Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ales of ghofls. It is fufficient to ftrike his imagination the evening before a fit, with fome tale, to direct his fomnambulifm towards the object of it. There was read to him, while in this fituation, the ftory of a robber; he imagined the very next moment that he faw robbers in the room. However, as he is much difpofed to dream that he is furrounded with them, it cannot be affirmed that this was an effect of the reading. It is obferved, that when his fupper has been more plentiful than ufual, his dreams are more difmal.

In their report, the gentlemen of the committee dwell much on the ftate of this young man's fenfes, on the impreffion made upon them by frange objects, and on the use they are of to him.

A bit of strong smelling wood produced in him a degree of refleffnefs; the fingers had the fame effect, whether from their smell or their transpiration. He knew wine in which there was wormwood by the fmell, and faid, that it was not wine for his table. Metals make no impreffion on him.

Having been prefented with a little common wine while he was in a ftate of apathy, and all his motions were performed with languor, he drunk of it willingly; but the irritation which it occafioned produced a deal of vivacity in all his words, motions, and actions, and caused him to make involuntary grimaces.

Once he was observed dreffing himself in perfect darknefs. His clothes were on a large table, mixed with those of some other perfons; he immediately perceived this, and complained of it much; at last a small light was brought, and then be dreffed himself with fufficient precifion. If he is teafed or gently pinched, he is always fenfible of it, except he is at the time ftrongly engroffed with

fome other thing, and wishes to strike the offender; however, he never attacks the perfon who has done the ill, but an ideal being whom his imagination prefents to him, and whom he purfues through the chamber without running against the furniture, nor can the perfons whom he meets in his way divert him from his purfuit.

While his imagination was em ployed on various fubjects, he heard a clock ftrike, which repeated at every stroke the note of the cuckoo.

;

There are cukoos here, faid he and, upon being de fired, he imitated the fong of that bird immediately.

When he wishes to fee an object, he makes an effort to lift his eyelids; but they are fo little under his command, that he can hardly raife them a line or two, while he draws up his eye-brows; the iris at that time appears fixed, and his eye dim. When any thing is prefented to him and he is told of it, he always half-opens his eyes with a degree of difficulty, and then fhuts them after he has taken what was offered.to him.

The report infers from these facts, and from many others relative to the different fenfes, that their functions are not fufpended as to what the Sleep-walker wishes to fee, that is, as to all thofe perceptions which accord with the objects about which his imagination is occupied; that he may alfo be difpofed to receive those impreffions, when his imagination has no other object at the time; that in order to fee, he is obliged to open his eyes as much as he can, but when the impreffion is once made it remains; that objects may ftrike his fight without ftriking his imagination, if it is not interested in them; and that he is fometimes informed of the prefence of objects without either feeing or touching them.

Having engaged him to write a theme,

Bb 2

theme, fay the committee, we faw him light a candle, take pen, ink, and paper from the drawer of his table and begin to write, while his mafter dictated. As he was writing, we put a thick paper before his eyes, notwithstanding which, he continued to write and to form his letters very diftinctly; fhewing figns, however, that fomething was incommoding him, which apparentlyproceededfrom the obstruction which the paper, being held too near his nofe, gave to his refpiration.

Upon another occafion, the young fomnambulist arofe at five o'clock in the morning, and took the necessary materials for writing, with his copybook. He meant to have begun at the top of a page; but, finding it already written on, he came to the blank part of the leaf, and wrote fome time from the following words, Fiunt ignari pigritia-ils deviennent ignorans par la paresse; and, what is remarkable, after feveral lines he perceived he had forgot the s in the word ignorans, and had put erroneoufly a double r in pareffe; he then gave over writing, to add the s he had forgot, and to erafe the fuperflu

ous r.

Another time he had made, of his own accord, a piece of writing, in order as he said,to please his mafter. It confifted of three kinds of writing, text, half text, and fmall writ; each of them performed with the proper pen. He drew, in the corner of the fame paper, the figure of a hat; he then asked for a pen-knife to take out a blot of ink, which he had made between two letters, and he erafed it without injuring them. Lastly, he made fome arithmetical calculations with great accuracy.

In order to explain fome of the facts obferved by the academicians which we have here mentioned, they eftablish two general obfervations, which refult from what they have

[ocr errors]

faid with refpect to the fenfes and the dreams of this fleep-walker.

1. That he is obliged to open his eyes in order to recognize objects which he wishes to fee; but the impreffion once made, although rapidly, is vivid enough to fuperfede the neceflity of his opening them again, to view the fame objects a-new; that is, the fame objects are afterwards prefented to his imagination with as much force and precision as if he actually faw them.

