The phenomena, as described, may be classed under “ clairvoyance, ” “ premonition, ” and “ telepathy ” (q.'v.), with a residuum of symbolical visions. In these, “ corpse candles ” and spectral lights play a great part, but, in the region best known to the writer, the “lights ” are visible to all, even to 'English tourists, and are not hallucinatory. The conduct of the lights is brilliantly eccentric, but, as they have not been studied by scientific specialists, their natural causes remain unascertained. It is plain that there is nothing peculiar to the Celts in second sight; but the Gaelic words for it and the prevailing opinion indicate telepathy, the action of “ the spirits of the living ” as the main agents. Yet, in cases of premonition, this explanation is difficult. Conceivably an engineer, in 1881, was thinking out a line of railway from Oban to Balachulish, at the moment when four or five witnesses were alarmed by the whizz and thunder of a passing train on what was then the road, but was later (1903) usurped by the railway track. (For this amazing anecdote the writer has the first-hand evidence of a. highly educated percipient.) If the speculation of the engineer was “ wired on, ” telepathically, to the witnesses, then telepathy may account for the premonition, which, in any case, is a good example of collective second sight. That second sight has died out, under the influence of education and newspapers, is an averment of popular superstition in the south.
The examples given, merely a selection from those known to the present writer, prove that the faculty is believed to be as common as in any previous age.
The literature of second sight is not insignificant. The Secret Commonwealth of the Rev. Mr Kirk (1691), edited by Sir Walter Scott in 1815 (a. hundred copies), and by Andrew Lang in 1893, is in line with cases given in Trials for Vilitchcraft (cf. Dalyell's Darker Superstitions of Scotland, and Wodrow's Analecta). Aubrey has several cases in his Miscellanies, and the correspondence of Robert Boyle, Henry More, Glanvil and Pepys, shows an early attempt at scientific examination of the alleged faculty. The great treatise on Second Sight by Theophilus Insulanus (a Macleod) may be recommended; with Martin's Description of the Western Isles (1703-1716), and the work of the Rev. Mr Fraser, Dean of the Isles (1707, 1820). Fraser was familiar with the contemporary scientific theories of hallucination, and justly remarked that “the sight" was not peculiar to the Highlanders; but that, in the south, people dared not confess their experiences, for fear of ridicule. (A. L.)
SECRET (Lat. secretum, hidden, concealed), that which is concealed from general knowledge. In special senses the word is applied to (a) a prayer in the Roman and other liturgies, said during mass by the priest in so low a voice that it does not reach the congregation, and (b) a covering or skull-cap made of steel fitting close to the head.
In law, the question of secrecy is an important one. Generally, English law does not require a solicitor or barrister to disclose secrets entrusted to them by a client, and the same probably holds good in the case of medical men. In the case of ministers of religion, it has never been definitely settled how far they can be compelled to disclose in evidence what has been confided in the secrecy of the confessional. But according to the 113th Canon, a priest of the Church of England would commit an ecclesiastical offence in revealing a secret disclosed to him' in confession “except it be such as by the laws of this realm his own life may be called into question for concealing the same.” As to what are called “ trade secrets, ” it had been decided (Merryweather v. Moore, 1892, 2 Ch. 518) that it is a breach of contract to reveal trade secrets acquired during service. Ojficial Secrets.-By the' Oiiicial Secrets Act 1889 it was made a misdemeanour for an official to communicate any information or documents concerning the military or naval aiiairs of Her Ma'esty, to any person to whom it ought not to be communicated. llf the information be communicated to a foreign state it is a felony. In Germany the betrayal of military secrets is punishable under an imperial law of 1893.,
Secret Service.—In practically every civilized country, there is always a department of the government charged with the duty of espionage, either diplomatic or domestic. 'Its officials work in secret, and certain sums of money are placed at the disposal of the head of the department, and expended as he may think lit, without having to render any specific account of them. Various departments of governments have also their own departmental secret service, for the better guarding against frauds, such as in the United States, the Treasury Department and the Post Office.
The various European codes generally have dealt with breach of secrecy, e.g. s. 300 of the German Penal Code imposes a fine up to 1500 marks and imprisonment up to three months on doctors, attorneys and other professional persons who reveal a secret entrusted to them in their professional capacity. For this offence also the French code, art. 378, imposes imprisonment of from one to six months and a fine of from 100 to 500 francs.
See Brouardél, Le Secret médical (Paris, 1893); Hallays, Le Secret professionnel (Paris, 1890).
SECRÉTAN, CHARLES (1815-1895), Swiss philosopher, was born on the 19th of January 1815, at Lausanne, where he died on the 21st of January 1895. Educated in his native town and later under Schelling at Munich, he became professor of philosophy at Lausanne (1838 to 1846), and at Neuchâtel (1850 to 1866). In 1866 he returned to his old position at Lausanne. In 1837 he founded, and for a time edited, the Revue suisse. His principal works were La Philosophie de la liberté (1848); La Raison et le Christianisme (1863); La Civilisation et les croyances (1887); Mon Utopie (1892). The object of his writing was to build up a rational, philosophical religion, to reconcile the ultimate bases of Christianity with the principles of metaphysical philosophy.
For a detailed examination of his philosophy, see Pillon, La Philosophie de Charles Secrétan.
SECRETARY-BIRD, a very singular African bird, first accurately made known, from 'an example living in the menagerie of the prince of Orange, in 1769 by A. Vosmaer,1 in a treatise published simultaneously in Dutch and French, and afterwards included in his collected works issued, under the title of Regnum Animate, in 1804. He was told that at the Cape of Good Hope this bird was known as the “ Sagittarius ” or Archer, from its striding gait being thought to resemble that of a bowman advancing to shoot, but that this name had been corrupted into that of “ Secretarius." In August 1770 G. Edwards saw an example Secretary-Bird.
(apparently alive, and the survivor of a pair which had been brought to England) in the possession of a Mr Raymond near Ilford in Essex; and, being unacquainted with'Vosmaer's work, he figured and described it as “of a new genus” in the Philosophical Transactions for the following year (lxi. pp. 55, 56, pl, ii.). In 1776 P. Sonnerat (Voy. Nouv. Guinée, p. 87, pl. 50) again described and figured, but not at all correctly, the species, saying (but no doubt wrongly) that he found it in 1771 in the Philippine Islands. A better representation was given-by D'Aubenton in
1 Le Vaillant (Sec. Voy. A frique, ii. p. 273) truly states that Kolben in 1719 (Caput Bonae Spei hodiern/um, p. 182, French version, ii. p. 198) had mentioned this bird under its local name of “Snakeeater" (Slangerwreeter, Dutch translation, i. p. 214); but that author, who was a bad naturalist, thought it was a Pelican and also confounded it with the Spoonbill, which is figured to illustrate his account of it.