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Spirits of the Dead have also a communication with the living, and and that they occasionally, either as happy or as suffering shades, re-appear on this sublunary scene.

The common suggestions and associations of the human mind have laid the foundation for this general belief; man has ever indulged the hope of another state of existence, feeling within him an assurance, a kind of intuitive conviction, emanating from the Deity, that we are not destined as the beasts to perish. It is true, says Homer,

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but to this mental immortality, which is firmly sanctioned by religion, affection, grief, and superstition have added a vast variety of unauthorised circumstances. The passions and attachments which were incident to the individual in his earthly, are attributed to him in his spiritual state; he is supposed to be still agitated by terrestrial objects and relations, to delight in the scenes which he formerly inhabited, to feel for and to protect the persons with whom he was formerly connected, to be actuated, in short, by emotions of love, anger, and revenge, and to be in a situation which admits of receiving benefit or augmented suffering through the attentions or negligence of surviving friends. Accordingly the spirit or apparition of the deceased was supposed occasionally to revisit the glimpses of the moon, and to become visible to its dearest relatives or associates, for the purpose of admonishing, complaining, imploring, warning, or directing.

Now all these additions to the abstract idea of immortality, though perhaps naturally arising from the affectionate regrets, the conscious weakness, and the eager curiosity of man, and therefore universal as his diffusion over the globe, are totally unwarranted by our only safe and sure guide, the records of the Bible; for though we are taught.

* Pope's Iliad, book xxiii.

that man exists in another state, and disembodied of the organs which he possessed whilst an inhabitant of this planet, we are also told, that he is supplied with a new body, of a very different nature, and, without a miracle, indiscernible by our present senses. We are told by St. Peter, that even the body of our Saviour after his resurrection could only be seen through the operation of a miracle: "Him God raised up the third day, and gave him to be visible:› Et dedit eum manifestum fieri. Vulg. He was no longer," observes Bishop Horsley," in a state to be naturally visible to any man. His body was indeed risen, but it was become that body which St. Paul describes in the fifteenth chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, which, having no sympathy with the gross bodies of this earthly sphere, nor any place among them, must be indiscernible to the human organs, till they shall have undergone a similar refinement. *

We have no foundation, therefore, in Scripture, nor, according to its doctrine, can we have, for attaching any credibility to the re-appearance of the Departed; yet, independent of the predisposition of the human mind, from the influence of affectionate regret, to think upon the dead as if still present to our wants and wishes, a state of feeling which, in Celtic poetry, has given birth to an interesting system of mythology entirely built on apparitional intercourse†, the relations which we possess of the apparent return of the dead, are so numerous, and, in many instances, so unexceptionably attested, that they have led to several ingenious, and, indeed, partially successful attempts to account for them. One or two of these attempts, as terminating in some curious speculations on the character of Hamlet, and on the apparition of his father, it will be necessary more particularly to notice.

* Horsley's Nine Sermons on the Nature of the Evidence by which the Fact of our Lord's Resurrection is established, p. 209.

See an elegant and very satisfactory Dissertation on the "Mythology of the Poems of Ossian," by Professor Richardson of Glasgow, in Graham's "Essay on the Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian," 8vo. 1807.

A firm belief in Visitation from the Spirits of the Deceased was so strong a feature in the age of Shakspeare, and the immediately subsequent period, and was supported by such an accumulation of testimony, that it roused the exertions of a few individuals of a philosophical turn of mind, to account for what they would not venture to deny; Lavaterus* and others on the continent, and Scot† and Mede‡ in our own country, attempting to prove that these appearances were not occasioned by the return of the dead, but by the permitted and personal agency of good or evil angels, who, as we occasionally find in Scripture, and more particularly in the case of Samuel, before the Witch of Endor, were allowed to assume the resemblance of the deceased.

But, though this hypothesis be constructed on a species of spiritual agency which we know to have existed, yet are the instances for which it is adopted by these writers much too trivial and frequent to secure to their solution a rational assent; nor is the presence of these superior intelligences, as objects of sight, at all necessary to account for the phenomena in question.

