
son's house, they were less frequent, and when I 
walked the public street they very seldom appeared. 
When I shut my eyes, sometimes the figures disappear- 
ed, sometimes they remained even after I had closed 
them. If they vanished in the former case, on open- 
ing my eyes again, nearly the same figures appeared 
which I had seen before. 

'' I sometimes conversed with my physician and my 
wife, concerning the phantasms which at the time 
hovered around me ; for in general the forms appear- 
ed oftener in motion than at rest. They did not al- 
ways continue present — they frequently left me alto- 
gether, and again appeared fior a short or longer space 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 11 

of time^ singly or more at once ; but, in general, se- 
veral appeared together. For the most part I saw 
human figures of both sexes ; they commonly passed 
to and &o as if they had no connexion with each other, 
like people at a fair where all is bustle ; sometimes 
they appeared to have business with one another. 
Once or twice I saw amongst them persons on horse- 
back, and dogs and birds ; these figures all appeared 
to me in their natural size, as distinctly as if they hisul 
existed in real life, with the several tints on the un- 
covered parts of the body, and with all the different 
kinds and colours of clothes. But I think, however, 
that the colours were somewhat paler than they are 
in nature. 

^^ None of the figures had any distinguishing cha- 
racteristic, they were neither terrible, ludicrous, nor 
repulsive ; most of them were ordinary in their ap- 
pearance, — some were even agreeable. 

'* On the whole, the longer I continued in this state, 
the more did the number of phantasms increase, and 
the apparitions became more frequent. About four 
weeks afterwards I began to.hear diem speak : some- 
times the phantasms spoke with one Mother ; but for 
the most part they addressed themselves to me : these 
speeches were in general short, and never contained 
any thing disagreeable. Intelligent and respected 
friends often appeared to me, who endeavoured to 
console me in my grief, which still left deep traces on 
my mind. This speaking I heard mos^ frequently 
when I was alone : though I sometimes heard it in 
company, interinixed with the conversation of real 



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12 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

persons ; frequently in single phrases only^ but some- 
times even in connected discourse. 

^^ Though at this time I enjoyed rather a good state 
of health both in body and mind> and had become so 
very familiar with these phantasms^ that at last they 
did not excite the least disagreeable emotion^ but on 
the contrary afforded me firequent subjects for amuse- 
ment and mirth ; yet as the disorder sensibly increas- 
ed> and the figures appeared to me for whole days to* 
gether^ and even during the nighty if I happened to 
awake^ I had recourse to several medicines." * 

Such is the curious case of Nicolai^ in which it 
would not occasionally be very difficult to explain 
why certain mental images^ to the exclusion of other 
objects of his waking visions^ should have acquired 
an undue degree of vividness. Frequently, however, 
it would' be impossible to trace any correspondence 
which the particular complexion or disposition of his 
mind might have with the quality of the phantasms 
that were the offspring of his wild imagination. The 
uninteresting recollections incidental to each train of 
thought, as well as the lively objects of his grief, ap- 
pear to have alternately assumed an embodied form. 
From this circumstance, then, arises the suspicion, 
that there were not only causes of a moral description, 

* Memoir on the Appearance of Spectres or Phantoms occa- 
sioned by Disease, with Psychological Remarks. Read by Ni- 
colai to the Royal Society of Berlin, on the 28th of February, 
1799. The translation of this paper is given in Nicholson's Jour- 
nal, vol. vi. p. 161. 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 13 

but also some morbid condition of the body^ which 
might have contributed to render the ideas of his 
mind of such a high state of intensity^ that they be- 
came no less vivid than actual impressions. 

A^r these remarks^ the general object of this Dis- 
sertation may admit of an easy explanation. An essay 
seriously written, with the view of confuting all the 
superstitious absurdities connected with the popular 
belief in apparitions, would, no doubt, in this philo- 
sophic age, be considered of the same importance as 
the publication of arguments, how weighty soever 
they may be, intended to weaken the confidence 
which some very well-disposed persons still choose to 
entertain on the subject of dreams, or upon the rela- 
tion which is supposed to subsist between them and 
future events. At the same time, the utility of an 
inquiry into the rationale of our dreams has never 
been doubted, as every proper theory connected with 
a speculation of this kind must necessarily involve 
the successful investigation of certain primary laws of 
the human mind, by which our various states of 
mental feelings are governed. A similar argument 
applies to those embodied phantasies, which, under 
the general name of Apparitions, are the sportive 
images of what may, with the greatest propriety, be 
styled our waking dreams. To explain, therefore, the 
physical causes of such mental illusions, and, in con- 
nexion with this elucidation, to point out the origin 
of the popular belief in apparitions, is an attempt 
which precludes any notions that may be urged 
against it on the score of insignificance. The inquiry 



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14 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

necessarily involves an accurate and extensive know- 
ledge of the laws of thou^t^ and a capability of ap- 
plying them to cases^ where^ from the co-operating 
influence of certain constitutional and morbid causes 
incidental to the human frame^ the quality and in- 
tensity of our mental states undergo very remarkable 
modifications. In this {)oint of view^ a theory of ap- 
paritions is inseparably connected with the pathology 
of the human mind. 

But^ before entering into an independent investiga- 
tion of this kind^ it may be proper to inquire. What 
have been the opinions hitherto entertained on the 
subject by such philosophers as have been the least 
desirous to contemplate it with the superstitious feel- 
ings of the vulgar ? A few of these opinions will be 
explained in the First Part of this work. 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 15 



CHAPTER II. 

THE BEFBRBNOB OF APPARITIONS TO HALLUCINA- 
TIONS, &X. 



^*' Now, whilst his blood mounts upward, now he knows 
The solid gain that from conviction flows. 
And strengthen^ confidence shall hence fulfil 
(With conscious innocence more valued still) 
The dreariest task that winter-night can bring, 
By church-yard dark, or grove, or fairy ring ; 
Still buo3riDg up the timid mind of youth. 
Till loitering reason hoists the scale of truth." 

Bloomfield. 



It hag long been common to refer apparitions to hal- 
lucinations. For instance, a person, prior to an epi- 
lepsy, may see every thing crooked. In some affec- 
tions of vision, objects are greatly magnified : thus, a 
gentleman whom I know in Edinburgh saw, about 
twilight, a cow magnified to ten or twelve times its 
original size, grazing on a field, like some of the Brob- 
dingnag. cattle described by Swift. 

Many ghost-stories, however, admit of still more 
familiar explanations, of which I shall give a few in- 
stances. The first is from the Statistical Account of 
Scotland, published by Sir John Sinclair. 

^* About fifty years ago, a clerg3rman in the neigh- 
bourhood, whose faith was more regulated by the 
scepticism of philosophy than the credulity of super- 
stition, could not be prevailed upon to yield his assent 



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16 OPINIONS ENTERTAINEP 

to the opinion of the times. At lengthy however, he 
felt from experience, that he doubted what he ought 
to have believed. One night, as he was returning 
home at a late hour from a presbytery, he was seized 
by the fairies, and carried aloft into the air. Through 
fields of sether and fleecy clouds he journeyed many 
a mile, descrying, like Sancho Panza on his clavileno, 
the earth far distant below him, and no bigger than a 
nut-shell. Being thus sufficiently convinced of the 
reality of their existence, they let him down at the 
door of his own house, where he afterwards often re- 
cited to the wondering circle the marvellous tale of 
his adventure." Upon this story, I find, in Mr Ellis's 
edition of Brand's Popular Antiquities, the following 
comment is made :— ^^ In plain English, I should sus- 
pect that spirits of a difierent sort from fairies had 
taken the honest clerg3rman by. the head, and though 
he has omitted the circumstance in his marvellous 
narration, I have no doubt but that the good man saw 
double on the occasion, and that his own mare, not 
&iries, landed him safe at his own door." 

Other explanations of ghost-stories are referable to 
optical mistakes of the nature of external objects. The 
phenomena connected with the Giant of the Broken * 
are known to every one. To the same class oipseudo^ 
apparitions belong the Fata Morgana, and the Mirage 
or Water of the Desert. 

Sometimes, when the mind is morally prepared for 
spectral impressions, the most familiar substances are 
converted into ghosts. Mr Ellis gives a story to this 

• Note 2. 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 1? 

effect^ as related by a sea-captain of the port of New- 
castle-upon-Tyne. *^ His cook^ he said, chanced to 
die on their passage homeward. This honest fellow, 
having had one of his legs a little shorter than the 
other, •^sed to walk in that way which our vulgar 
idiom caHs, ' with ah up and a down.' A few nights 
after his body had been committed to the deep, our 
taptain was alarmed by his mate with an account that 
the cook was walking before the ship, and that all 
hands were on deck. to see him. The captain, after 
an oath or two for having been disturbed, ordered 
them to let him alone, and try which, the ship or he, 
should first get to Newcastle. But, turning out on 
farther importunity, he honestly confessed that he had 
like to have caught the contagion; for, on seeing 
something move in a way so similar to that which an 
old friend used, and withal having a cap oti so like 
that which he was wont to wear, he verily thought 
there was more in the report than he was at first will- 
ing to believe. A general panic diffused itself. He 
ordered the ship to be steered towards the object, but 
not a man would move the helm ! Compelled to do 
this himself, he found, on a nearer approach, that the 
ridiculous cause of all their terror was part of a main- 
top, the remains of some wreck floating before them. 
Unless he had ventured to make this nearer approach 
to the supposed ghost, the tale of the walking cook 
had long been in the mouths, and excited the fears of 
many honest and very brave fellows in the Wapping 
of Newcastle-upon-Tyne." 

It is quite unnecessary to give any more illustra- 
tions of this kind, which might, indeed, be multiplied 
io almost an indefinite extent 



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18 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 



CHAPTER III. 

THE OPINIONS ENTERTAINED THAT A GHOST WAS A 
MATERIAL PRODUCT^ 8UI GENERIS. 



*•*■ These were their learned speculations, 

And all their constant occupations ' 

To measure wind and weigh the air, 

And turn a circle to a square ; 

To make a powder of the sun, 

By which all doctors should b* undone ; 

To find the North-west Passage out. 

Although the farthest way about ; — 

If chemists from a rose*s ashes 

Can Taise the rose itself in glasses ?*' — Butler. 



In very early times, we find philosophers inclined to 
doubt if apparitions might not be accounted for on 
natural principles, without supposing that a belief in 
them was either referable to hallucinations, to human 
imagination, or to impositions that might have been 
practised. At length Lucretius attacked the popular 
notion entertained of ghosts, by maintaining that they 
were not spirits returned from the mansions of the 
dead, but nothing more than thin films, pellicles, or 
membranes, cast off from the surfaces of all bodies 
like the exuviae or sloughs of reptiles. 

An opinion, by no means dissimilar to that of the 
Epicureans, was revived in Europe about the middle 
of the 17th century. It had its origin in Palingenesy, 



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KEGAEDING APPARITIONS. 19 

or the resurrection of plants^ a grand secret known to 
Digby, Karcher, Schot^ Gafferel, Vallemont, and 
others. These philosophers performed the operation 
of Palingenesy after the following manner: — They 
took a plants bruised it, burnt it, collected its ashes, 
and, in the process of calcination, extracted from it a 
salt. This salt they then put into a glass phial, and 
mixed with it some peculiar substance, which these 
chemists have not disclosed. When the compound 
was formed, it was pulverulent, and possessed a bluish 
colour. The powder was next submitted to a gentle 
heat, when its particles being instantly p\it into mo- 
tion, there then gradually arose, as from the midst of 
the ashes, a stem, leaves, and flowers ; or, in other 
words, an apparition of the plant which had been 
submitted to combustion. But as soon as the heat was 
taken away, the form of the pkmt, which had been 
thus sublimed, was precipitated to the bottom of the 
vessel. Heat was then re-applied, and the vegetable 
phoenix was resuscitated ; — ^it was withdrawn, and the 
form once more became latent among the ashes. This 
notable experiment was said to have been performed 
before the Royal Society of £ngland, and it satis- 
factorily proved to this learned body, that the pre- 
sence of heat gave a sort of life to the vegetable ap« 
parition, and that the absence of caloric caused its 
death. 

Cowley was quite delighted with the experiment of 
the rose and its ashes, and in conceiving that he had 
detected the same phenomenon in the letters written 
with the juice of lemons, which were revived on the 



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20 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

application of heat, he celebrated the mystic powef of 
caloric after the following manner : 

Strange power of heat ! thou yet dost show. 

Like winter. earthy naked, or dothM with inow, 

But as quickening sun approaching near. 

The plants arise up by degrees, 

A sudden paint adorns the trees^ 

And all kind nature^s characters appear i 

So nothing yet in thee is seen, 

But when a genial heat warms thee within, 

A new-born vood of various lines there grows ; 

Here buds an A, and there a B, 

Here sprouts a V, and there a T, 

And all the flourishing letters stand in rows. 

The rationale of this famous experiment made on 
the ashes of the rose was attempted by Kircher. He 
supposed that the seminal virtue of every known sub-' 
stance, and even its substantial form, resided in its 
salt This salt was concealed in the ashes of the rose. 
Heat put it in motion. The particles of the salt were 
quickly sublimed, and being moved about in the phial 
like a vortex, at length arranged themselves in the 
same general form they had possessed from nature. It 
was evident, then, from the result of this experiment> 
that diere was a tendency in the particles of the salt 
to observe the same order of position which they 
had in the living plant. Thus, for instance,, each 
saline corpuscle, which in its prior state had held 
a place in the stem of the rose-slip, sympatheti- 
cally fixed itself in a corresponding position when 
sublimed in the chemist's. vial. Other particles wer« 



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REGARDIKG APPARITIONS. 21 

subject to a similar law^ and accordingly^ by a dis* 
posing affinity^ resumed their proper position^ either 
in the stalk, the leaves^ or the flowers ; and thus^ at 
length, the entire apparition of a plant was generated* 

The next object of these philosophers was to aj^ly 
their doctrine to the explanation of the popular belief in 
ghosts. As it was incontestably proved, that the sub- 
stantial form of each body resided in a sort of volatile 
salt, it was perfectly evident in what manner supersti- 
tious notions must have arisen about ghosts haunting 
churchyards. When a dead body had been committed 
to the earth, the salts of it, during the heating process 
of fermentation, were* exhaled. The saline particles 
then each resumed the same relative situation they had 
held in the living body, and thus a complete human 
form was induced, calculated to excite superstitious 
fear in the minds of all but Palingenesists. 

It is evident from the foregoing account, that Pa- 
lingenesy was nothing more than a chemical explana- 
tion of the discovery which Lucretius had made, with 
regard to the filmy substances that he had observed to 
arise from all bodies. 

Yet, in order to prove that apparitions might be 
really explained on this principle, the experimentum 
crucis was still wanting. But this deficiency was soon 
supplied. Three alchymists had obtained a quantity 
of earth-mould from St Innocent's church, in Paris, 
supposing that this matter might contain the true phi- 
losopher's stone. They subjected it to a distillatory 
process. On a sudden they perceived in their vials 
forms of men produced, which immediately caused 
them to desist from their labours. This fact coming 



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3S OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

to the knowledge of the Institute of Paris^ under the 
protection of Louis XIV.^ this learned body took up 
the business with much seriousness^ and the result of 
their labours appears in the Miscellania Curiosa. Dr 
Ferrier, in a volume of the Manchester Philosophical 
Transactions^ has been at the trouble of making an 
abstract of one of these French documents^ which I 
prefer giving on account of its conciseness^ rather 
dian having recourse to the original dissertation. 

^* A male&ctor was executed^ of whose body a grave 
physician got possession for the purpose of dissection. 
After disposing of the other parts of the body^ he 
ordered his assistant to pulverize part of the cranium^ 
which was a remedy at that time admitted in dispen- 
satories. The powder was left in a paper on the table 
of the museum^ where the assistant slept. About 
midnight he was awakened by a noise in the room> 
which obliged him to rise immediately. The noise 
continued about the table> without any visible agent; 
and at length he traced it to the powder^ in the midst 
of which he now beheld^ to his unspeakable dismay^ 
a small head with open eyes staring at him ; present- 
ly two. branches appeared^ which formed into arms 
and hands ; then the ribs became visible^ which were 
soon clothed with muscles and integuments ; next^ the 
lower extremities sprouted out^ and when they appear- 
ed perfect^ the puppet (for his size was small) reared 
himself on his feet ; instantly his clothes came up<m 
him^ and he appeared in the very cloak he wore at his 
execution. The afirighted spectator^ who stood hither- 
to mumbling his prayers with great application, now 
thought of nothing but making his escape from the 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 23 

revived ruffian; but this was impossible^ for the ap* 
parition planted himself in his way^ and^ after divers 
fierce looks and threatening gestures^ opened the door 
and went out. No doubt the powder was missing next 
day." 

But older analogous results were on record^ indi« 
eating that the blood was the chief part of the httSMUl 
firiame in which those saline particles resided^ the 
arrangement of which gave rise to the popular notiM 
of ghosts. Dr Webster, in his book on witchcraft^ r$* 
latee an experiment^ given on the authority of Dr 
Flud^ in which this very satisfactory cancluskm wai 
drawn. 

'' A certain chymical operator, by name La Pierre, 
near that place in Paris called Le Temple, received 
blood from the hands of a certain bishop to operate 
upon. Which he setting to work upon the Saturday, 
did continue it for a week with divers degrees of fire. 
But about midnight, the Friday following, this arti- 
ficer^ lying in a chamber next to his laboratory, be- 
twixt sleeping and waking, heard a horrible noise, 
like unto the lowing of kine, or the roaring o£ a lion ; 
and continuing quiet, after the ceasing of the sound 
in the laboratory, the moon being at the full, and, by 
shining, enlightening the chamber suddenly, betwixt 
himself and the window he saw a thick little cloud, 
condensed into an oval form, which, after, by little 
and little, did seem completely to put on the shape of 
a man, and making another and a sharp clamour, did 
suddenly vanish. And not only some noble persons in 
the next chambers, but also the host with his wife, ly- 
ing in a lower room of the house, and also the neigh- 



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24 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

bours dwelling in the opposite side of the street, did 
distinctly hear as well the bellowing as the voice ; and 
some of them were awaked with the vehemency there- 
of. But the artificer said, that in this he found solace, 
because the bishop, of whom he had it, did admonish 
him, that if any of them from whom the blood was 
extracted should die, in the time of its putrefaction, 
his spirit was wont often to appear to the sight of the 
artificer, with pertubation. Also forthwith, upon 
Saturday following, he took the retort from the fur- 
nace, and broke it with the light stroak of a little key, 
and there, in the remaining blood, found the perfect 
representation of an human head, agreeable in ^blcb, 
eyes, nostrils, mouth, and hairs, that were somewhat 
thin, and of a golden colour."* 



^ Regarding this oarrative, Webster adds, — " There were many 
ocular witnesses, as the noble person, Lord of Bourdalone, the 
chief secretary to the Duke of Guise ; and he [Flud] had this re- 
lation horn the Lord of Menanton, living in that house at the same 
time, from a certain doctor of physic, from the owner of the hous^^ 
and many others." 



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ilEGABDISG AFPAErnoyS. 25 



CHAPTER IV. 

THS OPINIONS ENTBBTAINED THAT GHOSTS WBKC 
SXTSBNAIi IDSAS^ OB ASTKAI* 8PIBITS. 



M Most viDiiig Spodts, ihmt f umbe noble scmce.** 



Thb nodoDS tangfat in tbe middle ages r^arding tbe 
Soul was, that it perraded tbe wIk^ of the body, being, 
indeed, the actiye j^inciple c^assbnilation, opoo which 
'' the attraction, the ret^ition, die decocdcm, and the 
preparadon" ci the particles of £ood whidi were intro- 
duced into the body, oltimatel j depended. The pro- 
per seat of this principle, howeyer, was the brain, a 
pardcolar department of which formed its closet. Tliis 
closet the Cartesians conceiyed to be situated in die 
pineal gland. 

The five Senses were r^arded by the eariy meta- 
physicians as nothing more than '' pori^rf" to die Soul ; 
diey iMtKight to '' her' die forms of otUward ikings, 
but were not able themselTCs to discern them; sudi 
forms or ideas were then subjected to die various in- 
tellectual (^peratiims of the rational Soul or wdnd, 

Accordmg to this view, ideas;, whidi were originally 
considered as the actual finrmsc^ objects, were stored 
up by the Memory, and liable to be recalled. TUs 
doctrine was probably derived from Aristotle, who 
had some nodoo of impressions or images remaining 
after the impresrang cause had ceased to act, and that 



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26 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

these images^ even during sleep^ were recognised by 
the intellectual principle of man. 

Such was the metaphysical view entertained for 
many centuries respecting ideas^ — ^not that they were 
mere states of the immaterial mind^ but that they 
were absolute forms or images presented to the Soul 
or Mind. It was^ therefore^ not a very difficult con- 
jecture^ after the memorable experiment of Palin- 
genesy^ that the apparition of the rose^ which had 
been induced by its saline particles being sublimed, 
was truly the proper idea of the rose, or that the ^k- 
parition, induced in a similar manner after an anuaaal 
body had been decomposed, was the proper idea of 
the animal. These, then, were the external ideas of 
objects, or astral spirits, as they were also named, 
that were well calculated to solve many natural phe- 
nomena. For instance, when it was reported that a 
shower of frogs had taken place, philosophers con- 
tended that it was nothing more than a shower of ideas. 

Dr Webster's explanation of astral spirits is as 
follows : — " If," says he, " the experiment be certainly 
true, that is averred by Borellus, Kirdier, Gaffarel, 
and others (who might be ashamed to affirm it as their 
own trial, or as ocular witnesses, if not true), that the 
figures and colours of a plant may be perfectly repre- 
sented, and seen in glasses, being by a little heat raised 
forth of the ashes. Then (if this be true) it is not only 
possible, but rational, that animals, as well as plantfl;^ 
have their ideas or figures existing after the gross body 
or parts be destroyed, and so these apparitions are but 
only those astral shapes and figures. But also thwe 
are shapes and apparitions of men, that must of ne- 



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B£6ARDINO APPARITIONS. 2? 

cessity prove^ that these corporeal souls^ or astral 
spirits^ do exist apart^ and attend upon^ or are neair 
the blood or bodies." 

It is evi<knt that this notion of astral spirits was 
little different fr<an the Lucretian view^ that appari- 
tions were films given off from all bodies. But Dr 
Webster and other philosophers pushed this doctrine 
still farther^ so as to render it truly pneumatolc^cal. 
They even had in view the division which the tmcients 
made of the substance of the body, when they con* 
ferred upon it more souls than one. The views of the 
Romans and Greeks were, that different souls might 
be possessed by every individual, as a rational soul 
derived from the gods, and a sentient one originating 
in the four elements ; or that even three souls might 
subsist in one person ; in which case different material 
tenements were allotted to these spiritual principles. 
For the first soul, a mortal or crustaceous body was 
jnrovided ; for the second soul, a divine, ethereal, and 
ludfiorm organization; and for the third, an aerial, 
misty, or vigorous body. The soul which was atr 
tached to the crustaceous system hovered about it 
a^r death. 

We shall now see how much Dr Webster and others 
were indebted to the ancients for the view that they 
took of three essential and distinct parts of man. " It 
is most evident," says this writer, " that there are not 
only three essential and distinct parts in man, as the 
gross body, consisting of earth and water, which at 
death returns to the earth again; the sensitive and 
corporeal soul or astral spirit, consisting of fire and air, 
that at death wandereth in the air, or near the body ; 



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28 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

and the immortal and incorporeal soul^ that immedi- 
ately returns to God that gave it ; but also, that after 
death they all three exist separately, the soul in im- 
mortality, and the body in the earth, though soon 
consuming ; and the astral spirit, that wanders in the 
air, and, without doubt, doth make those strange ap- 
paritions, motions, and bleedings." 

Mr Webster now illustrates his case by a very strik- 
ing account of a spectral impression, in which the 
astral spirit of a murdered man is supposed to have 
retained all the cogitations impressed upon the mind 
at the hour of death, along with the faculties of con- 
cupiscibility and irascibility, by which it was com- 
pelled to seek for its revenge. 

'^ About the year of our Lord 1623 or 24, one 
Fletcher of Rascal, a town in the North Riding of 
Yorkshire, near unto the forest of Gantress, a yeoman 
of good estate, did marry a young lusty woman from 
Thornton Brigs, who had been formerly kind with 
one Ralph Raynard, who kept an inn within half-a- 
mile from Rascal, in the high-road- way betwixt 
York and Thirske, his sister living with him. This 
Raynard continued in unlawful lust with the said 
Fletcher's wife, who, not content therewith, conspired 
the death of Fletcher, one Mark Dunn being made 
privy, and hired to assist in the murther. Which 
Raynard and Dunn accomplished upon the May-day, 
by drowning Fletcher, as they came al} three together 
from a town called Huby; and acquainting the wife 
with the deed, she gave them a sack therein to convey 
the body, which they did, and buried it in Raynard's 
J^ackside or croft, where an old oak-root had been 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 29 

stubbed up^ and sowed mustard-seed upon the place^ 
thereby to hide it. So they continued their wicked 
course of lust and drunkenness^ and the neighbours did 
much wonder at Fletcher's absence; but his wife did ex- 
cuse itj and said^ that he was but gone aside for fear of 
some writs being served upon him. And so it continued 
until about the 7th day of July, when Raynard going 
to Topcliffe fair, and setting up his horse in the stable, 
the spirit of Fletcher, in his; usual shape and habit, 
did appear unto him, and said, — ' Oh, Ralph, repent> 
repent, for my revenge is at hand !* and ever after, 
until he was put in the gaol, it seemed to stand be- 
fore him, whereby he became sad and restless ; and 
his own sister, overhearing his confession and relation 
of it to another person, did, through fear of her own 
life, immediately reveal it to Sir William Sheffield, 
who lived in Rascal, and was a justice of peace. 
Whereupon they were all three apprehended and sent 
to the gaol at York, where they were all three con- 
denmed, and so executed accordingly, near to the 
place where Raynard lived, and where Fletcher was 
buried, the two men being hung up in irons, and the 
woman buried under the gallows. I have recited this 
story punctually as a thing that hath been very much 
fixed in my memory, being then but young ; and as 
a certain truth, I being (with many more) an ear- 
witness of their confessions^ and an eye-witness of 
their executions ; and likewise saw Fletcher when he 
was taken up, where they had buried him in his 
cloaths, which were a green fustian dpublet pinkt 
upon white, gray breeches, and his walking-boots,^ 
and brass spurrs without rowels." 



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30 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

We may now attend to Dr Webster's explanation 
of the foregoing case, agreeably to his notion of astral 
spirits : — " Some will say there was no extrinsic ap- 
parition to Raynard at all, but that all this did only 
arise from the guilt of his own conscience, which re- 
presented the shape of Fletcher in his fancy. But 
then, why was it precisely done at that time, and not 
at any others ? it being far from the place of the 
murther, or the place where they had buried Fletcher, 
and nothing there that might bring it to his remem- 
brance more than at another time ; and if it had only 
arisen from within, and appeared so in his fancy, it 
had been more likely to have been moved when he 
was in, or near his croft, where the murthered body 
of Fletcher lay. But certain it is, that he affirmed 
that it was the shape and voice of Fletcher, as assu- 
redly to his eyes and ears as eVer he had seen or heard 
him in his life. And if it were granted that it was 
only intrinsic, yet that will not exclude the Divine 
Power, which doubtless at that time did labour to 
make him sensible of the cruel murther, and to re- 
mind him of the revenge approaching. And it could 
not be brought to pass either by the devil or Fletcher's 
soul, as we have proved before ; and therefore^ in 
reason, we conclude that either it was wrought by the 
Divine Power, to shew his detestation of murther, or 
that it was the astral or sydereal spirit of Fletcher 
seeking revenge for the murther." * 

* Webster on Witchcraft, p. 297. 



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CHAPTER V. 

THE OPINIONS £NT£RTAINR]> THAT GHOSTS WERfi 
ATTRIBUTABLE TO FANCY OR IMAGINATION. 



" Horatio says, 'tis but our Phantasy." — Hamlet. 



The early metaphysicians conceived^ that the five 
Senses that brought to the Soul apprehensions of 
touch, vision, hearing, smelling, and taste, were under 
the intermediate control of a personified moderator, 
named Common Sense, by the means of whom all 
difierences of objects were discerned. The Soul, 
through the medium of this ministering principle, 
who dwelt in the fore-part of the brain, not only 
learned the forms of the outward things brought to 
'^ her" by the Senses, but was enabled to make still 
fiEuther distinctions, in which she was greatly superior 
to Common Sense. Common Sense knew nothing but 
difierences ; the Soul knew essences ; Common Sense 
knew nothing but circumstances; the Soul knew 
substances; Common Sense recognised difierences of 
sound ; the Soul resolved concords. 

A second ministering principle to the Soul was 
Memory, who kept a storehouse in the back-part of 
the brain, where all the species, ideas, or images of 
objects, which the external Senses had industriously 
collected, were treasured up. 

A third ministering principle to the Soul was 



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32 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

Phantasy, (Fancy), or Imagination, whose seat was 
the middle cell of the brain. Phantasy retained ob« 
jects brought by the Senses, examined more fully such 
species or ideas of objects as were perceived by Com- 
mon Sense, atranged them, recalled the ideas which 
Memoty had stored up, and compounded all things 
which were different in their kind, black and white, 
great and small. When Phantasy, ^' the handmaid 
of the Soul," as this principle was called, had finished 
her compounds, she committed them to the care of 
Memory, in whose storehouse much was remembered, 
much forgotten* 

Such was the office of Phantasy, whose influence, 
when it began to be acknowledged, entirely changed 
the views which had been entertained regarding 
ghosts. " 'Tis but our Phantasy," was the explana- 
tion given by Horatio of the ghost of Hamlet's father. 
It .will be therefore interesting, to inquire in what 
manner Phantasy, (or, in more modem language. 
Fancy) was enabled to induce this illusion. 

It was supposed, that while Common Sense and the 
five subordinate Senses were subject to laws of re- 
straint, as in sleep. Fancy, was always working day 
and night, as was evident from our dreams. But the 
labours of this industrious handmaid were always 
corrected by the overruling principle of the Soul. 
The Soul, by means of the faculty of Wit, looked into 
the result of Fancy's labours, and was then enabled to 
abstract shapes of things, to perceive the forms of in- 
dividual objects, to anticipate, to compare, to know 
all universal essences or natures, as well as cause and 
effect. By the faculty of Reason, she moved from 
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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 33 

step to step^ and in her progress rated objects accord- 
ingly. By the faculty of Understanding, she stood 
fixed on her ground, and apprehended the truth. 
By the faculty of Opinion, she lightly inclined to any 
one side of a question. By the faculty of Judgment, 
she could define any particular principle. By the 
faculty of Wisdom, she took possession of many truths. 
Now all this labour the Soul cbuld not accomplish, 
unless Fancy, her handmaid, was obedient to the 
faculty of reason. But Fancy was not always to be 
thus controlled, the cause of which it will now be 
necessary to investigate. 

It was next conceived, that the blood was subjected 
to great heat in the heart, where it was purified, and 
enabled to throw off delicate fumes named Animal 
Spirits. A set of nerves then formed the medium 
through which the Animal Spirits were conducted to 
the brain. They were there apprised by Fancy of 
the forms of all objects, and of their good or ill quali- 
ty ; upon which they returned to the heart, the seat ^ 
of the affections, with a corresponding report of what 
was going on. If the report was good, it induced 
love, hope, or joy ; if the contrary, hatred, fear, and 
grief. But, frequently, there was what Burton calls 
Icgsa imaginatio, or an ill Imagination or Fancy, which 
sometimes misconceiving the nature of sensible ob- 
jects, would send ofi^ such a number of spirits to the 
heart, as to induce this organ to attract to itself more 
humours in order to '^ bend itself" to some false ob- 
ject of hope, or to avoid some unreasonable cause of 
fear. When this was the case, melancholic, sanguine, 
choleric, and other humours too tedious to be men- 

c 



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34 OPINIOKS ENTERTAINED 

turned, were drawn into the heart — more Miinntl 
spirits were concocted by heat, and these, ascending 
into the brain, perplexed Fancy by their number and 
diversity. She then became impatient of subordina- 
tion, and no longer obeyed the faculty of Reason. 
Falling to work, in the most irregular manner, upon 
the ideas which Memory had stored up, she would 
produce the wildest compounds of sensible objects, 
such as we detect in the fictions of poets and painters, 
the chimeras of aerial castle-builders, and Xhe false 
shows (as they were anciently named) of our waking 
visions.* *^ Fracastorius/' says Burton, " referres all 
extasies to this force of imagination, such as lye whole 
dayes together in a trance : as that priest whom Cel^ 
sus speaks of, that could separate himselfe from his 
senses when he list, and lye like a dead man, voide of 
life and sense. Cardan brags of himselfe, that he 
could doe as much, and that when hee list. Many 
times such men, when they come to themselves, tell 
strange things of heaven and hell, what visions they 
have scene. These apparitions reduce all those tales 
of witches progresses, dauncing, riding, transmuta- 
tions, operations, &c. to the force of imagination and 
the diveirs illusions." 

Such was the popular view once entertained of the 
cause of apparitions. '' It is all fancy or imagination !" 
is, indeed, the common explanation given of ghosts at 

• This view has, in some little d^ree, pervaded Mr Locke's 
system. " The dreams of sleeping men," he remarks, " are all 
made up of* the waking man's ideas, though, for the most part, 
oddly put together." 



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BEGAEDING APPABITIONS. 35 

the present day, not only by the vulgar, but even by 
the {Aysiologist and the metaphysician. But Dr 
Brown, in the view which he has taken of supersti- 
tious impressions, has very properly noticed more cor- 
rect prindples concerned with the production of 
spectral illusions; but still there is an unnecessary 
introduction of the vrotd. fancy y that, in this case, ar^ 
bitrarily refers to some very curious laws, of which 
this able metaphyidcian has not given any explana- 
tion, but which he has considered in another part of 
his work, as meriting more attention than has hither- 
to been paid to the subject. 

'^ What brighter colours the fears of superstition 
give to the dim objects perceived in twilight, the in- 
habitants of the village who have to pass the church- 
yard at any late hour, and the little students of ballad- 
lore, who have carried with them, from the nursery, 
many tales which they a^ost tremble to remember, 
know well. And in the second sight of this northern 
part of the island, there can be no doubt, that the ob- 
jects which the seers conceive themselves to behold, 
are truly more vivid as conceptions, than, but for the 
superstition and the melancholy character of the na- 
tive9, which harmonize with the objects of this fore- 
sight, they would have been ; and that it is in conse- 
quence of this brightening effect of the emotion, as 
concurring with the dim and shadorvy objects which the 
vapoury atmosphere of our lakes and valleys presents, 
that Fancy, relatively to the individual, becomes a tent'' 
porary reality. The gifted eye, which has once be- 
lieved itself favoured with such a view of the future, 
will, of course, ever after have a quicker foresight, and 



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36 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

more frequent revelations; its own wilder emotion 
communicating still more vivid forms and colours to 
the objects which it dimly perceives." 

After these very general observations on theopinions 
long entertained regarding the power of Fancy or 
Imagination^ I shall now proceed to notice other re- 
markable views^ ,which^ at different times^ have been 
taken of the influence of this personified principle of 
the mind. 

Van Helmont supposed that the power of Fancy 
was not merely confined to the arrangement and com- 
pounding of forms brought into the brain through 
the medium of the Senses> but that this principle or 
faculty of the Soul was invested with the power of 
creating for herself ideas independently of the Senses. 
Thus^ he conceived^ that as every man has been a 
partaker of the image of the Deity^ he has power to 
create> by the force of his Fancy or Imagination^ cer- 
tain ideas or entities of his own. Each ccxiceived idea 
clothes itself in a species, or form, fabricated by 
Fancy, and becomes a seminal and operative entity 
subsisting in the midst of that vestment. Hence the 
influence of Fancy or Imagination upon the forms of 
offspring. " Ipsam speciem quam animus effigiat, 
foetui inducit." 

Another notion advocated by ancient metaphysi- 
cians was, that Fancy or Imagination could influence 
the Animal Spirits of others, so as to induce a corre- 
sponding influence on the heart, which was the seat 
of the affections. This opinion was maintained by 
Wierus, Paracelsus, Cardan, and others. " Why do 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 37 

witches and old women fascinate and bewitch chil- 
dren?" asks Burton; " bat> as many thinks the 
forcible Imagination of the one party moves and 
alters the spirits of the other." A very natural ex- 
planation is thus assigned for the effect of an evil eye. 

In a much later period^ however, Lavater conceived 
that the Imagination had a still more powerful in- 
fluence^ as it could operate on the minds of others 
much more directly than through the animal spirits. 
The Imagination of one individual could so act upon 
that of another individual, as to produce by this 
operation a vivid idea of the visible shape of the per- 
son from whom this influence had emanated. Thus, 
the Imagination of a sick or dying person, who deep- 
ly longs to behold some dear and absent friend, can 
so act upon the mind of the same friend as to produce 
an idea vivid enough to appear like a reality, and 
thus give rise to the notion of a phantasm. Nor is 
this operation of Fancy limited to space; it can act at 
any distance, and even pierce through stone walls. 
When a sailor is in a storm at sea, and about to 
perish, his powerful Imagination can so act upon the 
mind of any dear relative, whom he despairs of seeing 
again, as to produce on the mind of the same relative 
an idea of such intensity, as to form a proper spectre 
of the unfortunate mariner. 

This theory was no doubt supposed to be weU cal- 
culated to explain many coincidences of ghost-stories, 
and it is certain, that there are on record many ghost- 
stories, which are in every respect worthy of such an 
explanation. 



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38 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 



CHAPTER VI, 

THE OPINIONS WHICH ATTRIBUTE THE SUPPOSED IN- 
FLUENCE OF FANCY TO THE DIRECT OPERATIONS OF 
THE SOUL, 



*^ Mens sine pondere ludit." — Petbokius. 



The opinion entertained in the middle ages respecting 
the Soul wasy that it possessed an immaterial and im- 
mortal nature^ and that it was endowed with such in- 
tellectual powers as wit^ reason^ understandings opi- 
nion^ judgment^ and wisdom. No sooner^ then> was 
this doctrine taught^ than the attention of the learned 
became no less bent upon determining its connexion 
with the body^ than in hazarding speculations regard- 
ing its occasional resumption of a human form after 
the body had mingled with its parent dust. It was 
owings therefore^ to this reason, that perfectly differ- 
ent views in time arose regarding the nature of ap- 
paritions. 

The first supposed indication of the Soul's existence 
was the exercise of her faculties upon the innate ideas^ 
or intuitive truths, which she had received for her na- 
tural dowry. Other objects about which she was oc- 
cupied were the new apprehensions that were each 
moment conveyed to her through the medium of the 
five Senses. Upon the forms of things which Memory 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 39 

had stored up> she was employed in her private closet 
of the brain^ where she determined the present and 
past^ foresaw things to come^ doubted and selected^ 
traced effects and causes^ defined, argued, divided 
compounds, contemplated virtuous and vicious ob- 
jects, and reasoned, upon general principles. But the 
result of her labours was not committed to Common 
Memory, but to another ministering principle named 
Intellectual Memory, where, in a separate storehouse, 
all acquired facts and general reasons were preserved, 
— ^these even remaining after death. 
. The activity which the Soul was supposed to dis- 
play upon ideas, even during sleep, gave rise to nu- 
merous learned speculations. ^^ Dreams," says Mr 
Addison," look like the relaxations and amusements 
of the soul when she is disencumbered of her machine ; 
her sports and recreations when she has laid her charge 
asleep. The soul is clogged and retarded in her ope- 
rations, when she acts in conjunction with a companion 
that is so heavy and unwieldy in its motions. But in 
dreams," he adds, ^^ she converses with numberless 
beings of her own creation, and is transported into 
ten thousand scenes of her own raising. She is her- 
self the theatre, the actor, and the beholder." The 
same view has been made the subject of Dr Young's 
reveries. But Sir Thomas Brown had previously ex- 
tended this notion much farther. '^ It is observed," 
he says, ^^ that men sometimes, upon the hour of their 
departure, do speak and reason above themselves; for 
then the Soul, beginning to be freed from the liga- 
ments of the body, begins to reason like herself, and 
to discourse in a strain above mortality." 



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40 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

Such was the idea which prevailed regarding the 
activity of the Soul^ when unfettered by the dull and 
lethargic matter of which the body was composed. 
In comparing^ then^ the operations of the Soul or 
Mind with those attributed by other metaphysicians 
to her handmaid^ Fancy or Imagination^ it will be 
perfectly evident that they are in every respect the 
same. Indeed^ the subordinate principle of Fancy 
had been only invented by pneumatologists, in order 
to give a superior character of excellence to the un- 
aided operations of the Soul. If any thing went 
wrong with our thoughts^ — ^if wild and ill-assorted 
perceptions^ — ^if monsters^ ghosts^ and different chi- 
meras arose, instead of regular and well-arranged 
ideas, — it was not the fault of the Soul, but of her 
wayward servant. Fancy, The different vapours sent 
from the heart, the seat of good or ill affections, could 
not injure the pure nature of the Soul, but might, 
very naturally, have an untoward effect upon her 
handmaid. Fancy. In short, there could not be lassa 
anima, but there might be Icesa imaginatio. And 
when many metaphysicians were led to suppose that 
dreams were less attributable to Fancy than to the 
unaided activity of the Soul, they could not start this 
hypothesis without advancing arguments at the same 
time to shew, that such phenomena were rational, 
though far above all human comprehension ; that they 
were truly worthy the pure character of the Soul, and 
of the divining faculty which, through this medium^ 
she exercised. " In dreams," says Addison, " it is 
wonderful to remark with what sprightliness and 
alacrity the Soul exerts herself. The slow of speech 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 41 

make unpremeditated harangnes^ or converse readily 
in languages that they are but little acquainted with. 
The grave abound in pleasantries^ the dull in repar- 
tees and points of wit"* But Sir Thomas Brown, to 
whom Addison refers for a similar opinion, had far 
exceeded this view. His words are these : — " Were 
my memory as faithful as my reason is fruitful, I 
would never study but in my dreams ; and this time 
also would I choose for my devotions ; but our grosser 
memories have then so little hold on our understand- 
ings, that they forget the story, and can only relate 
to our awakened souls a confused and broken tale of 
that that has passed." This is indeed a very curious 
view, — ^not ill calculated to explain the true origin of 
a few of the speculations entertained by the celebrated 
author himself of the religio medicu Nor can I help 
suspecting that some of the conjectures on the mind 
and its organs, which are inculcated at the present 
day, might have been no less studied in dreams,-— 
that physiologists might have forgotten some con- 
necting links of them when they awoke, and that, if 
there should be any imperfection in the doctrines 
which may have been derived from this source, it is 
owing to a part only of the vision having been re- 
membered, so that, in the place of a well-arranged 
system, we are presented with what Sir Thomas 
Brown would style *^ a confused and broken tale."t 

It thus appears, that the power assigned to the Soul, 
or to her handmaid. Fancy, was inconceivably great. 
With regard to Fancy in particular, I have shewn 

• Spectator, No 487. t Ibid. 



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42 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

how it was at length argued^ that this principle had 
not merely the power of compounding ideas or images 
from the less complicated forms that were either 
brought to her directly by the Senses^ or that were 
recalled firom the storehouse of Memory^ but that she 
had even the independent power of creating to herself 
new ideas of her own ; that metaphysicians did not 
even then place limits to their speculations^ conceiv- 
ing that the Fancy of one individual could so operate 
on the Soul of another^ as to produce upon the mind 
that was passive a regular idea ; and^ if the action 
was very intense^ a vivid phantasm. No investiga^ 
tion, therefore, could now remain, but to ascertain if 
Imagination or Fancy had not some influence upon 
external particles of matter, as well as upon the minds 
of others. It was accordingly debated in the schools, 
— ^if Imagination could not move external objects ? 
Thus, the evil eye of a witch, which could cause hay- 
stacks to be burnt, cattle to be killed, or com blighted, 
might, with greater reason, be assigned to the power 
of Fancy, when heightened in its virulence by perni- 
cious vapours sent from the heart, the seat of the af- 
fections ; and, on the same principle, might be ex- 
plained the effect affirmed to have happened when a 
pretty woman was in a vapourish mood, the glance of 
whose eyes was said to have shivered a steel mirror. 

The last speculation entertained was, that the effects 
attributed to Fancy might be performed by the Soul 
herself. In the days of Leibnitz, there were some 
notions entertained by this philosopher with regard 
to matter and mind, which gave rise to an opinion 
that Souls immediately after death passed into new 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 43 

and more attenuated bodies. But the puzzle was^ 
how the resemblance could take place between the 
new body and the old one ? The answer was^ that 
there were certain harmonic movements which sub- 
sisted between the Soul and the particles of the new 
body ; that the Soul^ agreeably to the affections which 
she had received during life, could not only give a 
corresponding similitude to the material form of a 
ghost^ as of a miser^ but impel it to such harmonic 
movements as would naturally lead to the place where 
the defunct's strong box had been deposited. Hence 
the reason why that spot^ above all others^ should be 
haunted. But another objection to this theory was 
an awkward one. It was asked^ How the Soul could 
so influence the harmonic movements of matter as not 
only to possess herself of a new material form^ but of 
the very night-gown or morning-dress that the body, 
during life^ might have worn? The objection has 
never been fairly answered. 



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44 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 



CHAPTER VII 

THE NOTIONS ENTBRTAINED THAT IDEAS^ BY THEIR 
ACTION ON THE NERVES^ GAVE RISE TO SPECTRAL. 
IMPRESSIONS. 



" By repercussion beams engender fire ; 

Shapes by reflection shapes beget ; 
The voice itself when stopp'd does back retire, 

And a new voice is made by it'* — Cowley. 



When the Epicureans wished to explain the origin 
of dreams^ they conceived that subtle images were 
either given off from other substances^ or were* spon- 
taneously formed ; — ^that these^ after first penetrating 
the body^ made corresponding impressions on the at- 
tenuated corpuscles of the material soul. This view 
differed from a later notion entertained regarding 
ideas in the following respect^ — ^that ideas were mate- 
rial forms^ not pervading the system from the exhala- 
tion of bodies^ but regularly carried to the storehouse 
of Memory from unknown sources ; — ^the transporta- 
tion having been affected by means of the organs of 
Sense. 

In connexion with this view it was conceived^ that 
the nerves upon which sensations depended might 
not only be affected by external agents^ but that they 
might be impressed by internal causes^ when the con- 
sequence would be^ that hallucinations would arise. 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 45 

Rays of lights for instance^ impressing the optic nerve 
from, without, would cause the sensation of yellow, 
while corrupt humours, as those of jaundice, by im- 
pressing the nerves from within, would have the self- 
same effect. The next inference was, that, as an idea 
was really material, and might ^e treasured up by 
the memory, it could, in some unknown manner, find 
its way to the nerves, and impress them after the 
manner of internal causes influencing the mind. " I 
shall suppose," says a learned metaphysician, '^ that 
I have lost a parent whom I have loved— whom I 
have seen and spoken to an infinity of times. Having 
perceived him often, I have consequently preserved 
the material figure and perception of him in the brain. 
For it is very possible and reconcileable to appear- 
ances, that a material figure, like that of my deceased 
friend, may be preserved a long time in my brain, 
even after his death. By some intimate, yet unknown 
relation, therefore, which the figure may have to my 
body, it may touch the optic or acoustic nerves. In 
the very moment, then, that my nerves are affected 
in the same manner that they formerly were when I 
saw or listened to my living friend, I shall be neces- 
sarily induced to believe that I really see or hear him 
as if he were present"* 

* Essay on Apparitions, attributed to M. Meyer, professor of 
the university of flalle, a. d. 1748. 



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46 OPINIONS ENTEBTAINED 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE OPINIONS THAT SPECTRAL IMPRESSIONS WBRB 
THE RESULT OF A FALSE JUDGMENT OF THE IN- 
TELLECT. 



^^ For the effect of judgment is oft the cause of fear.** 

Ctmbelikk. 

An opinion was entertained^ late in the seventeenth 
century^ that ghosts might arise from the reasoning 
faculty of the soul being unable to judge between 
realities and ideas. If the notion regarding ideas had 
been the same as that of Dr Brown^ namely^ that they 
were nothing more than states of the mind^ this last 
view would not have been very unexceptionable. But 
stiU it was muchblended with erroneous notions regard- 
ing the intellectual powers of the Soul^ which I have 
no inclination at present to combat. Suffice it to say^ 
that by a modified condition of the intellectual power^ 
called by the name of vitium subreptionis, it was con- 
ceived^ that " every thing of which a person had not 
a clear and distinct sensation^ would not seem real ; 
and every thing that resembled^ in a certain mode^ a 
certain idea or image^ was precisely the same thing 
as that idea." But we have a much less distinct no- 
tion of this subtle metaphysical principle^ than of the 
example which is given of it. '^ When the head," 
says a pneumatologist^ is " filled with many stories 
which others have related to us of the ghosts of 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 47 

monks^ nuns^ &c., we find a resemblance between that 
which we may perceive and such tales. A man is 
influenced by the second judgment^ and he takes 
what he has perceived for a true apparition. Imagina^ 
tion then heats him ; intense and terrible images 
present themselves to his mind; the circulation of 
the blood is deranged^ and he is affected with a 
frightful agitation. It is impossible to resist a fancy 
which, when it begins to wander, gives to simple 
ideas such a degree of force and clearness, that we 
take them for real sensations. A man may thus per- 
suade himself that he has seen and heard things 
which have only existed in his own head."* 



• This opinion is adverted to in M. Meyer's Treatise, to which 
I have in another place alluded. 



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48 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

CHAPTER IX. 

THB DKVIL SUPPOSED TO BE A CAUSE OF GHOSTS. 



Mo?et phantasiam et ita obfirmat vanis conceptibus. 

Austin, de Vit. Beat. 



All metaphysical^ all physiological^ and all chemical 
opinions^ having been, by various philosophers, con- 
sidered as perfectly inadequate to the explanation of 
ghosts, it was asked, why the existence of them 
should not arise from the direct agency of the devil 
himself? 

Some pneumatologists maintained that the devil 
was a slender and an incomprehensible spirit, who 
reigned in a thousand shapes, and, consequently, 
mighjt assume, if such were his pleasure, the form of 
an angel. They taught that unclean spirits insinu- 
ating themselves in the body, and mingling in its hu- 
mours, sported there with as much glee as if they 
had been inhaling the brightest region of the stars ;*- 
that they go in and out of the body as bees do in a 
hive ;— and hence that melancholy persons are most 
subject to diabolical temptations. To this doctrine, 
taught by the learned clerkes of the 16th and 17th 
century, Hamlet evidently alludes, when he conceives 
that it might have been ^' a damned ghost" which he 

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KEGARDING APPARITIONS. 49 

had seen^ or the result of some diabolical art operat- 
ing through the medium of his fantasie or imagina- 
tion — 



The spirit that I have seen 



May be a devil ; and the devil hath power 
To assume a pleasing shape ; yea, and, perhaps. 
Out of my weakness, and my melancholy, 
(As he is very potent with such spirits,) 
Abuses me to damn me." 

Accordingly the regular plot of the drama turns 
upon the test to which the veracity of the apparition 
is submitted. The trial is satisfactory^ and Hamlet 
declares that he will " take the ghost's word for a 
thousand pound." ^ 

Such were the views which never failed at one 
time to excite the suspicion of persons labouring 
under spectral impressions ; and it is painful to con- 
template them as they arose in the minds of many 
eminent individuals^ among whom was Martin Luther. 
This astonishing man was evidently affected by some 
organic disease^ owing to which^ as well as to the ex- 
traordinary intellectual exertions to which his mind 
was stimulated during the progress of his wonderful 
work of reform^ the usual state of his thought appears 
to have been at intervals materially disturbed. In 
the true spirit of the times^ he contemplated his zeal- 
ous labours as opposed to the works of the devil^ and 
was particularly inclined to attribute the illusions un- 
der which he laboured to the machinations of evil 
spirits. One anecdote to this effect I find thus 
stated : — " Luther has related of himself, that being 

n 



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60 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

at pray^, contemplatiiig how Christ hung on the 
cross and sufiieared for his sinsj there appeared sudden- 
ly on the wall a bright shining vision^ and therein ap^ 
peared also a glorious form of our Saviour Christy 
with his five wounds^ steadfastly looking upon him^ as 
if it had been Christ himself corporally. Now at the 
first sight he thought it had been some good revela- 
tion, yet presently recollected himself, and appre- 
hending some juggling of the devil, (for Christ, as 
Luther says, appeareth unto us in his word, and in a 
meaner and more humble form, even as he waj9 hum- 
bled on the cross for us,) therefore, said he, I spake 
to the vision in this manner : ' Away, thou unfound- 
ed devil, I know no other Christ than he that was 
crucified, and who, in his word, is pictured and 
preached to me;' whereupon the image vanished, 
which was the very devil himself." 

The devil was also supposed to occasionally induce 
illusion by self-transformation, as the following cu- 
rious story, to be found in Captain Bell's Table-talk 
of Luther^ suffici^tly shews :•** 

'^ A gentleman had a fine young wife, who died^ 
and wa« also buried. Not long after^ the gentleman 
and his servant lying together in one chamber^ his 
dead wife, in the night-time^ approache^d into the 
chamber^ and leaned herself upon the gentleman's 
bedj like as if she had been desirous to speak with 
him. The servant (seeing the same two or three 
nights, one after another), asked his master whether 
he knew, that every night a woman in white apparel 
came into his bed ? The gentleman said, * No. I 
sleep soundly (said he), and see nothing.' When 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 61 

night approached^ the gentleman^ considering the 
same^ laid waking in bed. Then the woman appeared 
unto him, and came hard to his bed-side. The gentle- 
man demanded who she was ? She answered^ ' I am 
your wife.' He said, ^ My wife is dead and buried.' 
She said, * True, by reason of your swearing and sins 
I died ; but if you would take me again, and would 
also abstain from swearing one particular oath, which 
commonly you use, then would I be your wife again.' 
He said, ^ I am content to perform what you desire.' 
Whereupon his dead wife remained with him, ruled 
his house, laid with him, ate and drank with him, and 
had children together. Now it fell out, that on a 
time the gentleman had guests, and his wife, after 
8upper> was to fetch out of his chest some banqueting- 
stuff ; she ^^ying somewhat long, her husband (for- 
getting himself), was moved thereby to swear his 
accustomed oath; whereupon the woman vanished 
that instant Now seeing she returned not again, 
they went up unto the chamber to see what was be- 
come of her. There they found the gown which she 
wore, half lying within the chest, and half without ; 
but she was never seen afterwards. * This did the 
devil/ (said Luther) : ^ he can transform himself into 
die shape of a man or woman.' " 

King James conceived, that the wraiths or simu- 
lacra of the Scottish Highlands were attributable to 
the devil. The following dialogue appemrs in his 
Demonology :— 

PhU And what meane these kind of spirits, when they appeare 
in the shadow of a person newly dead, or to die, to his friends ? 
Epi. MHien they appeare upon that occasion, they are caDed 



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52 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

wraithes in our language. Amongst the Gentiles the divell used 
that much, to make them believe that it was some good spirit that 
appeared to them then, either to forewame them of the death of 
their friend, or else to discover unto them the will of the defunct, 
or what was the way of his slaughter ; as it is written in the booke 
of the Histories prodigious. 

But some metaphysicians were not content with 
maintaining that the phantasms of profane history 
were attributable to the devil ; it was, indeed, a very 
favourite notion entertained by theologians, that the 
ghost of Samuel was nothing but an illusion caused 
by Satan to disturb the mind of Saul. Cowley, the 
poet, in his censure of those who blindly use their 
reason in divine matters, himself affords the best il- 
lustration of the false arguments against which his 
Philippic wa^ directed : — 

^* Sometimes their fancies they 'bove reason set, 

And fast, that they may dream of meat. 

Sometimes ill sp'rits their sickly souls delude. 

And bastard forms obtrude. 

So Endor's wretched sorceress, altho' 

She Saul through his disguise did know, 

Yet when the devil comes up ditguit^dy she cries. 

Behold ! the gods arise. 

This ridiculous explanation of the text of Holy 
Writ arose from the notion, that magicians, through 
the means of the devil, often induced spectral illu- 
sions. A curious illustration of the prevalence of this 
belief, which extended even to modem days, is given 
in the Memoirs of the Duke of Berwick. 
• A French army encamped before Saragossa, in 
1707^ under the command of the Duke of Orleans :-— 



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KEGARDING APPAIIITIONS. 53 

'^ The Count de la Puebla, to retain the people of 
Arragon in subjection as long as possible^ and by that 
means to retard the progress of the Duke of Orleans^ 
persuaded the inhabitants of Saragossa that the re« 
ports of the march of a fresh army from Navarre were 
false; and even that the camp which they saw was 
nothing real, but only a phantom produced by magic; 
in consequence of which the clergy made a procession 
on the ramparts, and from thence exorcised the pre- 
tended apparitions. It is astonishing that the people 
were so credulous as to, entertain this fancy, from 
which they were not undeceived till the next day, 
when the Duke of Orleans' light horse, having pur- 
sued a guard of horse of Puebla's briskly to the very 
gates of the city, cut off several of their heads there. 
Then indeed the citizens were alarmed, and the ma- 
gistrates appeared, to make their submission to his 
Royal Highness. I could not have believed what I 
have related, if I had not been assured of its truth at 
Saragossa by the principal people of the city." * 

A similar notion of the devil's power to raise ap- 
paritions was even a superstition in the Highlands, 
which was supposed to account for some of the phe- 
nomena of second sight — ^^ A woman of Stornbay," 
says Martin, ^' had a maid who saw visions, and often 
fell into a swoon ; her mistress was very much con- 
cerned about her, but could not find out any means to 

* Tbis extract from the '^ Memoires de Berwick" I quote firom 
Dr Ferrier*s translation of it, which is given in his excellent paper 
" on Popular Illusions.'* See Memoirs of the Philosophical So- 
ciety of Manchester, vol. iii, p. 79. 



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64 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

prevent h^ seeing those things ; at last she resdyed 
to pour some of the water used in baptism on her maid's 
face> believing this would prevent her seeing any more 
sights of this kind. And accordingly she carried her 
maid with her next Lord's day^ and both of them sat 
near the basin in whidi the water stood^ and after 
baptism^ before the minister had concluded the last 
prayer^ she put her hand in the basin^ took up as much 
water bb she could^ and threw it on the maid's &ce ; 
at which strange action the minister and the con- 
gregation were equally surprised. After prayer^ the 
minister inquired of the woman the meaning of such 
an unbecoming and distracted action ; she told him^ 
it was to prevent her maid's seeing visions; and it 
fell out accordingly^ for ftom that time she never once 
more saw a vision of any kind. This account was 
given me by Mr Morison^ minister of the place, be* 
fore several of his parishioners^ who knew the truth 
of it. I submit the matter of fact to the censure of 
the learned ; but, for my own part, I think it to have 
been one of Satan's devices, to make credulous people 
have an esteem for holy water."* 

There were again other views taken of Satan's in^^ 
fluence. It was supposed that the devil was a great 
natural philosopher. ^^ Summus opticus et physicns" 
test,] says Hoffman, *^ propter diutumam experien- 
tiam."f But no one so well as Dr Bekker, in his 



• Martin*s Description of the "Western Isles of Scotland. 
•)• *' Di Diabole Potentia in Corpora." 



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REGARDING APPARITIONS. 55 

Monde Bnchant^, has shewn what the devil can do 
by dint of his knowledge of the laws of nature. 

'' I mean to speak of illusions^ which Schottas^ to- 
gether with Delrio and Molina^ declares to be of three 
sorts ; those that are made by the change of the objects^ 
those tlut are made by the change of the air, and those 
that happen by the change of the organs of the senses. 

*' First, Illusions are made by the change of the 
object, when one thing is substituted instead of ano- 
ther that has been suddenly and imperceptibly snatdi« 
ed away ; cnr when an object is presented to the eyes, 
in such a state and manner as that it produces a false 
vision ; or when any object made up of air, or of some 
other element, offers itself to the sight ; or, lastly, 
when there appears any thing composed ot different 
mattars mingled together, and so skilfully prepared, 
that what existed before receives thereby another form . 
and figure. 

*' Stdond, The change of the air is made by these 
ways, when the devil hinders, lest the object should 
pats through the air and hit our eyes ; when he dis- 
poses the air that is betwixt the object and the eye in 
such a manner that the object appears in another figure 
thm really it is ; when he thickens the air to make the 
object appear greater than it is, and to hinder it from 
being seen in other places but the place he designs ; 
when he moves the air in the place through which the 
object is to hit the eye, that the object, going through 
that part of the air, may also be moved, and that its 
figure may be presented Xo the eye otherwise than it 
is; and, lastly, when he mingles and confounds to- 



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56 OPINIONS ENTERTAINED 

gether several different figures, in order that in one 
only object there may appear many together, 

'^ Third, The organs of the senses are changed; 
when they are either transferred from their places and 
altered; when their humours and acfive particles are 
corrupted and thickened; or when such a shining 
brightness passes before the eyes, that they are dazzled, 
so that it seems that a man raves waking." 

Such was the hypothesis of learned demonologists. 
Satan was considered as deeply versed in all material 
and vital phenomena, and as inducing spectral im- 
pressions by the application of those laws which he so 
well comprehended. — Henee the compliment which 
Hoffman and others have paid to his great talents and 
learning. But as divers moral reasons prevent me 
from joining in this eulogium, I shall pay no farther 
tribute to so distinguished a character, thati by pre- 
senting to the gentle reader as faithful a portrait of 
him as I have been able to procure. It is from an 
ancient grotesque sculpture of the 16th century, which 
still graces the oaken pannels of the ancient seat of the 
Prestwiches of Lancashire, — ^an unfortunate family, 
whose property fell a sacrifice to their steady perse- 
verance in the cause of the royalists. A drawing of 
this curious design was very kindly undertaken for 
me by a friend, whose accurate and elegant sketches 
of the relics of past times have been frequently ac- 
knowledged by the antiquary. To " those gentle 
ones," therefore, that, in the language of our great 
bard, " will use the devil himself with courtesy," 

6 



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REGAEDING APPAKITIONS. 



57 



the subjoined sketch is respectfully submitted. A 
more philosophical devil was perhaps never depict- 
ed : he not only appears to be well versed in the ab- 
struse metaphysics of the period in which he sat for 
his portrait^ but seems to be in the very act of ex- 
pounding Ihem ; and^ since he has been regarded by 
very good authority as the efficient cause of all the 
phenomena in which we have been so seriously engag- 
ed, there cannot, surely, be any material impropriety 
in allowing him to grace the conclusion of the first 
part of these laborious lucubrations. 

** Glaudite jam rivos." 




Ameiaot Sculptuw «t Holmv-Hall, Lwncarfiire. From b Drswlng by 
Captain JonM, 89th R«giiiMnt. 



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PART II. 



THE PARTICULAR MORBID AFFECTIONS WITH 

WHICH THE PRODUCTION OF PHANTASMS 

IS OFTEN CONNECTED. 



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PART II. 



CHAPTER I. 



THB PATHOLOGY OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 



'^ I lost all connexion with external things ; trains of vivid 
visible images rapidly passed through my mind.** — Sir Humphrey 
Davy on the Ilfftcts of the Nitrous Oxide. 



Having explained certain divers opinions^ ancient as 
well as modern^ which have been entertained on the 
subject of apparitions, I ought, in due course, to state 
the particular notion which I may be inclined myself 
to adopt in the course of the present dissertation. 
Simply, then, it is the view to which I briefly advert- 
ed in the first chapter of this work, when treating of 
Nicolai's illusions ; namely, that apparitions are nothing 
more than ideas, or the recollected images of the mind, 
which havfi been rendered as vivid as actual impressions. 
This is a view, however, that by no means originates 
with myself; it has entered into the disquisitions of 



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62 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

numerous metaphysical and pathological writers of the 
present day^ among whom I might enumerate Hartly> 
Ferrier^ Crichton^ and Brown. Having stated^ then^ 
this hypothesis^ my next object will be to give a ge- 
neral view of such causes as are principally instru- 
mental in inducing those intense ideas which are cur- 
rently recognised by the vulgar under the name of 
apparitions or phantasms. This should lead me to 
consider the case of Nicolai in a medical point of view. 
But before this can be done^ it will be necessary to 
lay down a few general principles connected with this 
subject^ which have hitherto met with little or no at- 
tention from physiologists. These arise from the ex- 
planation of certain states of the sanguineous system^ 
in which a remarkable connexion between such states 
and an undue vividness of mental feelings appears to 
be established. It must be admitted^ however, that 
such an inquiry is of extreme difficulty, and liable to 
innumerable sources of error, on which account a 
more than ordinary indulgence may be due to the 
attempt. 

The essential view of the mind which I have adopt- 
ed in preference to every other is that of the late 
much-lamented Professor of Moral Philosophy in the 
university of Edinburgh. Dr Brown, in considering 
the mind as simple and indivisible, conceives that 
every mental feeling is only the mind itself, existing 
in a certain state. 

In endeavouring then to obtain a correct notion of 
certain vital properties of the human frame, and (j£ the 
relation which the immat^ial principle of the mind 
may bear to them, I shall commence with that im- 



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PBOBUCTIOM OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONa 68 

portant fluid, the blood, which, from the peculiarity 
of its properties, has induced physiologists to main* 
tain its vitality. This inquiry, at the same time, may 
meet with some assistance from observations up(m the 
effect of certain gases, which, when introduced into 
the lungs, exert an influence over the blood* The 
pulse, for instance, of persons inhaling the nitrous 
oxide, though it may vary in different individuals 
with regard to strength or velocity, never fails to be 
increased in fblness; which result would intimate, 
that the general volume of the circulating mass is, 
upon the application of a proper agent, susceptible of 
an increasing degree of expansion. On the other 
hand, in the earliest stage of the noxious influence of 
the febrile miasma, there is an evident diminution in 
the volume of the blood, as is indicated by a small 
contracted pulse, and an increasing constriction of 
the capillaries* Hence may be drawn the general 
conclusion, that the corpuscles of the vital fluid pos- 
sess within themselves an inherent dilatibility and con- 
tractility, by the alternate force of which they are ena- 
bled to act upon the elastic coats of the. vessels of the 
human body. . 

A more important observation, however, with regard 
to the very opposite effects of the gases alluded to yet 
r^oaains to be stated. It would appear, that, with an 
increase of the yolume of the circulating fluid, a ge- 
neral sense of pleasure is experienced. This fact is 
well illustrated in the delight expressed by the indi- 
viduals, who, a number of years ago, submitted them- 
selves to the experiments instituted with the view of 
ascertaining the effect of the nitrous oxide. The fbel- 



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64 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

ings which they experienced are described under such 
terms as " pleasurable thrillings extending from the 
chest to the extremities," or '^ sublime emotions." 
On the contrary, when there is an increasing contrac- 
tion in the volume of the blood, indicated by a spas- 
tic disposition of the vessels sufficient to impede the 
general current of the circulating fluid, an opposite 
state of pain appears to be an invariable result. This 
fact is proved in the distressing feelings experienced 
during the earliest symptoms arising from the epide- 
mic contagion of the febrile miasma. 

It is on these principles, then, that I would attempt 
to explain the nature of the sanguineous influence or 
energy, as it is exercised during the course of circu- 
lation. In considering, also, the mind as simple and 
indivisible, as well as existing in certain states, its re- 
lation to the human frame appears to be singularly 
manifested by some general correspondence with the 
quality and degrees of these actions of the blood. We 
have seen, for instance, that with the peculiar influen- 
cing condition of the circulating fluid, a tendency 
either to pleasurable or painful feelings is in a remark- 
able degree connected. Proofs, therefore, may now 
be advanced, that with the varying force of this influ- 
ence, the degree of intensity which takes place in the 
qualities of our mental states keeps a remarkable pace. 
Such evidence is afforded by a further reference to 
that singular compound, the nitrous oxide. When 
the effects of this gaseous inhalation were first tried, 
the general result was, that, in proportion as it influ- 
enced the circulation, sensations became more and 
more vivid. These were described under such terms 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 65 

as ^' An Increased sendbility to toucV*^'' A aense 
of tangible extension,"— « Visible impressions beoc^i- 
ing more illuminated/'—'' Luminous points arising to 
dazzle the vision"—'' Hearing more acute, so that the 
smallest sound in the room was heard distinctly/*— 
" Feelings of such delight as aknost to destroy con- 
sdousness." At the same time, grateful recollections 
<^an unccmimon intensity passed rapidly through the 
mind. One individual, in attempting to describe his 
feelings, could only compare them to those which he 
had experienced when witnessing an heroic scene upon 
the stage. Another person could only refer for a de- 
scription of the state of his mind to the emotions 
raised within his breast, when, upon the occasion of 
the famous commemoration held at Westminster Ab- 
bey in honour of Handel, he heard seven hundred in- 
struments playing at one time. As a further conse- 
quence, also, of this increased degree of pleasure, time 
never failed to appear longer than as measured by a 
watdi* 

These observations on the mental effects arising 
from a strong sanguineous influence, may be extend- 
ed by directing our attention, in the next place, to 
the febrile miasma, the primary action of which forms 
a direct counterpart to the salubrious agency of the 
nitrous oxide. At Cadiz and Malaga, this pernicious 
gas has been found possessing its greatest degree of 
virulence ; having been heightened in its effects by 
extraorctinary heat and moisture, a stagnant atmos- 
phere, crowded multitudes, and the decomposition of 
human effluvia. In this state it has been received 
into the circulation, when the effect of the blood, thus 

s 



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66 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

chemically altered^ was to vivify mental impreissions 
to no less a degree than if the nitrous oxide had been 
inhaled ; at the same time> the quality of the feelings^ 
thus repdered more intense^ was of an opposite and 
painful kind. There was a general soreness which 
pervaded the whole system^ of such an acuteness^ 
that the contact of the internal air^ or a new change 
of temperature^ became insupportable. There was a 
distressing leip^ria, or coldness of the surface of the 
body and of the extremities^ while the intmor parts 
felt as they were scorched with a fire. A great 
anxiety prevailed about the prsecordia^ while the 
images of the mind were rendered no less intense^ 
being of such a painful description^ and so increasing 
in their gloomy character^ that they produced^ as it 
was declared^ an overwhelming dejection. 

Having thus discovered in the nitrous oxide and in 
the febrile miasma two most important agents capa- 
ble of affecting the quality of our mental feelings, we 
may lastly inquire into the effect which they can pro- 
duce when their excitation is carried to an extreme 
height. 

There are few of my readers, probably, who are 
not aware of the distinction which is always made 
between those states of the mind which are induced 
when causes impressing our organs of sense are pre- 
sent, and those which occur as revivals of prior men- 
tal states; the former being termed sensations, the 
latter ideas, or, more correctly, renovated JeeUngs. 
Sensations and renovated feelings differ essentially in 
nothing but degree. Thus, the latter are less intense, 
less vivid, or fainter, than the former. This distinc- 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 6? 

tion is acknowledged by all metaphysicians. Dr 
Bro¥ai^ for instance^ remarks^ that " there is a ten- 
dency in the mind to renovations of feeling less vivid^ 
indeed^ than the original affections of sense when ex- 
ternal objects were present^ but still so very similar 
to those primary states of the mind^ as to seem almost 
copies of them in various degrees of vividness or 
faintness.^' 

This metaphysical view being stated, I shall now 
once more advert to the action of the nitrous oxide on 
our mental feelings, from which we learn, that when- 
ever sensations and ideas are simultaneously in- 
creased to a very great degree of vividness, the mind 
gradually becomes unconscious of all or most of its 
actual impressions, but more particularly of painful 
or disagreeable ones, while the recollected images of 
pleasurable thought, vivified to the height of sensa- 
tions, appear, as it were, to take their place. '* When- 
ever the operation of this gas," remarks Sir Humphry 
Davy, '^ was carried to its greatest height, the plea- 
surable thrilling gradually diminished,, the sense of 
pressure was lost, impressions ceased to be perceived, 
vivid ideas passed rapidly through the mind." On 
another occasion, this great chemist describes his 
feelings after the following manner : — '^ Immediately 
after my return from a long journey, being fatigued, 
I respired nine quarts of nitrous oxide, having been 
precisely thirty-three days without breathing any. 
The feelings were different from those I had expe- 
rienced on former experiments. After the first six 
or seven respirations, I gradually began to lose the 
perception of external things, and a vivid and intense 



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68 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

recollection of some former experiments passed through 
my mind^ so that I called out^ What an amazing con- 
catenation of ideas !" A third experiment by the same 
philosopher was perhaps attended with the most re- 
markable results. He was ^enclosed in an air-tight 
breathing box of the capacity of about nine cubic feet 
and a half^ in which he allowed himself to be habitu- 
ated to the excitement of the gas^ which was then 
carried on gradually. After havings therefore, been 
in tills place of confinement an hour and a quarter, 
during which time no less a quantity than 80 quarts 
were thrown in, he adds, " The moment after I came 
out of the box, I began to respire 20 quarts of un- 
mingled nitrous oxide. A thrilling, extending from 
the chest to the extremities, was almost immediately 
produced. I felt a sense of tangible extension, highly 
pleasurable in every limb, my visible impressions 
were dazzling and apparently magnified. I heard 
distinctly every sound in the room^ and was perfectly 
aware of my situation. By degrees, as the pleasur- 
able sensation increased, I lost all connexion with ex- 
ternal things ; trains of vivid visible images rapidly 
passed through my mind, and were connected with 
words in such ^ manner^ as to produce perceptions 
perfectly novel. I existed in a world of newly-con- 
nected and newly-modified ideas. When I was 
awakened from this semi-delirious trance by Dr 
Kinglake, who took the bag from my mouth, indig- 
nation and pride were the first feelings produced by 
the sight of the persons about me. My emotions 
were enthusiastic and sublime; and for a moment I 
walked round the room, perfectly regardless of what 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 60 

was said to me. As I recovered my former state of 
mind^ I felt an inclination to communicate the dis- 
coveries I had made during the experiment. I en- 
deavoured to recall the ideas>-^they were feeble and 
indistinct. One recollection of terms, however, pre- 
sented itself, and with the most intense belief and 
prophetic maimer I exclaimed to Dr Kinglake, ^ No- 
thing exists but thoughts, the universe is composed 
^ of impressions, ideas, pleasures, and pains/" 

Such is the interesting detail of a very important 
physiological experiment made by one of the most ad- 
venturous as well as profound philosophers of the 
present age. The visionary world to which he was 
introduced, consisting of nothing more than tlie high- 
ly vivid and embodied images of the mind, and the 
singular laws by which such phantasms (if they may 
be so called) are governed, form, in fact, the real ob- 
ject of the present dissertation. 

A singular result, but varied by the opposite quality 
of pain, attends the incipient influence of the febrile 
miasma of Cadiz and Malaga. Sensation and ideas 
are, as under the action of the nitrous oxide, simul- 
taneously vivified. The mind soon becomes insensi- 
ble to actual impressions, these being succeeded by a 
new world of ideas, of the most frightful kind. Horrid 
spectral images arise, the forerunner of a suddenly 
diminished degree of excitement, of total insensibility, 
or of death. 

Our inquiry will now perhaps be found not wholly 
devoid of interest. A pathological principle in this 
investigation has been established, that when sensa- 
tions and ideas are, from some peculiar state of the 



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70 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

sanguineous fluids simultaneously rendered highly in- 
tense^ the result is^ that recollected images of thought^ 
vivified to the height of actual impressions^ constitute 
the states of the mind. 

As it has now^ I trusty been sufficiently shewn^ that 
an adequate cause of spectral illusions may arise from 
an undue degree of vividness in the recollected images 
of the mind^ I shall^ in the next place^ investigate 
those morbid states of the body^ by which such an 
effect may be induced. That ideas are not unfire- 
quently liable to be so excited as to equal in their in- 
tensity actual impressions^ and thus to be mistaken for 
them> is a fact with which those who are in the habit 
of visiting the apartments of the sick cannot but be 
familiar. '' From recalling images by an act of me- 
mory," remarks Dr Ferrier, " the transition is direct 
to beholding spectral objects which have been floating 
in the imagination;" and/' adds this physician^ on 
another occasion^ '^ I have frequently, in the course 
of my professional practice, conversed with persons 
who imagined that they saw demons, and heard them 
speak ; which species of delusion admits of many gra- 
dations and distinctions, exclusive of actual insanity." 
This observation every medical practitioner will con- 
firm. 

I may also remark, that, in pursuing the patholo- 
gical inquiry in which we are engaged, our true course 
is at length rendered plain and direct. In judging 
from the operation of those peculiar gases, the nitrous 
oxide and febrile miasma, which, when inhaled, affect 
the composition of the blood, and, at the same time, 
exert a vivifying influence over the feelings of the 



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PEODUCTION OF SPECTllAL ILLUSIONS. 71 

mind^ it appears that our first proper object is to in- 
quire, if there are not many morbid conditions of the 
body in which the blood, Arom its altered quality, 
may not produce the same consequences. In fact, the 
causes thus affecting the sanguineous system, may be 
considered as arising, in the first place^ fVom here- 
ditary or constitutional taints of the blood ; 2d]y, 
From the suppression of healthy or accustomed eva« 
cuations; Sdly, From adventitious matters directly 
admitted into the composition of this fluid ; and^ 4thly, 
From circumstances affecting the state of the circu- 
lating system through the medium of the nerves or 
brain. Lastly, I may be allowed to observe, that 
whenever such a vivifying influence can be proved to 
exist, no f\iture difficulty will surely remain in ac- 
counting for the spectral illusions which must neces- 
sarily result, when ideas^ fVom their high degree of 
excitement, are rendered as vivid as actual impres- 
sions. 



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72 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 



CHAPTER 11. 

8PB0TRAL ILLUSIONS RESULTING FROK THE HtGHLY- 
BXOITED STATES OF PARTIOULAB TEMPERAMENTS. 



<' Bnt that I would not 

Affect jou with more sadneu, I could shew ye 

A place worth view,— 

Where people ot all sorts, that have been visited 

With lunacies and folHes, wait their cures. 

Here^s fancies of a thousand stamps and fashions, 

Like flies in several shapes, buz round about ye, 

And twice as many gestures ; some of pity. 

That it would make you melt to see their passions : 

And some as light again, that would content ye.** 

Beaumont and Fletcher. 



