Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

Conclusions drawn from reasoning and gen- his mind, and are liable at any moment to cross eralizations from data may produce convictions the plane of his consciousness. He who, when so strong that men would die for them. Under a thought arises, will ask, “How came I to their influence they may risk their lives and think of this ? " in the effort to trace the sucfortunes in the pursuit of objects which cannot cessive steps by which the mind traveled from be attained, if at all, until after many years. the last conscious thought or experience to These are not presentiments, for the sum of that which is the subject of retrospection will the reasonings and experiences of the man be compelled to conclude that these lightningbecomes the unconscious test which he applies like movements of the mind have as often to everything submitted to his judgment. been directed by associations of which we are

But if there be genuine presentiments which unconscious as' by those whose significance foretell future events they must have an ex- and relations are perceived. Experiments to ternal source, human or extra-human. That determine the rapidity of thought, by uttering God could produce such impressions none a sentence or command and noting the time who admit his existence can doubt. Whether before the rational perception of it is manifest, other beings, in or out of human bodies, could are deceptive, because they involve the rate do so is an unproven theory. Clairvoyance of motion of the senses, which is slow comand telepathy do not apply to the subject of pared with the movement of ideas in the mind. presentiments in the sense now under consid- Revery frequently affects the emotions eration. The clairvoyant theory of perception powerfully, and produces an influence which is the power to read the past, discern the is felt for days and even months, and that present, and forecast the future; that of telepa- when the mind, calmly reflecting, rejects the thy a transfer of ideas and feelings spontane- idea that there is any cause for the depression. ously or intentionally from a living person called A common experience of foreign travelers is the agent to another called the percipient. that the mind runs over the whole field of perThese theories will hereafter receive attention sonal interest illuminating it as with flashes, upon their own merits.

bringing before him who pursues his way Most persons holding that God could at any “remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow," vivid time create a presentiment will incline to the thoughts of home and friends. Such pensive comfortable belief that he sometimes does so, states are often accompanied by intense conand that this is one of the means whereby he cern, which crystallizes into conviction, that cares for those who put their trust in him. death or some other calamity has already taken But the fact that God can produce presenti- place. Thousands of letters and many telements is not in itself an evidence, nor does it graphic dispatches inspired by such feelings even rise to the dignity of a presumption that cross the sea every summer to receive rehe will produce them. He could preserve all sponses indicating that there is no occasion for his servants from destruction by sea or by land, anxiety. Many business men will also acknowlhe could impart to all his people a knowl- edge that at difierent times in the course of edge of future events; but he does not. The their careers, for reasons which they have not righteous often die in the pestilence and in been able to fathom, an impression of impendcalamities at sea; the wicked may escape, ing calamity has possessed them, which was while those who pray sink.

so strong as to make them ready to dispute While it would be presumptuous to affirm the truth of the trial-balance which showed that no such presentiment as we are consider- them to be solvent and prosperous. ing is ever imparted by the Spirit of God to The observation of the reader will doubtless human beings, two propositions may be sup- furnish instances of persons whose forebodings ported without irreverence: first, that the of calamity — sometimes confirmed by the human mind without special influence from event, but oftener otherwise — are recognized God or other beings may originate presenti- by their business partners and friends, and call ments; second, that the probability is that for the exercise of patience and the use of this is their true explanation.

every means to dissipate the mysterious, unwelcome, and paralyzing impression. A manu

facturer whose name is known in every city in UNSUSPECTED MENTAL RESOURCES.

the Union, and in most foreign countries, whose SELF-ESTEEM is common and self-conceit riches are estimated at many millions, whose general, yet few persons have an adequate employees are numbered by thousands, whose idea of the resources of their own minds. Most charities are munificent, whose piety is unfancy that what they recollect is the measure doubted, and whose sanity is unquestioned, of what they know; whereas, in addition to has had presentiments of disaster a score of every fact or idea that any person remembers, times within the last twenty-five years, no one there are countless others which have entered of which has been fulfilled; but all were as

[ocr errors]

intense and overpowering while they lasted as ment, though trying to seem calm. Talleyrand any could be.

