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love with duty ? His pity, that so easily passed into rage, would it not have found in the inequalities of mankind, in the oppressions of governments and the miseries of the governed, an entire instead of a divided object? And might not a perfect constitution, a government of pure reason, a renovation of the social contract, have easily supplied the place of the reign of Christ in the new Jerusalem, of the restoration of the visible Church, and the union of all men by one faith in one charity ? Henceforward then, we will conceive his reason' employed in building up anew the edifice of earthly society, and his imagination as pledging itself for the possible realization of the structure. We will lose the great reformer, who was born in an age which needed him, in the philosopher of Geneva, who was doomed to misapply his energies to materials the properties of which he misunderstood, and happy only that he did not live to witness the direful effects of his own system.
Pectora cui credam ? quis me lenire docebit
MILTON: PETRARCH: MILTON.
THE two following essays I devote to elucidation, the first of the theory of Luther's apparitions stated perhaps too briefly in the preceding essay; the second for the purpose of removing the only obstacle, which I can discover in the next section of The Friend, to the reader's ready comprehension of the principles, on which the arguments are grounded. First, I will endeavor to make my ghost theory more clear to those of my readers, who are fortunate
enough to find it obscure in consequence of their own good health and unshattered nerves. The window of my library at Keswick is opposite to the fire-place, and looks out on the very large garden that occupies the whole slope of the hill on which the house stands. Consequently, the rays of light transmitted through the glass, that is, the rays from the garden, the opposite mountains, and the bridge, river, lake, and vale interjacent, and the rays reflected from it, of the fire-place, &c., enter the eye at the same moment. At the coming on of evening, it was my frequent amusement to watch the image or reflection of the fire, that seemed burning in the bushes or between the trees in different parts of the garden or the fields beyond it, according as there was more or less light; and which still arranged itself among the real objects of vision, with a distance and magnitude proportioned to its greater or lesser faintness. For still as the darkness increased, the image of the fire lessened and grew nearer and more distinct; till the twilight had deepened into perfect night, when all outward objects being excluded, the window became a perfect looking-glass : save only that my books on the side shelves of the room were lettered, as it were, on their backs with stars, more or fewer as the sky was less or more clouded, the rays of the stars being at that time the only ones transmitted. Now substitute the phantom from Luther's brain for the images of reflected light, the fire for instance, and the forms of his room and its furniture for the transmitted rays, and you have a fair resemblance of an apparition, and a just conception of the manner in which it is seen together with real objects. I have long wished to devote an entire work to the subject of dreams, visions, ghosts, and witchcraft, in which I might first give, and then endeavor to explain, the most interesting and best attested fact of each, which has come within my knowledge, either from books or from personal testimony. 'I might then explain in a more satisfactory way the mode in which our thoughts, in states of morbid slumber, become at times perfectly dramatic,—for in certain sorts of dreams the dullest weight becomes a Shakspeare,—and by what law the form of the vision appears to talk to us its own thoughts in a voice as audible as the shape is visible; and this too oftentimes in connected trains, and not seldom even with a concentration of power which may easily impose on the soundest judgments, uninstructed in the optics and acoustics of the inner sense, for revelations and gifts of prescience. In aid of the present case, I will only remark, that it would appear incredible to persons not accustomed to these subtle notices of self-observation, what small and remote resemblances, what mere hints of likeness from some real external object, especially if the shape be aided by color, will suffice to make a vivid thought consubstantiate with the real object, and derive from it an outward perceptibility. Even when we are broad awake, 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. A short meditation, therefore, on the great law of the imagination, that a likeness in part tends to become a likeness of the whole, will make it not only conceivable but probable, that the inkstand itself, and the darkcolored stone on the wall, which Luther perhaps had never till then noticed, might have a considerable influence in the production of the fiend, and of the hostile act by which his obtrusive visit was repelled.