From the difFerent mental dispositions observable in 
mankind, we are entitled to expect, that in each 
individual of the human race, there may be a consti- 
tutional tendency to some one prevailing state of 
feelings, either distinctly pleasurable or distinctly 
painful. In the temperament, for instance, named 
sanguine, the influence of the blood is indicated by an 
increasing dilatation of the sanguineous vessels, or 
by the greater tendency of the pulse to strength and 
fulness, while the general mental disposition is of a 



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PEODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 78 

lively kind.* In the melanchotic temperament^ on 
the contrary^ there appears to be an opposite quality 
of the circulating fluids ivhich^ by its influence^ in- 
duces a constricting disposition of the vessels^ and 
a corresponding proneness to gloomy thoughts, t 
Pinel has referred the symptoms^ named maniacal^ to 
a very highly-excited state of these two temperaments; 
and this view leads to the rational doubt which may 
be entertained^ that the cause of mania is less de« 
pendent upon the condition of the nervous system^ 
than upon some particular or morbid quality of the 
circulating fluid.^ '^ If the blood be imperfectly 
elaborated/' remarks a modem writer, '' or with a 



• ** Homines uU constitutione precUti/* remarks Dr Gregory, 
*^ prmer eolitum sentientes et irritsbilei observsntur, et pulsus 
hsbent solito ftrequentiores, et sanguinis motum Uberrimum, et 
seeretiones et excretiones fere oopiosas, raro obstructas, et animum 
plerumque latum et hilarem, aliquando lefem « nam anirol non 
sccus ac corporis varietates a temperamento snpe pendent*** 

f *' Hoc temperamento prediti, animum habent gravera, s»po 
trlstcm, meditabundum, ha\)d facile commovcndum, quo semel 
commotus est alTectus tenadsvimum^ in negotiis indefessum In 
studiis acutlssimum, in amore ferventissimum, fldellssimum, ad 
poesin s«pe aptum, in molandioliam et insaoiam aliquando pro- 
cHvem.**-— Gff^y*! Compeciut Mediciruje Theor* p. 999. 

$ ^' The form of the cranium," observes Dr Good, «« iu thick, 
ness, and other qualities,— -the meninges, the substance of the 
brain^ the ventrides^ the pineal gland, tlie commissures, the cere* 
bellum,— hafe all been analyzed in turn by the most, dexterous 
and prying anatomisU of Englapd/ France^ Germany, and Italy, 
but with no satisfactory result.— GooeTi Study of Medicine^ v. iii. 
p. 07. 



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74 THE DISEASES CJONNECTED WITH THE 

disproportioQ of some of its constituent principles to 
the rest^ the whole system partakes of the evil^ and 
a diathesis or morbid habit is the certain consequence. 
And if it become once impregnated with a peculiar 
taint, it is wonderful to remark the tenacity with 
which it retains it^ though often in a state of dor* 
mancy, or inactivity, for years, or even genenu 
tions."* From this view, therefore, which the writer 
takes of the influence of the sanguineous fluids he 
is led to entertain the opinion, that there is no other 
part of the system which we ought to regard as the 
predisposing cause of such corporeal disorders as gout^ 
struma, or phthisis, and even of mental affections, as 
of madness. On this subject, also, I shall beg leave 
to add, that, as the cause of the sanguine and melan- 
cholic temperaments in their highly-excited states, can 
pnly be referable to some peculiar state of the bloody 
I must regard the symptoms of such states to be those 
which are described under the general name of mania, 
" The violence of maniacal paroxysms," says Pinel, 
'* appears to be independent of the nature of the exci- 
ting cause, or to depend, at least, much more upon 
the consitution of the individual, or upon the different 
degrees of his physical and moral sensibility. Men 
of robust constitutions, of mature years, with black 
hair, and susceptible of strong and violent passions, 
appear to retain the same character when visited by 
this most distressing of human misfortunes. Their 
ordinary energy is augmented to outrageous fury. 
Violence, on the other hand, is seldom characteristic 

• Good's Study of Medicine, v. 2, p. 34. 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 75 

of the paroxysms of individuals of more moderate 
passions^ with brown or auburn hair. Nothing is 
more common than to see men with light-coloured 
hair sink into soothing and pleasurable reveries; 
whereas it seldom or never happens that they bec<Hne 
furious or unmanageable. Their pleasing dreams are^ 
however, at length overtaken by> and lost amidst the 
gloom of an incurable fatuity." 

Prom these remarks we are led to expept^ that vivid 
feelings of a highly intense kind will be often found 
in those states which characterize mania. Pinel has 
accordingly declared^ that, even during intervals of 
comparative calmness and reason^ he has no where 
met^ except in romances, with more fond husbands, 
more affectionate parents, more impassioned lovers, 
more pure and exalted patriots, than in an asylum for 
lunatics. Hence he argues, that persons of the great- 
est mental excitement, of the warmest passions, the 
most active imagination, the most acute sensibility, 
are chiefly prone to insanity.* When such, therefore, 
is the frequent mental condition of the maniacal patient, 
it will, in a theoretical point of view, be instructive 
once more to advert to the power of an agent, which 
is calculated above every other substance to illustrate 
the laws connected with the vividness of which outr 
mental feelings are susceptible; and in tracing its 
operation, when the sensations and ideas which it in- 
fluences are excited to an extreme degree of intensity, 
we may compare such a result with the state of mind 

• ^' A melancholy reflection,'' says Find, " but such as is cal- 
culated to call forth our best and tenderest sympathies." 



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76 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

which subsists during the accession of the maniacal 
paroxysm. The institution of this comparison wiU^ at 
the same time^ gi^e strength to the opinion^ that there 
exists in mania a sanguineous and constitutional influ- 
ence^ analogous in its consequences to such as may be 
artificially produced by chemical agents afiecting the 
composition of the blood. Thus I have before men- 
tioned^ that Sir Humphry Davy, in relating the parti- 
cular feelings which he experienced during the excite- 
ment of the nitrous oxide, first noticed the increased 
acuteness of his sensations, which he described under 
such terms, as ^^ a sense of tangible extension, or of 
visible impressions being rendered dazzling, and ap- 
parently magnified." In pointing out, also, the pain- 
ful efiect of the febrile miasma of Cadiz, it was ob- 
served, that the incipient indications of this influence 
were a general soreness over the body, or a sense of 
extreme cold or burning heat It is curious then to 
remark, that by a similar increase of corporeal sensi- 
bility, though frequently represented under different 
forms, the earliest symptoms of an approaching ma- 
niacal paroxysm are frequently characterized., Pinel 
speaks of a patient whose vision was rendered so acute- 
ly sensible, that, in forming his judgment from the 
effects of the sun's light, he fancied that this luminary 
acted upon him at the distance of only four paces ; he 
also described a motion which he experienced in his 
head as resembling that of gurgling or boiling. I 
likewise find it recorded of another lunatic, who, al- 
though he could usuaUy take large quantities of snuff* 
without sneezing, yet, upon the approach of a pa- 
roxysm, had his sense of smell rendered so intense. 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 77 

that he became convulsed with the slightest aroouu 
tics. With respect to the state of mental ideas^ when 
they are by the same cause and under similar circum« 
stances affected, a proportionate degree of vividness 
is no less observable. Thus Sir Humphry Davy has 
observed of the commencing effect of the nitrous oxide, 
that vivid ideas of the most pleasing description rapid- 
ly passed through his mind, ahd that an intense recol- 
lection arose of some former experiments. It is re« 
' markable also, that a patient cured by Dr Willis has, 
in the narrative of his- own case, described a similar 
state of ideas as existing in mania. *' I always," he 
relates, " expected with impatience the accession of 
the paroxysms, since I enjoyed during their presence 
a high degree of pleasure. They lasted ten or twelve 
hours. Every thing appeared easy to me. No ob- 
stacles presented themselves either in theory or prac- 
tice. My memory acquired upon a sudden a singular 
degree of perfection. Long passages of Latin authors 
recurred to my mind. In general, I have great diffi- 
culty in finding rhythmical terminations ; but then I 
could write in verse with as much facility as in prose." 
Such is the state of mind induced when the earlier 
stage of the interval of mental alienation is of a plea^ 
surable kind : and, on the other hand, when it is of a 
painful description, symptoms are ushered in -more re- 
sembling those which are induced by the febrile mias- 
ma ; the mind being distracted with recollections of 
the most gloomy character. 

It may be farther remarked, that the same analogy 
which I have traced continues to subsist in more ad- 
vanced indications of mania. It has been shewn, for 



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78 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

instance^ that after the long-continued inhalation of the 
nitrous oxide^ or in the more advanced state of the 
symptoms attending the baneful influence of the mi- 
asma of Cadiz^ ideas^ or the recollected images of the 
mind, acquire a degree of vividness equalling that of 
sensations. These are frequently no less the symptoms 
of mania after a paroxysm has, attained its greatest 
height Thus Pinel remarks, that a maniac conceived 
at different times that he had imaginary conferences 
with good and bad angels, and, according to the re- 
spective influences of their delusions, was mild or 
furious, inclined to acts of beneficence, or roused to 
deeds of ferocity. In an early period of history, when 
insane people, as was formerly the case in England, 
found no asylum, they were ever, in their desultory 
rambles, pursued by a vivid imagination with demons 
or furies. *' We meet with such maniacs," says a cri- 
tical writer on the Jewish customs, "in the syna* 
gogues, or places of religious worship— we meet with 
them in towns and cities, where they were allowed to 
ramble uncontrolled. Being thought to be inhabited 
by demons, they vtere esteemed sacred persons, and 
regarded with religious awe and reverence.'' Shak- 
speare has well shewny in the character of Edgar, that 
such was likewise the state of madmen in this country. 
" Who gives any thing to poor^Tom ?" says the pre- 
tended demoniac, ^^whom the foul fiend hath led 
through fire and through flame, through pond and 
whirlpool, over bog and quagmire; that hath laid 
knives under his pillow, and halters in his pew; set 
ratsbane by his porridge ; made him proud of heart, 
to ride on a bay trotting horse over four-inch'd bridges, 

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PRODUCTION OF SPECTKAL ILLUSIONSL 7* 

to course his own shadow for a traitor." This is no 
incorrect illustration of the state of a frenzied imagi« 
nation. 

There is no writer, however, that has been more 
successful than Burton in elucidating from well-au« 
thenticated instances of spectral illusions, those highly- 
excited states of the sanguine and melancholic tem- 
peraments, which may be considered as maniacal. 
" Such as are commonly of a ruddy complexion and 
high-coloured," says this author, '* are much inclined 
to laughter, witty and merry, conceited in discourse, 
pleasant, if they be not far gone, much given to music, 
dancing, and to be in women's company. They me- 
ditate wholly on such things, and think they see or 
hear plays, dancing, and such like sports, free from 
all fear and sorrow. Like him of Argus, that sat 
laughing all day long as if he had been at the theatre. 
Such another is mentioned by Aristotle, living at 
Abydos, a town of Asia Minor, that would sit, after 
the same fashion, as if he had been upon a stage, and 
sometimes act himself, sometimes clap his hands, and 
laugh as if he had been well pleased with the sight." 
The same writer remarks of another description of 
men, whose mental feelings have constitutionally a 
gloomy tendency, — " They are usually sad and soli- 
tary, and that continually and in excess ; more than 
ordinary suspicious, more fearful, and have long, sore, 
and most corrupt imaginations ; cold and black, bash- 
ful, and so solitary, that they will endure no company. 
They dream of graves, still and dead men, and think 
themselves bewitched or dead. If the S3rmptoms be 
extreme, they think they hear hideous noises, see and 



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80 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

talk with black men^ and converse familiarly with 
devils, and such strange chimeras and visions, or that 
they are possessed by them, and that somebody talks 
to them, or within them«" These illustrations of ma- 
nia will be at present sufficient for my purpose. It 
would indeed fill a volume to treat of the various 
mental illusions which may be referred to the same 
cause : 

*' See the strange working of dull melancholy ! 
Whose drossy thou^^ts, drying the feeble brain, 
Corrupts the sense, deludes the intellect. 
And in the souFs fair table falsely graves 
Whole squadrons of phantastical chimeras, 
And thousand vain imaginations ; 
Making so&e think their heads as big as horses,— 
Some that th* are dead,— -some that th' are tum'd to wolves." 
Old Gomedt of Likgua. 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 81 



CHAPTER IIL 

8PBCTRAL ILLUSIONS ARISING FROM THE HYSTERIC 
TEMPERAMENT. 



" O, how this mother sweUs up toward my heart I 
Hytterica pastio ! down, thou cUmbing sorrow, 
Thy element's below !'* 

King L£ae, Act 2, Scene 4. 



When the growth of the form is nearly completed, 
the circulating fluid necessary for the future support 
of the body is in superabundance, and unless corrected 
in the delicate system of the female, must, agreeably 
to the principles laid down, necessarily acquire a 
power of rendering unduly intense the feelings of the 
mind. Owing to this cause, then, arises what is 
named the hysteric temperament, which is so well 
described by Burton. " Prom hence," he remarks, 
'^ proceed a brutish kind of dotage, troublesome sleep, 
terrible dreams, a foolish kind of bashfulness in some, 
perverse conceits and opinions, dejection of mind, 
much discontent, and preposterous judgment. They 
are apt to loathe, dislike, disdain, to be wfetary of every 
object. Each thing almost is tedious to than. They 
pine away, are void of counsel, apt to weep, and 
tremble, timorous, fearful, sad, and out of all hopes of 
better fortunes. They take delight in doing nothing 



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88^ THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

for the time^ but love to be alone and solitary^ though 
that does them more harm. And thus they are af- 
fected so long as this vapour lasteth ; but by-and-by 
they are as pleasant and merry a9 tver they were in 
their lives ; they sing, discourse, and laugh in any 
good company, upon all ocoaaions. And so by fit9 it 
takes them now and then, except the malady be in- 
veterate, and then it is more frequent, vehement, and 
continuate. Many of them cannot tell how to express 
themselves in words, how it holds them, what ails them. 
You cannot understand them, or well tell what to make 
of their sayings." 

Such being the vivid mental feelings characteristic 
of the hysteric temperament, our present object is to 
search for some case in which they must have met 
with still greater excitement ; we shall then be en- 
titled to expect that effects will be produced not un« 
Ijke those of certain gases, which exert ^n extraor- 
dinary influence on the blood. It fortunately happens 
that a recent exainple, which may suit our purpose, is 
very minutely detailed in the Isjst volume of the Royal 
Society of Edinburgh, relative to a servant-girl, of 
the age of sixteen, who shewed general symptoms of 
plethora, obviously arising from the cause to whidi I 
have alhided.* The first symptom of her mental dis- 

• Report on a communication from Dr Dyce of Aberdeen to 
the Royal Society of Edinburgh, " On Uterine Irritation, and its 
Effects on the Female Constitution ;" by H. Dewar, M. D. F.R.S. 
Edinburgh. I am sorry to be under the necessity of dificring in 
«ome respects from Dr Dewar, in the Tiew. whi^h he has given of 
this case, as he has appeared to have referred all the symptoms of 
it to SomnamlmUsm, 



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PBODirCTION OF SPECTKAL ILLUSIONS. 83 

order was an unusual sonmolency. This was suo* 
ceeded by disturbed and talking dreams^ in which 
she uttered wild incoherent expressions, or sang mu» 
aical airs. Indications of somnambulism followed. 
I^ie would fall asleep, imagine herself an episcopal 
clergyman, go through the ceremony of baptizing the 
children, and give an appropriate and extempore 
prayer. Or she would fancy herself living with her 
aunt, near London, and placing herself upon one of 
the kitchen-stools, ride upon it with a clattering noise, 
and take an imaginary journey to Epsom races. Such 
vivid dreams were soon afterwards alternated with 
waidng visions. These illusions, or wanderings, as 
the girl herself named them, would suddenly come 
on while she was walking with her mistress's children, 
or was going to church,^-while she was dressing her^ 
self, — ^while she was arranging the furniture of the 
house, — at while she was busily engaged in the du« 
ties of the pantry or of the dining-table. A paroxysm 
of this kind would sometimes last for an hour ; and it 
differed from a dream in being characterized by.fewer 
mccmsistencies, by less glaring mistakes as to time 
and place, by its more frequent occurrence, and by 
occasionally giving way to a reproof or reprimand. 
^' She answered," says the reporter of her case, ^' ma* 
ny questicms distinctly, shewing at times scarcely any 
fidlure of her mental powers." 

It may now be interesting to trace the progress of 
tfoe symptoms which attended the paroxysms, to which 
the girl became subject. About a quarter of an hour 
previous to each state of this kind she felt somewhat 
drowsy ; a pain in the head, usually slight, but which. 



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84 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

on one occasion, was very intense, succeeded ; after* 
wards a cloudiness or mistiness came over her eyes ;— • 
a peculiar ringing noise stunned her ears, sometimes 
resembling the sound of carriage- wheels, and accom- 
panied with a feeling of motion, as if she herself were 
seated in the vehicle. The state of all these sensations 
bore, in fact, some slight degree of resemblance to 
that which results from an incipient effect on the cir* 
culation after inhaling the nitrous oxide, — ^false yet 
vivid sensible impressions having been felt. Occa« 
sionally, however, the sensations of the girl were ren* 
dered still more highly acute ; the eyelids appeared 
shut, though not entirely closed; the pupils were 
much contracted, and there was a great intolerance a£ 
light. She could not name objects when the light of 
the candle or fire shone fully upon them, but pointed 
them out correctly in the shade, or when they were 
dimly illuminated. She also recognised any of her 
acquaintance better by his shadow than by looking at 
his person. When the paroxysm fairly came on, which 
might be in any part of the day, the sensibility to 
external impressions gradually lessened ; the eyes be- 
came half closed ; the cornea was covered with a dim- 
ness or glaze, resembling that of a person in S3mcope ; 
the pupils were dilated, and, although the iris was 
exposed to the direct rays of the sun, it shewed no 
perceptible contraction.* At the same time, in pro- 
portion as sensations were either diminishing in their 
degree of vividness, or were becoming, in a manner^ 

* The pulse, says Dr Dyce, was 70, and the extremities rathtr 
eold. 



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PRODUCTION OP SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 85 

evanescent^ ideas grew more intense. Thus^ in one 
fit, as it is stated^ '' the girl performed, in the most 
correct manner, some of her accustomed duties rela- 
ting to the pantry and the dinner-table. Dr Dyce 
went to see her ; she gave him a wrong name, as for- 
merly. Her mistress then desired her to stand straight 
up, look around, and tell where she was. She reco- 
vered instantly, but it was only for a little ; — she very 
soon relapsed. When requested to read in an ahna- 
nack held before her, i^e did not seem to see it, nor 
did she notice a stick which was held out to her. 
Being asked a second time to read, she repeated a 
portion of Scripture, and did not give a correct answer 
when asked where she was. Being desired to state 
what she felt, she put her hand to her forehead, and 
complained of her head, saying, she saw the mice 
running through the room. Mrs L mentioned 

that she had said the same thing on many former oc- 
casions, even when her eyes were shut ; that she had 
also frequently imagined she was accompanied by a 
little black dog, which she could not get rid of. She 
did not, in general, express any particular uneasiness 
from such a cause ; at times, however, she cried in 
consequence of it, and at other times laughed immo- 
derately." 



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86 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 



CHAPTER IV. 

8PB0TRAL ILLUSIONS OOCUBRING FBOM PLETHORA; 
FOR INSTANQB^ FROM TBB NBGLSCT OF ACOUSTOMBB 
PBRIOBIOAL BLOOD-LETTING. 



'* Phlebotomy, many times n^lected, may doe much hsnne to the 
body, when there is a manifest redundance of had famnon and 
melancholy blood ; and when these humors beate and boyle, H 
this be not used in time, the parties affected, so inflamed, ax9 
in great danger to be mad ; but if it be unadvisedly^ unfortu- 
natdy immoderately used, it doth as much harme by rdxiger. 
ating the body, dulling the spirits, and consuming them.'* 

BuaT0N*8 Anatomy of Melancholy, Part I, Sect. 2. 



The blood may, from nothing more than the excess in 
which it prevails throughout the system, prove a sti- 
mulant capable of inducing an undue vividness of 
thought. This curious fact appears to have formerly 
met with many satisfactory illustrations, when, in ac- 
cordance with the humoral pathology once taught, 
periodical blood-letting was universally practised; 
and the rationale of such an effect must, &om the 
principles laid down, be sufficiently evident. The 
comparative degree of vividness subsisting between 
sensations and ideas being regulated by the usual in- 
fluencing condition of the circulating system, we may 
readily conceive, that whenever a wonted evacuation 
of the sanguineous fluid is . stopped, the recollected 
images of the mind must be rendered liable to an 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 87 

undue degree of excitation. Thi^ is evident^ from a 
remark occurring in Burton'» Anatomy of Melan- 
chdly> where the mental effect resulting from a neglect 
of accustomed phlebotomy is^ in the language of the 
humoral school of medicine^ expressed under such 
meU^horical terms, as '^ an inflantimation caused by 
hot and boiling humours." 

That thi» view is far from hypothetical> the case of 
Nicolai, the Prussian bookseller, to which I have al- 
luded in the first chapter, strikingly shews. This 
intelligent man had evidently certain trains of thought 
rendered unduly vivid firom moral causes, the parti- 
cular influence 6f which I ^all consider hereafter; 
but a conspiring agent, much more excitable^ was 
strictly oi a pathological description, and resulted 
from a casual neglect of accustomed blood-letting. 
This very curious fact I shall give in another extract 
from Nicolai's case. " Several Incidents/' he obseryesi 
'^ connected with itpparitions, seem to me of impcurtance^ 
though we might be apt to regard them in a secondary 
point of view ; for we cannot determine of what con* 
sequenpe even a circumstance oS the most trivial na* 
ture may be, if at any future period (in case more 
experiments of a like nature are ascertained) some 
suppositions or conclusions can be made respecting 
the origin of such phantoms, or respecting that law 
of association, according to which ideas are modified 
or fc^QW ^[le atnothar. 

" I was then, which is seldom the case, in a situa- 
tion to make observations on myself. I took down, 
therefore, in a few words, what was most important^ 
and related it immediately to several persons. My 



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88 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

memory^ which is extremely retentive^ has^ besides^ 
treasured up the most minute circumstances; the 
more on that account^ as this story has very often 
proved the subject of my impartial consideration^ not 
only with regard to my own particular situ^tion^ but 
also in respect to its many psychological consequences. 
Its truth will^ I hope, require no further assurance on 
my part> since a member of this academy (Mr Selle) 
is an unexceptionable witness of it^ havings as my 
physician^ received a daily account of all that hap- 
pened to me. 

" In the last ten months of the year 1790, 1 under- 
went several very severe trials, which greatly agitated 
me. From the month of September in particular, 
repeated shocks of misfortune had befallen me, which 
produced the deepest sorrow. It had been usual for 
me to lose blood by venesection twice a year. This 
was done once on the 9th of July, 1790, but towards 
the close of the year it was omitted. In 1783, 1 had 
been suddenly seized with a violent giddiness, which 
the physician imputed to an obstruction in the small 
muscles of the abdomen, proceeding from too intense 
an application to study, and my sedentary manner of 
life for many years. These complaints were removed 
by a three-years' medicinal course, and the rigid ob- 
servance of a strict diet during that time. In the first 
stage of the malady the application of leeches had been 
particularly effective, and this remedy I had from that 
time regularly applied twice or thrice a year, when- 
ever I felt congestion in the head. It was on the 1st 
of March, 1790, that the leeches had been last ap- 
plied ; the bleeding, therefore, and the clearing of the 

8 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 89 

minuter blood-vessels by leeches^ had, in 1790, been 
less frequently observed than usual. A circumstance 
too that could not tend to benefit my deplorable situa- 
tion was, that from September I had been continually 
engaged in business which required the severest exer^ 
tion, and which, from frequent interruptions, was 
rendered still more burthensome and distressing." 

Nicolai then proceeded to give an account of the 
appearance of the first phantasm that presented itself 
before him, which was like the form of a deceased 
person; and he afterwards details the innumerable 
other spectral illusions with which he was haunted. 
This part of the narrative has been given in the first 
chapter of this dissertation. The most curious fact, 
however, still remains to be told ; it is that interesting 
circumstance in the case which proves, that the de- 
traction of blood in a system where the habitual eva- 
cuation of this vital fluid had been casually neglected, 
was sufficient, by a reduction of the sanguineous in- 
fluence, to expel all the phantasms which had resulted 
from an undue vividness of ideas. ** Though at this 
time," says Nicolai, '' I enjoyed rather a good state 
of health both in body and mind, and had become so 
. very familiar with these phantasms, that at last they 
did not excite the least disagreeable emotion, but, on 
the contrary, afforded me frequent subjects for amuse- 
ment and mirth ; yet as the disorder sensibly increas- 
ed, and the figures appeared to me for whole days to- 
gether, and even during the night, if I happened to 
awake, I had recourse to several medicines, and was 
at last again obliged to have recourse to the applica- 
tion of leeches. 



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90 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

'' TUs was perfonned on the 20th c^ Aprils at 
eleven o'clock in the forenoon. I was alone with the 
surgecm ; but during the operation^ the room swarmed 
with human forms o^ every description^ which crowd* 
ed fast one on another ; this continued till half-past 
four o'clock^ exactly the time when tl^ digestion 
commences. I then observed^ that the figures began 
to move mos^ slowly; soon afterwards the colours 
became gradually paler; every seven minutes they 
lost more and mcfse of their intensity, without any al* 
teration in the distinct figure of the appariticMis. At 
about half>past six o'clock all the figures were entirely 
white^ and moved very little ; yet the forms appeared 
perfectly distinct; by degrees they became visiWy 
less plain^ without decreasing in number^ as had often 
formerly been the case. The figures did not move 
oS, neither did they vanish, which also had usually 
happened on other occasions. In this instance they 
dissolved immediately into air ; of some even whole 
pieces remained for a length of time, which also by 
degrees were lost to the eye. At about eight o'clock 
there did not remain a vestige of any of them, and I 
have never since experienced any appearance of the 
same kind. Twice or thrice since that time I have 
felt a propensity, if I may be so allowed to express 
myself, or a sensation as if I saw something which in 
a moment again was gone. I was even surprised by 
this sensation whilst writing the {present account^ 
having, in order to render it more accurate^ perused 
the papers of VJQl, and recalled to my memcnry aU 
the circumstances of that time. So little are we some^ 
times, even in the greatest composure of mind, mastars 
of our imagination." 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. W 



CHAPTER V. 

THE SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS WHICH OCCASIONALLY 
OCCUB AS HECTIC SYMPTOMS. 



'^ Tbftt sadden flow of spirits, bright and strong, 
Wbidi pifty'd in sprightly salfies round my heart ; 
Was it a gleam forewarning me ttcm heav*n, 
Of quick approaching fate ? As tapers mount 
Exjniing into wide diffusive flame^ 
Give one broad glare, into the socket sink, 
And sinking disappear. It must be so !— *' 

W. Thompson. 



A VERY remarkable agents observable in a^number of 
diseases^ and capable of imparting an undue degree 
of vividness to thought^ is the cause of the fever 
usually named Hectic, 

By most medical men^ the proximate cause of hectic 
fever is considered to be absorbed pus ; agreeably to 
which view, the affection is merely symptomatic of 
the numerous catalogue of diseases in which this 
substance, originating from abscesses or ulcers, enters 
into the circulation. By a few the cause is regarded 
as constitutional, and hence the opinion, that it is 
characterized by a peculiar temperament, the indic»- 
tiona of which are a fair skin^ blue eyes, yellow hair, 
lax fibre, and sanguine disposition; and that other 
fevers, as well as the diseased actions of various or- 



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93 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

gans of the body^ may induce the true hectic state.* 
On either notion^ however, the cause of hectic fever 
must be regarded as an agent very materially modi- 
fying the quality of the sanguineous fluid ; hence the 
small, quick, and sharp pulse, the pyrectic indications 
of cold and hot fits, with sweatings and other symp- 
toms. Along with this influence exercised on the cir- 
culation, the mental feelings are highly vivified, while 
the quality of them is of such an exhilarating charac- 
ter, as to cherish, amidst the most alarming indica- 
tions, the fallacious prospect of returning health. 
Whilst corporeal exhaustion gives token that the hec- 
tic victim is fast sinking to a premature grave, the 
imagination, as if in cruel irony, is proportionally 
rendered more and more lively. The wan and ema- 
ciated student is buoyed up with blissful visions of 
future scientific acquirements never to be realized : 



" Fancy dreams 
Of sacred fountains, of overshadowing groves, 
Whose walks with god-like harmony resound : 
Fountains which Homer visits ; happy groves 
Where Milton dwells. The intellectual power, 
On the mind*s throne, suspends his graver cares 
And smiles.'' 

In the still more advanced, yet moribund symptoms 
of hectic fever, the vividness which ideas acquire, 
becomes, in the highest degree, intense. Patients are 
d%en deluded with the blissful visions which our great 

* I much doubt the correctness of this latter view ; it is advo- 
cated in Good's Study of Medicine, vol. ii. p. 165. 



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PBODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS* «3 

bard^ with such exquisite feeling and taste^ has dra* 
matized in his pathetic representation of the dying 
moments of Catherine of Arragon : 

Catherine. 

— — Saw you not, even now, a blessed troop 

Invite me to a banquet ; whose bright fiices 

Cast thousand beams upon me, like the sun ? 

They promised me eternal happiness ; 

And brought me garlands, Griffith, which I fed 

I am not worthy yet to wear : I shall 

Assuredly. 



Patiekce. 
Do you note 

How much her grace is alter'd on the sudden ? 
How long her face is drawn ? How pale she looks. 
And of an earthy cold ? Mark her eyes. 

Griffith. 
She is goings wench ; pray, pray. 

Patiekce. 
Heaven comfort her ! 



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94 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 



CHAPTER VI. 

SPBCTBAL ILLUSIONS PROM PBBRILB AND INFLAMMA- 
TORY AFFECTIONS. 



^^ External fonns, forbidden, mount the winds, 
Retire to Chaoi, or with night commix ;— 
Irregular and new ; as pain or ease 
The spirits teach to flow, and in the brain 
Direction diverse hold." 

Thompson's Progress of Sickness. 

It has been sufficiently shewn, in treating of the ge- 
neral pathology of mental illusions, that the febrile 
miasma possesses a great power, through the medium 
of the circulation, of inducing an extreme vividness of 
ideas. This cause, variously operating under the mo- 
dified forms which it acquires from different climates 
and soils, has frequently given rise to spectral im- 
pressions. Incidents of this kind, which mwe parti- 
cularly occur during the delirium attending the ty- 
phoid state of fever, are indeed so common, that it 
is needless to dwell any longer upon this part of our 
inquiry. 

Also in certain inflammatory states of the system, 
frequently, however, attended with an irritable state 
of the nerves, nothing is more common than for pa- 
tients to see phantasms, or to hear imaginary sounds, 
while the dispelling of these illusions generally suc- 
ceeds to a copious detraction of blood. A very curious 



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PEODUCnON OF SPEGTUAL ILLUSIONS. ft6 

caee of this kind is given in the 15th volume c^ Ni- 
diolson's Philosophical Journal^ which sAieswa every 
internal evidence of authenticity^ although the narra- 
tor has not> like Nicolai^ had the courage to affix to it 
his signature. ^' About .twelve years ago^ I had an 
attack of f ever^ arising frcnn some deep-seated inflam- 
mation^ which caused acute pain in the left side. It 
was occasioned by a cold caught at the breaking-up 
of the hard frost in the spring of 1795* The pulse 
was generally about 110 in the minute^ and the ill- 
ness^ wlfich lasted some weeks^ was accompanied with 
disordered perception^ through almost its whole dura- 
tion. At the commencement of the fever^ a slight 
defect of memory was perceived in forming the 
phrases for dictating a letter ; but this did not last, 
and I found no difficulty afterwards in performing 
arithmetical and other processes by memory to as 
great an extent as my usual habits could have gone. 
The first night was attended with great anxiety, and 
the fatiguing and perpetual recurrence of the same 
dream, I supposed myself to be in the midst of an 
immense system of medianical combination, all the 
parts of which were revolving with extreme rapidity 
and noise, and at the same time I was impressed with 
a otmviction that the aim or purpose of this distracting 
(^ration was to cure my disorder. When the agita- 
tion was carried to a certain height, I suddaily aw€^e, 
and soon afterwards fell again into a doze, with rqse- 
tition of the same dream. After many sudi repeti- 
tions it occurred to me, that if I could destroy the 
imfffession or conviction, there might be a probability 
that die delirious dream would change its form ; and 



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96 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

as the most likely method^ I thought^ that by con- 
necting some simple visible object in my mind^ with 
the notion of cure^ that object might be made to oc- 
cupy the situation of the rapidly moving objects in 
the dream. The consequence^ in some measure^ an- 
swered my expectation ; for upon the next access^ the 
recollection of the figure of a bottle^ to which I had 
previously directed my mind^ presented itself^ the ro- 
tation ceased^ and my subsequent dreams^ though 
disturbed^ were more various and less irritating. 

'' The medical treatment consisted in an external 
application of leeches to the side^ venesection^ and a 
saline mixture^ which was taken internally. 

'^ A second night was passed with much agitation 
in repeated dozing^ with dreams^ in which^ except 
with regard to the strangeness and inconsistency of 
the objects that offered themselves^ it was difficult to 
distinguish the time of sleep from that of wakefulness. 
None of that anxiety of mind remained which had 
added to the sufferings of the preceding night. When 
morning came^ the state of the sensations had either 
undergone a change^ or it was more easy^ as Hartley 
remarks^ for the real impressions of surroundingobjects^ 
to predominate over the phantasms of disease. Being 
perfectly awake^ in full possession of memory^ reason^ 
and calmness^ conversing with those around me^ and 
seeing^ without difficulty or impediment^ every sur- 
rounding object^ I was entertained and delighted with 
a succession of faces^ over which I had no control^ 
either as to their appearance^ continuance^ or removal. 

" They appeared directly before me, one at a time, 
very suddenly, yet not so much so, but that a secon(^ 



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PBODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 97 

of time might be employed in the emergence of each, 
as if through a cloud or mist^ to its perfect clearness. 
In this state each face continued five or six seconds^, 
and then vanished^ by becoming gradually fainter 
during about two seconds^ till nothing was left but a 
dark c^que mist, in which almost immediately after- 
wards appeared another face. All these faces were in 
the highest degree interesting to me for beauty of form, 
and for the variety of expression they manifested 
of every great and amiable emotion of the human 
mind. Though their attention was invariably direct- 
ed to me, and none of them seemed to speak^ yet I 
seemed to read the very soul which gave animation 
to their lovely and intelligent countenances. Admi* 
ration and a sentiment of joy and affection when each 
face appeared^ and regret upon its disappearance, kept 
my mind constantly ri vetted to the visions before it; 
and this state was interrupted only when an inter- 
course with the persons in the room was proposed or 
urged." 

The writer then gives certain other details relative 
to his case, which I diall notice in a more suitable 
part of this essay. He afterwards speaks of a tempo- 
rary suspension of these visions, which he attributes 
to the effect of a. medicine. " I do not remember," 
he adds, *^ how long these visions lasted, but think it 
was the next morning that they all vanished^ at the 
very instant of taking a draught, composed of lemon- 
juice, saturated with potash, with a small addition of 
the pulvis Londinensis. I cannot think the effect was 
owing to any peculiar virtue of this medicine, (for 
it took place before the draught had actually entered 



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98 TItE BISEAI^S OONNKCt*D WttU THE 

the stomach,) but merely to the stimciltts of th^ tolu 
acid cold fluid. 

'' How long the appearances were suspended I ^&d 
not note, or have now forgotten. The fever conti- 
nued with the same frequency of pttlse, and pain in 
the side, attended with yawning and gr^at increase of 
suffering while in the prone posture* Notwi^hsland^ 
ing the saline antimonial medicine was conthmed^ t^ 
figures returned ; but they iiow consisted ot bdoks^ or 
parchments, or papers containing pHnted matter. I 
do not know whether I. read any of them, but am ai 
present inclined to think they were either not dis- 
tinctly legible, or did not remain a sufficient time be- 
fore they vanished. 

''It occurred to me, that all these delusions were 
of one sense only, namely, the sight ; and, upon cc^- 
sidering the recurrence of sounds, a few simple txkv^ 
sical tones were afterwards heard, for one time only • 
soon after which, having dropped asleep, an animal 
seemed to jump upon my back, with the most shrill 
and piercing screams, which were too intolerable for 
the continuance of sleep. Diseased perceptions d 
the hearing did not again recur/' 



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PBOBtrcTioir OF sPEcraAi illu^hons. 99 



CHAPTER VIL 

8FECTBAL ILLU6I(»I8 AAI8IMO FltOM INFLAMMATION 
OF THB BRAIN. 



**■ Aii4 ef^Q where no real ills afirigbt, 
Its vi«ioiuury fiends, aa endless traixH 
Assail with equal or superior might, 
And through the throbbing heartland dizzy brain, 
And shivering nerves, shoot stings of more than mortal pain/^ 

Beattie. 



OoH researches have hitherto been confined to the 
blood, whidi we have considered aa giving rise^ from 
its own independ^it chemical properties or bulk^ to 
certain ii^nse states of the mind. It is now of im- 
portance to inquire if similar effects may not be re- 
lerred to nervous influence. 

Aconrding to the very important physiological ex- 
peaiments of Dr Philip^ it appears that the nervous 
system consists of parts endowed with the vital prin- 
ciple^ yet capable of acting in concert with inanimate 
mattor ; and that in man^ as well as in certain well- 
known mmals^ electricity is the agent thus capable 
of being collected by nervous organs^ and of being 
universally difiused, for purposes intimately connected 
with the animal economy, througliput every part of 
the human system. The agency, ^erefore, of the 



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100 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

nerves in contributing to produce numerous changes 
on the bloody and with them equally numerous states 
of the mind> must be very great ; and it is for this 
reason, that throughout every part of the human 
body they accompany vessels in their course. One 
set of nerves takes a direction from the surface of the 
human body, or from its cavities ; agreeably, also^ to 
the impressions received from external matter, as well 
as to the differences of animal structure which occur 
in sensible organs, corresponding sensations and re- 
novated feelings are excited. Hence, when we take 
into consideration the effect of certain gases on the 
blood in inducing definite qualities and degrees of 
vividness in our mental feelings, the conclusion is in- 
evitable, that the nerves belonging to the sensitive 
organs of our frame cannot generate any mental af- 
fections without first producing those peculiar sangui- 
neous effects which we have before described, and to 
which the immaterial principle of the mind seems, in 
some unknown manner, to be related. It may be also 
observed, that the mental feelings thus excited by the 
nervous influence on the circulation, bear a further 
relation to a set of nerves proceeding from small por« 
tions of the brain and spinal cord, which supply the 
muscles of voluntary motion ; each distinct state of 
mind thus ultimately stimulating with a definite de- 
gree of force particular muscular fibres. But, besides 
the class of nerves concerned with voluntary motion, 
there is another and far more extensive description, 
which exercise, through the medium of the blood, an 
influence on the states of the mind. N<?rves of this 
kind, consisting of a chain of ganglions, to which 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 101 

communications from all parts of the -brain and spinal 

marrow are sent^ form the cause of the processes of 

- secretion. The healthy exercise of these functions is 

. attended with a temperature considerably raised above 

that of the surrounding medium^ and hence arise the 

different mental states which result from salutary and 

morbid assimilations, or from the moderate, intense, 

. or languishing circulation of the blood. It is then 

from these causes that various degrees of vividness 

may be imparted to our feelings. 

This physiological view leads to the inference, that 
with respect to causes of irritation acting on the ner- 
vous system^ they may either influence nerves con- 
nected with the transmission of sensations and ideas 
from external impressions, or they may influence those 
nerves which are concerned in the processes of secre- 
tion ; in either case, however, the vividness of mental 
feelings cannot fail to be affected. On the other hand, 
by merely stimulating the nerves which are trans- 
mitted directly from the brain and spinal cord to the 
voluntary muscles, nothing more than irregular mus- 
cular actions can ensue. Causes of nervous irritation 
may also act in two ways ; they may either directly 
influence the state of the blood, and with it the state 
of the mental feelings, or they may produce a similar 
effect, though far less in degree, by exerting a power 
over the elastic and involuntary muscular fibres of 
the heart, giving, by this means, either an increasing 
or diminishing resistance to the vital expansibility 
evinced in the volume of the circulating mass. 

Dr Philip has mentioned, as a result of his experi- 
ments, that a chemical or mechanical agent very par- 



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102 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

tiallj xnitating the brain and ntatrts, ts inCapaUc of 
•xdtiDg the hearty but that it is iBflaenced by all 
agents appUed to any considerable portion ^ tbMe 
organs^ and that it feels the effect of $udi tei influence 
as long as it is applied. Excitements of liiia ki^ 
are to be found in snch infammatory causes as sivUto 
ahemations ci heat and cold^ e?^posure to die rajjrs of 
a vertical 8un> the suddai snppresmon of accustomed 
evacuations^ various kinds of poison^ and ineln:ia- 
tion. In certain forms of cerdbral inflammittion, the 
first symptoms evince an mcreaainig intensity of all 
senBations. In die case of a lady> a patient of Or 
<jkK>d, there was an intolerable acntcoiess nf hearing 
And vision^ insomudi that dte di^itest light and 
aound, even the humming of a fly> became insuppMt* 
able. Ideas also were rendered more vivid, But as 
the inflammation increased, the acute sensibility io 
external impressions gradually diminishedi wlule the 
recoUec^bed imiages of the mind assumed amoat fright* 
fttl reality. In ail example whieh <;«EDe und^r my 
own notice, ideas of vision were so int^se^ diat al* 
thou^ the patient dosed his eyelids, he could not 
even then dispel the lively images of demons that 
haunted his bed. The sleep was moreover disturbed 
w8fh the most hsrrible dreams. ^ 

A v^ry curious case t>f i|)eetral illmsicms is reMs^ 
by Dr Alderson of HuU^ in whidi the hritation $t 
the brain or its men:dn«nes seems to h^ve resulted 
from an extended inflammation under the scalp. 

" A few months ago" says this writer, " I visited 
Mr R.> who was seized, in his passage from America, 
with a most excrudating headach. He obtained some 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 103 

temp^ary veiief from die formation of matter undar 
the (Bcalp ; swellings came on in tbe throaty and he 
had acmie difl$€uky of respiration when in bed. At 
tfak tin^j he complained to me that he had trouble- 
some dreamd^ and that he seemed to dream whilst 
iiwake. In a short time after^ he told me he had, for 
aa hour as two« been convinced that he>had seen his 
wife imd family, when his r^ht judgment told him 
that they w^e in America ; and the impression was 
^ stNHig a few nights afterwards, and the conversa* 
tioa he had with his son so very particular and im- 
portant, that he cpuld not help relating the whole to 
his friends in the morning, and requested to know if 
)ijs wife and son were not actually arrived from Ame- 
rica« and at that time in the house. I was sent for to 
hold ^xmfultation, and he evidently saw that they all 
took hkn to . be insane. He therefore immediately 
tamed to me, and asked me, whether the complaint 
be then had would bring on the imagination of spec- 
tres, and apparitions, and %ures ; for he had always 
hitherto been an unbeliever in ghosts, and in every 
thing else ; he felt, and his friends likewise acknow- 
ledged> that he was perfectly sane, and strong in 
mind as ever he was in his life. Having satisfied him 
with the nature and extent of his complaint, and that 
it would aoofa vanish with his bodily sufferings, he 
and his friends were made easy in their minds ; but 
the phantoms became at length more troublesome,9SO 
that he could not bear to go into his bed-room, where 
every picture brought with it the association, and con- 
jured up the spirits of the departed, or introduced a 
train of unpleasant companions. He remained after 



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104 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

this in a low room^ and was for a time free from in- 
truders ; but in a bright brass lock he again saw iiis 
transatlantic friends^ and never afterwards could he 
look to it but he saw them ; and when I have been 
with him, and have purposely taken up a book, I 
have seen him hold conversation in his mind's eye 
with them ; and I have momentarily known him con- 
sider me as hearing and seeing them too— I say mo- 
mentarily, for he is a man of strong parts, and per- 
fectly convinced of the nature of the complaint ; for 
whenever I spoke, and he turned from the lock, he could 
converse on religion, physic, and politics, as well as 
ever. He then changed his house ; the matter again 
formed under the scalp, and he is now in a state of 
convalescence, and totally free from such visitations."* 
The effect induced on the brain by intoxication 
from ardent spirits, which have a strong tendency to 
inflame this organ, is attended with very remarkable 
effects. These have been lately described as symp- 
toms of delirhim tremens.f Many cases, indeed, are 
recorded, which shew the liability of the patient to 
long-continued spectral impressions. '^ I was called," 
says Dr Armstrong, " to visit Mr B. J., a short spare 
man, in the -*— « year of his age ; who, I was told, 
was so very ungovernable, that his frdends had pro- 
vided a strait-waistcoat for him, and only waited my 
approbation to put it on. I found him in a state of 
exHreme perturbation, impressed with the idea that 

* Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. vi. p. 291. 
f An excellent thesis on this subject was written in the year 
J821, by Dr Begbie of Edinburgh, 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 105 

two men were lurking in the adjoining room^ who 
were determined to murder him^ and who had re- 
peatedly^ in the course of the mornings fired pistols at 
him with that intention. In order to escape from the 
supposed assassins^ he had just made an attempt to 
leap through the chamber -window^ and had only 
been prevented from so doing by the interference of 
some relations^ witl\ whom he had been struggling very 
hard. I endeavoured to pacify him> by assuring him 
that no one should do him an injury^ and at last pre- 
vailed upon him to sit down. Occasionally^ however^ 
he looked at me suspiciously; and> upon the least 
noise being made below stairs^ started and stared 
wildly round the room. His breathing was rather 
hurried. He occasionally sighed deeply^ and at in- 
tervals he was attacked with a dry hollow-sounding 
cough> which appeared to shake his whole frame. 
His face was pale^ and his countenance full of anxiety. 
To all my questions his answers were confused^ and 
not at all to the purpose ; he hesitated almost at every 
syllable^ and mistook the pronunciation of many 
words. On inquiry, I learnt that he had latterly been 
in a state of intoxication^ more especially in the pre- 
ceding week^ and on Saturday the 14th of November; 
since which time he had taken less stimulus than 
usual^ with the intention of becoming temperate. 
The following particulars were likewise related to me. 
On Sunday, the 15th of November, he complained of 
being very languid, took little food, and only drank 
about two glasses of wine, a small quantity of ale, and 
half a glass of gin. Towards the evening he grew 
rather feverish, and passed an uneasy and sleepless 



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106 THE M8EASES CXMfNECTED WITH THE 

night. He reiliained nearly in the tame state during 
die enauing M<mday, till late in the aft«mecm» wbw 
foe was seised with a violent hollow ekitnging (X>iigh, 
whidi made him perqpnre profbtdy^ and was vetj 
tronUeaome dirough the tiight^ whidi he passed, us 
before^ withont sleep. On Tuesday morning he had 
a severe fit of coughing, after whidi he became «c<- 
ceedingly fretful and irritable, the slightest eoii^!»- 
diction throwing him into an exeessive paMJoib JM 
the latter part of the day he rrfused both wine 4lid 
food, asserting that he was confident some Wi<4ted 
people were watching an opp<>rtunity to person bim ; 
and, when preparing to go to bed in the evening, 
sucklenly started, as if somdi)ody was about to lay 
hands upon him* He soon afterwardi^ however, went 
to bed, but obtained no rest whatever* From ilm 
period the distraction of mind inoneased, Mui he was 
in ixmstant alarm about the aafety of his person. JU 
an early hoar die next evening, he dewed to go to 
bed; but, hearing a noise made by a servant benoMk 
his diamber, he leapt up in great agitation, dedbring 
diat two men had just entered llie house with the d^ 
sign of mnrderiiqp him. Being somewhat calmed hf 
the kindness of his friends, he went to bed again, and 
b^ged them to be watchful in the night. He did 
not seem at all ^sposed to ideep, but talked at inteir- 
vab about his life being in knminent danger from 
fire-arms and poison, and kept constantly gathermg 
the bed-clothes about him till dayligh^ when he rose, 
much agitated with the ^exr of assassination, aaKi his 
since continued restless and alarmed." 
Dr Armstrong, after detailing several other symp- 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 107 

toma, mentkms the result of a visit paid him three 
days afterwards^ " He has taken his witie> food^ tokd 
laedtdne^ whenever fxresented to him ; but has had 
no sleep in tbs nigbt^ though he remained very quiet 
till about ^x t>'^Q^ thfs mornings whm, one itt the 
people who sat up witji him reusing to lejt him go 
down sl^urs^ he burst into a vii^ent passion, attempted 
te break open the door of his chamber, and msisted 
that he was not in his own iiouse, but detained by 
force in some other. His wife, on hearing the noise, 
came into the room, and told him he might go down 
stairs, or anywhere he thought proper, and endear 
vottred, in a good-humoured way, to convince him 
that he was really at home ; and at Imigth succeeded, 
by shewing him the different apartments of the house. 
Shortly afterwards he requested a cup of coffee, which 
he appeared to rcdish; and then went to bed ^ain, 
and ML into a sound trai^uil sleep, from which he 
has not yet awakened. Not wishing to disturb the 
patient, I left the house without seeing him ; but, on 
cal&ig again about two o'clock in the afternoon, found 
that he had just risen, collected and rational upon 
e^rery subject, but had no very distinct recollection of 
any thing that had passed during his illness."* 

A case, ^ven still more curious, is related by Dr 
AldenKm.t ^^ I was called upon," he observes, " sonw 
time ago, to visit Mr o ^ ** ■ , who, at that time, kept a 
dram««hop. Having at different times attended, and 
thence knowing him very well, I was struck wikb 

* Bdinbmrgh Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. ix. p. 146. 
t Ibid, vol vi. p. 208. 



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108 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

something singular upon my first entrance. He went 
up stairs with me, but evidently hesitated occasionally 
as he went. When he got into his chamber^ he ex- 
pressed some apprehension lest I should consider him 
as insane^ and send him to the asylum at York^ 
whither I had not long before sent one of his pot- 
companions. Whimce all these apprehensions ? — 
What is the matter with you ? — ^Why do you look so 
full of terror? He then sat down^ and gave me a 
history of his complaint. 

*' About a week or ten days before^ after drawing 
some liquor in his cellar for a girl> he desired her to 
take away the oysters which lay upon the floor^ and 
which he^ supposed she had dropped ;— the girl^ think- 
ing him drunk^ laughed at bim^ and went out of the 
room. 

'^ He endeavoured to take them up himself^ and to 
his great astonishment could find none. He was then 
going out of the cellar, when at the door he saw a 
soldier/ whose looks he did not like, attempting to 
enter the room in which he then was. He desired to 
know what he wanted there ; and upon receiving no 
answer, but, as he thought, a menacing look, he 
sprung forward to seize the intruder, and to his no 
small surprise found it a phantom. The cold sweat 
hung upon his brow — he trembled in every limb. It 
was the dusk of the evening as he passed along the 
passage — ^the phantom flitted before his eyes— he at- 
tempted to follow it, resolutely determined to satisfy 
himself; but as it vanished, there appeared others, 
and some of them at a distance, and he exhausted him- 
self by fruitless attempts to lay hold of them. He 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 109 

hastened to his family^ with marks of terror and con- 
fusion ; for, though a man of the most undaunted re- 
solution^ he confessed to me that he never had before 
felt what it was to be completely terrified. During 
'the whole o£ that night, he was constantly tormented 
with a variety of spectres^ sometimes o£ people who 
had been long dead, and other times of friends who 
were living ; and harassed himself with continually 
getting out of bed> to ascertain whether the pe<q>le he 
^aw were real or not Nor could he always distin* 
gulsh who were and who were not real customers^ as 
they came into the rooms in the daytime, to that his 
conduct became the subject o£ observation; and 
though it was for a time attributed to private drink« 
ing, it was at last suspected to arise from some other 
cause ; and when I was sent for, the family were un* 
der the full conviction that he was insane, although 
they confessed, that, in every thing else, except the 
foolish notion of seeing apparitions, he was perfectly 
rational and steady ; and during the whole of the 
time that he was relating his case to me, and his mind 
was fully occupied, he felt the most gratifying relief, 
for in all that time he had not seen one apparition ; 
and he was elated with pleasure indeed, when I told 
him I should not send him to York, for his was a 
complaint I could cure at home. But whilst I was 
writing a prescription, and had suffered him to be at 
rest, I saw him suddenly get up, and go with a hur- 
ried step to the door. What did you do that for ?— - 
he looked ashamed and mortified:— he had been so 
well whilst in conversation with me, that he could not 



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110 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

believe that the soldier whom he saw enter the room 
was a phantom^ and he got up to conviklce himselfl 

^* I need not here detail particularly the medical 
treatment adopted ; but it may be as well just to state 
the drcomstances whidi probably led to the com- 
plaint, toad l^e pntidple of eure^ Some time pre- 
vioedy he had had a quarrel with a drunken scddier, 
who attempted, against hia inelmation, to enter his 
house at an unseasMiable hour, and in the struggle to 
tmfn him out, the soldier threw his bayonet, and, hav- 
ing struck him across the temples, divided die tem- 
poral artery ; in consequ^iee of which he bkd a v^y 
large quantity before a surgecm arrived, as there was 
no one who knew that, in such a case> i»mple com- 
{Hression with the finger, upon the spouting artery, 
would stop the effusion of blood. He had scarcely 
recov^ed from the effects of this loss of blood, when 
he undertook to accompany a friend in his walking- 
match against time, in which he went forty-two miles 
in nine hours. Elated with success, he spent the 
whole of the following day in drinking, but found 
himself, a short time afterwards, so much out of 
health, that he came to the resolution of abstaining 
altogether from liquor. It was in the course of the 
week following that abstinence fh>m his usual habits, 
that he had the disease. It kept increasing for seve*- 
ral days till I saw him, allowing him no time for resL 
Never was he able to get rid of these shadows by 
night when in bed, nor by day when in motion; 
though he sometimes walked miles with that view^ 
and at others got into a variety of company. He told 



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l?BODUGTION OP SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 111 

me he suffered even bodily pain, from the severe lash- 
ing of a waggoner with his whip, who came every 
night to a particular comer of his bed, but who al- 
ways disappeared when he jumped out of bed to re- 
tort, which he did several nights successively. The 
whole of this comphunt was efiSn^ually removed by 
bleeding with leeches, and active purgatives. After 
the first employment of these means, he saw no more 
phantoms in the da3rtime ; and after the second, only 
cmce saw his milkman in his bed-room, between 
sleeping and waking. He has remained perfectly 
rational and well ever since, and can go out in the 
dark as well as ever, having received a perfect con- 
viction of the nature of ghosts." 



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112 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 



CHAPTER VIII. 

SPBCTBAL ILLUSIONS ARISING FROM A HIGHLY- EXCITED 
STATE OF NERVOUS IRRITABILITY ACTING GENER- 
ALLY ON THE SYSTEM. 



^^ This bodiless creation Ecstacy 
Is very cunning in.** — Hamlet. 



The examples brought forward in the last chapter 
have, I trust, suificientlj illustrated the delusions 
liable to occur from an extremely morbid state of the 
nervous system. We had previously seen, that al- 
though an undue vividness of ideas directly results 
from certain changes induced in the circulating fluid, 
such changes might not only be traced to an inherent 
quality of the blood, arising from constitutional af- 
fections, or to the suppression of customary and na- 
tural evacuations, but that they might also ensue from 
adventitious agents of a chemical nature introduced 
into the system. In extending these researches, we 
further added to such causes of spectral impressions 
the influence of the nervous system, which nothing 
appeared more forcibly calculated to illustrate than- 
inflammatory states of the brain or its membranes* 
Such extreme cases, therefore, of nervous irritability, 
which take their rise from manifest derangements of 
organic structure, give us the best reason to expect 
6 



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PBODUCnON OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 113 

tint contequences no less singular in their nature may 
r«nilt from causes of a latent kind> where a highly^ 
exdted state of the nervous influence, not often to be 
detected by actual examination^ either generally or 
paitially sfects the circulating system. 

.Agreeably to the view whiph I have given of ner« 
vous fibres, they may be described as of three kinds. 
Fibres of the first description take their course from 
tlie external organs of sense^ or horn sensitive cavi- 
ties ; and^ in transmitting their influence to the san- 
guineous system, thereby induce corresponding sen- 
sations BXkd renovated feelings. Fibres of the second 
kind are connected tibrough a system of ganglions with 
die brain and spinal cord j their acti(m on the blood 
being for the processes of secretion and assimilation, 
while, at the same time, they are capable of rendering 
the affections of the mind more or less vivid. Nerv- 
ous fibres of a third class have no antecedent connexion 
with our mental states, but, in inducing muscular mo* 
tion, obey the stimulus of the will. According to 
this notion, therefore, the particular mental excita- 
bility about to be described, arises from the influence 
of fibres of the first and second kind, and hence 
spectral illusions may occur, although the motifie 
nerves should not be unduly excited ; which not un- 
fi*equently happens when phantoms, disturb the ima- 
gination of persons, who," from the regularity with 
which muscular motions at the same time obey the 
will, are supposed to be in perfect health. In the se- 
cond place, spectral illusions may occur when there 
is an equally intense excitement of the motifie nerves. 
In such a case, the particular affection is induced. 



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114 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

which in Dr Good's Nosology bears the name of Cams 
Ecstasis, This writer has conceived^ that in the diffusion 
of the motific influence^ an excess of supply is equally 
felt by the extenor and flexor muscles. Hence the 
muscles are thrown into a rigid and permanent spasm^ 
which gives to the body so erect a position^ and so 
lofty and unalterable a demeanour^ that the unhiqppy 
visionary^ from this imposing air of inspiration, has 
not unfrequently both deluded himself and others with 
the notion^ that his dreams were supernatural visita- 
tions. In the third place^ the voluntary motific nerves 
may be irregularly incited; or^ in other words, the 
balance of action subsisting between the flexor and ex- 
tensor muscles may be so disturbed, that the frame 
will appear to be variously convulsed or incurvated. 
I believe this to be one of the varieties* of Ecstasis 
which nosologists have, perhaps rather loosely, re- 
ferred to Epilepsy ; but> as all the causes of the latter 
affection are by no means decidedly pointed out, it 
would, for the present, be a prudent step not to dis- 
turb the appellation.* In many instances of epilepsy, 
there has been such a flow of spirits as to indicate, 
that a very powerful nervous influence was generally 
diffused throughout the human frame, while, as har- 



• Dr Wilson Phillip has shewn from experiments, that the nerves 
connected with voluntary muscles are more powerfully incited by 
mechanical than chemical causes of irritation. Thus we see the 
reason why Exostosis, or why foreign substances affecting the nerv- 
ous system, should occasionally operate as causes of the convulsions 
of epilepsy ; and why convulsions in general should be regarded 
as merely incidental to spectral illusions. 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 115 

bingers of the paroxysm^ there has not only been the 
well-known aura epileptica, but also a wild display of 
phantasms. A woman^ whose case is related by Poridus, 
was always warned of an approaching fit by the ap- 
pearance of her own image in a mirror ; and Sauvage 
mentions, that even during the paroxysm dreadful 
spectres have been seen. It is likewise a curious fact, 
that in such forms of the disease, real objects have oc- 
casionally seemed magnified to an extraordinary de- 
gree, while, aiuuiig coloured subsUuiccv, a green hue 
has predominated. Another form of Ecstasis is that 
which occasionally occurs as a symptom in catalepsy, 
where the influence of those nerves which are con- 
nected with voluntary muscles is so diminished, that 
the limbs are unable to resist external force, but yield 
to it with readiness, and retain any position in which 
they may be placed. I shall, lastly, observe, that a ge- 
neral state of nervous irritability not unfrequently ex« 
ercises its influence on the system, in concurrence 
with a highly-excited condition of the sanguine or 
melancholic temperament. An increase of action here 
takes place in that extensive system of nerves, upon 
which the processess of assimilation depend. This 
effect is pointed out by the peculiar symptoms, which 
arise in the organs more immediately connected with 
digestion. *' From the centre of the epigastric re- 
gion," says Pinel, ** are propagated, as it were by a 
species of irradiation, the accession of insanity, when 
all the abdominal system even appears to enter into 
the sad confederacy. The patient complains of a sense 
of tightness in the region of the stomach, want of ap- 
petite, obstinate constipation, and a sensation of heat 



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116 TB£ DISEASES CX>NN£CT£D WITH THE 

in the bowel0> which obtaim a temporary relief from 
Qopioua draughts of cooling liquida*"<***^' Thia reaodoo 
of the epigastric r^on upon the functions <tf the un* 
derstanding is so far from oppressii^ and obscuring 
them^ that it appears even to augment their vivacity 
and strength. The imaginaticm is exalted to the high* 
est pitch of development and fecundity. Thoughts 
the most brilliant and ingenious^ comparisons the 
most apt and luminous^ give to the maniac an air of 
supernatural eiiihuBia«m and inopiratMm. Tile recdU 
lection of the past appears to unroll with great rapidi* 
tj, and what had Icng been not thought of and for- 
gotten^ is then presented to the mind in glowii^ and 
animated colours."-*-In another place the same do» 
quent writer adds^ " Dreams of ecstacy> and viaiona 
of heavenly pleasure^ are the ordinary preludes to 
paroxysms of maniacal devotion : as those €/£ unfor-i 
tunate love are preceded by similar interruptions of 
sound and healthful sleep. The beloved object ap« 
pears under the form of an exquisite beauty^ with 
every other advantage^ greatly exaggerated by the 
magic power of fancy. But the too happy dreamer^ 
afrer an interval of more or less continuance of rea- 
son and calmness^ awakes once more the noisy, the 
disconsolate, and the furious maniac." * 

" Pinel*s Treatise on Insanity ; translation by D. D. Davis^ 
M.D. pages 17 and 28. 



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MOCUCTION OF SPECTftAL ILLUSIONS. 117 
CHAPTER IX. 

THB S^BOTRAL ILLUSIONS OF IlYPOOHONDllIAOKB. 



'* lliere Is nothing to vaine^ abiurd, rldiculousi eztfavagant, im« 

poMlbk, Inendible, to monitroni a chymeM, so prodigious and 

strange, such m painters and poeU duitt not attempt, which they 

will not raally fbare, falne suspeet and imagine unto themselres.'* 

BtraTOv's AHatomy or MEtAvoHOLT. 



NOf unfrequently a partial and irregular state of 
nerrotis irritabilxtj acts in concurrence with highljr- 
excited conditions of certain temperaments. This 
gives rise> in very sanguine or melancholic constitu- 
tions^ to the symptoms of hypochondrism. The irre- 
gular action of those nerves^ upon which the produc- 
tion of ext^nal impressions and the renovated feel- 
ings of the mind d&pends, is indicated by false affect- 
tions communicated to the organs of sense^ particular*^ 
ly to those of touch. Hence the imaginary diseases 
of which hypocbondriacks suppose they are the sub- 
ject, a* weil as the ideal transformation of the texture 
of their bodies into such substances as glass, lead, or 
feathers. At the same time, the irregular action of 
other nerves, concerned in the processes of assimila- 
tion, is productive of the usual morbid state which 
takes place of the digestive organs. Burton has sum- 



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118 THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

med up the extravagancies of hypochondriacks in a 
few words : " Humorous are they beyond all mea- 
sure^ they faigne many absurdities voide of reason ; 
one supposes himself to be a dog^ cock^ beare« horse, 
glasse, butter, &c. He is a giant, a dwarfe, as strong 
as an hundred men, a lord, duke, prince, &c. And 
if he be told he hath a stinking breath, a great nose, 
that he is sick, or inclined to such or such a disease, 
he beleeves it eflsoones, and by force of imagination 
will worke it out." It is useless to dwell much l<Hig- 
er upon this disease, as no spectral impressions oc- 
cur in it, which have not been described in the chap- 
ter that treated of the illusions of mania or melancho- 
lia. I might perhaps mention, that the quality of 
such phantasies not unfrequently harmonizes with 
any false conceit that may prevail. This circum- 
stance is not unaptly described in the old comedy of 
Lingua : — 

'*• Lately I came from fine Phatitaste*s hou8e»<«- 

No sooner bad I parted out of doors, 

But up I held my hands before my face, 

To shield mine eyes from the light's piercing beams ; 

When I protest I saw the sun as dear, 

Through these my pahns, as through a perspective : 

No marvel ; for when I beheld my fingers, 

I saw my fingers were transform'd to glass, 

Opening my breast, my hmasi was like a window, 

Through which I plainly did perceive my heart : 

In whose two conclaves I discem*d my thoughts 

Confus'dly lodged in great multitudes.** 



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FRODUCnON OF 8PECTEAL ILLUSIONS. 119 



CHAPTER X. 

eSBTAllf LS80 FRSQirslIT MORBID 0O0RCB8 OF 
SPECTRAL ILLUSIOMS* 



*^ Of rarioiM foimt unnnmber^d fpactrct more/* 



HATnco shewn^ from various authentic medical cases^ 
tbe liability ot spectral illusions to arise from many 
morbid affections which are ot very frequent occur- 
rence^ it is by no means necessary to my present 
object^ that this part ot the investigation should pro- 
ceed to a much greater extent-^I first stated, that 
certain gases, when inhaled, alter the composition 
ot the blood, rendering, at the same time, more vivid 
some particular quality ot our mental feelings. Might 
not then other aeriform substances be found, which 
would have nearly the same effect ? An eminent me- 
dical practitioner, from whose ingenious essay on ap- 
paritions I have freely quoted, insinuates the prolnu 
bility, that necromancers, in imposing upon any ob- 
ject of their art, may occasionally avail themselves of 
some gaseous matters, which, when inhaled. 



> *^ by magic nU^ttt 



SbflU ralie tttch ardadal tprigbto, 
As by Uis atrsogth of their illtttion 
Sbsn drsw him on to hit eotifbuion/ 



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15N) THE DISEASES CONNECTED WITH THE 

'^ The celebrated conjurer or master-mason^" remarks 
Dr Alderson of Hull^ " whom we had here some years 
ago> told me^ that he could give me a recipe for a pre- 
paration of antimony^ sulphur^ &c. which^ when burnt 
in a confined room^ would so affect the person ahut up 
in it^ that he would fancy he saw spectres and appa- 
ritions." Notwithstanding^ however^ the liberal offer 
made to this gentleman^ the existence of such a fumi- 
gation stands in great need of confirmation. — But^ be- 
sides the inhalation of gases^ there are several poisons^ 
particularly of the narcotic kind^ such as opium^ hen- 
bane^ the conium maculatum, bella-donna, &c. whidi> 
when introduced into the »ystem by the <Mrgans of 
digestion, have the effect of indudng" ddirium, and 
occasionally i^ectral illusions. In the violent mental 
excitement of hydrophobia it has been recorded, that 
the phantasm of the dog which inflicted the &tal 
wound has sometimes haunted the bed of the wretch- 
ed patient 

In the ccmstitutional affection <^ gont, where an al- 
tered quality of the circulating fluid is evinced by its 
tendency to a morbid secretion of calcareous matter, 
similar states of mind, particularly in the recedent 
form of the disease, have been experienced. An ex- 
citement of gouty inflammation, instead of attacking 
the hands or feet, has, from some ^occasional cause, 
been transferred to the brain, in which case, violent 
acute sensations have ensued, and these again have 
been followed by the most vivid yet painful ideas. To 
such symptoms spectral illusicms have sometimes su« 



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PRODUCTION OF SPECTRiOi ILLUSIONS. ISl 

pervenedj as the following caae, related by Dr Alder- 
eon^ sufficiently well illustrates >i^ 

" I wae soon after called/' says this writerj '* to 
visit Mrs B.^ a fine old lady about 80 years of age^ 
wheal I have frequently visited in fits of the gout. 
At a period when^ from her general feelings^ she rather 
expected the gout, she was seised with an unusual 
deafness, and great distension in die organs of diges- 
tion. From this time she was visited by several of 
her fHends, whom she had not invited, and whom die 
at first so far considered as actually present, that she 
tM them she was very sorry that she could not hear 
them qpeak, nor keep up conversation with them : she 
would therefore order the card-table, and rang the 
hfUl for that purpose. Upon the entrance of the ser- 
vant, the whole par^ disaiq>eared<^-she could not help 
expressing her surprise to h^ maid that they should 
all go away so abruptiy ; but she could scarcely be- 
Here her when she uAd her that there bad been no* 
body in the room. She was so adiamed, that she 
suAted, for many days and nights together, die in- 
tmaienof a variety of phantoms, and had some of her 
fiueat &ding8 wrougjit upcm by the exhibiti(«i of 
fiiends long lost, and who only came to dieat her 
fancy, and revive sensi^ns that time had almost ob« 
literated. She determined, however, for a long time> 
not to complain^ and contented herself with merely 
ringing her bell, finding she could always get rid 
of the phantoms by the entrance of her maid, when* 
ever they became distressing. It was not till some 
time after that she could, bring herself to relate her 
distresses to me. She was all this time convinced of 



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132 THE DISEASES, Sec. 

her own ratiopality, and so were those friends who 
really visited her ; for they never could find any one 
drcumstanoe in her conduct and conversation to lead 
them to suspect her in the smallest degree deranged, 
though unwell. This complaint was entirely removed 
by cataplasms to the feet^ and gentle purgatives ; and 
terminated, a short time afterwards, in a regular slight 
fit of the gout. She has remained ever since, now 
somewhat more than a year, in the perfect enjoyment 
of her health and faculties." * 

' The first object of this dissertation has at length 
been completed. It is manifest, that with numerous 
morbid affections of the body, arising ftom variously 
excited states of the circulating system, or of the nerv- 
ous influence, the production in the mind of spectral 
illusions is necessarily connected. Of such affections, 
Scot, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, has well remark- 
ed, that " though they appeare in the mind of man, 
yet are they bred in the bodie, and proceed ftom this 
humor, which is the very dregs of blood, Nourishing 
and feeding these places, ftom whence proceed fears, 
cogitations, superstitions, fastings, labours, and such 
like. This maketh sufferance of torments, and (as 
some saie) foresight of things to come." 

* Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, voL vi. p. 291. 



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PART III. 



PROOFS THAT THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL 

ILLUSIONS ARE FREQUENTLY SUGGESTED 

BY THE FANTASTIC IMAGERY OF 

SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEF. 



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PART III. 



CHAPTER I. 

XZPI«ANATIQlf OP TH£ MODE IN WHICH TH£ IBEASk 
WHICH ABB 8I7CIOB8TBB BY TABIOUS POPfJLAB 8U« 
PBB8T1TI0N8 BBCOMB BKCAMiKP IN AHIOHLT VIVI- 
FICD 8TATB> 80 AS TO CON811TUTB THB IMAOfiBY OF 
8PBCTBAL ILLU8I<»f8. 



^ Eadi motduD-tfaoiic^t tweDs to a hnge Olympas.**— Dbtdx v. 



Ik this department of our investigation aa attempt will 
be made to ahow» that in well-authenticated ghosts 
stories of a supposed supomatural character, ideas, 
which are raidered so niiduly intense as to induce 
spectral Slusions, may be traced to such fimtastical ob« 
jects of prior belief, as are incorpovated in the vacioos 
systems of superstition, which for ages have possessed 
the minds of the vulgar. But before this object can 
be aataftcftorily sccomptished, it will be BeoesBary to 
take a brief review of the progress of our reseuch. 
By this means we shall be better preparfd to notice 



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126 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTBAL ILLUSIONS 

an important law of the mind^ by which past senia- 
tions may be recalled in various states of faintness or 
intensity. 

This inquiry has hitherto proceeded upon the gene- 
ral view^ that an undue sanguineous action imparts a 
disproportionate degree of vividness to our ideas. Ni- 
colai^ indeed^ in the narrative read by him to the Royal 
Society of Berlin^ ftom an attentive consideration of 
the phenomena which attended his illusions^ could not 
refrain from expressing the same suspicion^ namely^ 
that they had some inexplicable connexion with the 
state of the circulating system. His words are these : 
'* The natural vivacity of imagination renders it less 
wonderful^ that after a violent commotion of the mind^ 
a number of phantasms should appear for several 
weeks in succession. Their leaving me on the appli- 
cation of leeches^ shews clearly that some anomaly in 
the circulation of the blood was connected with their 
appearance; though it may perhaps be too hasty a 
conclusion to seek for the cause in that alone. It 
seems^ likewise, remarkable, that the beginning of the 
apparitions, after the disturbance in my mind was 
settlell^ as well as the alteration which took place> 
when they finally left me, happened exactly at the 
time when digestion commenced. And it is no less 
remarkable, that the apparitions, before they entirely 
ceased, lost their intensity of colours ; and that they 
did not vanish or change as formerly, biit seemed 
gradually to dissolve into air.*'* 

From the doctrine inculcated in this dissertation, 

* Nicholflon*8 Journal, vol. vi. p. 176. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 19? 

the conjecture of Nicolai will not> perlu|>S| appear to 
be devoid of foundation. In the view which I took 
of the opposite effects of the nitrous oxide and febrile 
miasma^ it was shewn> that the highly- vivid state of 
pleasurable feelings which the former was capable of 
exciting^ corresponded to a dilating action of the blood 
exerted on the vascular system^ the indication of which 
was an increasing diastole of the heart and fulness of 
the pulse; while the opposite effects of the latter 
agent were connected with an undue influence of the 
systole of the hearty with a hard pulse> and a con- 
stricting tendency of the capillaries. 

Next^ with regard to the action of morbific causes 
upon our various mental states^ it was remarkedi that 
we always distinguish between those feelings which 
are induced^ when causes impressing our organs of 
sense are present^ and those which occur as revivals 
of prior mental states ; the former being termed sen* 
sations, the latter ideas, or> more correctly^ renovated 
feelings. 

When past feelings^ therefore, are renovated, they 
are always in a less vivid state than actual impres- 
sions ; and, in a healthy condition of the system^ a 
definite degree of intensity may be supposed to sub- 
sist between sensations and ideas, the latter being jvro- 
jxniionally less intense, lees vivid, or fainter than the 
former. But, from the influence of disease, these 
ideas may be renovated in a state of vividness so great, 
as to nearly or altogether equal in intensity actual im- 
pressions. An ample proof of this fact is afforded in 
the case of Nicolai, whose imagination was liable to be 
rendered unduly vivid by the plethoric habit of body 
7 



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m THE (miters OF SPfiCTftAL ILUTSIOKS 

tt^der wMoh he laboured. ^' I must observe^" be says, 
^ ^lat my imaginatioii possesses in general a great fa« 
dlity in fneturing. I have, fc^ example, sketched in 
my mind a number of plans for novels and plays, 
though I have committed very few of them to paper, 
because I was less sdicitous to execute than to invent. 
I have generally arranged these outlines when, in a 
cheerful state of mind, I have taken a solitary walk, 
or when, travelling, I have sat in my carrii^e, and 
could only find employment in myself and my imagi- 
nation. Constantly, and even now, do the different 
persons whom I imagine in the foundation of sudi a 
plot, present themselves to me in the most lively and 
distinct manner; their figure, their features, their 
manner, th^ dress, and their complexion, are all 
visible to my fancy. As long as I meditate on a fixed 
plan, and afterwards carry it into effect,-*even when 
I am interrupted, and when I must begin it again at 
different times, all the acting persons continue pre- 
sent in the very same form in which my imaginaticm 
at first produced them."* 

I shall now endeavour to discover the exact <Nrder 
in which a morbific cause acts upon ideas, when, by 

* Those droll philosophers, the Phrenologists, account for all 
this by supposing that Nicolai possessed the OROAir of wondeb. 

Gloucsster. 
That would be ten days* wonder at the least. 

Clarence. 
That's a day longer thim a wander lasts. 

9d Part ofJKing Henry VI. Act S, Scene 2. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 129 

rendering them as vivid as actual impressions^ it gives 
rise to spectral illusions. 

The law by which ideas are renovated^ is usually 
explained by metaphysicians under the name of asso' 
ciation. Thus^ it is a law^ that whenever any sensa^ 
tion of a definite nature and quality is repeated^ it 
will be immediately followed by a renewal of the feel- 
ings with which it was before associated^ their repe« 
tition taking place agreeably to their prior order. 
The number of fainter feelings which may thus re- 
turn is indefinite^ and only meets with interruption 
from some new sensation, and along with it some 
new train of renovated feelings or ideas. It may, 
therefore, be shown, from a narrative inserted in the 
15th volume of Nicholson's Philosophical Journal 
(from which I have before made a large quotation), 
that when a morbific cause so operates upon ideas, as 
to render them as vivid as actual impressions, the 
effect is produced in the order of their natural associ- 
ation. *' I had a visit," says the writer, " from Dr 

C , to whom, among other remarks" ^relative 

to his illusions]], " I observed, that I then enjoyed the 
satisfaction oi having cultivated my moral habits, and 
particularly in having always endeavoured to avoid 
being the slave of fear.— ^' I think,' said I, ' that this 
is the breaking up of the system, and that it is now 
in progress to speedy destruction. In this state, when 
the senses have become confused, and no longer tell 
me the truth, they still present me with pleasing 
fictions, and my sufferings are mitigated by that calm- 
ness which allows me to find amusement in what are 
probably the concluding scenes of life.'— I give these 



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130 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

self-congratulations without scruple^ more particular** 
ly because they led to an observation of fact which de- 
senres notice. When the doctor left me, my rdaxed 
attention returned to the phantasms, and, s(»ne time 
afterwards, instead of a pleasing face, a visage of ex* 
treme rage appeared, which presented a gun at m«, 
and made me start ; but it remained Ae usual time, 
and then gradually faded away.-«-Thi8 immediately 
shewed me the probability of some connexion between 
my thoughts and these images; for I ascribed the 
angry phantasm to the general reflection I had form* 
ed in conversation witili Dr C-— — .• I recollected 
some disquisitions of Locke, in his Treatise on the Cot)- 
duct of the Mind, where he endeavours to account for 
the appearance of faces to persons of nervous habits. 
It seemed to me, as if fkces, in all their modifications, 
being so associated with our recollections of the afifeo- 
tions of passions, would be most likely to offer dion* 
selves in delirium; but I now thought it probable, 
tiiat otlwr objects could be seen if previously medk 
tated upon. Widi this motive it was that I reflected 
upon landscapes and scenes o£ architectural grandeur, 
while the faces were flashing hefbre me ; and afl;er a 
certain considerable interval of time, of which I cut 
form no precise judgment, a rural scene of hills, valleys, 

* To what part of the w]iter*8 remark to Dr C — — does this 
fupposed connexion refer? Does he allude to the reflection, in 
which he mentions having avoided being the slave of/ear 9 In this 
case I must suppose he means, that the idea of a man threatening 
his life then arose in his mind ; which idea afterwards returning, 
became,, by the vivifying operation of a morbific cause, converted 
into a genuine phantasm. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 131 

and fields, appeared before me, which was succeeded 
by another and another in ceaseless succession ; the 
manner and times of their respective appearance, du« 
ratimi, and vanishing, being not sensibly different 
ftam those of the faces. All the scenes were calm 
and still, without any strong lights or glare, and de- 
lightfully calculated to inspire notions of retirement, 
of tranquillity, and happy meditation."— The same 
writer adds in another place,—'* the figures returned, 
but now they consisted either of books, or parch« 
ments, or papers, containing printed matter. I do 
not know whether I read any of them, but am at pre« 
sent inclined to think they were not either distinctly 
legible, m*did not remain a sufficient time he£oee they 
vanished. I was now so well aware of the connexion 
of thought with their appearances, that, by fixing my 
mind on the consideration of manuscript instead of 
printed t3rpe, the papers appeared, after a time, only 
with manuscript- writing; and afterwards, by the same 
process, instead of being erect, they were all inverted, 
or appeared upside doyrn," 

This case decidedly shews, that a morbific cause 
vivifies ideas in a natural order of association. 

