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intensity chiefly from this circumstance; and many of the gay or sad illusions of our hopes and fears are only forms of this very illusion. To the superstitious, in the loneliness of twilight, many wild conceptions arise, that impress them with awe, perhaps not with terror; but if, in the moment of such imaginations, their eye turn on any objects of indistinct outline, that give as it were a body to the phantasms of their own mind; the phantasms themselves, in blending with them, become immediately, with spectral reality, external and terrifying objects of perception. How often, in gazing on a dim and fading fire, do we see, in the mixture of light and shade that plays before us, resemblances of wellknown shapes, that grow more and more like as we continue to gaze on them. There is at first, in such a case, by the influence perhaps of the slightest possible similarity, the suggestion of some form that is familiar to us, which we incorporate, while we gaze on the dim and shadowy film that flutters before us, till the whole seems one blended figure, with equal reality of what we conceive and what we truly see.”
Such is the explanation which Dr Brown has given of some of the illusions that we have been just considering. Mr Coleridge, with no less acuteness, has adverted to the self-same principle, while proposing to account for Luther's apparitions. His words are · the following :-" In aid of the present case I will only remark, that it would appear incredible to persons not accustomed to these subtle notices of selfobservation, what small and remote resemblances, what mere hints of likeness from some real external
object, especially if the shape be aided by colour, will suffice to make a vivid thought consubstantiate with the real object, and derive from it an outward perceptibility."*
This correct view cannot meet with a better illustration than in a German narrative, translated by Dr Crichton, to which I have before adverted. It is the case of a superstitious female, in whose mind the wellknown morbid symptoms which precede a fit of epilepsy, such as the aura epileptica,—the luminous sensations that are well known to occasionally impress the vision,--the illusive impressions of touch felt on various parts of the body, suggested many remote resemblances connected with the angels and devils which formed the subject of her thoughts. These ideas had been recalled by the law of association, and having been rendered as intense as actual impressions, consubstantiated (to use Mr Coleridge's term) with the morbid impressions that were the result of her disease, and were intimately blended with them. “ While the angels,” says this female in the account which she has given of her illusions, “ thus spoke to me, a light, like that reflected from the river Diele, seemed to shine in the apartment. It moved up and down, and then disappeared, upon which I felt as if some person had pulled out the hairs of my head. But the pain was to be borne. The light came again, and the pain left me entirely; it ceased to shine, and I felt as if the flesh on my back was torn from the bones by pincers. The light then returned, and I was better. It once more
Friend, by S. T. Coleridge, Esq. vol. i. p. 246.
went away, and I felt as if
shoulder-blades were torn from each other; my heart also felt as if it were torn out of my breast, and laid between my shoulders, where it died. I thought these must be my ments; and I then beheld the devil beside the
young angel. He came from behind the bed,with his back foremost. All that I saw of him, however, was his arm, a tail about two spans thick, which resembled a serpent, and his neck, and the back part of his head. I had not time to examine him minutely, for the angel pushed him away with his elbow.”
Other incidents, referable to a similar law of the mind, but which more particularly regard hearing, are likewise mentioned by Dr Brown. " The old proverb, which says, that “As a fool thinketh so the bell clinketh,' is a faithful statement of a physical phenomenon of the same kind. When both the air and the words of any song are very familiar to us, we scarcely can refrain from thinking, while the melody is performed by any instrument without a vocal accompaniment, that the very words are floating in the simple tones which we hear. In like manner, if
any one beat the time of a particular air, on a table or other sounding body that is incapable of giving the distinct tones, it may be difficult for a listener, however well acquainted with it, to discover the particular melody; but, as soon as it is named to him, he will immediately discover in the same sounds, not the time merely, but the very tones, that are only conceptions of his own mind, which, as they harmonize with the sounds that are truly external, seem themselves also to be external, and to convert into music what
before was unworthy of the name.
I might add many other illustrations of the same principle; for in the constitution of the mind, as I have said, there is scarcely a principle of more extensive influence. But the examples which I have already adduced, may be sufficient to shew the vivifying influence of perception on the conceptions that harmonize and unite with it, and to throw light also on the mode in which I conceive this vivifying effect to take place, by the diffusion of the felt reality of one part of a complex group to the other parts of it, which are only imaginary.”
To the same phenomena, when modified by disease, Mr Coleridge alludes. After expressing a wish to devote an entire work to the investigation of such illusions as are connected with popular superstitions, he thus proceeds --" I might then explain, in a more satisfactory way, the mode in which our thoughts, in states of morbid slumber, become at times perfectly dramatic, (for in certain sorts of dreams the dullest wight becomes a Shakspeare,) and by what law the form of the vision appears to talk to us in its own thoughts, in a voice as audible as the shape is visible; and this to do often-times in connected trains, and not seldom even with a concentration of power which may easily impose on the soundest judgment, uninstructed in the optics and acoustics of the inner sense, for revelations and gifts of prescience.”
The best example of this view is, perhaps, to be found in the illusions of Tasso, as related by Mr Hoole. “ At Bisaccio, near Naples, Manso had an opportunity of examining the singular effects of Tasso's melancholy, and often disputed with him concerning
a familiar spirit which he pretended conversed with him; Manso endeavoured in vain to persuade his friend that the whole was the illusion of a disturbed imagination; but the latter was strenuous in maintaining the reality of what he asserted, and, to convince Manso, desired him to be present at one of the mysterious conversations. Manso had the complaisance to meet him next day, and while they were engaged in discourse, on a sudden he observed that Tasso kept his
eyes fixed on a window, and remained in a manner immoveable: he called him by his name, but received no answer ; at last Tasso "cried out, "There is the friendly spirit that is come to converse with me; look ! and you will be convinced of the truth of all that I have said.'
“ Manso heard him with surprise ; he looked, but saw nothing except the sunbeams darting through the window; he cast his
all over the room, but could perceive nothing ; and was just going to ask where the pretended spirit was, when he heard Tasso speak with great earnestness, sometimes putting questions to the spirit, sometimes giving answers; delivering the whole in such a pleasing manner, and in such elevated expressions, that he listened with admiration, and had not the least inclination to interrupt him. At last, the uncommon conversation ended with the departure of the spirit, as appeared by Tasso's own words, who, turning to Manso, asked him if his doubts were removed. Manso was more amazed than ever ; he scarce knew what to think of his friend's situation, and waved any farther conversation on the subject.”