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quite equalling in intensity the vividness of an immediate sensation; indeed, Nicolai has related of certain other forms, 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 continue visible a considerable time:
"The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
And these are of them :-Whither are they vanish'd ?—
Into the air; and what seem'd corporal
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 vanished, by becoming gradually fainter during about two seconds, till nothing was left but a dark and pale mist, in which, almost immediately afterwards, appeared another face. All these faces were, in the highest degree, interesting to me, for beauty of form, and the variety of expression they manifested of every great and amiable emotion of the human mind." How
well do these circumstances incidental to morbid illusions 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 blast drives the phantom away; white, without form, it ascends the hill."*
It must be confessed, that the popular belief of departed 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 communicated to man, but from the Jewish prophets or from our Saviour himself. Yet it is certain, that a belief in an existence after death has, from time immemorial, 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 extravagant supposition, that the belief might have often arisen not only from dreams, but from those spectral illusions, 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
* See Note to Croma, in Macpherson's Ossian, vol. ii.
gence, perhaps even holding converse with him? Assuredly, the conviction would scarcely fail to arise of an existence after death. The pages of history attest this fact:
"If ancestry can be in aught believ'd,
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 heaviest 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 progressively 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 rewards and punishments.
From the foregoing remarks, we need not be surprised, 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 illusions are nothing more than recollected images of the mind presented in a highlyexcited 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
those to which they had been accustomed in an earthly state of existence. Dr Barclay, in speaking of the simulacra 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, Æneid, and Edda, were just the simulacra of the manners, opinions, customs, and fashions, that characterized the times 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 human ghosts, and was founded upon it.+ Dreams also have deeply entered into the tenets of many religions, -such phenomena having been ever regarded as prophetic indications communicated to mankind by supernatural 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. + See Note 3.
Blood, in particular, was an acceptable libation to ghosts, and more particularly to the ghosts of heroes. It was, therefore, to correct the loose opinions 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 vapours; or, on the other hand, that the soul was immortal,—that it was a harmony of heat, cold, moisture, and dryness, that it was part of one universal soul, or that different souls might be possessed by one individual.+ Thus it was an opinion, that, after the dissolution of the body, every man was possessed of three different kinds of ghosts, which were distinguished by the names of Manes, Anima, and Umbra. These were disposed of after the following manner : the Manes descended into the infernal regions, the
Farmer on Worship of Human Spirits, page 434.
+For a summary of the opinions entertained by the ancients on this subject, see Dr Barclay's Inquiry into the Opinions, Ancient and Modern, 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 modern errors concerning matter and mind.