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tibilities of pleasures or of pain are liable to be still farther modified: that all his moral propensities or dispositions depend upon ultimate laws, determining on what definite occasions of social intercourse, várious degrees of vividness shall be dispensed to the state of the mind.
After this general notice of the primary laws by which our émotions are governed, it may be briefly added, that in any train of sensations and ideas, the more any particular feelings are vivified by an occasion calculated to inspire hope or fear, the less vivid are all other impressions rendered which occur in the same train of feelings. But it is impossible for me, in this limited treatise, to enter into a full explanation of the principles which modify our natural emotions. 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 perception where others would use the term sensation, and conception where an idea or renovated feeling is evidently meant. His observations are to this effect:"The phantasms of the imagination in the reveries of our waking hours, when 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
duce the vividness of all impressions that are not connected 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 idea is intensely renovated upon the faded outlines of such 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,
Grow babbling ghosts, and call us to our graves.
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 sensible 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 Ferriar 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 secure. On examination, part of the wall appeared to have been broken down to enlarge the opening. After some inquiry, he was told that a pedlar, who had lodged in the room a short time before, had committed 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 removing 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
sion. He was visited, in a dream, by a frightful apparition, and, 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 discovered, by the moonlight, a corpse dressed in a shroud, reared erect against the wall, close by the window. With much difficulty he summoned up resolution to approach the dismal object, the features of which, and the minutest parts of its funeral apparel, he perceived distinctly. He passed one hand over it; felt nothing; and staggered back to the bed. After a long interval, and much reasoning with himself, he renewed his investigation, and at length discovered that the object of his terror was produced by the moonbeams forming a long bright image through the broken window, on which his fancy, impressed by his dream, had pictured, with mischievous accuracy, the lineaments of a body prepared for interment. Powerful associations of terror, in this instance, had excited the recollected images with uncommon force and effect."
MENTAL EXCITEMENTS DISTINGUISHED AS PARTIAL
"Behold from far a breaking cloud appears,
Their glory shoots upon my aking sense :-
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 morbific agents. Little or no notice was taken of thè 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 phantasms originating from disease, it is evident that an exciting action is exclusively confined to the vivifying 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 affected; the spectral illusions incidental to this state being far more vivid than when ideas are exclusively excited, and never failing to be accompanied