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After observing how inconsiderable the effects were which isolated patients exhibited, in consequence of all the attempts made to operate on their imagination, the commissioners proceed to remark, that even in the public process, the crises do not commence in less than the space of two hours. By little "and little," (I quote at present their own words,) "the im"pressions are communicated from one to another, and re-en"forced in the same manner as the impressions which are made "by theatrical representations,-where the impressions are 66 greater in proportion to the number of the spectators, and "the liberty they enjoy of expressing their sensations. The "applause by which the emotions of individuals are announced, "occasions a general emotion, which every one partakes in the "degree in which he is susceptible. The same observation "has been made in armies upon a day of battle, where the "enthusiasm of courage, as well as the impressions of terror, "are propagated with so amazing rapidity. The drum, the "sound of the military musical instruments, the noise of the "cannon, the musketry, the shouts of the army, and the gene"ral disorder, impress the organs, and exalt the imagination in "the same degree. In this eliquibrium of inebriation, the "external manifestation of a single sensation immediately be66 comes universal; it hurries the soldiery to the charge, or it "determines them to fly. In a numerous assembly, individu"als are more subjected, than on other occasions, to their senses "and their imagination; and less capable of consulting and "obeying the dictates of reason. Hence the origin of that re"ligous frenzy, which formerly affected so powerfully both the "minds and the bodies of the enthusiasts of the Cevennes; and "hence the acts of insanity into which public bodies are apt to "be hurried, in times of political revolution. On this princi"ple, it has been usual to forbid numerous assemblies in sedi"tious towns, as a means of stopping a contagion so easily com"municated. Every where, example acts upon the moral part "of our frame; MECHANICAL IMITATION upon the physical. "The minds of individuals are calmed by dispersing them ; "and, by the same means, spasmodic affections, which are al"ways infectious in their nature, may often be removed. Of "this a recent example occurred in the young ladies of St.

predilection for figurative language which is characteristical of his style, and which was particularly unsuited to his present subject. A few of the most exceptionable of these expressions I shall distinguish in the paragraphs which I am to quote, by printing them in Italics. I have availed myself of the Engligh translation published by Johnson, St. Paul's Church-yard, 1785, to which is prefixed a valuable Historical Introduction.

"Roch, who were thus cured of the convulsions with which "they were afflicted while assembled together."*

"The magnetism, then," (the commissioners continue) "or, rather, the operations of the imagination, are equally dis"coverable at the theatre, in the camp, and in all numerous "assembles, as at the bucket; acting, indeed, by different means, but producing similar effects. The bucket is sur"rounded with a crowd of patients; the sensations are con"tinually communicated and recommunicated the nerves "are at last worn out with this exercise, and the woman of "most sensibility in the company gives the signal. In the "meantime, the men who are witnesses of these emotions "partake of them in proportion to their nervous sensibility; "and those, with whom this sensibility is greatest, and most "easily excited, become themselves the subjects of a crisis.

"This irritable disposition, partly natural and partly acquir "ed, becomes in each sex habitual. The sensations having "been felt once or oftener, nothing is now necessary but to re"cal the memory of them, and to exalt the imagination to the "same degree, in order to operate the same effects. The pub"lic process is no longer necessary. You have only to con"duct the finger and the rod of iron before the countenance, "and to repeat the accustomed ceremonies. In many cases, "the experiment succeeds, even when the patient is blindfold"ed, and, without any actual exhibition of the signs, is made "to believe that they are repeated as formerly. The ideas "are re-excited; the sensations are reproduced; while the "imagination, employing its accustomed instruments, and "resuming its former routes, gives birth to the same phe


A very interesting and authentic collection of facts, tending


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"On the day of the ceremony of the first communion, celebrated in the parish "church of St. Roch, a few years ago, (1780,) after the evening service they "made, according to custom, the procession through the streets. Scarcely were "the children returned to the church, and had resumed their seats, before a young "girl fell ill and had convulsions This affection propagated itself with so much "rapidity, that, in the space of half an hour, fifty or sixty girls, from twelve to "nineteen years of age, were seized with the same convulsions; that is, with a "contraction of the throat, an inflation of the stomach, suffocation, hiccups and "spasms, more or less considerable. These accidents re-appeared in some instan"ces in the course of the week; but the following Sunday, being assembled with "the dames of St. Anne, whose business it is to teach the young ladies, twelve of " them were seized with the same convulsions, and more would have followed, "if they had not had the precaution to send away each child upon the spot to "her relations. The whole were obliged to be divided into several schools. "By thus separating the children, and not keeping them together but in small "numbers, three weeks sufficed to dissipate entirely this epidemical convulsive "affection."

to illustrate still farther this article in the natural history of man, has since been published by the late Dr. Haygarth, in his "Essay on the Imagination, as a cause and as a cure of the "disorders of the body; exemplified by fictitious tractors and "epidemical convulsions."*

Leaving, however, to medical theorists the consideration of such cases as fall peculiarly within the circle of their professional pursuits, I shall confine myself chiefly to phenomena of more frequent recurrence, and more accessible to common observation. I would beg leave, at the same time, to recommend warmly to my successors in this branch of study, a careful examination and comparison of the details connected, both with the use of tractors, and with the practice of animal magnetism, as inestimable data for extending our knowledge of the laws which regulate the connexion between the human mind, and our bodily organization. The lights, more particularly, which they throw on various questions relative to the Imagination, are such, as must for ever entitle Mesmer and Perkins to the gratitude of those who cultivate the Philosphy of the Mind; whatever the motives may have been which suggested the experiments of these practitioners, or whatever the occasional mischiefs of which they may have been the authors.