Aftier this satisfactory illustration of the order in 
which ideas are vivified by morbific causes, the ex« 
tent of this action ought next to be investigated. 

Ist, A morbific cause of phantasms may exert a 
transient influence upon thought; or, after vivifying 
certain ideas to the height of actual impressions, a 
long interval may occur before there is a recurrence 
of the illuoon. Nicolai's first spectral impression was 



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132 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTHAL ILLUSIONS^ 

of this kind ; its subject was that of a deceased per-* 
son^ which^ after haunting him for a few moments, 
did not return until several hours had expired. 

2dlj, A morbific cause of spectral illusi<ms may, 
with very Utile intermission, influence ideas as they oc- 
cur in their natural order of association. Thus^ in a 
case recorded in die Pschyology of Bonnet, a gentle- 
man labouring under some morbid affection of the 
brain, saw, while awake^ various figures of animals, 
of human beings^ of chariots, or of buildings^ all in 
motion^ which would successively approach towards 
him^ recede^ and disappear. But^ at the same time, 
numerous sensations and ideas^ unaffected in their de- 
gree of vividness^ must have constantly interrupted 
this succession of spectral impressions, otherwise the 
judgment could not^ as tjie narrative decidedly states, 
have remained entire. 

3dly^ A morbific cause of the same kind may, in 
its vivifying action^ extend to some definite quality of 
sensations and ideas^ whether that quality be pleasur- 
able or painful. To the indications of this general 
action I have very frequently alluded, particularly in 
my description of the effects on the mind of the ni- 
trous oxide and febrile miasma. 

These remarks on the mode in which ideas may 
be renovated in a highly-intense state, will enable 
us, whenever we would wish to explain such popular 
narratives on the subject of ghosts or demonology as 
may be considered authentic^ to apply with more suc- 
cess those pathological principles relative to spectral 
illusions which I have endeavoured to establish. For^ 
in adverting to the subject of those waking visions 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY: 133 

detailed in the first chapter of this work> which Ni- 
colai the Prussian bookseller experienced, it is evi- 
dent that his intense imagination was impressed with 
no appearance which was of itself supernatural. The 
objects of his second sight (to use the well-known term 
of the Scottish Highlanders), were all of the most far 
miliar kind, — men and women in their natural form 
and aspect, horses, dogs, or birds. Not of this earth- 
ly nature, however, were the illusions of superstitious 
age8> which constantly teemed either with angels or 
demons. In reference, then, to the view which I 
have taken, that spectral illusions ought to be regard- 
ed as nothing more than recollected images of the 
mind, which have been rendered by disease as in- 
tense as actual impressions, and which have been 
recalled in this vivid state by the well-known law of 
association, the figures of many phantasms may be in- 
discriminately referred to the delineations of those 
enthusiastic declaimers, historians, or poets, who have 
boldly attempted to supply from their own wild 
phantasy, the forms which they have supposed to 
havfe been imperfectly described in sacred records. 
From the imagination of ecclesiastical writers ; from 
the stone or carved images of saints and angels, which 
Iiav6 adorned the walls of religious edifices ; or from 
emblematical pictures or portraits, which might have 
otherwise met with a popular difiusion, the sensible 
forms assumed by apparitions of this kind have been 
derived. By a high- wrought embellishment, they have 
been as determinately fixed in the mind as any familiar 
object which may be found in nature. No wonder 
then, that when, from some morbid state of the sys- 



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134 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTEAL ILLUSIONS 

tem, the superstitious have been r^idered liable to 
fipectnl impressions^ the %ure8 of saints, angels^ 
ghosts, or demons, should, above all other shapes, 
have formed the subject of their waking visions. 

The late Dr Ferrier took some pains to trace to 
their real source the spectral figures which have been 
attributed to demoniacal visits. Thus, in his obser- 
vations on the work of Remy, the commissioner in 
Lorraine for the trial of witches, he makes the follow- 
ing remark :— -^^ My edition of this book was printed 
by Vincenti, at Lyons, in 1695. ' It is entitled D(b- 
monolatreia. The trials appear to have begun in 1583. 
.Mr Bemy seems to haVe felt great anxiety to ascertain 
the exact features and dress of the demons, with 
whom many persons supposed themselves to be £uni- 
liar. Yet nodiing transpired in his examinations^ 
which varied from the usual figures exhibited by the 
gross sculptures and paintings of die middle age. 
They are said to be black-faced, with sunk but fiery 
eyes, their mouths wide, and smdUng of sulphur, 
their hands hairy, with claws, their feet homy and 
cloven." There is, also, in another part of Dr Per- 
rier's work, the following account given of a case 
which passed under his own personal observation :-— 
'' I had occasion,** he observes, '^ to see a young mar- 
ried woman, whose first indication of illness was a 
spectral delusion. She told me, that her apartment 
appeared suddenly to be filled with devils, and that 
her terror impelled her to quit the house with great 
precipitation. When she was brought back, she saw 
the whole staircase filled by diabolical forms, and was 
in agonies of fear for several days. After this first im- 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 135 

pression wore off^ she heard a voice tempting her to 
self-dettrucUoii^ and prohibiting her from all exer- 
cises of piety. Such was the account given by her 
when she was sensible of the delusion^ yet unable to 
resist the horror of the impression. When she was 
nearly recovered, I had the curiosity to question her, 
as I have interrogated others, respecting the fcmns of 
the demons with which she had been claimed ; but I 
never could ofitain any odier account, than that they 
were very small, very much deformed, and had horns 
and claws, like the imps of our terrific modem ro- 
mances." To this illustraticm of the general origin 
of the figures of demoniacal illusions, I might ob- 
serve, that in the case of a patient suffering under de^ 
lirium tremens, which came under my notice, the 
devils who flitted around his bed, were described to 
me as exactly like die forms that he had recently 
seen exhibited on the stage in the popular drama of 
Don Giovanni. 

Dr Ferrier of Manchester was among the first to 
shew the importance of explaining the causes, which 
have given rise to the illusive creations of the mind. 
'' I concdve," says this acute and ingenious writer, 
'' that the unaffected accounts of spectral visions 
should engage the attention of the philosopher as well 
as the physician. Instead of regarding these stories 
with the horror of the vulgar, or the disdain of the 
sceptic, we should examine them accurately, and 
should ascerteun their exact relation to the state of 
the brain and of the external senses." * It must be 

* Fenrier's Theory of Apparitions, p. 139. 



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136 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

confessed^ however^ that, in narratives of this kind, 
the circumstances most interesting to the pathologist^ 
either from having been considered as unnecessary or 
inconvenient to the purposes or views of superstition^ 
appear in most instances to have been altogether sup- 
pressed. The field of inquiry is, therefore, in this 
particular department of our dissertation, rather li- 
mited ; and hence the necessity of pointing out be- 
forehand the various morbific causes of spectral im- 
pressions, by which the true nature of phantasms may 
admit of a readier explanation, than by having re- 
course for such a purpose to the extravagancies of 
a supernatural agency. Yet still a few scattered 
glimpses of truth break through the mysterious stories 
which excite the attention of the learned and the vul- 
gar, and, by the light which such rays afibrd, I shall 
avail myself, however feebly it may gleam through 
the obscure and gloomy regions of demonology. 

The object, then, to be held in view in this depart- 
ment of our inquiry, is simply this : — While an at- 
tempt will be made to apply the medical cases which 
have been adduced towards the explanation of many 
supposed visitations of good and evil spirits, it will 
be always necessary to demonstrate in what manner 
the subject of the illusions thus induced has corre- 
sponded with the fanciful imagery which owes its 
origin to various preconceived superstitions. In con- 
nexion, likewise, with the illustrations which I shall 
adduce of the morbid origin of many supernatural 
visitants recorded in popular narratives, it may not 
be uninstructive to glance at the opinions entertained 
through a number of ages, relative to their nature. 



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TllACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 137 

functions^ and proper business^ upon our globe. By 
this means^ a conclusion may be ultimately drawn 
fatal to the existence of that world of spirits, which 
Superstition has depicted from no other source than 
its own wild> fallacious, and morbid phantasy. 

A question, however, may now be started by some 
few individuals, if this inquiry can with propriety be 
conducted on the general preconceived supposition, 
that every well-attested instance, where a communi- 
cation with apparitions of various kinds is supposed 
to have been held, ought to be regarded in no other 
light than as a pathological case ^ To any such ob- 
jection I would reply, that there is only one line of 
demarcation, beyond which researches of this kind 
cannot meet with any application. This is to be 
found in the pages of sacred history. Concerning 
the manner in which the Deity, for signal purposes, 
has formerly chosen to hold an immediate commu- 
nion with the human race, it would be irrelevant to 
offer any observations. At the same time, it may be 
necessary to observe, that as we are not warranted, 
for many reasons, which may be defended on scrip- 
tural grounds, to suppose that any direct converse 
with good or evil spirits, connected with either the 
Jewish or the Christian disp^isation, has extended 
beyond the Apostolic age, there will be no hesitation 
on my part to proceed on the hypothesis, that all the 
subsequent visitations of this nature which have been 
recorded, deserve a medical rather than a theological 
investigation. 



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138 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 
CHAPTER U. 

RRMABKS ON THE APPABITI0N8 OF QOOO SPIRITS, 
RBCORDEO IN POPULAR NARRATIVES. 



' Spirit!^ when they please, 



Can either sex anrnrae, at both ; to nod 

And unccNnpomided if their esaoioe pufe, 

Not ty'd or manaded with jcani or limb, 

Nor founded ou the brittle strength of bones. 

Like cumbrous flesh ; but in what shape they chuse. 

Dilated or oondens'd, bright or obscure, 

Can execute their airy purposes.**— Milton. 



The present chapter will be devoted to the consider- 
ation of benignant spirits, and the apparitions to 
which they have given rise. 

From the evidence of the Holy Scriptures, we are 
authorised to infer nothing more respecting those ^i- 
ritual beings named angels, but that they are ministers 
whom the Deity has employed to execute his i^pedal 
commissions. And h^py would it have been, if die 
early Christians and Jews had been cont^[)ted with 
tills simple informi^on, without framing a system on 
the subject, which, as a learned divine of the church 
of Englapd has remarked, savours more of some hea- 
then mythology than of Christianity.* The Egyp- 

* Wilficm's Ardueological Dictionary, artide AngeU. The 
same doctrine has likewise met with a successful exposure fipom 
Bishop Uorsley. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY, 139 

tians^ for instance^ believed in the constant attendance 
of tiiree angels upon every individual. The Romans 
supposed^ that such genii, as they named them^ vrere 
messengers between the gods and the human race ; 
conceiving, therefore, with the Pjrthagoreans, that two 
were sufficient for any single individual, cme was sup- 
posed to be of a good and the other of an evil quality. 
^^ These," as Sheridan has remarked in his notes to 
Persius, " were private monitors, who, by their insi- 
nnaticms, diq>osed each man to good or evil actions'; 
they were not only reporters of his crimes m ^s life, 
but registers of them against his trials in the next" 
The Jews founded their belief in good and evil spirits, 
partly from the evidence of the Scriptures, and partly 
from the notions of the Pagans. Some of their angels 
were created out of the elements of fire, and others 
out of the wind. Whenever they issued from dieir 
allotted place, they forfeited their immortality. They 
instructed mankind in wisdom and knowledge. Every 
thing in the world was under their government. Even 
to the various herbs of the field, supposed at that time 
to be twenty-one thousand in number, presiding an- 
gels were affixed. Other good i^irits had their re- 
spective dominion over plants, trees, rain, hail, thun- 
der, lightning, fire, fishes, reptiles, animals, men, 
cities, empires, and nations.* Such a notion, unfer- 
tunately for the Christian world, vfery early accom- 
panied the spreading of the Gk)qpel. And, indeed, 
during a very long period afterwards, evident traces 
might be discovered of the prevalence of the same 

* StebelinB* Tradidoxui of the Jews, voL ii. p. 71. 



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140 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

popular opinion which is mentioned by Symmachus^ 
namely^ '^ that the Divine Being had distributed to 
cities various guardians^ and that as souls were com- 
municated to infants at their birth^ so particular genii 
were assigned to particular societies of men." 

When the church of Papal Rome prevailed through- 
out Christendom, this belief was so far modified, that 
the functions of ministering angels were assigned to 
the spirits of departed saints, who at length became 
80 numerous, as to very materially obstruct the ordi- 
nary current of human affairs. Hence the very just 
declamation against so overwhelming an interference 
from the pen of the dauntless Reginald Scot, who 
compares it to that of heathen deities ; this writer not 
making the distinction at the time, that the saints of 
the Roman calendar were the proper successors of 
the tutelar angels of the Jewish talmud. " Surelie," 
says he, in. a strain of most bitter irony, *' there were 
in the Popish church, more of these antichristian 
gods in number, more in common, more private, more 
publicke, more for lewd purposes, and more for nd 
purpose, than among all the heathen, either hereto- 
fore or at this present time; for I dare undertake, 
that for everie heathen idol I might pronounce twentie 
out of the Popish church. For there were proper 
idols of every nation, as St George on horseback for 
England, St Andrew for Burgundie and Scotland, St 
Michael for France, St James for Spain, St Palxike 
for Ireland, St Davie for Wales, St Peter for Rome 
and some part of Italic. Had not every citie in all the 
Pope's dominions his severall patrone : as Paule for 
London, Denis for Paris, Ambrose for Millen, Louen 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 141 

for Gaunt^ Romball for Mackline^ St Marks Lion for 
Venice^ the three Magician Kings for CuUen^ and so 
of other ? Yea^ had they not for everie small towne 
and everie village and parish (the names whereof I 
am not at liberty to repeat) a several idol ; as St Se« 
pulchre> for one ; St Bride for another ; St All Hal* 
lowes^ All Saints^ and our Ladie for all at once ? Had 
they not hee idols and shee idols, some for men, some 
for women, some for beasts, and some for fowles ? And 
doo you not thinke that St Martine might be opposed 
to Bacchus ? K St Martine be too weake, we have St 
Urbane, St Clement, and manie other to assist him. 
Was Venus and Meretrix an advocate for whores 
among the Ctontiles ? Behold, there were in the Ro- 
mish church to encounter them, St Aphra, St Aphro- 
dite, and St Maudline. Was there such a traitor 
among the heathen idols as St Thomas Becket ? or 
such a whore as St Bridget ? I warrant you, St Hugh 
was as good a huntesman as Anubis. Was Vulcane 
the protector of the heathen smithes ? Yea forsooth, 
and St Euloge was patron for ours. Our painters 
had Luke, our weaveirs had Steven, our millers had 
Arnold, our tailors had'Gkx>dman, our souters had 
Crispine, our potters had St Qore with a devil on his 
ahoulders and a pot in his hand. Was there a better 
horseleech among the gods of the Ctontiles than St 
Loy ? or a better sow-gelder than St Anthonie ? or a 
better tooth-drawer than St ApoUine ? I believe that 
Apollo Pamopeius was^ no better a rat-catcher than 
St Gertrude, who hath the Pope's patent and com- 
mendation therefore. The Thebans had not a better 
shepherd than St Wendeline, nor a better gissard to 



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142 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

keep their sheep than Oallus. But for physicke and 
snrgerie our idols exceeded them all. For St John 
and 8t Valentine excelled at the fiilling evil> St Roch 
was good at the plague^ St Petromill at die ague. As 
for St Margaret^ she passed Lucina for a midwife, 
and yet was but a maide ; in which respect St Mar<* 
purge is joined with her in commission. For mad* 
men> and such as are possessed with deviUs, St Ro« 
mane was excellent. For botches and biles Cosmus 
and Damean ; St Clare for the eies ; St Apolline for 
teeth j St Job for the pox; and for sore brests St 
Agathe was as good as Ruminus."— -This is the ex- 
postulation of honest Ranald Beat, who, in the true 
q>irit of the reforming age in whidi he lived, comes 
to the conclusion, '^ that all these antichristian gods, 
otherwise called popish devils, are as rank devils" as 
the Dii gentium spoken of in the Psalms, or as the 
Dii montium, die Dii terrarum, the Dii populomm, 
the Dii terrae, the Dii filiorum, or die Dii alienii, dted 
in other places of the Scripture. 

I have quoted thus freely from Scot's denunciation 
of the Romish saints, because it is an evidence of the 
ascendency over the mind, which diese successors to 
the guardian angels of still earlier sects of C^iristianB 
must have excited, while it no less satisfactorily ac- 
counts for die peculiar character imparted to die 
spectral illusions of Popish times. 

When the tenets of Rome were succeeded by those 
of the reformed diurch, die influence of tutelar saints 
b^^ to decline. Still it was found very inoonve* 
iaeat to the peculiar doctrines taught in the aixteendi 
and seventeenth centuries, diat tfiere should not be 



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TRACED TO SUPEBSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 143 

some hypothesis to account for human actions^ which 
philosophy could not explain. Thus^ the learned 
author of the Religio Medici has summed up^ after 
the following manner^ the views of the learned on the 
subject :— " Therefore for spirits/' he remarks^ ** I 
am so far from denying their existence^ that I could 
eamly believe^ that not only whole countries^ but par- 
ticular persons^ have their tutelary and guardian an- 
gels. It is not a new opinion of the Church of Rome> 
but an old one of Pythagoras and Plato. There is no 
heresie in it> and if not manifestly defined in Scrip- 
ture^ yet it is an opinion of a good and wholesome 
use in the course and actions of man's life, and 
would serve as an hypothesis to solve many doubts> 
whereof common philosophy affordeth no solution." 
It is evidently for this reason, so well explained by 
Sir Thomas Brown, diat the hierarchy of angels soon 
became a leading feature in the pneumatology of the 
schools ; poets even vying with grave metaphysicians, 
in rendering every compensation to these ministering 
^irits £ot the neglect into which they had fallen, 
when their benignant offices had been usurped by the 
saints c^the Romish church :— • 

How oft do they their silver bowers leave. 

To come to succour us, that succour want ? ' 

How oft do they with golden pinions cleave 

The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant. 

Against foul fiends to aid us militant f 

They for us fight, they watch and duly ward. 

And their bright squadrons round about us plant. 

And all fbr love, and nothing for reward : 

O why should heavenly Ood to man have such regard ? 

Spekser. 



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144 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

A doctrine^ thus sanctioned by the most eminent men 
of the age, again made its way among the vulgar^ and 
in the course of time gave rise to the grossest super- 
stitions. Thus^ in a popular work^ entitled, " Curi- 
osities, or the Cabinet of Nature, by Robert Basset/' 
published in the year 1637> when a question is asked, 
^' Wherefore is it that the childe cryes when the absent 
nurse^s hrests doe pricke and ake ?" the answer is as 
follows : — ^^ By that the nurse is hastened home to 
the infant to supply the defect ; and the reason is, 
that either at that very instant that the infant hath 
finished his concoction, the breasts are replenished, 
and, for want of drawings the milke pains the breast, 
as it is seen likewise in milch cattell : or rather, the 
good genius of the infant seems by that means to so- 
licite or trouble the nurse in the infant's behalfe: 
.which reason seemeth the more firm and probable, 
because $ometimes sooner, sometimes later, the child 
cryeth; neither is the state of nurse and infant al- 
wayes the same." While this quotation illustrates the 
popular use that was made of the doctrine of guardian 
angels, an extract, which I shall give from another 
author will prove, that the superstition at length 
very properly incurred the censure of divines* Thus, 
in Newton's '* Trial of a Man's own selfe," the author 
cautions* the Christian against the trusting ^' to the 
helpe, protection, and furtherance of angels, either 
good or bad, for the avoiding of any evill, or obtain- 
ing of any good ;" and he considers this belief as de- 
rived from ^^ that paultring mawmetrie and heathen- 
ish worshipping of that domesticall god, or familiar 
angell, which was thought to be appropried to everie 



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TRACED TO SUPEMTITIOUS iMAGEKY. 146 

particular person." A later writer, who has noticed 
die doctrine t>f guardian angels, is the learned and 
pious Ndson. He believes in l^ek common miAtstty 
about &e persons of good men> and diat they are pre- 
set in all public assemblies of Gkni's worship ; but 
he very propetrly cautions his readers against wor« 
shi|^ii^ them, since they are nothing more dum 
mitaisters to mankind. This doctrine, if it does not 
meet with a complete sanction from Scripture, is at 
kast so divested tji all the serious objections which 
e«i be urged against it on the score of idolatry, tiiat 
Hone surely but die merest cavillers would venture 
to engage in the unwelcome tadk of its refutation.* 

It ^ay be now interesting to ascertain the Opinions 
entertained on the general ft>rm and character of diose 
angelic beings which have imparted a peculiar ch*^ 
racter to the numerous spectral illusions, that have in 
different periods of the Christian era been recorded. 
During the ascendency of popish saints, the belief in 
an hierarchy of angels had rather languished than ex- 
pired ; and when, in an early period of the Reforma- 
tion, the doctrine began to be revived, the corporeal 
shape, or material habitation, attributed to such spirits, 
was checked by the authoritative voice of the meta- 
physicians. *J Now for that immaterial world," says 
Sir Thomas Brown, ^^ methinks we need not wander 

* I may remark that, regarding the general history of the su- 
perstitions connected with tutelar saints, there is an interesting 
article on the subject in Ellis* edition of Brandos Popular Anti. 
qoities, 4to, VoL i. p. 281, (o which I have been occasionally in- 
debted. 

K 



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146 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTBAL ILLUSIONS 

80 far as the first moveable ; for^ even in this material 
fiibrick, the spirits walk as freely exempt from the 
affection of time^ place> and motion, as beyond the 
extremest circumference; do but extract from the 
corpulency of bodies, or resolve things beyond their 
first matter, and you discover the habitation of an- 
gels." Such a doctrine would of necessity be very 
puzzling ^o the poets, whose descriptions always in- 
clude material images ; no alternative, therefore, re- 
mained for them but to revive the opinion that angels 
were capable of subsisting either with or without any 
sensible forms. Of this view, so strongly inculcated 
in the seventeenth century, particularly by Milton, it 
is an interesting circumstance, that the author of the 
sublime tragedy of Manfred has recently availed him- 
self. 

Makfred. 

I would behold ye face to face. I hear 

Your voices, sweet and melancholy sounds, 
. As music on the waters ; and I see 

The steady aspect of a dear large star ; 

But nothing more. Approach me as ye are^ 

Or one, or all, in your accustom'd forms. 

Spirit. 

We have no forms beyond the elements, 
Of which we are the mind and principle : 
But choose a form— in that we will appear. 

Cowley, the most metaphysical poet of his time, 
was more anxious than any other descriptive writer, 
to render his spirits as little revolting as possible to 
the pneumatology of the schools ; he, therefore, with 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 147 

becmniiig taste^ fashioned the bodies and clothes of 
his angels with all the attenuated materials which he 
could discover^ such as air^ clouds^ dew^ solar rays^ 
meteors, vapours, and rainbows : — 

Then, Gabriel, (no blessM sp'rit more kind or fair) 
Bodies and dothes himself with thickenM air ; 
All like a comely youth in life*s fresh bloom, 
Rare workmanship, and wrought by heavenly loom ! 
He took for skin a cloud more soft and bright, 
Than e'er the mid-day sun pierced thro* with light ; 
Upon his cheeks a lively blush he spread, 
H^ash'd from the morning beauty's deepest red ; 
An harmless flaming meteor shone for hair. 
And fdl adown his shoulders with loose care : 
He cuts out a silk mantle from the skies, 
Where the most sprightly azure pleased the eyes ; 
This he with starry vapours spangles all. 
Took in their prime ere they grow ripe, and fall ; 
Of a new rainbow, ere it fret or fade. 
The choicest piece took out, a scarf is made ; 
Small streaming clouds he does for wings display, 
Nor virtuous lovers' sighs more soft than they ; 
These he gilds o'er with the sun's richest rays. 
Caught gliding o'er pure streams on which he plajrs. 

Cowley's Davideis^ Book 2d. 

The reason of my dwelling thus fully upon the 
source whence the guardian spirits of popular belief 
have derived their peculiar character, will now, I 
trust, be sufficiently obvious. An interpretation has 
been attempted of a certain quality of apparitions, 
which with weak minds has long served to confirm 
the incessant operation of tutelary genii. 



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148 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAI. IMATSIONS 

I shall next attempt to illustrate, firom a few well*- 
authenticated apparitions of good sparita, those pre^ 
disposing causes that have been intimately connected 
with the production of all such illusions. But I mnnt 
here repeat the caution, that pathological cases of this 
kind are, from various causes, difficult to be obtained; 
the real state of the seefs health being but too fre- 
quently deemed unworthy of note, and in some in- 
stances purposely withheld. 

It may then, in the first place, be observed, that 
highly-excited states of the sanguineous yh* melan- 
cholic temperaments, conspiring with great nervous 
irritability, have, more than any other causes, given 
rise not only to the particular apparitions of which I 
am about to treat, but to those of every other qua- 
lity. With what truth has Pinel remarked, that " the 
history of insanity claims alliance with all the err<»*s 
and delusions of ignorant credulity; with those of 
witchcraft, demoniacal possession, oracles, and divi- 
nation. As such," adds this excellent writer, " these 
are subjects by no means unworthy the consideration 
of a medical philosopher ; and especially of him whose 
peculiar office it is to administer health and consola- 
tion to minds distressed and diseased. Information^ 
from whatever source, merits acceptance, but occa« 
sionally it must be sought where ordinary inquirers 
are either unable or too indolent to look for it." * 

The life of Saint Teresa is a very instructive in- • 
stance of the effects of Melancholia. '* Her frame," 
says Mr Townsend, who, in his Tour through Spain, 

• Pinel on Insanity. Trans, by Dr Davit, p. 45. 



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irifcACED TO SUFKitSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 1^ 

has gaveii an aJJMStrad of her life^ " was naturally de« 
<« Ucate^ her kaaghiation lively^ and her mind inca- 
pal^e of h&skg fixed by trivial objects^ turned with 
avidity to those which religion offered, the moment 
they were presented to her view. But unfortunately 
meeting with the writings of St Jerom, she became 
enamoured of the monastic life> and, quitting the line 
for which nature designed her^ she renounced the 
moat endearing ties^ and bound herself by the irre- 
vocable vow. Deep melancholy then seized on her, 
and increased to such a degree, that for many days 
she lay both motionless and senseless, like one who is 
in a trance. Her tender firame thus shaken, prepared 
her for ecstades and visions, such as it might appear 
invidious to r^eat, were they not related by herself 
and by her greatest admirers. She tells us that, in 
the fisrvour of her devotion, she not only became in- 
sensible to every thing around her, but that her body 
was often lifted up j&om the earth, although she en- 
deavoured to resist the motion ; and Bishop Yepez 
relates in particular, that when she was going to re- 
ceive the Eucharist at Avila, she was raised in a rap- 
ture higher than the grate, through which, as is usual 
in nunneries, it was presented to her." The writer 
then makes us acquainted with several particulars of 
the visions which she experienced, as, for instance, 
that she c^n heard the voice of God when she was 
recovered from a trance,— that she frequently saw St 
Peter and St Paul standing on her left hand, and 
that, '' once when she held the cross which was at 
the end of her beads, our Lord took it from her, and 
when he restored it, she saw it composed of four large 



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150 THE OBJECTS OF SPECmAL ILLUSIONS 

gems incomparably more precious than diamonds. 
These had his five wounds engraved upon them after 
a most curious manner; and he told her that she 
should always see that same appearance. And so she 
did ; for from that time she no longer saw the matter 
of which the cross was made, but only these precious 
stones^ although no one saw them but herself." Mr 
Townsend's general conclusion on this interesting 
case is too important to be omitted. " It is curious/' 
he remarks^ " yet most humiliating^ to see a per- 
son of this description, amiable and respectable as St 
Teresa, deceived, and, with the best intentions, de- 
ceiving others. In this instance, we can readily 
account for the delusion, from the delicacy and 
weakness of her frame, the strength of a disturbed 
imagination, and the prevalence of superstition. But 
when we see men of the finest understandings, in 
perfect health, of different and distant nations, in 
all ages, treading upon the same enchanted ground, 
we . can only wonder ; for who can give any ra- 
tional account of the aberrations of our reason?" 
This is, indeed, an excellent observation ; I must, 
however, dispute the propriety of one remark, in 
which the writer supposes that the objects of such 
illusions may be in perfect health. On the contrary, 
I believe that no apparitions of profane history were 
ever seen under any such circumstances, but that 
they have universally arisen from morbific causes. 

Another interesting narrative of nearly the same 
kind is to be found in Dr Crichton's " Enquiry into 
the Nature and Origin of Mental Derangement." 
This author has translated, from the Psychological 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 151 

Magazine of Germany^ a very curious account, drawn 
up by a lady of good credit, relative to the celestial 
sights which she had witnessed. This female, who 
in other respects possessed considerable intelligence, 
had such a belief in the reality of her visions, that 
she commences her account wiUi an acknowledgment 
to the Lord of Lords, for the singular and gracious 
condescension with which she has been favoured. 
The able physician, however, to whose learned dis- 
sertation I am indebted for this case, has satisfactorily 
proved from certain confessions of the lady, that an 
aura ^nleptica, with other equally well-known sym^ 
toms, were felt during the prevalence of these illu- 
sions. As I have, therefore, on a former occasion^ 
endeavoured to shew, that a gaieral state of nervous 
irritability, iK)t unfrequently heightened in its effect 
by a strongly-excited sanguineous or melancholic tem- 
perament, is a predisposing cause of spectral impres- 
sions, I must consider, that the following example 
affords an ample elucidation of such an affection, which 
may occur either with or without the adventitious 
symptoms of convulsion. 

The illusions which this lady experienced first came 
on in the fourth year of her age, while she was sit- 
ting with her little doll upon her knees ; and for the 
greater convenience of dressing and undressing it, 
resting her feet upon a large folio Bible. " I had 
scarcely taken my place," she observes, '' above a 
minute, when I heard a voice at my ear say, ' Put 
the book where you found it ;' but as I did not see 
any person, I did not do so. The voice, however, re- 
peated the mandate, that I should do it immediately ; 



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152 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

and^ at the same tinie, I thought somebody took hold 
of my face. I instantly obeyed with feta and trem- 
bling ; but not being able to lift the book upon die 
table^ I oalled the servant-maid to oome quickly and 
assist me. When she came and saw that I was alone 
and terrified^ she qpolded me, as nobody was there." 
It may be remarked of this part of the account, that 
the voice which the narrator heard can only be 
r^arded as a r^iovated feeling of the mind> resultii^ 
fh>m some prior remonstrances that she might have 
incurred from her protectors, whenever she treated 
with unbecoming irreverence the holy vcdume;— <- 
while the impression of a person taking hold of her 
fkce, may be referred to some morbid sensation of 
touch, incidental to many n^vous affections, whidi 
would easily associate itself with the imaginary re- 
buke of her mysterious monitor^ so as to in^part to 
the whole of the illusion a certain degree of oonnexioii 
and consistency. The patient (f<Nr such I shall call 
her) next describes the extreme diligence and the pe- 
culiar delight with which, as she grew up in years, 
she read twice over, from the beginning to ihe end, 
the pages of the Scriptures ; and she likewise dwells 
upon her constant endeavour to render the Bible 
more intelligible, by often hearing sermons and read- 
ing religious books. It is certainly of importance to 
know the subject of her incessant and anxious studies, 
as it is well calculated to explain the nature of her 
visions, which, as we might expect, were generally of 
a religious description. 

We are, in the next place, told by the same lady, 
that, after she had reached her seventh year, she saw, 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 183 

whmi plftying^ a cleai* flime whidi seined to entee 
divough the (^aniber.door> while in the middle of il; 
was along bright light about the sise of a child of aix 
years old« The phantasm remained stationary for 
half an hour near the stove of the room, and then 
went out again by the room-door; the white light 
first, and the flame following it After this visi^m, 
we hear of no other until the lady is married, when, 
unfortunately, her husband made her life so bitter to 
her that she could think only of death. Hence must 
have necessarily arisen the combining influence of 
strong mental emotions, which could not but act as 
powerful exciting agents upon a frame, the mental 
feelings of which, from constitutional causes, were of 
the most intense kind. Spectral illusions would of 
course become very frequent. Thus, on <me occa- 
sion, wh&a. she had received some ill treatment from 
her husband, she made a resolution to desist from 
prayer, thinking the Lord had forsaken her; but, 
upon farther consideration, she repented of ^is pur« 
pose, and, a£ier retu^ing thanks to Heaven, went to 
bed. She awakened towards the morning, and then, 
|o her astonishment, found that it was broad day- 
light, and that at her bed-side was seated a heavenly 
figure in ^e shape of a man about sixty years of age, 
dressed in a bluish robe, with bright hair, and a coun- 
tenance shining like the clearest red and white crys- 
tal. He looked at her with tenderness, saying no- 
thing more than ^ Proceed, proceed, proceed.' These 
words were unintelligible to her, until they were 
solved by another phantasm, young and beautiful as 
an angel, who appeared on the opposite side of the 



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154 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

bed, and more explicitly added, ' Proceed in prayer, 
proceed in faith, proceed in trials* After this incident, 
a strange light appeared, when she immediately felt 
herself pulled by the hairs of her head, and pinched 
and tormented in various ways. The cause of this 
affliction she soon discovered to be the devil himself, 
who made his dehut in the usual hideous form under 
which he is personated, until at length the angel in« 
terfered and pushed away the foul fiend with his el- 
bow. '^ Afterwards," as the lady added, ^' the light 
can^ again, and both persons looked mournfully at 
it The young one then said, ' Lord, this is suffi- 
cient ;' and he uttered these words three times. 
Whilst he repeated them, I looked at him, and beheld 
two large white wings on his shoulder, and therefore 
I knew him to be an angel of God. The light im- 
mediately disappeared, the two figures vanished, and 
the. day was suddenly converted into night. My 
heart was again restored to its right place, the pain 
ceased, and I arose." * 

A few remarks may next be made on the blessed 
spirits' with which dying persons are said to have oc- 
casionally held converse. " Oh !" said a female, as I 
find it recorded in Turner's History of remarkable 

Providences, '* if you saw such a glorious sight as I 

• 

* On two occasions it is stated in the narrative, that the lady 
was favoured with a sight of our Saviour. Another vision is like- 
wise rdated of a very remarkable kind. But it is probable, from 
the account which she gives, that these illusions took place in her 
sleeping dreams. The ecstacy now described is not liable to this 
objection, as it occurred during an epileptic fit 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 156 

now see, you would rejoice with me. For I see a 
vision of the joys of heaven, and of the glory that I 
shall go into^ and I see infinite millions of angels at- 
tendant upon me, and watching to carry my soul into 
the kingdom of heaven." Respecting such a narra*' 
tive as this, I shall merely repeat the observation 
which I made, that it is by no means uncommon in a 
far-advanced and moribund state of hectic symptoms, 
and, indeed, in the last stage of many other corporeal 
affections, that the patient should see apparitions, 
which may also be of a cheering description. The 
frequency of this incident being kept in view, an ex- 
planation is readily afforded of the numerous commu- 
nications which pious individuals on their deathbed 
are supposed to have held with benignant spirits. 
That all such alleged visitants, as they stand recorded 
in profane history, are illusory, I must decidedly 
maintain ; and, since the devoutest of Christians only 
partakes with humanity in general, by being occa- 
sionally liable, from such cailses, to spectral impres- 
sions, no regret ought to arise, that the angels which 
he has seen are the mere phantasies of his diseased 
imagination. It is rather consolatory to think, that, 
on such occasions, th^ quality of his waking visions 
has accidentally harmonized so well with the prospect 
of those heavenly blessings, which are promised as 
the reward of a well-spent life. 

The foregoing observations lead me, in the next 
place, to notice the angelic spirits which have not un- 
frequently visited persons of dissipated habits, parti- 
cularly those who have laboured under >uch mental 



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ISO THE aW^CTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

affections asi supervene to habits of inebriety. Every 
medical nan is aware of the phantasies resulting from 
ddifium tremens, of which I have already adduced 
some very curious examples. I entertain^ therefore^ 
little doubt) but that in this state of mind, drunkards 
have not unfrequently enjoyed a firiendly intercourse 
vith imi^^ary spirits of a benignant quality. '' Some, 
through weaknesses of body," says R^^ald Scot, 
^^ have such imperfect imaginations. Drunken m^i 
also sometimes suppose they see trees walk, according 
to. that which Solomon saith to the drunkards, ' thine 
eyes shall see strange visions and marvellous appear* 
ances.'" Of the angels who have condescended to 
hold an intercourse with mortals of this description^ 
the case of Major Wilkie, as related by Baxter, in his 
Certainty of the World of Spirits, as well as by other 
writers, affords a memorable example. This gentle.? 
msA was a Scottish engineer, who was employed in 
the dvil wars which took place between the parlia- 

^ ment and the unfortunate Charles. He is described 
as a scholar of no mean attainments, but as a great 
^nker, and possessing a very heated brain, whidi 

* did not, however, impair his reasoning powers. He 
lived for some time in Coventry, at which place he 
affirmed, that he was omstantly Surrounded by both 
good and bad spirits, tlie former of whom were evi- 
dently the most friendly to him, as they endowed 
him with a spirit of prophecy. Thus he maintained, 
that the phenomena of thunder and lightning were 
nothing more than the wars of spirits, by means of 
which, and a vision that he enjoyed at Paris, he pre- 



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tllACED iX) SWEASTltlOtrs IMa6£AV. IB? 

dieted the issue of the vrst with th^ p(ai4i^Eunetit, And 
tbe near approach of th^ Itnilknttiiitn. He -^as dofi- 
stantly attended, like some ancient Roman^ with tl^o 
genii^ one of a benignant^ and the other of an evil 
charaeter ; but the influence of the former prevailed^ 
n}»^ ftbia this source of intelligence^ he was enabled to 
expound the Scriptures in a way perftctly diflferent 
from that Of ordin^ty odmijiettttttors. ^l- ih^tAr^ee^ 
he amused Mb fblloWers with a learned dilf^isicidn 
On the devills contentloti about the body of Moses; 
ntfr did he fidl to notice dthet equally impottftnt tisxtA 
of the Scilptures. It is added^ that this gentleman 
afterwards became distracted, and, titifoitunfltely, 'AitA 
from ^^ant.— TOere ib al^ itnothe^ gholft^stbry ^ 
nearly a similar purport, which is recorded by three 
or fbur writers of the seventeenth cetotury. In Tur*. 
ner'B History of remarkable Providences it is thus 
related :-^" A gentleman, formerly seeming pious, <^ 
late years hath fallen into the sin of drunkenness ; and 
when he has been drunk, and slept himself sdber^ 
something knOcks at his bed^head, as if one knocked 
on k wainscot ; when they remove the bed, it follows 
him ; besides loud noises in other parts where he is, 
that all the house heareth. It poseth me to think 
what kind of spirit this is, that hath such a care of 
tMs man's soul (which makes me hope he will re^ 
cover). Do good spirits dwell so near us? or are 
they sent on such messages ? or is it his guardian 
angel ? or is it the soul of some dead friend that suf^* 
^eth, and yet retaining love to him, as Dives did to 
his brethren, would have him saved > God keepeth 
yet such things from us in the dark." 



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168 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

The last case which I shall give on this subject^ is 
that of John Beaumont^ the author of a ^' Treatise on 
Spirits^ Apparitions^" &c« which was published in the 
year 1705. He is well described by Dr Ferrier, as 
'^ a man of a hypochondriacal disposition^ with a c&a- 
siderable degree of readings but with a strong bias to 
credulity." Labouring under this corporeal affection^ 
he saw hundreds of imaginary men and women about 
him^ though^ as he adds, he never saw any in the 
night-time, unless by fire or candle-light, or in the 
moonshine. *' I had two spirits," he says, ** who 
constantly attended me, night and day, for above 
three months together^ who called each other by 
their names ; and several spirits would call at my 
chamber-door, and ask whether such spirits lived 
there, calling them by their names, and they would 
answer they did. As for the other spirits that at- 
tended me, I heard none of their names mentioned, 
only I asked one spirit, which came for some nights 
together, and rung a little bell in my ear, what his 
name was, who answered Ariel. The two spirits that 
constantly attended myself appeared both in women's 
habit, they being of a brown complexion, about three 
feet in stature ; they had both black loose net- work 
gowns, tied with a black sash about the middle, and 
within the net-work appeared a gown of a golden 
colour, with somewhat of a light striking through it. 
Their heads were not drest in top-knots, but they had 
white linen caps on, with lace on them about three 
fingers' breadth, and over it they had a black loose 
net-work hood." 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 159 

These are the few well -authenticated instances 
which I shall now offer on the present subject of our 
inquiry^ although they might have been easily multi- 
plied even to an enormous extent. 



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160 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 



CHAPTER III. 

OENfiRAL REMARKS ON THE APPARITIONS CONNECTED 
WITH DEM0N0L06Y. 



'^ 'Tis said thou boldest converse with the things 
Which are forbidden to the search of man ; 
That with the dwellers of the dark abodes^ 
The many evil and unheavenly spirits 
Which walk the valley of the shade of death. 
Thou communest." Traoedt of Manfred. 



Our next object is to investigate the general origin of 
that quality of apparitions, the vivid mental images 
of whict have been derived from systems of demon- 
ology. It will therefore be worth while to preface 
this inquiry with a very brief historical sketch of the 
superstitions connected with this subject of popular 
belief. 

The name of demon was given by the Greeks and 
Romans to certain spirits or genii, who appeared to 
men either to do them service or injury. The Pla- 
tonists made a distinction between their gods, or Dii 
Majorutn Gentium, — ^their demons^ or those beings 
which were not dissimilar in their general character 
to the good and evil angels of Christian belief^ — and 
their heroes. The Jews and early Christians restrict* 
ed the appellation of demons to beings of a malignant 
nature, or to devils ; and it is to the early opinions 

7 



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TRACED TO SUPEESTITIOUS IMAGERY; 161 

entertained by this people^ that the outlines of later 
systems of demonology may be traced. 

'^ The tradition of the Jews conceming> evil spirits 
or devils,'* says a learned writer on the subject, " are 
various ; some of them are founded upon Scripture ; 
scnne borrowed from the notions of the pagans ; some 
are fables of their own invention ; and some are aUe« 
gories." It would be a disagreeable task to recount 
the peculiar notions of this people on the origin of 
their demons ; suffice it to say, that they were con- 
sidered either as the distinct progeny of Adam or of 
Eve^ which had resulted from an improper inter- 
course with supernatural beings, or of Cain. As this 
doctrine was naturally very revolting to some few. of 
the early Christians, they maintained that demons 
were the souls of departed human beings, who were 
still allowed to interfere in the affairs of the earth, 
either to assist their friends or to persecute their ene« 
piies* This doctrine, however, did not ultimately 
prevail. 

It would be very difficult for any one at the pre* 
sent day, considering our little familiarity with the 
writings of ancient pneumatologists, to attempt giv« 
ing, in a condensed form, the various opinions enter- 
tained in an early period of the Christian era, and 
during the middle ages, on the nature of the demons 
of popular belief. Such an undertaking was^ how- 
ever, attempted two centuries and a half ago by Re* 
ginald Scot, and his chapter on the subject is so com- 
prehensive, and at the same time so concise^ as to 
render an abridgment of it unnecessary. '^ I> for my 
own part," says this writer, " do also thinke this ar- 



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IflS THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIOKB 

gument about the natare and substance c^divels and 
spirits to be difficulty as I am persuaded that no one 
author hath in anie certaine or perfect sort hitheHo 
written thereof. In which respect I can neither allow 
the ungodly and prophane sects and doctrines of the 
Sadduces and Peripatetidts^ who denie that there are 
any diyels or spirits at all ; nor the fond and supersti- 
tioQs treatises of Plato^ Proclus, Plotinus, Porphyrie; 
nor yet the vaine and absurd opinicms of Psellus, "SU 
der, Sprengee, Cumanus^ Bodin^ Michad> Andraeas^ 
Janus MatthsBUS, Laurentius, Ananias^ lamblicns^ 
&e. ; who^ with manie others^ write so ridiculouslie 
in these matters> as if they were babes fraied with 
bugges; some affirming that the soules of the desd 
beoome iq>irits, the good to be angels^ the bad to be 
divels ; some that sjMts or divels are onelie in this 
life ; Bome, that they are men ; some, that they are 
women ; some^ that divels are of such gender that 
they list themselires ; some, that they had no begin- 
ning, nor shall have ending, as the Manicheis main* 
teine ; some, that they are rndtall and die, as Plu- 
tarch affirmeth of Pan; some, that they have no 
bodies at all, but receive bodies according to dicir 
phantasies and imaginations ; some, that their bodies 
are given unto them ; some, that they make them* 
selves. Some saie they are wind; some, that they 
are tlie breath of living creatures ; some, that one of 
them began another ; some, that they were created of 
the least part of the masse whereof the earth was made ; 
and some, that they are substances betweene God and 
man, and that some of them are terrestrial, some ce- 
lestial, some wateric, some airie, some fierie, some starric, 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. Iffl 

and some of each and every part of the elements^ and 
that they know our thoughts, and carrie our good 
works and praiers to Gk>d> and retume his benefits 
back unto us, and that they are to be worshipped ; 
wherein they meete and agree jumpe with the pa- 
pists."—'' Againe, some saie, that they are meane be- 
tween terrestrial and celestial bodies, communicating 
part of each nature ; and that although they be eter- 
nal!, yet they are moved with affections ; and as there 
are birds in the aire, fishes in the water, and wormes 
in die earth, so in the fourth element, which is the 
fier, is the habitation of spirits and divels/'-— '' Some 
saie they are onelie imaginations in the mind of man. 
Tertullian saith they are birds, and flie faster than 
any fowle m the aire. Some saie that divels are not, 
but when they are sent ; and therefore are called evil 
angels. Some thinke that the divel sendeth his angels 
abrode, and he himself maketh his continuall abode 
in h^, his mansion-place." 

It was not, however, until a much later period of 
CSiriitianity, that more decided doctrines relative to 
the origin and nature of demons were established. 
These tenets involved certain very knotty points re- 
lative to the fall of those angels, who, for disobe- 
dience, had forfeited their high abode in heaven. The 
Gnostics, of early Christian times, in imitation of a 
classification of the different orders of spirits by Plato, 
had attempted a similar arrangement with respect to 
an hierarchy of angels, the gradation of which stood 
aa ftdlows :— -The first and highest order was named 
seraphim; the second cherubim; the third was the 
order of thrones ; the fourth, of dominions ; the fifth, 



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164 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

of virtues ; the sixth, of powars ; the seventh, of prin- 
cipalities ; the eighth, of archangels ; the ninths and 
lowest, of angels. This fable was, in a pcnnted man- 
ner, censured by the apostles; yet still, strange to 
say, it almost outlived the pneumatologists of the 
middle ages. These schoolmen, in reference to the 
account that Lucifer rebelled against heaven, and that 
Michael, the archangel, warred against him^ long 
agitated die momentous questicm. What orders of an- 
gels fell on this occasion? At length, it became the 
prevailing opinion that Lucifer was of the order of 
seraphim. It was also proved, after infinite research^ 
that Agares, Belial, and Barbatos, each of them de- 
posed angels of great rank, had been of the order of 
virtues ; that Bileth, Focalor, and Phoenix, had been 
of the order of thrones ; that G^p had been <^ the 
order c^ powers ; and that Purson had been both of 
the order of virtues and c^ thrones, and Murmur, of 
thrones and of angels. The pretensions of many 
other noble devils were likewise canvassed, and, in 
an equally satisfactory manner, determined. After* 
wards, it became an object of inquiry to learn. How 
many fallen angels had been engaged in the contest ? 
This was a question of vital importance, which gave 
rise to the most laborious research, and to a varie^ of 
discordant opinions. It was next agitated. Where the 
battle was fought? in the inferior heaven, in the 
highest region of the air, in the firmament, or in para* 
disc ? how long it lasted ? whether during one second, 
or moment of time {punctum temporis), two, three, car 
four seconds ? These were queries of very difficult 
solution ; but the notion which ultimately prevailed 



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^ TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 165 

was, that the engagement was concluded in exactly 
three seconds from the date of its commencement ; 
and that while Lucifer, with a number of his follow- 
ers, fell into hell, the rest were left in the air to tempt 
man. A still newer question arose out o£ all these 
investigations, Whether more angels fell with Lucifer, 
or remained in heaven with Michael ? Learned clerks, 
however, were inclined to think, that the rebel chief 
had been beaten by a superior force, and that, conse- 
quently, devils of darkness were fewer in number 
than angels of light. 

These discussions, which, during a number of suc- 
cessive centuries, interested the whole of Christen- 
dom, too frequently exercised the talents of the most 
erudite characters in Europe. The last object of de- 
monologists was to collect, in some degree of order, 
Lucifer's routed forces, and to re-organize them un- 
der a decided form of subordination, or government 
Hence, extensive districts were given to certain chiefs 
that fought under this general. There was Zimimar, 
'' the lordly monarch of the north," as Shakspeare 
styles him,* who had his distinct province of devils ; 
there was Oorson, the King of the South ; Amaymon, 
the King of the East ; and Ooap, the Prince of th^ 
West These sovereigns had many noble spirits sub- 
inrdinate to them, whose various ranks were settled 
with all the preciseness of heraldic distinction; there 

• This king is invoked in the Fhrat Part of Shftkepeftre's Play 
of Henry the Sixth, after the following manner :— • 

** You speedy helpers that are substitutes 
Under the lordly monarch of the north-* 
Appei^r r* 



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166 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS ' 

were Devil Dukes^ Devil Marquises^ Devil Counts^ 
Devil Earls^ Devil Knights^ Devil Presidents, and 
Devil Prelates. The armed force under Lucifer seems 
to have comprised nearly twenty-four hundred legicms, 
of which each demon of rank commanded a certain 
number.* Thus, Beleth, whom Scot has described 
as '^ a great king and terrible, riding on a pale horse> 
before whom go trumpets and all melodious music," 
commanded eighty-five legions ; Agares, the first duke 
under the power of the East, commanded thirty-cme 
legions ; Leraie, a great marquis, thirty legions ; Mo- 
rax, a great earl and a president, thirty-six legions ; 
Furcas, a knight, twenty legions; and, after the 
same manner, the forces of the other devil chieftains^ 
were enumerated.t 

Such were once the notions entertained regarding 
the history, nature, and ranks of devils. My next 
object will be to shew, that, with respect to their 
strange and hideous forms, the apparitions connected 
with the popular belief on this subject, were derived 
from the descriptive writings of such demonologists, 
as either maintained that demons possessed a decided 
corporeal form, and were mortal, or that, like Milton's 
spirits, they could assume any sex, and take any ^ape 
they chose. 

When, in the middle ages, conjuration was regu- 
larly practised in Europe, devils of rank were sup- 
posed to appear under decided forms, Iby which they 

• To estimate the force of Lucifer, multiply 6666, the number 
of devils of which a legion consists, by 2400. 

f See Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, book 16, chap. 2 ; and 
his discourse of devils and spirits in the "same book. 



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TBACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAOEBY. 167 

were as well recognized, as the head of any aneient 
fiimily would be by hb crest and armorial bearings. 
Along with their names and characters, were registered 
such shapes as they were accustomed to adcqpt A 
devil would appear, either like an angel seated in a 
fiery chariot; or riding cm an infernal dragon, and 
carrying in his right hand a viper; or assuming a 
lion's head, a goose's feet, and a hare's tail ; or put« 
ting on a raven's head, and mounted on » strong wdfl 
Other forms made use of by demons were those of a 
fierce warrior, or of an old man riding upon a croco- 
dile with a hawk in his hand. A human figure would 
arise having the wings of a griffin ; or sporting three 
beads, two of them being like those of a toad and of 
a cat ; or defended with huge teeth ^d horns, and 
armed with a sword ; or displaying a dog's teeth, and 
a large raven's head ; or mounted upon a pale horse, 
and exhibiting a serpent's tail ; or gl<nriously crowned, 
and riding upon a dromedary ; or presenting the face 
of a lion ; or bestriding a bear, and gnuqping a viper. 
There were also such shapes as those c^an archer, or 
of a Zeno{rfiilus. A demoniacal king would ride upon 
a pale horse ; or would assume a leopard's face and 
griffin's wings ; or put on the three heads of a bull, of 
a man, and a ram, with a serpent's tail, and the feet 
of a goose ; and, in this attire, sit on a dragon, and 
bear in his hai)d a lance and a flag; or, instead of be- 
ing thus employed, goad the flanks of a furious bear, 
and carry in his fist a hawk. Other forms were those 
of a goodly knight ; or of one who bore lance, en« 
dgns,* and even sceptre ; or of a soldier, either riding 
en a Uack horse, and surrounded with a flame of fire ; 



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168 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

or wearing on his head a duke's crown^ and mounted 
on a crocodile ; or assuming a lion's face^ and^ with 
fiery eyes, spurring on a gigantic charger ; or, with 
the same frightful aspect, appearing in all the pomp 
of family distinction, on a pale horse ; or clad from 
head to foot in crimson raiment, wearing on his bold 
front a crown, and salljring forth on a red steed. 
Some infernal duke would appear in his proper cha- 
racter, quietly seated on a griffin ; another spirit of a 
similar rank would display the three heads o£ a 8er« 
pent, a man, and a cat ; he would also bestride a viper, 
and carry in his hand a firebrand ; another, of the 
same stamp, would appear like a duchess, encircled 
with a fiery zone, and mounted on a camel ; a fourth, 
would wear the aspect of a boy, and amuse himself on 
the back of a two-headed dragon. A few spirits, 
however, would be content with the simple garbs of 
a horse, a leopard, a lion, an unicorn, a night-raven, a 
stork, a peacock, or a dromedary ; the latter animal 
speaking fluently the Egyptian language. Others 
would assume the more complex forms of a lion or of 
a dog, with a griffin's wings attached to each of their 
shoulders ; or of a bull equally well-gifted ; or of the 
same animal, distinguished by the singular i^pendage 
of a man's face ; or of a crow clothed with human 
flesh ; or of a hart with a fiery tail. To certain other 
noble devils were assigned such shapes as those of a 
dragon with three heads, one of these being human ; 
of a wolf with a serpent's tail, breathing forth flames 
of fire ; of a she- wolf, exhibiting the same caudal ap- 
pendage, together with a griffin's wings, and ejecting 
from her mouth hideous matter. A lion would appear. 



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TBACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 169 

either ivith the head of a branded thief^ or astride 
upon a black horse^ and playing with a viper^ or 
adorned with the tail of a snake^ and grasping in his 
paws two hissing serpents. 

These were the varied shapes assumed by devils of 
rank ; it would^ therefore^ betray too much of an aris* 
tocratical spirit^ to omit noticing the forms which the 
lower orders of such beings displayed. In an ancient 
Latin poem^ describing the lamentable vision of a de* 
voted hermit^ and supposed to have been written by 
St Bernard in the year 1238/ those spirits^ who had 
no more important business upon earth than to carry 
away condemned souls> were described as blacker 
than pitch : as having teeth like lions^ nails on their 
fingers like those of the wild-boar^ on their forehead 
horns^ through the extremities of which poison was 
emitted^ having wide ears flowing with corruption, 
and discharging serpents fVom their nostrils. The de- 
vout writer of these verses has even accompanied them 
with drawings^ in which the addition of the cloven 
feet is not omitted. But this appendage^ as Sir Tho« 
mas Brown has learnedly proved^ is a mistake^ which 
has arisen fVom the devil frequently appearing to the 
Jews in the shape of a rough and hairy gOBt, this ani« 
mal being the emblem of sin»ofFerings.t 

* A translation of this very curious work was printed for private 
distribution by William Yates, Esq. of Mandiester^ for a copy of 
which I have been indebted to this gentleman. 

"I* Sir Thomas Brown, who thinks that this view may be oon« 
firmed by expositions of Holy Scripture^ remarks, that '' whereas it 
is said, thou shalt not offht unto devils f (the original word Is 



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170 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRiX. ILLUSIONS 

It b worthy of fiuther remark^ that the form of the^ 
demons described by St Bernard, differs little from 
that which is no less carefully pourtrayed by Reginald 
Soot 360 years later, and, perhaps, by the demonolo- 
gists ot the present day. ^^ In our childhood," says 
he, '^ our mother's maids have so terrified us with an 
ouglie divell having homes on his head, fier in his 
mouth, and a taile in his breech, eies like a bason, 
&ngs like a dog, clawes like a beare, a skin like a 
nig^, and a voice roring like a lion,-— whereby we 
start and are afraid when we heare one cry bought' 

It is still a curious matter for speculation, worth 
while noticing-*Why, aflter the decay of the r^^lar 
systems of demonology taught in the middle ages, we 
should still attach the same hideous form to the 
devil ? The learned Mede has remarked, '^ that the 
devil could not i^pear in human shape while man 
was in his integrity ; because he was a spirit £Edlen 
from his first glorious perfection; and, therefore, 
must appear in such shape which might argue his 
imperfecti<Mi and abasement, which was the diape of 
a beast; otherwise, no reason can bd given, why he 
should not rather have appeared to Eve in the shape 
of a woman than of a serpent. But since the fall of 
man, the case is altered ; now we know he can take 
upon him the dhape of man. He appears, it seems, in 
the shape of man's imperfection, either for age or de- 

Seghuirim), that is, rou^ and hairy goats, because in that sh^ 
the de?il most often appeared, as is expounded by the Rabins ; as 
Tr^axellitts hath also explained,; and as the word Asdioah, the 
God of Emath, is by some conceived.** 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 171 

formity^ as like an old man (for so the witches say) ; 
and perhaps it is not altogether false^ which is vul« 
garly affirmed^ that the devil> appearing in human 
Bhape^ has always a deformity of some uncouth mem* 
ber or other^ as though he could not yet take upon 
him human shape entirely, for that man himself is not 
entirely and utterly fallen as he is." Grose also, but 
with infinitely less seriousness than the truly pious 
writer whom I have just quoted, has confirmed this 
view, by saying, that *' although the devil can partly 
transform himself into a variety of shapes, he cannot 
change his cloven feet, which will always mark him 
under every appearance." 

But enough of such fancies, originating with those, 
who, says Scot, ^* are so carnally-minded, that a spirit 
is no sooner spoken of, but immediatelie they thinke 
of a black man with cloven feet, a pair of iiomes, a 
taile, clawes, and eies as broad as a bason. But sure- 
lie the devil were not so wise in his generation as I 
take him to be, if he would terrific men with such 
uglie shapes, though he could do it at his pleasure."* 

Absurd as all these descriptions truly are, relative 



* There are some courageous individuals, however, to whom the 
censure of Scot cannot apply. Baxter has recorded a case relative 
to one Mr White of Dorchester, Assessor to the Westminster As- 
sembly at Lambeth, who, being honoured with a visit one night 
from the arch-.fiend, treated him with a cool contempt, to which 
his Satanic majesty has not often been accustomed. ^' The devil^ 
in a light night, stood by his bedside | the Assessor looked awhile 
whether he would say or do any thing, and then said, * If thou 
hast nothing to do, I have ; and so turned himself to sl«ep.* *' 



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172 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTKAL ILLUSIONS 

to the external forms of demons, I have not noticed 
them without due deliberation. During the middle 
ages, the hideous figures, which divers degrees of de- 
mons were supposed to assume, found very promi- 
nent places among the grotesque sculptures and carv- 
ings of religious buildings, and even disfigured the 
ivainscots of the domestic halls of our ancestors. No 
wonder then, that, even at the present day, they should 
continue to make an impression upon weak intellects, 
or upon the vulgar. When fear has impressed their 
forms deeply on the minds of the superstitious, and 
when, from morbific causes, ideas have become as vi- 
vid as sensations, apparitions of hideous demons have 
haunted the maniacal visionary, or have disturbed the 
pillows o£ the languishing or of the dying. 

With the view of illustrating other accounts of ap- 
paritions, I must still advert to the doctrines of de- 
monology which were once taught. Although the 
leading tenets of this occult science may be traced to 
the Jews and early Christians, yet they were matured 
by our early communication with the Moors of Spain, 
who were the chief philosophers of the dark ages, and 
between whom and the natives of Prance and Italy a 
great communication subsisted. Toledo, Seville, and 
Salamanca, became the great schools of magic. At 
die latter city, prelections on tiie black art were, from 
a consistent regard to the solemnity of the subject, 
delivered witiiin the walls of a vast and gloomy ca- 
vern. The schoolmen taught, that all knowledge and 
power might be obtained from the assistance of the 
fallen angels. They were skilled in the abstract 
sciences, in the knowledge of precious stones, in al- 



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TRACED TO SUPEBSTITIOUS IMAOEBY, 173 

ehymy, in the various languages of mankind and of 
the lower animals, in the belles lettres, in moral phi« 
loM^hy, pneumatology, divinity, magic, history, and 
j^phecy. They could control the winds, the waters, 
and the influence of the stars ; they could raise earth* 
quakes, induce diseases, or cure them, accomplish all 
vast mechanical undertakings, and release souls out 
of purgatory. They could influence the passions of 
the mind-*procure the reconciliation of friends or foe^ 
•—engender mutual discord— induce mania and me- 
lancholy— K>r direct the force and objects of the sexual 
affections. 

Such was the object of demonology, as taught by 
its most orthodox professors. Yet other systems of it 
were devised, which had their origin in causes at- 
tending the propagation of Christianity. For it must 
have been a work of much time to eradicate the uni- 
versal belief, that the Pagan deities, who had become 
so, numerous as to fill every part of the universe, were 
&bulous beings. Even many learned men were in* 
duced to side with the popular opinion on the aub« 
ject, and did nothing more than endeavour to recon- 
cile it with their acknowledged systems of demon- 
ology. They taught that such heathen objects of re- 
verence were &llen angels in league with the prince 
of darkness, who, until the appearance of our Saviour, 
had been allowed to range on the earth uncontrolled, 
and to involve the world in spiritual darkness and de- 
lusion. According to the various ranks which these 
spirits held in the vast kingdom of Lucifer, they were 
suffered, in their degraded state, to take up their 
abode in the air, in mountains, in springs, or in seas. 



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174 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

Bui, although the various attributes ascribed to the 
Oreek and Roman deities were^ by the early teachers 
of Christianity^ considered in the more humble light 
<f demomacal delusions^ yet for many centuries they 
possessed great influence over the minds of the vulgar. 
In the reign c^ Hadrian, Evreux in Normandy was 
not converted to the Christian Mxh, until the devil, 
who had caused the obstinacy of the inhabitants, was 
finally expelled from the Temple of Diana. To this 
goddess, during the persecution of Diocletian, obla- 
tions were rendered by the inhabitants of London. 
In the 6th century, the worship of her existed at 
Turin^ and incurred the rebuke of Saint Maximus. 
From the 9th to the 15th century, several denunda^ 
tions took place of the women, who in France and 
Germany travelled over immense spaces of the earth, 
acknowledging Diana as their mistress and conductor. 
In rebuilding Saint Paul's cathedral in London, re- 
mains of several of the animals used in her sacrifices 
were found ; for slight traces of this description of 
reverence subsisted so late as the reign of Edward the 
First, and of Mary. Apollo, also, in an early period 
of Christianity, had some influence at Thomey, now > 
Westminster. About the 1 1th century, Venus formed 
the subject of a monstrous ajqparition, which could 
only have been credited from the influence whidi she 
was still supposed to possess. A young man had 
thoughtlessly put his ring around the marble finger of 
her image. This was construed by the Cyprian god- 
dess as a plighted token of marriage ; she accordingly 
paid a visit to her bridegroom's bed at night, nor could 
he get rid of his bedfellow until the spells of ah ex- 



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TBAC£D TO SUPBRSTITIOUS IMAOEBY. 176 

ordtt had been invdced for bis relief. In the year 
15S6, just before the volcanic eruption of Mount 
Etna, a Spanish merchant, while travelling in Sicily, 
saw the apparition of Vulcan attended with twenty of 
his Cyclops, as they were escaping fhxn the effects 
which the overheating of his ftimace foreboded.* 
|£. To the superstitions of Greece and Rome we are 
also indebted for those subordinate evil spirits named 
genii, who^ for many centuries, were the subject of 
numerous spectral illusions. A phantasm of this kind 
appeared to Brutus in his tent, prophesying that he 
should be again seen at Philippi. Cornelius Sylla had 
the first intimation of the sudden febrile attack with 
which he was seised, from an apparition who address- 
ed him by his name ; concluding, therefore, that his 
death was at hand, he prepared himself for the event, 
which took place the following evening. The poet 
Cassitts Severus, a short time before he was slain by 
order of Augustus, saw, during the night, a human 
form of a gigantic size,— *his skin black, his beard 
squalid, and his hair dishevelled. The phantasm was, 
perhaps, not unlike the evil genius of Lord Byron's 
Manfred :— 

^' I see a dusk and awful figure rise 
Like an Infernal god firom out the earth ; 
Hit face wrapt in a mantle, and his form 
Robed as with angry clouds ; he stands between 
Thyself and me«*but I do fear him not.*' 

* See an interesting dissertation on this subject in Douce's II. 
lustrations of Shakspearo, voL i p. 382. It is also noticed in the 
Border Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 107* 



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176 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

The emperor Julian was struck with a spectre dad 
in rags, yet bearing in his hands a horn of plenty, 
wMdi was covered with a linen cloth. Thus emble- 
matically attired, the spirit walked moumfiiUy past 
the hangings of the apostate's tent.* 

We may now advert to the superstitious narratives 
of the middle ages, which are replete with the notices 
of similar marvellous apparitions. When Bruno, the 
Archbishop of Wirtzburg, a shcnt period before his 
sudden death, was sailing with Henry III., he des- 
cried a terrific spectre standing upon a rock which 
overhung the foaming waters, by whom he was hailed 
in the following words: — ^^ Ho! Bishop, I am thy 
evil genius. Oo whither thou choosest, thou art and 
shalt be mine. I am not now sent for thee, but soon 
thou wilt see me again." To a spirit commissioned 
upon a similar errand, the prophetic voice may be 
probably referred, which was said to have been heard 
by John Cameron, the Bishop of Glasgow, imme- 
diately before his decease. He was summoned by it, 
says Spottiswoode, '^ to appear before the tribunal 
of Christ, there to atone for his violence and op- 
pressions." 

But it is curious, that a superstition nearly similar 
has been perpetuated in the Highlands of Scotland 
even to the present day. '^ There is a species of spi- 
rits," says Sir Walter Scott, in his Border Minstrelsy, 
'< to whom, in the Highlands^ is ascribed the guar- 

* Dio of Sjrracuse was visited by one of the fliiies in person, 
whose appearance the soothsayers regarded as indicative of the 
death which occurred of his son, as well as of his own dissolution. 
8 ' 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 177 

dianship or superintendence of a particular clan^ or 
family of distinction. Thus the family of Ourlinbeg 
was haunted by a spirit called Oarlin Bodachar ; that 
of the Baron of Kinchardin by Lamhdearg or Red 
Hand^ a spectre^ one of whose hands is as red as 
blood ; that of Tullochgorm by May Moulach, a fe- 
male figure^ whose left hand and arm were covered 
with hair^ who is also mentioned as a familiar at- 
tendant upon the clan Grant" — I need scarcely re- 
mind my readers of the truly sublime manner in 
which this superstition is made the subject of a strik- 
ing incident in the popular romance of Waverley. 

I shall not pursue the subject of Genii much farther. 
The notion of every man being attended by an evil 
genius was abandoned much earlier than the far more 
agreeable part of the same doctrine^ which taught, 
that, as an antidote to this influence, each individual 
was also accompanied by a benignant spirit. ** The 
ministration of angels," says a writer in the Athenian 
oracle, " is certain, but the manner how is the knot 
to be untied. 'Twas generally believed by the an- 
tient philosophers, that not only kingdoms had their 
tutelary guardians, but that every person had his par- 
ticular genius, or good angel, to protect and admonish 
him by dreams, visions, &c. We read that Origen, 
Hierome, Plato, and Empedocles in Plutarch, were 
also of this opinion ; and the Jews themselves, as ap- 
pears by that instance of Peter's deliverance out of 
prison. They believed it could not be Peter, but his 
angel. But for the particular attendance of bad an- 
gels, we believe it not ; and we must de^iy it, till it 
finds better proof than conjectures." '{ 



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178 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

Such were the objects of superstitious reverence de- 
rived from the Pantheim of Greece and Rome^ the 
whole 83niod of which was supposed to consist of de« 
mons^ who were still actively bestirring thenwelves to 
delude mankind. But^ in the west of Europe^ a host 
of other demons^ fiir more formidable^ were brought 
into play^ who had their origin in Celtic^ Teutonic^ 
and even Eastern fables ; and as their existence, as 
well as influence, was not only by the early Christiana, 
but even by the reformers, boldly asserted, it was long 
before the rites to which they had been accustomed 
were totally eradicated. Thus, in Orkney, for in- 
stance, it was customary, even during the last cen- 
tury, for lovers to meet within the pale of a large 
circle of stones, which had been dedicated to the chief 
of the ancient Scandinavian deities. Through a hole 
in one of the pillars, the hands of contracting parties 
were joined, and the faith they plighted was named 
the promise of Odin, to violate which was infamous. 
But the influence of the Dii Hdajores of the Edda was 
slight and transient, in comparison with that of the 
duergar or dwarfs, who figure away in the same my- 
thology, and whose origin is thus recited. Odin and 
his brothers killed the Giant Ymor, from whose wound 
ran so much blood, that all the families of the earth 
were drowned^ except one that saved himself on board 
a bark. These gods then made of the gianf s bcmes, 
of his flesh, and his blood, the earth, the water, and 
the heavens. But in the body of the monster, several 
worms had, in the course of putrefaction, been en« 
gendered, which, by order of the gods, partook of both 
human shape and reason. These little beings possess- 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 179 

ed the most delicate figures^ and always dwelt in sub* 
terraneous caverns or clefts of rocks. They were re- 
markable for their riches, their activity, and their ma- 
levolence.* This is the origin of our modem fairies, 
who, at the present day, are described as a people of 
small stature, gaily dressed in habiliments of green.t 
They possess material shapes, with the means, how« 
ever, of making themselves invisible. They multiply 
their species ; they have a relish for the same kind of 
food that affords a sustenance to the human race, and 
when, for some festal oecasion they would regale 
themselves with good beef or mutton, they employ 
elf-arrows to bring down their victims. At the same 
time, they delude the shepherds with the substitution 
of some vile substance, or illusory image, possessing 
the same form as that of the animal which they have 
taken away. These sprites are much addicted to mu- 
sic, and when they make their excursions, a most ex- 
qtusite band of music never fails to accompany them 
in their course. They are addicted to the abstraction 

* Six Walter Scott has supposed that this mythological account 
of the dueigar bears a remote allusion to real history, having an 
ultimate reference to the oppressed Fins, who, before the arrival of 
invaders, under the conduct of Odin, were the prior possessors of 
Scandinavia. The followers of this hero saw a people, who knew 
how to work the mines of the country better than they did ; and, 
therefore, firom a superstitious regard, transformed them into 
spirits of an unfavourable character, dwelling in the interior of 
rocks, and surrounded with immense riches. — Border Minttrelty^ 
voL ii p. 179. 

f It is said that, in Orkney, they were often seen clad in com- 
plete armour. — Brand** Description of Orkney^ 8vo, Edinburgh^ 
1701,i?. 63. 



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180 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

of the human species^ in whose place they leave sub- 
stitutes for living beings, named changelings, the im- 
earthly origin of whom is known by their mortal im- 
becility, or some wasting disease. When a limb is af- 
fected with paralysis, a suspicion often arises that it 
has been either touched by these sprites, or that, in- 
stead of the sound member, an insensible mass of mat- 
ter has been substituted in its place. 

In England, the opinions originally entertained re- 
lative to the duergar or dwarfs, have sustained consi- 
derable modifications, from the same attributes being 
assigned to them as to the Persian peris, an imaginary 
race of intelligences, whose offices of benevolence 
were opposed to the spiteful interference of evil spi- 
rits. Whence this confusion in the proper Teutonic 
mythology has originated is doubtful; conjectures 
have been advanced, that it may be traced to the in- 
tercourse which the crusaders had with the Saracens, 
and that from Palestine was imported the corrupted 
name, derived from the Peris, of fairies ; — for under 
such a title the Duergar of the Edda are now generally 
recognised. The malevolent character of the dwarfs 
being thus sunk yi the opposite qualities of the Peris, 
the fairies' Blessing became, in England, proverbial : 
*' Grant that the sweet fairies may nightly put money 
in your shoes, and sweep your house clean." In 
more general terms, the wish denoted, '' Peace be to 
this house"* 

* In Gennany, probably for similar reasons, the dw^s have 
acquired the name of elves^-^a word, observes Mr Douce, derived 
firom the Teutonic liclfen^ which etymologists have translated 
Juvare, 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 181 

Fairies^ for many centuries^ have been the objects 
of spectral impressions. In the case of a poor woman 
of Scotland, Alison Pearson, who suffered for witch- 
craft in the year 1586, they probably resulted from 
some plethoric state of the system, which was follow- 
ed by paralysis. Yet, for these illusive images, to 
which the popular superstitions of the times had giVen 
rise, the poor creature was indicted for holding a com- 
munication with demons, under which light fairies 
were then considered, and burnt at a stake. During 
her illness, she was not unfrequently impressed with 
sleeping and waking visions, in which she held an 
intercourse with the queen of Elfland and the good 
neighbours. Occasionally, these capricious spirits 
would condescend to afford her bodily relief; at other 
times, they would add to the severity of her pains. 
In such trances or dreams, she would observe her 
cousin, Mr William Sympsoune of Stirling, who had 
been conveyed away to the hills by the fairies, from 
whom she received a salve that would cure every 
disease, and of which the Archbishop of Saint An- 
drews himself deigned to reap the benefit It is said 
in the indictment against her, that " being in Grange 
Muir with some other folke, she, being sick, lay 
downe ; and, when alone, there came a man to her 
clad in green, who said to her, if she would be faith- 
ful, he would do her good; but she, being feared, 
cried out ; but naebodie came to har, so she said, if 
he cam in God's name, and for the gude of her saul, 
it was well ; but he gaed away ; he appeared another 
tyme like a lustie man, and many men and women 
with him;— at seeing him she signed herself, and 



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189 THE OBJiXrrS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

prayed and past widi tliem^ and saw them making 
merrie with pypes^ and gude dieir and wine : — She 
was carried with them^ and when she telled any of 
these things^ she was sairlie tormented by them ; and 
the first time she gaid with them^ she gat a sair straike 
frae one of them^ whidi took all the poustie [j>ower^ 
of her side frae her^ and left an ilU&r'd mark on her 
side. 

" She saw the gude neighbours make their sawes 
[[salves^ with panns and fyres^ and they gathered the 
herbs before the sun was up, and they cam verie fear- 
ful sometimes to her, and flaide [scared^ her very sair, 
which made her cry, and threatened they would use 
her worse than before ; and at last they tuck away 
the power of her haile syde frae her, which made her 
lye many weeks. Sometimes they would come and 
sitt by her, and promise that she should never want 
if she would be faithful ; but if she would ^leak and 
tell of them, they should murther her. Mr William 
Sympsoune is with them who healed her, and telt her 
all things ; — ^he is a young man, not six years older 
than herself, and he will appear to her before the 
court comes; — he told her he was taken away by 
them ; and he bidd her sign herself that she be not 
taken away, for the teind of them are tane to hell 
everie yeare."* 

Another apparition of a similar kind may be found 
in the pamphlet which was published a. d. 1696, im- 
der the patronage and recommendation of Dr Fowler, 
Bishop of Gloucester, relative to Ann JefFeries, '' who 

* Minstrelsy of the Scottish Bcnrder, vol ii. page 215. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 183 

was fed for six months by a small sort of airy people^ 
called fairies." There is every reason to suppose^ 
that this female was either affected with hysteria^ or 
with that highly-excited state of n^vous irritability, 
which, as I have shewn, gives rise to ecstatic illusions. 
The account of her first fit is the only one which re* 
lates to the present subject. In the year 1695, says . 
her historian, '^ she then being nineteen years of age, 
and one day knitting in an arbour in the garden, there 
came over the hedge to her (as she affirmed) six per- 
sons, of a small stature, all cloathed in green, which 
she called fairies : upon which she was so frighted, 
that she fell into a kind of convulsive fit : but when 
we found her in this condition, we brought her into 
the house, and put her to bed, and took great care of 
her. As soon as she recovered out of the fit, she cries 
out, ' They are just gone out of the window ; they are 
just gone out of the window. Do you ^ot see them ?' 
And thus, in the height of her sickness, she would 
often cry out, and that with eagerness ; which expres- 
sions we attributed to her distemper, supposing her 
light-headed." This narrative of the girl seemed 
highly interesting to her superstitious neighbours, and 
she was induced to relate fiar more wonderful stories, 
upon which not the least dependence can be placed, 
as the sympathy she excited eventually induced her to 
become a rank impostor.^ 

* Before dismissing the subject of fairies, I shall slightly ad- 
yert to the strange blending which took place of Grecian and Teu- 
tonic fables. " We find,'* says Sir Walter Scott, " the elves, oc- 
casionally arrayed in the costume of Greece and Rome, and the 



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184 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

But besides fairies^ orelves^ which fonned the sub- 
ject of many spectral illusions^ a domestic spirit de- 
serves to be mentioned^ who was once held in no small, 
degree of reverence. In most northern countries of 
Europe^ there were few families that were without a 
shrewd and knavish sprite^ who> in return for the at- 
tention or neglect which he experienced^ was known to 



'< ...i—i.— ..-.— Sometimes labour in the quern, 
And bootless make the breathless housewife chum ; 
And sometimes make the drink to bear no barm/' 

Mr Douce, in his Illustrations of Shakspeare^ has 
shewn, that the Samogitse, a people formerly inhabit- 
ing the shores of the Baltic, who remained idolatrous 
so late as the 15th century, had a deity named Putscet, 
whom they invoked to live with them, by placing in 
the bam, every night, a table covered with bread, 
butter, cheese, and ale. If these were taken away, 
good fortune was to be expected ; but, if they were 
left, nothing but bad luck. This spirit is the same as 
the goblin-groom. Puck, or Robin Goodfellow of the 
English, whose face and hands were either of a russet 
or green colour, who was attired in a suit of leather, 
and armed with a flail. For a much lesser fee than 
was originally given him, he would assist in thresh- 
ing, churning, grinding malt or mustard, and sweep- 



fairy queen and her attendants, transformed into Diana and her 
nymphs, and invested with their attributes and appropriate insig- 
nia." "Mercury was also named by Harsenet in the year 1602, 
the Prince of the Fairies. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 185 

ing the house at midnight.* A similar tall " lubbar- 
fiend," habited in a brown garb, was known in Scot- 
land. Upon the condition of a little wort being laid 
by for him^ or the occasional sprinklings upon a sacri- 
ficial stone^ of a small quantity of milk^ he would en- 
sure the success of many domestic operations. Ac- 
cording to Olaus Magnus, the northern nations re- 
garded domestic spirits of this description as the souls 
of men who had given themselves up during life t6 
illicit pleasures^ and were doomed^ as a punishment, 
to wander about the earth, for a certain time, in the 
peculiar shape which they assumed, and to be bound 
to mortals in a sort of servitude. It is natural, there- 
fore, to expect, that these familiar spirits would be 
the subject of many apparitions, of which a few rela- 
tions are given in Martin's Account of the Second 
Sight in Scotland. '' A spirit," says this ' writer, 
'' called Browny, was frequently seen in all the most 
considerable families in the isles and north of Scot- 
land, in the shape of a tall man ; but within these 
twenty or thirty years he is seen but rarely." 

