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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 than having recourse to the original dissertation.
“ A malefactor 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 dispensatories. 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; presently 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 appeared perfect, the puppet (for his size was small) reared himself on his feet; instantly his clothes came upon him, and he appeared in the very cloak he wore at his execution. The affrighted spectator, who stood hitherto mumbling his prayers with great application, now thought of nothing but making his escape from the
revived ruffian; but this was impossible, for the apparition 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, indicating that the blood was the chief part of the human frame in which those saline particles resided, the arrangement of which gave rise to the popular notion of ghosts. Dr Webster, in his book on witchcraft, relates an experiment, given on the authority of Dr Flud, in which this very satisfactory conclusion was 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 artificer, lying in a chamber next to his laboratory, betwixt sleeping and waking, heard a horrible noise, like unto the lowing of kine, or the roaring of 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, lying in a lower room of the house, and also the neigh
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 thereof. 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 furnace, 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 face, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and hairs, that were somewhat thin, and of a golden colour."
* Regarding this narrative, 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 relation from the Lord of Menanton, living in that house at the same time, from a certain doctor of physic, from the owner of the house, and many others.”
THE OPINIONS ENTERTAINED THAT GHOSTS WERE
EXTERNAL IDEAS, OR ASTRAL SPIRITS.
“ Most willing Spirits, that promise noble service."
The notions taught in the middle ages regarding the Soul was, that it pervaded the whole of the body, being, indeed, the active principle of assimilation, upon which “the attraction, the retention, the decoction, and the preparation" of the particles of food which were introduced into the body, ultimately depended. The proper seat of this principle, however, was the brain, a particular department of which formed its closet. This closet the Cartesians conceived to be situated in the pineal gland.
The five Senses were regarded by the early metaphysicians as nothing more than " porters" to the Soul; they brought to “her” the forms of outward things, but were not able themselves to discern them; such forms or ideas were then subjected to the various intellectual operations of the rational Soul or mind.
According to this view, ideas, which were originally considered as the actual forms of objects, were stored up by the Memory, and liable to be recalled. This doctrine was probably derived from Aristotle, who had some notion of impressions or images remaining after the impressing cause had ceased to act, and that
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 conjecture, after the memorable experiment of Palingenesy, 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
apparition, induced in a similar manner after an animal 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 phenomena. For instance, when it was reported that a shower of frogs had taken place, philosophers contended 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, Kircher, 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 represented, 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 plants, 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 there are shapes and apparitions of men, that must of ne