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TRANSITION

From the ordinary tranquil State of Watchfulness to a State of extreme mental Excitement.

Ideas, from being less vivid than sensations, become more intense.

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• When sensations and ideas are of the same degree of vividness, there is no mental consciousness of them.

After these general remarks, I shall proceed to describe the several stages of excitement which occur during this transition of the feelings of the mind.

1st Stage of Excitement.

In the first stage sensations are to be found at the 10th and ideas at the 9th degree of the table, the comparative vividness of the former not increasing so much as that of the latter.

This comparative degree of intensity finds an illustration in our ordinary mental emotions. The vividness of ideas approaches too near that of sensations, so that the proper distinction which ought to subsist between them is less easily discerned; and hence the reason why mental emotions do not allow of the decisions of cool judgment. The effect, likewise, of a vivifying influence, which acts in a particular manner upon ideas, is to give them, when compared with sensations, an undue prominence in our thoughts. A farther consequence, therefore, of this action, is,-that relations of comparison, such as subsist among all our varieties of feeling, are suggested in a much greater number and variety than when the mind is cool and tranquil. New resemblances, differences, forms, or positions, unexpectedly arise, and, in the same unlooked-for manner, connect the recollected images of the mind with the external objects by which we are surrounded. Should no calmer reference then be made for the correctness of such relations to actual circumstances, we enter the wild realms of Phantasy, where sober deliberations, which have truth for their object, are exchanged for the reveries of fanatics, of poets, or of philosophical theorists:

"Fledg'd with the feathers of a learned muse,
They raise themselves unto the highest pitch,
Marrying base earth and heaven in a thought.”

When individuals labour under an evident defici

* Old comedy of Lingua.

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ency of the judging faculties, and when, at the same time, morbific causes impart a permanent influence to the too vivid state of ideas, then arises that distracted state of the thoughts, where little distinction is made between actual impressions and the renovated feelings of the mind. This variety of Amentia is happily illustrated by Pinel in the case which he has given of one of his own countrymen, who had been educated in all the prejudices of the ancient noblesse. "His passionate and puerile mobility was excessive. He constantly bustled about the house, talking incessantly, shouting, and throwing himself into great passions for the most trifling causes. He teased his domestics by the most frivolous orders, and his neighbours by his fooleries and extravagancies, of which he retained not the least recollection for a single moment. He talked with the greatest volatility of the court, of his periwig, of his horses, of his gardens, without waiting for an answer, or giving time to follow his incoherent jargon.”

It is worthy of note, that the energy of muscular actions often keeps pace with this stage of mental excitement. This is happily illustrated in the effect which a variety of the Amanita Muscaria produces when used as an intoxicating ingredient by the inhabitants of the north-eastern parts of Asia. In a very interesting history of this fungus, lately drawn up by Dr Greville of Edinburgh, particular mention is made of its influence on the movements of the muscles. This writer observes, that "one large, or two small fungi, is a common dose, when intended to produce a pleasant intoxication for the whole day;" he then adds, "it renders some persons remarkably active, and proves highly

stimulant to muscular exertion: with too large a dose, violent spasmodic effects are produced. So very exciting to the nervous system in many individuals is this fungus, that the effects are often very ludicrous. If a person under its influence wishes to step over a straw or small stick, he takes a stride or a jump sufficient to clear the trunk of a tree; a talkative person cannot keep silence or secrets; and one fond of music is perpetually singing.”*

The last remark which I shall make on this stage of mental excitement is, that no other mental impressions of a spectral nature are experienced, than such as may be corrected by a slight examination of the natural objects to which they owe their origin. Illusions of sound are such as have been described after the following manner by Mr Coleridge:-" When we are broad awake," says this writer, "if we are in anxious expectation, how often will not the most confused sounds of nature be heard by us as articulate sounds? For instance, the babbling of a brook will appear for a moment the voice of a friend, for whom we are waiting, calling out our own names." Illusions of vision are of the same nature as those which I took occasion to describe, when animadverting on the vivifying effects of Hope and Fear. The leading features of some images of the mind, which, if present, would, from moral causes, create emotion, may be traced in such outlines of light and shade as in part compose the figures that are actually impressing the visual organs.

* Wernerian Transactions, vol. iv. p. 344.

2d Stage of Excitement.

In this stage of excitement, sensations and ideas, from being excited in different proportions, each attain the same degree of vividness. (See degree 11 in the following table.) At the same time, as I have more than once explained, all knowledge of present and past time, which necessarily results from the comparative degrees of vividness that subsist been sensations and ideas, must totally cease; and with it, of course, all mental consciousness.

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* When sensations and ideas are of the same intensity there is no consciousness of them.

This momentary state of unconsciousness is not unfrequently induced by violent emotions of the mind. Accordingly, in the descriptions which poets have given us of the effects of various exciting passions, illustrations of such an incident will be commonly met with. One of the dramatis persona, for instance, in Dryden's tragedy of Aurengzebe, while expatiating on

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