2. That his imagination, thus warmed, reprefents to him objects, and fuch as he figures to himself, with as much vivacity as if he really faw them; and, laftly, that all his fenfes, being fubordinate to his imagination, feem concentrated in the object with which it is occupied, and have, at that time, no perception of any thing but, what relates to that object.

Thefe two caufes united feem to them fufficient for explaining one of the mofl fingular facts that occur. red to their obfervation, to wit, how the young Devaud can write, although he has his eyes fhut, and an obftacle before them. His paper is imprinted on his imagination, and every letter which he means to write is alfo painted there, at the place in which it ought to stand on the paper, and without being confounded with the other letters; now it is clear that his hand, which is obedient to the will of his imagination, will trace them on the real paper, in the fame order in which they are reprefented on that which is pictured in his head. It is thus that he is able to write feveral letters, feveral fentences, and entire pieces of writing; and what feems to confirm the idea, that the young Devaud writes according to the paper painted on his imagination, is, that a certain fleep-walker, who is defcribed in the Encyclopædia, (article

ticle Somnambulism) having written fomething on a paper, another piece of paper of the fame fize was fubftituted in its ftead, which he took for his own, and made upon this blank paper the corrections he meant to have made on the other which had been taken away, precifely in the places where they would have been. It appears from the recital of another fact, that Deyaud, intending to write at the top of the first leaf of a white paper book, Vevey, le ftopt a moment as if to recollect the day of the month, left a blank space and then proceeded to Decembre 1787; after which he asked for an Almanack: a little book, fuch as is given to children for a new year's gift, was offered to him; he took it, opened it, brought it near his eyes, then threw it down on the table. An Almanack which he knew was then prefented to him; this was in German, and of a form fimilar to the Almanack of Vevey: he took it, and then faid, What is this they have given me; here, there is your German Almanack.' At laft they gave him the Almanack of Berne; he took this likewife, and went to examine it at the bottom of an alcove that was perfectly dark. He was heard turning over the leaves, and faying 24, then a moment afterwards 34. Returning to his place, with the Almanack open at the month of December, he laid it on the table and wrote in the space which he had left blank, the 24th. This fcene happened on the 23d; but as he imagined it to be the 24th, he did not miftake. The following is the explication given of this fact by the authors of the report.

"

The dates 23d, 24th, and 25th of the month of December had long occupied the mind of the young Devaud. The 23d and 25th wer holidays which he expected with the impatience natural to perfons of his age, for the arrival of thofe moments

when their little daily labours are to be fufpended. The 25th, efpecially, was the object of his hopes; there was to be an illumination in the church, which had been defcribed to him in a manner that quite transported him. The 24th was a day of labour, which came very difagreeably between the two happy days. It may eafily be conceived, how an imagination fo irritable as that of the young Devaud, would be ftruck with thofe pleafing epochs. Accordingly, from the beginning of the month, he had been perpetually turning over the Almanack of Ve vey. He calculated the days and the hours that were to elapfe before the arrival of his wifhed-for hohdays; he fhewed to his friends and ac quaintance the dates of thofe days which he expected with so much impatience; every time he took up the Almanack, it was only to confult the month of December. We now fee why that date prefented itself to his mind. He was performing a. tafk, because he imagined the day to be the Monday which had fo long engroffed him. It is not furprising, that it fhould have occurred to his imagination, and that on opening the Almanack in the dark, he might have thought he faw this date which he was feeking, and that his imagi nation might have reprefented it to him, in as lively a manner as if he had actually feen it. Neither is it furprising, that he should have opened the Almanack at the month of December; the custom of perufing this month must have made him find it in the dark by a mere mechanical operation. Man never seems to be a machine fo much as in the state of fomnambulism; it is then that habit comes to fupply thofe of the fenfes that cannot be ferviceable, and that it makes the perfon act with as much precifion as if all his fenfes were in the utmost activity. Thefe circumftances deftroy the idea of

there

there being any thing miraculous in the behaviour of young Devaud, with respect to the date and the month that he was in queft of; and the reader, who has entered into our explanations, will not be furprized at his knowing the German Almanack; the touch alone was fufficient to point it out to him; and the proof of this is the fhortsefs of the time that it remained in his hands.

An experiment was made by changing the place of the ink-ftandifh during the time that Devaud was writing. He had a light befide him, and had certified himself of the place where his ink-holder was ftanding, by means of fight. From that time he continued to take ink with precifion, without being obliged to open his eyes again: but the ink-ftandith being removed, he returned as ufual to the place where he thought it was. It must be obferved, that the motion of his hand was rapid till it reached the height of the ftandish, and then he moved it flowly, till the pen gently touched the table as he was feeking for the ink; he then perceived that a trick had been put on him, and complained of it; he went in fearch of his ink-ftandifh and put it in its place. This experiment was feveral times repeated, and always attended with the fame circumstances. Does not what we have here itated prove, that the

ftandish, the paper, the table, &c. are painted on his imagination in as lively a manner as if he really faw them, as he fought the real standish in the place where his imagination told him it ought to have been? Does it not prove, that the fame lively imagination is the cause of the most fingular actions of this fleep-walker? And laftly, Does it not prove, that a mere glance of his eye is fufficient to make his impreffions as lively as durable?

