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have been the subjects of such deceptions. Moreover, persons who are much endowed with a poetic and mystical disposition of mind, are most subject to these illusions. It has been constantly observed by phrenologists, that those parts of the brain considered to be the organs of ideality and of supernaturality, but particularly the latter, exercise an influence over the intellectual organs, (in which the objects of the external world are perceived) of such a nature, as to induce those organs to act irregularly, and thus to call up ideas of recollection with a force and vividity seldom surpassed by real impressions. By these means a spectrum is produced, which, unless carefully compared with real objects by which it may be surrounded, is capable of deceiving the beholder into a belief of its absolute existence. Novel combinations of form are sometimes produced in this manner, by the internal activity of the organs of the brain, and thus we occasionally seem to behold figures which have no external prototypes in the material world.*
* It should be remembered, that we never see any external objects in themselves, we only perceive the configurations of our organs, which the impression of the objects create: and this, in fact, must be continually kept in view, when we en
Persons with an imagination disturbed by fever, and by disorders of the digestive organs, have seen these phantasms in their chambers at night, and have compared them with surrounding objects which have appeared more vivid, and also with common ideas of imagination which have seemed less vivid; and by this comparison they have been enabled to determine them as holding a sort of intermediate rank between common imagination and real objects. Those haunting creatures, called Blue Devils, afford an example of this kind.
Sometimes other organs of sense, as for example, those of hearing and of touch, perform similar delusive actions; and in a few cases where the contemporaneous hallucinations of several senses have been combined, the spectre has appeared accompanied with the highest proofs of its reality. Dr. Ferriar has published some interesting illustrations of the nature and cause of these sprites, and justly observes, that the mythology of the ancients was highly calculated to favour the indulgence in such illusive phan
deavour to explain phantasms of the mind. I must refer the reader to a small work, entitled, SOMATOPSYCONOOLOGIA, or BODY, LIFE, and MIND, published by R. Hunter, London, 1823, ch. ii. § 3.
toms. The habit of constantly dwelling on the images of saints and crosses, has done the same thing in Christian Europe, which the fables of Jupiter, Venus, and other deities, did in ancient Greece and Rome, and which the fairy mythology of the northern nations had effected in the septentrional parts of Europe and Asia. But when we have developed their physical causes, we have not done all that seems requisite to found the history of what are called supernatural apparitions. Some such remarkable coincidences between these phantoms, and certain real events to which they professedly related, have occurred from time to time, and are recorded with such accuracy of testimony, that they seem to deserve a larger share of attention than has usually been bestowed on them by philosophers. As far as their physical history goes, dreams, nightmares, and many other familiar phaenomena are referable to a common origin, and depend on established laws in the animal economy.* But the most
* A fallacious argument was attempted by Baxter, in plea of his doctrine that dreams and visions were presented to us by external agents, founded on the fact that we feel surprise in our dreams at the strange appearances which present themselves, which could not be the case if the mind itself of the dreamer produced the images. This circumstance,
curious part of their history relates to coincidences connected with them. If correct accounts of the various superstitions, such as I have related in the three foregoing sections, accurately compiled and compared with their causes, were published, they might clear up many idle tales and superstitious opinions, and show the origin of
Of calling shapes and beckoning shadows dire
Any person capable of the task of compiling such a stupendous work would, by clearing up many idle fables, prepare the way for the march of science, and the promulgation of useful knowledge.
however, has been explained of late years by the multiplicity of organs in the brain, whose spontaneous activity produces forms, which the mind mistakes in sleep for realities. But this explanation also shows, that the organs themselves are not the mind, and that there is some identical percipient independent of those parts of the brain which produce the illusion. Again, the character, origin, and specific object of certain visions must be drawn, not from their individual peculiarities, but from the coincidence found to exist between these and certain events in real life. These subjects constitute, perhaps, the most curious and interesting part of Physiology and History which exist, a circumstance that must plead my apology for detaining the reader so long with their consideration.
C. 1. § 4.-THE sudden and dense fogs which come on sometimes seem hardly referable to any assignable cause. In great cities, the fog, whatever may be its cause, aggrandized and thickened by smoke, and the breath of the inhabitants, often envelops the whole town in such darkness, that people are obliged at mid day to go about their business by candle light. Of this, I select the following instance from M. Howard's Journal, which happened on the 10th January, 1812:-"London was this day involved, for several hours, in palpable darkness. The shops, offices, &c. were necessarily lighted up; but, the streets not being lighted as at night, it required no small care in the passenger to find his way, and avoid accidents. The sky, where any light pervaded it, showed the aspect of bronze! Such is, occasionally, the effect of the accumulation of smoke between two opposite gentle currents, or by means of a misty calm. I am informed that the fuliginous cloud was visible, in this instance, from a distance of forty miles. Were it not for the extreme mobility of our atmosphere, this volcano of a hundred thousand mouths would, in winter, be scarcely habitable!”
An account of several remarkable circumstances attending particular fogs may be found in Bertholon. Elec. des Meteors: