« ПредишнаНапред »
THERE MAY BE LAWS
nay, some, perhaps, which may never, since man was first here to observe them, have been brought into operation at all.
Sir John Herschel has aptly illustrated this truth. "Among all the possible combinations," says that enlightened philosopher, "of the fifty or sixty elements which chemistry shows to exist on the earth, it is likely, nay, almost certain, that some have never been formed; that some elements, in some proportions and under some circumstances, have never yet been placed in relation with one another. Yet no chemist can doubt that it is already fixed what they will do when the case does occur. They will obey certain laws, of which we know nothing at present, but which must be already fixed, or they would not be laws."*
And what is true as to rules of chemical affinity is equally true of physiological and psychological laws. Indeed, it is more likely to be a frequent truth as to the
merely because in the actual state of our knowledge they are inexplicable. This only we ought to do: in proportion to the difficulty there seems to be in admitting them should be the scrupulous attention we bestow on their examination."-Introd., p. 43.
From a widely-accepted authority still better known among us I extract, in the same connection, the following, in the last line of which, however, the word possibility might have been more strictly in place than probability:
"An unlimited skepticism is the part of a contracted mind, which reasons upon imperfect data, or makes its own knowledge and extent of observation the standard and test of probability. . . .
"In receiving upon testimony statements which are rejected by the vulgar as totally incredible, a man of cultivated mind is influenced by the recollection that many things at one time appeared to him marvelous which he now knows to be true, and he thence concludes that there may still be in nature many phenomena and many principles with which he is entirely unacquainted. In other words, he has learned from experience not to make his own knowledge his test of probability.”—Abercrombie's Intellectual Powers, pp. 55 and 60.
* "Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy" by Sir John F. W. Herschel, Bart., K.H., F.R.S. London, 2d ed., 1851, p. 36.
NOT YET IN OPERATION.
laws of mind than as to those of matter, because there is nothing in the world so constantly progressive as the intelligence of man. His race alone, of all the animated races with which we are acquainted, changes and rises from generation to generation. The elephant and the beaver of to-day are not, that we know, more intelligent or further developed than were the elephant and the beaver of three thousand years ago. Theirs is a stationary destiny, but man's an advancing one,-advancing from savage instincts to civilized sentiments, from unlettered boorishness to arts and sciences and literature, from anarchy to order, from fanaticism to Christianity.
But it is precisely in the case of a being whose progress is constant, and whose destiny is upward as well as onward, that we may the most confidently look, at certain epochs of his development, for the disclosure of new relations and the further unfolding of laws till then but imperfectly known.
There is, it is true, another view to take of this case. To some it will seem an unwarranted stretch of analogical inference that because in the department of chemistry we may anticipate combinations never yet formed, to be governed by laws never yet operating, we should therefore conclude that in the department of mind, also, similar phenomena may be expected. Mind and matter, it may be objected, are separated by so broad a demarkation-line, that what is true of the one may be false of the other.
Are they so widely separated? Distinct they are; nothing is more untenable than the argument of the materialist; but yet how intimately connected! A pressure on the substance of the brain, and thought is suspended; a sponge with a few anesthetic drops applied to the nostrils, and insensibility supervenes ; another odor inhaled, and life is extinct.
And if such be the action of matter on mind, no less
MODERN PROGRESS IN THE
striking is the control of mind over matter. The influence of imagination is proverbial; yet it has ever been. underrated. The excited mind can cure the suffering body. Faith, exalted to ecstasy, has arrested disease.* The sway of will thoroughly stirred into action often transcends the curative power of physic or physician.
But it is not in general considerations, such as these, that the argument rests touching the intimate connection between material influences and mental phenomena. The modern study of the imponderables, already productive of physical results that to our ancestors would have seemed sheer miracles, has afforded glimpses of progress in another direction, which may brighten into discoveries before which the spanning of the Atlantic by a lightning-wire will pale into insignificance. Galvani's first hasty inferences as to animal electricity were to a certain extent refuted, it is true, by Volta's stricter tests. But in Italy, in Prussia, and in England, experiments of a recent date, following up the just though imperfect idea of the Bolognese professor, have established the fact that the muscular contractions, voluntary or automatic, which produce action in a living limb, correspond to currents of electricity existing there in appreciable quantities.† The discoverer of creosote has
*These opinions find ample confirmation-to select one among many sources-in a branch of study equally interesting to the physician and the psychologist; the history, namely, of the great mental epidemics of the world. The reader will find these briefly noticed further on in these pages.