was writing letters to Europe. Beaumetz, with Two other mental phenomena must be ob- forced gaiety, said: “What need to waste time served. No discipline, however protracted penning those letters? They will not reach and rigid, can exclude thoughts which start their destination. Let us take a turn on the mysteriously concerning life, business, home, Battery. The wind may be chopping round; friends, investments, etc. The mathematician we may be nearer our departure than we immay be engaged in solving the most intricate agine.” The language in which the dénoueproblems, the theologian in preparing dis- ment is described is graphic: courses, the essayist in the flow of composition, the accountant in adding a column of Battery. He had seized my arm and hurried me

We walked through the crowded streets to the figures, but none of these can be certain of along, seemingly in eager haste to advance. We had fifteen consecutive minutes undisturbed by arrived at the broad esplanade, the glory then, as ideas or impressions almost as vivid as a living now, of New York. Beaumetz quickened his steps personality. The difference between the dis- still more until we arrived close to the water's edge. ciplined and the undisciplined mind consists He talked loud and quickly, admiring in energetic chiefly in the ability to expel the intruder, and terms the beauty of the scenery, the Brooklyn Heights, not in exemption from such visits.

the shady groves of the island, the ships riding at The other phenomenon is, that the mind, in anchor, and the busy scene on the peopled wharf

,

when suddenly he paused in his mad, incoherent a voluntary or an involuntary review of the situ- discourse, for í had freed my arm from his grasp, ation, will frequently pause upon one phase of and stood immovable before him. Staying his wild it, which will predominate over others without and rapid steps, I fixed my eye upon his face. He any apparent reason. A parent absent from turned aside cowed and dismayed. "Beaumetz,” I home may be particularly anxious about one shouted, “you mean to murder me. You intend to of three children and be for weeks under the throw me from the height into the sea below. Deny shadow of a causeless fear. As every mental it, monster, if you can.” The maniac stared at me state must have a cause, in the labyrinth of for a moment, but I took especial care not to avert

my gaze from his countenance, and he quailed beassociated ideas and feelings, some occasion neath it. He stammered a few incoherent words, must exist; but introspection may never reveal and strove to pass me, but I barred his passage it. To demonstrate that the mind cannot orig- with extended arms. He looked vacantly right and inate presentiments is, therefore, impossible; left, and then flung himself upon my neck and and we are brought to the question whether, burst into tears. "'T is true, 't is true, my friend. in the number or character of such presenti- flash from the lurid fire, of hell. It was for this !

The thought has haunted me day and night like a ments, there be convincing evidence that they brought you here

. Look! You stand within a foot have a supernatural origin.

of the edge of the parapet. In another instant the Many experiences called presentiments are work would have been done.” The demon had left not of that nature. Dr. Forbes Winslow's him. His eye was unsettled, and the white foam “Psychological Journal” gives a tragic account stood in bubbles on his white lips, but he was no of a presentiment to the great master of kings, longer tossed by the same mad excitement under Talleyrand. Dr. Sigmond received it from the which he had been laboring, for he suffered me to widow of the private secretary and friend of lead him home without a single word. A few days Talleyrand, M. Comache. It shows signs of repose, bleeding, abstinence, completely restored

him to his former self, and, what is more extraordihaving been written afterwards and embellished.

nary, the circumstance was never mentioned beTalleyrand said, “Upon one occasion I was

tween us. My Fate was at work. gifted for a single moment with an unknown and mysterious power.” He had fled from What there is in this narrative to imply anyFrance with an intimate friend named Beau- thing extraordinary, in view of the extraordimetz. They had arrived in New York together, nary circumstances, I am unable to perceive. and, considering that they could not return to Beaumetz had been unusually calm; he became France, decided to improve the little money greatly excited. Every action he performed and that was left by speculation, and freighted a every word he said, for several days, was sufsmall vessel for India. Bills were all paid and ficient to excite alarm as to his mental confarewells taken; but there was a delay of some dition. He was on the verge of an attack of days for a fair wind, during which the time of acute mania. That Talleyrand had recognized departure was uncertain. Beaumetz was irri- his condition to some extent is apparent; tated to an extraordinary degree, and unable to that his mind perceived the danger, and that remain quietly at home. He hurried back and he took the only natural course to escape, is forth from the city with an eager, restless ac- also clear; and the history of lunatic asylums tivity. He had been ever remarkable for great abounds in accounts by friends or attendants calmness and placidity of temper. One day he of their discerning at the right moment that entered, evidently laboring under great excite- the maniac meant to perpetrate a tragic deed.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

IMPRESSIONS

AND

sane.

In some instances it has been foreseen, and The months passed without a sign, but one the wife, after predicting her own death at day, while walking up Broadway, he saw a his hands, has succumbed to the maniacal lady walking ahead of him whose motions fury of the once loving husband rather than were exceedingly graceful, and instantly came allow him to be placed under restraint. A case the impression, “ This is the woman whom of this sort, originating in the highest circles of God hath chosen for thee.” For a long time American society, but culminating in Europe, he followed her in silence. At last the object has startled the world within a few years. of his anxiety turned into a side street. He

turned also, and at that moment she dropped

her handkerchief. He hastened forward to IMPERATIVE CONCEP

take it from the ground, and as she lifted her TIONS.”

veil to thank him he perceived that she was IMPRESSIONS are closely allied to presenti- of African descent! In an instant his faith in ments, and many both devout and undevout impressions was forever destroyed, and it was persons yield to their influence. Baseball his custom in speaking of the occurrence to pitchers, prize-fighters, soldiers, and politicians say that he had learned that prayer could not are subject to them. The celebrated Dr. Na- be substituted for common sense. than Bangs, a minister of great influence and The number of impressions of which nothing strength of character, early in life was ac- comes is so much greater than those which customed to believe in and follow impressions. appear to be fulfilled as to satisfy rational The manner in which he was delivered from minds that they are not to be relied upon; the fear of them is described in Stevens's “Life and this requires on moral grounds the further of Bangs,” page 101 :

conclusion that they are not of supernatural

origin. On a certain occasion, when the weather was very " Imperative conceptions," known among cold and the snow deep, the mind of Dr. Bangs be- the insane, often have parallels among the came more than usually impressed with the value

It is common for lunatics who have of souls. As he rode he came

posite a dwelling which stood quite a distance back in the field, committed some atrocious act to assign, and and instantly he became impressed with the thought often with absolute truth, that "it had to be that he ought to go and talk and pray with that done,” or that they “had to do it.” Certain family. He was in a feeble condition, no path had crimes committed by sane persons under a been made to the house, and he knew it would be powerful influence have also been excused dangerous for him to wade that distance and expose upon that ground, when a just view would himself to the cold. So he resisted the impression show that though strongly impelled they were and passed on ; but no sooner had he passed the not incapable of resisting the impression, and house than it became doubly strong, and “he finally turned back, tied his horse to the fence, waded

were therefore responsible. I venture to affirm through the snow to the house, and not a soul was that there are few persons who have not at there!"

some time in their lives felt almost irresistibly

drawn to do some act, make some decision, His friend and successor in Canada, Dr. or utter some word which they knew was not Fitch Reed, who communicated these facts expedient; but the conviction that "it had to to Dr. Stevens, says, “ From that time he re- be done" predominated, and in many instances solved never to confide in mere impressions." they have yielded. Where the consequences

A ludicrous instance of an impression con- are not serious the effects may still be evil, for nected with a supposed answer to prayer was when the “ego" yields contrary to the judgnotorious in the city of New York forty years ment its power of resistance is lessened. These ago. A gentleman of excellent character imperative impressions, which in the purely prayed that he might receive an impression insane absolve from guilt, are often seen in from God when he should come into the pres- their germs in the conduct of children who ence of the person who would make him a are dominated by their imaginations and suitable wife. He received assurance that his sensibilities. prayer would be answered, and tried to main- These are all akin to the state of mind in tain a devout and expectant frame of mind. which presentiments arise. 1

1 Dr. llenry M. Hurd, the justly distinguished to the judgment of the individual. The imperative superintendent of the Eastern Michigan Asylum for conception differs from the delusion in the fact that it the Insane at Pontiac, in speaking of imperative con. is not elaborated by any process of reasoning, and ceptions says: “ By this term is understood a mental does not commend itself to the reason or to the judg. concept or impression arising in the mind without ment. . . . It is not necessarily an evidence of in. external cause, or an emotional basis, or logical con- sanity, unless it persists and dominates the conduct nection with any previous train of thought, which babitually. All persons have imperative conceptions dominates the will and often compels to actions which arising spontaneously in the mind, which momentarily are known to be ludicrous or improper, or contrary influence action and compel attention." He gives as