It is useless to pursue this subject much farther. 
In the course of a few centuries, the realms of super- 
stition were, in the west of Europe, increased to an 
almost immeasurable extent. The consequence was, 

• " He would chafe exceedingly," says Scot, " if the maid or 
good- wife of the house, having compassion of his nakedness, laid 
anie clothes for him, beesides his messe of white bread and milke, 
which was his standing fee. For in that case he saith, What 
hare we here ? Hemton hamten, here wiU I never more tread nor 
stampen.** 



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186 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

that the tar, the rocks^ the seai^ the rivers, nay everj 
lake, pool, brook, or spring, became so filled with 
spirits, both good and evil, that of each province it 
might be said, in the words of the Roman satirist, 
^^ Nostra regio tarn plena est numinibus, ut fsunlius 
possis deum quam hominepi invenire." Hence the 
modification which took place of systems of demon- 
ology, so as to admit of the classification of all de- 
scriptions of devils, whether they had been derived 
from Grecian, Roman, Teutonic, Celtic, or Eastern 
systems of mythology. " Our schoolmen, and oUier 
divines," says Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, 
^' make nine kinds of bad divels, as Dionysius hath of 
angels. In the JirH rank are those false gods of the 
Gentiles, which were adored heretofor in several idols, 
and gave oracles at Delphos and elsewhere, whose 
prince is Belzebub. The second rank is of liars and 
equivocaters, as Apollo, Pythius, and the like. The 
third are those vessels of anger, inventers of all mis- 
chief, as that of Theutus in Plato. £say calls them 
vessels of fury ; their prince is Belial. The Jburlh 
are malicious, revengeful divels, and their .prince is 
Asmodeus. The Jifth kind are coseners, such as be- 
long to magicians and witches ; their prince is Satan. 
The sixth are those aerial divels that corrupt the air, 
and cause plagues, thunders, fires, &c. spoken of in 
the Apocalyps and Paule ; the Ephesians name them 
the princes of the aire : Meresin is their prince. The 
seventh is a destroyer, captaine of the furies, causing 
wars, tumults, combustions, uproares, mentioned in 
the Apocalyps, and called Abaddon. The eighth is 
that accusing or calumniating divel, whom the Greeks 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 187 

call AidCtXH, that drives us to despaire. The nintke 
are those tempters in several kindes^ and their prince 
is Mammon." "• 

But this arrangement was not comprehensive enough; 
for, as Burton adds, " no place was void, but all full 
of spirits, devils, or other inhabitants, not so much as 
an haire-breadth was empty in heaven, earth, or wa- 
ters, above or under the earth, — ^the earth was not so 
full of flies in summer as it was at all times of invi- 
sible devils." Pneumatologists, therefore, made two 
grand distinctions of demons ; there were celestial de- 
mons, who inhabited the regions higher than the moon ; 
while those of an inferior rank, as the Manes or Le- 
mures, were either nearer to the earth, or grovelled on 
the ground. Psellus, however, " a great observer of 
the nature of devils," seems to have thought, that such 
a classification destroyed all distinction between good 
and evil spirits ; he therefore denied that the latter 
ever ascended the regions above the moon, and om- 
tending for this principle, founded a system of de- 
monology, which had for its basis the natural history 
and habitations of all demons. He named his first 
class Jieiy devils. They wandered in the region near 
the moon, but were restrained from entering into that 
luminary; they displayed their powers in blazing 
stars, in firedrakes, in counterfeit suns and moons, 
and in the cuerpo santo, or meteoric lights, which, in 
vessels at sea, flit from mast to mast, and forebode 
foul weather. It was supposed that these demons 
occasionally resided in the furnaces of Hecla, Etna, or 
Vesuvius. — The second class consisted of aerial devils. 
They inhabited the atmosphere, causing tempests. 



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188 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

thunder^ and lightning ; rending asunder oaks^ firing 
steeples and houses^ smiting men and beasts^ lower- 
ing down^ from the skies^ stones,* wool, and even 
frogs; counterfeiting in the clouds the battles of 
armies, raising whirlwinds, fires, and corrupting the 
air, so as to induce plagues. — The third class were 
terrestrial devils ; such as lares, genii, fauns, satyrs, 
wood-nymphs, foliots, Robin Goodfellows, or truUi. 
— The fourth class were aqueous devils ; as the various 
descriptions of water-nymphs, of mermen, or of mer- 
women. — The fifth were subterranean devils, better 
known by the name of dsemones metallici, metal men, 
Getuli or CobaU. They preserved treasure in the 
earth, and prevented it from being suddenly revealed; 
they were also the cause of horrible earthquakes. — 
Psellus's sixth class of devils were named lucifiigi. 
They delighted in darkness; they entered into the 
bowels of men, and tormented those whom they pos- 
sessed with phrenzy and the fallen sickness. By this 
power they were distinguished from earthy and aerial 
devils, who could only enter into the human mind, 
which they either deceived or provoked with unlaw- 
ful affections. 

Nor were speculations wanting with regard to the 
common nature of these demons. Psellus conceived 
that their bodies did not consist merely of one ele- 

* Psellus speaks with great contempt of this petty instance of 
malevolence to the human race. ^' Stones are thrown down from 
the air^'' he remarks, *^ which do no harm, the devils having little 
strength, and being mere scarecrows.** So much for the origin of 
meteoric stones. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 189 

ment, although he was far from denying that this might 
not have been the case before the fall of Lucifer. 
It was his opinion^ that devils possessed corporeal 
frames capable of sensation ; that they could both 
feel and be felt; that they could injure and be hurt ; 
that they lamented when they were beaten^ and that 
if stuck into the fire, they even left behind them 
ashes, — ^a fact which was demonstrated in a very satis- 
factory experiment made by some philosopher upon 
the borders of Italy ; — that they were nourished with 
food peculiar to themselves, not receiving the aliment 
through the gullet, but absorbing it from the exterior 
surface of their bodies, after the manner of a spunge ; 
that they did not hurt cattle from malevolence, but 
from mere love of the natural and temperate heat and 
moisture of these animals ; that they disliked the heat 
of the sun, because it dried too fast ; and, lastly, that 
they attained a great age. Thus, Cardan had a fiend 
bound to him twenty-eight years, who was forty-two 
years old, and yet considered very young. He was 
informed, from this very authentic source of intelli- 
gence, that devils lived from two to three hundred 
years, and that their souls died with their bodies. 
This very philosophical statement was, nevertheless, 
combated by other observers. " Manie," says Scot, 
'^ affirmed that spirits were of aier, because they have 
been cut in sunder and closed presentlie againe, and 
also because they vanished awaie so sudden lie." 

But a truce to these absurdities, of which I begin 
to suspect that my readers may be no less wearied 
than myself. Still the inquiry was necessary for my 
purpose, as I trust it will now be apparent, that most 



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190 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

of the fimtastical images^ which have long formed the 
subject of the spectral illusions of superstition^ have 
kept pace^ either with Pagan systems of mythology, 
with Christian systems of demonology, or with the no 
less superstitious views entertained^ relative to the 
hierarchy of benignant genii. Yet^ in the impressive 
language of Lord B3rron^ 



-« What are they ? 



Creations of the mind ? The mind can make 
Substance, and people planets of its own^ 
With beings brighter than have been, and give 
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh." 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 191 



CHAPTER IV. 

OBNBBAL BEHAKK8 ON THE APPABITI0N8 OF 
DBPABTED SPIRITS. 



' Ghosts fly on clouds and ride on winds/' said Gonnal's voice of 
wisdom. ^' They rest together in their caves, and talk of mortal 
men.**— -Po«» ofFingal, 



It is the most reasonable of expectations^ that the 
various morbific causes^ which are capable of impart- 
ing to the recollected images of the mind the vividness 
of actual impressions^ should have for their subject 
the forms of deceased as well as of living individuals. 
In the narrative^ for instance^ of Nicolai, given in the 
first chapter of this work^ the following remarkable 
passage occurs : — *' There appeared many other phan- 
tasms^ sometimes representing acquaintances. Those 
whom I knew were composed both of living and de- 
ceased persons^ though the number of the latter was 
comparatively small." This instance of spectres pro- 
duced by disease^ illustrates also the alleged paleness 
of ghosts^ or the misty and cloudy appearance which 
they assume. For the same writer remarks of certain 
of the phantasms which he saw> that they appeared to 
him in their natural size^ and as distinct as if alive ; 
though the colours seemed somewhat paler than in 
real nature." It is evident, that this impression must 
have- resulted from the spectral idea of colour not 



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192 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

quite equalling in intensity the vividness of an imme- 
diate sensation ; indeed^ Nicolai has related of certain 
other formSj that ^^ soon afterwards their colour began 
to fade^ and at seven o'clock they were entirely white." 
The mode in which ghosts are said to disappear^ is 
also well displayed in the same case. The phantoms 
beheld by this philosopher would suddenly withdraw 
or vanish. On other occasions^ they would grow by 
degrees more obscure ; — they would dissolve in the 
air ; nay^ sometimes^ fragments of them would conti- 
nue visible a considerable time : 

Macbeth. 
" The earth hath hubbies, as the water has, 
And these are of them : — Whither are they vanish'd ? — 

Banquo. 
Into the air ; and what seemM corporal 
As breath into the wind.*' 

From another writer, I have quoted an account of 
spectral forms nearly similar. '^ They appeared before 
me," it is said, " one at a time, very suddenly, yet 
not so much so, but that a second of time might be 
employed in the emergence of each, as if through a 
cloud or mist, to its perfect clearness. In this state 
each form continued five or six seconds, and then va- 
nished, by becoming gradually fainter during about 
two seconds, till nothing was left but a dark and pale 
mist, in which, almost immediately afterwards, ap- 
peared another face. All these faces were, in the 
highest degree, interesting tome, for beauty of form, 
and the variety of expression they manifested of every 
great and amiable emotion of the human mind." How 

7 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 193 

well do these circumstances incidental to morbid illu- 
sions agree with the description of a Highland bard. 
'' Who comes from the place of the dead^ — that form 
with the robe of snow ; white arms and dark-brown 
hair ? It is the daughter of the chief of the people ; 
she that lately fell ! Come let us view thee^ O maid ! 
thou that hast been the delight of heroes ! The bkst 
drives the phantom away; white, without form, it 
ucends the hill."* 

It must be confessed, that the popular belief of de- 
parted spirits occasionally holding a communication 
with the human race, is replete with matter of curious 
speculation. Some Christian divines, with every just 
reason, acknowledge no authentic source whence the 
impression of a future state could ever have been com- 
municated to man, but from the Jewish prophets or 
from our Saviour himself. Yet it is certain, that a be- 
lief in an existence afrer death has, from time imme- 
morial, prevailed in countries, to which the knowledge 
of the gospel never could have extended, as among 
certain tribes of America. Can then this notion have 
been intuitively suggested ? Or is it an extr&yogt^ 
supposition, that the belief might have, often arisen 
not only from dreams, but from those spectral illu- 
sions, to which men in every age, from the occasional 
influence of morbific causes, must have been subject? 
And what would be the natural self-persuasion, if a 
savage saw before him the apparition of a departed 
friend or acquaintance, endowed with the semblance 
of life, with motion, and with signs of mental intelli- 

• Sec Note to Croma^ in Macpherson^s Ossian, voL ii 

N 



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194 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

gence^ parhaps even holding converse with him ? As- 
suredly^ the conviction would scarcely 'fail to arise 
of an existence after death. The pages of history at- 
test this fact : 

'' If ancestry can be in aught believM, 
Descending spirits have conversed with man, 
And told him secreU of the world unknown." 

But if this opinion of a life hereafter had ever among 
heathen nations such an origin, it must necessarily be 
imbued with the grossest absurdities incidental to so 
fallacious a source of intelligence. Yet still the mind 
has clung to such extravagancies with avidity ; ^^ for," 
as Sir Thomas Brown has remarked, ^' it is the hea- 
viest stone that melancholy can throw at a man> to tell 
him he is at the end of his nature ; or that there is no 
future state to come, unto which this seems progres- 
sively and otherwise made in vain." It has remained, 
therefore, for the light of revelation alone, to impart to 
this belief the consistency and confirmation of divine 
truth, and to connect it with a rational system of re* 
wards and punishments. 

From the foregoing remarks, We need not be sur-t 
prised, that a conviction of the occasional appearance 
of ghosts or departed spirits, should, from the remotest 
antiquity, have been a popular creed, not confined to 
any distinct tribe or race of people ; and when it is 
considered that such illuirions are nothii^ more than 
recollected images of the mind presented in a highly- 
excited state, it is natural to expect that the imaginary 
beings of another world would appear to put on the 
same corporeal forms, and adopt the same manners, as 



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TEACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 198 

those to which they had been accustomed in an earthly 
state of existence. Dr Barclay^ in speaking of the si- 
mulacra of the Romans^ has very properly remarked^ 
that ^^ the dress and its fashions were represented as 
well as the body, while, in all the poetical regions of 
the dead, chariots, and various species of armour; 
were honoured likewise with their separate simulacra ; 
so that these regions, as appears from the Odyssey, 
.£neid, and Edda, were just the simulacra of the 
manners, opinions, customs, and fashions, that charac-* 
terized the timet and countries in which their poetical 
historians flourished."* 

The religious effect of this belief has been by no one 
more ably demonstrated than by the learned Farmer. 
He has satisfactorily shewn that the worship of the 
heathen nations corresponded to their notions of hu- 
man ghosts, and was founded upon it.t Dreams also 
have deeply entered into the tenets of many religions^ 
---«uch phenomena having been ever regarded as pro- 
phetic indications communicated to msgikind by su- 
pernatural influence. Aristotle wrote on divination by 
dreams, as well as Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus, and 
other ancient philosophers. 

But it is certain that the popular belief relative to 
ghosts did not always recommend itself to the more 
refined opinions of philosophic sects. '^ For ghosts 
were thought," says Dr Farmer, " to come from their 
subterraneous habitations, or from their graves, to 
partake of the entertainment provided for them. 

* Barclay on Life and Organization, page 14. 
f See Note 3. 



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198 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

Blood, in particular, was an acceptable libation to 
ghosts, and more particularly to the ghosts of he- 
roes." • It was, therefore, to correct the loose opi- 
nions entertained regarding the nature of the gods, 
and the souls of the dead, that Pneumatology put forth 
its pretensions as a distinct science. Consequently, in 
examining the stories of apparitions recorded by the 
Greeks and Romans, it will be found, that they vary 
in their character according to the different doctrines 
which were urged by the learned on this subject, and 
which, in course of time, began to prevail among the 
vulgar. For it was by various sects supposed, either 
that the soul was corporeal, being formed from warm 
air, or from water, or from fire, or from corporeal va- 
pours; or, on the other hand, that the soul was im- 
mortal,— that it was a harmony of heat, cold, mois- 
ture, and dr3me8s,-— that it was part of one universal 
soul, or that different souls might be possessed by one 
individual.f Thus it was an opinion, that, after the 
dissolution o£ the body, every man was possessed of 
three different kinds of ghosts, which were distin- 
guished by the names of Manes, Anima, and Umbnu 
These were disposed of after the following manner: 
the Manes descended into the infernal regions, the 

* Fanner on Worship of Human Spirits, page 434. 

-f For a summary of the opinions entertained hy the andents on 
this subject, see Dr Barclay's Inquiry into the Opinions, Ancient 
and Modem, concerning Life and Organization, section 2d and 3d. 
A more valuable present to philosophy has seldom been rendered, 
than by this successful exposure of ancient and modem errors con- 
ceming matter and mind. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 197 

Anima ascended to the skies^ and the Umbra hovered 
about the tomb> as being unwilling to quit its con- 
nexion with the body. Dido^ for instance, when 
about to die, threatens to haunt ^neas with her urn* 
bra ; at the same time, she expects that the tidings of 
bis punishment will rejoih her manes below.* 

Lucretius conceived, that the various apparitions 
€ii deceased firiends were subtle images which con- 
stantly rose from the surfaces of all bodies, which 
made an impression on our organs of sense, and 
which communicated this notion to the soul. This opi- 
nion, strange as it is, entered more or less into many 
systems on the same subject, which were taught by 
the schoolmen of the middle ages, although the obli- 
gation due to Lucretius has not been generally ac- 
knowledged.t 

* For the notion of this threefold soul, see the verses attributed 
to Orid: — 
** Bis duo sunt homini : Manes, Caao, Spibitus, Umbra : 
• Quatuor ista lod bis duo suscipiunt. 
Terra tegit cabnem, tumulum drcumvolat Umbba, 
Orcus habet Makes, Spibitus astra petit** 
-|- We detect a similar view in the reveries of the sympathetic 
philosophers of the eighteenth century, and in the doctrine of the 
transmission of spirits, which was taught by Lavater. Yet older 
philosophers (Psellus iot instance) were so heretical, as to be- 
lieve that demons were materiaL Paracelsus, who conceived that 
the elements were inhabited by four kinds of demons, viz. spirits, 
nymphs, ^gmies, and salamanders, also argued their materiality, 
but thoui^t they possessed caro non^adamica, Cudworth main- 
tained the materiality of angels. But, as I have no leisure at present 
to enter into a view of these very learned disqmsitions, I must re- 
8 



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196 TB£ OBJECTS OF SFIXnnUL ILLUSIONS 

But it it uimaoessary to allude any more to opinions 
of thu kind^ chiefly pneomatological^ which were en« 
tertained by the Oreeks and the Romans relative to 
ghosts. It is sufficient to say^ that the noti<m of souls 
revisiting the globe after death has been a popular 
creeds not confined to the vulgar, but supported by 
modem no less than by ancient philosophers* 

sign Um diicutiion to other hands ; and, for this purpose, shall 
take the liberty of introdociiig the gentle reader to a set of rerj 
modest and muiflsuniing pneamatologists, who, in the i^iinioiis 
they advanee on this same puzzling snbjeet of qpitits, only repeat 
the doctrines which diey have heard from anthoiity that noAe may 
question. When the Gardener, in Addison'* sprightly comedy of 
the Drummer, inquires ^* how the ^irit gets into the house when 
sU the gates are shut,** the following dialogue occurs :•«- 

Butkr. Why, look ye, Peter, your spirit will creep you into an 
augreJiole. HeHl whisk you through a keyJiole^ without so 
much as justling against one of the wards. 

Coachman, I verUy belieye I saw him last night in the Town, 
close. 

Gardener. How did he appear ? 

Coachman, Like a white lume. 

Butkr, Pho, Robin, I tell you he has nerer appeared yet, but 
in the shape of the sound of a drum. 

Coocftnuift. This almost makes one a£raid of one*s own shadow. 
As I was walking iVom the stable t'other night without my lan« 
tern, I fell across a beam, and I thought I had stumbled over a 
spirit. 

Butler. Thou might*st as well have stumbled oyer a straw. 
Why a spirit is such a little, little thing, that I have heard a man 
who was a great schohur say, that he*ll dance ye a fjangashhe 
hornpipe upon the point of a needle. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 199 

The opinions relative to apparitions which may be 
found in Jewish traditions^ proceed upon the doctrine 
subsequently entertained by Christians^ that the spirits 
of the dead were souls that had obtained a sort of 
temporary respite from the pains of purgatory^ to 
which they had become subject after death. It was 
even supposed that the righteous were conducted 
through hell> that they might be completely purified 
in the fiery river Dinnur^ before they could ascend 
into paradise. In conformity with this opinion^ sever- 
al ghost*stories are recorded by the Jews^ relative to 
the conversations which the living had with the dead. 
A few of these I shall give ; the first being a dialogue 
which took place between Tumus Rufus and the ghost 
of his father. 

'^ It happened/' say the Rabbins^ '^ that the wicked 
Tumus Bufits met Rabbi Akkiva on a Sabbath-day ; 
and he asked the Rabbi what the difference was be- 
tween that day and another ? Then did Rabbi Akkiva 
ask him> * What difference there was between one 
man and another ?' ' What is the difference,' says the 
Rabbin, ' between thee and another man, that thou 
art by thy Lord advanced to the dignity thou pos^ 
sessest, and that others are not so much esteemed ?' 
Turnus Rufus replied, ' It was because his Lord 
would have it so.' Rabbi Akkiva replied, — ^ I also 
honour the Sabbath, because my lord will have it so : 
as it is the will of thy lord that thou shouldst be ho- 
noured ; so it is the will of the King of kings that 
we should honour the Sabbath.' ' Why then/ de- 
manded Tumus Rufus, ' doth this God of yours do 
any work on the Sabbath ?' ' What work doth he do ?' 



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200 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

said the Rabbin. Turnus Rufus replied, ' The very 
work he doth on other days : He maketh the wind to 
blow and the rain to fall> the clouds to ascend, the 
sun and moon to rise, and the fruits to ripen.' Where- 
upon Rabbi Akkiva said to him, ^ I know well that 
thou art skilled in the laws of the Hebrews. When 
two live together in the same court, then doth the one 
give to the other the mutual token (or an instrument, 
by which they agree, according to the law, concerning 
the office of carrying to and from one another on the 
Sabbath,) and they are allowed to carry certain things 
from one place to another. But one who liveth alone 
in a court, though the court were as large as Antiodi> 
carrieth in that court certain things to land again, be- 
cause there is no other to take that office upon him. 
Now, heaven is the throne of the holy and blessed 
God, and the earth is his foot-stool, and the wlude 
earth is full of his glory : And there is no power in 
his world for to contend with him. Moreover, those 
who did eat the manna in the wilderness were wit- 
nesses of the (distinction it pleased God to annex to 
the) Sabbath, because the manna fell every day on 
the week but on the Sabbath. But this is not all : 
For the river Sabbatjon clearly shews this distinction, 
since it floweth during the six days, but floweth not 
on the Sabbath.' Then, replied Turnus Rufus, ^ Speak 
no more of the manna ; for no such thing as its falling 
hath happened in our days. And for the river Sab- 
batjon, I do not believe it.' Then said Rabbi Akkiva 
to him, ' Go to the soothsayers and diviners, and they 
will convince thee : For on every day of the week 
but the Sabbath they can, each in his way, make their 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 9D1 

divinations hit well enough ; but on the Sabbath they 
labour in vain. Get thee to thy father's grave finrin^ 
fimnation ; for thou shalt on every day but the Sab- 
bath perceive a smoke to arise from it; but on the 
Sabbath thou shalt perceive no such matter. If die 
dead, dien, can discern and distinguish die Sabbath^ 
how comes it to pass that the livii^ are ignorant of 
it and neglect it?' 

** Upon this, Tumus Rufiis went and beheld his 
father's grave, but could perceive no smoke to ascaid 
from it. And he said to Rabbi Akkiva, ' Perhaps his 
punishment is at an end.' The Rabbi answered, 
' Thou shalt see the smoke to-morrow.' And when 
Tumus Rufus saw, on the first day of the week, the 
smoke ascend from the grave, he caused his frther to 
be raised out of his grave by necromancy ; and he 
said to him, ' Thou didst not in thy life-time keep the 
Sabbath, but now thou art among tl^e dead thou ob« 
servest it. How long is it since thou tumedst Jew ?' 
Then answered his father^ ^ My son, every one among 
you that keepeth not the Sabbath in a becoming man- 
ner, shall, when he cometh among us, observe it 
against his will.' Then asked Tumus Rufus, ^ What 
is it ye do on the working days ?' And his frther an- 
swered, * We are punished on every working-day ; 
but on the Sabbath we have rest On the eve of the 
Sabbath, a voice is heard from heaven, saying, ' Let 
the wicked out, that they may have rest.' And there 
is an angel, who is set over us, who punisheth us every 
day. And at the end of the Sabbath^ when the Seda- 
rim, or the Jewish form of prayers, is ended^ the same 
angel calls aloud, saying, ^ Ye wicked, get ye again 



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into hell ; for the Isneliies have ended their form Of 
prayer/"* 

A second ghost-sttury relates a dialogue of the 
Rabbi Akki va with an individual^ who was condemned 
after death to carry wood for fuel to the fire of helL 
*^ It happened^ that as Rabbi Akkiva, at a certain 
place^ was goii^ to a funeral> he met a man> who had 
a burden of wood upon his back^ with which he run 
with the speed of a horse. Rabbi Akkiva stc^t him^ 
and said to him^ ' My son^ how oometh it to pass^ 
that thou undergoest such heavy labour ? if thou art 
a slave> and thy master yokes thee to this burden^ I 
will purchase thy freedom^ and deliver thee from him. 
If it be thy poverty that is the cause, I will enrich 
thee.' The man answered, ^ My lord, suffer me to go 
on ; for I must not stop.' Then did Rabbi Akkiva 
ask him, ^ Art thou a devil or a human being ?' And 
he was answered, ' I died, and am now obliged to 
fetch wood for fuel to the fire' (of hell, we suppose.) 
^ What,' said the Rabbin, ' was thy business in thy 
life-time ?' And he was answered, ^ I was an excise- 
man. I favoured the rich, and oppressed the pocnr. 
But that is not all : on the day of atonement I lay 
with a virgin, who was betrothed to me.' Then said 
Rabbi Akkiva, ' My son, hast thou ever heard from 
those that are set over thee in hell, whether there be 
any means by which thou mayest be delivered from 
thence f And he was answered, * Detain me no 
longer, lest my stay provoke my punishers to anger; 



* Stehelin*8 Tradition of the Jews, vol. ii. p. 56. 



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TBACED TO 8UP£ESTIXI0US IMAGIBY. AOS 

for there is no help for me* Nor have I heard of any 
means that might procure my redemption^ excepting 
one I They have said^ if thou hast a son^ who could 
stand in the congregation^ and there say^ ^ Blessed be 
the blessed Ijord^ (words at the head of a certain Jew» 
ish prayer) thou wouldest be delivered fr<mithis pun* 
Ishment' ^ But I have not a son. Indeed, when I 
died, I left my wife with child ; but I know not whe* 
ther she bore a son or a daughter. And if she bore a 
son (and he be still living) there is no knowing for 
me, whether he be instructed in the law.' Then did 
Rabbi Akkiva ask him his name, and his wife's name, 
and the name of the city where he dwelt. He replied, 
' My name is Akkiva, and my wife's name Susmira, 
and the city where I dwelt is called Alduca,' Then 
did Rabbi Akkiva lament for him. 

^^ And the Rabbi went from city to city till he came 
to the city Alduca ; and there he asked where the man 
and where his house was } And the people made an« 
swer, ^ May his bones be bruised in hell' And he 
asked after the man's wife, and was answered, ' Let 
her name be rooted out of the world.' Then he in» 
quired after the man's son, and was answered, that the 
son was not circumcised, and that his parents had no 
regard to that covenant, 

'' Then took Rabbi Akkiva the lad, and made him 
git bef<u^e him, in order to instruct him in the law. 
But he could not be instructed, until, for his sake. 
Rabbi Akkiva had fasted forty days ; when a voice 
. came from heaven, saying, ' Fastest thou thus for his 
sake ? And he answered, ^ Yea.' And then the lad 
read the alphabet, till Rabbi Akkiva had brought him 



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to his house^ and taught him the prayer at meat, and 
the diema, (t. e. the words in Deut. vi. 4. ' Hear, O 
Israel/) and the Prayer Book. Then did he (Rabbi 
Akkiva) place him properly ; and the lad prayed, and 
said, ' Blessed be the blessed Lord for ever.' Andin 
1 the same hour his father was freed from helL' 

*^ And the Father appeared in a dream to the Rabbi 
Akkiva, and said to him, * May the rest of Paradise 
be thy portion, because thou hast rescued me from, 
the punishment of helL' Then began the Rabbi Ak- 
kiva to say, * Thy name, O Lord, endureth for ever, 
and thy mem<Mrial, O Lord, throughout all genera- 
tions.'"* 

A third narrative, farinas efusdem, I shall give at 
length on account of the precept that the fable is in- 
tended to convey. 

'' There happened something remarkable in the holy 
community at Worms. It fell out that a Jew, whose 
name was Ponim, an ancient man, whose business 
was altogether about the dead, coming to the door 
of the school, saw one standing there who had a 
garland on his head. Then was Rabbi Ponim afraid, 
imagining it was a q)irit. Whereupon he whom 
the Rabbi saw called to him, saying, ' Be not afraid, 
but pass forward : Dost not thou know me ? Then 
said Rabbi Ponim, ' Art not thou he whom I bu- 
ried yesterday ?' And he was answered, * Yea, I am 
he.' Upon which Rabbi Ponim said, ' Why oomest 
thou hither ? How fareth it with thee in the other 



* Stehelin's Tradition of the Jewi, voL iL p. 64. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 206 

world ?' And the apparition made answer, ' It goeth 
well with me, and I am in high esteem in Paradise.' 
Then said the Rabbi, * Thou wert but looked upon in 
the world as an insignificant Jew. What good work 
didst thou that thou art esteemed ?' The apparition 
answered, ' I will tell thee : The reason of the esteem 
I am in is, that I rose every morning early, ilnd with 
fervency uttered my prayer, and offered the grace 
fVom the bottom of my heart ; for which reason I now 
pronounce grace in Paradise, and am well respected. 
If thou doubtest whether I am the person, I will show 
thee a token that shall convince thee of it. Yester- 
day, when thou didst clothe me in my funeral attire, 
thou didst tear my sleeve.' Then asked. Rabbi Ponim, 
' What is the meaning of that garland ?' The appari* 
tion answered, ' I wear it to the end the wind of the 
world may not have power over me ; for it consists of 
excellent herbs of Paradise.' Then did Rabbi Ponim 
mend the sleeve of the deceased ; for the deceased had 
said, that if it was not mended, he should be ashamed 
to be seen among others whose apparel was whole. 
And l^en the apparition vanished. Wherefore let 
every one utter his prayer with fervency, for then it 
will go well with him in the other world : and let care 
be taken, that no rent or tearing be left in the apparel 
in which the dead are interred."* 

The opinions entertained by the early Christians re- 
specting ghosts may now be noticed. Origen con- 
ceived that souls which had been guilty of flagrant 



• Stehdin't Tnditum of the Jews, toL iL p. 19. 



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206 THE OBJECTS OF SPKCTEAL ILLUSIONS 

crimes^ and were not purged of their impurity^ some- 
times were lodged in buildings^ or were attached to 
other places. Other theologians condemned all visions 
at apparitions that had not the unequivocal sanction 
of the Ddty^ our Saviour^ or the angels. Athanasius 
maintained^ that when souls were once released from 
their bodies^ they held no more communion with 
mortal men. Augustine remarked^ that if souls did 
actually walk and visit their friends^ he was con- 
vinced that his mother, who had followed him by 
land and by sea, would have shewn herself to hifn^ in 
order to inform him what she had learned in another 
state, as well as to give him much useful advice. 

The notions regarding ghosts which were enter- 
tained during the Christian era, but more particularly 
during the middle ages, are very multifiudous ; yet 
these, with the authorities annexed to them, have 
been most industriously collected by Reginald Scot. 
His researches are replete with amusement and in- 
struction. '' And, first," says he, *' you shall under- 
stand, that they hold that all the soules in heaven 
may come downe and appeare to us when they list^ 
and assume anie bodie saving their owne : otherwise 
(sale they) such soules should not be perfectlie hap- 
pie. They saie that you may know the good soules 
from the bad very easilie. For a damned soule hath 
a very heavie and sowre looke ; but a saint's soule 
hath a cheerfull and a merrie countenance : these also 
are white and ^ning, the other cole black. And 
these damned soules also may come up out of hell at 
their pleasure, although Abraham made Dives be^- 
leeve the contrarie. They aflfirme, that damned soules 



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TAACED TO SXJPKRSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 207 

walke oftenest : next unto them^ the scrules of pur* 
gatorie ; and most seldome the soules of saints. Also 
they saie^ that in the old lawe soules did appeare sel- 
dome ; and after doomsdaie they shall never be seene 
more : in the time of grace they shall be most fre- 
quent. The walking pf these souls (saith Michael 
Andrseas) is a most excellent argument for the pro<^e 
of purgatorie ; for (saith he) those soules have testi- 
fied that which the popes have affirmed in that be- 
halfe ; to wit> that there is not onelie such a place of 
punishment^ but that they are released from thence 
by masses^ and such other satisfactorie works ; where- 
by the goodnes of the masse is also ratified and con- 
firmed. 

^' These heavenlie or purgatorie soules (sale they) 
appeare most commonlie to them that are borne upon 
Ember dales: because we are in best state at that 
time to praie for the one^ and to keep companie with 
the other. Also^ they saie^ that soules appeare often- 
est by night ; because men may then be at best lea- 
sure, and most quiet. Also, they never appeare to 
the whole multitude, seldome to a few, and most 
ommionlie to one alone : for so one may tell a lie 
without controlment. Also, they are oftenest seene 
by them that are readie to die : as Trasilla saw Pope 
Foelix; Ursine, Peter and Paule; Galla Romana, S. 
Peter ; and as Musa the maid sawe our Ladie : which 
are the most certaine appearances, credited and al- 
lowed in the church of Rome: also, they may be 
seene of some, and of some other in that presence not 
seene at all, as Ursine sawe Peter and Paule, and yet 
manie at that instant being present could not see anie 



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such sight, but thought it a lie, as I do. Michael 
Andneas confesseth, that papists see more visions than 
protestants : he saith also, that a good soule.can take 
none other shape than a man ; manie a damned soule 
may and dooth take the shape of a bladce moore, or 
of a beaste, or of a serpent, or speciallie of an here- 
tike." 

Such is the account which Scot has given r^^ard- 
ing the Popish opinion of departed spirits. In an- 
other part of his work, he triumphantly asks, ** Where 
are the soules that swarmed in time past } Where are 
the spirits ? Who heareth their noises ? Who seeth 
their visions ? Where are the soules that made such 
mone for trentals, whereby to be eased of their pains 
in purgatorie ? Are they all gone into Italic, because 
masses are growne deere here in England? — The 
whole course may be perceived to be a false practise, 
and a counterfeit vision, or rather a lewd invention. 
For in heaven men's soules rasiaine not in sorow and 
care ; neither studie they there how to compasse and 
get a worshipfuU burial here in earthy If they did, 
they would not have foreslowed it so long. Now, 
therefore, let us not suffer ourselves to be abused anie 
longer, either with conjuring priests, or melandioli- 
call witches; but be thankfull to God that hath de- 
livered us from such blindness and error."* — ^This is 
the congratulation of a true protestant at an eariy pe- 
riod of the Reformation. 

The early Popish church, as we might expect, has 

' * Scot*s Diflcoverie of Witchcraft, book xv. chap. SS ; also 
Discourse on Devils and Spirits,, chap. 28. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 209 

favoured the world with numerous stories o£ appari- 
tions^ the subject of which is generally connected 
with the doctrine of Purgatdry. I shall give Regi- 
nald Scot's abstract o£ one of these narratives^ which 
was taken, as he assures us^ '* out of the rosarie of 
our ladie^ in which booke do remaine (besides this) 
ninetie and eight examples to this effect, which are of 
such authoritie in the church of Rome, that all Scrip- 
ture must give place unto them." 

*^ A certeine hangman passing by the image of our 
ladie^ saluted hir, commending himself to hir protec- 
tion. Afterwards, while he praied before hir, he was 
called awaie to hang an offender ; but his enemies in- 
tercepted him, and slew him by the waie. And lo ! 
a certeine holie preest, which nightlie walked about 
everie church in the citie, rose up that night, and was 
going to his ladie, I should saie to our ladie church. 
And in the churchyard he saw a great manie dead 
men, and some of them he knew, of whome he asked 
what the matter was, and who answered, that the 
hangman was slaine, and the divell challenged his 
soule, the which our ladie said was hirs: and the 
judge was even at hand, coming thither to heare the 
cause, and therefore (said they) we are now come to- 
gither. The preest thought he would be at the hear- 
ing hereof, and hid himself behind a tree, and anon 
he saw the judicial>^t readie prepared and furnished, 
where the judge, to wit, Jesus Christ, sate, who tooko 
up his mother unto him. Soon after the divels 
brought in the hangman pinioned, and proved by 
good evidence that his soule belonged to them. On 
the other side, our ladie pleaded for the hangman. 



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piroving that be^ at ih€ houre of death, oommended his 
sottle to hir. The judge hearing the matter so well 
debated on either side^ but willing to obeie (£ar these 
are his words) his mother's desire, and loath to doo 
the divda anie wrong, gave sentence, that the hang^ 
Irian's soule should return to his bodie, until he haci 
made sufficient satisfacti<m ; ordeiring that the Pope 
should set foorth a publike forme of praier for the 
hangman's soule. It was demanded, who should do 
the arrand to the Pope's holiness* Marie, quoth 
our ladie, that shall yonder preest that lurk^ be- 
hind the tree. The priest being called foorth^ and 
injoined to make relation hereof, and to desire the 
Pope to take the paines to doo according to this de- 
cree, asked by what token he should be directed. 
Then was delivered imto him a rose of such beautte, 
as when the Pope saw it, he knew his message was 
terue." 

But although it is certain, that with the disbelief 
of a future state of purgatory, taught by the Romish 
church, the commimication of the living with die 
d^d became much less frequent, Protestants still con^ 
tinuod to entertain numerous opinions on the sub- 
ject oi apparitions, which fully equalled in absurdity 
the superstitious notions of the chmrch they so ^ua- 
louiily opposed. A host of imaginary phantoms, Ae 
hi^ry of which I have jOtempted to "trace, derived 
&om Celtic and Teutonic mythologies, and even from 
eastern tales, gave rise to new fables, to new dreams^ 
and to new spectral impressions. Scot, in his Dis- 
covery of Witchcraft, remarks on this subject, '^ And 
know you this, by the waie, that hertofor Robin Good«» 



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THACED TQ SUPEBBTITIOUS IMAOEBY. 211 

teJiow and Hobgobblin were as terribk, and also qre« 
dible^ to the people^ as hags and witches be now ;-»« 
tfid, in trutb> they that maintaine walking spirits, 
witfi their transformation^ &c.> have no reason to de- 
nie Robin Ooodfellow, upon whom there hath gone 
si» manie and as credible tales as upon witches ; sav- 
iiig> that it hath not pleased the translators of the 
Bibl^ to call spirits hj the name of Robin Ooodfellow, 
a3 they have termed diviners, aoothsaiers, poisoners, 
and CQseners, by the name of witches." 

Nor did these opinions so soon lose ground ; they 
were popular in all parts of Britain until the middle 
of the last century ; and, even at the present day, the 
demoniacal influence of fairies, and other mythologi- 
cal sprites, is acknowledged in such sequestered dis- 
tricts as Wales> the Western Highlands of Scotland, 
Orkney, and Shetland. The notion, however, of souls 
revisiting our globe after death, has met with more 
extensive support, since it was a creed to which even 
philosophers were not ashamed to subscribe. To a 
volttme, for instance, of Dr Archibald Pitcairn's Latin 
poems, which I have lately seen, are prefixed several 
MS- anecdotes relative to his family, which are from 
some one evidently on terms of intimacy with him. 
Among these> a dream of the doctor is recorded, the 
c^eiiixistances of which appear to have been dictated 
by himself. The narrative is as follows : — 

'' Robert Lindsay, grandchild, or great-grandehild, 
to 8ir David Lindsay of y^ Month, Lyon King at 
Arms, &c., being intimate condisciple with A. P., 
they bargained, anno 1671, that whoever dyed first 
should give account of his condition if possible. It 



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213 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLtTSIONS 

happened that he dyed about the end of 1675^ while 
A. P. was at Parise ; and the very night of his death 
A. P. dreamed that he was at Edinburgh^ where 
Lindsay attacked him thus : — ^ Archie/ said he, 
* perhaps ye heard I'm dead ?' — ' No, Roben/ — ^ Ay, 
but they burie my body in the Greyfryers. I am 
alive, though in a. place whereof the pleasures cannot 
be exprest in Scotch, Greek, or Latine. I havie come 
with a well-sailing small ship to Leith Road^ to carry 
you thither.' — * Roben^ I'll go with you, but w^it till 
I go to Fife and East Lothian, and take leave of my 
parents.' — ^ Archie, I have but the allowance of one 
tide. Farewell, I'll come for you at another time/ 
Since which time A. P. never slept a night without 
dreaming that Lindsay told him he was alive. And 
having a dangerous sickness, anno 1694, he was told 
by Roben that he was delayed for a time, and that it 
was properly his task to carry him off, but was dis- 
charged to tell when.* 

But among the well-informed classes of Great Bri- 
tain, the belief in apparitions would probably have 
ceased to exist about the commencement of the 18th 
century, if an important circumstance had not oc* 
curred, which was materially omnected with the his- 
tory of these illusions^ Very loose, and even atheis- 
tical opinions, relative to a future state of existence, 
began to prevail> and hence arose that fashionable 
class of sceptics, who self-dubbed themselves ^/ree- 
tkinkers. Numbers of perscms, some of whom were 

* For this curious ghost^story I am indebted to David Laing, 
£iq. of JBdinburgh. 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 213 

distinguished for their great attainments^ then began 
to consider^ if some additional arguments might not 
be produced to oppose the torrent of infidelity that 
prevailed^ besides what they could procure from the 
sacred writings. In turning their attention to this 
subject^ it was conceived that a direct evidence in fa^ 
vonr of a future state might be advanced, if the Pla- 
tonic notion could be established, that there existed 
an occasional intercourse between the spiritual deni- 
zens of another world and the living inhabitants of 
this earth. A speculation of this kind was accord- 
ingly revived ; and from the time of Addison down 
to that of the author of Rasselas, we find the greatest 
names enrolled among its supporters. They wished, 
as Dr Johnson has frankly confessed, additional evi- 
dence besides what the Holy Bible contained, con- 
cerning a future state of existence. 

This, then, was the true motive why so many idl^ 
fitories relative to apparitions were fabricated at the 
commencement and the middle of the last century j-^ 
it was to supply the demand of those individuals whp 
wished to confute with them the infidel opinions of 
the freethinkers. " For, says Mr Wesley, in the fol- 
lowing remarkable confession, ^^ it is true that the 
English in general, and indeed most of the men in 
Europe, have given up all accounts of witches and 
apparitions as mere old wifes' fables. I am sorry 
for it ; and I wUlingly take this opportunity of en- 
tering my solemn protest against this violent com« 
pliment, which so many that believe the Bible pay 
to those who do not believe it. I owe them no 
such service. I tak^ knowledge, these are at the 



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214 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

boiMn of the outcry n^hk^ has been raised^ and witk 
%wch insolence Bpread Uiroughout the nation^ in direct 
opposlttoH not only to the Bible, but to the suffrage 
of the wisest and best of meti in all ages and nations. 
They well know (whether Christians know it ^ not) 
that the giving up witchcmft is, in effect, giving up 
the Bible. And tiiey know, on the other ha^, that 
if but one account of the intercourse of men witH s^ 
pUMte Joints be admitted, their whole castie in the 
air (deism, atheism, materialism,) falls to the ground. 
I know no reason, therefore, why we should sufi^ 
even this weapon to be wrested out ^ our hands. 
Indeed thel*e are numerous arguments besides, wliich 
abundantly confiite their vain imaginations. But we 
need not be hooted out of one,--iieither r^bon nor 
religicm requites this." 

I have no other view in quoting the fbregoing pas^ 
sage from Mr Wei^y's w<»kB, than to shew the spirit 
wkh whidi he, and nuoiy other truly pious indiviw 
duals, "wtte i^npresfeed, when they wished to revire 
the belief in apparitions, wbidi was evi<kntly begitt^ 
ning to lose ground. The akixiety ^ey manifested to 
listen to all st<^ies of a supernatural cast, soon g»vfe 
ri«e to a host of needy romance- writers, who got up 
^ well-authenticated'^ ghost-stiMries as ^xat as the anti- 
freetliinkers were able to swallow them. It w«8 in 
this period that the exquisite story was inveiH;ed of die 
ghost of Mrd Veal, who came into the world ftnr no 
other purpose than to assure Mrs Bargrave, timt, fn/m 
h«r actual knowledge of another state of esdstence, 
*' Ih»elincourt*s book of death was die best on thai 
subject ever written/* Of course, the story of M» 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 318 

Veal (a good bookseller's puff) naturally found its 
way into the prefiice to the translation of Drelincourt. 
Another romance of the same sort was the popular 
story of Lord Littleton's warning, said to have been 
receiyed by him before death. But let us be thank* 
fiil^ that we live in an age when the truths which are 
contained in the Holy Scriptures need no additional 
oon£rmation from apparitions. 

There were, again^ other efforts made, but assured- 
ly of the most ridiculous kind, for the purpose of 
confiiting the fireetfainkers. These consisted of depu- 
tations, instituted even by John Aubrey, Esq. F. R. S. 
nrrhidi were aent to the poor illiterate Highlanders, in 
order to procure all the evidence that could be ool* 
leo^ ftom this superstitioos source of intelligence 
respecdng a future state of existence. '^ Frmn the 
certainty of dreams, second sight, and apparitions,'' 
says Thei^hilus Insulanus, ^^ follows the plain and 
natural consequence of the existence of spirits^ im« 
materiality, and immortality of the soul." The author 
then proceeds in a lavish abuse of atheists, deists, and 
freethinkers, '' those adepts in science, that refine 
themselves into infidelity, who are the nuisances of 
society, and the disgrace of human nature^ — who 
bring themselves on a level with the brute beasts t^at 
perish." 

The general result, attending the researches of the 
gentlemen who consulted the Highlanders for tlie 
purpose of confuting the freethinkers, may now be 
stated. They found out that the visions of second 
sight were often of a prophetic nature. It is said, in 
oiie of the numerous illustrations given of this faculty. 



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216 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

that " Sir Normand M'Leod, who has his residence 
in the isle of Bemera^ which lies between the isle oc 
North-Uist and Harries^ went to the isle of Skye 
about business, without appointing any time for his 
return : his servants, in his absence, being altogether 
in the large hall at night, one of them, who had been 
accustomed to see the second sight, told the rest they 
must remove, for they would have abundance of other 
company that night. One of his fellow-servants an- 
swered, that there was very little appearance of that, 
and if he had seen any vision of company, it was not 
like to be accomplished this night ; but the seer in- 
sisted upon it that it was. They continued to argue 
the improbability of it, because of the darkness of the 
night, and the danger of coming through the rocks 
that lie round the isle ; but within an hour after, one 
of Sir Normand's men came to the house, bidding 
them provide lights, &c., for his master had newly 
landed." ♦ 



* The more frequent uncertainty, however, of these ghostly 
predictions, is not unaptly illustrated in the Table* Talk of John- 
son. ^' An acquaintance," remarks Boswell, '^ on whose veracity 
I can depend, told me that^ walking home one evening at Kilmar- 
noek, he heard himself called from a wood, by the voice of a bro- 
ther who had gone to America, and the next packet brought an 
account of that brother's death. Macbean asserted, that this in- 
explicable catting was a thing very well known. Dr Johnson 
said, that one day at Oxford, as he was turning the key of his 
chamber, he heard his mother distinctly calling Satn, She was 
then at Litchfield ; but nothing ensued" This casual admission, 
which, in the course of conversation, transpired from a man, Aim- 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 217 

But the discovery of Aubrey and others^ that the 
visions of second sight disclosed future events, might 
have been readily anticipated, when we reflect that, 
from the remotest antiquity, there has scarcely existed 
a religious institution, of which prophets have not 
formed a component part. And when we consider that 
the Highlands were peopled both by a Celtic and Teu- 
tonic stock, it is far from improbable that the modem 
Gaelic seer is the genuine successor either of the Celtic 
bard or of the Northern Scald ; his ecstatic illusions 
having been the most effective when they partook of the 
imagery which an early distracted state of the coun- 
try would suggest* But the time is past, when the 
gleaming swords of hostile clans stained the Highland 
plains with that blood which now is only shed for 
mutual defence. 

In the next place, the praiseworthy individuals who 
undertook to prove " the existence of spirits, the im-t 
materiality and immortality of the soul," from the 
morbid as well as pretended visions of the Highland 
seer, learned (and how appalling to their sneering op- 
ponents must have been the knowledge of the im- 
portant fact), that the spirit Brownie was a common 
object of second sight ! '* Sir Norman Macleod, and 
some others," say these delectable theologians, " play« 
ing at tables, at a game called by the Irish Falmer- 

nlf strongly tainted with superstition, precludes many farther re* 
msErks on the prophetic nature of these impressions, which would 
now indeed be highly superfluous* 
* See note 4, 



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818 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTBAL ILLUSIOI^S 

more^ wherdn th^re are thiree of a side^ and each of 
them throw the dke hy turns^ th^e hiqppened to he 
one difficult point in the disposing of one of ^e tahle«> 
men. This obliged the gamester to deliberate before 
he was to change his man, since upon the dijspo^g 
of it the winning or losing o£ the game dep^ided 
At last the butler, who stood behind, advised the 
player where to place his man, with which he com* 
plied, and won the game. This being thought ex- 
traordinary, and Sir Normand hearing one whisper 
him in the ear, asked who advised him so skilfully ? 
He answered, it was the butler; but this seeooed 
more strange, for he could not play at tables. Upon 
this. Sir Normand a^ed him how long it was since 
he had learned to play ? and the fellow owned that 
he never played in his life ; but that he saw the spirit 
Browny reaching his arm over the play»'s head, and 
toudiing the part with his finger on the point wh^:e 
the tdbleman was to be placed." 

The last discovery which the theologians made who 
visited the Northern seers, was, that the iseoood sight 
¥ras ^' a thing very troublesome to them that had it ; 
and that they would gladly be rid of it. For if the 
object was a thing that was terrible, they w^e seen 
to sweat and tremble, and shriek at the apparition* 
At other times they laughed and told the thing che^-* 
fully, just according as the thing was pleasant or 
astonishing." They found that '^ it was ordinary with 
seers to see houses, gardens, and trees, in places void 
of all these;" that '^ some found thems^ves, as it 
were, in a crowd of people ;" that visions were seen 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 21D 

m ni^ht when b^Chilre <3duld Hot otherwise be distixi- 
guished. This is in fkct the onlj information that ks 
^orth any i)6tice regarding the second sight of the 
Highlanders. But the active scitetific gentlemen^ 
who wished to silence the ^eethinkers by dieir re- 
searches^ were not thus content They found that 
<^ildlr^n> horses, and cows> possessed the second sight; 
that the second sight might be communicated by 
sympathy ; and ^^ that uny perwn that pkased vfigkt 
get it taught him Jar » pound vftobncco" 

Really, it is impossible to seriously [proceed any feis 
ther in describing this faculty of the gifted seer^^-^ 
faculty which so seriously engaged the contempladYe 
mind of that great adosms of literature (as his ad- 
mirers call him), Dr Johnson. Suffice it to say> that 
by iks latest information derived &om the HighUiids, 
Dettterosccpiia is now scarcely known. ^^ To have cii^ 
cumnavigated the Western Isles,** says Dr Maccui- 
loch, in the following excellent remarks, *' without 
«ve£i mentioning the second sight, would be unpai^ 
doaabk. No ii^abitant of St Kilda pretends to bare 
been forewanred of our arriyal; ceasing to be b6>- 
lieved» it has ceased to exist. It is indifferent whethei* 
the propagators of an imposture, or of a piece of sii^ 
pemahiral philosophy, be punished or rewarded* In 
either case the public attention is directed towards the 
agent ; -wiiether by the burning of the witch, or by 
tfae flatteidi^g distinction which attended ihe Highl^rid 
seer. When witches were no longer burnt, witch- 
Craft disappeared. Since die second sight has b)^n 
limited to a doting old woman, or a hypochondrical 



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220 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

tailor, it has been a subject for ridicule ; and, in mat- 
ters of this nature, ridicule is death/'* 

Thus, then, I have endeavoured to shew, that the 
commencement of the eighteenth century was a period 
in which, for special purposes, many ghost-stories 
were revived, and even new ones were fabricated. 
The author to whom I have alluded, styling himself 
Theophilus Insulanus, even affiices the term of irreli- 
gious to those who should entertain a doubt on the 
reality of apparitions of departed souls. ^' Such 
ghostly visitants," he gravely affirms, *^ are not em- 
ployed on an errand of a frivolous concern to lead us 
into error." With due deference, however, to this 
anonymous writer, whom I should scarcely have no- 
ticed, if he had not echoed in this assertion an opinion 
which was at the time popular, I shall advert to the 
opposite sentiments expressed on the subject by a far 
more acute, though less serious author. The notion, 
for instance, of the solemn character of ghosts, and 
that they are never employed on frivolous errands, is 
but too successfully ridiculed by Grose. '^ In most 
of the relations of ghosts," says this pleasant writer, 
'* they are supposed to be mere aerial beings without 
substance, and that they can pass through walls and 
other solid bodies at pleasure. The usual time at 
which ghosts make their appearance is midnight, and 
seldom before it is dark, though some audacious spirits 
have been said to appear even by daylight. Ghosts 

* Description of the Western Isles, by Dr MaccuUoch, voL ii. 



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TKACED TO SUPEKSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 221 

commonly appear in the same dress they usually wore 
when livings though they are sometimes clothed all 
in white ; but this is chiefly the churchyard-ghosts^ 
who have no particular business, but seem to appear 
pro bono publico, or to scare drimken rustics from 
tumbling over their graves. I cannot learn that 
ghosts carry tapers in their hands, as they are some- 
times depicted, though the room in which they ap- 
pear, if without fire or candle, is frequently said to be 
as light as day. Dragging chains is not the fashion 
of English ghosts ; chains and black vestments being 
chiefly the accoutrements of foreign spectres, seen in 
arbitrary governments : dead or alive, English spirits 
are free. If, during the time of an apparition, there 
is a lighted candle in the room, it will bum extremely 
blue : this is so universally acknowledged, that many 
eminent philosophers have busied themselves in ac** 
counting for it, without ever doubting the trutli of 
the fact Dogs too have the faculty of seeing spirits."* 
There are several other minute particulars respect- 
ing ghosts given by this author, for the insertion of 
which I have not room ; yet it would.be inexcusable 
to omit noticing the account which he has subjoined, 
of the strange mode in which spirits execute the aw« 
fully momentous errands upon which they are sent. 
" It is somewhat remarkable," he adds, " that ghosts 
do not go about their business like the persons of this 

• *' As I sat in the pantry last night counting my spoons,** 
says the Butler, in the comedy of the Drummer, ^^ the candle me- 
thought burnt blue, and the spay'd bitch look'd as if she saw 
something.^ 



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222 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

world. In cases of murder^ a ghost, instead of going 
to the next justice of the peace^ and laying its in- 
formation^ ch* to the nearest relation of the person 
murdered^ appears to s(»ne poor labourer who knows 
none of the parties ; draws the curtain of some de« 
erepit nurse^ or alms-wconan ; or hovers about the 
place where his body is deposited. The same cir« 
cuitous mode is pursued with respect to redressing 
injured orphans or widows ; when it seems> as if the 
shortest and most certain way would he, to go to the 
person guilty of the injustice, and haunt him conti-' 
nually till he be terrified into a restituti<Hi* Nor are 
the pointing out lost writings generally managed in a 
more summary way ; the ghost commonly applying 
to a third parson, ignorant of the whole affair, and a 
stranger to all concerned. But it is presumptaous to 
scrutinize far into these matters; — ^ghosts have un-* 
doubtedly forms and customs peculiar to themselves."* 



* I find, in a lecent publication of great merit, the incidentt of 
a ghost-story, told by Clarendon, relative to the Puke of Buck* 
ingham, which are commented on in the following manner :— 
*^ This noble historian intem^pts his narrative with a long story 
about the ghost of Sir George Villiers, the Duke's father, having 
given a warning of his son^s fate no seldomer than three times. 
Like ghosts, in general, this was a very siUy one ; fbr, instead of 
going directly to his son, (was the spirit under the same syco« 
phantish awe with the living followers of the Duke ?) the phantom 
carried its errand to an officer of the wardrobe, whom in life it had 
paid attention to at school, but whose situation was too mean to 
warrant his going directly with the important intelligence to the 
favourite. The man neglected the warning till the third time, and 



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TBACBD TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 923 

The view which Orose has taken of the character 
of most stories about departed spirits is pretty cor* 
rectj although I have certainly read (^ some spirits 
wbos^ errands to the earth have been much more di- 
rect One ghosts for instance^ has terrified a man in« 
to the restitution of lands^ which had been bequeathed 
to the poor of a village. A second spirit has adopted 
the same plan for recovering property of which a ne- 
phew had beeiv wronged ; but a third has haunted a 
house for no other purpose than to kick up a row in 
it--4o knock about chairs^ tables^ or other furniture. 
Olanville relates a story^ of the date of 1632^ in which 
a man> upon the alleged information of a female spi- 
rit* who came by her death foully^ led the officers of 
justice to the pit where a mangled corpse was con- 
ceited^ charged two individuals with her murder ; 
nndx upon the strength of this fictitious story^ the 
poor iellowa were condemned and executed, although 

then h9 went to a gentlem^ to whom he was w«ll known> 8ijt 
JUlph Fraemaa, one of the masters of the requests^ who ha4 mar- 
ried a lady nearly allied to the Puke, and prevailed with him to 
apply to his 6rac9 to grant the officer of the wardrobe an opportu- 
nity of speaking with him privately on a subject of the utmost con- 
sequence to his Grace. The man gave sufficient information, 
which he had got from the ghost, relative to Buckingham's pri- 
vate affkirs, to satisfy the Duke that he was no impostor, and the 
Duke was observed to be very melancholy afterwards. But to 
what all this warning tended, except to create uneasiness at some 
intending calamity, it. is impossible to conceive, since the hint 
was too dark and myittriotts to enable him to provide against the 
dangw?"— ifirfory of the Britith Empire^ hf George BnkUe^ 
E$q, vol, ii, p. 809, 



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2d4 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

they solemnly persevered to the last m maintaining 
their innocence. It is but too evident^ in this case, 
by whom the atrocious deed had been committed. 

There is, however, another point of view in which 
apparitions have been considered. It has been said 
that they arise for special purposes connected with 
the extension of our holy religion. '^ These ghostly 
visitants/' says Theophilus Insulanus, ** are employed 
as so many heralds by the great Creator, for the more 
ample demonstration of his power, to proclaim tidings 
for our instruction ; and, as we are prone to despond 
in religious matters, to confirm our faith of the exist- 
ence of spirits (the foundation of all religions), and 
the dignity of human nature." Dr Doddridge, pro- 
fessing exactly similar sentiments, published in cor- 
roboration oi them the remarkable story of Colonel 
Gardiner's conversicm. ^^ This memorable event," 
says the pious writer, " happened towards the middle 
of July, 1719. The Major had spent the evening 
(and, if I mistake not, it was the Sabbath) in some 
gay company, and had an unhappy assignation with 
a married woman, whom he was to attend exactly at 
twelve. The company broke up about eleven, and, 
not judging it convenient to anticipate the time ap- 
pointed, he went into his chamber to kill the tedious 
hour perhaps with some amusing book or some other 
way. But it very accidentally happened, that he took 
up a religious book which his good mother or aunt 
had, without his knowledge, slipped into his port- 
manteau. It was called, if I remember the title ex- 
actly. The Christian Soldier, or Heaven taken by 
Storm ; and it was written by Mr Thomas Watson. 

6 



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TRACED TO SUPERS PI TIOUS IMAGERY. 225 

Guessing by the title of it, that he would find some 
phrases of his own profession spiritualized in a man- 
ner whi<jh, he thought, might afibrd him some diver, 
sion, he resolved to dip into it; but he took no serious 
notice of any thing it had in it; and yet, while this 
book was in his hand, an impression was made upon 
his mind (perhaps God only knows how,) which 
drew after it a train of the most important and happy 
consequences.— He thought he saw an unusual blaze 
of light fall upon the book while he was reading, 
which he at first imagined might happen by some ac- 
cident in the candle ; but, lifting up his eyes, he ap. 
prehended, to his extreme amazement, that there wag 
before him, as it were suspended in the air, a visible 
representation of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the 
cross, surrounded on all sides with a glory ; and was 
impressed, as if a voice or something equivalent to a 
voice had come to him, to this effect, (for he was not 
confident as to the words,) ^ Oh, sinner ! did I suffer 
this for thee, and are these thyfeturns?' Struck with 
so amazing a phenomenon as this, there remained 
hardly any life in him ; so that he sunk down in the 
arm-chair in which he sat, and continued, he knew 
not how long, insensible." 

With regard to this vision,— the appearance of our 
Saviour on the cross, and the awful words repeated, 
can be considered in no other light than as so many 
recollected images of the mind, which probably had 
their ongin in the language of some urgent appeal to 
repentance that the Colonel might have casually read 
or heard delivered. From what cause, however, such 
Ideas were rendered as vivid as actual impressions 



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236 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTBAL ILLUSIONS 

we have no information to be depended upon.* The 
illusion was certainly attended with one of the most 
important of consequences connected with the Chrifl- 
tian dispensation^— the conversion a£ a sinner. And 
hence^ no single narrative has perhaps done more to 
confirm the superstitious opinion^ that apparitions of 
this awful kind cannot arise without a divine fiat 
Dr Doddridge^ for instance, prefaces the story with 
the following striking appeal :-^^^ It ia wUh all so- 
lemnity that I now deliver it down to posterity^ as in 
the sight and presence of God ; and I choose delibe- 
rately to ei^pose myself to those severe censures^ which 
the haughty but empty scorn of infidelity^ or prino 
ciples nearly approaching it> and efiSectually doing its 
pernicious work> may very probably dictate upon the 
occasion^ rather than to nnother a relation which may, 
in the judgment of my conscience^ be likely to con- 
duce so much to the glory of Qod^ the honcmr of the 
Qospel^ and the goo4 of mankind." 

These are^ indeed^ most solemn w^rds^-**^ more 
solemn perhaps than the occasion required. If Dr 
Doddridge had merely contented himself with ex- 
pressing the satisfaction, which every Christian must 
necessarily feel at the happy efibct which the vision 
Intimately had upon the mind of Colonel Gardiner, 
he would h^ve done more real service to true religion 
than by considering it as a i^dal interpositicm of 

* A short time before the vision Colonel Oturdiner had received 
a. severe £a11 from his horse.-«Did the brain receive some slight 
degree of injury from the accident^ so as to pr«dis|M>sc him to tfait 
spectral illusion ? 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTlTtOUS iMA^&ftY. S!^ 

Heaven. For> could this very leiirti^ autkol: be %- 
norant^ that appaHtions no less genuine thiui the one 
whidi he has reonrded have never failed^ duHng every 
period of time> to sanction the grossest idolatry of the 
Heathens^ or even of papal Rome P The Doctor Was 
doubtless unaware that there was a Vision oh record^ 
the authenticity of which no one can reasonably 
doubtj wherein a supernatural token> no lesii awfhl 
than that which appeared to Colonel Oardiher^ ahd> 
to all lippearance^ no less sanctioned by Heaven^ Wils 
sent to one of the tnost powerful enemies to Christi- 
anity that lived in the 17th century^ encouraging Wta. 
to publish the book in which his dangerous tenets 
were contained. This singular narrative is to be 
found in the Autobiography of Lord Herbert of Cher- 
bury> which I shall giv6 in this nobleihan's own woi^ds. 
'^ My book^ De Veritate, proUt disHnguitur d tevelU^ 
iUme vetisimli, possibili et d falso, having been begun 
by me in England^ and formed there in all its princi- 
pal parts> was about this time finished ; all the spare 
hours which I could get from my visits and negoda- 
tions being employed to perfect this work^ which Was 
no sooner done but that I communicated it to Hugo 
Orotius^ lliat great scholar, who, having escaped his 
prison in the Low Countries, came into Frattc6> and 
was much welcomed by me and Monsieur Tieleners, 
akso one of the greatest scholars of his time, who, af- 
ter they had perused it and given it more comtnen- 
dations than it is fit for me to repeat, exhoHed me 
earnestly to print and publish it ; howbeit, as the 
frame of my whole book was so different from any 
thing which hud been written heretofore^ I found I 



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228 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

must either renounce the authority of all that had 
been written formerly concerning the method of find- 
ing out truths and consequently insist upon my own 
way^ or hazard myself to a general coisure concerning 
the whole argument of my book ; I must confess 
it did not a little animate me, that the two great per- 
sons above-mentioned did so highly value it ; yet, as 
I knew it would meet with some opposition^ I did 
consider whether it was not better for me a while to 
suppress it. Being thus doubtful in my chamber one 
fair day in the summer, my casemen.t being open to- 
wards the south, I took my book, De VerUate, in my 
hand, and, kneeling on my knees, devoutly said these 
words : 

^' ^ O thou eternal God, author of the light which 
now shines upon me, and giver of all inward illumi- 
nations, I do beseech thee, of thy infinite goodness, 
to pardon a greater request than a sinner ought to 
make ; I am not satisfied enough whether I ^hall pub- 
lish this book De Veritate ; if it be for thy glory, I 
beseech thee give me some sign from heaven ; if not, 
I shall suppress it/ 

'^ I had no sooner spoken these words, but a loud, 
though yet gentle noise came from the heavens, (for 
it was like nothing on earth,) which did so comfort 
and cheer me, that I took my petition as granted, and 
_that I had the sign demanded, whereupon also I re- 
solved to print my book. 

*^ This, how strange soever it may seem, I protest 
before the eternal God is true ; neither am I any way 
^uperstitiously deceived herein, since I did not only 
clearly hear the noise, but in the serenest sky that 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY^. 229 

ever I saw, being without all cloud, did to my think<^ 
ing see the place from whence it came. And now I 
sent my book to be printed in Paris at my cost and 
charges, without suffering it to be divulged to others' 
than to such as I thought might be worthy readers of 
it ; though afterwards, reprinting it in England, I 
not only dispersed it among the prime scholars in 
Europe, but was sent to not only from the nearest 
but furthest parts of Christendome, to desire the sight 
of my book, for which they promised any thing I 
should desire by way of return." 

On this narrative of Lord Herbert, Dr Leland, in 
his '^ View of the Deistical Writers," makes the fol- 
lowing remarks : — '' I have'no doubt of his Lord- 
ship's sincerity in this account ; the serious air with 
which he relates it, and the solemn protestation he 
makes as in the presence of the eternal God, will not 
suffer us to question the truth of what he relates ; 
viz., that he both made that address to God which he 
mentions, and that, in consequence of this, he was 
persuaded that he heard the noise he takes notice of, 
and regarded as a mark of God's approbation of the 
request he had made ; and accordingly this great man 
was determined by it to publish his book. He seems 
to have considered it as a kind of imprimatur given to 
it from Heaven, and as signifying the Divine appro- 
bation of the book itself, and of what was contained 
in it." 

I shall now merely observe, that the inference 
which was drawn from Colonel Gardiner's story is 
completely neutralized by this counterpart to it ; by 
the fact, that while one special sign warns a sinner of 

7 



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Wt T9£ aSJ£CT9 OF 8FECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

tbo aivAil censequenee of slighting the gospel, another 
eneouraget a deiat to publish a work, the design of 
which is to completely overturn the Christian reli- 
gion. S^ch are the contradictions whidi a superstitious 
h^lief in i^pparitions must ever involve; and well may 
t{ late writw, to whom we are indebted for scmie ex- 
cellent reiiiarkft op Lord Herbert's life> exclaim with 
astonishment, — <^' In what strange inconsistencies may 
the human mind entangle itself !" * 

It must be admitted, however, that, at the close of 
the I8th and at the commencement of the 19th cen- 
tury, the wish to explain the occurrence of apparitions 
on superslitiQtts principles evidently declined. Nico- 
lai, in the memoir which he read to the Royal Society 
oS Berlin, on the appearance of spectres occasioned by 
di9ease> remarked, that a respectable member of that 
academy, diatinguisbed by his merit in the science 
of botany, whose truth and credibility were unexcep- 
tioi^able, on^ saw, in the very room in which they were 
then assembled, the phantasm of the late presi<knt 
MaupertuJus. But it appears that this ghost was 
seen by a philosopher, and, consequently, no attempt 

• Retrospective Review, vol. vii. page 328. — The following are 
the remarks made, in this welUconducted periodical work, on Lord 
H^bert^s vision : — " It is highly singular that a writer, holding 
opinions like ^lese, should, when doubtful as to the propriety of 
promulgating them, look for a special revelation of the Divine 
ple^uie. In whiit Qtra^ge inconsisteni^es will the human nind 
entftngla itself ! when, on the point of publishing a book which 
was to prove the inefficacy of revelation, Lord Herbert put up a 
prayer for an especial interposition of Heaven to guide him.** 



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TRACED TO SUPXESTITIOUS IMAGEaY. 231 

wa» made to connect it with superstitiotis specula* 
tions. Mr CfAeridge, who has confessed to many 
mental illusions^ informs us that a lidy once asked 
him if he believed in ghosts and apparitions ? '' I an- 
mweted" said he, *' with truth and simplicity^ No^ 
madam I I have seen far too many myself.*** 

But, before quitting entirely this subject, I ought 
to attempt a physical explanation of many ghost-sto- 
ries which may be considered as most authentic. 
This is seldom, however, a very easy task. There is, 
for instance, a story related of Viscount Dundee, 
whose ghost, about the time he fell at the battle of 
Killiecranky, appeared to Lord Balcarras, then under 
confinement on the suspicion of Jacobitism at the 
castle of Edinburgh. The spectre drew aside the 
curtain of his friend's bed, looked steadfastly at him^, 
leaned for s<mie time on the mantle-piece, and then 
walked out of the room. The Earl, not aware at the 
time that he was gazing upon a phantasm, called upon 
Dundee to stop. News soon arrived of the unfortu- 
nate hero's fate. Now, regarding this and other sto- 
ries of the kind, however authentic they may be, the 
most interesting particulars are suppressed. Of the 
state of Lord Balcarras's health at the time, it has not 
been deemed necessary that a syllable should trans- 
pire. No argument, therefore, either in support of, 
or in opposition to, the popular belief in apparitions, 
can be gathered from an anecdote so deficient in any 
notice of the most important circumstances upon 
which the development of truth depends. With re- 

• The Friend, by S. T. Coleridge, Esq. vol. i. p. 248. 



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233 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS 

gard to the spectre of Dundee appearing just at the 
time he fell in battle^ it must be considered that, 
agreeably to the well-known doctrine of chances, 
which mathematicians have so well investigated^ the 
event might as well occur then as at any other time^ 
while a far greater proportion of other apparitions^ 
less fortunate in such a supposed confirmation of their 
supernatural origin, is quietly allowed to sink into 
oblivion. Thus, it is the office of superstition to care- 
fully select all. successful coincidences of this kind, 
and to register them, in her marvellous volumes, 
where for ages they have served to delude and mis- 
lead the world. 

Nor can another striking narrative, to be found 
in Beaumont's World of Spirits, meet with any better 
solution. I shall give it for no other reason than be- 
cause it is better told than most ghost-stories with 
which I am acquainted. It is dated in the year 1662^ 
and it relates to an apparition seen by the daughter 
of Sir Charles Lee, immediately preceding her death. 
No reasonable doubt can be placed on the authenticity 
of the narrative, as it was drawn up by the Bishop 
of Gloucester from the recital of the young lady's 
father. 

^^ Sit Charles Lee, by his first lady, had only one 
daughter, of which she died in child-birth ; and when 
she was dead, her sister, the Lady Everard, desired to 
have the education of the child, and she was by her 
very well educated, till she was marriageable, and a 
match was concluded for her with Sir William Per- 
kins, but was then prevented in an extraordinary 
manner. Upon a Thursday night, she, thinking she 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 233 

saw a light in her chamber after she was in bed^ knock* 
ed for her maid> who presently came to her ; and she 
asked^ ^ why she left a candle burning in her cham- 
ber ?' The maid said^ she ' left none, and there was 
none but what she had brought with her at that time ;' 
then she said it was the fire, but that, her maid told 
her, was quite out ; and said she believed it was only 
a dream ; whereupon she said, it might be so, and 
composed herself again to sleep. But about two of 
the clock she was awakened again, and saw the- ap« 
parition of a little woman between her curtain and her 
pillow, who told her she was her mother, that she was 
happy, and that by twelve of the clock that day she 
should be with her. Whereupon she knocked again 
for her maid, called for her clothes, and when she 
was dressed, went into her closet, and came not out 
again till nine, and then brought out with her a letter 
sealed to her father ; brought it to her aunt, the Lady 
Eveirard, told her what had happened, and declared^ 
that as soon as she was dead it might be sent to him. 
The lady thought she was suddenly fallen mad, and 
thereupon sent presently away to Chelmsford for a 
physician and surgeon, who both came immediately ; 
but the physician could discern no indication of what 
the lady imagined, or of any indisposition of her body ; 
notwithstanding the lady would needs have her let 
blood, which was done accordingly. And when the 
young woman had patiently let them do what they 
would with her, she desired that the chaplain might 
be called to read prayers; and when prayers were 
ended, she took her guitar and psalm-book, and sat 
down upon a chair without arms, and played and 



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334 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTEAL ILLUSIONS 

sang 80 melodiously and admirably^ that her musick- 
master, who was then there^ admired at it. And near 
the stroke of twelve^ she rose and sate herself down 
in a great chair with arms, and presently. fetching a 
strong breathing or two^ immediately expired^ and 
was so suddenly cold^ as was much wondered at by 
the physician and surgeon. She died at Waltham, in 
£ssex> three miles from Chelmsford, and the letter 
was sent to Sir Charles, at his house in Warwick- 
i^re ; but he was so afflicted with the death of his 
daughter, that he came not till she was buried ; but 
when he came, he caused her to be taken up^ and to^ 
be buried with her mother at Edmonton, as she de- 
sired in her letter." 

This is one of die most interesting ghost-stories on 
record. Yet, when strictly examined, the manner in 
which a leading circumstance in the case is reported, 
affects but too much the supernatural air imparted to 
other of its incidents. For whatever might have been 
averred by a physician of the olden time, with regard 
to the young ladyff sound state of health, during the 
period she saw her mother's ghost, it may be asked,— 
If any practiticnter at the present day would have been 
proud of such an opinion,, especially when death fol- 
lowed so promptly after the spectral impression ? 



— — " There's bloom upon her cheek i 
But now I see it is no living hue. 
But a strange hectic — like the unnatural red 
Which autumn plants upon the perish'd leaf.*' 

Probably the exhausted female herself might have 
unint^itionally contributed to the more strict veriib- 



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TJtACBD TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGI^Y. 136 

cation of the ghost's prediction. It was an extra- 
ordinary exertion which her tender frame under¥nent^ 
near the ^xpected hour of its dissolution^ in order that 
she might retire from all her scenes 'of earthly enjoy- 
ment with the dignity of a resigned Christian. And 
what subject can be conceived more worthy the mas- 
terly skill of the painter^ than to depict a young and 
lovely saint^ cheared with the bright prospect of fu- 
turity before her^ and bef<M*e the quivering flame of 
life^ which for the moment was kindled up into a glow 
of holy ardour, had expired for ever, sweeping the 
strings of the guitar with her trembling fingers, and 
melodiously accompanying the notes with her voke, 
in a hymn of praise to her heavenly Maker ? Entran* 
ced with such a sight, the philosopher himself would 
dismiss for the time his usual cold and cavilling scep- 
ticism, and, giving way to the superstitious impres- 
sions of less deliberating by-standers, partake with 
them in the most grateful of religious solaces, which 
the spectacle was so well calculated to inspire. 

Regarding the confirmation, which the ghost's mis* 
sion is, in the same narrative, supposed to have receiv- 
ed from the completion of a foreboded death, — all that 
can be said of it is, that the coincidence was a fortu^ 
nate one ; for, without it, the story would probably 
have never met with a recorder, and we should have 
lost one of the sweetest anecdotes that private life has 
ever afforded. But, on the other hand, a majority 
of popular ghost-stories might be adduced, wherein 
apparitions have either visited our world without any 
ostensible purpose and errand whatever, or, in the 
circumsttmces of their missicm, have ^diibited all the 



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236 THE OBJECTS OF SPECTBAL ILLUSIONS 

inconsistency of conduct sawell exposed in the quo- 
tation^ which I have given from Grose, respecting 
departed spirits. 

With respect to some other apparitions which have 
been recorded, the difficulty is far less to satisfactorily 
account for them ; they may be contemplated as the 
illusions of well-known diseases. Thus, there can be 
no hesitation in considering the following apparition, 
. given on the authority of Aubery and Turner, as 
having had its origin in the Delirium Tremens of 
drunkenness. '* Mr Cassio Burroughs," says the 
narrator of this very choice, yet, I believe, authentic 
story, ^' was one of the most beautiful men in England, 
and very valiant, but very proud and blood-thirsty. 
There was then in London a very beautiful Italian 
lady," fwhom he seduced]. " The gentlewoman died ; 
and afterwards, in a tavern in London, he spake of it," 
[[contrary to his sacred promise], " and then going" 
\jo\it of doors] *^ the ghost of the gentlewoman did 
appear to him. He was afterwards troubled with the 
apparition of her, even sometimes in company when 
he was drinking. Before she did appear, he did find 
a kind of chilness upon his spirits. She did appear 
to him in the morning before he was killed in a 
duel." 

But it is now time to review the progress which has 
been made in this inquiry. I have endeavoured to 
trace the connexion of spectral illusions with certain 
diseased or irritable states of the system, and to de- 
monstrate in what manner the subject of the appari- 
tions thus produced has corresponded with the fanci- 



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TRACED TO SUPERSTITIOUS IMAGERY. 237 

ful images^ which have had their origin in various po- 
pular superstitions. 

