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III. The wonderful performances attributed to instinct in animals appear less incomprehensible when viewed in juxtaposition with some of the feats of lucid cataleptics. The term instinct is a very vague one. It is commonly used to denote the intelligence of animals as opposed to human reason. Instinct is, therefore, a compound phenomenon; and I must begin by resolving it into its elements. They are three in number :
1. Observation and reasoning of the same kind with that of man, but limited in their scope. They are exercised only in immediate self-preservation, and in the direct supply of the creature's bodily wants or simple impulses. A dog will whine to get admission into the house, will open the latch of a gate: one rook will sit sentry for the rest; a plover will fly low, and short distances, as if hurt, to wile away a dog from her nest. But in this vein of intelligence, animals make no further advance. Reflection, with the higher faculties and sentiments which minister to it, and with it constitute reason, is denied them. So they originate no objects of pursuit in the way that man does, and have no source of self-improvement. But, in lack of human reflection, some animals receive the help of
2. Special conceptions, which are developed in their minds at fitting seasons. Of this nature, to give an instance, is the notion of nest-building in birds. It may be observed of these conceptions that they appear to us arbitrary, though perfectly suited to the being of each species: thus, in the example referred to, we may suppose that the material and shape of the nest might be varied without its object being the less perfectly attained, —at least, as far as we can see. The conception spontaneously developed in the mind of the bird is then carried out intelligently, through the same quick and just observation, in a little way, which habitually ministers to its appetites, as I explained in a preceding paragraph.
The special conception is sometimes characterised by the utmost perfectness of mechanical design. Here, however, is nothing to surprise us. The supreme wisdom which preordained the development of an idea in an insect's mind, might as easily as not have given it absolute perfectness. But
3. Some animals have the power of modifying the special conception, when circumstances arise which prevent its being carried out in the usual way; and of realising it in a great many different ways, on as many different occasions. And their work, on each of these occasions, is as perfect as in their carrying out the ordinary form of the conception. I beg leave to call the principle, by which they see thus how to shape their course so perfectly under new circumstances--intuition. To instance it, there is a beetle called the rhynchites betulæ. Its habit is, towards the end of May to cut the leaves of the betula alba, or betula pubescens, into slips, which it rolls up into funnel-shaped chambers, which form singularly convenient cradles for its eggs. This is done after one pattern; and one may suppose it the mechanical realisation of an inborn idea, as long as the leaf is perfect in shape. But if the leaf is imperfect, intuition steps upon the scene to aid the insect to cut its coat after its cloth. The sections made are then seen to vary with the varying shape of the leaf. Many different sections made by the insect were accurately drawn by a German naturalist, Dr Debey. He submitted them for examination to Professor Heis of Aix-la-Chapelle. Upon carefully studying them, Dr Heis found these cuttings of the leaves, in suitableness to the end proposed, even to the minutest technical detail, to be in accordance with calculations compassable only through the higher
mathematics, which, till modern times, were unknown to human intelligence. Such is the marvellous power of "intuition," displayed by certain insects. I know not how to define it but as a power of immediate reference to absolute truth, evinced by the insect in carrying out its little plans. It is evident that the insect uses the same power in realising its ordinary special conception, when the result displays equal perfectness. And the question even crosses one's mind, Are the seemingly arbitrary plans really arbitrary ?—may they not equally represent a highest type of design? But, be that as it may, the intuition of insects, as we now apprehend it, no longer stands an isolated phenomenon. The lucid cataleptic cannot less directly communicate with the source of truth, as she proves by foreseeing future events.
IV. The speculations of Berkeley and Boscovich on the non-existence of matter; and of Kant and others on the arbitrariness of all our notions, are interested in, for they appear to be refuted by, the intuitions of cataleptics. The cataleptic apprehends or perceives directly the objects around her; but they are the same as when realised through her senses. She notices no difference ; size, form, colour, distance, are elements as real to her now as before. In respect again to the future, she sees it, but not in the sense of the annihilation of time; she foresees it; it is the future present to her ; time she measures, present and future, with strange precision,strange, yet an approximation, instead of this certainty, would have been yet more puzzling.
So that it appears that our notions of matter, force, and the like, and of the conditions of space and time, apart from which we can conceive nothing, are not figments to suit our human and temporary being, but ele- , ments of eternal truth.
RELIGIOUS DELUSIONS.—The seizures giving rise to them shown to have
been forms of trance brought on by fanatical excitement- The Cevennes — Scenes at the tomb of the Abbé Paris - Revivals in America - The Ecstatica of Caldaro — Three forms of imputed demoniacal possession—Witchcraft; its marvels, and the solution.
THERE have been occasions, when much excitement on the subject of religion has prevailed, and when strange disorders of the nervous system have developed themselves among the people, which have been interpreted as immediate visitings of the Holy Spirit. The interpretation was delusive, the belief in it superstition. The effects displayed were neither more nor less than phenomena of trance, the physiological consequences of the prevailing excitement. The reader who has attentively perused the preceding letters will have no difficulty in identifying forms of this affection in the varieties of religious seizures, which, without further comment, I proceed to exemplify.
Every one will have met with allusions to some extraordinary scenes which took place in the Cevennes, at the close of the seventeenth century.
It was towards the end of the year 1688 that a report was first heard of a gift of prophecy which had shown itself among the persecuted followers of the Reformation, who, in the south of France, had betaken themselves to the mountains. The first instance was said to have occurred in the family of a glass-dealer of the name of Du Serre, well known as the most zealous Calvinist of the neighbourhood, which was a solitary spot in Dauphiné, near Mount Peyra. In the enlarging circle of enthusiasts, Gabriel Astier and Isabella Vincent made themselves first conspicuous. Isabella, a girl of sixteen years of age, from Dauphiné, who was in the service of a peasant, and tended sheep, began in her sleep to preach and prophesy, and the Reformers came from far and near to hear her. An advocate of the name of Gerlan describes the following scene, which he had witnessed. At his request, she had admitted him and a good many others, after nightfall, to a meeting at a chateau in the neighbourhood. She there disposed herself upon a bed, shut her eyes, and went to sleep. In her sleep she chanted, in a low tone, the Commandments and a psalm. After a short respite she began to preach, in a louder voicenot in her own dialect, but in good French, which hitherto she had not used. The theme was an exhortation to obey God rather than man. Sometimes she spoke so quickly as to be hardly intelligible. At certain of her pauses she stopped to collect herself. She accompanied her words with gesticulations. Gerlan found her pulse quiet, her arm not rigid, but relaxed, as natural. After an interval, her countenance put on a mocking expression, and she began anew her exhortation, which was now mixed with ironical reflections upon the Church of Rome. She then suddenly stopped, continuing asleep. It was in vain they stirred her. When her arms were lifted and let go, they dropped unconsciously. As several now went away, whom her silence rendered impatient, she said in a low tone, but just as if she was awake,“ Why do you go away ?—why do not you wait till I am ready?" And then she delivered another