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case of Nicolai of Berlin, so well known, and of which a full account will be found in the sixth volume of Nicholson's Journal, affords an interesting illustration; and Dr. Alderson has contributed, from the stores of his own practice, many excellent specimens of delirium tremens and other diseases, in which the most remarkable spectral illusions were observed.
“I was called upon some time ago," says this able and ingenious physician, “to visit Mr. who at that time kept a dram-shop. Having at different times attended him, and thence knowing bim very well, I was struck with something singular in his manner on my first entrance. He went up stairs with me, but evi. dently hesitated, occasionally, as he went. When he got into his chamber, he ex. pressed some apprehension, lest I should consider him insane, and send him to the asylum at York, whither I had not long before sent one of his pot.companions.• Whence all these apprehensions ?-- What is the matter with you?-Why do you look so full of terror?' He then sat down, and gave me a history of his complaint ?
“ About a week or ten days before, after drawing some liquor in his cellar for a girl, he desired her to take away the oysters which lay upon the floor, and which he supposed she had dropped ;-the girl, thinking him drunk, laughed at him, and went out of the room. He endeavoured to take them up himself, and to his great astonishment could find none.- lle was just going out of the cellar, when at the door he met a soldier, whose looks he did not like, attempting to enter. He desired to know what he wanted there; and upon receiving no answer, but, as he thought, a menacing look, he sprang forward to seize the intruder, and to his no small surprise, found that it was a phantom. The cold sweat hung upon his brow -he trembled in every limb-it was the dusk of the evening; as he walked along the passage, the phantom fitted before his eyes-he attempted to follow it, reso. lutely determined to satisfy himself; but as this vanished, there appeared others at a distance, and he exhausted himself by fruitless attempts to lay hold of them. He hastened to his family, with marks of terror and confusion; for, though a man hitherto of the mast undaunted resolution, he confessed to me that he now felt wbat it was to be completely terrified. During the whole of that night he was constantly tormented with a variety of spectres, sometimes of people who had been long dead, at other times of friends who were living; and harassed himself with continually getting out of bed to ascertain whether the people he saw were real or not. Nor could he always distinguish who were and who were pot real custo. mers, when they came into the room, so that his conduct became the subject of observation; and though it was for a time attributed to private drinking, it was at last suspected to arise from some other cause. When I was sent for, the family were under the full conviction that he was insane, although they confessed, that in every thing, except the foolish notion of seeing apparitions, he was perfectly rational and steady: During the whole of the time that he was relating his case to me, and his mind was fully occupied, he felt the most gratifying relief, for in all that time he had not seen one apparition; and he was elated with pleasure indeed, when I told him I should not send him to the asylum, since his was a complaint I could cure at his own house. But whilst I was writing a prescription, and had suffered him to be at rest, I saw him get up suddenly, and go with a hurried step to the door.-"What did you do that for?”—he looked ashamed and mortified, and replied, “I had been so well whilst in conversation with you, that I could not believe that the phantom I saw enter the room was not really a soldier, and I got up to convince myself.”.
“ I need not here detail particularly the medical treatment adopted; but it may be as well to state the circumstances which probably led to the complaint, and the principle acted on in the cure. Some time previously he had had a quarrel with a drunken soldier, who attempted, against his inclination, to enter his house at an unseasonable hour, and in the struggle to turn him out, the soldier drew bis bayonet, and having struck him across the temples, divided the temporal artery ; in consequence of which he lost a very large quantity of blood before a surgeon arrived, there being no one present who knew that, in such cases, simple compression with the finger upon the spouting artery, would stop the effusion of blood. He had scarcely recovered from the effects of this loss of blood when he
undertook to accompany a friend in his walking-match against time, in which he went 42 miles in nine hours. Elated with success, be spent the whole of the fol. lowing day in drinking; but found himself, a short time afterwards, so much out of health, that he came to the resolution of abstaining altogether from liquor. It was in the course of the week following this abstinence from his usual habits, that he had the disease he now complained of. All his symptoms continued to increase for several days till I saw him, allowing him no time for rest. Never was he able to get rid of these shadows by night when in bed, nor by day when in motion ; though he sometimes walked miles with that view, and at others went into a va. riety of company. He told me he suffered even bodily pain, from the severe lash. ing of a wagoner with his whip, who came every night to a particular corner of bis room, but who always disappeared when he jumped out of bed to retort, which he did several nights successively. The whole of this complaint was effectually removed by bleeding, by leeches, and by active purgatives. After the first em. ployment of these means, he saw no more phantoms in the day-time; and after the second, once only, between sleeping and waking, saw the milkman in his bed.
He has remained perfectly rational and well ever since, and can go out in the dark as fearlessly as ever, being fully convinced that the ghosts which he was so confident he saw, were merely the creatures of disease."
We cannot refrain from drawing one more interesting illustration from the same quarter.