Our attention will now become exclusively confined 
to the different subordinate incidents^ which are re- 
ported to have taken place during communications 
held with apparitions. We shall find^ that the quality 
and form of these unearthly visitants, their strange er- 
rands to the earthy and their seemingly capricious con- 
duct^ are not the indications of a proper world of spi- 
ritSy as pneumatologists have averred^ but that they 
merely prove the operation of certain laws of the mind, 
modified by the influence of those morbific causes^ 
which are capable of imparting an undue vividness 
to thought. But, in pursuing this investigation^ I 
shall often have occasion to lament that many valu- 
able facts> which intense excitements of the mind 
are calculated to develop^ should have been^ on the 
one hand^ distorted by superstition^* or^ on the other 
hand^ totally concealed from the world for fear of ridi- 
cule. But Nicolai's interesting detail of his own case 
first shewed in what light spectral impressions ought 
to be considered : nor can I conclude this department 
of my researches more appropriately, than by holding 
out, as a memorable example, the motives by which 
he was induced to examine the mental, phenomena 
under which he laboured, and to present them to the 
world with an accuracy, that must ever recommend 
his narrative to the attentive consideration of the phy- 
siologist and of the metaphysician. His words are as 
follows : 

*.S«e Note 6. 



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238 THE OBJECTS, iu. 

'^ Had I not been able to distinguish phantaans 
from phenomena, I must have been insane. Had I 
been fanatic or superstitious, I should have been ter- 
rified at my own phantasms, and probably might have 
been seized with some alarming disorder. Had I been 
attached to the marvellous, I should have sought to 
magnify my own importance, by asserting that I had 
seen spirits ; and who could have disputed the facts 
with me ? The year 1791 would perhaps have been 
the time to have given importance to these appari^ 
tions. In this case, however, the advantage of sound 
philosophy and deliberate observation may be seen. 
Both prevented me from becoming either a lunatic or 
an enthusiast ; for with nerves so strongly excited, 
and blood so quick in circulation, either misfortune 
might have easily befallen me. But I considered the 
phantasms that hovered around me as what they real^ 
ly were, namely, the effects of disease; and made 
them subservient to my observations, because I con- 
aider observation and reflection as the basis of all ra- 
tional philosophy.'^ 



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PART IV. 



AN ATTEMPT TO INVESTIGATE THE MENTAL 

LAWS WHICH GIVE RISE TO 

SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 



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PART IV. 



CHAPTER I. 

GENERAL OBJECT OF THE INVESTIGATION WHICH 
FOLLOWS. 



Next, for 'tis time^ my muse declares and sings, 
What those are we call images of things, 
By day they meet, and strike our minds, and fright, 
And show pale ghosts, and honrid shapes by night. 

Cbssch*8 Lucretius. 



A FIT opportunity now occurs for more explicitly 
stating the plan upon which this dissertation has been 
hitherto conducted^ as well as its ultimate object 

In the first place^ a general view was given of the 
particular morbid affections with which the produc- 
tion of phantasms is often connected. Apparitions 
were likewise considered as nothing more than ideas, 
or the recollected images o£ the mind> which had been 
rendered more vivid than actual impressions. 

In another part of this work, my object was to 

Q 



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242 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

point out, that, in well-authenticated ghost-stories of a 
supposed supernatural character^ the ideas which had 
been rendered so unduly intense as to induce spectral 
illusions, might be traced to such fantastical objects 
of prior belief as are incorporated in the various sys- 
tems of superstition! jurhicb for ages have possessed 
the minds of the vulgar. 

In the present and far most considerable part qf 
this treatise, the research is of a novel kind. Since 
apparitions are ideas' equalling or exceeding in vivid- 
ness actual impressions, there ought to be some im- 
portant and definite laws of the mind which have 
given rise to this undue degree of vividness. It was 
chiefly, therefore, for the purpose of explaining such 
laws that this dissertation was written. 
An investigation of this kind the late Dr Ferriar 
* had evidently in view, when he wrote the first pages 
of his work, entitled, A ThwT^ if ApparUions. But 
it must be confessed, that this entertaining author has 
been fkr more suceessful in affording abundant evi- 
dence of the exist^ice o£ mcnrbid impressions of this 
nature, without any sensible external agency, than in 
establishing, as he proposed, a general law of the «y«« 
tern, to which the origin of spectral imjMresinoDs.ooidd 
be referred. '^ It is a well-known law/' he remarks, 
*^ that the impressions produced on some of the exter- 
nal senses, especially cm the eye, are more durable 
than the application of the impressing cause." This 
statement comprises the whole of the writer's theory 
ef apparitions ; and the brevity with which it is given 
is in exact conformity with the abruptness of ita dis- 
missal ; for, after being applied to explain one or two 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 243 

cases only of mental illusions^ numerous other in- 
stances of the kind are related^ but the theory is not 
honoured with any farther notice. This neglect^ 
which probably arose from the reasonable doubts sub- 
sequently entertained by the author himself> of the 
sufficiency of his hypothesis^ or, rather, of the gener- 
ality of its application, will render it the less necessary 
for me to bestow upon it any attention. The truth is, 
that a proper theory of apparitions embraces the con- 
sideration, not of one law only, but of many laws of 
the human mind ; on which account, it will be abso- 
lutely impossible to proceed in this inquiry, until cer- 
tain principles of thought are at the same time per- 
spicuously stated. This object, therefore, I shall at- 
tempt, ialthough, from the restricted nature of the pre- 
sent dissertation, it will be impossible for me to enter 
into any explanation and defence of the metaphysical 
views which may be advanced, in contradiction to 
<^[union8 that deserve the highest respect, in deference 
to the names with which they are associated. Any 
one, also, conversant in the smallest degree with re- 
searches of this kind, will be but too well aware of 
the difficulties which they involve. For this reason, 
I must request every indulgence, whenever I shall 
have occasion to state, as briefly as the subject will 
allow me, certain primary laws of the miad, which, 
from the maturest consideration, I have been induced 
to advocate. 



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244 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 



CHAPTER n- 

INDICATIONS AFFORDED BY MENTAL EXCITEMENTS, 
THAT OEOAN8 OF SENSATION ABE THE MEDIUM 
THBOUGH WHICH FASl* FEELINGS ABB RENOYATED. 



** Phatitima enim est sentiendi actus ; neqae differt a 8aisioiie, 
aliter qvaanjleri differt njbcium esse.^* Hobbes. 



My first object is to give validity to the conjecture 
which I threw out on a former occasion^ that past 
feelings are renovated through the mediutn of organs 
of sense. It will, indeed, be impossible to proceed 
much farther in our researches, imtil this curious isub- 
ject has met with due consideration. 

In the commencement of these researches, I set out 
with stating the view of the late Dr Brown respecting 
the mind, namely, that it was simple and indivisible, 
and that every mental feeling was only the mind itself 
existing in a certain state. 

Sensations were, at the same time, considered as 
states of the mind induced by objects actually pre* 
sent, and acting upon the organs of sense. I need 
scarcely add, that such mental states admit of various 
degrees of intensity, vividness, or faintness ; first, fircnn 
the greater or less susceptibility of any sensitive 
structure to actual impressions ; and, secondfy, from 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 345 

the greater or less force with which material causes 
act upon our organs of sense. 

It has also been pointed out^ that pleasurable feel- 
ings, fh>m whatever source they may be derived, de- 
pend upon a freedom being given to the expansive 
power of the circulating mass, while pain is induced 
by any cause which tends to deprive it of this vital 
property. But regarding the instrumentality by 
which such changes are induced, I have already ad- 
verted to the conclusions of Dr Wilson Philip, de- 
duced fh>m his experiments, namely, that '' the ner- 
vous system consists of parts endowed with the vital 
principle, yet capable of acting in concert with inani- 
mate matter ; and that in man, as well as in certain 
well-known animals, electricity is the agent thus ca- 
pable of being collected by nervous organs, and of 
being universally diffused for purposes intimately 
connected with the animal economy throughout every 
part of the human system." But without founding 
any system on this particular view, I considered the 
nerves as not only the natural dispensers of that in« 
fluence upon which the opposite qualities of pleasure 
and pain depend, but, likewise, as the natural source, 
whence all the degrees of vividness imparted through 
the medium of the circulating fluid to our various 
sensations, had their origin. At the same time it was 
shewn, that under certain morbid circumstances, sub- 
stances affecting the blood, without the intervention 
of the nerves, had the same effect of exciting or even 
depressing the feelings of the mind. I shall there- 
fore now add, that from the different circumstances of 
the circulating fluid, as it supplies different structures 



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346 THE MENTAI. LAWS WHICH GIVE 

of the human fnHOke, arise our various susceptibilities 
of sensation. 

In what, then^ consists a susceptibility to ideas? 
This question has been ahready in part answered. 
Since an idea is nothing more than a past feeling re- 
novated with a diminution of vividness proportional 
to the intensity of the original impression, we are jus- 
tified in entertaining the suspicion, that the suscepti- 
bility of the mind to sensations and ideas ought to re- 
fer to similar circumstances of corporeal structure* 
Accordingly, there can be little or no doubt, as I 
have before hinted, that organs of sense are the actual 
medium through which past feelings are renovated ; 
or, that when, from strong mental excitements, ideas 
have become more vivid than actual impressions, this 
intensity is induced by an absolute affection of those 
particular parts o£ the organic tissue on which sensa- 
tions depend. Thus, the mere idea of some favourite 
food is well known to occasionally excite the salivary 
glands no less than if the sapid body itself were ac- 
tually present, and stimulating the papillae of the 
fauces. 

After this explanation, there can be little difficulty 
in understanding why strong mental excitements 
should occasionally^ though rarely, restore impres- 
sions of touch, which are indeed seldom so propor- 
tionally vivid as renovated feelings of vision or of 
hearing. Such appears to have been the case when 
Sir Humphry Davy subjected himself to the vivifying 
influence of the nitrous oxide. He confesses to an 
increased sensibility of touch, and occasionally no- 
tices what he names a tangible extension. In Dr 



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RISE TO SPECTBAL ILLUSIONS. M7 

Kinglake's case> this gas had the peculiar e Act Of re« 
▼iying rheumatic pains in the shoulder and knee* 
joints, which had nc^ previously been felt fbr many 
months.* Another gentleman, Mr James Thomson, 
speaks to nearly a similar fact. *' I was surprised/' 
he remarks, " to find myself affected, a few minutes 
afterwards, with the recurrence of a pain in my back 
and knees, which I had experienced the preceding 
day from fatigue in walking. I was rather indined 
to deem this an accidental coincidence than an efiect 
of the air ; but the same thing constantly occurring 
whenever I breathed the air, shortly after sufiering 
pain, either firom fatigue or any other accidental 
cause, left no doubt on my mind as to the accuracy 
of the observation." t 

From the facts thus advanced, we need not be sur* 
prised that the impression of muscular resistance or 
of blows should be occasionally blended with the in* 
ddents of ghost^stories. '' After having dropped 
asleep," says a writer in Nicholson's Journal on 
Phantasms produced by Disease, ^^ an animal seemed 
to jump on my back with the most shrill and piercing 
screams, which were too intolerable for the continu* 
ance of sleep." I have quoted a case of deUrktm ire* 
mens, where a man is said to have suffered even bo- 
dily pain ftom the severe lashing of an imaginary 
waggoner. In Wanley's Wonders of the Little 
World, I find a story, taken from Rosse's Arcana, to 
the following purport : — ^^ There was an apparition 

* Davy's Researches concerning Nitrous Oxide, p. 504. 
+ Ibid, 616. 



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348 TH£ MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

(saith Mr Rome) to Mr Nicholas Smiths my dear 
friend, immediately before he fell sick of that fever 
that killed him. Having been late ^abroad in Lcm- 
dcm, as he was going up the stairs into his chamber, 
he was embraced (as he thought) by a woman all in 
white, at which he cried out ; nothing appearing, he 
presently sickeneth, goeth to bed, and within a week 
or ten days died." Beaumont also remarks of the 
spirits which he saw, — '^ I have been sitting by the 
fire with others. I have seen several spirits, and 
pointed to the place where they were, telling the 
company they were there. And one spirit whom I 
heard calling to me, as he stood behind me, on a sud- 
den clapped his finger to my side, which I sensibly 
perceived, and started at it ; and as I saw one spirit 
come in at the door, which I did not like, I suddenly 
laid hold of a pair of tongs, and struck at him with 
all my force, whereupon he vanished." 

But it is useless to multiply stories o£ this kind, at 
the hazard of stumbling upon narratives mixed up 
with mere fable ; otherwise I might recount, how the 
famiHar of one man struck him on the right or left 
ear as he did well or ill,— 'how to another individual 
an angel came with a similar purport, 

* '' And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him ;" 

how a third visionary fancied he was scourged on a 
bed, of steel by devils, — ^how a lad was killed by a 
spirit from a box on the ear,^-and, in short, how nu- 
merous other phantasms have not been content with 
a bodiless form, but have occasionally put on, what 
the pneumatologists of the middle ages were wont to 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 249 

name, caro rum adamica ; and, under this garb, have 
demonstrated the miraculous foree of their muscular 
exertions : 

^* I've heard a spirit's force is wonderful ; 

At whose approach, when starting from his dungeon, 

The earth does shake, and the old ocean groans, 

Rocks lire removed, and towers are thunderM down ; 

And walls of brass and gates of adamant 

Are passable as air, and fleet like winds.*'* 

In the next place, the retina may be shewn, when 
subjected to strong excitements, to be no less the 
organ of ideas than of sensations. This fact is illus- 
trated in the following anecdote related by Nicolai : — 
" A person of a sound and unprejudiced mind, though 
not a man of letters, whom I know well, and whose 
word may be credited, related to me the following 
case : — '* As he was recovering from a violent nervous 
fever, being still very weak, he lay one night in bed, 
perfectly conscious that he was awake, when the door 
seemed to open, and the figure of a woman entered, 
who advanced to his bed-side. He looked at it for 
some moments, but as the sight was disagreeable, he 
turned himself and awakened his wife ; on turning 
again, however, the figure was gone."* Now, in this 
incident, the real sensation of a closed door, to which 
the axis of vision had been previously directed, was 
followed by the fantastical representation of a door 
being opened by a female figure. The question then 

* Tragedy of CEdipus, by Lee and Dryden. 
-f Nicholson's Journal, vol. vi. p. 174. 



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950 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

U, if those very pointi of the retina cm which the 
picture of the real docnr had been impressed, formed 
the same part of the visual organ on which the idea 
or past feeling that constituted the phantasm was 
subsequently induced :-— or^ in other words, did the 
revival of the fantastic figure really affect those points 
of the retina which had been previously impressed by 
the image of the actual object ? Certainly there are 
grounds for the suspicion, that when ideas of vision 
are vivified to the height o£ sensations, a correspond- 
ing afiection of the optic nerves accompanies the 
illusion. A person, for instance, labouring under 
spectral impressions, sees the form of an acquaintance 
standing before him in his chamber. Every effect in 
this case is produced, which we might expect fhmi 
the figure being impressed on the retina. The rays 
of light issuing from that part of the wall which the 
phantasm seems to obscure, are virtually intercept- 
ed. But if impressions of vision are really renewable 
on the retina, their delineation ought to be always re- 
markable for accuracy. The author of a paper on the 
phantasms produced by disease, (inserted in Nichol- 
son's Joiumal), remarks, that the phantastical repre*^ 
sentations of some books or parchments, exhibited 
either manuscript or printed characters, agreeably to 
the particular subject of his previous thoughts. 

But the question, which I have been thus disposed 
to answer in the affirmative, has, since the publication 
of the first edition of this work, met with a most re- 
markable confirmation from one of the most eminent 
philosophers of the present day. Dr Brewster, in 
some remarks which he has published of his own ex- 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILIiUSIONS. S61 

perietice in these mental impressions^ informs us^ that^ 
^ when the eye is not exposed to the impressions of 
external objects^ or when it is insensible to thei^e im- 
pressions^ in consequence of the mind being engross- 
ed with its own operations, any object of mental con- 
templation which has either been called .up by the^ 
memory, or created by the imagination, will be seen 
as distinctly as if it had been formed from the vision 
of a real object In examining these mental impres- 
sions," he adds, '' I have found that they follow the mo- 
tions of the eyeball exactly like the spectral impressions 
of luminous objects, and that they resemble them also 
in their apparent immobility when the eyebdl is dis- 
placed by an external force. If this result (which I 
state with much diffidence, from having only my own 
experience in its favour) shall be found generally true 
by others, it will follow that the objects of mental 
contemplation may be seen as distinctly as external 
objects, and will occupy the same local position in the 
axis of vision, as if they had been formed by the 
agency of light* Hence all the phenomena of ap- 
paritions may depend upon the relative intensities of 
these two classes of impressions, and upon their manner 
of accidental combination. In perfect health, when 
the npnd possesses a control over its powers, the im- 
pressions of external objects alone occupy the atten- 

* Dr Brewster, in a note subjoined to his paper, has honoured 
me by observing, that these results, and several others that he in- 
tends to explain in another paper, (which, I understand, will be 
published in the 6th Number of the Edinburgh Journal of Scimce^) 
confirm, in a remarkable manner, the views that have been given 
in this work. 



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252 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

ticm^ but in the unhealthy condition of the mind, the 
impressions of its own oreation either overpower, or 
combine themselves with the impressions of external 
objects ; the mental spectra in the one case appearing 
alone, while in the other they are seen projected among 
those extamal objects to which the eyeball is direct- 
ed/'» 

In the same interesting paper from which the fore- 
going extract has been made, there are other particu- 
lars given relative to phantoms which I cannot resist 
quoting. The author, in opposing the view <^ Mr 
Charles Bell, that there is an immobility of the spec- 
tral impression when the eye is displaced by the pres- 
sure o£ the finger, thus proceeds : — '^ This spectrum is 
by no means immoveable. It is quite true that it 
moves through a very small space ; but this space, 
small as it is, is the precise quantity through which it 
ought to move according to the principles of optics ; 
and the explanation of this fact leads us to investigate 
the difference between the vision of external objects 
and that of impressions upon the retina. 

^^ In order to understand this difference, let A in the 
following figure be the eye of the observer, and O an 
external object, whose image at P is seen along the 
axis of vision POM. Let the eye be pushed upwards, 
suppose one-tenth o£ an inch, into the position B, the 

* See the Edinburgh Joumal of Science, conducted by Dr 
Brewster^ vol. ii. p. 1. in a paper by the editor, enUded ** Obsenra- 
tions on the Vision of Impressions on the Retina, in reference to 
certain supposed Discoveries respecting Vision announced by Mr 
Charles BeU." 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 363 

external object O. remaining fixed. The image of O 
upon the retina will now be raised (torn P to Q in the 
elevated eye at B. Hence the object O will now be 
seen in the direction QON^ having descended by the 
elevation of the eye from M to N. 

B 




" Let the eye be now brought back to its original 
position A^ and let the object O be the lamp with 
ground glass used by Mr Bell. The spectral impres- 
sion will therefore be made upon the retina at P^ and 
will remain on that spot till it is effaced. If the eye 
A is now raised to B^ the impression will still be at 
P in the elevated eye, and it will be seen in the di- 
rection PR parallel to PM^ having risen only one- 
tenth of an inch^ or the height through which die eye 
has been raised by pressure. This small space is not 
very visible to an ordinary observer^ when his head 
is at liberty to move; but if the head is carefully 
fixed, the motion of the spectrum becomes quite ap- 
parent. Hence it is obvious, that Mr Bell has been 
first misled by not observing the motion of the spec- 
trum, and, secondly, by supposing that the vision of 
an impression followed the same law as the vision of 
an external object The difference between these two 
cases of vision which Mr Bell has overlooked^ consists 



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354 THE MENTiX. JLAWS WHICH GIVE 

in this, that in ordinary vision the object forms a new 
image upon a new part of the retina^ after the eye is 
pushed up; whereas in spedral vision the original 
ol:ject has nothing to do with it after the eye is dis« 
placed, the spectrum itself, which retains its place on 
the retina, being now the only object of perception." 

I shall next observe, that there can be little or no 
doubt but that the ear is likewise the medium through 
which the past feelings of sound are renovated. In a 
case of delirium tremens which fell under my own ob- 
servation, the patient, during his convalescence, was 
at intervals assailed, as fitom an adjoining doaet, by 
imaginary voices, distinctly articulatiiig certain ex- 
pressi<Nis to him; and when thus addressed, he 
shewed the same impatience at being prevented by 
the clamour from listening to some conversation that 
was going on in the room, as if he had been disturbed 
by real sounds. 

These are the few remarks I have to offer on the 
indications afforded diuring intense excitements of the 
mind, that our susceptibility to sensations and ideas 
depends upon similar circumstances of organic stmc- 
ture ; and hence, that past feelings are renovated 
through the medium of organs of, sensation. But a 
question may be put, if the same notion does not lurk 
among other systems of metaphysical philoac^y 
which have been taught ? ^' Idea, in the old writers," 
says Dr Brown, '^ like the synonimous word percep- 
tion at present, was expressive, not <^ one part of a 
process, but of two parts of it. It included, with a 



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RISE TO SPECTEAL ILLUSIONS. 266 

certain vague comprehensiveneis^ the organic change 
as well as the mental,'^m the lame way as percepium 
now implies a certain change produced in our organs 
of sense, and a consequent change in the state of the 
mind/' 

The last question that may be asked is, What de- 
scription of ideas, whether of sight, of hearing, or of 
touch, most frequently gives rise to spectral illusions? 
Certainly, the majority of apparition-stories on record 
indicaets, that ghosts are more frequently seen or 
heard, than absolutely felt. 

False impressions of vision are decidedly more nu- 
merous than those of any other faculty. Thus Mac- 
beth very properly exclaims, when in doubt respect- 
ing the nature or purport of the imaginary dagger he 
saw before him, — 

^* Mine eyes tre made ths fooU o* the other MMei, 
Or dte worth »U the rest." 

The ideas which have their origin in the affections 
of our muscular frame much less frequently delude 
us than those of vision or of hearing. In fact, those 
modifications of the sense of external resistance, which 
bear reference to our mu9cular contractions, (whence 
are derived all our notions of hardness, softness, 
roughness, smoothness, solidity, liquidity, &c.) often 
(but certainly not always) afford the very means by 
which we ascertain whether an apparition is true or 
fUse. When Macbeth sees the air-*drawn dagger be- 
fore his eyes, and finds that it does not resist the mus* 



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956 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

cular contractions of his fingers^ or, in less fonnal me- 
taphysical language, that it eludes his grasp, he asks 
in amasement,— - 

*< Art thou not, fktal vision, leniible 
To feeling m to tight P Or art thou but 
A dagger of the mind ; a false creation, 
Proceeding from the heat-oppretsed brain ?*' 

Occasionally the trial has served to deter an in- 
tended imposture. Thus, when a fHar personated 
an apparition, and haunted the chamber of the Em- 
peror Josephus of Austria, a relation of the monarch 
seised hold of the substantial phantasm, and flinging 
him out of the window, laid him pretty effectually.* 

* «^ In moat of the relations of ghosts/ says Grose, *^ they are 
supposed to be mere aerial beings, without substance, and that 
they can pass through walls and other solid bodies at pleasure. A 
particular instance of this is given, in relation the 27th, In Glan- 
vil*s Collection, when one David Hunter, neat-herd to the Bishop 
of Down and Connor, was for a long time haunted by the appari- 
tion of an old woman, whom he was by a secret impulse obliged 
to follow whenever she appeared, which, he says, he did for a con- 
siderable time, even if in bed with his wifo i and because his wife 
could not hold him in his bed, she would go too, and walk after 
him till day, though she saw nothing ; but his little dog was so 
well acquainted with t^e apparition, that he would follow it as 
well as his master. If a tree stood in her walk, he observed her 
always to go through it. Notwithstanding this seeming immate- 
riality, this very ghost was not without some substance ; for, hav* 
ing performed her errand, she desired Runter to lift her ttcm die 
ground, in the doing of which, he says, she felt just like a bag of 
feathers." 



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KI8E TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 267 

There can be little doubt, but that the circumstance 
of our muscular feelings of resistancci being less liable 
to delusion than those of sight, has given rise to a 
variety of notions which, from a very early period^ 
have been entertained on the nature of spiritual beings. 
Thus, Lucretius, as he is translated by Creech : 

<^ Nor must we think these are the blest tbodes, 

The quiet niAnsions of the happy gods, 

Their substance is so thin, so much refin'd, 

Unknown to sense, nay, scarce perceiv'd by mind ; 

Now^ iince thete iuhitancet can*t he tottcK^d by man, 

They cannot touch those other things that can ; 

For whatsoe*er is touchM, that must be touched again. 

Therefore, the mansions of those happy pow'rs 

Must be all far unlike, distinct iVom ours ; 

Of subtle natures suitable to their own ;" 

(and, as the translator quaintly adds,) 

*^ AU which, by long discourse, I'll prove anon.** 

Lastly, I might observe, that the olfactory organs 
may occasionally be the medium through which ideas 
of smell are so intensely excited, as to give rise to 
mental illusions. Burton, on the authority of Petrus 
Forestus, relates, that " a minister, through precise fast- 
ing in Lent, and over much meditation, became despe- 
rate, thought he saw divells in his chamber, and that 
he could not be saved. He smelled nothing, as he 
said, but fire and brimstone, and was already in hell, 
and would aske them still if they did not smell as 
much. I told him he was melancholy, but he laughed 
me to scorne, and replied that hee saw divells, talked 
with them in good earnest, and would spit in my 
face, and aske me if I did not smell brimstone." 

n 



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9S8 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 



CHAPTER III. 

THE VARIOUS PEORBBS OF EXCITEMENT^ OF WHICH 
IDEAS^ OR THE RENOVATED FEELINGS OF THE MIND^ 
ARE SUSCEPTIBLE. 



Men must acquire a very peculiar and strong habit of turning 
their eye inwards, in order to explore the interior regions and 
recesses of the MiND^the hollow caverns of deep thought — 
the private seats of fancy— and the wastes and wildernesses, as 
well as the more fruitful and cultivated tracts of this obscure 
climate." 



We are now literally entering on the investigation of 
what the French metaphysicians name ideology, a 
subject which^ from the manner it has been treated, 
has recently incurred a censure that it too well de- 
serves. " Ideology is^ no doubt^ a part of human 
physiology ; but it has far outgrown its parent science 
in point of extent^ and is still far inferior to it in the 
means of verification. Let the metaphysician always 
avail himself of the experiments of physiology as far 
as he is able; but let not the physiologist imagine 
that he can ever derive a reciprocal assistance from 
metaphysics. It is possible, however, to transfer cre- 
dulity from one extreme to the other; — ^to yield a 
faith as implicit to the probabilities of the scientific 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 359 

physiologist, as is usually required for the dogmas of 
pneumatology."* 

These are, indeed, excellent remarks, ^m the just 
severity of which I can scarcely flatter myself with 
the prospect of an entire escape. The discussion will 
be, however, hazarded. 

This investigation has hitherto been conducted 
upon the principle, that the various degrees of vivid- 
ness of which our mental states are susceptible cor- 
respond to certain conditions of the sanguineous sys- 
tem ; and that the natural source, of the excitement 
which is imparted to the circulation, and of the cor- 
responding vividness which the feelings of the mind 
receive, is attributable to the influence of the brain 
and nerves. 

In the next place, several proofs were adduced in 
support of the conclusion, that organs of sensation 
were the common medium through which actual im- 
pressions were induced, and past feelings or ideas 
were renovated. 

According, then, to this view, every organ of feel- 
ing, which is no less the organ of ideas than of sensa- 
tions, must be considered as supplied with its own 
vital fluid, and as more or less influenced by nervous 
matter. To the various stimulated conditions, there- 
fore, incidental to the vascularity of each organ of 
feeling, the vividness of sensations and ideas corre- 
sponds. 



• Notes on Mogenaie's Physiology, by Dr Milligan. See his 
translation of this work, page 423. 



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260 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

I shall now attempt a deflcription of the various de- 
grees of excitement incidental to ideas, when exclu- 
sively rendered intense, premising, however, that such 
gradations are to be chiefly distinguished when the 
vision is affected. 

lit Stage qf Excitement 

By a principle of the mind, purely intellectual, the 
impressions which may at any time be induced on 
the seat of vision, suggest the notion of groups of sen- 
sible figures, each varying in hue and intensity, and 
each included in a distinct outline. While this men- 
tal operation is going on, each affected point of the 
retina becomes subject to a law (the consideration of 
which would detain us too long), whereby its vivid- 
ness is considerably modified. The effect is as fol- 
lows : — 

The nerves which impart their influence to visual 
sensations, first render more vivid those impressed 
points of the retina which give rise to the outlines of 
forms, and then extend their influence to the interior 
and central points of each figure. Thus, when we 
survey a landscape composed of such multifarious ob- 
jects as woods, mountains, houses, or lakes, it will be 
found that the outlines of each of these visible forms 
first become distinct, or bright, and that this distinct- 
ness or vividness is in each of them gradually propa- 
gated to the interior or central parts of the figure. 

In a short time, however, the outlines o£ each form 
which may have been impressed on the retina, be- 
come less clear to the vision, while the interior im- 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 261 

pressed points become more distinct. This fact in- 
dicates> that the vivif3ring influence has extended to 
the centre of the visual form. The process of excite- 
ment then gradually subsides. , The faintness which 
has commenced at the outline of the figure^ extends 
itself to the interior, so as to convey the notion of a 
gradual evanescence, until a more general indistinct* 
ness becomes the ultimate result. 

Such is the vivifying influence imparted by the 
nerves to actual impressions; we may therefore ad- 
vert to their apparent action, when past feelings are 
renovated on the surface of the retina. 

Past feelings never begin to be renovated upon the 
surface of the retina, until the outlines of such figures 
as are formed by the actual impressions of luminous 
bodies have become evanescent. It is therefore on 
such parts of the seat of vision as have ceased to be 
affected by particles of light, that the recollected 
images of the mind may be traced. Hence, when any 
morbific stimulus gives an undue degree of intensity 
to the nerves which assist in renovating past feelings, 
the outlines of such ideal figures as arise by the law 
of association appear to be formed on the fading out- 
lines of sensible forms. '* I do not remember," says a 
writer on phantasms produced by disease, in a paper 
which I have before quoted, ^' by what gradation it 
was, that the frequently changing appearances before 
the sight gave place to another mode of delusive per- 
ception, which lasted for several days. All the irre- 
gularly figured objects, such as the curtains or clothes, 
were so far transformed, that they seemed to afford 
outlines of figures, of faces, animals, flowers, and other 



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262 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

objects^ perfectly motionless^ somewhat in the manner 
of what fancy^ if indulged, may form in the clouds or 
in the cavity of a fire ; but much more complete and 
perfect, and not to be altered by steady observation 
or examination. They seemed to be severally as per- 
fect as the rest of the objects with which they were 
combined, and agreed with them in colour and other 
respects/'* 

2d Stage qf Excitement, 

A second stage of excitement is induced when the 
nerves, upon which the renovation of past feelmgs 
depends, have exerted such an influence upon a re- 
vived figure, that the vividness has been gradually 
extended, untU, upon the faded outlines of sensible 
forms, a complete fantastical image has been formed. 

But it would appear, that in this stage of excitement, 
ideas are the most easily vivified, when the retina is 
not at the same time affected by sensible objects. 
This is, indeed, a fact which may be very readily an- 
ticipated, when we consider how vividly ideas of vi- 
sion are represented in the minds of those individuals, 
who, after having long experienced the enjoyment of 
light, become affected with blindness. I recollect 
taking a journey in company with a gentleman thus 
circumstanced, than whom no one, in the oomplete 
possession of the faculty of vision, could be more in- 
terested with learning the general features of the 
country through which he passed, the form of its 

* Nichol8on*8 Jxmrnal, vol xv. page 293. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 263 

hills, the course of its rivers, or the style of architec- 
ture displayed by various edifices* He often remark- 
ed, that the ideas communicated to him, although in 
the ordinary course of conversation, were so vivid, 
that he was convinced they must almost equal the 
sensations of perfect vision. On the general princi- 
ple, then, that ideas of visible objects are the most 
readily excited during a seclusion from actual impres- 
sions, the operation of a morbific cause in inducing 
spectral illusions will be exerted with the gteaXest 
force in complete darkness, or during the closure of 
the eyelids. Yet it is at the same time a distinctive 
character of this inferior stage of excitement, that the 
ideas which, during dofkness, are unduly vivified, mai^ be 
eoiihf dispeUed by an exposure to strong sensations of light* 

I shall now give a few illustrations of phantasms of 
this class. 

Dr Crichton, in his excellent Treatise on Mental 
Derangement, has remarked, " that patients, when 
they first begin to rave in fevers, only do so when the 
room is darkened, or when they shut their eyes, so as 
to exclude the light of external objects." — " Then im- 
mediately they see, as it were, a crowd of horrid faces, 
and monsters of various shapes, grinning at them, or 
darting forward at them. As soon as they open their 
eyes, or upon being allowed to see a good deal of 
light, all these phantasms vanish." 

This stage of excitement meets with another illus- 
tration in the interesting account which Nicolai has 
given of the state of his ideas, during the attack of a 
bilious remittent. '' I found myself," he observes, 
frequently in a state between sleeping and waking. 



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264 TH£ MENTAL LAWS WHICH OIVE 

in which a number of pictures of every description^ 
often of the strangest forms, shew themselves, change, 
and vanish. In the year 1778, 1 was afflicted with a 
bilious fever, which, at times, though seldom, became 
so high as to produce delirium. Every day, towards 
evening, the fever came on, and if I happened to shut 
my eyes at that time, I could perceive that the cold 
fit of the fever was beginning, even before the sensa- 
tion of cold wa4 observable. This I knew by the dis- 
tinct appearance of coloured pictures of less than half 
their natural size, which looked as in frames. They 
were a set of landscapes, composed of trees, rocks, and 
other objects. If I kept my eyes shut, every minute 
some alteration took place in the representation. Some 
figures vanished, and others appeared. But if I open- 
ed my eyes all was gone ; if I shut them again I had 
a different landscape. In the cold fit of the fever, I 
sometimes opened and shut my eyes every second for 
the purpose of observation, and every time a different 
picture appeared, replete with various objects, which 
had not the least resemblance to those that appear- 
ed before. These pictures presented themselves with- 
out interruption as long as the cold fit of the fever 
lasted. They became fainter as soon as I began to 
grow warm, and when I was perfectly so all were 
gone. When the cold fit of the fever was entirely 
past, no more pictures appeared ; but if, on the next 
day, I could again see pictures when my eyes were 
shut, it was a certain sign that the cold fit was com- 
ing on.* 

* Nichol8on*8 Journal, vol. vi. page 175. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 966 

Another illustration is the case of the late Dr Fer- 
riar, which he has reported of himself. ** I remem- 
ber/' says this writer, *' that about the age of four- 
teen^ it was a source of great amusement to myself^ if 
I had been viewing any interesting object in the 
course of the day^ such as a romantic ruin^ a fine seat^ 
or a review of a body of troops^ as soon as evening 
came on^ if I had occasion to go into a dark room^ the 
whole scene was brought before my eyes, with a bril- 
liancy equal to what it had possessed in daylight, and 
remained visible for several minutes. I have no doubt, 
that dismal and fHghtful images have been presented 
to young persons after scenes of domestic affliction, or 
public horror/** 

Now, with regard to the last illusion, I shall re- 
mark, that an affection of this kind is by no means so 
liable to occur to young persons as, from the forego- 
ing narrative, we might be led to suppose; and 
hence there is every reason for the suspicion, that 
some' slight morbific cause, operating on the vividness 
of ideas, might have so increased the usual degree of 
intensity, which pleasurable emotions are known to 
impart to youthful feelings, as, by a joint influence of 
this kind, to have disposed the mind to spectral im- 
pressions. 

3d Stage qf Excitement, 

It has been supposed by some metaphysicians, that 
when spectral illusions of vision occur during the seclu- 
sion from any sensible impressions of the retina, they 

* Fermr on Apparitions, page 16. 



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966 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

may be always dispelled upon the introduction of light 
This is^ however^ a mistake. The examples last given 
certainly prove^ that ideas of vision are liable to ac« 
quhre an additicmal degree of intensity when the re- 
tina is least exposed to actual sensations ; for which 
reason^ phantanns very frequ^itly occur during the 
darkness or complete stillness of night But we shall 
often find^ that during the time when the mind is ac- 
tually under the influence oi a i^ectral illusion^ the 
single or combined influence of its centring causes 
may be so far increased^ that the restoration of light, 
and the counteracting power it exercises^ will be found 
totally inadequate to the prc^osed expulsion of the 
phantasm. Hence the reason which I have £&r in? 
ferring^ that phantasms appear under very different 
degrees of vividness^ and that they thereby indicate 
corresponding stages of mental excitement. This 
view meets with support from the experience of Ni- 
colai, whose remarks on some spectral figures which he 
saw are as follows : — '^ It is to be noted^ that these fi- 
gures appeared to me at all times, and under the most 
different circumstances^ equally distinct and clear, 
whether I was alone or in company, by broad day- 
light equally as in the night time, in my own as well 
as in my neighbour's house. When I shut my eyes, 
sometimes the figures disappeared, sometimes they re- 
mained even after I had closed them. If they vanish- 
ed, as in the former case, on opening my eyes again, 
nearly the same %ure appeared which I had seen be- 
fore."* 

Again, in opposition .to the assertion, that visual il- 

* Nicholson's Journal, vol. vi. p. 268. 



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BIS£ TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 967 

lusions are always dispelled by lights a philotophieai 
writer^ whose lively phantasms were occasioned foy 
symptomatic fever> has given the result of his own ex* 
perience. ''It was inroy recollection/' he remarks^ "that 
Hartley^ in his work upon man^ adopts a theory^ thai 
the visions of fever are common ideas of the memory^ 
recalled in a system so irritated^ that they act nearly 
with the same force as the objects of immediate sensi^ 
tion, for which they are mistaken ; ' and therefote it 
is>' says he> ' that when delirium first begins^ if in 
the dark, the effect may be suspended by bringing 
in a candle, which, by illumination, gives the due 
preponderance to the objects of sense/ This, however, 
I saw was manifestly unfounded/'* 

But it is now proper to advert more particularly to " 
the very curious circumstance, that when Nicolai's 
disorder was at its greatest height, the figure of a de* 
ceased person which he saw should remain unchanged 
during both the shutting and the opening of the eye- 
lids. This fact would indicate, that his ideas of vi* 
lion, thus unduly vivified, exceeded in their degree 
of intensity those of actual impressions ; for which 
reason they could not be annihilated by the operation 
of common sensible objects. One character, then, of 
the third stage of mental excitement is, that the illu* 
lions which are incidental to it are not dispelled by 
light, but may remain during the operation of sense* 
tions of an ordinary degree of intensity. 

It must be admitted, however, that the persistence 
of phantasms is less durable when such sensible ob« 

* Nicholson*^ Jounud, vol. xv. p. 392. 



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968 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

jects are opposed to the organ of vision as are calcu« 
lated by their vivifying influence to divert the atten- 
tion of the individual from the particular subject of 
his spectral impressions. '' When my attention/' ob- 
serves a philosophical seer, '^ was strongly fixed on the 
idea of an absent place or thing, the objects of sensa- 
tion and of delirium were less perceived or regarded. 
When the mind was left in a passive or indolent 
state, the objects of delirium were most vivid, and 
the objects of sensation, or real objects in the room, 
could not be seen. But when, by a sort of exertion, 
the attention was roused, the phantasms became as it 
were transparent, and the objects of sensation were 
seen as if through them. There was not the least 
difficulty in rendering either object visible at plea- 
sure, for the phantasms would nearly disappear while 
the attention was steadily fixed on the real objects."* 

The transparency of these phantasms was evidently 
owing to their ceasing in part to afiect the sensibility 
of the seat of vision, and to those points of the retina 
which were impressed by vivid objects actually pre- 
sent, being mingled with the dim and fading images 
that had been renovated. 

Many of the phantasms whic? Nicolai saw ceased 
to haunt him during the influence of such pleasurable 
and vivifying objects as were connected with social 
intercourse; for he remarks, that, when he was at 
any other person's house, the phantasms with which 
he was beset were less frequent, and when he walked 
the public street they very seldom appeared. 

* Nicholson's Journal, voL xv. p. 292. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 209 

I may lastly observe^ that when any sensible ob- 
ject^ calculated by its casual and vivifying influence 
to arrest the attention of a seer^ has been opposed to 
that part of the retina which was the object of a spec- 
tral illusion^ an apparent interception of the phantasm 
has indicated that its persistence has been overcome ; 
or, in other words, that the intensely vivid idea, of 
which the apparition consisted, had faded away, and 
had been succeeded by an actual impression. Thus, 
when the axis of vision has been directed to some 
particular part of a room where a phantasm was con- 
ceived to be present, and when between the eye and 
the phantasm some luminous object has afterwards 
been placed, so that rays reflected from it might im- 
pinge on the same points of the retina which were af- 
fected by the spectre, the consequence has been, that, 
like the phenomena of intercepted sensible impres- 
sions, actual rays of light have succeeded in effacing 
feelings which were ideal. This fact was proved in 
the case of an inhabitant of the Scottish metropolis. 
He was constantly annoyed by a spectral page, 
dressed like one of the Lord Commissioner's lac- 
queys, whom he always saw following close to his 
heels, whatever might be the occupation in which he 
was engaged. But to this attendant soon succeeded 
another no less unremitting, but far more unwel- 
come retainer, in the form of a frightful skeleton. 
An eminent medical practitioner of Edinburgh was 
the exorcist properly called in, who, in the course of 
his interrogatories, inquired, if at that very moment 
his patient saw the spectre ? The man immediately 



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9fO THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH OIVE 

pointed to m particular corner of the room where he 
alleged his familiar wai keeping guard. To this 
•potj therefore^ the learned gentleman walked. -*- 
*' Now^ do jou tee the skeleton ?" he asked. ** How 
can I/' was the replj^ '^ when you are interposed be- 
tween us^" Here^ then^ was a satisfactory indication^ 
not only that the retina had been actually impressed 
by the imaginary phantasm^ but that the real object 
at present engaging the attention of the seer had 
overcome the persistence of the apparition. Soon^ 
howerer^ Fancy began her work again ; for, with a 
sudden tone of exclamation that even inspired the 
philosopher himself with momentary alarm, the man 
suddenly exclaimed, — " Ay, now I see the skeleton 
again, for at this very moment he is peeping at me 
from behind your shoulders !" 

But frequently, phantasms which appear without 
any assignable reason as arbitrarily vanish. Thus, it 
is recorded of one of the presidents of the Swiss can- 
tons, that *^ he had occasion to visit the library of the 
establishment. Entering it about two o'clock in dk 
afternoon, what was his amazement to see the former 
president of the same body, his deceased friend, sit- 
ting in solemn conclave in the president's chair> with 
a numerous list of * great men, dead,' assisting him 
in his deliberations ! He hastened f^om the place in 
fbar, and went to some of his brethren in office to ad- 
vise upon the most speedy measures to divorce the 
usurpers of their stations ; but on returning with 
a re-enforcement of trembling associates, he found the 
long table in statu quo, the chairs empty, and every 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 871 

mark of the mysterious deliberators vanished into 
air."» 

These remarks conclude what I have to say on the 
subject of the present chapter. It would appear^ that 
when ideas of vision are rendered unduly intense, 
three stages of excitement may give rise to spectnd 
impressions. 

In the first stage of excitement, nothing more than 
the outlines of the recollected images of the mind are 
rendered as vivid as external impressions. 

In the second stage, ideas are vivified during dark- 
ness so as to produce phantasms of a perfect form ; 
but these are easily expelled by a strong exposure to 
light 

In the third stage of excitement, the illusions inci- 
dental to it are not dispelled by light, but may subsist 
during the influence of sensations of an, ordinary de- 
gree of intensity. 

* This story I have quoted fVom a late work, the Edinborgh 
Literary Gazette. It is the report of an anecdote related by Sir 
Walter Scott^ on the occasion when I read a paper to the Royal 
Society, which has given rise to the present expanded disserta. 
tion. 



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272 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 



CHAPTER IV. 

AN INQUIBY INTO TH06B LAWS OF BfBNTAL CON80IOU8« 
NB88 WHICH OIV£ BISfi TO THB ILLUSIONS OP 
DBBAM8. 



• I talk of dreftms, 



Which are the children of an idle brain, 

Begot of nothing but vain phantasy^ 

Which it as thin of substance as the air, 

And more inconstant than the wind.— -Shakspe are. 



Thebb is> perhaps, no one familiar with the various 
apparition-stories which have from time to time been 
published^ who is not strongly inclined to suspect 
that many of them are mere dreams. Whether this 
conjecture be well-founded or not> it is often difficult 
to determine. On this account it will be necessary to 
investigate the phenomena of sleep with some degree 
of care. 

In reference to this inquiry jt may be observed, 
that the excitability of the sanguineous fluids upon 
which the vividness of our mental feelings depends, 
has, in a healthy condition of the system^ its due li- 
mits. The* power possessed by the blood of augment- 
ing the heart's systole or diastole cannot be too long 
kept up. After a certain degree of excitation, a ten- 
dency is shewn to an opposite state of debility, when 

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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 273 

the feelings of the mind gradually decrease in their 
degree of vividness. Thus^ there are periodical laws 
which govern our hours of slumber^ and which^ at 
the same time^ are conducive to the regular exercise 
of the important functions of assimilation. 

Some philosophers have supposed^ that in sleq> 
there is a temporary suspension of thought ; others 
(the Cartesians in particular) have much more reason- 
ably conceived that thought continues without any 
intermission. For^ upon the principle inculcated by 
the late Dr Brown^ that, all our mental feelings are 
nothing more than the mind itself existing in different 
states^ it is difficult to imagine in what way this rela- 
tion of the mind to the body can possibly be sus- 
pended or dissolved^ as long as the vitality of our 
frame subsists. When, likewise, it is considered, that 
we cannot entertain the least conception of any other 
states of the mind, than those which must necessarily 
include sensations or renovated feelings, the hypo- 
thesis becomes extremely plausible, that mental feel- 
ings of this kind, though certainly of extreme faint- 
ness, do actually occur in sleep, or even during de- 
liquum. 

This theory may be viewed in connexion with cer- 
tain states of the circulating system, upon which those 
of the mind depend. The vividness of our mental 
feelings is regulated by the force and duration of each 
systole and di^tole of the heart. Should these ac- 
tions be too short and feeble, a corresponding faint- 
ness in the affections of the mind is the result, as is 
the case during the tremulous fluttering pulsations 
which are characteristic of syncope ; also, if objects of 

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274 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

sensation are uniform in their impressions^ the vivid- 
ness of our mental states will be no less diminished. 
Hence the promotion of sleep by the unchanged feeU 
ings of touchy which are induced by a horizontal po- 
sition of the body during rest ; hence also the somni- 
ferous effect of monotonous sounds. The continua- 
tion of sleep is likewise favoured by the exclusion of 
all impressing objects of vision. 

After these preliminary remarks^ I shall attempt a 
strict scrutiny of the states of the mind peculiar to 
sleep^ as they are to be distinguished fh>m those 
which occur during our waking hours. 

According to the definition which I have given of 
sensations^ they ate states of the mind induced by 
objects actuality present, and acting upon the organs of 
sense^ while ideas are the renewals o£ past sensations. 
A question then^ which^ as we shall soon find^ is most 
intimately connected with this inquiry^ may be asked^ 
By what law we thus arrive at our notions of the pre- 
sent and the past 9 

When^ by the repetition of any sensation^ those 
feelings are recalled with which they were before as- 
sociated^ such past feelings are renovated in a less 
vivid state^ and hence acquire the name of ideas ; that 
is^ images of prior- sensations. It is> then^ from no- 
thing more than the comparative degrees of vividness 
which distinguish sensations and ideas^ that the mind 
becomes intuitively susceptible of certain relative feel- 
ings of succession that subsist between them ; which 
feelings of succession we express by such terms as the 
present and the past. This notion of a succession of 
mental states is in fact acquired by an ultimate law of 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 376 

our nature. Th« more vivid or semibk affection is 
contemplated as present to the mind^ while the hss 
vivid^ or ideal ttate^ is considered as past. 

But it is essential to this knowledge of suceeaion, 
that it should at the same time bear a reference to 
the identUif of the mind; and/ accordingly^ this convic- 
tion is suggested^ whenever we think of the present 
and the past* The late Dr Brown was the ffafst to 
iuccessAillj explain this last-mentioned principle of 
the human inteUect. '^ In all the varieties of our 
feelings/' he remarks^ '' we believe that it is the same 
mind which is thus variously affected;" or^ as this 
metaphysician has elsewhere explained himself^ '^ that 
*^ the mind> which is capable of existing in various 
states^ is felt by us as one in all its varieties of feel- 
ings." — '' The belief flows from a principle of intui- 
tion^ and it is in vain to look for evidence beyond it. 
We have an irresistible belief in our identity as long 
as we think of the present and the past"* 

In correspondence^ then^ with this view^ I shall con- 
sider mental consciousness as that intellectual feeling 
of the mind suggested^ by a succession of sensations 
and renovated feelings^ whereby it acquires a notion 
qfthe present and of the past, and of one and the same 

* Dr Brown, in his Phyiiology of the Human Mind^ likewise 
remarkii that, ^* in accordance with the belief in our identity^ we 
use the personal pronoun / to express the whole series of these 
feelings to one self as the permanent subject of them." 

f This is a very appropriate word employed by Dr Brown. I 
am sorry, however, that a difference of views on certain subjects 
wiB not always allow me to apply the term in the exact sense in 
which this eminent author meant it should be used. 



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276 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

mind, which is capable of existing in a succession of 
states. After this definition^ we shall be better pre- 
pared to consider what are the proper mental pheno- 
mena which distinguish sleep. 

I have already pointed out the extreme difficulty of 
supposing^ that the relation which the immaterial 
principle of the mind bears to the human frame should 
be suspended during the periodical repose allotted to 
the body. This relation consists in the mind bein^ 
made susceptible of certain successive states. As we 
can therefore conceive of no succession of states that 
does not necessarily include sensations and renovated 
feelings^ it is certainly a reasonable h3rpothesis^ that^ 
during our moments of slumber^ actjial impressions 
and ideas should occur^ although in a state of extreme 
faintness. But as it must be at the same time grant- 
ed> that there exists no mental consciousness during 
perfect sleep, or that state of sleep which is free firom 
dreams^ we are now^ I trusty sufficiently prepared to 
overcome any objections on this score to the theory 
proposed. For^ while it is almost impossible to ima- 
gine that^ during the vitality of the body^ such essen- 
tial states of the mind as sensations and ideas should 
not occur^ there is not^ on the other hand^ the least 
difficulty in supposing^ that a suspension may take 
place^ during perfect sleep^^ of that particular law of 
suggestion, which merely furnishes the connecting links, 
as it were, that properly subsist between those actual 
impressions which arise by the organs of sense, and 
those renovated feelings, or ideas, which the law of 
association calls forth. When the operation of this 
connecting principle is for a time suspended, there no 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 277 

longer arises that new description of feelings which 
we express under the term consciousness ;— -there no 
longer arises that intuitive and intellectual impression 
of the mind relative to the present and the past^ as 
well as to the belief in its own identity. 
. Thus^ then^ we have endeavoured to establish the 
doctrine^ that in perfect sleep the organs of sense are 
•till impressed^ though faintly^ by external objects^ 
and that feelings no less faint become the proper states 
of the mind;— also^ that past feelings are renovated 
agreeably to the law of association^ though in a state 
far less vivid^ when compared with those which occur 
during our waking hours. Our investigation^ there- 
fore^ now becomes limited to this sple object^— to de- 
termine under what circumstances that particular law 
ia suspended^ whereby the mind begins to lose all 
knowledge of the present and of the past, as well as 
of its own identity ; or^ in other words^ our proper 
business is to inquire. Under what circumstances men* 
ial unconsciousness takes place ? 

Upon the approach of sleep, all organs of sense be« 
come less and less affected by their usual stimuli ; 
and, with this diminution of sensibility, the degree of 
vividness in our mental afTections keeps an uniform 
pace. But it ia an important fact, that sensations an^ 
ideas are each susceptible of different extremes of 
faintness. Ideas cannot, by any known causes, be 
rendered so faint as actual impressions; they there* 
fore, much sooner than sensations, acquire their own 
definite and extreme degree of fajntness. It follows, 
therefore, that the cause which induces the state of 



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278 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

sleep is to be considered as a cause tending to make . 
saiions more faint than ideas. 

The knowledge of this law it of tbe uAmott im- 
portance in all our inquiriei relative to the phenomena 
of sleep. But> flrtt^ it may be remarked^ that if tbe 
cause of sleep render sensations more faint than ideas^ 
it must evidently happen^ that^ in the course of this 
transition^ sensations will^ at some interval of time^ 
arrive at the same degree of faintness as ideas. When, 
therefore^ it ir considered^ that the human mind can 
form no notion of the present and the past^ but iinm 
the comparative degree of vividness which^ daring 
our waking hours> subsists between sensations and 
ideas^ and that the notion of present and past time 
necessarily enters into our definition of consciousness, 
it must follow^ that when the cause of sleep has re- 
duced sensations to the same degree of faintneaa as 
Ideas^ a state of mental unconsciousness must neces- 
sarily be the result. 

There are still other circumstances to be taken into 
consideration concerning sleep. A certain degree of 
vividness in our various feelings is necessary to the 
production of mental consciousness; or^ in other 
words^ consciousness cannot be induced after Ae 
states of the mind have acquired a certain extreme 
degree of faintness. From ^e operation^ then, of 
this law, which takes place while the cause that in- 
duces sleep is tending to make sensations more faint 
than ideas, that state of unconsciousness, which first 
arises when there is an uniformity of vividness in sen- 
sations and ideas, becomes so far prolonged^ as to in- 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 279 

elude in its duration the usual period of sound and 
healthy repose. 

During the particular interval^ when sensations are 
becoming more faint than ideas> so powerful is the 
agency of sleep^ that> as we well know> very strong im- 
pressions made upon the organs of sense often fail in 
imparting to the affections of the mind that degree of 
intensity upon which watchfulness depends. Ideas^ 
on the contrary^ after having undergone a certain ex- 
treme degree of &intness, cease much socmer than 
sensations to become obnoxious to the power of sleep. 
We must therefore^ at present^ contemplate sleep as 
chiefly employed in enfeebling sensations^ while ideas, 
or renovated feelings^ are less under its influence. 

This investigation will, I trust, prepare us to 
theorize with far greater facility on the subject of 
dreams. 

The causes of our most common dreams have, dur- 
ing our waking hours, an inferior influence in render- 
ing more vivid the states of the mind. They are, for 
instance, connected with such trivial afiections as in- 
digestion^ or with the remissions of inflammatory or 
febrile attacks, where a repose, more or less disturbed 
by visions, is afibrded to the wearied frame. In sleep, 
therefore^ such causes have little power in increasing 
the vividness of sensations. For it is but too evident, 
that if the organs of sense were capable of being af- 
fected by slight stimuli, our states of repose, which 
are so important to the functions of assimilation^ 
would be materially interrupted. Ideas, however, 
which are more removed fVom the enfeebling influence 
of sleep, are in a greater degree liable to be aflected 



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280 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

by causes that impart to our mental affections various 
degrees of vividness. 

I shall therefore observe^ that when^ by some cause 
affecting the state of the circulation^ the ideas of per^ 
feci sleep have been excited to a certain degree of 
vividness^ the mind then acquires a knowledge of the 
present and the past^ and of its own identity ; or^ in 
other words> consciousness begins^ and^ with it^ the 
state of dreaming. It will therefore be a very inter- 
esting research^ to ascertain what may be the modifi- 
caticms which the usual phenomena of the mind un- 
dergo^ from the operation of those laws that more 
immediately relate to consciousness f 

We must once more recall our attention to the prin- 
ciple so fully demonstrated^ that the usual compara- 
tive degree of vividness which subsists between sen- 
sations and ideas alone suggests the notion of present 
and past time ; the more vivid feeling being consi- 
dered as present, and the less vivid feelings or idea^ 
being contemplated as past. This law^ in fact^ con- 
tinues to operate^ aft^r renovated feelings alone have 
become the subject o£ consciousness, When^ there- 
fore^ it is considered^ that ideas of themselves partake 
of various degrees of vividness^ it must be evident 
that, in our dreams, the more vivid idea would be 
contemplated as a present feeling, while the least vi- 
vid one would be considered as past. By this means, 
various recollected images of the mind protrude them- 
selves, as it were, from the train of thought going 
on, and though fainter than sensations, have still the 
power of suggesting a false conviction of actual im- 
pressions. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 281 

In reference to the same law of consciousness^ may 
be explained the illusions of many spectral impres- 
sions which occur during our waking hours. That 
principle in our nature by which mental feelings of 
various degrees of vividness suggest a notion of the 
present and of the past^ is continually influencing the 
mind; hence> the moment that ideas become more 
vivid than sensations^ they are contemplated as pre- 
sent^ or as actual impressions ; while the least vivid 
feeling suggests the notion of past time. 

Hie partial resemblance of spectral impressions to 
dreams will now^ I trusty be sufficiently apparent. 
There is still a difference to be noticed in the circum- 
stances under which they are severally produced. 
Before spectral impressions can arise^ the viyid ideas 
of our waking hours must be raised to an unusually 
high degree of intensity ; but during our moments of 
mental repose^ a very slight degree of vividness im- 
parted to the faint ideas of perfect sleep is sufficient 
to excite a similar illusion. Hence the images of 
spectral impressions differ from those of dreams^ in 
being much more vivid. 



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282 THE M£NTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 



CHAPTER V. 

PHANTASMS MAY ARISE FROM IDEAS OF WHICH THE 
MIND MIGHT OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN EITHER CON- 
SCIOUS OR UNCONSCIOUS. 



*< The difficulty is this :— Gonscioasness being intenrupted always 
by forgetfttlness, there being no moment of our li^es wherein 
we have the whole train of our past aotimis before our eyes in 
one view ; but even the best memories losing the sight of one 
part while they are viewing another." Locke. 



I SHALL now attempt to explain other laws of con- 
sciousness^ which are materially involved in the cir- 
cumstances under which phantasms arise. The in- 
vestigation^ however^ is difficult ; a proof of which is^ 
that^ from not prosecuting it^ considerable disturb- 
ance seems to have been given to the speculations of 
those who have endeavoured to explain^ upon estab- 
lished metaphysical principles^ the origin of appari- 
tions. 

Nicolai^ the philosophical seer of Berlin^ who was 
long under the influence of spectral impressions^ offers 
the following remarks on his own case : — 

'^ I observed these phantasms of the mind with 
great accuracy, and very often reflected on my pre- 
vious thoughts, with a view to discover some law in 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 283 

the association of ideas by which exactly these or 
other figures might present themselves to the imagi« 
nation. Sometimes I thought I had made a dis- 
covery, especially in the latter period of my visions; 
but, on the whole, I could trace no connexion which 
the various figures that thus appeared and disappeared 
to my sight, had either with my state of mind, or with 
my emplojnnent and the other thoughts which en- 
gaged my attention. After frequent accurate obser- 
vations on the subject, having fairly proved and ma- 
turely considered it, I could form no other oondu- 
don on the cause and consequence of such appari- 
tions, than that, when the nervous system is weak, 
and at the same time too much excited, or rather de- 
ranged, similar figinres may appear in such a manner 
as if they were actually seen and heard ; for these vi- 
sions in my case were not the consequence of any 
known law of reason, of the imagination, or of the 
otherwise usual association of ideas." * 

Sudi were the difficulties that pressed themselves 
upon the mind of Nicolai, in endeavouring to account 
for the mysterious introduction of the fantastic visit- 
ants, by whom he was almost hourly surrounded. In 
the attempt, therefore, which I shall make to obtain 
some satisfaction on this head, it will be first necessary 
to inquire how far we are entitled, on every occasion, 
** to seek for an explanation of such {^enomena in the 
well-known law of the association of ideas. 

It has been befcnre shewn, that when a number of 
sensations occur in succession, the repetition of any 

• Nicholson's Journal, vol. vi. p. 167. 



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284 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

one of them would recall in their original order, yet 
in a less vivid state, the feelings by which they were 
followed. To this law was affixed the usual term of 
the association of ideas. But a question now arises. If 
ideas, of which we are at any one moment of time to? 
tally unconscious, be still liable to recur agreeably 
to the law of association ? The hypothetical answer 
which I should be disposed to give is this. That past 
feelings, even should they be those of our earliest mo- 
ments of infancy, never cease to be under the opera- 
tion of this principle, and that they are constantly 
liable to be renovated, though they should not be the 
object of consciousness, at the latest period of our 
life. According to this view, any past impression of 
the mind never becomes^ as it were, extinct. Yet, 
amidst the incalculable quantity of ideas which are 
rapidly succeeding to each other, the amount of those 
that are vivified to such a degree as to be the object 
of consciousness, must fall far short of the actual 
number of such, as, from their extreme fidntness, are 
no longer recognised. 

After these remarks, I shall advert to another prin- 
ciple of the mind deserving consideration, which is 
this : Feelings of any particular description or subject 
are liable to be frequently renovated, and there is a naiu^ 
ral tendency in the same Jeelings, on each occasion of 
their renewal, to become gradually more and more 
faint,* The law which partially counteracts this ten- 
dency will be explained in the next chapter. 

* A tendency of this kind differs in degree in different indivi. 
duals. Thus, in the Psychological Magazine of Germany, there 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 285 

I shall now suppose^ that certain sensations have 
been induced sufficiently vivid to excite mental con- 
sciousness; and that the renovated feelings, named 
ideas, which correspond to them, sustain, upon each 
occasion of their renewal, a gradual diminution from 
their original degree of vividness. The result which, 
agreeably to the general doctrine I have inculcated, 
will ensue, may be readily anticipated. Any train of 
ideas must, in the course of its undisturbed depres- 
sion, be eventually reduced to states far too faint to 
be the ot>ject of our consciousness. 

In order, however, to render this law as intelligible 
as possible, I subjoin the following tabular view, in 
which the lower numbers in the scale represent the 
more faint or least vivid of our feelings, and the high- 
er numbers the more excited states of the mind. 

it the nanftiire of a girl, whoae ideas muft have declined very ilowly 
ttcm their original ftate of vividness. After having lUtened hut 
once to the longest song, the could repeat it verbatim^ and with 
equal accuracy could not only rehearse the whole of any fermon 
the might hear at church, hut wat even found to preserve the re- 
collection of it after the interval of a year had expired.— The me- 
mory of Bishop Jewel was very remarkahle. It it stated in Clark*t 
Mirror, that *^ he could readily repeat any thing that he had pen- 
ned after once reading s and therefore, usually, at the ringing of 
the hell, began to commit his sermons to heart, and kept what he 
had learned so firmly, that he used to say, That if he were to make 
a tpeech premeditated, before a thousand auditors, shouting or 
fighting all the while, yet could he say whatsoever he had provided 
to tpeak. Sir Frandt Bacon, reading to him only the last clauses 
of ten lines in Eratmus his paraphrase in a confused and dis- 
membered manner, he, after a small pause, rehearsed aU those 
broken parcels of sentences the right way, and the contrary, with-, 
out stumbling/* 



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286 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 



TABULAR VIEW. 

Mode in which a Train or Association of Ideas^ unin- 
terrupted by Sensations^ is supposed to uniformly 
decrease in Vividness. 



VhrWFeel. 
bugs of whidi 
ire an am- 
Kioai. 

FeeUngBtoo 
faint to be 
the Object of 
mental Con- 


Degrees 

ofViTid. 

nessand 
Fatntneu 


Previoiu 
Seniation 


Associated Train of Ideas. 1 


1st 
Stage of 
Depr«s« 
sion. 


2d 
Stage of 
Depres- 
sion. 


3d 
Stage of 
Depres- 
sion. 


4th 
Stage of 
Depres- 
sion. 


5th 
Stage of 
Depres- 
sion. 


6th 
Stage of 

D«T««- 

sion. 


7 
6 
5 
4 
S 
2 
1 


Sensation 


Ideas 


Ideas 


Ideas 


Ideas 


Ideas 


Ideas 



Such is the mode in which a train of past feelings 
woidd decrease in vividness, if the original sensations, 
of which they are revivals, had possessed any uniform 
degree of vividness, and if there had been no excite- 
ments influencing at the time the ideas of the mind. 
But I ought to add, that from so many disturbing 
causes, which have a tendency to irregularly vivify 
the recollected images of thought, no actual illustra- 
tion can be afforded of this principle, that in a strict 
sense is exempt from sources of fallacy. , 

From an inspection of the foregoing table, the law 
which I have laid down may be explained in terms 



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BIS£ TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 387 

scmiewhat different to those which I have used^ and, 
perhaps, with some advantage to the proper subject 
of our inquiry. 

It has been repeatedly stated, that, upon the repeti- 
tion of any definite sensation, there is not only a re- 
newal of the past feelings with which this sensati<m 
was formerly associated, (their renovation taking place 
agreeably to dieir priw order,) but that the number of 
ideas thus renewable may be prolonged to an incalcul- 
able extent. I may now add, that the train whidi is 
induced only meets with interruption from some new 
sensation, ^d with it, from some new succession of 
renovated feelings. It may therefore be observed, 
that there is, cseteris paribus, a general tendency in 
every uninterrupted association of ideas to decrease in 
vividness, the diminution keeping pace with the extent 
to which the train is prolonged. 

This law will explain the purport of our next in- 
vestigation, which relates to such incidents of spectrd 
illusions as are connected with the natural tendency 
of the ideas that form an associated train to gradually 
fade, or, in other words, to become more faint. I 
shall therefore proceed upon the general view, that if 
a train of ideas be not prematurely interrupted, the 
close of it will always be found to consist of renovated 
feelings that are too faint to be the object of consci- 
ousness. 

Such being the subject of our present inquiry, a se- 
cond reference may be made to the foregoing tabular 
view, which is merely intended to convey a very ge- 
neral notion of the principle I would establish, — ^that 
there is a tendency in ideas to fade, the diminution of 



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288 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

vividness keeping pace with the extent to which a se- 
ries of revived impressions is prolonged. But by 
consulting the table^ it will be seen^ that when a train 
of uninterrupted ideas is^ as it were^ lengthened out^ 
it must naturally include two varieties of renovated 
feelings. 

Of one variety of ideas the mind is absolutely con- 
scious. This particular variety forms the firsts or pre- 
ceding part of a sequence of renovated feelings. 

Of another variety of ideas the mind is unconscious, 
and this faint description of them is to be found in the 
remaining part of the train. 

I shall next remark, that a cause of mental excite- 
ment, adventitious, or truly morbific, may commence 
its vivifying influence upon the mental feelings dur- 
ing any interval of time that the mind is not suscepti- 
ble of actual impressions. This operation may then 
yivolve any one of the two following circumstances of 
excitement : 

First, An exciting cause may commence its influ- 
ence, when the ideas, which form the concluding part 
of an uninterrupted train of renovated feelings, are 
becoming so faint as to cease being the object of con- 
sciousness. 

Secondly, An exciting cause may commence its in- 
fluence more prematurely; or before a train of ideas 
can have so much decreased in vividness as to cease 
being the object of consciousness. 

These two circumstances of excitement will be con- 
sidered in succession. 

7 



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BISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 



2» 



Section 1. 

The Influence of vivifying Causes upon Ideas, of which 
we should otherwise have been unconscious, 

I shall now suppose^ that a cause of mental excite^ 
ment has commenced its influence upon a sequence of 
ideas^ but not until the train has gradiialfy sunk into 
a degree of fdSntness so extreme, as to cease being the 
object of consciousness. A table, the exact reirerse of 
the last given, will then shew the mode in whkh the 
concluding part of this train of renovated fedii^ is 
liable to sudi an excitement, as at length to be the 
object of consciousness. 

TABULAR VIEW, 

Explaining the Influence of a vivifying Cause upon 
the concluding Part of a Train of Ideas, of which 
we should otherwise have been unconscious. 



Vivid fed. 

ingsof 
which we 
areoon- 
idous. 

Too faint 
to be the 
Direct of 

aess. 


Degrees 

of Faint. 
nessand 
Vividness. 


State to 
which 
Ideas were 
depressed 
beforethe 
Excite- 
ment. 


Operation of a Tivifying Cause. 


1st stage 
ofExdte. 
ment. 


2d Stf ge 
of Excite, 
ment. 


Sd Stage 
of Excre- 
ment. 


4th Stage 
of Exdce 
ment. 


&h Stage 
ofExcite. 
ment. 


6th Stage 
ifExdte 
ment. 


f ^ 
. 6 

I 5 

r * 

3 

;: 














Idflos 












Ideas 






• • • 


Ideas 


Ideas 


Ideas. 


Ideas 


Ideas 



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290 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GITE 

I trust the above table will sufficiently explain the 
progressive mode^ in which a morbific cause of excite- 
ment may restore to a vivid state of consciousneto faint 
ideas^ of which we should otherwise have been un- 
conscious. 

But this effect of a mental excitement will meet with 
a striking illustration^ when we coiiiiect it with a la# 
to which I have just adverted^ namely^ Aat past fe^- 
ings> even should they be those of our earliest mo^ 
ments of infancy^ never cease to be under the influence 
of the law of association^ aiid that they are constantly 
liable to be renovated^ even to the latest period of oUr 
life^ although they may be in so faint a state ^ not to 
be the object of consciousness. 

It is evident then^ that a cause of mental excitement 
may so act upon a sequence of extremely faint feelings, 
as to render ideas of which the itiihd had lohg bieeti pt*- 
viously unconscious, vivid objects of consciousness. 
Thus, it is recorded of a female in Frailte, that while 
she was subjected to such an influence, the memory 
of the Armorican language, which she had lost since 
she was a child, suddenly returned. 

With the knowledge of the foregoing fact before 
us, we shall now imagine, that certain definite ideas 
are arising in the mind in so vivid a state, that the 
order of succession in which they formerly occurred 
as sensible impressions may be distinctly traced. If, 
then, such id^as are suciceeded, no less agreeably to 
the law of association, by another train, whicfa^ hav- 
ing long faded into extreme faintness, are, in the pre- 
sent instance, so morbidly excited as to again become 
the subject of consciousness,— such revived feelings 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 291 

will appear to arise in a sort of insulated manner^ 
since their original connexion with recognised sensa- 
tions may have been long since forgotten. Accord- 
ingly this was the case when certain of I^colai's ideas 
met with an unexpected renewal of their long-lost 
vividness ; — ^they appeared to be totally unconnected 
with the regular train of his thought. *' I must ob- 
serve," says this author, " that when I either think 
deeply on a subject, or write attentively, particularly 
when I have exerted myself for some time, a thought 
frequently offers itself, which has no connexion with 
the work before me, and this at times in a manner so 
lively, that it seems as if expressed in actual words.*' 

We have next to consider, that the faded ideas of 
Nicolai'd mind, when t^psia becoming the subject of 
consciousness, had acquired such an extreme degree 
of vividness fts to frequently induce the illusions of 
phantasms ; when, therefore, all knowledge was lost 
of the original sensations that corresponded to such 
spectral impressions, no wonder that this writer 
should express himself after the following manner :— ^ 
^' None of the phantasms of my illness were of known 
places, objects, or persons." And, lastly, when the 
satkle metaphysician conducted his inquiry on the 
principle, that no ideas but those of which we are 
conscious were subject to the law of assodation, no 
small share of disappointment could fail to ensue, 
when he found himself unable to trace the origin of 
his phantasms to former impressions made in the 
usual manner upon his senses. 



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292 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

Section II. 

The Influence qf vivifying Causes upon Ideas of which 
me are conscious. 

In the last section I endeavoured to shew^ that an ex- 
citing cause may commence its^ influence after the 
ideas which composed the concluding part of an un- 
interrupted train of renovated feelings had ceased to 
become the object of consciousness; and that the 
effect of such an influence might be to revive the re- 
membrance of long-forgotten ideas^ and^ as in Nico- 
lai's case^ to conjure up phantasms which the per- 
plexed metaphysician could not refer to the law of 
association. 

. My next object is to point out other circumstances, 
under which a cause of mental excitement may vivify 
ideas. I have stated^ that it may commence its action 
more prematurely^ or before a train of ideas has so 
much decreased in vividness as to cease being the ob- 
ject of consciousness. But this circumstance of men- 
tal excitement has been so frequently illustrated in 
the course of this dissertation^ that it requires little 
comment. The effect must be^ that the order in which 
phantasms occur will be traced to the order of asso- 
ciation in which ideas arise. 

^ It is almost unnecessary to illustrate this vivifying 
action by the tabular view which is annexed. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 



293 



TABULAR VIBW. 



Vivid feelings of 
which we are 
oonidous. 


Degrees of 
ViYidneM. 


PnMotti 
State of 
Ideas. 


A Tndn of IdeM of which we are coosckms 


9 
8 
7 
6 
5 




. . . 


. . . 


Ideas. 


Ideas. 


Ideas. 


Ideas. 


Ideas. 



But Nicolai has conceived^ that the circumstances 
under which phantasms arise are not referable to the 
law by which past feelings are renovated. 

Other philosophical seers^ however^ as I have 
shewn^ have been more successful in tracing their 
phantasms to ideas vivified in the natural order of 
their association ; and, in this case, it is almost unne- 
cessary to repeat a remark I made, that such spectres 
could have been nothing more than highly-excited 
ideas, which had not antecedently ceased to be objects 
of consciousness. Indeed, Nicolai himself afibrds us 
a curious narrative of a gentleman, whose vivid re- 
collections of the conversation which he might have 
heard in the course of the day, were morbidly revived 
in the evening, but in states of intensity far exceeding 
those of the original impressions. " My much-la- 
mented friend, Moses Mendelsohn," he observes, 
" had, in the year 1792, by too intense an application 
to study, contracted a malady which also abounded 
with particular psychological apparitions. . For up- 
wards of two years he was incapacitated from doing 
any thing ; he could neither read nor think, and was 



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2M TH£ M£KTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

rendered utterly incapable of supporting any loud 
noise. If any one talked to him rather in a lively 
manner^ or if he himself happened to be disposed to 
lively conversation, he fell in the ev^iing into a very 
alarming species of catalepsis, in which he saw and 
heard every thing that passed around him, without 
being able to move a limb. If he had heard any 
lively conversation during the day, a Stentorian voice 
repeated to him, while in the fit, the particular words 
or syllables that had be^i prcmounced, with an im- 
pressive accent, or loud emphatic ton^ and in such a 
manner that his ears reverberated." 



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I^ISj: TO SPj:CTBAL ILLUSIONS. 295 



CHAPTER VI. 

TUB EFFECT QF MQEBIFfO EXOITEMBNTS OF THE MINB 
WHEN HEIGHTENED EY THE yiVfFXINO INFLUENCE 
OF HOPE ANJO ^EA9. 



' Spem mibi nesciq quam vultu promiitis arnica''— Ovid. 

>^ Thou to whom the worl4 unknown 
With all its shadowy shapes is shown ; 
Who seest^ appall'd, the unreal scene. 
While Fancy lifts the veil between, 

Ah, Fear ! ah, frantic Fear ! 

I see, I see thee near." Collins. 



OuB inquiry into the effect produced on mental con- 
sdousness by strong excitements of the mind, is at 
length so far advanced, that a fit opportunity occurs 
for noticing the phenomena attending other occasions 
besides those which are morbid, on which various de- 
grees of vividness are imparted to our feelings. 

In the last chapter I took occasion to remark, that 
wh^n any sensation is renewed, it has a tendency to 
become on each occasion of its repetition less vivid, 
and when followed by a revival of the feelings with 
¥duch it was before associated, such revived feelings 
evince a similar tendency on each occasion of their re- 



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396 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 



to become fainter and fainter. A question 
tbcnmay beasked^ In what consists thai principle of the 
mnd, which in a partial degree is counteracting this 
tendency ? Dr Brown has clearly shewn that there is 
(to use his own words) *' a principle by which it is 
inqmsibk for us not to believe that the course of na- 
ture has been uniform in all the simple sequences that 
hare composed or may hereafter compose it^ and that 
the same antecedents^ therefore^ have always been 
followed^ and will continue to be followed by the 
same consequents ;— that whatever we observe be- 
comes at once^ by the influence of this principle^ re- 
presentatives to us of the past and of the future as 
well as of the present." Such are the functions of the 
anticipating faculty of the mind^— that faculty where- 
by we are enabled to contemplate present and past 
feelings in the relation of the present and the future^ 
or in the relation of the past and the future. When- 
ever^ therefore^ this anticipating principle is thus ex- 
erdsed^ various degrees of pleasure or pain are con- 
templated as future events ; and, in proportion to the 
amount of the pleasure or pain thus anticipated, 
and to the probability of the event anticipated taking 
place, a renovation of vividness is given to feelings 
that would otherwise have ceased in time to be the 
object of consciousness. In this point of view, the 
anticipating fkculty of the mind is the counteracting 
principle, which is calculated to prevent many of our 
feelings from becoming on each occasion of their re- 
currence less and less vivid. 

I need now scarcely add, that when good or evil is 
thus anticipated, tiie emotions thereby induced> which 



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RISE TO SPECTBAL ILLUSIONS. 297 

are always productive of vivid renewals of pleasure or 
pain> we express by the terms hope or fear. 

These are the very few remarks which I can stay 
to offer on that principle of our nature which is con- 
stantly more or less counteracting the tendency of 
sensations and ideas to become^ on each occasicm of 
their recurrence^ fainter and fainter. But the power 
of this anticipating fw;ulty to revive our feelings must 
be considered as limited in its operations^ since the 
greatest proportion of our mental states is allowed to 
so decrease in vividness, as to cease in time being the 
object of consciousness. 

