Spectropia; or surprising Spectral Illusions, showing Ghosts Everywhere and of any Colour.
By J.H. BROWN.
First Series, With Sixteen Illustrations.
Square 8vo. London, 1863.
COLERIDGE, on being asked by a lady if he believed in ghosts, replied, "No, Madam; I have seen too many to believe in them." Mr. Brown seems to hold the opinion that the more familiarly people become acquainted with spectres the less likely they are to believe in ghosts. There is much sound philosophy in this opinion. Everyone is haunted. There are spectres common to all people; spectres peculiar to the individual. It is difficult at any time to escape altogether from the ghostly throng. They intrude themselves unbidden upon the mind and the senses. When an individual has become familiar with those ghosts which are peculiar to himself as well as with those which visit him in common with all men, he learns to know that there is a very scanty margin for the genuine ghost of superstition. To the absence of this knowledge must be attributed, where imposture does not exist, the gigantic folly of spirit-rapping. Spectres of the eye, ear, and touch, and the feeblest hauntings of the brain, are elevated to the dignity of spiritual visitations by our new-fangled "spiritualists," as they impudently style themselves. It would have been well for these so-called "spiritualists" if they had learned wisdom from one of the shrewdest of modern ghosts -- the ghost of the inimitable Marley. "You don't believe in me," observed Marley's ghost to Scrooge. "I don't," said Scrooge. "What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?" "I don't know," said Scrooge. "Why do you doubt your senses?" "Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"
Mr. Brown would make popularly known one form of ocular spectre. If we gaze for a few seconds at a brilliantly illuminated object and then cast the eyes upon a white surface or upon a clear sky, a spectre of the object will presently take its appearance before the field of vision, remain visible for a short time, and then vanish. The spectre will appear several times in succession, each re-appearance being fainter than the one preceding. Further, the spectre will appear differently coloured to the object of which it is the apparition -- the apparition, in fact, always presenting the complementary colour of the original abject. Mr. Brown has conceived the happy notion of making these physiological phenomena more familiarly known by a series of coloured plates representing grotesque and other figures -- the majority being based upon popular conception of the supernatural. By means of these figures an intimate acquaintance may be made with a highly respectable family of ghosts, and a considerable power of ghost-genesis may be acquired. No better means could be devised of teaching readily the great truth that seeing is not altogether believing, as is too commonly sustained. The person who knows well one form of a sensorial spectre will be less likely to be deceived by other forms. We heartily commend Mr. Brown's ingenious work to the profession and the public.
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