“I was soon after called to visit Mrs. B., a fine old lady, about 80 years of age, whom I had frequently visited in fits of the gout. She was seized with an unusual deafness, and with great distension of the organs of digestion, at a period, when, from her general feelings, she expected the gout. From this time she was visited by the phantoms of some of her friends, whom she had not invited, and whom she at first so far considered as actually present, that she told them she was very sorry she could not hear them speak, nor keep up the conversation with them, she would therefore order the card-table; and she rang the bell for that purpose. Upon the entrance of the servant, the whole party disappeared-she could not help expressing her surprise to her maid that they should all go away so abruptly; and could scarcely believe her when she affirmed there had been nobody in the room. She was so ashamed, when convinced of the deception under which she laboured, that she suffered, without complaining, for many days and nights together, the intrusion of a variety of phantoms; and had some of her finest feelings wrought upon by the exhibition of friends long lost, who only came to cheat her fancy, and revive sensations that time had almost obliterated. Having determined not again to mention the subject, she contented herself with merely ringing her bell, find. ing she could always get rid of the phantoms by the entrance of her maid, whenever they became distressing. It was not till some time after she had thus suffer. ed, that she could bring herself to relate her distress to me. She was all this time convinced of her own rationality, and so were those friends who really visited her; for they never could find any one circumstance her conduct and conversation to lead them to suspect her being in the smallest degree deranged, though un. well. This complaint was entirely removed by cataplasms to the feet, and gentle purgatives; and terminated, a short time afterwards, in a slight fit of the gout. She remained to the end of her life in the perfect enjoyment of her health and faculties."
The spectral illusions occurring in febrile diseases, and more remarkably at the close of hectic fever, may be also adduced in farther illustration of the effects of bodily disorder in producing these delusive impressions. Dr. Hibbert has well observed that to this source we may safely ascribe those blissful visions, which have been sometimes known to cheer the last hours of persons of warm religious feelings.
3. Spectral illusions are also frequent in cases of mental derangement, especially in that form of it which is named hypochondriasis; and many curious illustrations of this class of apparitions will be found in the writings of Pinel, and others who have treated of the subject of insanity.
Ďr. Hibbert has explained his doctrine regarding apparitions after the manner of a metaphysician; and, in doing so, he has in almost every instance followed as his guide the late lamented Dr. Brown of Edinburgh : the clearness and importance of whose views in this department of science have been so universally acknowledged. Dr. H. has pointed out a variety of laws in the operations of thought, which serve to explain the occurrence of spectral illusions; and he has shown, in a particular manner, the dependence which they have on the greater vividness of ideas above actual sensations. He has also introduced into his work tables of the comparative degrees of vividness and faintness in which they occur: but we confess that these tables do not appear to us to afford any additional elucidation of the subject.
In the course of his inquiry, Dr. Hibbert has ventured to bring forwards several hypothetical opinions, which, however ingenious, seem to us altogether without foundation.
“In endeavouring,” he says, “ to obtain a correct notion of certain vital proper ties of the human frame, and the relation which the immaterial principle of the mind may bear to them, I shall commence with that important fluid, the blood, which, from the peculiarity of its properties, has induced physiologists to maintain its vitality. This inquiry, at the same time, may meet with some assistance from observations upon the effect of certain gases, which, when introduced into the lungs, exert an influence over the blood. The pulse, for instance, of persons inhaling the nitrous oxide, though it may vary in different individuals, with re. gard to strength or velocity, never fails to be increased in fulness; which result would intimate, that the general volume of the circulating mass is, upon the ap. plication of a proper agent, susceptible' of an increasing degree of expansion. On the other hand, in the earliest stage of the noxious influence of the febrile miasma, there is an evident diminution in the volume of the blood, as is indicated by a small contracted pulse, and an increasing constriction of the capillaries. Hence may be drawn the general conclusion, that the corpuscules of the vital fluid pos. sess within themselves an inherent dilatability and contractility, by the alternate force of which they are enabled to act upon the elastic coats of the vessels of the human body."
To this conclusion we cannot assent, for it appears to us that the opposite effects of which he speaks are produced not directly in the blood, but through the medium of the nervous system on the blood vessels. These vessels, by their respective degrees of contraction, produce in the one case an expanded state of the cutaneous capillaries, and increased tone and constriction of the great internal trunks, with consequent exalted sensibility and pleasurable sensation: while in the other case the cutaneous capillaries are constricted, and the internal trunks turgid with blood, whence naturally follows a painful state of feeling.
Dr. Hibbert has been led to adopt the belief that past feelings are renovated through the medium of the organs of sensation.
“In persons under the influence of spectral illusions, the axis of vision has been directed to some particular part of a room where a phantasm was conceived to be present. Now, between the eye and the phantasm, some luminous object has afterwards been placed, so that rays reflected from it might impinge on the same points of the retina which were affected by the spectre ; and the consequence Vol. VII. No. 38.-Museum.
has been, that, like the phenomena of intercepted sensible impressions, actual rays of light have succeeded in effacing feelings which were ideal. This fact was proved in the case of an inhabitant of the Scottish metropolis. He was constantly annoyed by a spectral page, dressed like one of the Lord Commissioner's lacqueys, whom he always saw following close to his heels, whatever might be the occupation in which he was engaged. But to this attendant soon succeeded another no less unremitting, but far more unwelcome retainer, in the form of a frightful ske. leton. An eminent medical practitioner of Edinburgh was the exorcist properly called in, who, in the course of his interrogatories, inquired, if at that very mo. ment his patient saw the spectre? T'he man immediately pointed to a particular corner of the room where he alleged his familiar was keeping guard. To this spot, therefore, the learned gentleman walked. "Now, do you see the skeleton ?' he asked. “How can I,' was the reply, when you are interposed between us ?'Here, then, was a satisfactory indication that the retina had been actually impress. cd by the imaginary phantasm-Soon, however, Fancy began her work again ; for, with a sudden tone of exclamation that even inspired the philosopher bimself with momentary alarm, the man suddenly exclaimed, ' Aye, now I see the skeleton again, for at this very moment he is peeping at me from behind your shoul. ders!