• After these observation!^, we shall be prepared to 
expect, that in all spectral impressions palpable evi- 
dence will be afforded of the share which Hope and 
Fear had in the illusion ;— that is, the illusion will be 
either increased or diminished in proportion to the 
^rm of the prospective affections of the mind which 
it excites. Of this fact a few examples may be given. 
The first illustration which I shall offer is from the 
autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. This surpris- 
ing man, during his confinement in a vile loathsome 
dungeon, underwent a series of cruelties that had 
produced a morbid habit of body which stimulated, to 
the highest degree of excitement, feelings that were 
of themselves naturally vivid. He, therefore, con- 
tinually fancied himself in the presence of an invisible 
guardian. Soon afterwards he was removed to the- 
deepest subterranean cell of the castle in which he was 
immured, when the intense feeling of hope which he 
cherished of returning from darkness to the full bright- 
ness of day, not only dictated the subject of his i^pec- 



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tE»l impreisions^ bttt gr?i||}y oon^pir^ to W€ii?ft3^ liieir 
vividness. Hj^yipg prayed that he migl^t Wce more 
behold the light pf the suD> he suddenly fell into a sort 
of i9C8taoy^ ill whiph he fancied that he beheld the 
object of his fervent wish. But the ei^damatjo^ 
which he uttered^ and the glorious changes which 
this orb miderwent> are best told in his own words : 

'^ O wonderful power! O glorious influence divipe ! 
how much more bounteous art thou to me than I ex- 
pected 1 The sun^ divested of his rays, ai^>eared a 
ball of purest melted gold» Whilst I ga^ed qol this 
noble phenomenon, I saw the centre pf the sun ewdl 
and bulge out, and, in a m^nnent, there appeared a 
Christ upcm the cross, fcHrmed of the self^same matter 
as the sun ; and so gracious and pleasing wa^ his aar 
pect, that no human imagination could form so much 
as a faint idea of such beauty. As I was contemfdat- 
ing this gloriou^ apparition I cried out aloud, A mir 
racle ! A miracle ! Q Ood { Q clemency divine j Q 
goodness infinite ! what mercies dost thou iayish on me 
this memingi At the very time I thus meditated, and 
uttered these words, the figure of Christ began to 
move towards the side where the rays ^ere concen? 
tered, aiid the middle of the sun sweUed and bulged 
out as at first: the protuberance having increased 
c<mi^derably, was at last converted into a figure of 
the beautiful Virgin Mary, who appesured to sit with 
her son in her arms, in a graceful attitude, and even 
to smile ; she stood between ti^ro angelfi <^ so divine 
a beauty, that imagination could n^t even fprni a;^ 
idea of such perfection. I likewise saw in the same 
sun, a figure dressed in sacerdotal rpbes ; thi^ figure 



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EISE TO SPECTE4UL JULUSIONS. 209 

turned its back to me^ and looked towards the bli^sed 
Virgin^ holding Christ in her arm». All these Auigs 
I clearly and plainly saw, and, with a loud voiee^coii« 
tinued to return thanks to the AUmghty. Thif woit* 
derful phenomenon having appeigred before me abmit 
eight minutes^ vanished &<Hn my sights and I was iiu 
stantly conveyed back to my couc^/' 

Of the vivifying effect of fear in con^iring^ along 
with morbific agents^ to heighten the intensity of men^ 
tal illusions> numerous examples might be cited* 
But I shall first remark^ that false impressions of 
sound are calculated in a particular manner to create 
surprise and alarm :-*- 

" This is no mortal business, nor no sound 
That the earth owes.*' 

" The ear/' says a writer on this subject^ who him- 
self experienced very strange illusions of sounds '^ is 
much more an instrument of terror than the eye. 
Diseased perceptions of sight are more common than 
those of hearings and they are in general bom with 
more tranquillity. A few simple soupds usually con- 
stitute the amount of what the ear unfiuthfully pre- 
sents ; but when incessant half-articulated whispers, 
sudden calls, threats, obscure murmurs, and distant 
tellings, are heard, the mind is less disposed to patience 
and calm philosophy."* 

A good example of the power of Fear to add to the 
vividness of apparitions, is afforded in the remarkable 

* * Nicholson's Journal, voL xv. p. 296. 



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300 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

confession of John Beaumont^ the Platonic philoso- 
pher, t ''I would not," he says, •' for the whole 
world, undergo what I have undergone, upon spirits 
ocMning twice to me; their first coming was most 
dreadful to me, the thing being then altogether new, 
and consequently more surpridng, though at the first 
coming they did not appear to me, but only called to 
me at my chamber-windows, rung bells, sung to me, 
and played on music, &c. ; but the last coming also 
carried terror enough; for when they came, being 
only five in number, the two women before inention- 
ed, and three men, (though afterwards there came 
hundreds,) they told me they would kill me if I told 
any person in the house of their being there, which 
put me in some constematicm ; and I made a servant 
sit up with me four nights in my chamber, before a 
fire, it being in the Christmas holidays, telling no 
person of their being there. One of these spirits, in 
woman's dress, lay down upon the bed by me every 
night ; and told me, if I slept, the spirits would kill 
me, which kept me waking for three nights. In the 
meantime, a near relation of mine went (though un- 
known to me) to a physician of my acquaintance, 
desiring him to prescribe me somewhat for sleeping, 
which he did, and a sleeping potion was brought me ; 
but I set it by, being very desirous and inclined to 

-|- ^' Qad this man," says Dr Ferriar, *' instead of irritating his 
mental disease bj the study of Platonic philosophers, placed him- 
self under the care of an intelligent physician, he would have re- 
gained his tranquillity, and the world would have lost a most ex- 
traordinary set of confessions.** 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 301 

sleep without it. The fourth night I could hardly 
forbear sleeping ; but the spirit^ lying on the bed by 
me^ told me again, I should be killed if I slept ; where- 
upon I rose and sat by the fireside, and in a while re- 
turned to my bed ; and so I did a third time, but was 
still threatened as before ; whereupon I grew impa- 
tient, and asked the spirits what they would have ? 
Told them I had done the part of a Christian, in 
humbling myself to God, and feared them not ; and 
rose from my bed, took a cane, and knocked at the 
ceiling of my chamber, a near relation of mine lying 
then over me, who presently rose and came down to 
me about two o'clock in the morning, to whom. I said, 
' You have seen me disturbed these four days past, 
and that I have not slept : the occasion of it was, that 
five spirits, which are now in the room with me, have 
threatened to kill me if I told any person of their being 
here, or if I slept ; but I am not able to forbear sleep- 
ing longer, and acquaint you with it, and now stand 
in defiance of them ; and thus I exerted myself about 
them ; and notwithstanding their continued threats, I 
slept very well the next night, and continued so to do, 
though they continued with me above three months, 
day and night" 

Again, in the case of Nicolai,— it would appear, that, 
notwithstanding his boasted calmness, the spectres 
which he saw were not always without the power 
of creating in his mind a little uneasiness, as the ef- 
fort which he evidently made in order to preserve his 
composure betrays what was the real state of the phi- 
losopher's feelings. ^^ After I had recovered," he ob- 
serves, '* from the first impression of terror, I never 



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30e THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

Alt myself patticullidy agitated by these apparitions, 
as I considered them to be what they really were, the 
extraordinary consequences of indisposition ; on the 
contrary, / endeavoured as much as possihk to preserve 
my composure of mind, that I might remain distinctly 
conscious of what was passing within me." As it is 
evident, from tiiis admission, that Nicolai's phantasms 
had occasionally some little power in disturbing him, 
we shall inquire into the effect that the agitation had 
upon his mind :— '^ In the afternoon/' says Nicolai, 
" or a little after four o'clock, the figure which I had 
seen in the morning again appeared. I was alone 
when this happened,-^ circumstance which, as may 
easily be conceived, could not be very agreeable. I 
went therefore to the apartment of my wife, to whom 
I related it. But thither also the figure pursued me. 
Sometimes it was present, sometimes it vanished, but 
it was always the same standing figure. A little after 
six o'clock, several stalking figures also appeared, 
but they had no connexion with the standing figure. 
I can assign no other reason for this apparition than 
that, though much more composed in my mind, I had 
not been able so soon entirely to forget the cause of 
such deep and distressing vexation, and had reflected 
oti the consequences of it, in order, if possible, to avoid 
them ; attd that this happened three hours aft«r din- 
nei*, iit the time when digestion just begins. 

^^ At length 1 became more composed with respect to 
the disagreeable incident which had given rise to the 
first apparition ; but though I had used very excel- 
lent medicines> and found myself in other respects 
perfectly well, yet the apparitions did not diminish. 



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illSi to StECtilAL iLLItSlONS. ^ 

btit, oil Ihe dotibaty, father increased in number^ ^lid 
^er^ triin^formed in the most extraordinary manner."* 

It is lipp^ent fVom this Confession^ as well as from 
th^t of Beautnont^ that when any phantasm has the 
effect of exciting strong emotions of the mind^ the il- 
lusion may ttot only be prolonged, but repeated. The 
latter result occurs l^hen the recollected ideas of for- 
mer specti^al impressions are subjected to a fresh mor- 
bific excitement, and when this effect is increased by 
the vivifying influence of the particular Hope or Pear, 
which the remembrance of the apparition may have 
induced. 

An illustration to this effect is given by a writer on 
phantasms produced by disease, the account of which 
appeared in Nicholson's Journal : — " I know a gen- 
tleman," he says, " in the vigour of life, who, in my 
opinion, is not exceeded by any one in acquired know- 
ledge and originality of deep research ; and who, for 
nine months in succession, was always visited by a 
figure of the same man, threatening to destroy him, at 
the time of his going to rest. It appeared upon his 
lying down, and instantly disappeared when he re- 
sumed the erect posture." It is evident, from this 
narrative, that the most vivid idea in this individual's 
mind at his time of going to rest, was the remembered 
impression of the phantasm ; and hence the same il- 
lusion was most likely to be renewed by a subsequent 
morbific cause of excitement. 

The foregoing remarks will probably afford us an 
explanation of many cases of apparitions, in which an 

• Nicholson's Journal, voL vi. page 166. 



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304 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

individual has been haunted for many years by a si- 
milar description of phantasm, as by a good or evil 
genius, or by some supposed emissary from Satan, 
under the name of a famiUar, In short, ideas which 
may be vivified by Hope or Fear, are, hy the co-ope- 
ration of morbific excitements, most easily converted 
into apparitions. They are then dispelled with consi- 
derable difficulty, and are rendered the more liable 
to return. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 305 



CHAPTER Vn. 

THB ILLUSIONS WUIOH HOPE AND FEAR ARE CAPABLE 
OF BXCITINO INDEPENDENTLY OF THB CO-OPERA- 
TION OF MORBIFIC CAUSES. 



" Then^ led by thee to some wild cave remote^ 
My taste I ply-*the study of myself. 
Or, should the silver moon look kindly down, 
The vision'd forms of ages long gone by 
Gleam out from piled rock, or dewy bush- 
Mellow to kinder light the blaze of thought, 
And sooth the maddening mind to softer joy.** 

Lord Levesok Gower's FautU 



An apparition is, in a strict sense, a past feeling, re« 
novated by the aid of morbific agents with a degree 
of vividness, equalling, or exceeding, an actual im- 
pression. If the renewed feeling should be one of vi- 
sion, a form may arise perfectly complete ; if of sound, 
a distinct conversation may be heard : or, if of touch, 
the impression may be no less complete. The ques- 
tion then is, — ^What illusions are Hope and Fear capa- 
ble of exciting independently of the co-operation of 
morbific causes ? 

In this investigation a preliminary remark may be 
made, that all emotions which arise from such innate 

u 



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306 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

causes of them^ as by their durable influence on our 
selfish and social dispositions or habits, have acquir- 
ed the name o£ moral, are indicated by the same gene- 
ral effects on the circulation that result from the 
action of foreign agents introduced into the system, 
such as the particular gases to which I have alluded. 
For, while pleasurable excitement arising from sources 
of mental vividness is indicated by an increasing ex- 
pansibility of the vital fluid, by a corresponding state 
of the diastole of the heart, and by a fulness and force 
of the arterial pulse, affections of a painful nature are 
manifested by an opposite tendency of the blood to 
reduce its volume ; when a hard pulse, as well as that 
constricted state of the capillaries is induced, which 
bears the name of the cutis anscrifia. Such circum- 
stances, then, are essential to the general susceptibility 
of the human frame ta be affected in a definite manner, 
agreeably to the selfish and social nature of man. 

I would next observe, that on laws connected with 
the various combinations of matter that more or less 
forcibly impress our sensitive organs, depend the 
occasions on which different susceptibilities of feeling 
are called forth. Particular hard or soft substances ; 
for instance, luminous particles, sapid bodies. Sec, in 
impressing with greater or less force any particular 
organ of sense, bear a reference to the definite suscep- 
tibility of the sensitive part to receive such impres- 
sions ,* and, accordingly, definite qualities of pleasure 
or of pain are produced in different states of vivid- 
ness. 

Again, when we contemplate man as a social being 
we shall find, that his innate and individual suscep- 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 307 

tibilities of pleasures or of pain are liable to be still 
farther modified: that all his moral propensities or 
dispositions depend iipon ultimate laws^ determining 
on what definite occasions of social intercourse^ va« 
rious degrees of vividness shall be dispensed to the 
stateof the mind. 

After this general notice of the primary laws by 
which our Amotions are governed, it may be briefly 
added, that in ktiy train of sensations and ideas, the 
inore any particular feelings are vivified by ah occa- 
sion calculated to inspire hope or fear, the less vivid 
are all other impressiohs rendered which occur in the 
same train of feelings. But it is impossible for me, 
ih this limited treatise, to enter into a full ex|)lanation 
of the princi{iles which modify our natural emo- 
tions. I shall therefore remark, that one of them is 
alluded to after the following manner by Dr BroWn ; 
though I ought to premise, that he uses the word per- 
ception where others would use the term sensation, 
and conception where an idea or renovated fbeling is 
evidently meant. His observations are to this effect :— 
'' The phantasms of the imagination in the reveries of 
our waking hours, ivhen our external senses are still 
open and quick to feel, are, as mere conceptions, far 
less vivid than the primary perceptions from which 
they originally flowed : and yet, under the influence 
of any strong emotion, they become so much more 
bright and prominent than external things, that to the 
impassioned muser on distant scenes and persons, 
the scenes and persons truly around him are almost 
as if they were not in existence." 

This, then, is the effect of Hope and Fear,— to re- 



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308 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

duce the vividness of all impressions that are not con- 
nected with the occasion which gave birth to the 
emotion^ so as to render such impressions scarcely the 
object of consciousness. And thus it is^ that in each 
train of thought, while every idea connected with a 
particular occasion of hope or fear becomes subject to 
a strong excitement, all other impressions, which bear 
no reference to the occasion, become proportionally 
faint. By this means the illusion must be increased. 
How well is this fact illustrated in the emotions which 
are excited, when, through the medium of the retina, 
an idda is intensely renovated upon the faded outlines 
of sudb forms as have been induced by the partial 
gleams of light which diversify woods, rocks, or 
clouds ! In proportion as hope, or superstitious awe, 
impart an undue degree of vividness to the spectral 
outline which may thus be traced, all other parts of 
the natural objects which are unconnected with the 
form of the phantasm grow proportionally dim. The 
spectre then acquires an undue prominence in the 
imagination, and appears to start from the familiar 
objects of which, in reality, it merely forms a portion. 
This principle of our nature cannot perhaps be better 
exemplified than by a quotation from the (Edipus of 
Lee and Dryden : — 

^* When the sun sets, shadows that shew'd at noon 
But small, appear most long and terrible ; 
So when we think fate hovers o'er our heads, 
Our apprehensions shoot beyond all bounds : 
Owls, ravens, crickets, seem the watch of death ; 
Nature's worst vermin scare her godlike sons ; 
SSchoet the very leavings of a voice. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 309 

Grow babbling ghosts, and call us to our graves. 
Each molehill thought swells to a huge Olympus ; 
AVliile we fantastic dreamers heave and puff. 
And sweat with an imagination's weight.*' 

Such is the law which unduly vivifies the renovated 
outlines of figures that have been the subject of past 
feelings^ and which renders all other parts of the sen- 
sible forms impressing the retina proportionally faint 
and obscure. But a much less sublime illustration of 
this principle is afforded in a well-told anecdote by 
Dr Perriar in his Theory of Apparitions; 

*' A gentleman was benighted, while travelling 
alone, in a remote part of the highlands of Scotland, 
and was compelled to ask shelter for the evening at a 
small lonely hut. When he was to be conducted to 
his bed-room, the landlady observed, with mysterious 
reluctance, that he would find the window very se- 
cure. On examination, part of the wall appeared to 
have been broken down to enlarge the opening. Af- 
ter some inquiry, he was- told that a pedlar, who had 
lodged in the room a short time before, had commit- 
ted suicide, and was found hanging behind the door 
in the morning. According to the superstition of the 
country, it was deemed improper to remove the body 
through the door of the house ; and to convey it 
through the window was impossible, without remov- 
ing part of the walL Some hints were dropped, that 
the room had been subsequently haunted by the poor 
man's spirit. 

*' My friend laid his arms, properly prepared 
against intrusion of any kind, by the bed-side, and 
retired to rest, not without some degree of apprehen- 



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310 *THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

sion. He was visited^ in a dream^ by a frightful ap- 
parition^ md, awaking in agony^ found himself sitting 
up in bed^ with a pistol grasped in his right hand. 
On casting a fearful glance round the room^ he dis- 
covered^ by the moonlight^ a corpse dressed in a 
shroud^ reared erect against the wall> close by the 
window. With much difficulty he summoned up re- 
solution to approach the dismal pb^ect^ ^e featuites of 
which^ and the minutest parts of its fimeral apparel> 
he perceived distinctly. He passed one hand over it ; 
felt nothing ; and staggered back to ll» bed. After 
a long interval, and much reasoning with himself^ he 
renen^red his investigation, and at length discovered 
that the object of his terror was produced by the 
moonbeams forming a long bright image thrmigh the 
broken window* on which his fancy, impressed by 
his dream, had pictured, with misdiievous accuracy, 
the lineamei^s of a body prepared for intarment. 
Powerful associations of terr<Hr, in this instance^ had 
excited the recollected images with undommcm finrce 
and cflfect." 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 311 



CHAPTER VIII. 

M KNTAL EXCITEMENTS DISTINOUISHBD AS PARTIAL 
OR OSNERAL. 



^ Behold tmrn hx a bieaking doud appears, 

Which in it many winged waniora bean : 

Their glory shoots upon my aloBg sense :— 

Thou, stronger, may'st endure ike flood of light.** — Db yden. 



In the earlier chapters of this part of the dissertation^ 
some examples were adduced of spectral illusions^ in 
which I had merely occasion to treat of ideas^ and the 
excitements to which they alone may be subject from 
morlnfic agents. Little or no notice was taken of th^ 
important fact^ that, in some instances^ both actual 
impressions, and renovated feelings or ideas, may 
be simultaneously rendered unduly intense. I shall 
therefore now observe, that, in certain cases of phan- 
tasms originating from disease, it is evident that an 
exciting action is exclusively confined to the vivi- 
fying of renovated feelings. And, again, in that more 
complete illusion which is named an ecstacy, it is no 
less evident, that sensations as well as ideas are af- 
fected ; the spectral illusions incidental to this state 
being far more vivid thkn when ideas are exclu- 
sively excited, and never failing to be accompanied 



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319 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

with inteme actual impressions,— tuch as acutenesa 
of touch, and intolerance of light or sound. 

To what causes this diversity of action is chiefly 
owing it is difficult to say. The nerves connected 
with the production of sensations are never excited 
but when the organ which they supply comes in actual 
contact with external matter. On the other hand, the 
nerves which give rise to ideas do not impart their 
peculiar influence, unless excited by that ultimate law 
of the mind, which ordains, that the repetition of a 
definite sensation shall be followed by a renovation of 
the past feelings with which it was before associated. 
If, then, Ae nerves, whidi are considered as instru* 
mental to actual impressions or sensations, derive 
their origin from the external surface of the organ 
which they supply, and then influence the circulation, 
various morbid phenomena connected with the state 
of Ae memory no less indicate, that to other nerves, 
the peculiar function of which is the renovation of 
past feelings, a different origin may with some reason 
be assignable ; that such nerves may first rise from 
the brain, and be afterwards distributed to each vascu- 
lar organ. On this hypothesis may be probably ex- 
plained the curious fact, that in certain morbid affec- 
tions, the peculiar seat of which is in the brain, 
ideas only are excited ; and hence, that spectral im- 
pressions may be unattended by any such increased 
sensibility of touch, hearing, vision, &c., as is common 
to ecstatic illusions. 

But i may be now asked. Under what circum- 
stances are sensations and ideas conjointly affected by 
morbific excitements? In attempting an answer to 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 318 

this question^ it is rather difficult to conceive of a 
cause which^ by acting immediately on the whole of 
the nervous system^ can simultaneously vivify both ac- 
tual and renovated impressions ; but it is not so diffi- 
cult to conceive of an agents such as the nitrous oxide> 
which can communicate a general influence to each 
organ of feeling through the medium of the circulating 
system, upon the varied condition of which the vivid- 
ness of sensations and ideas has a more direct depend- 
ence. By this means> therefore^ an adventitious or 
morbific agent can *prove the substitute for a general 
nervous influence ; and whenever the blood is in this 
state of excitement^ the phenomena of various ecsta- 
cies indicate^ that while sensations and ideas are sev^ 
rally increased in intensity, the influence upon which 
the renovation of past feelings depends, is in propor- 
tion more freely and forcibly communicated than that 
which is connected with actual impressions. 

There are, again, other circumstances to be con- 
sidered in the vivifying actions of morbific causes. 
A true ecstacy, which is characterized by the simul- 
taneous excitement of sensations and ideas, is often 
persistent. But when ideas are exclusively vivified, 
the action is seldom continued for a long time without 
remission. Thus, in a case of delirium tremens, which 
came under my notice, the intense revivals of past 
feelings of touch, or the distinct tones of voice which 
vibrated in the morbid ear, ^^ like no mortal sounds," 
or the 

^*' Forms without bodies, and impassive air,** 
that flitted before the sight, were not uninterruptedly 



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314 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

continued^ as during an ecstacy^ but impressed this 
senses with evident remissions. The patient had 
therefore an opportunity of comparing his phantasies 
with the place in which he was stationed^ and with 
the objects around him^ so as to obviate the force of 
his illusion by the faculty of judgment Nicolai pos- 
sessed the same self-collection. '^ I was always able>" 
he observes, *' to distinguish, with the greatest pre-j 
cision, phantasms from phenomena. I knew extreme- 
ly well, when it only appeared to me that the door 
was opened and a phantom entered, and when the 
door really was evened and any person came in." 
In many instances, however, the illusion has not been 
so easily corrected. 

Nor do causes which exclusively vivify the recol- 
lected images of the mind constantly occupy the en- 
tire surface of any particular organ of feeling. It is 
in general only a few objects in a renovated land- 
scape which usurp corresponding portions of the seat 
of vision. A detached figure may hold a place among 
natural and real objects, partaking with them of a 
dmilar degree oS vividness, and hence be mistaken 
for an actual impression. 

Having at length explained the phenomena by 
which partial and general excitements are distin- 
guished, I shall, in the ensuing chapters, confine my- 
self to the consideration of those agents which diffuse 
their influence so generally throughout the system as 
to act at one and the same moment of time, though in 
different^ proportions, both on sensations and ideas, 
producing what are named ecstatic illusions. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 316 



CHAPTER IX. 

QBNBRAL MBNTAL BXOITBMUNTS 0ON8TDBRRD A8 THB 
RB8ULT OF MORBIFIC 0AU8B8 00-OPBRATINQ WITH 
MORAL AGENTS. 



' For I Ain lick^ «nd o^Mbk of fMTt." 
King John, 



I HAD occasion to remark in a preceding chapter^ 
that feelings of pleasure and pain acknowledge certain 
innate laws^ which may be regarded as arising Arom 
the particular constitution of the human Arame. ThuB> 
it is implanted in our nature^ that certain external ob« 
jectSj as of touchy sounds colour^ taste^ smelly &c. 
should communicate to every individual definite plea* 
surable or painful effects. 

The particular susceptibility of feelings however^ 
possessed by each part of the body> may materially 
differ in degree ; and this difference may result from 
the extent of influence imparted by the brain and 
nerves to the various organs of sense> or it may arise 
from some particular condition of the organs them- 
selves^ by which the mental effect resulting from the 
nervous system is more or less modified. Nay> more^ 
such various susceptibilities of feeling may even be 
occasioned by some unknown peculiarity of the im« 



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316 THE M£NTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

material mind itself^ by which, in its relation to the 
structure of the human frame^ it is rendered more 
liable to one particular state than to another. From 
any one^ therefore^ of these several causes, or even 
from a co-operation of two or more of them, there 
may, in the same person, be an innate tendency to re- 
ceive a more vivid degree of pleasure from sound than 
fVom colour ; or a degree of vividness, no less dispro- 
portionate, may be imparted to the sensations connect- 
ed with the gustatory organs. Even with regard to 
feelings of the same kind, a variety of predilections 
may subsist. One tint of colour or shade may natu- 
rally give more delight than another, and the same 
observation may apply to particular odours, tones, 
&c. Lastly, this constitutional variety of susceptibi- 
lities evinced in the several organs of the body, may 
again differ in different individuals. 

In the next place, when we contemplate man as a 
social beings we shall find, that his innate and indi- 
vidual susceptibilities of pleasure or of pain are liable 
to be still farther modified. Moral laws exist which 
determine on what occasions of social intercourse par- 
ticular hopes and fears shall be excited. Such defi- 
nite occasions are connected with the acquisition or 
privation of knowledge, of power, of society, of the 
means of evincing gratitude, of the means of resent- 
ment, and of the esteem of our fellow-creatures. 

These remarks lead me to attempt the explanation 
of a very important la^, relative to the manner in 
which the mind may be influenced. A morbific cause, 
whether pleasurable or painful, can only co-operate 
with moral agents endowed with a similar specific 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 817 

power. Thus^ if we allow the nitrous oxide to be a 
morbific cause> (which the utmost range of its action 
certainly shews/) it does nothing more than singk 
out, as it were^ all sensations and ideas which are of 
themselves morally pleasurable^ but has no immediate 
effect on the painful feelings with which they are na< 
turally mingled. For this reason, it is easy to sup- 
pose, that when Sir Humphrey Davy imbibed a large 
quantity of the gas, all the ideas connected with his 
favourite chemical researches would be among the 
first to be affected by this powerful agent. And, ac- 
cordingly, on one occasion, he remarks, " I gradually 
began to lose the perception of external things, and a 
vivid and intense recollection qf some former expert' 
ments passed through the mind." Again, in the op* 
posite effects arising from the febrile miasma, this 
powerful agent imparts no additional degree of vi- 
vidness to the quality of any feelings, but such 
as, from the previous operation of moral agents, 
are, of themselves, painful. The action of various 
other morbific causes admits of a similar explanation. 



* Orfila, in hit hiitory of poisons, remsrks, that the nitrous 
oxide dissolves with great promptitude in the veins of animals into 
which it is injected, but produces no apparent change in the arte- 
rial blood. When gradually injected, it does not at first give rise 
to any observable effect ; but if the injections are multiplied, they 
are followed by phenomena, like those attending copious inhala- 
tions, and to these death may supervene, which (as he supposes) 
begins by the brain. If injected in a large quantity at once, it oc- 
casions the distension of the pulmonary portion of the heart, and 
is likewise fatal. 



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318 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

In c<»itemplating, then^ the co-operation of morbi- 
fic causes with moral agents^ tiiere must evidently 
subsist two varieties of ecstacy. 

One variety of ecstacy must occur when the cause 
of mental excitement^ to which the affection is refer- 
able, has added to the vividness of pleasurable feel- 
ings, but has proportionally diminished that of pain- 
ful feelings. 

Another, and a second variety of ecstacy must oc- 
cur, when the cause of mental excitement, to which 
the affection is referable, has added to the intensity of 
painful feelings, but has proportionally diminished the 
vividness of pleasurable feelings. 

These two varieties of ecstacy will be constantly 
kept in view in the ensuing chapters. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 319 



CHAPTER X. 

THB FREQUENT EFFECT OF GENERAL MORBIFIO EX- 
CITEMENTS IN RENDERING THE MIND UNCONSCIOUS 
EITHER OF PLEASURABLE OR PAINFUL FEELINGS. 



' What is mortal man ? 



So changeable his being, with himself 
Disshnilar ; the rainbow of an hour !" 

Thomfsok^s Progress of Sickness, 



Before explaining a very important law of the mind 
relative to consciousness^ which is materially con« 
nected with the object of the present dissertation^ I 
shall briefly glance at the progress that has been made 
in the metaphysical part of this inquiry. 

Sensations and ideas having been considered as 
nothing mcHre than states of the immaterial mind^ I 
proceeded upon the hypothesis^ that^ as long as vita- 
lity subsisted^ a succession of such states^ even during 
syncope and sleep^ was continually recurring. It was 
next shewn^ that the comparative degree of vividness 
which subsists between sensaticms and ideas> suggests 
to the mind the intellectual feelings of the present and 
of the past ; and> along with this relation of time^ the 



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320 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

identity of one mind, as exbting in a 9ucces8ion of 
states ; and that, when ideas are rendered more vivid 
than sensations, a revival of past feelings is contem- 
plated as the result of actual impressions. A further 
observation was made, that the notion of the present 
and of the past, as well as of the proper identity of 
the mind, necessarily enters into our definition of con- 
sciousness ; and that mental consciousness cannot be 
induced until sensations and ideas have attained a 
certain degree of vividness. Hence the unconscious- 
ness attending the faint impressions of sleep. It was 
also pointed out^ that a morbific agent capable of 
exciting the feelings of the mind, exerted a specific 
power over some particular quality of the feelings ; 
and that it could only impart a definite addition of 
pleasure or pain to feelings which^ from the para- 
mount influence of moral agents^ were of themsdve$ 
either pleasurable or painful. 

The law, then, to be explained is this : When a 
morhific agent adds to the general vividness of our plea* 
surahle feelings, every feeling of an opposite orpainfvl 
quality is, in an inverse proportion, rendered less vivid; 
and, vice versa, the same law holds good when a morbi- 
fie agent adds to the vividness of all our painful feeU 
ings. 

It follows, then, that as consciousness is never ex- 
cited until sensations and ideas have attained a certain 
degree of vividness, the intensity imparted to pleasur- 
able states of the mind may be so great, that, from 
the extreme of faintness to which affections of an op- 
posite quality will be proportionably reduced, every 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS* 321 

mental consciousness of painful feelings may be de*^ 
stroyed. And^ in like manner^ the action of a morbi- 
fic agents when intensely exciting all pur painful af-> 
• fections^ may^ in the course of its operation^ annihilate 
every consciousness of pleasurable emotions. I need 
scarcely remark how well this general effect is dis- 
played in the actions of the gases to which I have so 
often alluded. Under the influence of the nitrous 
oxide^ an inhaler is conscious of no feelings, or is, un- 
der the influence of no mental illusions but those 
which impart to him delight. While under the in- 
fluence of the febrile miasma, every blissful emotion 
is stifled in the overwhelming dejection which ensues, 
and in the horrid spectral images with which the im- 
happy patient is haunted. 

In contemplating, then, the operation of the laws 
which I have explained, the following is a summary 
of the states of consciousness during each of the two 
varieties of ecstacy which I have enumerated. 

In the first variety of ecstacy, where the particular 
cause of mental excitement to which the aflecdon is 
referable has added to the vividness of pleasurable 
feelings, but has proportionally diminished that of 
painful feelings, the general result is, that pleasurable 
feelings are rendered inordinately intense, while pain- 
ful feelings become so faint as to cease being the ob- 
ject of mental consciousness. 

But in the second variety of ecstacy, where the 
particular cause of mental excitement to which the 
affection is referable has added to the intensity of 
painful feelings, but has proportionally diminished 



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3SS THE MENTAL LAWS WmOH GIVE 

the vividness of jdeasurable feelings, the general re- 
sult is, that painfiil feelings are rendered inordinately 
intense, while pleasurable feelings become so faint as 
to be no longer the object of mental omsciousness. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 323 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE INFLUENCE OF ANY PREVAILING MORAL DISPOSI- 
TION MAY BE SO INCREASED BY A MORBIFIC EXCITE* 
MENT^ AS TO BE PRODUCTIVE OF SPECTRAL IMPRES- 
SIONS OF A CORRESPONDING CHARACTER. 



^^ The lunatic, the lover, and the poet. 

Are of imagination all compact" — Shakspeare. 



Before proceeding in this investigation^ a summary 
may be presented of some of the conclusions to which 
"we have arrived in the foregoing chapters. 

Morbific excitements of the mind were^ in their 
operations, considered as eith^ partial or general. 

The indications of partial morbific excitements are 
manifested by the renovation of past feelings only in 
an intense state; actual impressions continuing in 
general unafiected. Nor are the illusions which fol- 
low to be traced to affections common to every organ 
of sensation* Phai^tasms of vision^ for instance^ may 
accrue without being necessarily attended by equally 
int^ise ideas of sound or of touch. 

The indications of a general morbific excitement^ or 
ecsta^y^ are manifested by actual impressions as well 
as recollected images of the mind having been ren- 
dered unduly intense; ideas^ however^ being more 
vivid than sensations. With respect to the illusions 



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334 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

which follow^ they are of so complete a nature as to 
indicate^ that every organ of sensation has been more 
or less affected by the excitement 

It was also explained^ that hope and fear possessed 
a powerful vivifying influence^ and that all mental 
illusions, whether arising from partial or general m<nr- 
bific excitements, were heightened in their effect, in 
proportion to the intensity of the natural emotions of 
hope or fear which the subject of them was calculated 
from moral causes to excite. 

These moral causes^ therefore, it will be my pre- 
sent object to consider with more attention, but par« 
ticularly with reference to the ocauions on which the 
susceptibility of the human mind to its various affec- 
tions is manifested. 

All the moral propensities or dispositions of man 
depend upon ultimate laws, determining on what de* 
finite occasions various degrees of vividness shall be 
dispensed to the pleasurable and painful feelings of 
the mind. Such deiBnite occasions are connected with 
the acquisition or privation, 1st, of knowledge ; 2dfy, 
of power ; 3c%^ of society ; 4tthli/, of the means of 
evincing gratitude ; Btklif, of the means of resentment; 
Othli/, of the esteem of our fellow-creatures. A sehse 
of the acquisition of-any of these objects is in each in- 
dividual attended with a more or less vivid degree of 
pleasure ; and a sense of the privation of any of them 
is attended with a more or less vivid degree of pain. 
Nor is it less favourable to the enjo3rments of social 
intercourse^ that there should exist a law by which 
the congratulations of sympathising friends should 
add to the vividness of the joys we experience^ or thai 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 325 

their condolence should allay the poignancy of the 
niost bitter affliction. 

But with regard to the particular constitutional cir- 
cumstances of the human system^ which may be 
deemed necessary for the development of laws upon 
which the moral character of man depends^ I shall 
offer no opinion. I have already hinted^ that the sus- 
ceptibility possessed by our mental feelings of various 
degrees of pleasure and pain may not depend upon 
one circumstance only connected with the animal eco- 
nomy^ but may involve the co-operation of many 
causes far beyond the reach of human inquiry. It 
may depend in some measure upon certain peculiari- 
ties of the nervous system, contemplated as the source 
whence various degrees of mental vividness are derived; 
or it may depend upon the greater or less tendency of 
vascular organs to be affected by the nervous influ- 
ence ; or^ lastly, it may involve some characteristic of 
the immaterial mind itself. 

Having explained the moral occasions upon which 
our feelings are excited, it may be added, that their 
vivifying influence extends to all impressions which 
may be connected with them in any known relation- 
ship. But as all pleasurable ' or painful trains of feel- 
ing, when renewed, shew a tendency, on each occasion 
of their recurrence, to become fainter and fainter, the 
anticipation of good or evil, which vivifies our feel- 
ings, excites them in a degree proportional to the na- 
tural susceptibility of the mind to receive more or 
less pleasure and pain on various moral occasions, and 
proportional to the probability or improbability of an 
expected possession or privation ; the affections thus 



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326 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

induced being those which we express by the terms 
Hope and Fear, 

These observadcms being premised^ I shall now 
confine my attention far less to partial morbific causes 
of mental excitement^ than to^ those general ones 
which ccmjointly influence both actual impressions 
and the renovated feelings of the mind. 

It was demonstrated^ that during every ecstacy^ or 
general exdtepent of the mind^ either pleasurable 
feelings were excited and painful ones depressed^ or> 
vice versa, painful feelings were excited^ and pleasur* 
able ones depressed. Now^ in each of these cases, the 
depressed feelings might be rendered so faint as to 
cease being the object of mental consciousness. 

But it was likewise observed, that a morbific cause, 
in imparting a pleasurable or painful addition to the 
vividness of our feel]ngs> possesses nothing more than 
a co-operating influence; the proper quality of our 
feelings being previously determined by natural ob- 
jects of sensation, which, from the various modes in 
which they act, give to the different dispositions of 
mankind their peculiar character, and, thereby, come 
to be regarded in the light of moral agents. If a 
morbific cause, therefore, when operating on the states 
of the mind, should be endowed for the time with a 
pleasurable power, it merely singles out (as it were) 
and vivifies all the sensations and ideas which are of 
themselves naturally pleasurable, but has no direct in- 
fluence on feelings of an opposite quality ; and, vice 
versa, the same rule holds good with a morbific cause 
capable of rendering painful feelings more vivid. 

According to this view, we must regard each mor- 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 327 

bific agent as very limited in its operations ; it may, 
for instance^ be capable of adding to the vividness of 
pleasurable fedings, and consequently of depressing 
painful ones ; or^ vice versa, of exciting painful feel- 
ings and depressing pleasurable ones. But^ as long 
as moral ^^nts are paramount in their vivifying in« 
fluence to such as are adventitious or morbific^ it must * 
always happen^ that those feelings which may be con« 
nected with a definite occasion of moral excitement 
will be rendered more disproportionally vivid than 
others of similar quality, whether pleasurable or pain- 
ful^ which may be imconnected with the same moral 
occasion. A good general illustration of this effect is 
afibrded by Burton, when speaking of patients whose 
t^nper and pursuits are evidently frivolous, but all 
of which may be so acted upon by morbific causes as 
to be rendered pre-eminently vivid. Patients of this 
kind ^' vary," says Burton, ^' upon every object heard 
or seen. If they see a stage-play, they run upon that 
a week after; if they hear music or see dancing, they 
have nought but bagpipes in their brains ; if they see 
a combat, they are all for arms ; if abused, an abuse 
troubles them long after ; if crossed, they cross. 
Restless in thoughts, and continually meditating. 
More like dreamers than men awake ; they "wake as 
others dream, and such, for the most part, are their 
imaginations and conceits ; absurd, vain, foolish toys, 
yet they are most curious and solicitous continually. 
As serious in a toy as it were a most necessary busi- 
ness of great moment, and still thinking of it. Though 
they do talk with you, and seem to be otherwise em- 
ployed, and to your thinking very intent and busy, 



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328 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

still that toy runs in their mind^ that fear, thai suspt- 
cum, that abuse, that vexation, that castle in the air, 
that pleasant walking dream, whatever it is." 

I shall likewise^ on this occasion^ repeat the re- 
mark which I made^ that when Hope and Fear act on 
the mind without the co-operation of any morbific ex- 
citement^ the tendency of these emotions is to render 
more vivid all the feelings of the mind that are actu- 
ally connected with the moral occasion which gave 
irth to them^ and to reduce to as opposite a state of 
faintness all feelings of the mind that fail in being 
connected with the same moral occasion. Owing^ 
then^ to this principle^ which no morbific agent is ca- 
pable of resisting^ it is impossible that any quality of 
sensations and ideas^ pleasurable or painful, can be 
excited or depressed with the least degree of uni- 
formity. 

I shall now illustrate this law by that passion which 
forms the chief theme of poets. In this instance^ 
every idea of the object of the lover's hopes is unduly 
vivified, while every other object, particularly if it be 
ungrateful to the mind, appears to fade from the 
recollection. But no one has better described this 
. efiect than Dryden, in the truly afiecting and natural 
strain of verse which he has put into the mouth of a 

heroine of one of his dramas : — 
/ 

" I am not what I was since yesterday ; 

My food forsakes me, and my needful rest : 

I pine, I languish, love to be alone. 

Think much, speak little, and, in speaking, sigh : 

When I see Torrismond^ I am unquiet ; 

And when I see him not I am in pain. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 329 

They brought a paper to me to be signed ; 
Thinking on him, I quite forgot my name, 
And writ, for Leonora^ Torrismond. 
I went to bed, and to myself I thought 
That I would think on Torrismond no more ; 
Then shut my eyes, but could not shut out him. 
I turned, and tried each comer of my bed. 
To find if sleep was there ; but sleep was lost : 
Fev'rish for want of rest, I rose and walk'd. 
And by the moonshine to the windows went ; 
There, thinking to exclude him from my thoughts, 
I cast my eyes upon the neighboring fields. 
And, ere I was aware, sigh'd to myself, 
There fought my Torrismond." • 

With this illustration before us, (faithfully copied 
from nature^ as most of my readers will, I thinks 
admit,) it is easy to foresee the effect which must 
arise^ when the vividness of a strong affection is in- 
creased by morbific causes of excitement. ^' A young 
man/' says Pinel, /^ who had lost his reason amid the 
pangs of disappointed love, was influenced by so 
powerful an illusion, that he mistook every female 
visitor for his Mary Adelina, the object of his imfor- 
tunate attachment."t - 

But this investigation becomes of considerable mo- 
ment, when we reflect upon the permanent effects 
which may result from the paramount influence of mo- 
ral laws, when viewed in connexion with the subordi- 
nate, yet co-operating, influence of morbific excite- 

• Spanish Fryer. 

•f Pinel on Insanity, translation by Dr Davis, page 144. 



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380 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

inent8. Pinel has stated^ that^ out of one hundred 
and thirteen lunatic patients^ the exciting causes of 
thirty-four of them might be traced to domestic mis- 
fortunes. Twenty-four had met with matrimonial 
obstacles^ thirty had suffered from political events 
occasioned by the revolution, and twenty-five were 
disturbed by religious fanaticism. 

These are all the remarks I have to offer on the co- 
operation of morbific and moral agents in tiieir influ- 
ence t>n the states of the mind. We are, therefore, 
I trust, entitied to expect, tiiat when any quality bf 
mental feelings, pleasurable or painful, is subjected to 
a vivifying action, an uniformity of excitement is by 
no means to be expected, and that the most intense 
ideas which may give rise to spectral illusions will be 
often found attributable to the predominant vivifying 
action of moral causes. But of this fact I shall now 
adduce several remarkable 

ILLUSTRATIONS. 

In the first place, the force of the sexual and pa- 
rental ties will be often indicated by the subject of 
these visions. ^' When I accidentally fell into the 
sea," says a writer on the phantasms, to which he was 
subject from disease, ^' and, after swimming a certain 
time without assistance, began to despair of my situa- 
tion, the image of my dwelling, and the accustomed 
objects, appeared with a degree of vividness littie dif- 
fering from that of actual vision. Mr Stuart, M. P. 
when greatly in danger some years ago, by being 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 331 

wrecked in a boat on the Eddystone rocks^ relates^ in 
an account which appeared in the papers^ that his 
family appeared to him in this extremity. 'He thought 
he saw them.'"* 

A vision of the same general character (though 
some little doubt may be expressed whether it was 
not a dream) occurred to Ben Jonson. But it is pro- 
bable that> in this case, the poet's mental excitement 
had resulted from a plethoric state of the system^ the 
consequence of too generous a diet^ which had co- 
operated with parental anxiety for the safety of a 
son, whom he had left exposed to a contagious fever 
raging at the time in London. Drummond was told 
hj Jonson, '^ that when the King came to England, 
about the time that the plague was in London, he, 
being in the country at Sir Robert Cotton's house 
with old Cambden, saw in a vision his eldest son, then 
a young child and at London, appear unto him with 
the mark of blood upon his forehead, as if it had been 
with a sword, at which, amazed, he prayed unto God, 
and in the morning he came unto Mr Cambden's 
chamber to tell him, who persuaded him it was but 
an apprehension, at which he should not be dejected. 
In the meantime, there came letters from his wife of 
the death of that boy in the plague. He appeared to 
him, he said, of a manly shape, and of that growth, 
he thinks, he shall be at the resurrection." 

Many other narratives, exhibiting indications of a 
similar excitement of feelings, may be found in various 
biographies, where they have only found a place, be- 

♦ Nicholson's Journal, vol. xv. p. 296. 



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332 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

cause a fortuitous coincidence with the subject of the 
phantasm and subsequent events^ has served to coun- 
tenance the popular views entertained regarding the 
sacred mission of apparitions.* Of such a character 
was the well-known illusion of Dr Donne. This emi- 
nent poet married^ against her father's consent^ Anne^ 
daughter of Sir George Moore ; and to this lady he 
felt an attachment, which the verses of no poet have 
ever recorded in more fervent terms. And, that his 
declarations were no less sincere, numerous anecdotes, 
recorded of his life, have fully corroborated. The 
persecution which he suffered from his father-in-law 
on account of the marriage preyed upon a constitu- 
tion naturally delicate, and excited to an intense de- 
gree a temperament evidently melancholic ; so that it 
was far from remarkable, that, during such a state of 
mental excitement, spectral impressions should have 
resulted. Nor can it create much surprise, that the 
sulgect of his mental illusion should be a wife, whom, 
in an elegy which he composed upon parting from her, 
before he accompanied Sir Robert Drury to Paris, he 
has thus affectionately commemorated :— - 

Oh, Fortune! • • • • 

Rend us in sunder, thou canst not divide 
Our bodies so, but that our souls are tyM, 
And we can love by letters still and gifts. 
And thoughts, and dreams : Love never wanteth shifts. 
• • • • • 



• See Note 6. * 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 333 

Be ever then younelf, and let no woe 

Win on your healthy your youth, your beauty lo ; 

Declare younelf base Fortune*^ enemy ; 

Nor lets by your contempt than her inconstancy ; 

That I may grow enamoured of your mind. 

When my own thoughts I here neglected find. 

And this, to th* comfort of my dear, I vow, 

My deeds shall still be what my deeds are now ; 

The poles shaD move to teach me ere I start. 

And when I change my love I'll change my heart*' 

It 18 evident, from the foregoing lines, under what 
fVame of mind Dr Donne yielded to Sir Robert Drury's 
importunity to accompany him to Paris, and quitted 
the object of his connubial attachment. The fear that 
any woe should '^ win upon her health, her youth, 
and beauty," must have resulted from the circum- 
stance, that he had left her when she was not far from 
her expected confinement, — in an ill habit of body, 
and so unwilling to part with him, that, as it is added, 
'^ her divining soul boded some ill in his absence." 

Two days after Dr Donne had arrived in Paris, he 
was lefl alone iti a room, where he had been dining 
with Sir Robert Drury and a few companions. Sir 
Robert returned about an hour afterwards. He found 
his friend in a state of ecstacy, and so altered in his 
countenance that he could not look upon him without 
amazement. The doctor was not able for some time 
to answer the question, What had hrfaUen him 9 — but, 
after a long and perplexed pause, at last said, ** 1 have 
seen a dreadful vision since I saw you ; — I have seen 
my dear wife pass twice by me through this room, 
with her hair hanging about her shoulders, and a 



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834 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

dea4 child in her arms. This I have seen since I saw 
you.'* To which Sir Robert answered^ — '^ Sure, sir, 
you have slept since I went out ; and this is the re- 
sult of some melancholy dream^ which I desire you to 
forget, for you are now awake." Donne replied, — " I 
cannot be more sure that I now live, than that I have 
not slept since I saw*you ; and am as sure that at her 
second appearing she stopped, looked me in the face, 
and vanished." 

The poef s biographer (Isaac Walton) then adds, 
that a servant was dispatched to Drury-house^ to 
know if Mrs Donne was living, and, if alive, in what 
condition; who brought back word^ that he found 
and left this lady very sad and sick in bed ; and that, 
afjter a long and dangerous labour, she had been de- 
livered of a dead child. It is also stated, that the 
abortion took place on the same day, and about the 
same hour, that the spectral impression occurred. 

Other subjects of spectral illusions are those which 
have been excited by strong friendship. Illustrations 
of this fact are familiar to most readers of the marve- 
lous. The celebrated apparition of Ficinus was seen 
by Michael Mercato the elder, in consequence of an 
agreement made between these two friends, that the 
first who died should acquaint the other with his final 
condition. This survivor was studying in his doeet. 
He heard the trampling of a horse's feet, which sud- 
denly ceased at the door of his house. The well^ 
known voice of Ficinus then vociferated in his ears, 
'^ O, Michael ! Michael ! those things are true T 
Mercato immediately turned to the window, and had 



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BI8£ TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. , 336 

just time to bebold his friend, dressed in white, and 
galloping off on a pale horse, when he was seen no 
more. At that very moment (says Baronius) Fidnus 
died at Florence. 

Regarding this story, of which I have given a brief 
abstaract, Dr Ferriar, in his Theory of Apparitions, 
offers the following remarks ^— '^ Many attempts have 
been made to discredit it, but I think the evidence 
has never been shaken. I entertain no doubt that 
Mercato had seen what he described : in following 
the reveries of Plato, the idea of his friend, and of 
their compact^ had been revived, and had produced a 
spectral impression, during the solitude and awful si«> 
lence of the early hours of study."* 

In co-operation with morbific causes, Rbsbntmbnt, 
when highly excited, has contributed to produce spec- 
tral impressions. This fiict is strikingly illustrated in 
the life of the most undaunted of champions that was 
ever exposed to the enemies of the Protestant cause. 
" Martin Luther's life," says Atterbury, '^ was a con- 
tinual warfiire; he was engaged against the united 
forces of the papal world, and he stood the shock of 
them bravely, both with courage and success." In 
finely subscribing, however, to pay this great man 
the homage he so richly deserves from po(S(terity> for 
the sttccessfid display of most of those eminent vir- 
tues which were essential to the sacred cause that oc- 

* Another apparition of the same kind, sent likewise into the 
worid upon a similar errand, is that of Des Fontaines^ as recorded 
by the Abbi de 8t Pierre.— See remarks in Note 7* 



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336 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

cupied his mind^ it cannot be concealed^ that he pos- 
sessed an irritable temper of resentment, too little 
softened by the mild tenets of Christianity. This im- 
petuousness, therefore, which often incorporated itself 
with purer motives of zeal, was unlackily fed by the 
unmerited cruelties he met with from the Romish 
church. Thus, in Captain Bell's translation of Lu- 
ther's Table-talk, there is the following self-confession 
of this great reformer :— '* When I (said Luther) write 
against the Pope, I am not melancholie ; for then I 
labour with the brains and understanding, then I write 
with joie of heart; insomuch, that, not long since, 
Doctor Reisenpusch said unto mee, I much marvel 
that you can be so merrie ; if the case were mine, it 
would go near to kill me: whereupon I answered 
him, and said, Neither the Pope, nor all his shaven 
retinue, can make me sad ; for I know that they are 
Christ's enemies ; therefore I fight against him with 
joyful courage." 

But Luther's resentment was not wholly concen- 
trated against the assumed successor of St Peter. 
For, in the true spirit of the reforming age, he had 
considered the Pope as invoking the aid of the devil 
to dissipate the dawning^ light of religious truth. 
And when a temporary plethoric state of the system, 
occasioned by the sudden change from a spare to a 
generous diet, had given to this vivid image of his 
fancy an apparent form and substance, his resentment 
against Satan resembled that which he had harboured 
against the pontifical coadjutor of the fiend ;— it was 
not merely spiritual, but even personal. ^^ As I de- 
parted from Worms," said Luther, " and not far from 



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EI8E TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 337 

Eisenach^ was taken prisoner ; I was lodged in the 
castle of Wartaburg, my Patmos^ in a chamber far 
from people^ where none could have access unto me^ 
but only two boyes that twice the daye brought me 
meat and drink; now^ among other things^ they 
brought me hazel-nuts^ which I put into a box/ and 
sometimes I used to crack and eat of them. In the 
night times, my gentleman, the devil, came and got 
the nuts out of the box, and cracked them against one 
of the bed-posts, making a great noise, and a rumb- 
ling about my bed ; but I regarded him nothing at all. 
When ailerwards I began to slumber, then he kept 
auch a racket and rumbling upon the chamber stairs, 
as if many emptie hogsheads and barrels had been 
tumbled down ; and although I knew that the stairs 
were strongly guarded with iron bars, so that no pass- 
age was either up or down, yet I arose and went to- 
wards the stairs to see what the matter was ; but find- 
ing the door fast shut, I said, — * Art thou there } so ^ 
be there still ;'— I committed myself to Christ, my 
Lord and Saviour, of whom it is written. Omnia sub* 
jecisti pedibus ^us,*' 

There is likewise another narrative told of this re- 
former to the same effect. '^ At such time," said Lu- 
* ther, " when I could not be rid of the devil without 
uttering sentences out of the Holie Scripture, then I 
made him flie with jeering and ridiculous words. and 
terms : I have recorded my sins in thy register. I 
said likewise unto him, ' Devil, if Christ's blood, 
which was shed for my sins, be not sufficient, then I 
desire thee that thou wouldst pray to God for me.' 
When he findeth me idle," said Luther, " and that I 

Y 



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338 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

have nothing in hand^ then he is very busy, — and be- 
fore I am aware, he wringeth from me a bitter sweat ; 
but when I offer him the pointed spear, that is, God's 
word, then he flieth, — ^yet before he goeth he maketh 
me bloody armed> or else giveth me a grievous hurri- 
cane. When at the first I began to write against the 
Pope^ and that the Gbspel went on, then the devil 
laid himself strongly therein, he ceased not to rumble 
and rage about, for he willingly would have preserved 
purgatory at Magdeburg, and discursum animarum*'* 

On occasions of ambition, also, which give rise to 
a desire for the acquisition of power, various degrees 
of vividness are imparted to the feelings of the mind. 
•—Another cause of mental vividness is connected with 
the love of knowledge. Ashmole was constantly vi- 
sited by a phantasm that solved his most intricate 
problems, the answers to which are said to still exist 

* Upon the subject of Luther's visions Mr Coleridge makes the 
fiiUowing excellent comment :— '^ Had Luther been himself a 
prince, he could not have desired better treatment than he receiyed 
during his eight months* stay in. the Wartzburg ; and in conse- 
quence of a more luxurious diet than he had been accustomed to, 
he was plagued with temptations both from the ^ flesh and the 
deviL' It is evident from his letters, that he suffered under great 
initability of his nervous system, the common effect of deranged 
digestion in men of sedentary habits, who are, at the same time, 
intense thinkers ; and this irritability adding to and vivifying the 
impressions made upon him in early life, and fostered by the theo- 
logical systems of his manhood, is abundantly suflident to explain 
all his apparitions, and all his mighty combats with evil spirits.''— 
Friendj by S. T, Coleridge, Esq, vol H. p. 236. 



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RISK TO SPKCTRAL lUiUSIONS. 8S8 

in one of his manuscript volumes^ under the title of 
Rtiptmtum Raphealii. 

In the hit place, an anxiety for the esteem^ or a fear 
for the reprobation of mankind, is a natural vivid af- 
fection which always influences our actions, and which 
often gives a corresponding character to the subject of 
spectral impressions. Thus, among visionaries who 
boast of divine missions, we trace, in the subject of 
their illusions, a lurking ambition to malatain, by this 
means, a conspicuous rank among their fellow-mortals. 
<' The Rev. John Mason, a clergyman of Water*strat* 
ford, near Buckingham," remarks Dr Orichton, '* was 
observed to speak rationally on every subject that had 
no relation to his wild notions of religion. He died 
in 1895, soon after he fkncied he had seen our Saviour, 
ftiUy convinced of the reality of the vision, and of his 
own divine mission. He was perfectly persuaded in 
his own mind that he was Elias, and that he was des- 
tined to announce the coming of Jesus, who was to 
begin the millennium at Water-stratford." 



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340 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 



CHAPTER XII. 

WHBN MORAL AOBNTS WHICH BXBRT A PLBABURABLE 
INFLUENCB ARE HBIOHTENED INTHBIR EFFECTS BT 
THE CO-OPERATION OF MORBIFIC EXCITEMENTS OP 

« A SIMILAR PLEASURABLE QUALITY^ THE MIND MAY 
BE RENDERED TOTALLY UNCONSCIOUS OF OPPOSITE 
OR PAINFUL FEELINGS. 



*^ Sweetly oppreM*d with beatific views, 
I hear angelic instruments, I see 
Primeval ardours, and essential forms.'* 

TuoMP80M*s Progress ofSkknets, 



I NOW trust that the view with which I set out is 
nearly established^ — that the action of all morbific 
causes^ capable of influencing the states of the mind> 
merely consists in an addition being made to the vi- 
vidness of such qualities of our feelings^ as had pre- 
viously been rendered pleasurable or painful by the 
various objects which^ from infancy, impress in a de- 
finite manner our several organs of sense. There is 
indeed no cause of mental excitement .which, in this 
respect, exerts a more extensive influence over the 
mind than the nitrous oxide. This gas cannot abso- 
lutely change the quality of those mental states, which, 
firom constitutional causes, are more or less painful, 
but its effect is to add an intensity of pleasure to feel- 
ings which are themselves grate^l, and»tliereby to 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 341 

diminiah the vividness of painful sensations and ideas. 
Thus, we have traced its influence in rendering all 
painful feelings so faint as to cease being the object 
of consciousness. 

The law by which mental consciousness is regu- 
lated, meets with an ample illustration in the effects 
imparted to our various feelings, by many of the mor- 
bific causes of m^tal vividness which I have enume- 
rated. That peculiar cause inducing insanity, for 
instance, which is referable to a highly-excited state 
of the sanguine temperament, gives an additional de- 
gree of vividness to the pleasurable feelings of the 
mind; hence impressions of pain are so propor- 
tionally enfeebled, that the mental consciousness of 
them is not excited. This fact is exemplified in those 
individuals who, according to Burton, '^ are com-, 
monly ruddy of complexion and high-coloured, who 
are much inclined to laughter, witty, and merry, con- 
ceipted in discourse, pleasant, if they be not too farre 
gone ;" who, if they should happen to take such a de- 
light in dramatic scenes as the maniac recorded by 
Aristotle, are amused the whole day long with ima- 
ginary actors. 

But it is instructive, in contemplating the cause of 
any pleasurable excitement, to confine our attention 
to its effect in diminishing the intensity of painful 
impressions made on sensitive organs. Sir Humphrey 
Davy has stated, that the oitrous oxide, in its exten- 
sive operation, is capable of destroying physical pain, 
and we know, that the cause of that variety of amen- 
tia which is distinguished by pleasurable fancies and 
reveries has a similar effect. Indeed, the insensibility 



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342 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH OIVK 

of the maniac^ during the greatest height of a parox- 
ysm> to actual impressions^ has been long a subject of 
remark.' '* Ttie skin," says one writer, *' is some* 
times as it were benumbed ; the patients feel every 
thing like cotton ; they do not feel punctures, blisters, 
or setons." About three or four centuries ago, when 
lunatics were unprotected by charitable asylums, this 
diminished or almost obliterated consciousness of s^i- 
sations, was, unfortunately for these hapless beings, 
too frequently put to the test, and thus became a sub- 
ject of popular observation and notoriety. The 
cruel deprivation to which they were liable resulted 
from the dissolution of the religious houses, whidi 
took place at the time of the Reformation. Maniacs, 
or Abraham-men, as they were then named, had no 
longer the benefit of those hospitals which, during the 
papal establishment, were instituted for their relief. 
Deserted also by their friends, who superstitiously at- 
tributed the cause of their disorder to the possession 
of devils, they were allowed to ramble about the 
country almost naked, and exposed to every hardship 
which could result ^m famine and the inclemencies 
of the weather. Thus despised and shunned, they 
were compelled, in order to procure the sustenance 
necessary to satisfy the cravings of their hunger, to 
use not only prayers, but force ; and this practice at 
length suggested to idle and dissolute beggars the 
advantage to be derived from feigning madness, as a 
cloak for the compulsion which they might find it 
equally requisite to use in the collection of alms. But, 
in order to give a proper colouring to such a counter- 
feit, it was found necessary that the insensibility to 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 848 

suffering which these poor Abraham-men evinced« 
should be also imiuted.* Thus, in Decker's Bell- 
man of London, we have the following account of one 
of these dissembling madmen :— " He swears he hath 
been in bedlam, and will talk flrantickly of purpose ; 
you see pins stuck in sundry places of his naked flesh, 
especially in his arms, which pain he gladly puts him- 
self to (being indeed no torment at all, his skin is either 
so dead with some foul disease, or so hardened with wea- 
ther) only to make you believe he is out of his wits." 
The disguise of one of these feigned bedlamites is as- 
sumed by Edgar in King Lear, who finds it no less 
necessary to imitate the maniac's corporeal insensi- 
bility :— 

*^ The country gives me proof and precedent 
Of bedlam-beggnrfl, who, with roaring voices. 
Stick in their numb'd and mortified bare arms 
Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary ; 
And with this horrible object, fVom low ftirms, 
Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes, and mills, 
Some time with lunatic bans, some time with prayers, 
Inforoe their charity.** f 



* From this imitation arises the cant-term to tham Abraham^ in 
UM among the sailors. 

f It is scarcely in connexion with this subject to remark, that 
the horn which wandering madmen formerly carried about with 
them has excited much of the attention of antiquaries* Mr Douce, 
in his Illustrations of Shakspeare, observes, that Edgar, in order 
to be dressed properly^ should, in the words of Handle Holme, 
^* have a long staiT and a cow or ox horn by his side, and be madly 
decked and dressed all over with ribbons, (Withers, cuttings of 



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344 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

I shall, lastly, observe, that the S3naiptomatic fe- 
ver, named hectic^ has the power of imparting so 
grateful an addition of vividness to our pleasurable 
mnotions as to Tender the mind unaffected by pain^^ 
ful mnotions. Thus, in Phthisis Pulthonalis, how 
eloquently, yet faithfully, has a late eminent medi- 
cal practitioner, Dr Parr, described the unconscious- 
ness of pain, which, in the face of the most imminent 
and fatal symptoms, enables the patient to soar above 
despondency. " In the advanced stages," he remarks, 
*^ the irritation of the cough is incessant, the heat or 
perspiration almost constantly distressing, and when 
these are absent, the life seems exhausted from debili- 
ty. What, then, affords the cheering ray of expected 
relief? Such, however, is afforded ; for ingenuity in- 
vents every fallacious mode of eluding inquiries, and 
of giving the most favourable view of every symptom. 
The patient sinks to the grave with the constant as- 
surances of having attained greater strength, and a be- 
lief from every dangerous symptom ; with eager ex- 
'pectations of another year, when life is limited by ano- 
ther day. Such, we would say, is the kind interposi- 
tion of Providence, was the same cheerfulness found 
in every disease, and was not, in many, the gloom as 
distressing to the patient as the ill-founded expecta- 
tion of the consumptive victim is to the well-informed 
anxious friend. This cheerfulness is said to be owing 

doth, and what not.'* The same exceUent antiquary also remarks, 
^* That about the year 17^0, a poor idiot, called Cuddie Eddie 
habited much in the same manner, and rattling a cow's horn against 
his teeth, went about the streets of Hawick in Scotland." 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL IIXUSIONS. 345 

to the absence of pain ; but pain is not always absent : 
and the difficulty of breathing, the incessant cough, 
the burning heats, the deluging perspirations, would ^ 
appear worse than the most poignant pain. Yet these 
are disregarded, represented as trifles, lessened in the 
report to the most inconsiderable inconveniences : it 
is truly singular."* ^ 

It must inevitably follow from the foregoing re- 
marks^ that the quality of all spectral illusions, whe- 
ther distinctly pleasurable,-r^stinctly painful, — or al- 
ternately pleasurable and painful, must depend upon 
the particular nature and excitability of its morbific 
cause. For we have seen that in the symptomatic fe- 
ver, named hectic, a morbific cause vivifies every plea- 
surable feeling which can possibly connect itself with 
a favourable prognosis. And if we grant, that this il- 
lusive hope of an immediate state of convalescence 
arises indiscriminately in the breast of the consump- 
tive patient, what reason is there, that an expectation 
equally extravagant should not extend to a probable 
istate after death : that scenes connected with the pros- 
pect of a blessed immortality should not rise before 
him, with all the vivid colouring that a hectic affec- 
tion is so capable 4>£ imparting to the images of fancy, 
or that spectral impressions of angel- visits, incidental 
to A morbidly-excited state of hop^, should not alike 
be cherished by the good man as by the slave of vice ? 
The truth is, that the guardian spirits, who honour the 
beds of d3ring patients with a visit, adopt a line of 
conduct never to be depended upon for consistency. 

* Parr's London Medical Dictionary, vol. ii. p. 398. 



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346 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

As harbingers to heaven^ they shew the same readi- 
ness in offering their services of introduction to sin- 
ners as to saints. This fact still continues to meet 
with confirmation from many modem superstitious nar- 
ratives, the subjects of which are the visible tokens of 
salvation, and beatific visions (if they may be so call- 
ed,) enjoyed by the most dissolute and abandoned of 
human beings at their hour of death ; and it is amus- 
ing to observe, how scriptural authority is in mysteri- 
ous language wrested from its plain and evident mean- 
ing, to account for an inconsistency so glaringly op- 
posed to all the conditions on which the joys of heaven 
are promised ; namely, that they should be the reward 
of virtuous integrity. 

These are all the illustrations which I have to offer 
on the first variety of general mental excitements that 
I took occasion to explain, where the cause to which 
the affection may be referable, is found to add to the 
vividness of pleasurable feelings, but proportionally 
to diminish that of painful feelings : the general result 
being, that pleasurable feelings are by this means ren- 
dered inordinately intense, while painful feelings be- 
come so faint as to cease being the object cf£ mental 
consciousness. 



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BISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 347 



CHAPTER XIII. 

WHBN MORAL AGENTS WHIOH KXEBT A PAINFUL IN- 
. FLUENCE ABE HEIGHTENED IN THEIB EFFECTS BT 
THE CO-pPEBATION OF MOBBIFIO EXCITEMENTS OF A 
8IMILAB PAINFUL QUALITY, THE MIND MAY BE BEN- 
DEBBD TOTALLY UNCONSCIOUS OF OPPOSITE OB PLBA-< 
SUBABLB FEELINGS. 



'^ Mark how he trembles in hin ecstacy/* 
Comedy of Error t. 



I SHALL now consider the effect of those morbific 
agents, which exert a contrary influence on the states 
of the mind ; which impart an additional degree of 
vividness to painful ideas, and thereby render propor- 
ticmally faint all feelings of a pleasurable nature. 
When, from a highly •excited state of the melancholic 
temperament, a paroxysm of actual insanity is induced, 
the hideous phantoms incidental to it are not to be dis- 
pelled by the vividness of a single pleasurable emotion: 

^' The darken'd sun 
Loses his light : the rosy-bo8om*d Spring 
To weeping Fancy pines : and yon bright arch 
, Contracted, bends into a dusky vault 
All nature ^es, extinct'* 

Burton, when speaking of persons " melancholy a 
tato copore" observes, " that the fumes which arise 



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348 THE MENTAI. LAWS WHICH GIVE 

from this corrupt bloody disturbe the minde, and make 
them fearful and sorrowfully heavy-hearted as the rest, 
dejected, discontented, solitary, silent, weary of their 
lives, dull, and heavy. And if farre gone, that which 
Apuleius wished to his enemy, by way of imprecation, 
is true in them ; dead men's bones, hobgoblins, ghosts^ 
are ever in their mindes, and meet them still in every 
tume : all the bugbeares of the night and terrors, and 
fairy-babes of tombes and graves are before their eyes, 
and in their thoughts." 

The foregoing remarks of this very accurate de- 
scriber of the symptoms of melancholy but too plain- 
ly shew, how completely the undue excitement of 
painful ideas can reduce to an unconscious degree of 
faintness all joyous thoughts. And how well is this 
fact illustrated in the too correct, yet very uncharitable 
description of a melancholic scholar, as depicted by an 
early popular writer. '^ A melancholy man," says Sir 
Thomas Overbury, ^* is a stranger from the drove : 
one that nature made a sociable, because she made 
him man, and a crazed disposition has altered. Im- 
pleasing to all, as all to him ; straggling thoughts are 
his content, they make him dream waking, there's his 
' pleasure. His imagination is never idle, it keeps his 
mind in a continuall motion, as the poise of the clocke : 
he winds up his thoughts often, and as often unwindes 
them ; Penelope's webbe thrives faster. He'le seldom 
be found without the shade of some grove, in whose 
bottome a river dwels. Hee carries a cloud in his 
face, never faire weather : his outside is framed to his 
inside, in that hee keepes'a decorum, both unseemly. 
Speake to him ; he heares with his eyes, eares follow 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 349 

his mind^ and that's not at leysare. He thinkes busi- 
nesses but never does any : he is all contemplationy no 
action. He hewes and fashions his thoughts^ as if hee 
meant them to some purpose ; but they prove unpro- 
fitable^ as a piece of wrought timber of no use. JEKs 
spirits and the sunne are enemies ; the sun bright and 
warme^ his humour blacke and cold : variety of fool- 
ish apparitions people in his head^ they suffer him not 
to breathe^ according to the necessities of nature ; 
which makes him sup up a draught of as much aire at 
once as would serve at thrice. Hee denies nature her 
due in sleepe^ and nothing pleaseth him long^ but that 
which pleaseth his own phantasies : they are the con- 
suming evils^ and evil consumptions that consume him 
alive. Lastly^ he is a man onely in shew^ but comes 
short of the better part ; a whole reasonable soule^ 
which is man's chief pre-eminence, and sole marke 
from creatures sensible."* 

Another interesting elucidation of the view which I 
have attempted to explain, is afforded in a case related 
by Pinel, where it is evident that the feelings ^hich a 
general state of mental excitement had morbidly af- 
fected, were, from the same principle of selection, 
vivified to a most painful degree. The patient was a 
young gentleman, endowed with a most vivid imagi- 
nation, who came to Paris to study the law. His ap- 
plication was said to have been laborious and painful 
in the extreme, the consequence of which was, that, 
along with frequent bleeding at the nose, spasmodic 
^ ■' ■ ' . 

• Sir Thomas Overbury, His Wife, 14th edit. A. D. 1630. 



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360 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH OIYE 

oppremons of the chesty wandering pains of the bow* 
els> and a troublesome flatulence, he was seized with 
great depression of spirits, and a morbidly enervated 
sensibility. These symptoms daily increased, until, as 
a French physician adds, " complete lunacy at length 
established its melancholy empire. One night, he be« 
thought himself that he would go to the play, to seek 
relief from his own unhappy meditations. The piece 
which was presented, was ' The Philosopher without 
knowing it.' He was instantly seized with the most 
gloomy suspicions, and especially with a conviction, 
that the comedy was written on purpose, and repre* 
sented to ridicule himself. He acdised me with hav- 
ing furnished materials for the writer of it, and the 
next morning he came to reproach me, which he did 
most angrily, for having betrayed the rights of friend« 
ship, and exposed him to public derision. His deli- 
rium, observed no bounds. Every priest and monk 
he met in the public walks he took for comedians in 
disguise, despatched there for the purpose of studying 
his gestures, and of discovering the secret operations 
of his mind. In the dead of the night he gave way to 
the most terrific apprehensions, — ^believed himself to 
be attacked sometimes by spies, and at other times by 
robbers and assassins. He once opened his window 
with great violence, and cried out murder and assist- 
ance with all his might." 

It is evident, that, in the foregoing example, the 
morbific cause of the young gentleman's insanity had 
imparted such an additional degree of vividness to his 
painful feelings, as to render all pleasurable thoughts 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 351 

so proportionally faint^ that a perfect unconsciousness 
of them ensued. A general gloom^ therefore^ dark, 
ened all his reflections and emotions. 

The continuation of this patient's case has no imme- 
diate relation to the object of our inquiry^ yet its in- 
terest is too great to be withheld. It appears that the 
young man was sent^ under the protection of a proper 
person, to an asylum belonging to a little village in 
the vicinity of the Pyrenees. " Ghreatly debilitated 
both in mind and body/' continues Finely '' it was 
some time after agreed upon that he should return to 
his family residence^ where, on account of his parox- 
ysms of delirious extravagance, succeeded by fits of 
profound melancholy, he was insulated from society. 
Ennui and insurmountable disgust with life, absolute 
refusal of food, and dissatisfaction with every thing, 
and every body that came near him, were among the 
last ingredients of his bitter cup. To conclude our 
affecting history, he one day eluded the vigilance of 
his keeper, and, with no other garment on than his 
shirt, fled to a neighbouring wood, where he lost him- 
self, and where, from weakness and inanition, he end- 
ed his miseries. Two days afterwards he was found 
a corpse. In his hand was the celebrated work of 
Plato on the Immortality of the Soul."* 

These are all the examples which I have to offer in 
illustration of the second variety of ecstacy that I have 
noticed, where the cause of mental excitement, to 
which the affection is referable, has added to the in- 
tensity of painful feelings, but has proportionally di- 

* Piners Treatise on Insanity. Trans, by Dr Davis, page 67. 



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362 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

minished the vividness of pleasurable feelings ; the 
general result beings that painful feelings are rendered 
inordinately intense^ while pleasurable feelings become 
so faint as to be no longer the object of mental ccm- 
sciousness. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 353 



CHAPTER XIV. 

PROOFS THAT, DURING INTENSE EXCITEMENTS OP THB 
MIND, NO LESS THAN DURING SYNCOPE AND SLEEP, 
THE CAUSES WHICH EXCLUSIVELY ACT UPON ORGANS 
OF SENSATION EVENTUALLY EXTEND THEIR VIVI- 
FYING INFLUENCE TO THB RENOVATION OF PAST 
FEELINGS. 



^^ Perturbations and passions which trouble the phantasie, tliough 
they dwell between the confines of sense and reason, yet they 
rather follow sense than reason, because thfey are drowned in 
corporeal organs of sense." Anatomy of Melancholy. ' 



At the present day, it would appear the most idle of 
tasks to attempt a serious answer to a question as 
seriously proposed, — ^Why the ideas of sleep or of syn- 
cope, which are so faint as not to be the object of con- 
sciousness^ may be rendered vivid by stimuli that act 
intensely on organs of sensation ? Ancient metaphy- 
sicians, however, thought very diflTerently of the mat- 
ter. They often puzzled their brains to explain, why 
blows, for instance, which affected organs of touch 
only> should, in a fainting fit, occasion the full acti- 
vity of thought They conceived of such agents as 
stimulating the blood in its purification and overheat- 
ing,— a process supposed to take place in the heart, — 
whereby the vital fluid was the sooner enabled to 
throw off subtle vapours, which passed immediately 



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864 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

to the cavities of the brain. These fum es or animal 
spirits^ as they were commonly named^ then put into 
movement the little cerebral gland^ which is the seat 
of the soul, and thereby recalled or revived such spe« 
des or ideas of things as had been seen or heard f<nr- 
merly, and were there in a manner buried. Hence 
the rationale of the plan which Ralpho pursued, when 
he endeavoured to recover Hudibras from a fit into 
which he had fallen. He inflicted some severe blows 
on the knight's breast, which had the effect of stirring 
up or of stimulating the blood nearest the heart, 
whereby animal spirits were the sooner concocted and 
enabled to make their escape from this fluid to the 
brain, so as to act upon the pineal gland, and assist it 
in resuscitating and liberating a few ideas :— 

'' Then Ralpho gently raised the knight, 
And set him on his end upright : 
To rouse him from lethargic dump, 
He tweakM his nose ; with gentle thump 
Knock*d on Ids breast, as if t had been 
To raise the spirits lodg*d within: 
They, wakenM with tlie noise, did fly 
From inward room to window eye. 
And gently opening lid, the casement, 
Look*d out, but yet with some amazement." 

But, after all, it is a question of some infportance 
to our present investigation. Why, during syncope or 
sle^, the causes which exclusively excite organs of 
sensation should eventually extend their vivifying in* 
fluence to the renovation of past feelings? Now this 
effect can only be explained by an irritating cause, 
which primarily operates upon organs of s^isation 



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MSE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 365 

eventually influencing the whole of the circulation,— 
to the varied conditions of which the general vivid- 
i^ess of sensations and ideas holds a more immediate 
correspondence than to states of the nervous system. 

Nor is a simple explanation of this kind without 
its use. It may assist us in reconciling the plan 
resorted to for a recovery from very vivid as well 
as from faint states of the mind, which, prima facte, 
seems to involve a contradiction. For it is very re- 
markable, that the self-same means should, under 
certain circumstances, be employed, not exclusively 
for the excitation, but even for the depression of in- 
tense mental states. 

Two illustrations in proof of this fact may be now 
adduced. The first of these is from an old dramatic 
author, who, from the incidents of common life, haa 
but too faithfully depicted the rough practices, not 
altogether unknown at the present day, that are em- 
ployed for the purpose of stimulating the faint feel- 
ings of syncope :— 

Rut, Come, bring him out into the air a little : 
There set him down. Bow him, yet bow him more, 
Dash that same glass of water in his face : 
Now tweak him by the nose. Hard, harder yet : 
If it but can the blood up from the heart, 
I ask no more. See, what a fear can do ! 
Pinch him in the nape of the neck now ; nip him, nip him. 

Item, He feels, there's life in him. 

Palate. He groans and stirs. 

Rut, QV him a box, hard, hard on his left ear. 

Interest. O! 

Rut, How do you feel yourself? 

Interest. Sore, sore i t 



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356 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

RuU But where? 

Interest, V my neck. 

Rut, I nipt him there. 

Interest. And i* my head. 

Rut, I boxM him twice or thrice to move those sinews. 

Bias. I swear you did. 

Polish, What a brave man's a doctor. 
To beat one into health i I thought his blows 
Would e*en ha* kill*d him : he did feel no more 
Than a great hors&* 

With Doctor Rut's plan of exciting feelings, when 
in an extreme languid state, may be compared the 
mode, apparently self-same, that Cardan successfully 
employed, but with the opposite view of reducing his 
mental excitement, and thereby of dispelling the ec- 
static illusions to which he was almost daily subject. 
** I have found out," he observes, " that I cannot exist 
without a certain degree of pain ; for when it alto- 
gether ceases, I feel' so impetuous a fury seize my 
mind, that a moderate quantity of voluntary pain is 
much more safe, and renders me much more respect- 
able. For this reason I bite my lips, distort my fin- 
gers, pinch my skin, and the tender fleshy part of the 
left arm, even to tears. Thus have I been able to 
ive without reproach." 

From these two iUustrations, it is now, I trust, suf- 
ficiently evident, that whether an increase of mental 
vividness be meditated, as in the attempt to rouse the 
languid feelings of syncope, — or, on the contrary, 
whether a reduction of the intense ideas of ecstatic 
iUusions be the object of medical treatment, one com- 

• Magnetic Lady,*by Ben Jonson, act 3, scene 4. 

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RISE TO SPECTEAL ILLUSIONS. 357 

mon mode of practice appears to foe equally success- 
ful. But before this apparent anomaly can meet with 
an explanation^ we must foe compelled to admits that> 
during intense excitements of the mind, no less than 
during syncope or sleep, an irritating cause, which con- 
fines itis action to organs of sensation, must eventually 
influence the whole of the circulation, — ^to the varied 
conditions of which (as I have before ofoserved) the 
general vividness of sensations and ideas, when con- 
jointly excited, holds a more immediate correspcmd- 
ence than to states of the nervous system. And thus 
the general effect must foe, that the additional agents, 
which during an ecstacy exclusively excite organs of 
sensation, must, through the medium of the circula- 
tion, eventually extend their vivifying influence to the 
renovation cf£ past feelings. 

It will also foe expedient, in completing my expla- 
nation of this anomaly, to recall the attention to a 
law, lately noticed, regarding the effect which mental 
excitements have upon consciousness. The law utras 
thus stated :— -When a cause of mental excitement 
adds to the general vividness of our pleasurafole feel- 
ings, every feeling of an opposite quality is in an in- 
verse proportion rendered less vivid ; and, vice versa f 
the same law holds good when a morfoific agent adds 
to the vividness of all our painful feelings. 

