Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/784

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instance, I cite the following case from Wigan. The painter referred to is Blake:

"A painter, who inherited much of the patronage of Sir Joshua Reynolds, was so fully engaged that he told me he had painted three hundred large and small portraits in one year. The fact appeared physically impossible, hut the secret of his astonishing success was this: he required but one sitting of his model. I begged him to detail to me his method of procedure, and he related what follows: 'When a sitter came, I looked attentively on him for half an hour, sketching: from time to time on the canvas. I removed the canvas and passed to another person. When I wished to continue the first portrait I recalled the man to my mind, and placed him on the chair. Then I went on painting, occasionally stopping to examine the posture, as though the original were before me. This method made me very popular, for the sitters were delighted that I spared them the annoying sittings of other painters. 'By degrees I began to lose all distinction between the imaginary and the real figure; then all became confusion. I lost my reason, and remained for thirty years in an asylum.'"

It is related of Talma, the great actor, that he could cause the audience to appear to him like skeletons, and that, when the hallucination was complete, his histrionic genius was at its height.

Goethe states that he had the power of giving form to the images passing before his mind, and, upon one occasion, saw his own figure approaching him.

Several like cases have come under my own observation. In one, the power was directly the result of attendance at spiritual meetings, and of the efforts made to become a good "medium." The patient, a lady, at first thought very deeply of some particular person, whose image she endeavored to form in her mind. Then she assumed that the person was really present, and addressed conversation to him. At this period she was not deceived, for she clearly recognized the fact that the image was not present.

One day, however, she was thinking very intently of her mother, and, happening to raise her eyes, she saw her mother standing before her exactly as she had imagined her. In a few moments the phantom disappeared, but she soon found that she had the ability to recall it at will. During the spiritualistic meetings she attended, she could thus reproduce the image of any person upon whom she strongly concentrated her thoughts, and was for a long time sincere in her belief that they were real appearances. At last she lost control of the operations, and became constantly subject to hallucinations of sight and hearing.

Although no one presumes to question the honesty of Jerome Cardan, or of Swedenborg, it is probable that their visions were also induced by intense mental concentration. In some persons very slight thought is sufficient to cause hallucinations of great distinctness.