Page images

Brand observes, “It is, perhaps, owing to this ancient notion of good and evil genii attending each person, that many of the vulgar pay so great attention to particular dreams, thinking them to be the means which these invisible attendants make use of to inform their wards of any imminent danger."

Michaelmas, says Bailey, is a festival appointed by the Church to be observed in honour of St. Michael the Archangel, who is supposed to be the chief of the Host of Heaven, as Lucifer is of the infernal regions. And as he was supposed to be the protector of the Jewish, so is he now esteemed the guardian and defender of the Christian Church.

September 30. Sr. JEROME Priest and Doctor of

the Church. St. Gregory Apostle of Armenia. St. Honorius Bishop and Confessor.

O rises at vi. 9. and sets at v. 51'. St. Jerome died in 420, at the advanced age, as some writers affirm, of 91. Meditrinalia. Epulum Minervae. Pompeii M. Natalis.

Vet. Rom. Cal. Meditrina was the goddess of medicines, and her festivals were celebrated today, probably because this is rather a critical time of year for complaints. It is not remarkable that the Romans should have made her offerings of fruit, as experience taught them that the living a good deal on good ripe fruits, so far from producing the bowel complaints which now prevail, are, of all other diets, the most likely to mollify the effects of these Autumnal Epidemics, by keeping the bowels regularly open, and the blood cool. A large quantity of certain fruits greedily devoured by a person unaccustomed to them, may now and then bring on violent disorders of the stomach; but the constant habit of eating fruit, is what we insist on as a salutary practice. See our article HYGEIA, September 20.

Hygeia.— This being the feast of Meditrinalia, described above, we cannot do better than to compose our Salutary Article today with accounts of a peculiar disease of the mind, which has of late become the subject of numerous discussions among physicians; we mean, Spectral Illusions, which in reality depend on an overexcited or

otherwise disordered state of the brain. It is a disease against which, we have no doubt, its unhappy patients would be willing to invoke Meditrina, more perhaps than against many other complaints, which are really more painful and dangerous. We have known many persons incur this malady about the decline of the year now fast approaching, owing to the previous injurious use of mercury, calomel, and opium, and even the use of strong and ardent spirits, and other injurious stimuli. For its cure the Cibo di latte e del frutto - the wholesome diet of milk and vegetables, and other light food, combined with exercise and care of the Digestive Organs, is the best remedy. In order to clear the way to a just notion of these diseases, we shall offer the following attempt at an arrangement.

Illustration and Arrangement of the Effects of the Imagination. We have so frequently alluded to the disordered images which occur in various diseases, that we feel disposed to offer some sort of explanation of their causes, arranged according to their varieties, which may serve as a paper of reference for our readers, who will find detached relations of this kind scattered throughout our Calendar.

By the Imagination, we understand the power of producing the images of external things in the mind, either simply or in their various combinations. The images may be thus classed :

1. Images of Perception, as when I look at a really existing body actually present.

2. Images of Thought or mental images which are the subjects of our thoughts and seem to be faint and waning resemblances of their real external types. It may here be noted that when we perceive a real object, it is by means of our senses, and the various organs of the brain appended thereunto; so that what we call the perception of objects, is, in fact, the perception or consciousness of certain configurations of our organs, which external objects produce in such a manner as that these configurations shall vary according to the varieties of the objects which excite them, so as to convey to us an exact knowledge of those objects ; the nervous bodily organs being, as it were, the medium between the Mind itself and the external world. And further, our Organs are kept in a fit state to become such a medium by the Principle of Life. Now it seems that the Images of Thought are fainter repetitions of the said configurations of our Organs, and which serve to constitute our stock of knowledge; inasmuch as they enable us to store up and recollect the images of absent objects. Imagination, with respect to the Images of Thought, is the power of forming new combinations out of the recollected materials of our perceptions; thus, we can think of a horse with a fox's tail, but we must have perceived beforehand both of these objects separately, before we could so combine them in fancy. Images of Thought then illustrate the proposition of the Philosopher Kant, that we know Objects only in relation to the Subject. We can imagine, in thought, not only the figure of a person, but their voice, smell, and touch, because the actions of the Brain, which produce images, are repeated, and, as it were, called up voluntarily by the Mind.

3. Images of Sleep or Dreams are in fact the aforesaid Images of Thought, and only differ in this, that the impression of external objects being withdrawn, and our whole attention being fixed on the Images of Thought, these take place with a degree of strength and vividity almost peculiar to sleep; and the Mind, having no external impressions to compare with them, believes them to be real objects. Great varieties of scenery also are produced in dreams by the power of imagination, that is, by the power every Organ of the Brain possesses of acting spontaneously. Different Organs in various degrees of imperfect sleep and of vigilance act together, and the conibinations of images are infinite. There is a portion of the Brain called the Organ of Ideality, from its power to excite and give a poetical colouring to our ideas or Images of Thought; and persons with this organ, which lies in the lateral and upper part of the head, (see above pp. 468, 469,) have the most splendid and romantic thoughts and dreams. When the portion of the Brain immediately behind this organ is larger than ordinary, it disposes persons to be superstitious; and it is called Organ of Supernaturality, and is described, September 26,

It gives the same character to the dreams, and to the thoughts of its possessor. Our dreams too, just like our thoughts, are influenced by the character of our minds as respects Hope, Fear, Philosophical acumen, and so on. See the account of the terrifically splendid dreams we have related October 20 of this Calendar.

