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« To the confidence of these objections it may be replied, that by presuming to determine what is fit and what is beneficial, they presuppose more knowledge of the universal system than man has attained; and, therefore, depend upon principles too complicated and extensive for our comprehension, and that there can be no security in the consequence when the premises are not understood ; that the second sight is only wonderful because it is rare, for considered in itself, it involves no more difficulty than dreams, or perhaps than the regular exercise of the cogitative faculty; that a general opinion of communicative impulses, or visionary representations, has prevailed in all ages and all nations; that particular instances have been given with such evidence as neither Bacon nor Boyle has been able to resist; that sudden impressions, which the event has verified, have been felt by more thau own or publish them ; that the second sight of the Hebrides implies only the local frequency of a power which is no where totally unknown, and that where we are unable to decide by antecedent reason, we must be content to yield to the force of testimony.
“ By pretension to second sight no profit was ever sought or gained, it is an involuntary affection in which neither hope nor fear are known to have any part, those who profess to feel it do not boast of it as a privilege, nor are considered by others as advantageously distinguished; they have no temptation to feign, and their hearers have no motive to encourage the imposture.
" To talk with any of these seers is not easy, there is one living in Sky with whom we would gladly have conversed, but he was very gross and ignorant, and knet no English. The proportion in these countries of the poor to the rich is such, that if we suppose the quality to be accidental, it can very rarely happen to a man of education, and yet on such men it has sometimes fallen. There is Row a second sighted gentleman in the Higlie
lands, who complains of the terrors to which he is expostd.
“ The foresight of the seers is not always prescience, they are impressed with presages of which the event only shews them the meaning, they tell what they have seen to oihers who are at that time not more knowing than themselves, but may become at last very adequate witnesses by comparing the narrative with its verification.
“ To collect sufficient testimonies for the satisfaction of the public or of ourselves, would have required more time than we could bestow. There is against it the seeming analogy of things confusedly seen and little understood, and for it the indistinct cry of national persuasion, which may be perhaps resolved at last into prejudice and tradition. I never could advance my curiosity to conviction, but came away at last only willing to believe *."
* Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands, Murphy's edit. vol, viii. p. 343---347. •
From this account no satisfactory conclusion can, I think, be drawn subversive of the opinion maintained in these disquisitions, that the human mind is not naturally endowed with any prophetic powers.
It is possible, indeed, that it may experience gloomy presages which are the result of the conviction of the uncertainty of human affairs, or the effect of apprehension and moral feelings. The faculty claimed in the Highlands is peculiar to countries where knowledge and true philosophy have not yet diffused their full light, nor religion put to flight these gloomy superstitions which are apt to linger in retired and secluded scenes, amidst vallies soon overspread with the shades of evening, and where the vapory mists float incessantly on the mourtains' brow.”
ON THE RECURRENCE OF THOSE REFLEC
TIONS IN SLEEP, WHICH HAVE ENGAGED
" And the same image still returns.”
Eademque recurrit imago.
Diverse as are the circumstances, and varied as is the character of our dreams, and difficult as it sometimes is to trace their connection with preceding reflections and events, it appears that, in general, they take their complection from particulars of a recent occurrence, and are tinctured by the colouring of our thoughts before we close our eyes in forgetfulness, however the shades may gradually change, and insensibly assunye a different liue.