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and no sign of life is recognisable in him; in the opposite, he appears to be much as usual, and perfectly impressionable by anything around him, so that it demands careful observation to establish that he is not simply awake.
Then trance presents no fewer than five specific forms, distinguished each from the other by clear characters, their essential identity being established by each at times passing into either of the others. The terms by which I propose to designate the five primary forms of trance are-Death-trance, Trance-coma, Initiatory Trance, Half-waking-trance, Waking-trance. The five, however, admit, as I have before said, of being arranged in two groups: the three first forms enumerated constituting varieties of trance-sleep; the two latter constituting varieties of waking-trance. The next letter will treat of the first group; the two following will treat of the two varieties of the second.
I have observed that the causes of trance are for the most part mental impressions; but it will be found that certain physical influences may produce the same results. The causes of trance, whether mental or physical, deserve again to be regarded in three lights. Either they have operated blindly and fortuitously, or they have been resorted to and used as agents to produce some vague and imperfectly understood result, or they have been skilfully and intelligently directed to bring out the exact phenomena which have followed. It is with trance supervening in the two furmer ways that I alone propose at present to deal; that is to say, with trance as it was imperfectly known as an agent in superstition, or as a rare and marvellous form of nervous disease. Of the third case of trance, as it may be artificially induced, I shall afterwards and finally speak.
TRANCE-SLEEP.—The phenomena of trance divided into those of
trance-sleep, and those of trance-waking--Trance-sleep presents three forms; trance-waking two. The three forms of trancesleep described : viz., death-trance, trance-coma, simple or initiatory trance.
TRANCE, then, it appears, is a peculiar mental seizure liable to supervene in persons of an irritable nervous system, either after mental excitement or in deranged bodily health. The seizure may last for a few hours, or a few days, or for weeks, or years; and is liable to recur at regular or irregular intervals.
Trance again, it has been observed, has phases corresponding with the sleeping and waking of our natural state. And as natural sleep presents three varietiesthe profound and heavy sleep of extreme exhaustion, ordinary deep sleep, and the light slumber of the wakeful and the anxious, so trance-sleep is threefold likewise. But as in trance everything is magnified, the differences between the three states are greater, and the phenomena of each more bold and striking.
Two conditions are common, however, to every phase of trance-sleep; these are, the occurrence of complete insensibility, and that of vivid and coherent dreams.
The insensibility is so absolute that the most powerful stimulants are insufficient to rouse the patient. An electric shock, a surgical operation, the amputation even of a limb, are seemingly unfelt.
The dreams of trance-sleep have a character of their own. It is to be remarked, that in the dreams of ordinary sleep the ideas are commonly an incoherent jumble; and that, if they happen to refer to passing events, they commonly reverse their features. The attention seems to be slumbering. Thus Sir George Back told me, that in the privations which he encountered in Sir John Franklin's first expedition, when in fact he was starving, he uniformly dreamed of plentiful repasts. But in the dreams of trance-sleep, on the contrary, the impressions of the waking thoughts, the exciting ideas themselves, which have caused the supervention of trance, are realised and carried out in a consecutive train of imaginary action. They are, accordingly, upon the patient's awaking, accurately remembered by him; and that with such force and distinctness, that if he be a fanatic or superstitiously inclined, he very likely falls into the belief that the occurrences he dreamed of actually took place in his presence. A temperate fanatic goes no further, under such circumstances, than to assert that he has had a vision. The term is so good a one, that it appears to me worth retaining, in a philosophical sense, for the present exigency. I propose to restrict the term vision to the dreams of persons in trance-sleep.
Then of the three different forms of trance-sleep.
I. Death-trance.-Death-trance is the image of death. The heart does not act; the breathing is suspended; the body is motionless ; not the slightest outward sign of sensibility or consciousness can be detected. The temperature of the body falls. The entranced person has the appearance of a corpse from which life has recently departed. The joints are commonly relaxed, and the whole frame pliable; but it is likely that spasmodic
rigidity forms an occasional adjunct of this strange condition. So the only means of knowing whether life be still present is to wait the event. The body is to be kept in a warm room, for the double purpose of promoting decomposition if it be dead, and of preserving in it the vital spark if it still linger; and it should be constantly watched. But should every recently dead body be made the subject of similar care? it is natural to ask. There are, of course, many cases where such care is positively unnecessary—such, for instance, as death following great lesions of vital organs; and in the great majority of cases of seeming death, the bare possibility of the persistence of life hardly remains. Still it is better to err on the safe side. And although in England, from the higher tone of moral feeling, and from the respect shown to the remains of the dead, the danger of being interred alive is inconsiderable, still the danger certainly exists to a very considerable degree of being opened alive by order of a zealous coroner. But for the illustration of this danger, and examples of the circumstances under which death-trance has been known to occur, and of its usual features, I refer the reader back to the second Letter of this series. Let me, however, add, that it is not improbable that, by means of persons susceptible of the influence of Od, or of persons in induced waking-trance, the question could be at once decided whether a seeming corpse were really dead.
In England, during the last epidemic visitation of cholera, several cases of death-trance occurred, in which the patient, who was on the point of being buried, fortunately awoke in time to be saved. Death-trance, it is probable, is much more frequently produced by spasmodic and nervous illness than by mental causes: it has followed fever; it has frequently attended parturition. In this respect it differs from other forms of trance-sleep, which mostly,
. when spontaneous, supervene upon mental impressions.
The only feature of death-trance which it remains for me to exemplify is the occurrence in it of visions. Perhaps the following may be taken as an instance :
Henry Engelbrecht, as we learn in a pamphlet published by him in 1639, after an ascetic life, during which he had experienced sensorial illusions, fell into the deepest form of trance, which he thus describes : In the year 1623, exhausted by intense mental excitement of a religious kind, and by abstinence from food, after hearing a sermon which strongly affected him, he felt as if he could combat no longer; so he gave in and took to his bed. There he lay a week, without tasting anything but the bread and wine of the sacrament. On the eighth day, he thought he fell into the death-struggle. Death seemed to invade him from below upwards. His body became to his feelings rigid ; his hands and feet insensible; his tongue and lips incapable of motion; gradually his sight failed him. But he still heard the laments and consultations of those around him. This gradual demise lasted from mid-day till eleven at night, when he heard the watchmen. Then he wholly lost sensibility to outward impressions. But an elaborate vision of immense detail began; the theme of which was, that he was first carried down to hell, and looked into the place of torment; from whence, after a time, quicker than an arrow he was borne to Paradise. In these abodes of suffering and happiness, he saw and heard and smelt things unspeakable. These scenes, though long in apprehension, were short in time; for he came enough to himself, by twelve o'clock, again to hear the watchmen. It took him another twelve hours to come round entirely. His hearing was first restored; then his sight; feeling and power of motion followed ; as soon as he could move bis