It follows, then, that we must necessarily regard 
such causes as may act upon organs of sensation dur- 
ing an ecstacy, and may, foy this means, impart an 
additional degree of vividness to renovated feelings 
under two distinct points of view. 

In the first place, an ecstacy may foe pleasurafole. 



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358 TB£ MSNTAL LAWS WHICH QlYE 

while the oauae^ which during its continuance unpiurts 
an ad^itimial degree of intensity to actual iinpres- 
sions^ may also be pleasurable ; or^ again> an ecstacy 
may be painful^ while the cause^ which^ during its 
continuance, imparts an additional degree o( intensi^ 
to i^ual impressions, may also be painful. Now, in 
each of these instances, it is almost unnecessary tp 
add, that the effect must be, that the force or violence 
of the ecstacy will be increased. 

In the second place, the peculiar influence imftoted 
by any cause, which acts during an ecstacy upon or* 
gans of sensation, may be of the same pleasurable or 
painful kind as that class of feelings may possessi^ 
which has been rendered so faint as to be no long&c 
the object of consciousness. In this case, then, a dif^ 
ferent result will ensue ; for, by virtue of the law tQ 
which I have often adverted, when any exciting cause 
of t}iis kind, during a continuous operation, extend^ 
its vivifying influence to such pkasuraUe feelings as 
may have been rendered in an extreme degree faint, 
all intense feelings of an opposite or patnfuLqu^Udtj 
must be proportionally rendered less vivid ; an4» 
again, when any exciting cause of the same irritating 
nature extends its vivifying influence tp such paiafvl 
feelings as may have been rendered in an extreme 
degree faint, all intense feelings of an opposite or 
pkasurable quality must, in a similar manner, be 
proportionally rendered less vivid. It is evident, 
then, that the revival of one quality of feelings, which 
has been rendered unduly faint, will be followed by 
the reduction of the other quality of feelings which 
has been rendered unduly intense ; and by this means 



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BISE TO SPECTEAL ILLUSIONS. 

an ecstacy will be eventually removed. Of this prin- 
ciple^ then, Caardan, whose case has suggested these 
remarks^ evidei^y availed himself. This remarkable 
man^ who was bom at Pavia in the year 1601> and 
was professor of mathematics at Milan^ possessed a 
temperament which partook strongly of the sanguine 
description ; and this, no doubt, was a predisposing 
cause, wUdi, widi an excess of nervous irritability, 
materially conspired to render him liable to the 
trances, which form the subject of the remarkable 
narrative that he has published in his curious work, 
De Fka Propria. The symptoms preceding each 
trance, were those which so very frequently Usher in 
many of the mental paroxysms that we have traced 
in other diseases, and the pathology of which is so 
well illustrated by the action of the nitrous oxide or 
febrile nuasma* There was an increased intensity of 
pleasuraUe sensations* A peculiar feeling was expe« 
rienced in the head, which gradually diffused itself 
from this organ to other parts of the system along the 
course of the gj^nsl cord. He perceived, as he ob« 
serves, a kind of separation from the heart, like the 
issuing forth of the soul, while so serious a departure 
was felt by the whole body, as if a door had opened ; 
and hence the impression which arose, that he was 
visited by supernatural unpulses. Shortly after^ 
wards, he was less sensible of actual impressions, 
while spectral illusions of the most vivid kind be- 
came the sportive objects of his imagination. The 
words of those who discoursed to him were but faintly 
heiurd, and in time were imperceptible. His organs 
of touch became less and less sensible to pain, until. 



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300 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

at lengthy he felt neither pullings nor pinches^ nor 
was he in the least degree conscious of gouty tor- 
tures^ but only of such causes as were without the 
body. And^ as he adds, when he had naturally no 
pain^ he would excite it by whipping himself with 
rods, by biting his lips and arms, or by squeezing his 
fingers. But he acted thus to prevent a greater evil ; 
for, in this complete state of insensibility to painful 
impressions, he felt such violent sallies of the imagi- 
nation, and peculiar affections of the brain, as were 
more insupportable to him than any corporeal suffer- 
ing which he could inflict upon himself. His plea* 
•urable excitements could therefore be only subdued 
by exciting acute sensations of an opposite or painful 
quality. 

The general inference to be deduced from the illus 
trations which I have given is briefly this :— If we 
would impart to the faint feelings of sleep and sjm- 
cope a degree of vividness, such as subsists in our 
cool waking hours, it is immaterial whether the acute 
impressions to which the organs of sense are subjected 
be pleasurable or painful. But if, on the contrary, 
our view should be the depression of intense feelings, 
this object can be effected in no other way than by 
opposing to them the influence of acute sensations, 
similar in their quality of pleasure or pain to such 
States of the mind as, during the ecstacy, have been 
rendered proportionally faint and languid. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 361 



CHAPTER XV. 

WHEN MORBIFIC CAUSES OF MENTAL EXCITEMENT EX- 
BBT TO THEIR UTMOST EXTENT THEIR STIMULAT- 
INO POWERS, THEY OFTEN CHANGE THE QUAIJTY OP 
THEIR ACTION^ AS FROM PLEASURE TO PAIN, OR 
FROM PAIN TO PLEASURE. 



^* Pleasure and pain are convertible and mixed :" — ** that which 
is now pleasure, by being strained a little too far, runs into 
pain, and pain, when carried far, creates again the highest 
pleasure, by mere cessation, and a kind of natural succession.*' 
Lord Shaft SB urt's CharacterUtics, 



I SHALL now make a few remarks on those morbi- 
fic agents^ which, when exerting their utmost influ- 
ence over the states of the mind, have the efiect of 
alternately increasing the vividness of pleasurable and 
painful feelings. The natural consequence of this 
action is^ that the unconsciousness of grateful and un- ' 
grateful ideas undergoes a corresponding alternation. 
Akohol possesses a subordinate influence of this kind. ' 
To a particular prepiaration of opium used in the £ast^ 
the power is ascribed not only of rendering the mind 
by turns unconscious of pleasure or «f pain^ but of 



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363 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

eventuaUy inducing proper ecstatic illusions. The 
traveller Ghardin^ while recounting the effects of a cer- 
tain drink prepared with a decocticm of the head and 
seeds of the poppy^ remarks^ that '^ there is a decoc- 
tion" [of this kind^ '^ called Coquenar, for the sale of 
which there are taverns in every quarter of the town, 
similar to coffee-houses. It is extremely amusing to 
visit these houses, and to observe carefully those who 
resort there for the purpose of drinking it, both be- 
fore they have taken the dose, before it begins to 
operate, and while it is operating. On entering the 
tavern, they are dejected, sad, and languishing ; soon 
after they have taken two or three cups of this bever- 
age, they are peevish, and find fault with every thing, 
and quarrel with one another ; but, in the course oi its 
operation, they make it up again, and each one giving 
himself up to his predominant passion, the lover speaks 
sweet things to his idol ; another, half-asleep, laughs 
in his sleeve ; a third talks big and blusters ; a fomrth 
tells ridiculous stories ; in one word, a person would 
believe himself to be really in a madhouse. A kind 
of lethargy and stupidity succeeds to this unequal and 
disorderly gaiety ; but the Persians, &r from treatii^ 
it as it deserves, call it an ecstacy, and maintain that 
there is something supernatural and heavenly in this 
state. As soon as the effect of the decoction diminishes, 
each one retires to his own house." 

That peculiar insanity which is ccmnected with a 
melancholic temperament presents analogous pheno- 
mena. ^^ This progresse of melancholy," says Burton, 
'' you shall easily observe in them that they hsvelneen 
so affected ; they goe smiling to themselves at first, at 



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BISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 363 

length they laugh out ; at first solitary^ at last they 
can endure no company ; or if they doe, they are now 
dizards, past sense and shame, quite moped ; they are 
not what they say or doe, all their actions, words, ges* 
tures, are furious or ridiculous. Upon a sudden, they 
whoop and hollow, or run away, and sweare they see 
or heare players,* divells, hobgoblins, ghosts, strike 
or strut, and grow humorous in the end." 

From this last illustration it is evident, that when 
thare is an intense exdtem^t of the melancholic tern* 
perament, painful and pleasurable feelings become al« 
temately affected by the undue vivifying influence. 
During the interval that painful feelings are rendered 
intense, there is a perfect unconsciousness of pleasure 
able feelings ; and (vice versa) during the interval that 
opposite or pleasurable feelings are excited, there is a 
similar unconsciousness of painful feelings. 

But it is now time that these important phenomena, 
connected with the vivifying action of morbific causes, 
should meet with some explanaticm. 

I have before described the influence imparted by 
the brain and nerves to the sanguineous system. 
Hence the contractility of the involuntary fibres of 
the heart and blood-vessels, and the resistance which 
such fibres make to the dilating power of the bloody 
during the course of its circulation. Thus, when heat 
is partially applied to a blood-vessel, its first effect is 
to increase the dilatibility of the contained fluid, and 
wi£h it, to give rise to a pleasurable feeling. But, up- 

* Pxobubly the firigbtful shapes of demons represented in an- 
dent mysteries are here alluded to. 



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364 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

on the farther continuation of this cause of excitation^ 
the contractility of vascular fibres is opposed to the 
expansile influence of the contained fluids and a feeU 
ing of pain is the consequence. Arguing^ then^ by 
analogy^ from the phenomenon of heat^ Sir Humphrey 
Davy has supposed it probable^ that ^' pleasurable 
feeling is uniformly connected with a moderate in- 
crease of nervous action ; and that this increase^ when 
carried to certain limits, produces mixed emotions or 
sublime pleasure, and beyond those limits absolute 
pain."* 

Lately much countenance has been given to this 
opinion, by the publication of an experiment in which, 
from some idiosyncracy in the constitution of the indi« 
vidual who inhaled the nitrous oxide, a moderate dosie 
of the gas was found to exert a most powerful action 
on the state of the mind. This effect was experienced 
by a student at Yale College in America. ^^ A gentle- 
ixian," says Professor Silliman, *' about nineteen years 
of age, of a sanguine temperament and cheerful tem- 
per, and in the most perfect health, inhaled the nitrous 
oxide, which was prepared and administered in the 
usual dose aiid manner. Immediately his feelings were 
uncommonly elevated, so that (as he expressed it) he 
could not refrain from dancing and shouting ! To 
such a degree was he excited, that he was thrown in- 
to a frightful delirium, and his exertions became so 
violent that he sunk to the earth exhausted ; and, hav- 
ing there remained till he in some degree recovered 

» — ■ 

* Sir Humphrey Davy's Researches concerning the Nitrous 
Oxide, p. 552. 



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RISE TO SPECTEAL ILLUSIONS. 366 

his strength, he again rose only to renew the most 
convulsive muscular efforts, and the most piercing 
screams and cries, until, overpowered by tiie intensity 
of the paroxysms, he again fell to the ground, appa* 
rently senseless, and panting vehemently. For the 
space of two hours these symptoms continued; he 
was perfectly unconscious of what he was doing, and 
was in every respect like a maniac : he states, how- 
ever, that his feelings vibrated between perfect happi" 
ness and the most consummate misery. After the first 
violent effects had subsided, he was obliged to lie 
down two or three times from excessive fatigue, 
although he was immediately roused upon any one's 
entering the room. The effects remained in a degree 
for two or three days, accompanied by a hoarseness, 
which he attributed to the exertions made while un« 
der the influence of the gas/'* 

This is a very singular experiment ; and is so far 
instructive, that the alternations of pleasure and pain, 
which indicate an extreme state of excitement, suffi- 
ciently well explain the mixed character of many of 
the visions of enthusiasts. St Teresa, for instance, of 
whom I have before spoken, had ecstacies, wherein 
the vividness of her ideas was so intense, that, like 
the American student, she often '^ vibrated between 
perfect happiness and perfect misery ;" or, in other 
words, she had alternate prospects of heaven and of hell, 
of benignant spirits and of devils. Bhe saw St Peter 
and St Paul, but she saw likewise foul fiends, whom 

* Edinburgh Philosophical Journal for January 1, 1823, page 
204 



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966 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

she insulted by crossing herself^ and by making signs 
of scom^ or whom she kept at bay^ by sprinkling holy 
water on the ground. She had^ afterwards^ the felici- 
ty of seeing souls fireed from purgatory^ and carried 
up to heaven; but none^ to her recollection^ ever 
escaped the purifjring fiame^ except Father Peter of 
Alcantara, Father Ivagnez, and a Carmelite friar. * 

* Townsend's Tour through Spain, voL it p. 100. 



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RISE TO SPECTEAL ILLUSIONS. 367 



CHAPTER XVI. 

WHEN CAUSES ACT ACUTELY UPON ORGANS OF SENSA- 
TION, AND ARE UNREMITTINGLY PROLONGED, THEY 
OCCASIONALLY CHANGE THE QUALITY OF THEIR AC« 
TION ; AS, FOR INSTANCE, FROM PAIN TO PLEASURE. 
IDEAS LIKEWISE PARTAKE OF THIS CHANGE OF EX* 
CITEMENT. 



^< The visage of a hangman frights not me : 
The sight of whips, racks, gibbets, axes, fires. 
Are scaffoldings by which my soul climbs up 
To an eternal habitation.'*— Massinoer. 



It has been shewn m the last chapter, that when sen- 
sations and ideas are stimulated conjointly, and to an 
excessive degree, an ecstacy.may ensue which is alter* 
nately pleasurable and painful. An effect analogous 
to this may occur, when the orgaos of sensation alone 
are subjected to an acute excitement, as the following 
remarkable case, which is to be found in Dr Crichton's 
Dissertation on Mental Derangement, sufficiently well 
illustrates. It is a translation from the Gazette Lite- 
raire> published in France. " An extraordinary young 
man, who lived at Paris, and who was passionately 
fond of mechanics, shut himself up one evening in his 
apartment, and bound not only his breast and belly. 



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368 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE ^ 

but also his arms^ legs^ and thighs^ around with ropes^ 
full of knots^ the ends of which he fastened to hooks 
in the wall. After having passed a considerable part 
of the night in this situation^ he wished to disengage 
himself^ but attempted it in vain. Some neighbour- 
ing females, who had been early up, heard his cries, 
and calling the assistance of the patrol, they forced 
open the door of his apartment, where they found him 
swinging in the air, with only one arm extricated. 
He was immediately carried to the lieutenant-general 
of the police for examination, where he declared that 
he had often put similar trials into execution^ as he 
experienced indescribable pleasure in them. He con- 
fessed that at first he felt pain, but that after the cords 
became tight, he was soon rewarded by the most ex- 
quisite sensations of pleasure."* 

As this curious fact requires explanation, I jshall 
again advert to the remark which was made in a pre- 
ceding chapter, that an irritating cause, which primari- 
ly operates upon organs of sensation, may eventually 
influence the whole of the. circulation, — ^to the varied 
conditions of which the general vividness of sensations 
and ideas holds a more immediate correspondence than 
to states of the nervous system. Again, it has been 
shewn, . that an irritating cause, which excites to an 
intense degree organs of sensation, may change the 
quality of its operation, namely, from pain to pleasure. 
When, therefore, the same cause of irritation has so* 
generally influenced the state, of the circulating sys- 
t«n, as to add to the influence of ideas of a similar' 

• Crichton on Mental Derangement, vol. i. p. 132. 
3 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 369 

pleasurable quality^ we are entitled to expect that ec- 
static illusions may ensue^ such as have been described 
by the superstitious under the name of beatific visions. 
This explanation may assist us^ in accounting for 
some incidents relative to the spectral impressions of 
many individuals/ who, in times of religious persecu- 
tion, have, been exposed to all the cruelties which in- 
tolerant power could devise. Thus it is recorded of 
Theodorus, that, in pursuance of the orders of Julian 
the Apostate, he was unremittingly tortured, even by 
a change of executioners, for an interval of ten hours. 
But at length the tyrant's engines of persecution 
ceased to have their wonted effect ;— -instead of in- 
flicting pain, the sensations over which they had con- 
trol imparted a grateful influence, which was even- 
tually extended to the renovated feelings of the 
mind. The thoughts of this firm Christian had dwelt 
upon that blessed state of immortality, which was 
promised as a reward to those who were prepared to 
lay down their lives for the sacred cause they had 
espoused; and the indication of this state of mind 
was the subject of his illusions. For Theodorus has 
related, that while he was under the hands of the exe- 
cutioners, he was cheered by the aspect of a bright 
youth, conceived by him to be a messenger from 
heaven, who allayed his sufferings by wiping the per- 
spiration from his body, and by pouring cool water 
upon his irritated limbs. At length, as he has like- 
wise affirmed, he felt no pain at all. This confession 
has been supposed to afford a satisfactory explanation, 
why the sufferer continued on the scaffold, in the sight 
of all men, smiling, and even singing, until it was 

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370 TH£ MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

thought expedient to take him down. Ruffinus^ to 
whcan we are indebted £or this narrative^ remarks, 
that he had subsequently many conversations with 
Theodorus touching this supernatural interposition 
(for such it was readily conceived to be)^ and that the 
martyr uniformly assured him, that he was so com* 
forted and confirmed by it in the fiuth, that he could 
not but regard the hours which he passed under the 
hands of the torturets as imparting exquisite delight 
rather than pain. 

Such is the effect which may take place when 
causes of acute suflfering are unremittingly prolonged, 
and when their influence, which has become grateful, 
is imparted to ideas. 

An incid^it, similar to the foregoing, is recorded 
by La Trobe, in the history which he has given of the 
Moravians. He relates, *' That about the year 1468, 
the Brethren in Lititz, founders of the Moravians, did 
not cease to send to all places to strengthen the per- 
secuted in the &ith, and to exhort them to patience. 
Among others, Gregory, nephe^if of Rokyzan, the 
archbishop of Prague, came to Prague ; but upon his 
having just held a meeting, he was surprised on a 
sudden, and, together with some others, committed to 
prison by the judge or justice, with these affecting 
words: — ^ It is written, all that will live godly in 
Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution; therefore fol- 
low me, by command of the higher powers !' Under 
the rack he fell into a swoon ; during which, it is 
said, he had a vision of the three men, who were, six 
years after, elected the first bishops of the Brethren. 
They appeared as the guardians of a blooming tree. 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 371 

on the fruit of which many lovely singing-birds were 
feeding." 

But examples of this kind have been so frequently 
recorded^ that poets have even attempted to dramatise 
them. Thus, Massinger, in his play of the Virgin 
Martyr : — 

Theophilus. 

'Tis not for life I sue for, 

Nor is it fit that I, that ne^er knew pity 

To any Christian, being one myself, 

Should look for any ; no, I rather beg 

The utmost of your cruelty ; I stand 

Accountable for thousand Christian deaths ; 

And, were it possible that I could die 

A day for every one, then live again, 

To be again tormented, 'twere to me 

Ah easy penance, and I should pass through 

A gentle cleansing fire ; but that denied me, 

It being bejrond the strength of feeble nature. 

My suit is, you would have no pity on me. 

In mine own bouse there are a thousand engines 

Of studied cruelty, which I did prepare 

For miserable Christians ; let me feel. 

As the Sicilian did his brazen bull. 

The horrid'st you can find, and I will say. 

In death, that you are merciful. 

DiOCLESIAK. 

, Despair not. 

In this thou shalt prevaiL Go fetch them hither : 
Death shall put on a thousand shapes at once, 
And so appear before thee ; rackstand whips I— - 
Thy flesh, with burning pincers torn, shall feed 
The fire that heats them ; and what's wanting to 



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372 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

The tortaie of thy body, I'U supply 
In pimiihisg thy mind. Fetdi all the Christians 
That are in hold ; and here, before his face, 
Cut them in pieces. 

Theopuilus. 
Tis not in thy power : 
It was the first good deed I ever did. 
They are removed out of thy reach ; howe*er 
I was determined for my sins to die, 
I first took order for their liberty^ 
And still I dare thy worst 

Df OCLESIAK. 

Bind him, I say ; 
Make every artery and sinew crack : 
The slave that makes him give the loudest shriek 
Shall have ten thousand drachmas : ¥rretch ! I'U force thee 
To curse the Power thou worship'st. 
Theophilus, 
Never, never : 
No breath of mine shall e'er be spent on him, 

[ They torment him. 
But what shall speak his majesty or mercy. 
I*m honour'd in my sufierings. Weak tormentors. 
More tortures, more :— alas ! you are unskilful — 
For Heaven*s sake, more ; my breast is yet untom : 
Here purchase the reward that was propputaded. 
The iron*8 cool, — ^here are arms yet, and thighs ; 
Spare no part of me. 

Maximikus. 

He endures beyond 
The sufierance of a man. 

Sapritius. 
No sigh nor groan, 
To witness he hath feeling. 



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BISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 373 

DiOCLESIAN. 

Haider, villaios ! 
Enter Dorothea t» a white robe^ a crown upon her heady. led in 

by Akoelo ; Aktokikus, Calista, and Christet a fii^ 

lowwgy all in white^ but less glorious ; Akoelo holdt out a 

crown to Theophilus. 

Theophilus. 
Most glorious vision !— 
Bid e*er so hard a bed yield man a dream 
So heavenly as this ? I am confirmed, 
Ck>nfinn*d, you blessed spirits, and make haste 
To take that crown of immortality 
You offer to me. Death, till this blest minute, 
I never thought thee slow-paced ; nor would I 
Hasten thee now, for any pain I suffer. 
But that thou keep'st me from a glorious wreath, 

• Which through this stormy way I could creep to, 
And, humbly kneeling, with humility wear it 
Oh ! now I feel thee :— blessed spirits ! I come ; 
And witness for me all these wounds and scars, 
I die a soldier in ^e Christian wars. [Diet, 

But it is unnecessary to dwell longer upon such 
painful descriptions. All tormentors of human vic- 
tims^ whether residing among the savage wilds of the 
western ccmtinent^ or within the walls of an European 
inquisition, but too well know^ that if they would 
prolong the duration of their meditated inflictions^ 
they must occasionally allow their victim a brief re- 
spite. It is indeed evident, that acute sensations of 
this kind, when assiduously and unremittingly in- 
flicted^ not only fail in their object, but occasicmally 
prove grateful in their effects. Nor is the influence 



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374 THE MENTAL LAWS WHICH GIVE 

restricted to actual impressions ; — ^ideas partake of 
this pleasurable excitement^ and become so stimulated 
as not unfrequently to induce ecstatic illusions. 

These are all the remarks which I have to offer on 
the causes that give rise to such a general state of 
mental excitement as is productive of spectral illu- 
sions ; and it will be now advisable to take a short re- 
view of the conclusions at which we have arrived in 
some of the last chapters. 

It was considered, that in every ecstacy, or state of 
general excitement of the mind, either pleasurable 
feelings were excited and painful ones depressed, or, 
vice versa, painful feelings were excited, and pleasur- 
able ones depressed. 

A cause, then, which, by stimulating organs of sen- 
sation, extends its vivifying influence to the renovated 
feelings of the ipind, may modify an ecstacy in three 
ways: 

1^/, It may impart a vivifying influence similar to 
that of any quality of feelings, pleasurable or painful^ 
which is rendered intense, and may thus increase the 
force of the ecstacy. 

2dlif, It may impart a vivifying influence to any 
quality of feelings, pleasurable or painful, which is 
depressed ; and by reducing this means, the int^isity 
oithe excited quality of feelings may short^i the du- 
ration of the ecstacy ; or, 

Sdl^, It may, if acutely and unremittingly prolong- 
ed, change the nature of its action, as from pleasure 
to pain, or from pain to pleasure, and thus, according to 



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RISE TO SPECTRAL ILLUSIONS. 375 

the circumstances under which it acts^ either increase 
the force of the general excitement^ or shorten its du- 
ration. 

To all these varieties of effects^ however, which re- 
sult from morbific causes of general excitement^ there 
must evidently, from various idios3mcracies of consti- 
tution^ arise frequent exceptions. For, among the 
numerous individuals who, about twenty years ago, 
imbibed the nitrous oxide, there were few whom it 
affected entirely alike. Indeed, to some persons, pain 
instead of pleasure resulted from the inhalation.^ 

I have at length concluded my observations on what 
may be considered as the leading mental laws which 
are connected with the origin of spectral impressions. 

The general inference to be drawn from them is, — 
that Apparitions are nothing more than morbid 

SYMPTOMS, WHICH ARE INDICATIVE OF AN INTENSE 
EXCITEMENT OF THE RENOVATED FEELINGS OF THE 
MIND. 



* One individual, after having imbibed the gas, experienced a 
pressure in all the muscles ; a second, felt as if the bulk of the 
body was increased without its gravity ; a third, as if a weight 
was pressing him to the ground ; a fourth, complained of a prick- 
ing sensation in his stomach, but this soon gave way, and was suc- 
ceeded by a lively delirium and laughter ; a fifth, endured inex- 
pressible uneasiness from a burning heat in the chest, and was af- 
terwards thrown into a s]mcope of some minutes in duration. 



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PART V. 



SLIGHT REMARKS ON THE MODIFICATIONS WHICH 
THE INTELLECTUAL FACULTY OFTEN UNDER- 
GOES DURING INTENSE EXCITEMENTS OF THE 
MIND. 



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PART V. 



SlilOHT RBMABK8 ON THE MODIFICATIONS WHICH THE 
INTEIiLSCTUAL FACULTY OFTEN UNDERGOES DUR- 
INa INTENSE BXCITEHENTS OF THE HIND. 



*' Hark, amid the wond'ring grove, 

Other harpings answer clear, 

Other voices meet our ear, 
Pinions flutter, shadows move. 
Busy murmurs hum around. 
Rustling vestments brush the ground ; 
Round, and round, and round they go. 
Through die twilight, through the shade, 
Mount the oak's majestic head, 
And gild the tufted mistletoe." 

Mason's Caractacus, 



In the last part of this treatise^ the research^ as I ob- 
served at the time, was of a novel kind. Since appa- 
ritions are ideas equalling or exceeding in vividness 
actual impressions^ there ought to exist some impor- 
tant and definite laws of the mind which have given 
rise to this undue degree of vividness. It was> chiefly^ 



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380 THE JUDGMENT AFFECTED BY 

therefore^ for the purpose of investigating such laws 
that this dissertation was written. 

But I have here entered into a perfectly new field 
of research, where far greater difficulties were to be 
eiicountered than I anticipated. The extent of these 
can only be estimated by the metaphysician. 

The last object of this dissertation was to have 
established, that all the subordinate incidents con- 
nected with phantasms might be explained on the 
following general principle :— That, in every undue 
excitement of our feelings, (as, for instance^ when 
ideas become more vivid than actual impressions,) 
the operations of the intellectual faculty of the mind 
sustain corresponding modifications, by which the 
efforts of the judgment are rendered proportion- 
ally incorrect. But here I must pause. In order 
to give a full rationale of the phenomena which 
we have been lately contemplating, certain prin- 
ciples of the mind, to which I have yet but 
slightly adverted, require the fullest consideration. 
I allude to the laws connected with the intellectual 
faculty, and to the obstacles which are opposed to the 
correctness of its operations, during the extreme de- 
grees of intensity to which the states of the mind 
become liable from morbific causes.-— But, can it be 
reasonably expected, that any individual would un- 
dertake an investigation of this kind, which demands 
the consideration of every phenomenon of the human 
mind as it is presented in health or disease, with the 
sditary object in view of explaining the subordinate 
incidents connected with apparitions ? For such a 
purpose, it would be necessary to incorporate within 



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INTENSE MENTAL EXCITEMENTS. 381 

this treatise a complete systematic view of the patholo- 
gy of the human mind^ — a mark of attention^ which^ to 
the hugbears of popular superstition^ I am not inclined 
to pay. Yet, not to avoid the question altogether, I 
shall in preference quote the opinion of other authors 
v!pon the subject, rather than submit to the reader 
any remarks of my own. This plan I prefer, because 
the explanation of my own views would comprehend 
the notice of many other mental principles, besides 
those which will now be quoted, that might require 
an extensive discussion. To any pneumatologist, 
therefore, who has more inclination than myself to 
persist in an investigation of this kind — who has the 
spirit to exclaim, with one of Dryden's heroes, 

*' I'll face these babbling demons of the air, 
In spite of ghosts I'll on," ' 

the slight remarks and illustrations which appear in 
this part of the work are, with due deference, sub- 
mitted. 

Dr Brown, in his Physiology of the Human Mind, 
remarks, " That the union of perception with con- 
ceptions that harmonize with ijt, does truly vivify 
those harmonizing conceptions, by giving a sort of 
mixed reality to the whole, is shewn by some of 
the most interesting phenomena of thought and 
emotion. It is, indeed, a law of the mind, which, 
though little heeded by metaphysical inquirers, seems 
to me far more important, and far more extensive, 
than many of those to which they have paid the 
greatest attention. Some of our most vivid emo- 
tions, — those of beauty, for example, — derive their 



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383 THE JUDGMENT AFFECTED BY 

intensity chiefly from this circnmstance ; and numy 
of the gay or sad illusions of our hopes and fears 
are only forms of this very illusion. To the su- 
perstitious, in the loneliness of twilight^ many wild 
conceptions arise> that impress them with awe, 
perhaps not with terror ; but if, in the moment 'of 
such imaginations, their eye turn on any objects of 
indistinct outline, that give as it were a body to the 
phantasms of their own mind ; the phantasms them* 
selves, in blending with them, become immediately, 
with spectral reality, external and terrifying objects 
of perception. How often, in gazing on a dim and 
fading fire, do we see, in the mixture of light and 
shade that plays before us, resemblances oi well- 
known shapes, that grow more and more like as we 
continue to gaze on them. There is at first, in such 
a case, by the influence perhaps of the slightest pos- 
sible similarity, the suggestion of some form that is 
familiar to us, which we incorporate, while we gaze 
on the dim and shadowy film that flutters before us, 
till the whole seems one blended figure, with equal 
reality of what we conceive and what we triily see." 

Such is the explanation which Dr Brown has given 
of some of the illusions that we have been just con- 
sidering. Mr Coleridge, with no less acuteness, has 
adverted to the self-same principle, while proposing 
to account for Luther's apparitions. His words are 
the following : — ^^ In aid of the present case I will 
only remark, that it would appear incredible to per- 
sons not accustomed to these subtle notices of self- 
observation, what small and remote resemblances, 
what mere hints of likeness from some real external 



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INTENSE MENTAL EXCITEMENTS. 383 

object^ especially if the shape be aided by colour^ will 
suffice to make- a vivid thought consubstandate with 
the real object, and^ derive from it an outward per- 
ceptibility."* 

This correct view cannot meet with a better illus- 
tration than in a German narrative, translated by Dr 
Crichton, to which I have before adverted. It is the . 
case of a superstitious female, in whose mind the well- 
known morbid symptoms which precede a fit of epi- 
lepsy, such as the aura epileptica, — the luminous sen- 
sations that are well known to occasionally impress 
the vision,-^the illusive impressions of touch felt on 
various parts of the body, suggested many remote re- 
semblances connected with the angels and devils which 
formed the subject of her thoughts. These ideas had 
been recalled by the law of association, and having been 
rendered as intense as actual impressions, consuhstan^ 
Hated (to use Mr Ck>leridge's term) with the morbid 
impressions that were the result of her disease, and 
were intimately blended with them. " While the 
angels/' says this female in the account which she 
has given of her illusions, ^' thus spoke to me, a light, 
like that reflected from the river Diele, seemed to shine 
in the apartment. It moved up and down, and then 
disappeared, upon which I felt as if some person had 
pulled out the hairs of my head. But the pain was to 
be borne. The light came again, and the pain left 
me entirely ; it ceased to shine, and I felt as if the 
flesh on my back was torn from the bones by pincers. 
The light then returned, and I was better. It once more 

• Friend, by S. T. Coleridge, Esq. vol. i. p, 246. 



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384 THE JUDGMENT AFFECTED BY 

went away^ and I felt as if my shoulder-blades were 
torn from each other ; my heart also Mi as if it were 
tern out of my breast, and laid between my shoulders^ 
where it died. I thought these must be my last mo- 
ments ; and I then beheld the devil beside the young 
angel. He camefrombehind thebed^with his backfore- 
most. All that I saw of him> however^ was his arm^ 
a tail about two spans thick^ which resembled a ser- 
pent^ and his neck^ and the back part of his head. I 
had not time to examine him minutely^ for the angel 
pushed him away with his elbow." 

Other incidents, referable to a similar law of the 
mind, but which more particularly regard hearing, 
are likewise mentioned by Dr Brown. " The old 
proverb, which says, that ' As a fool thinketh so the 
bell clinketh,' is a fkithful statement of a physical 
phenomenon of the same kind. When both the air 
and the words c^ any song are very familiar to us, we 
scarcely can refrain from thinking, while the melody 
is performed by any instrument without a vocal ac- 
companiment, that the very words are floating in the 
simple tones which we hear. In like manner^ if any 
one beat the time of a particular air, on a table or 
other sounding body that is incapable of giving the 
distinct tones, it may be difficult for a listener, how- 
ever well acquainted with it, to discover the particu- 
lar melody ; but, as soon as it is named to ^im, he 
will immediately discover in the same sounds, not the 
time merely, but the very tones, that are only concep- 
tions of his own mind, which, as they harmonize with 
the sounds that are truly external, seem themselves 
also to be external, and to convert into music what 

7 



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INTENSE MENTAL EXCITEMENTS. 3^ 

before was unworthy of the name.' I might add 
many other illustrations of the same principle; for in 
the constitution of the mind> as I have said^ there is 
scarcely a principle of more extensive influeiice. But 
the examples which I have already adduced^ may be 
sufficient to shew the vivifying influence of perception 
on the conceptions that harmonize and unite with it, 
and to throw light also on the mode in which I con- 
ceive this vivifying effect to take place, by the diffu- 
sion of the felt reality of one part of a complex group 
to the other parts of it, which are only imaginary." 

To the same phenomena, when modified by disease, 
Mr Coleridge alludes. After expressing a wish to de- 
vote an entire work to the investigation of such illu- 
sions as are connected with popular superstitions, he 
thus proceeds,—*^ I might then explain, in a more 
satisfactory way, the mode in which our thoughts, in 
states of morbid slumber, become at times perfectly 
dramatic, (for in certain sorts of dreams the dullest 
wight becomes a Shakspeare,) and by what law the 
form' of the vision appears to talk to us in its own 
thoughts, in a voice as audible as the shape is visible ; 
and this to do often-times in connected trains, and 
not seldom even with a concentration of power which 
may easily impose on the soundest judgment, unin- 
structed in the optics and acoustics of the inner sense, 
for revelations and gifts of prescience." 

The best example of this view is, perhaps, to be 
found in the illusions of Tasso, as related by Mr 
Hoole. '^At Bisaccio, near Naples, Manso had an 
opportunity of examining the singular effects of Tasso's 
melancholy, and often disputed with him concerning 

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S8ft THE JUDGMSNT AFFCCt£B BY 

a fkiiiQitf spirit wfakh he pretended ton^r^ed "wttii 
liktt ; Mm6o tmdenwtnst^ in v«in to |>6R^itodi» Mi 
Mead that the whole was the iilusian ^ «kififl^»-bed 
imi^riiiatimi ; but the lattei^ was stf^ucyos ia mal6«> 
taining the reaUty c^what he asserted^ and^ tdteenvifice 
M an8o> desired him to be present at (me ef the myMe^ 
rfons conversations. Manso had the cinfii^aisance %o 
meet him next day^ and while tiiey were mgkged ^ 
discourse^ on a sudden he observed diat Tasso kept 
his eyes fixed on a window^ and remained in^a manner 
immoveable : he called him by bis name, but received 
no answer ; at last Tasso "crkd out> ' lliere is the 
friendly spirit that is come to conv^se with me; 
look ! and you will be convinced of the mtth of ali 
that I have said/ 

'* Manso heard him with surprise ; he looked^ bat 
saw nothing except the sunbeams darting throngli 
the window ; he cast his eyes all over the tocfm, but 
could perceive nothing ; and was ju^ going to a^ 
where the pretended spirit was^ when he heard Tasso 
speak with great earnestness^ sometimes putting ques- 
tions to the spirit, sometimes giving answ^s ; deliver- 
ing the whole in such a pleasing manner, and in sudi 
elevated expressions, that he listened with admiration^ 
and had not the least inclination to interrupt him. At 
lait, the uncommon conversation ended with the de- 
parture of the spirit, as appeared by Tasso's own 
words, who, turning to Manso, asked him if his doubts 
were removed. Manso was more amazed than ev«r ; 
lie scarce knew what to think of his friend's situation, 
asid waved any farther conversati<m on the subject." 



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INTENSE MENTAL EXCITEMENTS. 387 

It is with reluctance that I quit the notice of other 
similar cases. But to explain the laws that give rise 
to these illusions is one things — ^to explain the pheno- 
mena connected with them when they do occur, is 
another. An object of the last-mentioned kind cannot 
be attempted but in connexion with almost all the 
phenomena of the human mind. To pursue the sub- 
ject, therefore, any farther, would be to make a disser- 
tation on apparitions the absurd vehicle of a regular 
system of metaphysics. 

But, in expressing these sentiments, I would not be 
mistaken. While I am merely alluding to the awkward- 
ness of accompanying a theory of apparitions with a 
complete investigation of the laws of the human mind, 
I am very far from underrating any well-recorded 
phenomena of this kind, although they should not be 
immediately connected with the morbid origin of such 
illusions. It is, indeed, one of the leading objects of 
this dissertation to prove, that they are of the greatest 
importance in explaining the laws of the human mind, 
as they occur in health, and as they afe mo:lified by 
disease. 



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PART VI. 



SUMMARY OF THB COMPARATIVE DEGREES OF 
FAINTNESS, VIVIDNESS, OR INTENSITY SUBSIST. 
ING BETWEEN SENSATIONS AND IDEAS, DURING 
THEIR VARIOUS EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRES- 
8I0NS. 



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PART VI. 



INTRODUCTIOK. 

BIO00 SHeiTntfBMTS AMD BB^SSSIONa 

Ms- last ofe|^ct h, fyt^ sake of more complete du* 
cidation^ to give a snamitay of theoe phenosttena re- 
lative to e<m^eimmes9, i^^lch are manifested during 
^le exdtementsr aaid depressions to whieh the* feelings 
ef the mmd M?e constantly subject. 

The success of this investigation, however, must 
essentially depend upon a full statement of the pro- 
portional difference which subsists between sensations 
BXid ideas during their various transitions from faint- 
ness to intensity, or from intensity to faintness/ But 
it is almost unnecessary to add, regarding a physiolo- 
gical inquiry of this kind, that it is a problem which 
can never be satisfactorily accomplished : yet if, after 
all, for the mere sake of greater perspicuity^ I should 
be, induced to attempt a sort of tabular view of the 
various degrees of vividness to which our mental 
feelings are liable, it can have no other claim to re- 



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392 SUMMAEY OF MENTAL 

gard than as a fonnula which^ in the language of ma- 
thematicians^ is empirical, or purely experimental. It 
is> in fact^ a result obtained by repeated trials^ the effect 
of which is rather to give an artificial consistency to 
certain successions of mental phenomena^ than to pro- 
duce the conviction that the formula is in every re- 
spect agreeable to truth and to nature. 

In reference^ then^ to the annexed tabular sketch of 
the various proportional degrees of vividness sub- 
sisting among sensations and ideas> no fewer than fif- 
teen of such degrees are supposed to exist; these 
being represented on an ascending scale, by horizon- 
tal lines. The lowest of such lines^ marked 1, de- 
notes the faintest state of our mental feelings^ while 
the highest in the series^ marked 15^ represents the 
most excited condition of them. 

The vertical lines by which the horizontal ones are 
intersected dispose the various degrees of vividness 
thus represented into eight columnar divisions, each of 
these including a distinct transition of the feelings of 
the mind from faintness to intensity, or from intensity 
to faintness. 

These several transitions will be next described, 
though not in the exact order which is represented in 
the general table now given. 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 393 



CHAPTER I, 

THE VARIOUS EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS CON- 
NECTED WITH THE SLEEPING AND DREAJtfINO 
STATSsi 



'^ A pleasing land of drowsy-head it was. 
Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye ; 
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass^ 
For ever flushing round a summer-sky." 

Cattle of Indolence. 



In this chapter will be described the particular ex- 
citements and depressions connected with the sleeping 
and dreaming states; a reference being at the same time 
made to the general tabular view which I have given 
of the comparative degrees of faintness^ vividness^ or 
intensity^ subsisting between sensations and ideas^ 
during the various transitions to which they are sub- 
ject. 

Section I. 

TRANSITION (marked the Ist in the Table) 

From perfect Sleep to the common State of JVatchJuhiess, 

The first transition to be noticed is from perfect 
sleep to that cool and collected state which charac- 
terizes our common waking moments. 

During intervals of de^p slumber^ sensations are 



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904 



SUMMARY OJF MENTAJ. 



supposed to be more faint than ideas ; none of these 
mental states are^ however, vivid enough to be the 
subject of consciousness. Sensations are accordingly 
placed on the annexed scal^ 9^ the lowest degree, 
marked 1, while ideas occupy the graduated line 
marked 3. 

It ift also assumed, that at each stage of excitement 
ideas increase less in vividness than sensati(«9» 

Keeping the foregoing proportional increase in 
view, the several stages of exdtement which occur 
during this transidon may, in the subjoined table, be 
readily traced. 

TABULAR VIEW. 

Sensations, from being more faint than ideas, be- 
come more vivid.. 



Conscious and 

wcUves^tesQfr 

watchfulness. 

Muscles Obey " 

ttewiU. 
Consciousness 

be^ns. / 

Feelings so 
faint as not to . 
excite con- 


DMTeesof 

ViTldBeM 

orPtiBt- 

neu« 


Perfect 
Sfcep. 


ment. 


SdStace 

of Excite- 

ment. 


ment. 


4UiStige 

of Ixdft* 

ment. 


8 

5 
4 
3 

2. 
1 










Ideas 


. . . 


. s . 


. . • 


Sensations 
Ideas 












rScMaUona 


Ideas 


Ideas 
Sensations 
















. . . 


... 




: . . 



« Wlien sensations and ideas are equally vivid thete is no meoital oonidous- 
ness of them. 

hit Stage (^ Eacitemenit^ 

In the first stage of excitem^^it, represented i& the 
taible, ideas are raised to degree 4, whilq se&satiAiis, 



Ife 



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EXCITEMENTS AND MEPEESfflEONS. 3W 

Mhkk are iBore excitable^ follow them so dose a» to 
stand at the degree 3. These mental states^ however, 
are still so faints that no consciousness 'of them en- 
sues. 

2d Stage qf Excitement 

Jn the second stage, sensations and ideas^'^from th^r 
different excitabilities, each appear at die same d^ree 
of vividness. If they had proportionally differed in 
vividness, a mental consciousness of such states would 
have ensued. But, as I have remarked on a former 
occasion, (in part 4,) '^ when itjis considered that the 
human mind can form no notion of the present and 
of the past, but from the comparative degree of vi- 
vidness which, during our waking hours, subsists 
between sensations and ideas, and that the notion of 
present and past time enters into our definition of^ 
Consciousness, it must follow, that][ when sensations 
arrive at the same degree of vividness as ideas, a state 
of mental unconsciousness must necessarily be the 
resuh." 

Sxamples of this condition of our feelings are af^ 
forded in those moments which immediately precede 
our recovery from sound sleep. 

Ai Stage of Excitement, 

In a third stage of excitement^, sensations attain the 
7th asA Ideas tha 6th degree of vividness, the][fWmer 
becoming more vivid than the latter. The conscious- 
ness of the mind is now entire. 

An important law of the mind is now called forth, 



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396 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

which may be thus briefly explained i^^JVhen mental 
fi^^f tf ^^y description attain a certain degree of 
vividnets, muscular motions obey the impulse of the miH* 
Vcfr, in the fiunt feelings of our common dreams^ there 
is a decided volition^ but no contractions of the muscles 
follow. The particular degree necessary for muscular 
motions is represented in the scale as the sixth. The 
effect induced is^ however^ but feeble : 

'^ The ilurnVring god, amazed at this new din. 
Thrice itroye to rise, and thrice sunk down again : 
Listless he stretchM, and gaping rubb'd his eyes, 
Then falter'd thus betwixt half words and sighs.*' 

Another character may yet be menti<med> which 
distinguishes this stage of excitement. The vividness 
of ideas approaches so nearly, to that of sensations, 
that recollected images of thought are often om- 
founded with actual impressions. While^ therefore, 
the various forms of fancy and of memory mingle to- 
gether in confusion, a lethargic faintness increases the 
indistinctness, by imparting to the whole a dull and 
feeble gloom : 

^' The landskip such, inspiring perfect ease, 
Where Indolence (for so the wizard hight) 
Close-hid his castle 'mid imbowering trees, 
That half shut out the beams of Phoebus bright, 
And made a kind of checkered day and night*' -f- 

* Regarding this curious law I could say much, but am prevent- 
ed by the limited nature of the presept work. 
f Thomson's Castle of Indolence. 



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EXaTEMENTS ANB DEPRESSIONS. 397 

4/A Stage of Excitement, 

In a fourth stage of excitement, sensations attain 
the 9th and ideas the 7th degree of vividness, the 
former now being more vivid than the latter. 

This stage of excitement is particularly favourable 
for the operations of the reasoning powers. Actual 
impressions possess such a superior degree of tivicU 
ness, that they are not easily confounded with the re« 
collected images of thought. The attainment of a 
state of mind such as this, free from depressing or 
exciting passions, has been recommended by all mo- 
ralists as indispensable for the discovery of truth. 
Thus the Roman writer Boethius : 

'* Tu quoque si vis 
Lumine claro 
Cemere verum 
Tramite recto 
Carpere callem 
Oaudia pelle, 
Pelle Timorem, 
Nee dolor adsit, 
Spemque fugato. 
Nubila mens est, 
Vinctaque frenis 
Haec ubi regnant" 

Section II. 

TRANSITION (marked the 4th in the Table) 

From the common State of Watchjulnest to perfect Sleep, 

A ^ecofMi transition is from the ordinary state of ou 
waking hours to perfect sleep. 



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roMMARY OF M£NTAJL 

It is unnecessary to dwell upon the phenomena of 
thb depression of our mental feelings, which are the 
exact rereive of the ttmgca of exciten^nt ju«t deserih- 
•d. It is sufficient to state, that sensations, froria being 
more vivid Aan idois, become more faint. 

A suitable opportunity occurs, faowever> &» noticing 
audi mental depressions of feelings as are ref^^able to 
morbific causes* These, in fact, are to be traced in 
all the stages of reduced vividness incident^ to a tran- 
sition i¥om the state of watchf^ilness to that of perfect 
i^eep. But this view, which I have taken of the e0ects 
of depressing causes, will be rendered more explicit 
by the following table. 

TABULAR VIEW. 

States of the mind occurring from depressing 
causes of a morbific nature. 



Conscious and 
active states of 
watchftilneas. 

Musdesobey \ 

the will. ; 

begins. ' 

Feelings so 
faint as notto . 
excite conMi- / 
ousness. 

J 


Vividne.. 

andFabt- 

ness. 


Active 
State. 


it 

Lethargic 

Sfete. 


State dur 
!ng Cata. 
lep«y. 


Sdly, 
Fainting states. 


9 
8 
7 
6 
5 
4 
3 
■o 


Sensatioai 


















IdMS 


Seuatiom 
Ideas 














Scaiattonf 
tdess* 


Ideas 

Sensations 


Ideas 






. . . 


















Sensations 


. 









* When sensations and ideas are equally vivid, there is no consciousness of 
them. 



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EXCItfiMS^^ AND l>£^lt£8SI0NS. 909 

1*^, or Lethargic State. 

Tk« first state^ arish^ ^m morbific caiMes xti de»- 
pinesiofn^ 19 that wliidi I have turned the lethargic. It 
^qaently results from par^dytic iiffectk>n8 of the ncr^ 
woas wyubcm, and is sometimes the oonseqnence t£ 
intense thanking. AfWr mck unctee mental excitement 
has been caused by the ardent study of the abstract 
sciences^ the drowsy god then displays his benumb- 
ing influence : 

'* No passions intemipt his easy reign ; 
No problems pu2zle Ms lethargic brain : 
But dtiQOblivion guards his peaceful bed, 
And laty fogs bedew his gracious head."* 

But this tendency of intense study to produce stu- 
por has been by no one better illustrated^ than by Dr 
Crichton^ in his valuable work on m^ital derange- 
ment. With one example^ 4^erefore^ which he gives, 
I shall omclude my nodce of the lethargic state in- 
duced by depressing causes. 

'^ A young Swiss gentleman^ fbr six months^ had 
given himself up wholly to the intense study of me- 
taphysics. An inertness of mind followed, which m 
last ended in a complete stupor. 'Without being 
blind/ it h mid, ' he ^>peia'ed not to seej without 
being deaf, he seemed not to- hear ; ^thout being 
dumb^ he did not speak. In other respects, he slept, 
draiik, ate without relish and without aversion, with- 
out asking to eat, or without refusing to do so. This 

• Garth's Dispensary. 



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400 SUMMAKY OF MENTAL 

state continued a whole year. At length a person 
read loudly to him> and it was noticed that he express- 
ed symptoms of acute suffering ; the experiment was 
tried again ; and his hearing was re-established on a 
similar principle. Every odier sense was successive- 
ly excited on the same principle^ and in proportion as 
he regained the use of it the stupidity appeared to be 
diminished."* 

2d, State occurring in Catalepsy. 

In a second, or still more reduced stage of depress 
sion, sensations and ideas are of equal degrees of vi- 
vidness when a state of unconsciousness ensues. I 
have supposed that this mental condition may be found 
in a variety of the affection called catalepsy. For if 
sensations had differed from ideas -in their relative 
degree of vividness, muscular contractions would have 
been excited ; but as in this case they partake of an 
equal degree of vividness, no mental consciousness of 
such feelings can possibly ensue, and, consequently, 
no voluntary influence can arise to affect the motific 
nerves which communicate with and regulate mus- 
cular fibres. Hence the muscles, while contracting, 
easily 3deld to any external impulse, and retain any 
given position.t 

A curious illustration of the state of the mental feel- 

* See the case giyen on the authority of Zimmennan, by Dr 
Crichton, in his work on Mental Derangement, yoL iL p. 35. 

1* This is but an imperfect explanation of a very important 
phenomenon, the rationale of which would be too long to investi- 
gate in this limited treatise. 

7 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 401 

ings during catalepsy is given by Dr Crichton, on the 
authority of Borellus. 

'' G^rge Giokatzki^ a Polish soldier^ deserted from 
his regiment in the harvest of the year 1677* He was 
discovered, a few days afterwards, drinking and ma- 
king merry in a common alehouse. The moment he 
was apprehended, he was so much terrified, that he 
gave a loud shriek, and immediately was deprived of 
the power of speech. When brought to a court-mar- 
tial, it was impossible to make him articulate a word ; 
nay, he then became as immoveable as a statue, and 
ai^peared not to be conscious of any thing which was 
going forward. In the prison to which he was con- 
ducted he neither ate nor drank. The officers ahd the 
priests at first threatened him, and afterwards en- 
deavoured to sooth and calm him ; but all their efforts 
were in vain. He remained senseless and immove- 
able. His irons were struck off, and he was taken 
out of the prison, but he did not move. Twenty days 
and nights were passed in this way, during which he 
took no kind of nourishment, nor had any natural 
evacuation ; he then gradually sunk and died." 

3d, or Fainting States. 
States of syncope are nothing more than those of 
sleep, requiring, however, greater stimuli for their ex- 
citement. 

Section UL 

TRANSITION (the 5th in the Table) 

From perfect Sleep to common Dreams and Somnambulism. 

A third transition is from the state of perfect sleep 

to diat of dreaming, or of somnambulism. Consis- 

2 c 



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409 



SUMMAEY OF MENTAL 



tentiy with our view of the cause of sleep, the sensa- 
tions of perfect repose have been considered as fainter 
than ideas. It is now of importance to remark, that 
when causes of undue excitement, such as are known 
to induce states of dreaming and somnambulism, af- 
fect the mind, they do not, as in other circumstances 
enumerated, cause sensations to increase more than 
ideas in vividness, but, on the contrary, excite them 
uniformly. 

TABULAB VIEW. 

The ideas and sensations of perfect sleep are excited 
uniformly. 



DMKCsa 
VWubew 
ind Faint- 



Muscles obey 
tbewilL 



begins. 



FeeUngsso 
fkint as not to 
ezdte oonsd- 



Perfect 
Sleep. 



of Ezdte- of Ez(^ of 



Ideas 



1st Stage 



SeBsationi 



SdStwe 



Ideas 



3dS 



Ideas 



1*^ Stage of Excitement. 
In the first stage of excitement, ideas are to be 
found at the 4th and sensations at the 2d degree of 
vividness. Neither description of feelings is, however, 
sufficiently vivid to excite mental consciousness. 

2d Stage of Excitement. 
In the second stage of excitement, ideas attain the 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 403 

5th degree of vividness^ when a consciousness of them 
ensues. But the mind is not conscious of sensations^ 
these being only found at the 3d degree. 

The dreaming state now commences, confined, 
however, to ideas : 

^' When Reason sleeps, our mimic £uicy wakes, 
Supplies her part, and wild ideas takes 
From words and things ill-suited and misjoin^d, 
The anarchy of thought and chaos of the mind.^' 

3^ Stage of Excitement, 

In the third stage, ideas appear at the 6th degree 
of vividness. That law of the mind, before alluded 
to, is now called into force, which is, — ^that when any 
mental feelings attain a certain degree of vividness, 
(at or about the 6th degree, as represented in the 
scale), muscular motions obey the impulse of the will. 
Yet at this degree, the actions of muscles are very 
feeble, so that no other phenomena are induced than 
those which are indicated by the low mutterings, or 
the startings of lively dreams. It may be observed of 
the sensations of this stage of excitement as of the last, 
that, rising no higher than the 5th degree, they are 
still too &int to excite consciousness. 

4th Stage of Excitement. 

The fourth stage of excitement is that of somnam- 
bu^sm, the ideas of which, being at the 7th degree of 
vividness, are as vivid aa those of complete watchful- 
ness. Accordingly, vigorous muscular motions obey 



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404 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

the will. There is likewise a consciousness of sensa^ 
tions, which are to be found in the table^ at the 5th 
degree of vividness. 

I shall now illustrate this stage of excitement by 
a case given on the authority of Mr Smellie, in his 
Philosophy of Natural History, wherein it is perfectly 
clear that ideas were more vivid than sensations. The 
individual who walked in her sleep was a servant-girl 
residing near Edinburgh. It will be likewise evi- 
dent from the ensuing narrative, that the fear of an 
imaginary bull, which the somnambulist supposed 
was about to attack her, had reduced to a state of ex- 
treme faintness every feeling which was not connected 
with the moral occasion that gave rise to her emo- 
tions. Hence, the infliction of wounds from a sharp- 
pointed instrument failed in producing sensations suf- 
ficiently vivid to be the object of mental conscious^ 
ness. 

'' I examined her countenance," says Mr Smellie, 
" and found that her eyes, though open, wild, and 
staring, were not absolutely fixed. / took a pin, and 
repeatedly pricked her arm, hut not a muscle moved^ not 
a symptom of pain was discoverable. At last she be- 
came impatient to get out, and made several attempts 
to escape by the door, but that was prevented by the 
domestics. Perceiving her inability to force the door, 
she made a sudden spring at the window, and endea- 
voured to throw herself over, which would have been 
fatal to her. To remove every suspicion of impos- 
ture, I desired the people, with proper precautions to 
prevent harm, to try if she would really precipitate 
herself from the window. A seemingly free access 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 405 

was left for her escape^ which she perceived, and in- 
stantly darted with such force and agility, that more 
than- one-half of her body was projected before her 
firiends were aware. They, however, laid hold of 
her, and prevented the dreadful catastrophe. She 
was again prevailed upon, though with much reluc- 
tance, to sit down. She soon resumed her former 
calmness, and freely answered such questions as were 
put to her. This scene continued for more than an 
hour. I was perfectly convinced, notwithstanding 
my original suspicions, that the won^an was actuated 
by strong and natural impulses, and not by any design 
to deceive. I asked if any of the attendants knew 
how to awaken her. A female servant replied, that 
she did. She immediately, to my astonishment, laid 
hold of Sarah's wrist, forcibly squeezed and rubbed the 
projecting bones, calling out, at the same time, Sarah, 
Sarah ! By this operation Sarah awoke. She stared, 
with amazement, looked around, and asked how so 
many people came to be in her own apartment at so un- 
seasonable an hour ? After she was completely awake, 
I asked her what was the cause of her restlessness and 
violent agitation ? She replied, that she had been 
dreaming that she was pursued by a furious bull, which 
was every moment on the point of goring her."* 

Section IV. 
TRANSITION (named the 6th in the Table) 
From common Dream* and Somnambulism to perfict Sleep, 
A fourth transition is from somnambulism and com- 
mon dreaming to perfect sleep. As this series of 

* Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History, vol. ii. p. 393. 



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406 



SUMMARY OF MENTAL 



mental changes is indicated by phaiomena> the exact 
reverse of the stages of excitement last described^ 
they will be sufficiently explained by an inspection of 
the general table which I have given. It is sufficient 
for me to observe^ that ideas and s^fisations are uni- 
formly depressed to a low d^pree o£ faintness. 

Section V. 

TRANSITION (marked the 7th in the General Table) 

From Sleep lets complete to common Dreams and Somnambulism. 

It is yet possible to conceive of other circumstances 
slightly differing from those just mentioned, under 
which common dreams and somnambulism may be 
induced. During the transition from watchfulness to 
perfect sleep, there is an intermediate period of less 
complete repose, in which the following effects, re- 
sulting from a cause of mental excitement, may en- 
sue:— 

TABULAR VIEW. 

Ideas and sensations are excited uniformly. 



Musdesobey \ 
thewUl. / 

begins. / 

Feelings so 
faintasnotto . 
excite ocm- 


YivkbiMs 

and&lnt- 

nMk 


XS! 


lit stage of 


ad stage of 
Bxdtemeiit. 


5d stage of 


7 
6 
5 

4 
S 

s 

1 








Ideas 
Sensations 


Ideas 
Sensations 


Ideas 


Ideas 
Sensationi 

























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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 407 

1*^ Stage of Excitement, 

In the first stage of excitement^ ideas attain the 5th 
and sensations (he 4th degree of vividness ; in which 
case there is a consciousness of the former feelings 
only, and the ordinary state of dreaming is induced. 

2d Stage of Excitement 

In the 2d stage, ideas attain the 6th and sensations 
the 5th degree of vividness. Muscular motions now 
slightly ohey the will, and there is also a conscious- 
ness of actual impressions. 

3c^ Stage of Excitement, 

In the third stage, ideas are found at the 7th and 
sensations at the 6th degree of vividness. This change 
is characterized by all the phenomena of somnam- 
bulism. 

I know of no other way in which this, last stage of 
excitement can be illustrated, than by shewing . that 
causes of mental excitement, when inducing somnam- 
bulism, may operate before perfect sleep is induced. 
Thus, in a case which Mr Smellie has recorded in his 
Philosophy of Natural History, relative to a somnam- 
bulist, it is said, that " his ordinary sleep, which is 
seldom tranquil when about to be seized with a fit of 
somnambulism, is uncommonly disturbed. While in 
this state he is affected with involuntary motions ; his 
heart palpitates, his tongue falters, and he alternately 
rises up and lies down. On one of. these occasions 
the gentleman remarked, that he soon articulated 



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406 SUMMARY OF MENTAL. 

more distinctly^ rose suddenly, and acted agreeably 
to the motives of the dream which tiien occupied his 
imagination." 

Another instance, wherein sleep-wajking took place 
befcnre perfect sleep was induced, may be found in 
tiie 9tii volume of tiie Fhilosc^hical Transactions of 
SSdinburgh. The sonmambulist, to whose case I have 
alluded in the 2d part of this work, was a servant-girl, 
affected not only with sleeping, butwith waking visions. 
It is said, tiiat ^' having fallen asleep, surrounded by 
someof theinhabitantsof thehouse, sheimaginedherself 
to be living with her aunt at Epsom, and going to the 
races. She then placed herself on one of the kitchen- 
stools, and rode upon it into the room, with much spirit 
and a clattering noise, but without being wakened." 

Section VI. 

TRANSITION (marked the 8th in the General Table) 

From Somnambulism and common Dreamt to lest complete Sle^ 

This transition is tiie exact reverse of .the last de- 
scribed. I shall tiierefore take no farther notice of it 
than by a reference to the general table which I have 
given. 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 409 



CHAPTER II. 

THE ORDER OF PHENOMENA OBSERVABLE IN EXTREME 
MENTAL EXCITEMENTS^ WHEN SENSATIONS AND 
IDEAS ARE CONJOINTLY RENDERED MORE VIVID. 



^' To the magic region^s centre 

We are veiguig it appears ; 
Lead us right, that we may enter 

Strange enchantment*s dreamy spheres.^* 

Lord F. Oower's FauH. 



The transition next to be noticed^ is from those me- 
dium degrees of vividness which characterize our or- 
dinary waking moments, to the intense condition of 
mental feelings which gives rise to spectral illusions. 

In the common state of watchfulness, ideas, as I 
just have pointed out, are supposed to be less vivid 
than sensations ; at the end of this excitement, how- 
ever, they are rendered more intense* 

But a readier explanation of these phenomena will 
be afforded when they are arranged in a tabular 
form. 



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410 



SUMMARY OF MENTAL 



TRANSITION 

From <Atf ordhtary trai^ptU State of Watchfidneti to a State of 
extrtme tneutai ExHtement, 

Ideaa, from being less vivid than sensations^ be- 
come more intense. 



Intense excited 
tions neoeMury 
foripectral 

Viyidnenofor- i 
dinaryemo- I 
tioM. / 

Medium tUtes 
of the mind. 


TividDHB 

or 
Intmitj. 


Watchfld. 

IMM. 


meat. 


ment. 


ment. 


^ 


15 
14 
13 
12 
11 
10 
9 
8 
7 










Ideas 
















Ideas 

Sensations 


Sensationi 








Sensttioiu 


Senntions 
Ideu 


SeniatioiM 
Ideas* 














Ideas 



















• When sensations and ideas are of the same degree of vividness, there is no 
mental consciousness of them. 

After these general remarks, I shall proceed to de- 
scribe the several stages of excitement which occur 
during this transition of the feelings of the mind. 

1*/ Stage of Excitement, 

In the first stage sensations are to be found at the 
10th and ideas at the 9th degree of the table^ the 
comparative vividness of the former not increasing so 
much as that of the latter. 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 411 

• 

This comparatiye degree of intensity finds an illustra*^ 
tion in our ordinary mental emotions. The vividness 
of ideas approaches too near that of sensations^ so that 
the proper distinction which ought to subsist between 
them is less easily discerned; and hence the reason 
why mental emotions do not allow of the decisions of 
cool judgment The effect, likewise, of a vivifying 
influence, which acts in a particular manner upon 
ideas, is- to give them, when compared with sensations, 
an undue prominence in our thoughts. A farther 
consequence, therefore, of this action, is,— that rela* 
tions of comparison, such as subsist among all our va- 
rieties of feeling, are suggested in a much greater 
number and variety than when the mind is cool and 
tranquil. New resemblances, differences, forms, or 
positions, unexpectedly arise, and, in the same un- 
looked-for manner, connect the recollected images of 
the mind with the external objects by which we are 
surrounded. Should no calmer reference then be 
made for the correctness of such relations to actual 
circumstances, we enter the wild realms of Phantasy, 
where sober deliberations, which have truth for their 
object, are exchanged for the reveries of fan^itics, of 
poets, or of philosophical theorists : 

'* Fledg*d with the feathers of a learned mufle, 
They raise themselves unto the highest pitch, 
Marrying base earth and heaven in a thought."*. 

When individuals labour under an evident defici- 



Old comedy of Lingua. 



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412 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

ency of the judging faculties^ and when^ at the same 
time^ morbific causes impart a permanent influence to 
ithe too vivid state of ideas, then arises that distracted 
state of the thoughts, where little distinction is made 
between actual impressions and the renovated feelings 
of 4he mind. This variety o£ Amentia is happily illus- 
trated by Pinel in the case which he has given o£ one 
of his own countrymen, who had been educated in all 
the prejudices of the ancient noblesse. '< His passion- 
ate and puerile mobility was excessive. He constant- 
ly bustled about the house, talking incessantly, shout- 
ing, and throwing himself into great passions for the 
most trifling causes. He teased his domestics by the 
most frivolous orders, and his neighbours by his fool- 
eries and extravagancies, of which he retained Qot the 
least recollection for a single moment. He talked 
with the greatest volatility of the court, of his periwigs 
of his horses, of his gardens, without waiting for an an- ^ 
swer, or giving time to follow his incoherent jargon." 
It is worthy of note, that the energy of muscular 
actions often keeps pace with this stage of mental ex- 
citement. This is happily illustrated in the effect which 
a variety of the Amanita Muscaria produces when used 
as an intoxicating ingredient by the inhabitants of the 
north-eastern parts of Asia. In a very interesting his- 
tory of this fungus, lately drawn up by Dr Greville of 
Edinburgh, particular mention is made of its influence 
on the movements of the muscles. This writer ob- 
serves, that '' one large, or two small fungi, is a com- 
mon dose, when intended to produce a pleasant intoxi- 
cation for the whole day ;" he then adds, ^' it renders 
some persons remarkably active, and proves highly 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 413 

stimulant to muscular exertion : with too large a dose, 
violent spasmodic effects are produced. So very ex- 
citing to the nervous system 'in many individuals is 
this fungus, that the effects are oflten very ludicrous. 
If a person under its influence wishes to step over a 
straw or small stick, he takes a stride or a jump suffi- 
cient to clear the trunk of a tree ; a talkative person 
cannot keep silence or secrets ; and one fond of music 
is perpetually singing."* 

The last remark which I shall make on this stage 
of mental excitement is, that no other mental impres- 
sions of a spectral nature are experienced, than such 
as may be corrected by a slight examination of the 
natural objects to which they owe their origin. Illu- 
sions of sound are such as have 6een described after 
the following manner by Mr Coleridge : — '* When we 
are broad awake," says this writer, *^ if we are in anxi- 
ous expectation, how often will not the most confused 
sounds of nature be heard by us as articulate sounds ? 
For instance, the babbling of a brook will appear for 
a moment the voice of a friend, for whom we are wait- 
ing, calling out our own names." Illusions of vision 
are of the same nature as those which I took occasion 
to describe, when animadverting on the vivifying ef- 
fects of Hope and Fear. The leading features of some 
images of the mind, which, if present, would, from 
moral causes, create emotion, may be traced in such 
outlines of light and shade as in part compose the 
figures that are actually impressing the visual organs. 

* Wernerian Transactions, vol. iv. p. 344. 



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414 



SUMMAEY OF MENTAL 



*Qd Stage qf ExdiemeiU. 

In this stage of excitement, sensations and ideas, 
firom being ezdted in different proportions, each at- 
tain the same degree <^ vividness. {See degree 11 in 
tkefottomng table,) At the same time, as I have more 
than once explained, all knowledge of present and past 
time, which necessarily results from the comparative 
d^;rees of vividness that subsist been sensations and 
ideas, must totally cease ; and with it, of course, all 
mental omsciousness. 

TABULAR VIEW. 



Oidinanr 

Mental 

Emodcms. 


Degrees of 
IntMisity. 


lit Stage of 


2d stage of 
Ezatement. 


11 
10 
9 


Sensatioiis 
Ideas 


f Sensations 
\ Ideas* 



> When leotatiopitfid ideas are of the wane intetMitytfawe is BO coaa c i ou MiWi 



This momentary state of unconsciousness is not un- 
firequently induced by violent emotions of the mind. 
Accordingly, in the descriptions which poets have 
given us of the effects of various exciting passions, il- 
lustrations of such an incident will be commonly met 
with. One of the dramatis perwnas, for instance, in 
Dryden's tragedy of Aurengzebe, while expatiating on 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 416 

the more than ordmary intensity which had been im- 
parted to his feelings by some source of enjoyment or 
other^ very philosophically adds> 

" Nature 
Gives all she can^ and, lab'ring still to give^ 
Makes it so great, we can but taste and live ; 
So fills the senses that the soul seems fled, 
And thought iUelf does fir the time lie dead,** 

By the same poet^ this stage of mental excitement has 
been described as a sort of lethargy : 

*'*' Thus long my grief has kept me dumb. 
Sure there's a lethargy in mighty woe*'' 

And in the Conquest of Granada : 

Ev'n while I speak and look, I change yet more ; 
And now am nothing that I was before. 
I'm numb'd and fix'd, and scarce my eyeballs move ; 
I fear it is t^ lethargy of love ! 

This momentary unconsciousness is likewise at- 
tended with a corresponding cessation of all muscular 
motions^ but more particularly of those which are 
concerned with vocal utterance. Thus^ Shakspeare 
speaks of " the grief that does not speak."* But Dry- 
den^ in his translation of Ovid^ has more particularly 
described this peculiar affection : 

* Give sorrow words ; the grief that does not speak, 
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break. 
, Macbeth^ Act 4, Scene 3. 



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4ie SUMMAKV OF MENTAL 

*^ She thus etaay'd to speak ; her accents huag, 
And, fiJt'ring, dy*d unfinish'd on her tongue. 
Or Tanish*d into sighs : with long delay 
Her Toice retnm*d, and found the wonted way.** 

In vicdeiit ebullitions of passion^ feelings occasionallj 
arise of which we are alternately conscious and uncon« 
scious. The following tabular view will probably 
afford a rationale of this phenomenon^ which depends 
upon our mental feelings undergoing a sort of vacilla- 
tion between the first and second stages of excitement 
which I have described. 



Ordinary I 


DcmesoT 
Vi^klnets. 


WeOiagtot 
Coniidotu- 


Momentary 

Unoonsdoiu- 

■ess. 


Conidous. 

nen 

returned. 


11 
10 
9 


Sensations 
Ideas 


Sensations 
Ideas* 


Sensations 
Ideas 



• When lenntions and idest are of the same degree of TiTidnei^ there is an 
unoonjdoufneM of them. 

Alternate transitions of this kind^ from one stage of 
excitement to another^ have been alluded to by Rowe, 
in his admirable drama of the Fair Penitent: 

^^ At first her rage was dumb, and wanted words ; 
But when the storm found way, *twas wild and loud. 
Mad as the priestess of the Delphic god, 
Enthusiastic passion swelled hfr breast. 
Enlarged her voice, and ruffled all her form.** 

I shall next remark^ that the second stage of excite- 
ment^ thus characterized by a temporary unconscious- 

7 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 417 

ness^ has been in a striking manner illustrated by the 
effects resulting from the inhalation of the nitrous ox- 
ide. When Sir Humphry Davy had respired six quarts 
of nitrous oxide^ the operation of which was not so 
rapid as usual^ he remarked, " The thrilling was very 
rapidly produced. The objects around me were per- 
fectly distinct, and the light of the candle was not, as 
usual, dazzling. The pleasurable sensation was at 
first local, and perceived in the lips and about the 
cheeks. It gradually, however, diffused itself over the 
whole body, and in the middle of the experiment was 
for a moment so intense and pure as to absorb exist- 
ence. At this moment, and not before, I lost conscious'^ 
ness; it was, however, quickly restored."* — But some- 
times, when ideas arrive at the same degree of inten- 
sity as sensations, our feelings do not shew a tendency 
to increase in vividness ; in which case, a much longer 
state of unconsciousness subsists. Accordingly, this 
happened to another inhaler of the nitrous oxide^ 
spoken of in Sir Humphry Davy-s Researches. '^ I 
was for some time," he remarks^ '^ unconscious of ex- 
istence" 

But a more permanent state of unconsciousness may 
be brought on by morbific excitements; on which 
occasion a variety of catalepsy may be induced, dif- 
fering from that which I have lately described. (See 
page 400). For, in the case already adduced, there 
was a more feeble excitement of the mind, and at the 
same time sensations and ideas acquired a similar de- 
gree of vividness. The vivifying influence, therefore, 

* Davy's Researches concerning the Nitrous Oxide^ p. 492. 

2d 



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418 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

which stimulated muscles^ notwithstanding tiie absence 
of all mental consciousness^ only caused very faint con- 
tractions of them. But in a greater stage of excite- 
ment^ such as that which we are now considering, the 
more vivid condition of mental feelings induces vigor- 
ous muscular actions. Yet, as long as there is no con- 
sciousness of the present and the past^ the muscles 
maintain the same state of rest or motion which they 
had acquired prevums to the excitement.* A recent 
example of this variety of catalepsy may be fcnind in 
Dr Good's work on the study of medicine.t It is the 
case of a student of Gray's Inn, about nineteen years 
of age. ^' Having been attacked," says this author, 
'' with a fit of catalepsy while walking, within a few 
minutes after having left his chambers, he continued 
his pace insensibly, and without the slightest know- 
ledge of the course he took. As far as he could judge, 
the paroxysm continued for nearly an hour, through 
the whole of which time his involuntary walking con- 
tinued ; at the end of this period he began a little to 
recover his recollection, and the general use of his 
external senses. He found himself in a large street, 
but did not know how he got diere, nor what was its 
name. Upon inquiry, he learned that he was at the 
further end of Piccadilly, near Hyde-Pftrk-Comer, to 
which, when he left his chambers, he had no intention 
of going. He was extremely frightened, very mudi 

* This is a very curious fact It will be more particular^ no- 
ticed in a separate investigation, which has for seme time oecupied 
my attention. 

f See Good's Study of Medicine, vol. ill. p. 580. 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 419 

exhausted^ and returned home in a coach. He was 
not conscious of any particular train of ideas that had 
passed in his mind during the fit* 

3c? Stage of Excitement* 

In a third stage of excitement, ideas are to be found 
at the 13th and sensations at the 12th degree of vivid- 
ness. Spectral impressions now occur, ideas being 
more vivid than the actual impressions with which 
they are accompanied, and far more intense than the 
undisturbed and cool sensations of our proper waking 
hours. 

The momentary unconsciousness just described, 
occurs as the prelude of spectral impressions,— con- 
veying the notion that surrounding objects ar^ va- 
nishing, or melting into air, when, in fact, it is sensa- 
tions themselves which are sinking into faint states of 



• As I am on the subject of catalepsy, some of my readers 
may perhaps expect me to notice the case adduced by Martin, in 
his Treatise on the Second-sight of the Highlands, who has stated, 
ihat '^ there was one in Sky, of whom his acquaintance observed, 
that when he sees a vision, the inner part of his eyelids turn so far 
upwards, that after the object disappears, he must draw them down 
with his fingers, and he sometimes employs others to draw them 
down, which he finds to be the much easier way." From this cir- 
cumstance, DrFerriar has conceived that the vision of the seer was 
connected with catalepsy. But this inference is a dubious one : 

" While thus the lady talk'd, the knight 
Tum'd th' outside of his eyes to white ; 
As men of inward light are wont 
To turn their optidcs in i^on*t" 



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420 SUMMAKY OF MENTAL 

uncot^sciousness. Immediately^ however^ this appa- 
rent evanescence is succeeded by ideas so intensely 
vivified, that the semblance is excited of a transmuta- 
tion of tangible objects into the fantastical images of 
a visionary world. *' I thought/' said Arise Evans, 
an accredited seer o£ the year 1653, " in a vision that 
I had presently afler the King's death, that I was in 
a great hall like the King's hall, or the castle in Win- 
chester, and there was none there but a judge that 
sat upon the bench and myself; and as I turned to a 
window to the north-westward, and looking into the 
palm of my hand, there appeared to me a face, head, 
and shoulders, like the Lord Fairfax's, and presently 
it vanished. Again, there arpse the Lord Cromwell, 
and he vanished likewise ; then arose a young face, 
and he had a crown upon his head, and he vanidied 
also ; and another young face arose with a crown upon 
his head, and he vanished also ; and another young 
face arose with a crown upon his head, and he va- 
nished in like manner ; and as I turned the palm of 
my hand back again to me and looked, there did ap- 
pear no man in it. Then I turned to the judge, and 
said to him, there arose in my hands seven, and five 
of them had crowns ; but when I turned my hand, the 
blood turned to its veins, and these appeared no more.* 

* This vision, which^ as Dr Ferriar has well remarked, resembled 
the royal shadows in Macbeth, was interpreted by Arise Evans 
after the following manner : — '* The interpretation of this vision 
is, that, after the Lord Cromwell, there shall be kings again in 
England, which thing is signified unto us by them that arose after 
him, who were all crowned ; but the generations to come may look 
for a change of the blood, and of the name in the royal seat, after 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 421 

But a transition of this kind, when real objects be- 
come evanescent and are succeeded by phantasms, I 
have endeavoured to explain by the following 

TABULAR VIEW. 







Degrees of 
Vividneag. 


Previous | States of 
Mental States Feeling 
while COD- while real Ob- 
templating jects are va- 
real Ot^ects. nishing. 


States of 

Feeling 
which inauce 
Spectral Im- 
pressions. 


Intense Excite- 1 


13 


. . . 


. . . 


Ideas 


ments. f 


12 


. . . 


• • • 


Sensations 


_ 




11 


. . . 


/Sensations 
\ Ideas* 


. . . 


Ordinary ' 
Emotions. 




10 


Sensations 


• • • 


. . . 


. 




9 


Ideas 


. . . 


. . . 



• When sensations and ideas are of the same degree of vividness, there is no 
consciousness of them. 

Again, an order of depression, the exact reverse of 
the excitement which is displayed in the foregoing 
table, will present us with the mode in which phan- 
tasms appear to vanish, and real objects again become 
manifest. 

Sometimes spectral impressions are ushered in by 
a more permanent state of unconsciousness, which 
was considered of great importance by old pneumato- 
logists. The temporary unconsciousness which pre- 
ceded an ecstacy, was attributed to the apprehensive 

five kings once passed,** &c &c. But enough of this : the inter- 
pretation is far more difficult to be admitted than the vision itself. 
(See Joriin's Remarks on Ecclesiattical History, Appendix io 
vol. i,) 



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42S SUMMAEY OF MENTAL 

faculties of sense having left the body for the purpose 
of supematurallj exploring every thing 

" Within earth's centre or heaven's cirde found." 

As soon, therefore, as the senses had returned from 
their long journey, loaded with intelligence, the ec- 
stacy of the seer commenced : 

'' He therefore sent out all his senses 
To bring him in intelligences, 
Which vulgars, out of ignorance, 
Mistake for falling in a trance ; 
But those that trade in geomancy, 
Affirm to be the strength of fancy." 

But there are other phenomena to be considered 
incidental to spectral illusions. 

When the feelings of the mind are under the influ- 
ence of an iiregular excitement, it is not uncommon 
for them to fluctuate in their degrees of vividness ; 
or, in other words, ideas, from being more faint than 
actual impressions, become, in turns, more vivid. 
In this case, objects of sensation appear to vanish ; 
spectral images rise up 'and melt into air; sensible 
objects te-appear ; and thus there is a constant alter- 
nation of realities and phantasms, which, when ra- 
pidly induced, gives origin to a painful delirium. 

