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THE SON'S TESTIMONY.
mingled with alarm; but when he reached the open space beyond the peas the figure was nowhere to be
As there was no spot where, in so short a time, it could have sought concealment, the husband concluded that it was an apparition, and not his wife, that he had seen. He returned to the front door, and, instead of availing himself of his pass-key as usual, he rung the bell. While on the steps, before the bell was answered, looking round, he saw the same figure at the corner of the house. When the servant opened the door, he asked him how his mistress was. "I am sorry to say, sir," answered the man, “she is not so well. Dr. Osborne has been sent for.” Mr. hurried up-stairs, found his wife in bed and much worse, attended by the nurse, who had not left her all the evening. From that time she gradually sank, and within twelve hours thereafter expired.
The above was communicated to me by Mr. of Canada, son of the archdeacon.* He had so often heard his father narrate the incident that every particular was minutely imprinted on his memory. I in
. quired of him if his father had ever stated to him whether, during his absence at the bishop's, his wife had slept, or had been observed to be in a state of swoon or trance; but he could afford me no information on that subject. It is to be regretted that this had not been observed and recorded. The wife knew where her husband was and by what route he would return. We may imagine, but cannot prove, that this was a case similar to that of Mary Goffe,—the appearance of the wife, as of the mother, showing itself where her thoughts and affections were.
The following narrative I owe to the kindness of a
* On the 1st of June, 1859.
PHASES OF HALLUCINATION.
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, my prince."* And he mentions the case of another monomaniac who could not, without a fit of rage, hear 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 bearing, 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
* Calmeil, work cited, vol i. p. 7.
THE BRIDE'S TERROR.
matter; and then, between sobs, she related to me the cause of her alarm, as follows:
“As she ran up-stairs to their room she saw her husband seated at the extremity of the upper veranda, his hat on, a cigar in his mouth, and his feet on the railing, apparently enjoying the cool river-breeze. Supposing, of course, that he had returned before we did, she approached him, saying, “Why, Hugh, when did you get here? Why did you not return and come home with us? As he made no reply, she went up to him, and, bride-like, was about to put her arms round his neck, when, to her horror, the figure was gone and the chair empty. She had barely strength left (so great was the shock) to come down-stairs and relate to me wbat her excited fears construed into a certain presage of death.
“It was not till more than two hours afterward, when my brother-in-law actually returned, that she resumed her tranquillity. We rallied and laughed at her then, and, after a time, the incident passed from our minds.
“Previously to this, however,-namely, about an hour before Hugh's return, while we were sitting in the parlor, on the lower floor, I saw a boy, some sixteen years
look in at the door of the room. a lad whom my husband employed to work in the garden and about the house, and who, in his leisure hours, used to take great delight in amusing my little son Frank, of whom he was very fond. dressed, as was his wont, in a suit of blue summercloth, with an old palm-leaf hat without a band, and he advanced, in his usual bashful way, a step or two into the room, then stopped, and looked round, apparently in search of something. Supposing that he was looking for the children, I said to him, “Frank is in bed, Silas, and asleep long ago.' He did not reply, but, turning
He was 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.
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.
SUGGESTION AS TO RULES OF EVIDENCE.
was the appearance only, not the real person, that I had seen that evening. It was remarkable enough that both the incidents should have occurred in the same house and on the same day.
“It is proper I should add that my sister's impression that the apparition of her husband foreboded death did not prove true. He outlived her; and no misfortune which they could in any way connect with the appearance happened in the family. “Nor did Silas die; nor, so far as I know, did
any thing unusual happen to him."*
This case is, in some respects, a strong one.
There was evidently no connection between the appearance to the one sister and that to the other. There was no excitement preceding the apparitions. In each case, the evidence, so far as one sense went, was as strong as if the real person had been present. The narrator expressly says she would unhesitatingly have sworn, in a court of justice, to the presence of the boy Silas. The sister addressed the appearance of her husband, unexpected as it was, without doubt or hesitation. The theory of hallucination may account for both cases; but, whether it does or not, the phenomenon is one which ought to challenge the attention of the jurist as well as of the psychologist. If appearances so exactly counterfeiting reality as these can, occasionally, cheat human sense, their possible occurrence ought not to be ignored in laying down rules of evidence. The presumption, of course, is, in every case, very strongly against them. Yet cases have occurred in which an alibi, satisfactorily proved yet conflicting with seemingly unimpeachable evidence, has completely puzzled the courts. An example, related and vouched for by Mrs. Crowe, but with
* Communicated to me, in Washington, June 24, 1859.