“I shall next observe, that there can be no doubt but that the ear is likewise the medium through which the past feelings of sound are renovated. In a case of delirium tremens which fell under my own observation, the patient, during his convalescence, was at intervals assailed, as from an adjoining closet, by imaginary voices, distinctly articulating certain expressions to him; and when thus addressed, he showed the same impatience at being prevented by the clamour from listening to some conversation that was going on in the room, as if he had been disturbed by real sounds."
These symptoms we consider only as proofs of intense mental excitement, in rendering persons insensible to external impressions. The movement of the northern physician whose figure was sufficiently large and portly, and the question which he put, served for a moment to dispel the illusion, recalling the mind of the patient to the objects actually before him: but there is no ground for believing that he really displaced an image on the retina, unless we can bring ourselves to admit the sensible reality of the spectral skeleton. If Dr. H. should feel disposed to maintain his belief in this activity of the organs of sense, during the presence of apparitions, it will be expected of him that he should explain what changes take place in those organs, and by what means such changes are effected. The following may be considered as an ingenious attempt to supply in part the information which we have just required:
“I cannot help suspecting that each organ of feeling is affected by two descriptions of nerves, which are more to be ascertained by their ultimate effects on the mind, than by anatomical observation :--that nerves of one description derive their origin from the external surface of the organ of feeling which they supply, and pass from thence to the brain or spinal cord; these exclusively affecting sensations :--that nerves of another description have their origin in the brain and spi. nal cord, and being from thence dispersed to the self-same organ of sensation, separately contribute to the renovation of past feelings.
“The two distinct occasions, however, on which nerves are excited, chiefly in. dicate that two descriptions of them may exist. One set seems excited by the ac. tual contact of material objects, when it imparts to the particular organ that it supplies, the degree of nervous influence necessary for the production of sensations. Another set of nerves never imparts its influence, but when excited by that ultimate law of the mind, which ordains,—that the repetition of a definite sensation shall be followed by a renovation of the past feelings with which it was before associated.”
The machinery thus invented, and set in motion, by the author, is not a little intricate, and its efficacy is to us incomprehensible. What, we ask, is it that acts in these presumed nerves, and how is it that they can affect the organs of sense? Do the ideas of the mind throw these nerves into activity; or can they, in their most active state, paint an image on the retina, or cause an impulse to fall on the nervous pulp of the ear?
The author has furnished us with a very interesting account of the apparitions of the dead which have been recorded from the earliest periods: he has explained them on the same general principles as other spectral illusions; and he has hazarded with regard to them an opinion, which strikes us as being at once novel and ingenious.
“ It must be confessed, that the popular belief of departed spirits occasionally holding a communication with the human race is replete with matter of curious speculation. Some Christian divines, with every just reason, acknowledge no au. thentic source whence the impression of a future state could ever have been communicated to man, but from the Jewish prophets or from our Saviour himself. Yet it is certain, that a belief in an existence after death has, from time immemo. rial, prevailed in countries, to which the knowledge of the gospel never could have extended, as among certain tribes of America. Can then this notion have been intuitively suggested? Or is it an extravagant supposition, that the belief might have often arisen from those spectral illusions, to which men in every age, from the occasional influence of morbific causes, must have been subject? And what would be the natural self-persuasion, if a savage saw before him the apparition of a departed friend or acquaintance, endowed with the semblance of life, with mo. tion, and with signs of mental intelligence, perhaps even holding a converse with him? Assuredly, the conviction would scarcely fail to arise of an existence after death."
We have not lately met with any publication which has afforded us more real gratification than these “Sketches" of Dr. Hibbert: for the subject, which possesses peculiar interest, has been treated by him with much ingenuity and research, and in the true spirit of philosophical inquiry, although it must be admitted) sometimes with too strong a partiality for mere hypothesis. [Monthly Review.
SELECTED FOR THB MUSAUN.
Baron DOMINIQUE VIVANT DENON, was born in a small town in Burgundy, of a noble family; destined to shine in courts, he was at first appointed page of the chamber. The king, at an early age, appointed him gentleman in ordinary, and soon after, secretary of embassy, and in this quality he accompanied Baron Talleyrand to Naples, and during the absence of the ambassador remained as chargé d'affaires, in which post he had several opportunities of displaying a rare superiority of talent, and a depth of conception, which, lying concealed under an inexhaustible fund of wit and humour, was not even suspected to exist, till the wit and courtier vanished, to make room for the diplomatist. His wit and