4. Images of Spectral Illusion or Spectral Impressions seem to be the Images of Thought occurring while we are yet awake, with all the vividity and apparent reality with which the Images of Sleep are usually accompanied ; so as often to deceive the patient into a belief that he sees real objects. Hence Ghosts, Phantoms, and a thousand imaginary creatures of terror.

These spectral images vary in kind; and their varieties,

page 506.

however_apparently infinite, may be divided into several kinds. The common ocular spectra seem to take place in the retina, and are of various sorts; they are accurately described by Dr. Darwin in Zoonomia. But the spectral impressions of the most fearful nature, are those which appear to us to take place by the morbid and spontaneous activity of more deepseated parts of the Brain, and perhaps consist in morbid actions of the Organs of Form and Colour, and sometimes of Sound also. They are exemplified in the Spectres or false appearances of absent persons, hideous and fanciful figures, and other phantasms of a disordered brain. What is called the Blue Devils belong to this class. This last sort of Spectral Illusions generally owe their existence to a morbid state of the nervous system, and of the circulation of blood in the brain which accompanies it; other organs, as those of Fear, Hope, Supernaturality, and Ideality, partake usually of the cerebral irritation, and hence it is that Spectral Illusions are often accompanied with a deep and gloomy melancholy- a frightful despondency - - a mysterious awe of something supernatural — too intense and too peculiar to be described in words, and of which experience can alone furnish the reader with any Idea. This state of Brain is a real disease; and though it comes and goes, or appears to happen to persons without affecting their health, it is, like other diseases of the head, often roused into action by some latent, and perhaps unperceived disorder of the Digestive Organs, and it should be treated medicinally by purgatives, bodily exercise, and diversion of mind.

The above disease is distinct from, though closely allied to, those morbid and fixed errors of thought which take place in Hypochondriasis and Insanity, the discussion of which would open too wide a field of investigation; and we should be induced, if we entered therein, to range beyond the prescribed limits of our work. See October 2.

We trust we have sufficiently accounted for spectra to relieve people from the terrors to which their appearance has often subjected them. We have known persons who have been deceived by them, and have related their intercourse with Spirits, and with the Manes of the dead. We have known others, of philosophical minds, who have been able to recognise them as phantoms of the brain, and have compared them with the external objects in the room through which they appeared to pass, but who nevertheless could not get rid of them without medical means. For various illustrations of all which, we beg to refer to our February 18, p. 65; April 25, p. 190; September 24, September 26, October 2, October 20, October 22, and November 2, 17, and 24.

There is one fearful consideration with regard to this disease, that though a particular organization of the brain be most conducive to it under its most moody and mysterious form, yet all persons may, by disorder of the cerebral parts, become more or less the subjects of it. And as from the common law of coincidences, there will often appear to be imposing events connected with these spectres, the unwary may be led thereby into a belief of their real existence as prophetic agents, and may become superstitious in despite of philosophy. If this account of the disease should contribute to prepare any persons against such credulity, we shall have rendered them an essential service, by explaining the physical cause of their apprehensions, and pointing out the remedy.

Coelum. At this time the heat of the middle of the days is still sufficient to warm the earth, and cause a large ascent of vapour, that the chilling frosty nights, which are also generally very calm, condense into mists; differing from clouds only in remaining on the surface of the ground.

Now by the cool declining year condensed,
Descend the copious exhalations, checked
As up the middle sky unseen they stole,
And roll the doubling fogs around the hill.

Thence expanding far,
The huge dusk gradual swallows up the plain :
Vanish the woods; the dimseen river seeins
Sullen and slow to roll the misty wave.
Even in the height of noon oppressed, the Sun
Sheds weak and blunt his wide refracted ray ;
Whence glaring oft, with many a broadened orb,
He frights the nations. Indistinct on earth,
Seen through the turbid air, beyond the life
Objects appear, and, wildered o'er the waste,

The shepherd stalks gigantic. Equation of Time. — As the Sun is now before a well regulated clock, or apparent before mean time, to find the latter we must subtract the numbers in the following Table from the hour as given by the dial.




Sept. 1st, from the time by the dial subtract 0

1 1 lth,

3 21 16th,

5 5 21st,

6 50 26th,

8 33

« PreviousContinue »