A lady once asked me if I believed in ghosts and apparitions. I answered with truth and simplicity : No, madam! I have seen far too many myself. I have indeed a whole memorandum-book filled with records of these phænomena, many of them interesting as facts and data for psychology, and affording some valuable materials for a theory of perception, and its dependence on the memory and imagination. In omnem actum perceptionis imaginatio influit efficienter, says Wolfe. But he* is no more, who would have realized this idea ; who had already established the foundations and the law of the theory ; and for whom I had so often found a pleasure and a comfort, even during the wretched and restless nights of sickness, in watching and instantly recording these experiences of the world within us, of the gemina natura, quæ fit et facit, et creat et creatur! He is gone, my friend ; my munificent co-patron, and not less the benefactor of my
intellect !-He who, beyond all other men known to me, added a fine and ever-wakeful sense of beauty to the most patient accuracy in experimental philosophy and the profounder researches of metaphysical science; he who united all the play and spring of fancy with the subtlest discrimination and an inexorable judgment; and who controlled an almost painful exquisiteness of taste by a warmth of heart, which in the practical relations of life made allowances for faults as quickly as the moral taste detected them ; a warmth of heart, which was indeed noble and pre-eminent, for alas! the genial feelings of health contributed no spark toward it. Of these qualities I may speak, for they belonged to all mankind.—The higher vitues, that were blessings to his friends, and the still higher that resided in and for his own soul, are themes for the energies of solitude, for the awfulness of prayer !_virtues exercised in the barrenness and desolation of his animal being ; while he thirsted with the full stream at his lips, and yet with unwearied goodness poured out to all around him, like the master of a feast among his kindred in the day of his own gladness! Were it but for the remembrance of him alone and of his lot here below, the disbelief of a future state would sadden the earth around me, and blight the very grass in the field.
* Thomas Wedgwood.
Χαλεπον, ώ δαιμόνιε, μη παραδείγμασι χρώμενον, ικανώς ενδείκνυσθαι τι των μειζόνων. κινδυνεύει γαρ ημών έκαςος, οίον όναρ, ειδώς άπαντα, πάντ' αυ πάλιν ώσπερ ύπαρ άγνοεϊν.
It is difficult, excellent friend! to make any comprehensive truth completely intelligible, unless we avail ourselves of an example. Otherwise we may, as in a dream, seem to know all, and then, as it were awaking, find that we know nothing.
AMONG my earliest impressions I still distinctly remember that of my first entrance into the mansion of a neighboring baronet, awfully known to me by the name of the great house,* its exterior having been long connected in my childish imagination with the feelings and fancies stirred up in me by the perusal of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.† Beyond all other objects,
* Escot, near Ottery St. Mary, Devon, then the seat of Sir George Young, and since burnt down, in 1808.-Ed.
+ As I had read one volume of these tales over and over again before my fifth birth-day, it may be readily conjectured of what sort these fancies I was most struck with the magnificent staircase, relieved at wellproportioned intervals by spacious landing-places, this adorned with grand or showy plants, the next looking out on an extensive prospect through the stately window, with its side-panes of rich blues and saturated amber or orange tints : while from the last and highest the eye commanded the whole spiral ascent with the marble pavement of the great hall, from which it seemed to spring up as if it merely used the ground on which it rested. My readers will find no difficulty in translating these forms of the outward senses into their intellectual analogies, so as to understand the purport of The Friend's landing-places, and the objects I proposed to myself, in the small groups of essays interposed under this title between the main divisions of the work. My best powers
would have sunk within me, had I not soothed my solitary toils with the anticipation of many readers—(whether during my life, or when my grave shall have shamed my
detractors into a sympathy with its own silence, formed no part in this self-flattery-) who would submit to any reasonable trouble rather than read, 'as in a dream seeming to know all, to find on awaking that they know nothing.' Having, therefore, in the three preceding essays selected from my conservatory a few plants, of somewhat gayer petals and a livelier green, though like the geranium tribe of a sober character in the whole physiognomy and odor, I shall first devote a few sentences to a catalogue of my introductory lucubrations, and the remainder of the essay to the prospect, as far as it can be seen distinctly from our present site. Within a short distance, several ways meet : and at that point only does it appear to me that the reader will be in danger of mistaking the road. Dropping the metaphor, I would say that there is one term, reason, the meaning of which has become unsettled. To different persons it conveys a different notion, and not seldom to the same person at different times; while the force, and to a certain extent, the intelligibility of the follow
and feelings must have been. The book, I well remember, used to lie in a corner of the parlor-window at my dear father's vicarage-house: and I can never forget with what a strange mixture of obscure dread and intense desire I used to look at the volume and watch it, till the morning sunshine had reached and nearly covered it, when, and not before, I felt the courage given me to seize the precious treasure and hurry off with it to some sunny corner in our play-ground.