Galvani's first eventful observation on an electrical agency producing muscular contractions in animals, made on the 20th of September, 1786, was, after all, the starting-point of the recent interesting researches by Du Bois-Reymond, Zantedeschi, Matteucci, and others, on the continent of Europe, and by Rutter and Leger, in England. Du Bois-Reymond himself, member of the Academy of Sciences of Berlin, very candidly admits this fact. In a historical introduction to his work on Animal Magnetism ("Untersuchungen über thierische Elektricität," Berlin, 1848-49) that writer says, "Galvani really discovered not only the fundamental physiological experiment of galvanism properly so called, (the contraction of the frog
STUDY OF THE IMPONDERABLES.
given to the world the results of a ten years' labor, it may be said, in the same field; distinguishing, however, what he terms the Odic from the electric force.* Arago thought the case of Angélique Cottin (well known under the name of the "Electric Girl") worthy of being brought under the notice of the Paris Academy of Sciences;† and, speaking, seven years afterward, of "the actual power which one man may exert over another without the intervention of any known physical agent," he declares that even Bailly's report against Mesmer's crude theory shows "how our faculties ought to be studied
when touched with dissimilar metals,) but also that of the electricity inherent in the nerves and muscles. Both of these discoveries were, however, hidden in such a confusion of circumstances that the result in both cases appeared equally to depend on the limbs or tissues of the animals employed."
The reader, desiring to follow up this subject, may consult a work by H. Bence Jones, M.D., F.R.S., entitled "On Animal Electricity: being an Abstract of the Discoveries of Emil Du Bois-Reymond," London, 1852. Also, "Traité des Phénomènes électro-physiologiques des Animaux," by Carlo Matteucci, Professor in the University of Pisa, 1844. Also, Baron Humboldt's work on Stimulated Nervous and Muscular Fibers, ("Versuche über die gereizte Muskel- und Nervenfaser, u. s. w.")
In England experiments in this branch have been pushed further than in any other country; chiefly by Rutter of Brighton, and by Dr. Leger, whose early death was a loss alike to physiological and psychological science. I had an opportunity, through the kindness of Mr. Rutter, of personally witnessing the extraordinary results to which his patient research has led, and which I regret that space does not permit me here to notice at large. I can but refer to his work, "Human Electricity: the Means of its Development, illustrated by Experiments," London, 1854; and to another brief treatise on the same subject, by Dr. T. Leger, entitled "The Magnetoscope: an Essay on the Magnetoid Characteristics of Elementary Principles, and their Relations to the Organization of Man," London, 1852.
The whole subject is singularly interesting, and will richly repay the study that may be bestowed upon it.
*I here refer to Baron Reichenbach's elaborate treatises on what he calls the "Odic Force," without expressing any opinion as to the accuracy of the author's conclusions. Reichenbach discovered creosote in 1833.
† Arago's report on the subject was made on the 16th of February, 1846. It is much to be regretted that an observer so sagacious should have had no opportunity, in this case, to follow up his first hasty experiments.
experimentally, and by what means psychology may one day obtain a place among the exact sciences."* Cuvier, more familiar than Arago with the phenomena of animated nature, speaks more decidedly than he on the same subject. "It scarcely admits of further doubt," says that eminent naturalist, "that the proximity of two living bodies, in certain circumstances and with certain movements, has a real effect, independently of all participation of the imagination of one of the two;" and he further adds that "it appears now clearly enough that the effects are due to some communication established between their nervous systems." This is conceding the principle lying at the base of Mesmerism,-a concession which is sustained by countless observations, little reliable in some cases, but in others, especially of late, carefully made by upright and capable experimentalists, on the contested ground of artificial somnambulism and kindred phenomena.
Without pausing here to inquire to what extent these various startling novelties need confirmation, or how far the deductions therefrom may be modified or disproved by future observations, enough of indisputable can be found therein, if not to indicate that we may be standing even now on the shores of a Great Ocean, slowly unvailing its wonders, and the exploration of
"Biographie de Jean-Sylvain Bailly," by M. Arago, originally published in the "Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes" for 1853, pp. 345 to 625.
"Leçons d'Anatomie comparée," de G. Cuvier, Paris; An. viii. vol. ii. pp. 117, 118. The original text, with its context, is as follows:
"Les effets obtenus sur des personnes déjà sans connaissance avant que l'opération commençât, ceux qui ont lieu sur les autres personnes après que l'opération leur a fait perdre connaissance, et ceux que présentent les animaux, ne permettent guère de douter que la proximité de deux corps animés, dans certaines positions et avec certains mouvements, n'ait un effet réel, independant de toute participation de l'imagination d'une des deux. Il paraît assez clairement, aussi, que les effets sont dus à une communication quelconque qui s'établit entre leurs systèmes nerveux."