RISTOTLE pretended that it was more juft to affift the dead than the living. Plato, in his Republic, does not forget, amongst other parts of juftice, that which concerns the dead. Cicero eftablishes three kinds of juftice; the first re

The committee, upon the whole, recommend to fuch as wish to repeat the fame experiments, 1. To make their observations on different sleepwalkers. 2. To examine often whether they can read books that are unknown to them, in perfect darkness. 3. To obferve whether they can tell the hours on a watch in the dark. 4. To remove, when they write, the ink-ftandish from its place, to fee whether they will return to the fame place in order to take ink. 5. And, laftly, to take notice whether they walk with the fame confidence in a dark and unknown place, as in one with which they are acquainted.

They likewife recommend to fuch as would confirm or invalidate the above obfervations, to make all their experiments in the dark; because it has been hitherto supposed, that the eyes of fleep-walkers are of no use to them.

Reflections on the Cuftom of Burying the Dead, and the Danger of precipitate Interment-By Mr Durande.

fpects the gods, the fecond the manes, or the dead, and the third men. Thefe principles feem to be drawu from nature, and they appear, at leaft, to be neceffary for the fupport of fociety, fince at all times civilized nations have taken care to bury their dead,

Extracted from the Memoirs of the Academy of Dijon.

dead, and to pay their laft refpects to them.

We find in history feveral traces of the refpect which the Indians, the Egyptians, and the Syrians entertained for the dead. The Syrians embalmed their bodies with myrrh, aloes, honey, falt, wax, bitumen, and refinous gums; they dried them alfo with the fmoke of the fir and the pine tree. The Egyptians preferved theirs with the refin of the cedar, with aromatic fpices, and with falt. These people often keep fuch mummies, or at least their effigies in their houses, and at grand entertainments they were introduced, that by reciting the great actions of their anceftors, they might be better excited to virtue. How different is this refpect for the dead from that practifed at prefent!

The Greeks, at first, had probably not the fame veneration for the dead as the Egyptians. Empedocles, therefore, in the eighty-fourth Olympiad, reftored to life Ponthia, a woman of Agrigentum, who was about to be interred t. But this people, in proportion as they grew civilized, becoming more enlightened, perceived the neceffity of establishing laws for the protection of the dead.

At Sparta it was of a purple colour, and the body was furrounded with olive leaves. The body was afterwards laid upon a couch in the entry of the house, where it remained till the time of the funeral. At the magnificent obfequies with which Alexander honoured Epheftion, the body was not burned until the tenth day.

At Athens the law required that no perfon fhould be interred before the third day; and in the greater part of the cities of Greece a funeral did not take place till the fixth or seventh. When a man appeared to have breathed his laft, his body was generally washed by his nearest relations, with warm water mixed with wine. They afterwards anointed it with oil, and covered it with a drefs, commonly made of fine linen, according to the cuftom of the Egyptians. This drefs was white at Meffina, Athens, and in the greater part of the cities of Greece, where the dead body was crowned with flowers.

The Romans, in the infancy of their empire, paid as little attention to their dead as the Greeks. Acilius Aviola having fallen into a lethargic fit, was fuppofed to be dead; he was therefore carried to the funeral pile; the fire was lighted up, and though he cried out that he was ftill alive, he perifhed for want of speedy affistance. The Prætor Lamia met with the fame fate. Tubero, who had been Prætor, was alfo faved from the funeral pile. Afclepiades a phyfician, who lived in the time of Pompey the Great, about one hundred and twenty years before the Chriftian æra, returning from his countryhoufe, obferved near the walls of Rome a grand convoy and a crowd of people, who were in mourning af fifting at a funeral, and fhewing every exterior fign of the deepest grief. Having asked what was the occafion, of this concourfe, no one made any reply. He therefore approached the pretended dead body, and imagining that he perceived figns of life in it, he ordered the bystanders to take away the flambeaux, to extinguish the fire, and to pull down the funeral pile. A kind of murmur on this arofe throughout the whole company. Some faid that they ought to believe the phyfician, while others turned both him and his profeffion into ridicule. The relations, however, yielded at length to the remonitrances of Afclepiades; they confented to defer the obfequies for a little, and the confequence was the reftora

tion

Diogenes Laertius, de Vita et Moribus Philofophorum, lib. 8.

« ZurückWeiter »