In the extract already quoted from the Report of the Commissioners, a reference is made to the infectious tendency of religious enthusiasm ;-a tendency which they seem very justly to ascribe, in a great measure, to the violent bodily agitations which it is apt to produce, and the rapidity with which such agitations are propagated among a crowd.† As an example of this, they mention the enthusiasts of the Cevennes, commonly known by the name of Camisards. Some other instances of the same kind which occurred in Scotland, at the time of Mr. Whitefild's first visit to this country, are stated, upon unquestionable authority, in the Statistical Account of the Parish of Cambuslang. The particulars, however, which I am now to quote, form, if possible, a still more authentic document on the subject, as they rest on the testimony of a writer, well qualified by his abilities to describe with accuracy

*Bath: Printed by R. Crutwell, 1800. Some Curious facts and observations of the same kind, may be found in Dr Whytt's Treatise on the Nature, Causes, and Cure of Nervous Disorders, Edinburgh, 1765. See pp. 215, 216-219, 220.

† Some excellent observations on this subject are made by Lord Shaftesbury, in his Letter concerning Enthusiasm; also in various parts of his Miscellaneous Reflections.

Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. V.

whatever fell under his observation; and whose peculiar religious tenets exempt him from any suspicion of having mingled, on this occasion, any ludicrous exaggerations with the facts which he records. The writer I allude to is Mr. Barclay, the well-known author of the Apology for the Quakers, who thus endeavours to point out the salutary consequences to be expected, in a religious point of view, from their meetings, even when all verbal intercourse is suspended.




"Such is the evident certainty of that divine strength that is communicated by thus meeting together, and in waiting in "silence upon God, that sometimes when one hath come in, "that hath been unwatchful and wandering in his mind, this power, being in a good measure raised in the whole meet"ing, will suddenly lay hold upon his spirit, and wonderfully "help to raise up the good in him; begetting in him a sense "of the same power, to the melting and warming of his heart, 66 even as the warmth would take hold of a man that is cold, 66 coming near a stove; or as a flame will lay hold of some lit"tle combustible matter lying near it. Yea, sometimes when "there is not a word in the meeting, but all are silently wait"ing,-if one comes in that is rude and wicked, and in whom "the power of darkness prevaileth much,—if the whole meet"ing be gathered into the life, it will strike terror into such a and he will feel himself unable to resist. Sometimes "the power of God will break forth into a whole meeting, "and there will be such an inward travail, while each is seek"ing to overcome the evil in themselves, that by the strong "working of these opposite powers, (the evil and the good,) "like the going of two contrary tides, every individual will "be strongly exercised as in a day of battle, and thereby trem"bling and a motion of body will be upon most, if not upon "all. And from this the name of Quakers or Tremblers was "first reproachfully cast upon us; which, though it be none of "our choosing, yet in this respect we are not ashamed of it, "but have rather reason to rejoice, even that we are sensible "of this power that hath oftentimes laid hold on our adversa"ries, and made them yield unto us, and join with us, and "confess to the truth, before they had any distinct or deci"sive knowledge of our doctrines; so that sometimes many "at one meeting have been thus convinced: and this power "would sometimes also reach to, and wonderfully work, "even in little children, to the admiration and astonish"ment of many."

Facts of this kind, when so completely authenticated, not only form a curious accession to the history of our species, but

furnish matter of important reflection to the philosophical statesman; and, indeed, to all those who have occasion to manage the passions of assembled multitudes. Before, however, I proceed to the consideration of the practical inferences which they suggest, it may be useful to state a few miscellaneous conclusions arising from the foregoing induction; together with some incidental remarks tending to illustrate a little more fully one or two points which have been touched on more slightly than their importance deserved.

1st, Among these conclusions, one of the most interesting is, the contagious nature of certain bodily affections, even when unaccompanied with any mental passion or emotion. This appears from the rapidity with which convulsive and hysterical disorders are propagated among a crowd. It is of importance, however, to recollect, (although, perhaps, to some the caution may appear superfluous and trifling,) that this contagion is not, like that of a fever, the immediate consequence of unconscious vicinity, or even of contact. It operates, some how or other, through the medium of the mind; inasmuch as it necessarily implies a knowledge or perception (received either by the eye or by the ear) of the agitated condition of the person from whom the affection is caught. This perception, it would seem, when the symptoms of the disorder are such as to impress the mind deeply, has a tendency of itself to bring the body of the percipient into a condition similar to that of his neighbour; more especially when, from an irratability of system, any predisposition to such spasmodic affections exists. To whatever principle this may be referred, and by whatever name, whether of imitation or of sympathy, we may choose to distinguish it, the general fact is sufficiently ascertained by observation and experience; and it seems to be perfectly analogous to some of those which have been already treated of in the foregoing sections of this chapter. From the Report of the French Commissioners, and, indeed, from facts which are familiar to every one, it appears farther, that although the ear is not without its share in contributing occasionally to such ef fects, yet the eye (which has been justly called the Prime Minister of the Imagination) is, in most instances, by far the principal agent or instrument concerned.

It is a question worthy of more attention than has yet been bestowed upon it by physicians, whether certain kinds of insanity have not a contagious tendency, somewhat analogous to that which has just been remarked. That the incoherent ravings and frantic gestures of a madman have a singularly painful effect in unsettling and deranging the thoughts of others,

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