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The Influence of vivifying Causes upon Ideas of which

we are conscious.

In the last section I endeavoured to shew, that an exciting cause may commence its influence after the ideas which composed the concluding part of an uninterrupted train of renovated feelings had ceased to become the object of consciousness; and that the effect of such an influence might be to revive the remembrance of long-forgotten ideas, and, as in Nicolai's case, to conjure up phantasms which the perplexed metaphysician could not refer to the law of association.

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My next object is to point out other circumstances, under which a cause of mental excitement may vivify ideas. I have stated, that it may commence its action more prematurely, or before a train of ideas has so much decreased in vividness as to cease being the object of consciousness. But this circumstance of mental excitement has been so frequently illustrated in the course of this dissertation, that it requires little comment. The effect must be, that the order in which phantasms occur will be traced to the order of association in which ideas arise.

It is almost unnecessary to illustrate this vivifying action by the tabular view which is annexed.

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But Nicolai has conceived, that the circumstances under which phantasms arise are not referable to the law by which past feelings are renovated.

Other philosophical seers, however, as I have shewn, have been more successful in tracing their phantasms to ideas vivified in the natural order of their association; and, in this case, it is almost unnecessary to repeat a remark I made, that such spectres could have been nothing more than highly-excited ideas, which had not antecedently ceased to be objects of consciousness. Indeed, Nicolai himself affords us a curious narrative of a gentleman, whose vivid recollections of the conversation which he might have heard in the course of the day, were morbidly revived in the evening, but in states of intensity far exceeding those of the original impressions. "My much-lamented friend, Moses Mendelsohn," he observes, "had, in the year 1792, by too intense an application to study, contracted a malady which also abounded with particular psychological apparitions. For upwards of two years he was incapacitated from doing any thing; he could neither read nor think, and was

rendered utterly incapable of supporting any loud noise. If any one talked to him rather in a lively manner, or if he himself happened to be disposed to lively conversation, he fell in the evening into a very alarming species of catalepsis, in which he saw and heard every thing that passed around him, without being able to move a limb. If he had heard any lively conversation during the day, a Stentorian voice repeated to him, while in the fit, the particular words or syllables that had been pronounced, with an impressive accent, or loud emphatic tone, and in such a manner that his ears reverberated."



"Spem mihi nescio quam vultu promittis amico."—OVID.

Thou to whom the world unknown
With all its shadowy shapes is shown;
Who seest, appall'd, the unreal scene,
While Fancy lifts the veil between,
Ah, Fear! ah, frantic Fear!
I see, I see thee near."


OUR inquiry into the effect produced on mental consciousness by strong excitements of the mind, is at length so far advanced, that a fit opportunity occurs for noticing the phenomena attending other occasions. besides those which are morbid, on which various degrees of vividness are imparted to our feelings.

In the last chapter I took occasion to remark, that when any sensation is renewed, it has a tendency to become on each occasion of its repetition less vivid, and when followed by a revival of the feelings with which it was before associated, such revived feelings evince a similar tendency on each occasion of their re

currence to become fainter and fainter. A question then may be asked, In what consists that principle of the mind, which in a partial degree is counteracting this tendency? Dr Brown has clearly shewn that there is (to use his own words) " a principle by which it is impossible for us not to believe that the course of nature has been uniform in all the simple sequences that have composed or may hereafter compose it, and that the same antecedents, therefore, have always been followed, and will continue to be followed by the same consequents;-that whatever we observe becomes at once, by the influence of this principle, representatives to us of the past and of the future as well as of the present." Such are the functions of the anticipating faculty of the mind,-that faculty whereby we are enabled to contemplate present and past feelings in the relation of the present and the future, or in the relation of the past and the future. Whenever, therefore, this anticipating principle is thus exercised, various degrees of pleasure or pain are contemplated as future events; and, in proportion to the amount of the pleasure or pain thus anticipated, and to the probability of the event anticipated taking place, a renovation of vividness is given to feelings that would otherwise have ceased in time to be the object of consciousness. In this point of view, the anticipating faculty of the mind is the counteracting principle, which is calculated to prevent many of our feelings from becoming on each occasion of their recurrence less and less vivid.

I need now scarcely add, that when good or evil is thus anticipated, the emotions thereby induced, which

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