But the mode in which realities and phantasms al- 
ternate with each other may find a readier explanation 
in the following 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 42a 



TABULAR VIEW. 



Degrees of 
Intensity. 


Previous 
State of the 
Feelings. 


Real Objects 
vanish. 


Spectral 
Impressions. 


vanish. 1 return. 


13 
12 
11 
10 
9 


Sensations 
Ideas 


/ Sensations 
\Ideas» 


Ideas 
Sensations 


/SensaUons 
\ Ideas* 


Sensations 
Ideas 


. . . 


. . . 


. . . 



• When sensations and ideas are of the same degree of intensity , there is an 
unconsdousness of tl^em. 



An example of this alternation of realities and 
phantasms will be found in Dr Crichton's work on 
mental derangement. It is given on the authority of 
Bonnet. The case recorded is of a gentleman whose 
mental disorder had originated from some affection of 
the brain> aggravated by intense study. It is said^ 
that " mjmsions arose suddenly before his eyes with 
all their external and appropriate decorations. At 
times^ the appe£^rance of the paper in his room seemed 
at once to be changed^ and^ instead of the usual 
figures which are on it^ a number of fine landscapes 
appeared to his view. Some time after, not only all 
the landscapes and paper, but the furniture also, dis- 
appeared, and the bare walls presented themselves to 
his eyes." * 

Occasionally the states of the mind fluctuate be- 
tween the second and third stages of excitement, so 
that feelings of which we are unconscious, and spec- 

« Crichton on Mental Derangement, vol. ii. p. 39. 



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434 



SUMMARY OF MENTAL 



tral impressions^ are alternately produced. In this 
case^ phantasms arise, — ^they vanish, — other illusions 
of the same sort take their place, — these again vanish, 
•^-and thus, there is a longer or shorter succession of 
spectral appearances, without the intervention of any 
impressions which may be suggested by natural ob- 
jects. 

These phenomena may be illustrated as before. 

TABULAB VIBW, 

Explanatory of the Mode in which Successions of 
Phantasms occur. 



Degrees of 
[ntensity. 


Prerious 
State of 
Feelmgs. 


Real 
Objects 
. Tanish. 


Spectral 


Phantasms 
▼anish. 


Other 

Phantasms 

appear. 


Phantasms 
again fn- 
nish, &c. 


13 
12 
11 
10 
9 


Sensations. 
Ideas. 


Sensations 
Ideasv 


Ideas. 

Sensations. 


Sensations 
Ideas* 


Ideas. 

• { 


Sensations 
Ideas* 













* When sensations and ideas are of the same d^ree of intensity, there is an 
unconsciousness of them. 

Cowley, in. some lines which he has written on 
Fancy, has very well depicted a similar succession of 
illusions, which he attributes to the special operations 
of tnis assumed and personified principle of the mind : 

'^ Here, in a robe which does all colours show. 
Fancy, wild dame, with much lascivious pride, 
By twin-cameleons drawn, does gaily ride. 
Her coach then follows, and throngs round about, 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 426 

Of shapes and airy forms an endless rout. 
A sea rolls on with harmless fury there ; 
Straight 'tis a field, and trees and herbs appear : 
Here in a moment are vast armies made, 
And a quick scene of war and blood displayed : 
Here sparkling wines and brighter maids come in, 
The bawds for sense and living baits for sin : 
Here golden mountains swell the covetous place, 
And centaurs ride themselves a painted race.*' 

An actual instance^ however, of spectral impressions 
undergoing successive changes in the subject of them, 
is afforded in the ecstatic illusions which Cardan ex- 
perienced. These are minutely related. *' I saw," he 
observes on one occasion, ^' different figures, as of 
brazen substances. They seemed to consist of small 
rings, like links of mail (although I had never yet seen 
chain-armour), ascending &om a low corner of my bed, 
moving from right to left in a semicircular direction, 
and then melting as into air. I descried the shapes 
of castles, of houses, of animals, of horses with their 
riders, of herbs, of trees, of musical instruments, of 
the different features of men and of their different 
garments. Trumpeters appeared to blow their trum« 
pets, yet no voices or sounds were heard. I saw, more- 
over, soldiers, people, fields, and the form of bodies 
even to this day unknown to me ; groves and woods, 
some things of which I have no remembrance, and a 
mass of many objects rushing in together, yet not with 
marks of confusion, but of haste." 

4ih Stage of Excitement, 

I have again supposed & fourth, or extreme stage of 



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436 



SUMMARY OF MENTAL 



general mental excitement^ where ideas attain the 15th 
and sensations the 13th degree of vividness, the for- 
mer being still more intense than the latter. This 
stage is shewn in the foUowing table. 



TABULAR VIEW 



Of the two different Degrees of Excitements neces- 
sary for the Production of Spectral Impressions. 





Degrees of 
Intensity. 


5<1 Stage of 
Excitement. 


4th Stage of 
Excitement 


16 


. . . 


Ideas 


Spectral im- 
pressiont 
induced. 


14 
13 


Ideas 


Sensations 




12 


Sensations 


• • • 


Ordinary 1 
emotions. J 


11 


. . . 


. . . 



On a former occasion^ I shewed that morbific excite- 
ments did nothing more than impart an addition of 
vividness to feelings, which, from moral causes, were 
of themselves either pleasurable or painful ; but that, 
when inordinate vivifying actions were induced, 
spectral impressions followed, the subjects of which 
were alternately of a pleasurable and painful quality. 

This, then, is the peculiar character of the 4th and 
last stage of mental excitement, an illustration of 
which is affOTded in the visions of Kotter, who, as 
Dr Ferriar has remarked, ^* was sincere in his enthu- 
siasm, and was as much a seer as any second-sighted 
prophet of the Hebrides." In the year 1616 an angel 
appeared to this prophet, who ordered him to inform 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS- 427 

the civil powers that great evils were impending over 
Grermany. He had, accordingly, many visions, which 
were supposed to have reference to the future, but 
they were not declared on oath to the magistrates be* 
fore the year 1619. I shall pass over several of the 
phantasies he experienced, contenting myself with the 
notice of one ecstacy only, which was so extremely 
intense as to shew evident marks that it was alter- 
nately pleasurable and painful. Supposing himself 
to be attended by two angels, Kotter thus proceeds : 
— .'* On the 13th day of September," says he, '' both 
the youths returned to me, saying, ^ Be not afiraid, but 
observe the thing which will be shewn to thee/ And 
I suddenly beheld a circle like the sun, red as it 
were bloody, in which were black and white lines, or 
spots, so intermingled, that sometimes there appeared 
greater number of blacks, sometimes of whites ; and 
this sight continued for some space of time. And 
when they had said to me, ^ Behold ! attend ! fear not! 
no evil will befall thee !' lo, there were three succes- 
sive peals of thunder, at short intervals, so loud and 
dreadful, that I shuddered all over. But the circle 
stood before me, and the black and white spots were 
disunited, and the circle approached so near, that I 
could have touched it with my hand. And it was so 
beautiful, that I had never in my life seen any thing 
more agreeable ; and the white spots were so bright 
and pleasant, that I could not contain my admiration. 
But the black spots were carried away in a cloud of 
darkness, in which I heard a dismal outcry, though 
I could see no one. Yet these words of lamentation 
were audible : — * Woe unto us who have committed 



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428 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

ourselves to the black cloud, to be withdrawn from 
the circle covered with blood of Divine Grace, in 
which the grace of God, in his well-beloved Son, had 
enclosed us J' " • 

I have at length concluded my account of the va* 
rious degrees of vividness which our mental feelings 
undergo in a transition from the ordinary tranquil 
state of our waking moments to that extreme mental 
excitement, which gives rise to spectral impressions. 
It has been assumed, that ideas, from being more 
faint than sensations, become more intense. 

Another transition remains to be briefly noticed, 
which is from the highest pitch of mental excitement 
to those medium states . of the mind, which are cha- 
racterized by coolness and tranquillity. But it is 
useless to dwell long upon this depression of mental 
feelings, as it presents phenomena the exact reverse 
of the last-described stages of excitement. Ideas, 
from being more intense than sensations, are, Jir^i 
reduced to the same degree of vividness as actual' im- 
pressions, when a mental unconsciousness, generally 
momentary, ensues ; and, lastly ^ they become more 
faint than sensations. 

* This yision I have quoted from Dr Ferriar's iUustratfons. 
See his Theory of Apparitions, page 78* 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 429 



CHAPTER III. 

THE IMAGES OF SPECTRAL IMPBB8SI0N8 DIFFER FROM 
THOSE OF DREAMS IN BEING MUCH MORE VIVID. 



Videre somnia est a fortitudine imaginatioDis ; sicut intelligere ea 
est a fortitudine intellectus. Abdala. 



In a former part of this work it was. explained, that 
when ideas became more vivid than sensations, they 
were contemplated as present, or as actual impressions; 
while the least vivid feeling suggested the notion of 
past time. I then added, that the partial resemblance 
of spectral impressions to dreams would now perhaps 
be apparent ; but that there was still a difference to 
be noticed in the circumstances under which they are 
severally produced. Before spectral impressions could 
arise, the vivid ideas of our waking hours must be 
raised to an unusually high degree of intensity ; but 
during our moments of mental repose, a very slight 
degree of vividness imparted to the faint ideas of per- 
fect sleep was sufficient to excite a similar illusion. 
Hence the images of spectral impressions differ from 
those of dreams, in being much more vivid. 

It is then my object to illustrate, by a tabular view, 
the comparative degrees of vividness which subsist 
between the impressions of dreams and the illusive 
phantasms of our waking moments. 



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430 



SUMMARY OF MENTAL 



oP 



I 



sf 



T~ 



I 



I 



I 



O 0> 00 t* CO «c 




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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 431 

I shall now give a few examjdes of those cases of 
spectral illusions^ where an excitmg cause has so gra- 
dually^ yet powerfully^ operated upon the ideas of 
dreams^ as to make them more than usually intense. 
Dreams of this kind^ after the impression has ceased^ 
are often with difficulty recognised as sleeping or 
waking visions ; nor can the difference be often well 
determined by any inquiry we may institute,— If the 
illusion supervened to a state of absolute repose, or of 
watchfulness ? An instance of this uncertain species 
of phantasms is contained in a narrative translated 
by Dr Crichton, from the Psychological Magazine of 
Germany, (some extracts from which have been before 
given,) relative to a female who was subject to trances. 
She is the narrator of her own case ; and, after de- 
scribing some cruel usage she experienced from her 
husband, which much affected the quality of her spec- 
tral impressions, she thus proceeds : — '^ My sorrows 
increased, and I went to bed in tears. I awakened, 
about four o'clock in the morning, and imagined my- 
self in my father's house on the riv^ Diele. I looked 
up into heaven, and saw a water-dog walking in the 
firmament As soon as it passed by, the skies de- 
scended to me, and my eyes were changed on purpose 
to see new sights, for I saw many hundred thousand 
miles. The mansion of God stood in the centre, light- 
ly enveloped in clear blue clouds, and surrounded with 
a splendour of such various colours as are unknown to 
the world below. In each colour stood some millions 
of men, enrobed in garments of the same colour with 
that in which they stood; for instance, those who 
stood in red were clad in red, and those in the yellow 



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482 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

had robes of yellow ; and the faces of all these men 
were turned to the mansion of the Almighty. And 
there came out of the mansion a most lovely female^ 
clothed in the brightest lustre of heaven^ and a crown 
on her head. She was accompanied by three angels^ 
one on her right hand and one on her left^ the third 
walked beside her^ and pointed out the crowd who 
stood in the splendid colours. 

*' In a minute the heavens were closed^ and again 
opened as formerly, but the woman and angels were 
not to be seen f but our blessed Saviour came out of 
the mansion, followed by a long train of attendants, 
and he descended through all the splendour I have 
described. The Lord and his attendants all looked 
smilingly upon me. They were dressed in white, and 
wherever they went was a clear white. When he ap- 
proached me near enough, that I could touch his foot, 
I was frightened and awoke.* It was then half-past 
four o'clock ; I arose, and considered that my present 
life was not to be compared with such joys." 

With regard to the foregoing illusion, it is impossible . 
to say whether it was a trance or a very vivid dream, 
particularly, as the same causes which contribute to 
the spectral impressions of a waking vision are calcu- 
lated to produce an intense dream. Most probably, 
however, it was the latter. 

Another authentic story, respecting which there is 
a doubt whether it is the narrative of a lively dream 
or of a waking illusion, is to be found in Bavei's 

" The writer evidently means, that she awoke out of her trance, 
as she has before spoken of awakening from her sleep. 

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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 433 

Pandoemonmm, or the Devits CloyHer, The writer first 
informs us, that, about the year 1667> '' he was with 
some persons of honour in the house of a nobleman in 
the west country, which had formerly been a nun- 
nery ;" he then continues his narrative aft«r the fol- 
lowing manner : — *^ I must confess, I had often heard 
the servants and others, that inhabited or lodged there, 
speak much of the noises, stirs, and apparitions, that 
frequently disturbed the house, but had at that time 
no apprehensions of it ; for the house being full of 
strangers, the nobleman's steward, Mr C, lay with me 
in a fine wainscot room, called my lady's chamber. 
We went to our lodging pretty early, and having a 
good fire in the room, we spent some time in reading, 
in which he much delighted ; then having gotinto bed, 
and put out the candles, we observed the rbmn tn 
be very light by the brightness of the moon, so that 
a wager was laid between us, that it was poissible to 
read written hand by that light upon the bed where 
we lay. Accordingly I drew out of my pocket a 
manuscript, which he read distinctly in the place 
where we lay. We had scarcely made an end of dis- 
coursing about that affair, when" {here prchahly com" 
menced a dreanf] '^ I saw (my face being towards 
the door, which was locked) entering into the room, 
five appearances of very fine and lovely women. They 
were of excellent stature, and their dresses seemed very 
fine; they covered all but their faces with their light 
veils, whose skirts trailed largely on the floor. They 
entered in a file, one after, the other, and in that pos- 
ture walked round the room, till the. foremost came 
and stood by that side of the bed where I lay, with 

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484 SUMMARY OF MSMTAL 

My left hand over Uie nde o£ die bed; ftw mj besd 
vested en that wtm, and I delennined not to alter the 
poaturo in wliieli I was. She atntdL me d^kmii tibat 
hand with a blow that fUt very soft, but I did never 
remember whether it were eold or hot. I demanded, 
in the name of the Meiaed Trinity , whatbuaineaa they 
had Aere, but reoei^ed no antwer. Then I spdke to 
Mr C, ' Sir, do 70a see what fidr guests are here come 
to viflit ua ?' before which they all disappeared. I 
fbnnd him in aome kind of agony, and was forced to 
grasp him on the breast with my right hand (whidi 
was next him underneath the bedcloaths) before I 
could obtain speech of him. Ttien he told me, that he 
had seen the fidr guests I spoke oi, and had heard me 
qpeak to Aem ; bnt withal aaid, that he was not able 
to speak aooner onto nie> bemg extremely afiighted 
at the eight of a dreadfiil monster, whidi, assumii^ 
a shape between that of a lion and a bear, attempted 
tooome upon the bed'afbot I told hhn I thanked God 
nothing so £rightful had presented itself to me ; but I 
hoped through his assistance, not to dread the «n« 
bagesofhdl/' 

It is dear, diat the subject of these visions was sng^ 
gested by the popular superstitions of the old manor- 
house> and little doubt can be entertained but that 
by fear, and perhaps by other jAysical causes, it was 
impressed on the mind during a dream. It af^^ears 
that, during the next night, the companion of Bovet, 
frook dread, f(»*8ook the haunted room, so that the 
hero "^as left by himself to encounter the aj^raritions. 
^' I ordm^ed," he adds, ^' a Bible and another book to 
be laid in the room, and resolved to spend my time 



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EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 435 

by the fire ia reading a&d in cqnt^aoplationj till I 
fimnd myself inclined to sleep ; and accordingly^ hav^ 
ing taken leave of the family at the usual hour^ I ad- 
dreased myself to what I had propoaed^ not gomg into 
bed till past one in the morning. -A little after I was 
got into bed I heard somewhat walk about the room^ 
like a w<»nan in a tabby-gown trailing about the room. 
It made a mi^ty rUsheUing n(»se^ but I could see 
nothings though it was near as light as the night be- 
fore. It x>assed by the foot of the bed^ and a little 
<q>ened the curtiuns^ and thence went to a doset^door 
on thai side^ through whidi it found admittance, al- 
thou^ it was close locked. There it seemed to groan, 
and to draw a great chair widli its foot, in which it 
seemed to sit, and turn over ^e leaves of a large foUo, 
which, you kn6W, made a loud clattering noise. So 
it continued in that posture, sometimes groaning, 
sometimes dragging the chair, and dattering the 
book, till it was near day. Afterwards I lodged several 
times in this room, but never met with any molesta- 
tion." 

Regarding this latter apparition, Dr Ferriar is in- 
clined to think, that it did not occur during a dream, 
but that it was a proper waking illusion. This sup- 
position is, however, very doubtful, as the spectral 
imprecMdon ensued after the ghost-seer had found 
himself inclined to sleep. 

Another instance, however, may be adduced, in 
whidi the mental illusions of a waking vision were 
erroneously conceived, after much debate on the sub*- 
ject, to be those of a dream^ An able French writer. 



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436 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

in a discourse which he published in the '^ Mercure 
Gallant" of the year 1690> describes a spectral im- 
pression that occurred to him after the^ following* 
manner : — *' I have already related to you one of 
my dreams^ but must inform you of another^ before 
explaining to you my thoughts more clearly upon the 
many pretended apparitions of souls and q>irits^ which 
are found in good as well as bad authors. I was sent 
very young to a town at a distance of seven leagues 
from my native place> in order that I might be "weaned 
from home^ and learn to write./ Having returned 
from thence at the expiration of frre or six months^ I 
was directed to repair to the house of otie of my re- 
latives^ where my father^ who was newly returned 
from the army^ had arrived^ and had sent for me. He 
examined my specimens of writings and.finding them 
good^ fiiiled not to express a suspicion of their bding 
my own. As he was going out> therefore^ one after- 
noon^ along with the lady of theJhouse^ to pay a 
visit in the neighbourhood^ he i*ecommended me to 
write ten or twelve lines in order to remove his doubts. 
Immediately upon my father's departure, my duty 
prompted me to go up to the chamber that had been al- 
lotted for us, and having searched for all my writing 
materials, I knelt down (beingthen a little bpy) before 
an arm-chair, upon which I placed ray paper and ink. 
'* While engaged in writing, I thought I heard up- 
on the staircase people who were carrying com to 
granaries ; having therefore risen from the place 
where I was kneeling, I turned a comer of the tapes- 
try, and saw a little room open, — ^and in this room 
my father seemed engaged in conversation with the 



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EXCITEMENTS AOT) DEPRESSIONS. 437 

lady of the house^ being seated near her. As I had 
seen both one and the other get into a carriage^ and 
set out from the chateau^ I was much surprised at 
now perceiving them before me. Terror united it- 
sdf to astonishment ; I let go the tapestry, and, leav- 
ing the chamber, quickly descended the staircase. 

" Upon meeting with the housekeeper, she remarked 
some alteration in my face, and asked me what was the 
matter. I told her all about it. She honestly assured 
me that I had been dreaming, and that the marchio- 
ness and my father would not return for more than 
an hour. I would fain have discredited her assur- 
ance, and stood fixed near the door of her room, until 
at length I saw them arrive. My trouble was not a 
Jittle increased at the si'ght ; for the present, however, 
I said nothing to my father ; but when, after supper, 
he would have sent me to bed before him, all the self- 
collection which I could muster on the occasion was 
to allow myself to be conducted out of his presence. 
Yet I waited for him to accompany me into. our 
chamber, for I was unwilling to re-enter it but along 
with him. He was astonished, therefore, upon retir- 
ing, to find that I had lingered. He failed not to ask 
me what was the cause of it ; and, after some vain 
excuses, I confessed to him that I was terrified, be- 
cause spirits had appeared in the chamber. He de- 
rided my fear, and demanded of me to whom I was 
indebted for such foolish tales. I then told him ray 
adventure; which he no sooner heard, than, intent 
upon undeceiving me, I was conducted by him to the 
granaries, or rather to the garrets to which the stair- 
case led. It was then made known to me that these 



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438 SUMMARY OF MENTAL 

garrets were not fit to be store-rooms for com^— ^that 
there was actually none there^ and that there never 
had been any. Upon my return^ as I followed close 
to my father^ he asked me to point out the place 
where I had lifted up the tapestry and seen the room 
open. I searched for it in all directions to shew him^ 
but in vain. I could find no other doat in the four 
walls of our chamber than that which led from the 
staircase. 

*' Events so opposite to what I had believed could be 
the case^ alarmed me still more^ and I imagined from 
what I had heard related of gobUnSy* that some of 
them had caused these illusions in order to nbuse my 
senses. My father then insisted that such alleged 
freaks of^ spirits were mere GtbleSj — ^more fabulous 
even than those of ^op or of Phsedrus^ adding^ that 
the truth^ was, I had slept while writing ; that I h^ 
dreamt during my sleep all which I now believed I had 
heard and seen, and that the conjoined ilifiuence of 
surprise and fear having acted on my imagination, 
had caused the same efieet tqpon it as would have been 
produced by truth itself. I had difficulty at the time 
to assent to this reasoning ; but was obliged to ac- 
knowledge it in the end as very just.— Observe, how- 
ever, how strong the impression of this dream was- 
I think candidly, that if the vision haid not been hlsU 
fied by all the circumstances which I have just note^, 
I should, even at this time, have received it for a 
truth." . 
The foregoing illusion scarcely requires comment. 

• In the original, etprits f diets. 



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. EXCITEMENTS AND DEPRESSIONS. 439 

There can be little doubt but that it was a proper 
-waking impression^ and not a dream^ as the youth was 
reluctantly led to suppose by his father. 



These remarks conclude my general view of the 
comparative degrees of vividness subsisting among 
sensations and ideas^ during their successive states of 
excitement and depression. 

The laws which we have been considering mays 
indeed^ be applied to the solution of far more import- 
ant questions than those which belong to the subject 
of spectral impressions. While a knowledge of them 
may materially assist the physician in his treatment of 
the mental afflictions to which our humanity is liable^ 
the moral philosopher may likewise discover, in the 
same laws, certain very important principles influenc- 
ing human actions and conduct, upon which doctrines 
of the highest value to the science of ethics may be 
securely built. 



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NOTES. 




Begone, chimeras, to your mother clouds !'' 



(EdipuM* 



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NOTES. 



Note 1, p. 4. 

The Devils seen by Benvenuto CeUinu — Extract from Mr 
Roscoe's Translation of his Life. 

** It hacppened^ through a faristj of odd aoeideiits, that I 
made acquaintanoe with a ^cUian priest^ who was a man of 
genius^ and well Tersed in the Latin and Gvedc authors. 
Happening one day to have some oonyersation with him> 
when the sulijeet turned upon ^ art of neenmiancyi I^ who 
had a great desire to know something of the matter^ told 
him^ that I had all my life felt a curiosity to he acquainted 
with the mysteries of this art. The priest made answer^ 
' That the man must he of a resdinte and steady temper 
who csitera upon that study.' I r^lied^ * That I had ^Mrti^ 
tnde and resolution enough, if I eould hut find an opportu- 
nity/ The priest sulgobied^ ^ If you think you hare the 
hsttt to Tenture, I will gite you all the satis&ction you 
csn desire.' Thus we agreed to enter upon a plan of neero- 
maney. The priest one erening prepared to satisfy me^ and 
desired me to look out for a eompamon or two. linfited 
one Vinoensio Romoli^ who was my intimate aequaintanoe s 
be brought with him a native of Pistaia, who cultivated the 
blaek art himself. We repaired to the CokMSeo^ and the 
priest^ according to the custom of necromancers, b^n to 
draw circles upon the ground with the most impressiye cere- 
monies imaginable : he likewise brought hither assafoetida, 
setend precious perftunes> and fire, with some compositions 
also which diffhsed noisome odours. As soon as he was in 
readiness, he made an opening to the circle, and having 



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444 NOTES. 

taken us by the hand^ ordered the other necromancer^ his 
partner^ to throw the perfumes into the fire at a proper 
time^ intrusting the care of the fire and the perfumes to the 
rest ; and theh he began his incantations. This ceremony 
lasted above an hour and a half^ when there appeared several 
legions of devils^ insomuch that the amphitheatre was quite 
filled with them. I was busy about the perfumes^ when the 
pnesty perceiving there was a considerable number of infer- 
nal spirits^ turned to me and said^ ^ Benvenuto^ ask them 
something.' I answered^ ^ Let them bring me into the 
company of my Sicilian mistress^ Angelica.' That night we 
obtained no answer of any sort; but I had received great 
satisfiustion in having my curiosity so &r indulged. The 
necromancer told me^ it was requisite we should go a second 
time> assuring me, that I shoidd be satisfied in whatever I 
asked ; but that I must bring with me a pure immaculate 

'^ I todc with me a youth who was in my service^ of about 
twelve years of age^ together with the same Vincenzio Ro- 
moli^ who had been my companion the first time^ and one 
Agnolino Gaddi^ an intimate acquaintance^ whom I likewise 
prevailed on to assist at the ceremony. When we came to 
the place appointed^ the priest baring made his preparations 
as before^ with the same and even more striking ceremonies^ 
placed us within the drde^ which he had likewise drawn 
with a more wonderM art^ and in a more solemn mann^^ 
than at our former meeting. Thus having committed the 
care of the perfumes and the fire to my fiiend Vincenzio, 
who was assisted by Agnolino Gaddi, he put into my hand 
a pintaculo or magical chart,** and bid me turn it towards 

* '' The most exact writers call it pentacoli, a sort of magical 
preparation of card, stone, and metal, on which are inscribed words 
.and figures, considered very efficacious against the power of de- 
mons. See Ariosto Orl. F. c ilL st 21;"— (JVa^tf of the Tratu* 
lator.) 



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NOTES. 445 

the places that he should direct me ; and under the pinta- 
culo I held my hoy. The necromancer having hegun to 
make his tremendous invocations, called by their names a 
multitude of demons^ who were the leaders of the several 
legions^ and questioned them by the power of the eternal 
uncreated Grod^ who lives .for ever^ in the Hebrew language, 
as likewise in Latin and Greek ; insomuch that the amphi- 
theatre was almost in an instant filled with demons more 
numerous than at the former conjuration. Vincenzio Ro- 
moli was busied in making a fire, with the assistance Of 
Agnolino, and burning a great quantity of precious per- 
fumes. I, by the direction of the necromancer, again de- 
sired to be in the company of my Angelica. The former 
thereupon tjoming to me, said, — ^ Know, they have de- 
clared, that in the space of a month you shall be in her 
company.' 

" He then requested me to stand resolutely by him, be- 
cause the legions were now above a thousand more in num- 
ber than he had designed; and, besides, these were the most 
dangerous; so that, after they had answered my question, 
it behoved him to be civil to them, and dismiss them quietly. 
At the same time the boy under the pintaculo was in a ter- 
rible fright, saying, that there were in that place a million 
of fierce men, who threatened to destroy us; and that, 
moreover, four armed giants of an enormous stature were 
endeavouring to break into our circle. During this time, 
•whilst the necromancer, trembling with fear, endeavotured 
by mild and gentle methods to dismiss them in the best way 
he could, Vincenzio Romoli, who quivered like an aspen 
leaf, took care of the perfames. Though I was as much 
terrified as any of them, I did my utmost to conceal the 
terror Ffelt; so that I greatly contributed to Inspire the rest 
with resolution; but the truth is, I gave myself over for a. 
dead man, seeing the horrid fVight the necromancer was in. 



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446 NOT£S. 

The boy p h eed hit lieid betwoen hii koeety and said,—' In 
this pottore will I die; £br we thaU all sotdy perish-' I 
told lilm tbal all Iheae demons were under, us, and wbat he 
saw WIS smoke and shadow ;* so hid hkn hoU ap hifl head 
and take ttmrage. No soooer did he look up» hali he cried 
oat>— ' Hie whde amphitheatre is huming, aiul the fire is 
jusl Ming upon us;' wo, oorering his eyes with his haaadsy 
he again exdaimed^ thai destruction wl» inentable» and he 
desired to see no more. The neoomaneer entreated me to 
hare a good hearty and take care.to hum proper perfhmes; 
upon which I tumied to Romoli, and bid him bom all the 
most precious perfumes he had* At the seme time I cast 
my eye upon Agndino Gaddi^ who was teni^ed to such a 
dflgroe that he could scarce dwtinguiah objects, and seemed 
to be half^dead* Seeing him in this condition, I said^ — 
' Agnolino, upon these occasions a man should not yield to 
fear> but should stir about and giye his assistance ; so come 
directly and put on some more of these perfumes/ Poor 
AgBolino^ upon attempting to mote> was so viol^itly terri- 
fied^ that the effects of his fear overpowered all the perftmies 
we were burning. The boy hearing a crepitation, ventured 
once more to raise his head, when, seeing me laugh, he be- 
gan to take courage, and said, * That the devils were fiying 
away with a vengeance.' 

'' In this condition we stayed till the bell rang for morn- 
ing prayer. The boy again told us, that there remained but 
fbw devils, and these were at a great distance. When the . 
magicisn had performed the rest of his ceremonies, he strip- 
ped off his gown, and took up a wallet full of books which 
he had brought with him. We all went out of the circle 

* '' This confinnt us in the belief,** says Mr Roscoe, *•*' that 
the whole of these appearances, like a phantasmagoria, were merely 
the effects of a magic-lantem, produced on volume of smoke fttim 
various kiads of burning wpod." 



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K0T£8. 447 

togtuhm, ltt0^i]igiuiolMeto€«i^9tlMr ttWff poittblycauld> 
eapueuiSky tfie boj» who bad pltred himadf in the noddle^ 
boldkig the necromanoer by thtf CMt, and me by the doak. 
Ab we weie gmog to our hooses ia the quarter of Baiiobi> 
the boy told ua that two of the denuma whom we had aeee 
at the amphitheatre^ went on before us leaping and skipping, 
aomettmca running upon the roofs of the houses, and some- 
times upon the ground. The priest declared, that though 
he had often entered magic circles, nothing so extraordinary 
had ever happened to lum. As we went along, he would 
ftin persuade me to assist with him at consecrating a book, 
from whidi, he said, we should derive immense riches : we 
should ihen uk the demons to discover to us the various 
treasures with which the earth abounds, which would raise 
us to opulence and power ; but that those love-affidrs were 
mere follies, ftom whence no good could be expected. I 
answered, ^ That I would readily have accepted his proposal 
if I understood Latin :' he redoubled his p^rmunions, assur- 
ing me, that the knowledge' of the Latin language was by 
no means material. He added, that he eould have Latin 
Bohohflrs enough, if he had thought it worth while to look 
out for them ; but that he/ could never have met with a 
partner c^ resolution and intrepidity ei|ual to mine, and that 
I should by all means follow his advice. Whilst we w^c 
engaged in this conversation, we arrived at our respective 
homes, and all that ni^t dreamt of nothing but devils." 

NOTB «, p. 16. 

Oiani of the Broken, 

Thb following is the account given by a German traveller 
of the Giant of the Broken : — 
*' In the course of my repeated tours through the Harz,* 

* ^^ The Harz mountains are situated in Hanover.*' 



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448 NOTES. 

I ascended the Broken twelre times; but had the good 
fortune only twice (both times about Whitsuntide) to see 
that atmospheric phenomenon, called the Spectre of the 
Broken, which appears to me worthy of particular attention, 
as it must no doubt be observed on other high mountains 
which have a situation fiivourable for producing it. The 
first time I was deceived by this extraordinary phenomenon, 
I had clambered up to the summit of the Broken very early 
in the morning, in order to wait for the inexpressibly beau- 
tiftd view of the sun rising in the east. The heavens were 
already streaked with red : the sun was just appearing above 
the horizon in full majesty, and the most perfect sarenity 
prevailed throughout the surrounding country, when the 
other Harz mountains in the south-west, towards the Worm 
mountains, &c lying under the Broken, b^;an to be covered 
by thick clouds. Ascending at that moment the granite 
rocks called the Tempelskaozel, there appeared before me, 
though at a great distance, towards the Worm mountains 
and the Achtermaunshohe, the gigantic figure of a man, as 
if standing on a large pedestal. But scarcely had I dis- 
covered it when it began to disappear, the clouds sunk down 
speedily and expanded, and I saw the phenomenon no more. 
The second time, however, I saw this spectre somev^t more 
distinctly, a little below the summit of the Broken, and near - 
the Hdnnichshohe, as I was looking at the sun rising, about 
four o*clock in the morning. The weather was rather tem- 
pestuous; the sky towards the level country was pretty clear, 
but the Harz mountains had attracted several thick clouds, 
which had been hovering round them, and which, begin- 
ning on the Broken, confined the prospect. In these clouds, 
soon after the rising of the sun, I saw my own shadow, of a 
monstrous size, move itself for a couple of seconds in clouds, 
and the phenomenon disappeared. It is impossible to see 
this phenomenon, except when the sun is at such an altitude 

7 



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NOTES. 449 

as to throw his rays upon the hody in a horizontal direction; 
for^ if he is higher, the shadow is thrown rather under the 
body than before it. In the month of September last year, 
as I was making a tour through the Harz with a very agree- 
able party, and ascended the Broken, I found an excellent 
account and explanation of this phenomenon, as seen by M. 
Haue on the 23d of May, 1797, in his diary of an excursion 
to that mountain. I shall therefore take the liberty of trans- 
crilnng it : 

'' ' After haying been here for the thirtieth time,* says 
M. Haue, ' and, besides other objects of my attention, hav- 
ing procured information respecting the above-mentioned 
atmospheric phenomenon, I was at length so fortunate as to 
have the pleasure of seeing it ; and perhaps my description 
may afford satisfaction to others who visit the Broken through 
curiosity. The sun rose about four o'clock ; and, the at- 
mosphere being quite serene towards the east, his rays could 
pasi^ without any obstruction over the Heinnichshohe. In 
the south-west, however, towards the Achtermaunshohe, a 
brisk west- wind carried before it their transparent vapours, 
which were not yet condensed into thick heavy clouds. 
About a quarter past four I went towards the inn, and 
looked round to see whether the atmosphere would permit me 
to have a free prospect to the south-west, when I observed, 
at a very great distance towards the Achtermaunshohe, a 
human figure of a monstrous size. A violent gust of wind 
having almost carried away my hat, I clapped my hand to 
it by moving my arm towards my head, and the colossal 
figure did the same. The pleasure which I felt on this dis- 
covery can hardly be described ; for I had already walked 
many a weary step in the hope of seeing this shadowy image 
without being able to satisfy my curiosity. I immediately 
made another movement by bending my body, and the co- 
lossal figure before me repeated it. 1 was desirous of doing 

2f 



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4M HOTiB. 

tlie Mine thing'onoe more, but my edkxlduil luid vatiished. 
I remained in the same poaition, waiting to see whether it 
would retnm, and in a few minutes it again made its appear- 
ance in the Achtermannshohe. I paid my respeets to it a 
tecond time, and it did the same to me. I then called the 
landlord of the Broken; and having both taken the same 
podtion which I had taken alone, we looked toward the 
Aehtermaunshohe, but saw nothing. We had not, however, 
stood long, when two such colossal figures were formed over 
the above eminence, which repeated our compliment by 
bending their bodies as we did ; after which they vanished. 
We retained oar position, kept our eyes fixed upon the Same 
spot, and in a little the two figures again stood before us, and 
were joined by a third. Every movement that we made by 
bending our bodies, these figures imitated ; but with this 
difference, that the phenomenon was sometimes weak and 
fiunt, sometimes strong and well defined. . Having thus had 
ah opportunity of discovering the whole secret of this phe- 
nomenon, I can give the following information to such of 
my readers as may be desirous of seeing it themselves : — 
When the rising sun, and according to analogy the case will 
be the same at the setting sun, throws his rays over the 
Broken upon the body of a man standing opposite to fine 
light clouds floating around or hovering past him, he needs 
only fix his eye steadfastly upon them, and in all probabi- 
lity he will see the singular spectacle of his own shadow ex- 
tending to the length of five or six hundred feet, at the dis- 
tance 6f about two miles before him. This is one of the 
Snost agreeable phenomena I ever had an opportunity of re- 
marking on the great observations of Germany.* "—^PAtfojo- 
phicd Magazine, vol. i. p. SS2. 



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NOTES. 451 

Note 3, p. 195. 

Extract from Farmer on the Worship of Human Spirits in 
the ancient Heathen World. 

*' All religious worship among the Gren tiles, and indeed 
among all other people, has ever heen adapted to the opinion 
they formed of its ohject. Those Gentiles who, hy the sole 
use of their rational faculties, formed just conceptions of the 
spirituality and purity of the Divine Being, thought that he 
was best honoured by a pure mind. Such of them as re- 
garded the luminaries of heaven as beneficent and divine in- 
telligences that governed the world, worshipped them with 
hymns and praises* in testimony of their gratitude ; or by 
kissing the hand and bowing the head t to them, in acknow- 
ledgment of their sovereign dominion. This seems to have 
been the only homage <hej received from mankind in the 
most early ages of the world. At least, no other is taken 
notice of in the book of Job, or in the writings of Moses. 
When dead men were deified, it became necessary to frame 
a worship adapted to please and gratify human ghosts, or 
rather such spirits as they were conceived to be. And I will 
here attempt to shew, that the established worship of the 
Heathens was built upon these conceptions, and that this 
circumstance points out the human origin of the more im- 
mediate objects of that worship. 

'' Before we enter upon this argument, we must imagine 
ourselves in the same situation as the ancient Heathens were, 
fill our minds with the same ideas they had, and recollect 



• Mede's Works, p. 656. 

fifl beheld the sun^ or the moon^ — and my mouth hath kissed 
my lumd. Job xzxi 26, 27. The Israelites are forbidden to 
worship, or, as the original word imports, to bend or bow down to 
the son, moon, and stars. Deut iv. 19. 



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452 NOTES. 

more especially what were their notions of human ghosts^ 
and of their future state of existeDce. On the correspond- 
ence of their worship to these notions the force of the argu- 
ment depends. 

'' The obvious distinction between the soul and body of 
man, and the permanence of the former after the dissolution 
of the latter, could not but be admitted by all the nations 
that worshipped the dead. Happy would it have been had 
they gone no fiirther, except to assert a future state of retri- 
bution. But they gave an unbounded scope to their ima- 
ginations. They not only ascribed to separate spirits, as in- 
deed they justly might, all their former mental affections,* 
but all the sensations,t appetites, and passions of their bodily 
state; such as hunger and thirst, j: and the propensities 
founded upon the difference of sexes.§ Ghosts were thought 
to be addicted to the same exercise^ and employments as had 



" Of the parental affection we have an amiable example in the 
ghost of Anchises. Virg. JEn. VI. 685. Proofs of the hatred 
ghosts bore to their enemies, both when living and after their 
deaths, are produced by Potter, B. 4. c. 8. p. 261. I shall add 
the following passage ftom Ovid, in ibidem, v. 139 : — 



• Nee mors mihi finiet iras. 



S«va sed in manes manibus arma dabit : 
Tunc quoque cum fuero vacuas dilapsus in auras, 
Exanimis manes oderit umbra tuos. 

See also Horace, Carm. V: 5., Virg. ^n. IV. 384, and the very 
characteristic description of the ghost of Ajax, Homer, Odyss. XI. 
542, and of the other ghosts in the same book. 

•f Hence that prayer, taken notice of above, that the earth might 
lie light or heavy on the dead. 

X This appears from their being provided, as it will be shewn 
they were, with the means of gratifying these appetites. 

§ Hercules^ though he feasted with the immortal gods, was wed- 
ded to Hebe. Homer, II. XI. 602. Some have thought that 
ghosts could assume a human body. 



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NOTES. . 463 

been their delight while men.* And ^though they could not 
be felt and handledt like bodies of fleshy and were of a larger 
size^ yet they had the same lineaments and features. Being 
an original part of the human frame^ they were wounded 
whenever the body was, and retained the impression of their 
wounds. § 

'' Their idea of men's future state of existence was formed 
upon the model of our present condition. They lent money 
in this world upon bills payable in the next.|| Between 
both worlds there was thought to be an open intercourse, 
departed spirits bestowing favours upon their survivors, and 
receiving from them gifts and presents. These gifts were 
sometimes supposed to be conveyed into the other world in their 
own natural form : for they put into the mouth of a dead man 
a piece of money, to pay Charon for his passage over Styx ; 
and a cake, of which honey was the principal ingredient, to 
pacify the growling Cerberus.^ Those things, whose natural 
outward form was destroyed, did not altogether perish, but 



* Pars in gramineis exercent membra palestris, &,c. 

Virg. ^n. VI. 642. 
— — — — Quae gratia currikm 
Armorumque fuit vivis, quae cura nitentis 
Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos. 

Id. ib. V. 663. 
Multo magis rectores quondam urbium recepti in coelum quram 
. regendorum hominum non relinquunt. Macrobius, in Sonm. Scip. 
l.i. c. 9. 

+ Homer, Odyss. XI. 206. 

;^ Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago. Virg. ^En. IV, 
664. 

§ Homer, Odyss. XI. 40. Virg. Mn. VI. 495. 
II This is related of the Celts or Gauls. Pecunias mutuas, que 
his apud inferos redderentur, dare soHtos. Pythagoras approved 
the custom : for our author adds, Dicerem stultos, nisi idem brac- 
cati sensissent, quod palliatus Pjrthagoras credidit 

Valerius Maximus, lib. 2. c^ 6. § 10. 
% Bos. Or. Antiq. p. 410. 



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454 I^OTES. 

fttssed into the other world. The souls of brutes survived 
the dissolution of their bodies; and even inanimate sub- 
Btanees, after thej were consumed by fire^ stilly in 8<Hne de- 
gree, subsisted ! images flying off from them^ which as ex- 
actly resembled them as a ghost did the living man. Hence 
it was, that, upon the funeral piles of the dead, they were 
accustomed to throw letters, in order to their being read by 
their departed friends.* And being able, as they imagined, 
to transmit to the dead whatever gifts they pleased, in one 
form or other ; food, t and raiment, X and armour, § were 
either deposited in their graves, or consumed in the same 
fire with their own bodies, together with their wives and 
concubines, || their favourite slaves, ^ and brute animals, •* 

• Biodorus Siculus, 1. v. 4), 362, relates this circumstance of the 
Gauls. 

•|* See below, under Sacrifices. 

X Solon (according to Plutarch, vit Solon, p. 90. C.) made a 
law to prevent the burying with the dead more than three garments. 
This law was afterwards adopted by the Romans, and inserted in 
the 12 tables. Sumtum minutio 5 tria, si volet, ridnia adhibeto. 
The clothes of the dead were sometimes thrown upon the funeral 
pile. Bos. p. 422. Kennett, Rom. Antiq. p. 3§7. 

§ The arms of soldiers were thrown upon their pyre. 

Bos. ch. 22. p. 422. 

II This is still a custom in some parts of the East, and it is of 
great antiquity. Evadne (by Ovid called Iphias) threw himself 
upon the funeral pile oi Capaneus, uttering this prayer : Accipe 
me, Capaneu, Ovid. Ars. Am. 1. 3. v. 21. Statins, Thebaid. L 
12. V. 801. Propertius, 1. 16, 21. 

^ Servi et clientes, quos ab iis dilectos esse constabat, justis 
funeribus confectis una cremabantur. Caesar^ B, C. 1. 6. c. 18. 
It was the same both in Mexico and Peru : on the death of the 
emperors and other eminent persons, many of their attendants 
were put to death, that they might accompany^ them into the other 
world, and support their dignity. See Robertson's Hist, of North 
America, v. 3. p. 211, 269. 

** Caesar, ubi supra. At the funeral of Patrodus, four horses 
and nine favourite dogs were thrown upon the pyre. Homer, 11. 
23, V. 171. 



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VQ^im^ 466 

ft^d wbateTer ri$e had hew the object of their afibotiOQ ia 

" AficordiQgly ve find the parrot of Corinna, aft^ hfa 
death, in Blyskun.f Orpheus, when in the same happy 
abode, appears in bis sacerdotal robe, striking his lyre ; a^ 
the warriors were furnished with their horses, arms^ and 
chariots, which Virgil calls inanfif, empty, airy, and unwb^ 
9iantial, being such shades and phantoms of their former 
chariots as the ghosts themselves were of men.j! In a word^ 
whatever was burnt or interred with the dead, dieir ghosts 
were thought to receive and use. It is observable^ that, aft 
the ghosts appeared with the wounds made in them before 
their separation ^oin the body, so the arms that had been 
stained with blood before they were burnt appear^ bloody 
afterwards ;§ apd^ in like manner, the money-bills^ and 
letters that had been consumed in the fiames, were certainly 
thought to retain the impression of what had been written 
in them. 

" Such notions of separate spirits can indeed for the most 
part be considered only as the childish conceptions of untu- 
tored minds, in the infancy of the world, or in ages of gross 
ignorance. Nevertheless, being consecrated to the purposes 
of superstition, and in length of time becoming venerable by 
their antiquity, they maintained their credit in more enlight- 
ened ages amongst the multitude, and, through policy, were 
patronized even by those who discerned their absurdity. 

" This general view of the notions which the Heathens 



* Moris fuerat, ut cum his rebus homines sepelirentur quas di« 
Itxerant vivi. Servius on ^n. X. 827. See aUo Caesar, 1. 6* 18. 
f Psittacus has inter, nemoiali sede receptus^ 
Convertit volucres in sua verba pias. 

Ovid* Amor. 1. II. d. 6 v. 57. 
t Virg. ^n. VL 645—666. 
§ Corner, Od. XI. 41. 



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466 NOTES. 

entertained of human sinrits, may prepare us to reoeive tlie 
fkrther account that will he given of them^ and therehy of 
the ground of that particular kind of worship that was paid 
them. And, if the same worship was paid to the gods as to 
human spirits, and for the same reasons, it will appear high- 
ly probable, that both were of the same nature originally, 
though there was a difference of rank between them." * 

Note i, p. 217. 

Prophetic Character of the Second^ight in the Highlandt* 

It has been often supposed, but with the greatest incorrect- 
ness, either that the second-sight boasted of by the High- 
landers was a gift comparatively unknown to other tribes of 
Europe, or that it was a faculty which exclusively pointed 
to the divination assumed by the ancient priests of the Celts, 
who were well known under the name of Druids* Neither 
view, however, is exactly correct. In the first place, there is 
scarcely a people of Europe by whom a divining power of 
seeing objects invisible to all other eyes has not at one time 
or other been assumed ; and, secondly, the faculty of the 
Highland seer more agrees in its superstitious character with 
one that was familiar to the northern tribes of Europe, who 
were either of a Teutonic stock, or were allied to the Fins. 
Indeed I have often considered that most of the superstitions 
of the Highlands, particularly of the western districts of 
Scotland, north of the Clyde, may be more successfully 
traced to the Norwegian than to the Gaelic progenitors of 
this peof^e. Entertaining, therefore, this view, I shall give 
. some extracts from a work of the 17th century, viz. — Sohef- 
fer's History of the Laplanders, in which a remarkable cor- 
respondence may be found to subsist between the spectral 
impressions of this people and those of the Highlanders^ 

• See Fanner on the Worship ot Human Spirits, &c p. 417, &c. 



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NOTES. 467 

^^ The melancholic constitution of the Laplanders^** says 
Scheffer, ** renders them subject to frightfUl apparitions and 
dreams^ which they look upon as infallible presages made to 
them by the Grenlus of what is to befall them. Thus they 
are frequently seen lying upon the ground asleep^ some sing- 
ing with a full voice, others howling and making a hideous 
noise not unUke wolves." 

'^ Their superstitions may be imputed partly to their liv- 
ing in solitudes, forests, and among the wild beasts ; partly 
to their solitary way of dwelling separately fh>m the society 
of others, except what belong to their own fbmilies, some- 
times at several leagues distance. Hereafter it may be added, 
that their daily exercise is hunting, it being observed that 
this kind of life is apt to draw people into various supersti- 
tions, and at last to a correspondence with spirits. For those 
who lead a solitary life being frequently destitute of human 
aid, have oftentimes recourse to forbidden means, in hopes 
to find that aid and help among the spirits, which they can- 
not find among men ; and what encourages them in it is im- 
punity, these things being committed by them, without as 
much as the fear of any witnesses ; which moved Mr Rheen 
to allege, among sundry reasons which he gives for the con- 
tinuance of the impious superstitions of the Laplanders, this 
for one : Because they live among inaccessible mountains, 
and at a great distance from the conversation of other men. 
Another reason is, the good opinion they constantly entertain 
of their ancestors, whom they cannot imagine to have been 
so stupid as not to understand what Grod they ought to 
worship ; wherefore they judge they should be wanting in 
their reverence due to them, if, by receding from their in- 
stitutions, they should reprove them of impiety and igno- 
rance.*' 

'^ The parents are the masters who instruct their own 
sons in the magical art : Those, says Tomieus, who have 



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4H NOSES. 

•ttaaned to Uub magtoal art by instractioiif receive it ^ther 
fron their parents^ or fkom some body else^ and that by d^ 
greea, which they [Hit in practice as often as an opportunity 
offbrs. Thus they accoisplish themselves in this art^ esspe- 
eially if their genius leads them to it. For they dou't look 
«pon every one as a fit scholar ; nay, some are accounted quite 
incapable of it^ notwithstanding they have been sufficiently 
instructed, as I have been informed by very credible people. 
And Joh. Torneus confirms it by these words t As the 
Laplanders are naturally of diffiirent inclinations, so are they 
not equally capable of attaining to this art. And in another 
passage, they bequeath the demons as part of their inherit- 
ance, which is the reason that one family excels the other in 
this magical art From whence it is eviden t^ that certain whoi^ 
^milies have their own demons, not only differing from the 
familiar spirits of otheirs, but also quite contrary and oppo- 
site to them. Besides this, not only whole families, but also 
particular persons, have sometimes one> sometimes more 
Bpiriis belonging to them, to secure them against the designa 
of other demons, or else to hurt others. Olaus Petri Niu- 
lenios ^aks to this effect, when he says^ — They are attend^ 
«d by a certain number of spirits^ some by three> others by 
two, or at least by one. Th^ last is intendjed for their secur 
rity, the other to hurt others. The first cqn^mands all the 
rest. Some of those they acquire with a great deal of paio^ 
and prayers, some without much trouble, being their attend- 
Ants from their infancy. Joh. Tornffius gives us a very large 
Account of it. There are some, says he, who naturally are 
dnagicians; an abominable thing indeed. For those who 
the devil knows will prove very servipeable to him in this 
art, he jseizes on in th^^ir very infancy with a certain distem- 
per, when they are haunted with apparitions and visions, bj 
which they are, in proportion of tb^r age, instrueted.in the 
mdimenta of this art. Those who are a second t^e takep 



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KOTEB. 4^ 

with this distemper, have more affpaikions coming bc^bre 
them than in the first, by which they receive mudi. more 
insight into it than betoe. fiut if they are seized a third 
time with this disease, which then proves very dangerous^ 
and often not without the hazard of their lives, then it is 
they see all the apparitions the devil is able to contrive, to 
accomplish them in the magical art. Those are arrived to 
such a degree of perfection, that without the help of the 
drum,* they can foretel things to come a great while before ; 
and are so strongly possessed by the devil, that they foresee 
things even against their will. Thus, not long ago, a certain 
Laplander, who is still alive, did voluntarily deliver his 
drum to me, which I had often desired of him before ; 
notwithstanding all this, he told me in a very melancholy 
posture, that though he had put away his drum, nor in- 
tended to have any other hereafter, yet he should foresee 
every thing without it, as he had done before. As an in- 
stance of it, he told me truly all the particular accidents that 
had happened to me in my journey into Lapland ; making 
at the same time heavy complaints, that he did not know 
what use to make of his eyes, those things being presented 
to his sight much against his will. 

" Lundius observes; that some of the Laplanders are seized 
upon by a demon, ,when they are arrived to a middle age, in 
the following manner : — Whilst they are bude in the woods^ 
the spirit appears to them, where they discourse concerning 
the conditions, upon which the demon ofiers them his assist- 
ance, which done, he teaches them a certain song, which they 
are obliged to keep in constant remembrance. They must 
return the next day to the same place, where the same spi- 
rit appears to them again, and repeats tlie former song, in 
case he takes a fancy to the person ; if not, he does not ap- 



An instrument intended for the purpose of conjuxntion. 



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460 NOTES. 

pear at alL Theae spirits make their appearances under dif- 
ferent whxpeu, some like fishes^ some like birds^ others like a 
serpent or dragon^ others in the shape of a pigraee^ about a 
yard high ; being attended by three, four, or five other pig- 
mees of the same bigness, sometimes by more, but never ex- 
ceeding nine. No sooner are they seized by the Grenius, but 
they appear in a most surprising posture, like madmen, be« 
reaved of the use of reason. This continues for six months ; 
during which time they don't suffer any of their kindred to 
come near them, not so much as their own wives and chil- 
dren. They spend most of this time in the woods and other 
solitary places, being very melancholy and thoughtful, scarce 
taking any food, which makes tliem extremely weak. If 
you ask their children, where and how their parents sustain 
themselves, they will tell you, that they receive their suste- 
nance from their Grenii. The same author gives us a remark- 
able instance of this kind in a young Laplander called Olaus, 
being then a scholar in the school of Liksala, of about 
eighteen years of age. This young fellow fell mad on a sud- 
den, making most dreadful postures and outcries, that he was 
in hell, and his spirit tormented beyond what could be ex- 
pressed. If he took a book in hand, so soon as he met with 
the name of Jesus, he threw the book upon the ground in 
great fury, which after some time being passed over, they 
used to ask him, whether he had seen any vision during 
this ecstacy ? He answered, that abundance of things had 
appeared to him, and that a mad dog being tied to his foot, 
followed him wherever he stirred. In his lucid intervals he 
would tell them, that the first beginning of it happened to 
him one day, as he was going out of the door of his dwell- 
ing, when a great flame passing before his eyes and touching 
his ears, a certain person appeared to him all naked. The 
next day he was seized with a most terrible headach, so 
that he made most lamentable outcries, and broke every 
thing that came under his hands. This unfortunate per- 



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NOTES. 461 

son's face was as black as a coal^ and he used to say> that the 
devil most commonly appeared to him in the habit of a mi- 
nister^ in a long cloak ; during his fits he would say that he 
was surrounded by nine or ten fellows of a low stature^ who 
did use him very barbarously^ though at the same time the 
standers-by did not perceive the least thing like it. He 
would often climb to the top of the highest fir*trees^ with as 
much swiftness as a squirrel^ and leap down again to the 
ground^ without receiving the least hurt He always loved 
solitude, flying the conversation of other men. He would 
run as swift as a horse^ it being impossible for anybody to 
overtake him. He used to talk amongst the woods to him- 
self no otherwise than if several persons had been in his 
company. 

'^ I am apt to believe^ that those spirits were not alto- 
gether unknown to the ancients^ and that they are the same 
which were called by TertuUian Paredri^ and are mentioned 
by Monsieur Valois^ in his Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. 

'' Whenever a Laplander has occasion for his familiar spi- 
rit^ he calls to him^ and makes him come by only singing 
the song he taught him at their first interview ; by which 
means he has him at his service as often as he pleases. And 
because they know them obsequious and serviceable^ they call 
them Sveie^ which signifies as much in their tongue, as the 
companions of their labour^ or their helpmates. Lundius 
has made another observation^ very well worth taking no- 
tice of, viz. — That those spirits or demons never appear to 
the women, or enter into their service ; of which I don*t 
pretend to allege the true cause, unless one might say, that 
perhaps they do it out of pride, or a natural aversion they 
have to the female sex» subject to so many infirmities.'** - 

• History of Lapland, written by John Scheffer, Professor of 
Law, &C. at Upsal in Sweden. English translation, published 
A. D. 1704. 



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4M NOTES. 

Such if the remariuible nmilarity subeistiiig between th« 
■eoond^dght of the Highlanders and of the Laplanders, 
whidi, agttn^ is like that of the Norwegians. 

But^ before dismianng this subject, I shall remark^ that one 
of the latest prooft of the prophetic character of the second- 
sight is aflfbrded by Dr Ferriar in his Theory of Apparitions. 
** A gentleman^" says this author, " connected with my fa- 
mily, an officer in the army, and certainly addicted to no SU'^ 
pergtition,* was quartered early in life, in the middle of the 
last century, near the castle of a gentleman in the north of 
Scotland, who was supposed to possess the second- sight. 
Strange rumours were afloat respecting the old chieftain. 
He had spoken to an apparition, which ran along the battle- 
ments of the house, and had never been cheerful afterwards. 
His prophetic visions excited surprise even in that region of 
credulity ; and his retired habits favoured the popular opi- 
nion. My friend assured me, that one day, while he was 
reading a play to the ladies of the family, the chief, who had 
been walking across the room, stopped suddenly^ and as- 
sumed the look of a seer. He rang the bell, and ordered the 
groom to saddle a horse ; to proceed immediately to a seat in 
the neighbourhood, and to inquire after the health of Lady 

" . If the account was favourable, he then directed him 
to call at another castle, to ask after another lady whom he 
named. 

" The reader immediately closed his book, and declared 
that he would not proceed till these abrupt orders were ex- 
plained, as he was confident that they were produced by the 
second-sight; The chief was very unwilling to explain him- 
self, but at length he owned that the door had appeared to 



* Dr Ferriar might with much advantage have spared the remark 
which I have inserted in italics. 



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NOTES. 4$i 

opftii^ And that a little woman^ wl^ut a bead, had entisrcd 
the rdom ; that the apparition indicated the death of tome 
person of his acquaintance ; and the only two persons who 
resembled the figure were those ladies after whose health he 
had sent to inquire. 

^* A few hours afterwards the servant returned with an 
account that one of the ladies had died of an apoplectic fit, 
about the time when the vision appeared. 

'' At another time the chief was confined to his bed by 
indisposition, and my fViend was reading to him in a stormy 
Winter night, while the fishing-boat belonging to the castle 
was at sea. The old gentleman repeatedly oppressed much 
anxiety respecting his people ; and at last exclaimed, '^ My 
boat is lofet !* The colonel replied, ' How do you know it, 
sir .>*— He Was answered, * I see two of the boatmen bring- 
ing in the third drowned, all dripping wet, and laying him 
down close beside your chair. The chair was shifted with 
great precipitation ; in th^ course of the night, the fisher- 
man returned with the corpse of one of the boatmen." 

It is perhaps to be lamented, that such a narrative as this 
should have been seriotisly quoted in Dr Ferriar's philoso- 
phic work on Apparitions. I have lately seen it advanced, 
on the doctor's authority, as favouring the vulgar belief in 
apparitions, and introduced in the same volume with the 
story of Mrs Veal ! 

Note 5, p. 237. 

Ilhistraiion of the Mode in which the Narrative of a Case of 
Spectral Impressions, although published by and occurring 
to a medical Man, may be distorted by superstitious Fears 
and vulgar Prejudices. 

In th^ London Magazine, for the year 1765, (page 234,) 
we find an extraordinary account, under the signature of 
Jbsephus, of a young man, a student of an academy in De- . 



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464 NOTES. 

vonshire^ who dreamt that he was paying a visit to his fa- 
ther's house in Gloacestershire, ahoat a hundred miles dis- 
tant ; that^ on his arrival there^ " he first attempted to go 
in at the fore-door^ — ^but, finding it fast^ then went round 
to the back-door^ where he gained an ea^ admission. 
Finding the family a-bed^ he made the best of his way to 
the iq[Mirtment where his father and mother lay. When 
he had entered the room^ he first went to the side of 
the bed where his father was^ whom he found fast asleep ; 
on which^ without disturbing him^ he went round to the 
other side of the bed^ where he found his mother^ as he 
apprehended^ broad awake ; to whom he addressed him« 
self in these words : ' Mother ! I am going a long journey, 
and am come to bid you good b*w'ye.' On which she an- 
swered, in a fright, as follows: — * O, dear son, thou art 
dead !' Immediately on which the undersigned awoke, and 
took no flirther notice of the affair than he would have, 
done of any other ordinary dream. But, in a few days, that 
is, as soon as the post could possibly reach him, he received 
a letter from his father, informing him that his mother had 
heard him such a night trying the doors of the house, and 
repeating precisely all the particulars of his dream as having 
been likewise exactly represented to her, while awake, in a 
spectral impression.'* The rema^rk here made is, — " Such is 
the son's dream, and such the vision of the mother. This 
latter being a kind of counter-part to the former, — on which, 
however, nothing extraordinary turned up on either side." 

This idle account, given under a fictitious signature, 
would be unworthy the least comment, were it not for the 
attempted explanations to which it gave rise, — but more par- 
ticularly for the illustrations with which such explanations 
were accompanied. A correspondent of the Magazine (cre- 
dulous soul !) having called upon his fellow-contributors to. 
afford some key to the mystery, a physician, (proh pudor !) 

5 



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NOTES. ^5 

Dr J. Cook^ relates the following account of some apparitions 
which occurred to his observation^ haying first appealed for the 
truth of them ^^ to the living 6od^ before whom he must be 
severely judged^ if he told a falsity^ or intended thereby to 
deceive any one:" — 

^' Ever since I was three and twenty years of age/' con- 
tinues the superstitious doctor^ who certainly laboured very 
long under genuine spectral impressicms^ '* I have had 
an invisible being, or beings^ attend me at times^ both, at 
home and alnroad^ that has by some gentle token or other 
given me warning and notice ^t shortly I should certainly 
lose a particular friend or a patient It began and continued 
fWmi our marriage till the decease of my first wife^ in May 
1798, and her in&nt daughter. After that they came sel- 
dom> but so gentle^ civile and fiuniliar^ that I chose rather 
to have them about my house than not> and would not^ if I 
Wis to sell it^ part with the same without some extraordinary 
consideration upon that very account ; and I really hope they 
will never leave me as long as I live^ though my spouse 
wishes otherwise^ to whom they are not so agreeable. 

** I may be reckoned by several to be a whimsical vision- 
ary> or what not^ — ^but I know I am fiu* firom it^ being nei« 
ther superstitious^ enthusiastic, nor timorous ; and I am cer- 
tain, too, I am not deceived by others, we all having had 
many and various impressions from invisible agents ; and I 
myself, by no fewer than three of my senses, and those so 
often repeated, that they became quite easy and familiar, 
without any terror or amazement. I take the hint at once, 
and wait for the certain and infidlible issue. I have spoke 
to it often, but never received any answer, and think I have 
courage enough to stand a private conference. 

" Sometimes we have had these hints frequent and close to- 
gether ; at other times but seldom^ and at a great distance 

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493 NOTES. 

of time. But thfe I have obsenred^ that rarely any patient, 
or friend, that I respected^ or that valued me, departs hence, 
but I have some kind of sentiUe notice or warning of it ; — 
. but yet 80 discreet and mild^ as never to flutter or iri^ten 
me. This notice, which is either by seeing, feeling, or hear- 
ing, is not fixed to any certain distance of time previous to 
their deaths, — ^but I have had it a week, a month, and more, 
before their decease, and once only three days. 

'* At first, in 1728, 1 kept a book of account, where I en- 
tered every notice or warning, with the particular drcum- 
stances attending, and the event that succeeded such no- 
tices ; but ihej were then so frequent and numerous, that 
I grew quite weary in srriting them down, — so left off that 
method, resolving to Uke them for the friture just as they 
came. The very last hint I had was on Saturday night, the 
6th (^July, 1765, in my chamber, about eleven o'clock, as 
I was walking to my bed, being frt>m home attending a pa-^ 
' tient I was that morning sent for to, and which t lost the 
90th day of the same month. For the first five days I saw 
no danger, yet dodbted the event ; but, when I have more 
than one patient dangerously ill at a time, the issue only de^' 
termines the case f and, though I lay no stress upon such 
notices so as to afl^t my practice, yet I fear the most ; and, 
though the use of meant isdien to no purpose, yet it ren* 
ders me the more diligenifor conscience sake. 

'' To relate the pavttoular circumstances of the several no- 
tices intimated on this or. any other occasions, would be here 
entirely useless, as only afibrding matter of mirth to the light 
and unthinking, and those who know nothing of the matter. 
But this I again solemnly declare, that I have many times; 
even above a hundred, I. brieve, been made sensible of the 
existence of a difibrent kind of beings firom us, subtle and 
volatile inhabitants, as I take it, of the air, who see and 
know our worldly aflfirirs here below, and have a concern for, 



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NOTES. ^467 

us and our welfare. Twice only have I seen spectres^ but 
heard and felt them times innumerable. 

" Angels they cannot W^ those high and glorious beings 
being too grand and noble for such low offices^ and are 
much better employed above. Devils they are not, as owing 
no good service at all to the lapsed race of mankind ; and de- 
parted souls have no more business here, but are goile to 
their place. 

^^ That there are innumerable inferior spiritual beings in 
our atmosphere, was the opinion of the ancients, of Milton, 
and the modems ; and I think they solve all difficulties at- 
tending this abstruse subject at once, and may remove the 
foolish fear so. generally attending such odd stories. As no 
created space is absolutely void of all being, why should our 
gross atmosphere be without such inhabitants as are most 
suitable to such an element,— who may be, as it were, the 
lowest step of the spiritual scale, and the first gradation of a 
superior order? ■ > 

*' All histories of this sort, both divine and profane, by 
ancients and by moderns also, cannot be without some foun* 
dation ; and the learned Whiston and Le Clerc both say the 
opinion of spectres is neither unreasonable nor unphilosophii 
cal, but may very well exist in the nature of things. '* 

" In short, I could write a whole volume on the subject ; 
but that I know it would be but to little purpose, and 
could serve none but such as are, like myself, in the secret'; 
therefore it need never be expected. Yet I shall be.ready, at 
any time, to satisfy the curiosity of all sober, sensible, and 
inquisitive people, by private letters, if desired ; and so- 
lemnly protest I have no selfish end, interest, design, nor 
deceit herein ; but the truth I must credit, and always 
speak, though but three people alive believe me ; and yet I . 
am as much averse to the many idle stories of hobgobliVis, 
and the like vain and villanous impositions, as any man livt 



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468 NOTES. 

iog. But yet the abuse of a thing is no good argument 
against the use of it^ be it either in practice or knowledge. 

'^ Nay, what is more wonderful stilly besides my seeing 
these aerial shades in such yehicles^ or something like them, 
which once I did in my own house at noonday^ directed 
thereto by the barking of my little dog at the same^ who 
saw it first, — I once heard one of them pronounce very audi- 
bly and articulately, but most emphatically and pathetically, 
in my chamber, just as I had put out my candle, and was 
laid down in my bed, these words :^ lam gone,' My second 
cousin, a visitor, died on the Monday morning following, 
the fourth day after, who was seemingly well till two days 
before her decease. My spouse was fast asleep by me, so 
missed being witness of that notice, though she often is, 
and some of my sons too, and many others. 

'^ But some will say, cut bono, of what use is all this ? 
Suppose we could not resolve the question ; what then ? 
Can we, poor, duU^ finite beings of a day, pretend to account 
for all phenomena about us ? nay, can we exactly account 
for any ?— Yet I will humbly offer my thoughts about it, 
and tell to what good use you may apply them ; and then 
their intimations may not be altogether in vain. 

" Look, as I do, upon all such uncommon impressions 
from invisible powers as a sensible proof, and manifest de- 
monstration of another and future state of existence after 
this, and that the present is the first and lowest of all we 
are successively to pass through. — Betake yourself earnestly 
*t6 prayer,*'- &c. &c., " and let such secret impressions, items, 
and hints, be no longer matter of laughter, but of serious 
meditation," &c, &c., &c. " J. Cook, M.D." 

[Dated] " Leigh, Sept 18, 1765.'' 

This strange narrative, as we might expect, provoked the 
replies of many commentators. The first of these, under the 



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NcnES. ^d 

signature of W., calls his case '' a discrasy of the brain^ oc- 
casioned, perhaps, by an uncommon concern for his patients, 
and anxiety for thdr wel&re." A second critic^ in the 
course of a very learned metaphysical stricture on Dr Cook's 
illusions^ thinks it is very probable that one of the ghosts 
which visited him was of Irish extraction, and certainly no 
grammarian ; for, ** once^ indeed^" he adds^ '* you heard 
the spiritual agent form an articulate voice, and utter these 
words, — ^ X am gone ;' which you say was fidfiUed by the 
sudden death of your cousin's daughter three days after. — 
A vain mortal should not presume to dictate expressions to 
a nobler being; but certainly his meaning had been less 
ambiguous, less mysteriously oracular, had he plainly said, 
'Your ix)usln's daughter is going/ For no good reason can, 
I Uiink, be given, why spirits, if they use our language, 
should not be as much confined as men in the articles of 
grammar and good sense, if they hope for any respect in 
this world." 

I cannot spare room to notice Dr Cook's reply to these let- 
ters, nor to advert to the remarks of other commentators; 
but it appears from several contributions of his to the 
periodical journals, that he was often in an infirm state 
of health, arising from attacks of the gout. To this mor- 
bid source theki we must probably look for the produc- 
tion of his phantasms. With r^ard to the doctor*s family 
being joint witnesses of his ghostly visitants, a moral rather 
than a medical explanation may afford a key to this asser- 
tion. 

Hamlet. 
«i Do you see yonder cloud, that*8 almost in shape of a camel ? 

POLONIUS. 

By the mass, and *tis like a camel indeed. 

Hamlet. 
They fool me to the top of my bent." 



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470 NOTES. 

Addition to Note 5, 

With the foregoing narrative may be compared one 
which I received^ since the first edition of this work was 
published^ from a respectable individual of Edinburgh^ who 
has favoured me with his name and address. The writer^ 
after making me acquainted with the &nciful impressions 
of his infiincy^ the subject of which was derived from the 
wonderful stories to be found in treatises on demonol(^^ 
as well as from the popular traditional stories of Scotland^ 
then relates the course of studies by which^ in a more ma- 
ture age> he escaped from the trammels of superstition. 
Tllis discipline led him to regard^ as a mere mental illusion, 
aoi incident which others would have considered as super- 
natural. 

^' About a dozen of years ago/' remarks my correspondent, 
'^ a gentlenian, with whom I had been long and intimately 
acquainted, died very suddenly. The information of his de- 
cease reached me soon after, and produced no slight emotion 
in my mind, which, although banished by the business in 
which I was employed, was occasionally renewed by the con- 
versation of those with whom I associated. At dinner the 
subject was talked of in my family. I again pursued my 
vocation; and being more than usually busy, if it oc- 
curred again, it was only for a moment, and the feeling 
far less intense. About nine in the evening I went up 
stairs, and joined my family; the circumstance was not 
again mentioned by any one, we being engaged in talking 
over some family-matters in which we were interested. 
After supper, according to my usual custom, I went down 
stairs to take a Walk in the court behind my house. This 
court was a parallelogram, and mostly paved, from thirty to 
forty feet in length ; its breadth more than half as much ; 
in part it was bounded by extensive open gardens, from 



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NOTES. 471 

which it was divided by a low parapet- wall^ surtnounted 
with a light railing ; .the extremities at both ends ware the 
walls of offices belonging to the house. The sky was dear^ 
and the night serene ; and there was no light fh>m my win- 
dow which could either fall or produce any shadow in the 
court (You will instantly perceive my reason for relating 
these minute particulars.) 

*^ When I went down stairs^ I was musing on a subject 
by no association of ideas connected with my deceased friend^ 
and for several hours did not note him in my mind. My 
entrance to the court was at an angle ; and I had proceeded 
at a slow pace> nearly half-way across, still pursuing my ru- 
minations^ when the figure of my departed friend seemed 
suddenly to start up right before me, at the opposite angle 
of the court. I do not at this moment see the pen in my 
hand^ nor the paper on which I am writing, more visibly 
and distinctly, than he appeared to me ; so that I could at a 
glance discern his whole costume. He was not in his usuid 
dress, but in a coat of a different colour, which he had for 
many months left off wearing ; I could even remaric a fi- 
gured vest, which he had also worn about the same time ; 
also a coloured silk handkerchief around his neck, in which 
I had used to see him in a morning ; and my powers of 
vision seemed to become more keen as I gazed on the phan^ 
tom before me. It seemed to be leaning in the angle with 
its back to the, wall, and gave me a bow, or rather a fami- 
liar nod of recognisance, making a slight motion with the 
right hand. I acknowledge that I started, and an indescrib- 
able feeling, which I shall never forget, shot through my 
firame; but after a pause of, I suppose, from twenty to thirty 
seconds, I became convinced that it was either an optical 
deception, or some sudden and temporary hallucination of 
the mind. I recovered my fortitude ; and, keeping my eye 
intently fixed on the spectre, walked briskly up to the spot. 



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472 NOT£S. 

It ▼ankhtd, not by tmldiig into the earthy but by seeming 
insensibly to melt into Tiewless air. I brought my hand in 
contact with the wall on which it seemed to lean^ felt no- 
thingy and the illusion was vanished for ever. 

'^ There is no doubt that all this hiq;ipened in consequence 
of the prefious strong excitement of my feelings^ and the 
deep impression left on my mind ; but I have never been 
able to comprehend how it should have occurred^ after the 
snlject had been banished from my memcny^ and when my 
thoughts were employed on a very different subject ; nor 
can I conceive how the external organs of sight should so 
readily be united with imagination^ in producing the extra- 
ordinary illusion^ especially with one who was so decidedly 
sceptical on the subject* 

** I have talked over this strange occurrence with friends^ 
but have never heard a satis&ctory solution^ either phyeical 
or philosophical^ of what could produce this temporary alie- 
nation of the reasoning faculties* One clerical ftiendi, who^ 
although otherwise not a weak-minded man> endeavoured to 
convince me^ not only of the possibility^ but even of the 
probability, that it was a real apparition which had so sud- 
denly appeared before me. To this I replied^ ' If so, to what 
purpose did it appear ? or what good was promoted by its un- 
expected appearance ? It neither reprimanded me for the past, 
nor admonished me for the future. The intrusion produced 
no consequences, except a momentary alarm, and some sub- 
sequent musings on how little I knew of my own frame, 
either physical or intellectuaL' " 



* I would remark, to my intelligent correspondent, who had 
not at the time seen my work, that these truly pertinent questions 
are frequently discussed in the course of this dissertation, but more 
particularly in some chapters of the Fourth Part of the present 
edition, commencing at page 224, and ending at page 304. 

S. H. 



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NOTES. 473 

Note 6, pp. 331 and 332. 

In page 331, &c., I made a remark, that many narratives of 
ghosts may be found in various biographies, where they have 
only found a place because a fortuitous coincidence with the 
subject of the phantasm and subsequent events has served 
to countenance the popular views entertained regarding the 
sacred mission of apparitions. This remark, of course, 
applies no less to the phantasms of dreams than to those of 
waking impressions^ 

Since committing this passage to paper, however, I have 
met with the publication of a case of an opposite kind, and it 
is really the only one which I know of that has been re- 
corded. It is to be found in an able letter addressed to a 
fHend of the writer, " on the Vanity of Dreams, and upon 
the Appearance of Spirits," which was published in ^* Le 
Mercure Gallant," for January, 1690. 

'^ The last proofs my dear friend," says the writer, '* which 
I can give on the vanity of dreams^ is my surviving after 
one that I experienced on the S3d of September^ 1679. I 
awoke on that day at five o*clock in the rooming, and hav« 
ing fijlen asleep again half an hour after^ I dreamt that I 
was in my bed, and that the curtain of it was undrawn at 
the foot (two circumstances which were true), and that I 
saw one of my relations, who had died several years before, 
enter the room^ with a countenance as sorrowful as it had 
formerly been joyous. She seated herself at the foot of my 
bed> and looked at me with pity. As I knew her to be dead, 
as well in the dream as in reality, 1 judged by her s(M*row 
that she was going to announce some bad news to me^ and 
perhaps death ; and foreseeing it vdth sufficient indifikenCe, 
— ' Ah well !' said I to her, *• I must die then ?' She re- 
plied to me, * It is true.' — * And when ?' retorted I. * Im- 
mediately ?*— ' To-day,' replied she. I confess to you the 
7 



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474 NOTES. 

time appeared short ; but^ without being concerned^ I in- 
terrogated her further^ and asked her ' in what manner ?' 
She mormared some words which I did not understand^ 
and at that moment I awoke. The importance of a dream 
•0 precise made me take notice of my situation^ and I re- 
marked, that I had lain down upon my right side^ my body 
extended^ and both hands resting upon my stomach. I rose 
to commit my dream to writing, for fear of forgetting any 
part of it ; and, finding it accompanied by all the circum- 
stances which are attributed to mysterious and divine visions^ 
I was no sooner dressed^ than I went to tell my sister-in- 
law^ that, if serious dreams were infallible warnings^ she 
would have no brother-in-law in twenty-four hours. I told 
her afterwards all that had haf^ned to me^ and likewise 
informed some of my friends^ but without betraying the 
least alarm, and without changing in any respect my usual 
conduct^ resigning myself to the entire disposal of Provi- 
dence. 

•* Now, if I had been weak enough to give up my mind to 
die idea that I was going to die, perhaps I should have died, 
and it would have happened to me, as to those men, of whom 
Procopius, the Greek historian, has spoken, who, when the 
plague prevailed, were struck with this scourge from Grod^ 
for having only dreamt that demons touched them, or said, 
to them that they would be soon in the tomb. I likewise 
should have paid by the shortening of my days for yielding 
up my belief to these dreams, and violating the law of Grod, 
whidi forbids such a superstition. At least it is certain, that 
a Canadian would not have escaped ; for he would have even 
had recourse to precipices, or to his own hands, in order that 
his dream might not be a futile one. For the people of that 
country are absolutely persuaded, that they cannot dream of 
any thing which ought not to happen as a matter of course." 



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NOTES. 475 

Note 7, p. 335. 

There is not a more frequent subject of marvellous narra- 
tions^ whether true or false^ than the ghost of some departed 
friend appearing to an individual in fulfilment of a previous 
compact made before death. But the writer in '* Le Mer- 
cure Gallant," of the year 1690, whom I have before quoted, 
though uttering his sentiments in a superstitious age and 
country, has not hesitated to express some doubts on the 
subject. 

'' Souls do not take flight from their bodies to return to 
them, the tarr3ring-place being too indifferent for such spirits, 
however delightful it may be in young persons. If it was 
otherwise, I should have seen Plusside since her death. This 
beauty, of whom you have heard me say so much, had sworn 
to me, in the strength of our affections, one day in Easter, 
at the foot of the altar, that if she died before me, she 
would come and see me, and tell me all the news of the 
other state. I also made her the same promise, and sancti- 
fied it with an oath. Nevertheless, many years have elapsed 
since she has paid the debt of nature, without having accom- 
plished what she owed to friendship and to her word. " 



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