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sorcery, witchcraft, and divination, effects that far outstrip the belief in amulets, he observes “ We should not reject all of this kind, because it is not known how far those contributing to superstition, depend on natural causes. Charms have not the power from contract with evil spirits, but proceed wholly from strengthening the imagination : in the same manner that images and their influence, have prevailed on religion, being called from a different way of use and application, sigils, incantations, and spells.”
CAPRICES, AND EFFECTS, OF
A certain writer, apologizing for the irregularities of great genii, delivers himself as follows : “ The gifts of imagination bring the heaviest task upon the vigilance of reason; and to bear those faculties with unerring rectitude or invariable propriety, requires a degree of firmness and of cool attention, which does not always attend the higher gifts of the mind. Yet, difficult as nature herself seems to have reduced the task of regularity to genius, it is the supreme consolation of dullness, to seize upon those excesses, which are the overflowings of faculties they never enjoyed."*
Are not the gifts of imagination mistaken here for the strength of passions ? Doubtless, where strong passions accompany great parts, as perhaps
* Langhorne's Life of Mr. Collins.
they often do, the imagination may encrease their force and activity: but, where passions are calm and gentle, imagination of itself should seem to have no conflict but speculatively with reason. There, indeed, it wages an eternal war; and, if not contracted and strictly regulated, it will carry the patient into endless extravagancies. The term patient is here properly used, because men, under the influence of imagination, are most truly distempered. The degree of this distemper will be in proportion to the prevalence of imagination over reason, and, according to this proportion, amount to more or less of the whimsical ; but when reason shall become, as it were, extinct, and imagination govern alone, then the distemper will be madness under the wildest and most fantastic modes. Thus, one of those invalids, perhaps, shall be all sorrow for having been most unjustly deprived of the crown; though his vocation, poor man! be that of a school-master. Another, like Horace's madman, is all joy: and it may seem even cruelty to cure him.
The operations and caprices of the imagination are various and endless ; and, as they cannot be reduced to regularity or system, so it is highly improbable that any certain method of cure should ever be found out for them. It has generally been thought, that matter of fact might most successfully be opposed to the delusions of imagination, as being proof to the senses, and carrying conviction unavoidably to the understanding; but we rather suspect, that the understanding or reasoning faculty, has little to do in all these cases : at least so it should seem from the two following facts, which are by no means badly attested. Fienus, in his curious little book, de Viribus Imaginationis, records from Donatus the case of a man, who fancied his body encreased to such a size, that he durst not attempt to pass through the door of his chamber. The physician believing that nothing could more effectually cure this error of imagination, than to shew that the thing could actually be done, caused the patient to be thrust forcibly through it: who, struck with horror, and falling suddenly into agonies, complained of being crushed to pieces, and expired soon after. *
The other case, as related by Van Swieten, in his commentaries upon Boerhaave, is that of a learned man, who had studied, till he fancied his legs to be of glass : in consequence of which he durst not attempt to stir, but was constantly under anxiety about them. His maid bringing one day some wood to the fire, threw it carelessly down; and was severely reprimarded by her master, who was terrified not a little for his legs of glass. The surly wench, out of all patience with his megrims, as she called them, gave him a blow with a log upon the parts affected; which so enraged him, that he instantly rose up, and from that moment recovered the use of his legs.-Was reason concerned any more here; or was it not rather one blind impulse acting against another?
Imagination has, unquestionably, a most powerful effect upon
the mind, and in all these miraculous cures, is by far the strongest ingredient. Dr. Strother says,
The influence of the mind and passions works
# Reverii Praxis Medica, p. 188.
upon the mind and body in sensible operations like a medicine, and is of far the greater force than exercise. The countenance betrays a good or wicked intention ; and that good or wicked intention will produce in different persons a strength to encounter, or a weakness to yield to the preponderating side.” Dr. Brown says, “ Our looks discover our passions, there being mystically in our faces certain characters, which carry in them the motto of our souls, and, therefore, probably work secret effects in other parts.” This idea is beautifully illustrated by Garth in his Dispensatory, in the following lines :
“ Thus paler looks impetuous rage proclaim,
And chilly virgins redden into flame.
On the power and pleasure of the imagination, from the pleasures and pains it administers here below, Addison concludes that God, who knows all the
ways of afflicting us, may so transport us hereafter with such beautiful and glorious visions, or torment us with such hideous and ghastly spectres, as might even of themselves suffice to make up the entire heaven or hell of any future being.
DOCTRINE OF EPFLUVIA — MIRACULOUS CURES BY
MEANS OF CHARMS, AMULETS, ETC.
Dr. Willis, in his Treatise on nervous disorders, does not hesitate to recommend amulets in epileptic disorders. Take,” says he, some fresh peony roots, cut them into square bits, and hang them round the neck, changing them as often as they dry.” It is not improbable that the hint was taken from this circumstance for the anodyne necklaces, which, some time ago, were in such repute, as the Doctor, some little
way further on, prescribes the same root for the looseness, fevers, and convulsions of children, during the time of teething, mixed, to make it appear more miraculous, with some elk's hoof.
St. Vitus's dance is said to have been cured by the afflicted person paying a visit to the tomb of the saint, near Ulm, every May. Indeed, there is no little reason in this assertion; for exercise and change of air will change many obstinate diseases. The bite of the tarantula is cured by music; and this only by certain tunes. Turner, whose ideas are so extravagantly absurd, where he asserts, that the symptoms of hydrophobia may not appear for forty years after the bite of the dog, and who maintains that “ the slaver or breath of such a dog is infectious ;" and that men bitten by mad dogs, will bite like dogs again, and die mad; although he laughs at the anodyne necklaces, argues much in the same manner. It is not, indeed, so very strange that the effluvia