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

66

a

CONSEQUENCES.

nary. In these voluminous narratives we hear

little or nothing of presentiments of certain PRESENTIMENTS concerning hours of death escape, though they too are often fulfilled and have sometimes been defeated by deceiving as often disappointed. the subjects of them. Well-authenticated in- A correspondent of “ Notes and Queries,” stances exist of chloroforming those who had second series, thirty-fourth volume, having made preparation for death, but whose gloomy spent several months in the Crimea during the apprehension was dispelled when they found severest period of the bombardment, says: “I that the time had passed and they were still can state that many cases of presentiment were living.

fulfilled; as also that some were falsified. There The case of the dissipated Lord Lyttleton, were also many deaths without any accompanywho was subject to “suffocating fits,” and who ing presentiment having been made known.” claimed that his death had been predicted to The great Turenne exclaimed, " I do not mean occur in three days, at twelve o'clock, midnight, to be killed to-day"; but a few moments afteris easily explained. On the evening of that night wards he was struck down in battle by a cansome of his friends to whom he told the story non ball. said, when he was absent from the room,“ Lyt- The possibilities of chance in the fulfillment tleton will frighten himself into another fit with of presentiments are incomputable, as a fact this foolish ghost story”; and thinking to which occurred in this country during the civil prevent it they set forward the clock which war, and which is known by thousands yet stood in the room. When he returned they living to be true, may serve to show. Joseph called out, “Hurrah, Lyttleton! Twelve C. Baldwin, a young gentleman residing in o'clock is past, you've jockeyed the ghost; now Newark, N. J., was a journalist of more than the best thing to do is to go quietly to bed, local fame. He wrote under several pen names, and in the morning you will be all right.” one of which was “ Ned Carrol,” and another But they had forgotten about the clock in the “Frank Greenwood.” The articles written parish church tower, and when it began slowly under the latter name were unlike any of his tolling the hour of midnight he was seized other productions, being personal and censoriwith a paroxysm and died in great agony. ous in character; and Frank Greenwood was in The opinion of those who knew the circum- consequence most unpopular in Newark and vistances was that the sudden revulsion of feeling cinity, while Ned Carrol was a general favorite. caused such a reaction as to bring on the fit Early in the war Mr. Baldwin enlisted in the which carried him off. This is a rational view, ith regiment of New Jersey Volunteers, and for when one nearly dead believes that he is after arriving at the seat of war wrote several about to die the incubus of such an impression letters for publication, in one of which, sent to is as effective as a dirk or poison.

the Newark “ Courier," he described the death Many extraordinary tales are told of pre- of the mythical Greenwood in these words: sentiments on the eve of battle, and the par

ARMY OF THE LOWER POTOMAC, ticulars are given; but this is not wonderful.

GENERAL Hooker's Division. Soldiers and sailors are proverbially super- Mr. Editor: stitious. The leisure they frequently have

I only fulfill the dying request of a beloved comfavors the recital of marvelous experiences, and rade in apprising you of his sad fate. Two months battles depend upon so many contingencies, ago Frank Greenwood joined our company (C, 5th and are liable to be controlled by such inex- regiment), and soon became a general favorite, owplicable circumstances, as to give to even the ing to his great sociability and undaunted courage. bravest of men a tinge of superstition. It has He received his death-wound from a shell, which been observed that the most unrighteous battles, and burst within twenty feet of him, while holding

was thrown from the Cockpit Point rebel battery, fought against an oppressed people, have been the signal halyards at a review on the 3d inst. attended by victories turning upon circum- We mourn him as a brother. stances that may have been accidental; and

Ned CARROL. that the most heroic patriotism has been defeated in the same way. That soldiers should On the 15th of May, 1864, Lieutenant Baldhave presentiments is not strange; and that win, who had been in the battles of Bull Run, those who have been exceedingly fortunate Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, through a score of battles should sometimes in Antietam, and the Wilderness, and a score or moments of depression conclude that they more of skirmishes; who had had many narwould die in the next battle is not extraordi- row escapes and many wounds in the active illustrations the common experience of an overpower- peace of mind after he has retired, and compels him ing impression that a watch has not been wound, or a to leave his bed only to find that there is no foundawindow fastened, or that some other regular duty has not tion for the impression. been performed, which is enough to destroy a person's

