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step to step, and in her progress rated objects accordingly. By the faculty of Understanding, she stood fixed on her ground, and apprehended the truth. By the faculty of Opinion, she lightly inclined to any one side of a question. By the faculty of Judgment, she could define any particular principle. By the faculty of Wisdom, she took possession of many truths. Now all this labour the Soul could not accomplish, unless Fancy, her handmaid, was obedient to the faculty of reason. But Fancy was not always to be thus controlled, the cause of which it will now be necessary to investigate.
It was next conceived, that the blood was subjected to great heat in the heart, where it was purified, and enabled to throw off delicate fumes named Animal Spirits. A set of nerves then formed the medium through which the Animal Spirits were conducted to the brain. They were there apprised by Fancy of the forms of all objects, and of their good or ill quality; upon which they returned to the heart, the seat of the affections, with a corresponding report of what was going on. If the report was good, it induced love, hope, or joy; if the contrary, hatred, fear, and grief. But, frequently, there was what Burton calls læsa imaginatio, or an ill Imagination or Fancy, which sometimes misconceiving the nature of sensible objects, would send off such a number of spirits to the heart, as to induce this organ to attract to itself more humours in order to "bend itself" to some false object of hope, or to avoid some unreasonable cause of fear. When this was the case, melancholic, sanguine, choleric, and other humours too tedious to be men
tioned, were drawn into the heart-more animal spirits were concocted by heat, and these, ascending into the brain, perplexed Fancy by their number and diversity. She then became impatient of subordination, and no longer obeyed the faculty of Reason. Falling to work, in the most irregular manner, upon the ideas which Memory had stored up, she would produce the wildest compounds of sensible objects, such as we detect in the fictions of poets and painters, the chimeras of aerial castle-builders, and the false shows (as they were anciently named) of our waking visions.* "Fracastorius," says Burton," referres all extasies to this force of imagination, such as lye whole dayes together in a trance: as that priest whom Celsus speaks of, that could separate himselfe from his senses when he list, and lye like a dead man, voide of life and sense. Cardan brags of himselfe, that he could doe as much, and that when hee list. Many times such men, when they come to themselves, tell strange things of heaven and hell, what visions they have seene. These apparitions reduce all those tales of witches progresses, dauncing, riding, transmutations, operations, &c. to the force of imagination and the divell's illusions."
Such was the popular view once entertained of the cause of apparitions. "It is all fancy or imagination!" is, indeed, the common explanation given of ghosts at
* This view has, in some little degree, pervaded Mr Locke's system. "The dreams of sleeping men," he remarks, 66 are all made up of the waking man's ideas, though, for the most part, oddly put together."
the present day, not only by the vulgar, but even by the physiologist and the metaphysician. But Dr Brown, in the view which he has taken of superstitious impressions, has very properly noticed more correct principles concerned with the production of spectral illusions; but still there is an unnecessary introduction of the word fancy, that, in this case, arbitrarily refers to some very curious laws, of which this able metaphysician has not given any explanation, but which he has considered in another part of his work, as meriting more attention than has hitherto been paid to the subject.
"What brighter colours the fears of superstition give to the dim objects perceived in twilight, the inhabitants of the village who have to pass the churchyard at any late hour, and the little students of balladlore, who have carried with them, from the nursery, many tales which they almost tremble to remember, know well. And in the second sight of this northern part of the island, there can be no doubt, that the objects which the seers conceive themselves to behold, are truly more vivid as conceptions, than, but for the superstition and the melancholy character of the natives, which harmonize with the objects of this foresight, they would have been; and that it is in consequence of this brightening effect of the emotion, as concurring with the dim and shadowy objects which the vapoury atmosphere of our lakes and valleys presents, that Fancy, relatively to the individual, becomes a temporary reality. The gifted eye, which has once believed itself favoured with such a view of the future, will, of course, ever after have a quicker foresight, and
more frequent revelations; its own wilder emotion communicating still more vivid forms and colours to the objects which it dimly perceives."
After these very general observations on the opinions long entertained regarding the power of Fancy or Imagination, I shall now proceed to notice other remarkable views, which, at different times, have been taken of the influence of this personified principle of the mind.
Van Helmont supposed that the power of Fancy was not merely confined to the arrangement and compounding of forms brought into the brain through the medium of the Senses, but that this principle or faculty of the Soul was invested with the power of creating for herself ideas independently of the Senses. Thus, he conceived, that as every man has been a partaker of the image of the Deity, he has power to create, by the force of his Fancy or Imagination, certain ideas or entities of his own. Each conceived idea clothes itself in a species, or form, fabricated by Fancy, and becomes a seminal and operative entity subsisting in the midst of that vestment. Hence the influence of Fancy or Imagination upon the forms of offspring." Ipsam speciem quam animus effigiat, fœtui inducit."
Another notion advocated by ancient metaphysicians was, that Fancy or Imagination could influence the Animal Spirits of others, so as to induce a corresponding influence on the heart, which was the seat of the affections. This opinion was maintained by Wierus, Paracelsus, Cardan, and others. "Why do
witches and old women fascinate and bewitch children?" asks Burton; " but, as many think, the forcible Imagination of the one party moves and alters the spirits of the other." A very natural explanation is thus assigned for the effect of an evil eye.
In a much later period, however, Lavater conceived that the Imagination had a still more powerful influence, as it could operate on the minds of others much more directly than through the animal spirits. The Imagination of one individual could so act upon that of another individual, as to produce by this operation a vivid idea of the visible shape of the person from whom this influence had emanated. Thus, the Imagination of a sick or dying person, who deeply longs to behold some dear and absent friend, can so act upon the mind of the same friend as to produce an idea vivid enough to appear like a reality, and thus give rise to the notion of a phantasm. Nor is this operation of Fancy limited to space; it can act at any distance, and even pierce through stone walls. When a sailor is in a storm at sea, and about to perish, his powerful Imagination can so act upon the mind of any dear relative, whom he despairs of seeing again, as to produce on the mind of the same relative an idea of such intensity, as to form a proper spectre of the unfortunate mariner.
This theory was no doubt supposed to be well calculated to explain many coincidences of ghost-stories, and it is certain, that there are on record many ghoststories, which are in every respect worthy of such an explanation.