For it is obvious, that if relying, with Bishop Horsley, on the evidence of sacred history, we believe that the Deity oftentimes acts mediately, through his agents, on the human sensory, as a part of the material universe, thereby producing diseases and morbid impressions, the same effects will result. Not that we conceive matter can, in any degree, modify the thinking principle itself, but its organisation being the sole medium through which the intellect communicates with the external world, it is evident that any derangement of the structure of the brain must render the perceptions of the mind, as to material existences, imperfect, false, and illusory.

Lavaterus was translated into English by R. H. and printed by Henry Benneyman, in 1572. 4to.

+ See his Treatise on Divels and Spirits, annexed to his Discoverie of Witchcraft,

4to. 1584.

Mede was born in 1586 and died in 1638, and the doctrine in question is to be found in the fortieth of his fifty-three Discourses, published after his decease.

It is remarkable that a doctrine similar to this was produced in the last century to account for the spectral appearances of second sight, by a Scotchman too, himself an Islander, who has furnished us with an ample collection of instances of this singular visitation * *; this gentleman contending, that these prophetic scenes are exhibited not to the sight, but merely to the imagination. He adds, with great sagacity," as these Representations or waking Dreams, according to the best Enquiry I could make, are communicated (unless it be seldom) but to one Person at once, though there should be several Persons, and even some Seers in Company, those Representations seem rather communicated to the Imagination (as said is) than the Organ of Sight; seeing it is impossible, if made always to the latter, but all Persons directing their sight the same Way, having their Faculty of Sight alike perfect and equally disposed, must see it in common." +

We must refer, however, to the present day for demonstration, founded on actual experience, that the appearance of ghosts and apparitions is, in every instance, the immediate effect of certain partial but morbid affections of the brain; yet, it must be remarked, that the ingenious physiologists who have proved this curious fact, entirely confine themselves, and perhaps very justly, to physical phenomena, professedly discarding the consideration of any higher efficiency in the series of causation than what appears as the result of diseased organisation; so that their discovery, though completely overturning the common superstition as to the return of the departed spirit, or the visible interference of angelic agency, is yet very reconcileable with the pneumatology of Bishop Horsley.

In 1805, Dr. Alderson of Hull read to the Literary Society of that place, and published in 1811, an Essay on Apparitions, the object of which is to prove that the immediate cause of these spectral visita

* "A Treatise on the Second Sight, Dreams, Apparitions, &c. By Theophilus Insulanus." Svo. Edinb. 1763.

+ Reprint of 1815, annexed to Kirk's "Secret Commonwealth," p. 74.

tions “lies, not in the perturbed spirits of the departed, but in the diseased organisation of the living." For this purpose he relates several cases of this hallucination which fell under his own observation and treatment, and which, as distinguished from partial insanity, from delirium, somnambulism, and reverie, were completely removed by medical means.

In 1813, Dr. Ferriar of Manchester published, on a more extended scale, "An Essay towards a Theory of Apparitions," whose aim and result are precisely similar to the anterior production of Dr. Alderson; both admitting the reality and universality of spectral impressions, and both attributing them to partial affections of the brain, independent of any sensible external agency; it is also remarkable that both have applied their speculations and experience in illustration of the character of Hamlet, a circumstance which has, in a great measure, led to these general observations on the progress of opinion as to the nature of apparitional visitation,

The state of mind which Shakspeare exhibits to us in Hamlet, as the consequence of conflicting passions and events, operating on a frame of acute sensibility, Dr. Ferriar has termed latent lunacy. "The subject of latent lunacy," he remarks, "is an untouched field, which would afford the richest harvest to a skilful and diligent observer. Cervantes has immortalized himself, by displaying the effect of one bad species of composition on the hero of his satire, and Butler has delineated the evils of epidemic, religious, and political frenzy ; but it remains as a task for some delicate pencil, to trace the miseries introduced into private families, by a state of mind, which sees more devils than vast hell can hold,' and which yet affords no proof of derangement, sufficient to justify the seclusion of the unhappy invalid.

"This is a species of distress, on which no novelist has ever touched, though it is unfortunately increasing in real life; though it may be associated with worth, with genius, and with the most specious demonstrations (for a while) of general excellence.

"Addison has thrown out a few hints on this subject in one of the Spectators; it could not escape so critical an observer of human

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