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and more attenuated bodies. But the puzzle was, how the resemblance could take place between the new body and the old one ? The answer was, that there were certain harmonic movements which subsisted between the Soul and the particles of the new body; that the Soul, agreeably to the affections which she had received during life, could not only give a corresponding similitude to the material form of a ghost, as of a miser, but impel it to such harmonic movements as would naturally lead to the place where the defunct's strong box had been deposited. Hence the reason why that spot, above all others, should be haunted. But another objection to this theory was an awkward one. It was asked, How the Soul could so influence the harmonic movements of matter as not only to possess herself of a new material form, but of the very night-gown or morning-dress that the body, during life, might have worn? The objection has never been fairly answered.
THE NOTIONS ENTERTAINED THAT IDEAS, BY THEIR
ACTION ON THE NERVES, GAVE RISE TO SPECTRAL
“ By repercussion beams engender fire ;
Shapes by reflection shapes beget ;
And a new voice is made by it.”-Cowley.
When the Epicureans wished to explain the origin of dreams, they conceived that subtle images were either given off from other substances, or were spontaneously formed ;-that these, after first penetrating the body, made corresponding impressions on the attenuated corpuscles of the material soul. This view differed from a later notion entertained regarding ideas in the following respect that ideas were material forms, not pervading the system from the exhalation of bodies, but regularly carried to the storehouse of Memory from unknown sources ;-the transportation having been affected by means of the organs of Sense.
In connexion with this view it was conceived, that the nerves upon which sensations depended might not only be affected by external agents, but that they might be impressed by internal causes, when the consequence would be, that hallucinations would arise. Rays of light, for instance, impressing the optic nerve from without, would cause the sensation of yellow, while corrupt humours, as those of jaundice, by impressing the nerves from within, would have the selfsame effect. The next inference was, that, as an idea was really material, and might be treasured up by the
memory, it could, in some unknown manner, find its way to the nerves, and impress them after the manner of internal causes influencing the mind. " I shall suppose," says a learned metaphysician, “ that I have lost a parent whom I have loved—whom I have seen and spoken to an infinity of times. Having perceived him often, I have consequently preserved the material figure and perception of him in the brain. For it is very possible and reconcileable to appearances, that a material figure, like that of
deceased friend, may be preserved a long time in my brain, even after his death. By some intimate, yet unknown relation, therefore, which the figure may have to my body, it may touch the optic or acoustic nerves.
In the very moment, then, that my nerves are affected in the same manner that they formerly were when I saw or listened to my living friend, I shall be necessarily induced to believe that I really see or hear him as if he were present.”*
* Essay on Apparitions, attributed to M. Meyer, professor of the university of Halle, A. D. 1748.
THE OPINIONS THAT SPECTRAL IMPRESSIONS WERE
THE RESULT OF A FALSE JUDGMENT OF THE IN
“ For the effect of judgment is oft the cause of fear."
An opinion was entertained, late in the seventeenth century, that ghosts might arise from the reasoning faculty of the soul being unable to judge between realities and ideas. If the notion regarding ideas had been the same as that of Dr Brown, namely, that they were nothing more than states of the mind, this last view would not have been very unexceptionable. But still it was much blended with erroneous notions regarding the intellectual powers of the Soul, which I have no inclination at present to combat.
Suffice it to say, that by a modified condition of the intellectual power, called by the name of vitium subreptionis, it was conceived,
that every thing of which a person had not a clear and distinct sensation, would not seem real ;* and every thing that resembled, in a certain mode, a certain idea or image, was precisely the same thing as that idea.” But we have a much less distinct notion of this subtle metaphysical principle, than of the example which is given of it. “ When the head," says a pneumatologist, is “ filled with many stories which others have related to us of the ghosts of
monks, nuns, &c., we find a resemblance between that which we may perceive and such tales. A man is influenced by the second judgment, and he takes what he has perceived for a true apparition. Imagination then heats him ; intense and terrible images present themselves to his mind; the circulation of the blood is deranged, and he is affected with a frightful agitation. It is impossible to resist a fancy which, when it begins to wander, gives to simple ideas such a degree of force and clearness, that we take them for real sensations. A man may thus persuade himself that he has seen and heard things which have only existed in his own head.”*
* This opinion is adverted to in M. Meyer's Treatise, to which I have in another place alluded.