Vol. XXXVIII.-60.

service, sat in camp knowing of no danger near, a delightful voyage. After remaining in New when a piece of iron from a shell“ thrown from Orleans a few days I reëmbarked on the same a rebel battery,” which “ burst within twenty vessel, continuing up the river eight hundred feet of him," struck him in the back of the head, miles, making in all more than two thousand killing him instantly.

miles without any accident. Let those who propose to prove supernatural Since that experience, in many voyages I portents by mathematics determine what the have made it an object to inquire of travelers “probability” was that in a mere spirit of jest and others concerning presentiments and have he should describe in detail the manner of his found that they are very common, occasionally own death months afterwards. 1

fulfilled, generally not so; and that it is the Just after the close of the civil war I con- tendency with practically all persons who have cluded to go South by steamer, and took pas- had one presentiment come true to force themsage from St. Louis on the steamship Luminary selves into all, and to become tyrants over for New Orleans. Navigation on the Missis- those dependent upon them or those traveling sippi River at the close of the war was uncer- with them. It is to be frankly admitted that no tain. Many old vessels were employed, the matter how vivid the supposed presentiment condition of the river was dangerous, and dur- might be, its non-fulfillment would not demoning the preceding twelve or fifteen months nine strate that there are no presentiments which steamers had been blown up, or otherwise de- must have originated external to the mind of stroyed, resulting in great loss of life. Nearly the subject; but having been led by my experiall the accidents had been caused by the ex- ence to induce many persons to defy such feelplosion of what are known as tubular boilers, ings without a single instance of reported evil and a great prejudice existed against vessels results, it confirms strongly the hypothesis of having boilers of that kind. The Luminary their subjective origin. was of the old-fashioned sort, and quite a num- That presentiments are governed by no ber of passengers had taken it on that account. moral principle in the character of the sub

I was accompanied to the vessel by my jects to which they are applied, the persons brother, who up to that time had traveled with who receive them, the occasions upon which me, and was about to return to the East. As they are given, and their effects, is apparent. he was upon the point of bidding me farewell, The most immoral have claimed to have them, I was seized without a moment's thought or have communicated them to others, and they preparation with the most appalling conviction have sometimes been fulfilled by events from that the vessel would be lost, that I was look- which the persons having them have derived ing upon my brother for the last time, and great personal advantages. The best of men seemed to see with almost the vividness of an have had presentiments

, but the great majoractual perception the scene of the explosion, to ity of good people have not; and the greatest hear the shrieks of the passengers, and to feel calamities which have befallen most persons myself swallowed up in the general destruction. have come without any warning whatsoever, Composing myself as much as possible, I said except such as could be inferred from existing to my brother :“ If ever a man had a presenti- situations. Experience, foresight, and guidance ment of death, I have it now; but you know I by ordinary sagacity have been all that manhave for years held that presentiments spring kind have had to rely upon; and to be governed from physical weakness, superstition, or cow- only by these, combating or disregarding preardice. Would you yield to these terrible feel- sentiments, impressions, and powerful impulses ings?" He replied, “No! If you do, you will for which no foundation can be found in the always be a slave to them.” After some fur- nature of things, is the only safe and stable ther conversation he went ashore, and the boat rule. started.

For several hours the dread of disaster overhung me, but gradually wore off, and late at By visions, I mean appearances to the night I fell asleep. The distance from St. Louis mind's eye when there is no corresponding to New Orleans is about twelve hundred miles. reality. Of the hallucinations of the insane it The time taken by the Luminary was seven is necessary to say but little, as there is no days. It was in all respects, after the first day, doubt as to their nature and source. Gener

1 Such dreams as these, without any proper authen- sassination of President Garfield, and said that she tication of detail, are published and republished. “The saw him in a railway station, surrounded by ladies night that President Lincoln was murdered, a neighbor and others. of mine," writes a physician, “declared that the Presi. But we hear nothing of the seventeen persons who dent was killed, and by an assassin. It was several communicated to Andrew Johnson, in the course of the hours before the news reached the town."

three years that he was President, dreams describing The wise of a New York clergyman made a simi- his death by assassination ; nor of similar communilar statement just before the news arrived of the as. cations made to the late President Arthur.

VISIONS.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »