Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ALLEGATIONS OF THE SOUNDS.

231

a brief outline as well of the events which immediately succeeded, as those, connected with the dwelling in question, which preceded, the disturbances of the 31st of March.

On that night the neighbors, attracted by the rumor of the disturbances, gradually gathered in, to the number of seventy or eighty, so that Mrs. Fox left the house for that of Mrs. Redfield, while the children were taken home by another neighbor. Mr. Fox remained.

Many of the assembled crowd, one after another, put questions to the noises, requesting that assent might be testified by rapping. When there was no response by raps, and the question was reversed, there were always rappings; thus indicating that silence was to be taken for dissent.

In this way the sounds alleged that they were produced by a spirit; by an injured spirit; by a spirit who had been injured in that house; between four and five years ago; not by any of the neighbors, whose names were called over one by one, but by a man who formerly resided in the house,-a certain John C. Bell, a blacksmith. His name was obtained by naming in succession the former occupants of the house.

The noises alleged, further, that it was the spirit of a man thirty-one years of age; that he had been murdered in the bedroom, for money, on a Tuesday night, at

, twelve o'clock; that no one but the murdered man and Mr. Bell were in the house at the time; Mrs. Bell and a girl named Lucretia Pulver, wbo worked for them, being both absent; that the body was carried down to the cellar early next morning, not through the outside cellar-door, but by being dragged through the parlor into the buttery and thence down the cellar-stairs; that it was buried, ten feet deep, in the cellar, but not until the night after the murder.

Thereupon the party assembled adjourned to the

[ocr errors]

292

ANSWERS OBTAINED IN THE CELLAR.

cellar, which had an earthen floor; and Mr. Redfield having placed himself on various parts of it, asking, each time, if that was the spot of burial, there was no response until he stood in the center: then the noises were heard, as from beneath the ground. This was repeated several times, always with a similar result, no sound occurring when he stood at any other place than the center. One of the witnesses describes the sounds in the cellar as resembling "a thumping a foot or two under ground.”*

Then a neighbor named Duesler called over the letters of the alphabet, asking, at each, if that was the initial of the murdered man's first name; and so of the second name. The sounds responded at C and B. An attempt to obtain the entire name did not then succeed. At a later period the full name (as Charles B. Rosma) was given in the same way in reply to the questions of Mr. David Fox. Still it did not suggest itself to any one to attempt, by the raps, to have a communication spelled out. It is a remarkable fact, and one which in a measure explains the lack of further results at Tedworth and at Epworth, that it was not till about four months afterward, and at Rochester, that the very first brief

*Report of the Mysterious Noises,” p. 25. See also p. 17.

Mr. Marvin Losey and Mr. David Fox state, in their respective certificates, that on the night of Saturday, April 1, when the crowd were asking questions, it was arranged that those in the cellar should all stand in one place, except one, Mr. Carlos Hyde, while that one moved about to different spots; and that Mr. Duesler, being in the bedroom above, where of course he could not see Mr. Hyde nor any one else in the cellar, should be the questioner. Then, as Mr. Hyde stepped about in the cellar, the question was repeated by Mr. Duesler in the bedroom, “Is any one standing over the place where the body was buried ?" In every instance, as soon as Mr. Hyde stepped to the center of the cellar the raps were heard, so that both those in the cellar and those in the rooms above heard them; but as often as he stood anywhere else there was silence. This was repeated, again and again. -"Report of the Mysterious Noises," pp. 26 and 28.

>

PHASES OF HALLUCINATION.

307

my prince."*

Calmeil relates the example of an aged courtier who, imagining that he heard rivals continually defaming him in presence of his sovereign, used constantly to exclaim, “They lie! you are deceived! I am calumniated,

And he mentions the case of another monomaniac who could not, without a fit of rage, bear pronounced the name of a town which recalled to him painful recollections. Children at the breast, the birds of the air, bells from every clock-tower, repeated, to his diseased hearing, the detested name.

These all appear to be cases of simple hallucination; against which, it may be remarked, perfect soundness of mind is no guarantee. Hallucination is not insanity. It is found, sometimes, disconnected not only from insanity, but from monomania in its mildest type. I knew well a lady who, more than once, distinctly saw feet ascending the stairs before her. Yet neither her physician nor she herself ever regarded this apparent marvel in other light than as an optical vagary dependent on her state of health.

In each of the cases above cited, it will be remarked that one person only was misled by deception of

And this brings me to speak of an important distinction made by the best writers on this subject: the difference, namely, between hallucination and illusion: the former being held to mean a false perception of that which has no existence whatever; the latter, an incorrect perception of something which actually exists. The lady who raised her foot to step over a black cat, when, in point of fact, there was nothing there to step over, is deemed to be the victim of a hallucination. Nicolai, the Berlin bookseller, is usually cited as one of the most noted cases; and his memoir on the subject, addressed to the Royal Society of Berlin, of which he

sense.

* Calmeil, work cited, vol i. p. 7.

308

ILLUSION AND HALLUCINATION.

was a member, is given as a rare example of philoso. phical and careful analysis of what he himself regarded as a series of false sensations. He imagined (so he relates) that his room was full of human figures, moving about; all the exact counterpart of living persons, except that

ey were somewhat paler; some known to him, some strangers; who occasionally spoke to each other and to him; so that at times he was in doubt whether or not some of his friends had come to visit him.

An illusion, unlike a hallucination, has a foundation in reality. We actually see or hear something, which we mistake for something else.† The mirage of the Desert, the Fata Morgana of the Mediterranean, are well-known examples. Many superstitions hence take their rise. Witness the Giant of the Brocken, aerial armies contending in the clouds, and the like. I

* Nicolai read his memoir on the subject of the specters or phantoms which disturbed him, with psychological remarks thereon, to the Royal Society of Berlin, on the 28th of February, 1799. The translation of this paper is given in Nicholson's Journal, vol. vi. p. 161.

† In actual mania, hallucinations are commonly set down as much more frequent than illusions. De Boismont mentions that, out of one hundred and eighty-one cases of mania observed by Messrs. Aubanel and Thore, illusions showed themselves in sixteen in aces, while hallucination supervened in fifty-four. The exact list was as follows: Illusions of sight, nine; of hearing, seven; hallucinations of hearing, twenty-three; of sight, twenty-one; of taste, five; of touch, two; of smell, one; internal, two.Dc8 Hallucinations,” p. 168.

$ In the “Philosophical Magazine” (vol. i. p. 232) will be found a record of the observations which finally explained to the scientific world the nature of the gigantic appearance which, from the summit of the Brocken, (one of the Hartz Mountains,) for long years excited the wondering credulity of the inhabitants and the astonishment of the passing traveler. A Mr. Haue devoted some time to this subject. One day, while he was contemplating the giant, a violent puff of wind was on the point of carrying off his hat. Suddenly clapping his hand upon it, the giant did the same. Mr. Haue bowed to him, and the salute was returned. He then called the proprietor of the neighboring inn and imparted to him his discovery. The experiments were renewed with the same effect. It becaine evident that the appearance was but an optical effect produced by a strongly illuminated body placed amid light clouds, reflected from a considerable distance, and magnified till it appeared five or six hundred feet in height.

NO COLLECTIVE HALLUCINATIONS.

309

There are collective illusions; for it is evident that the same false appearance which deceives the senses of one man is not unlikely to deceive those of others also. Thus, an Italian historian relates that the inhabitants of the city of Florence were for several hours the dupes of a remarkable deception. There was seen, in the air, floating above the city, the colossal figure of an angel; and groups of spectators, gathered together in the principal streets, gazed in adoration, convinced that some miracle was about to take place. After a time it was discovered that this portentous appearance was but a simple optical illusion, caused by the reflection, on a cloud, of the figure of the gilded angel which surmounts the celebrated Duomo, brightly illuminated by the rays of the sun.

But I know of no well-authenticated instance of collective hallucinations. No two patients that I ever heard of imagined the presence of the same cat or dog at the same moment. None of Nicolai's friends perceived the figures which showed themselves to him. When Brutus's evil genius appeared to the Roman leader, no one but himself saw the colossal presence or heard the warning words, “We shall meet again at Philippi.” It was Nero's eyes alone that were haunted with the specter of his murdered mother.*

In Westmoreland and other mountainous countries the peasants often imagine that they see in the clouds troops of cavalry and armies on the march,—when, in point of fact, it is but the reflection of horses pasturing on a hiil-side, and peaceful travelers or laborers passing over the landscape.

* There is no proof that the appearances which presented themselves to Nicolai, to Brutus, and to Nero were other than mere hallucinations; yet, if it should appear that apparitions, whether of the living or the dead, are sometimes of objective character, we are assuming too much when we receive it as certain that nothing appeared to either of these men.

« ПредишнаНапред »