Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/208

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196
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tions have also given succor to 1,382 persons. Their crews have, moreover, notably performed wreckers' duty, and saved large amounts of marine property. The virtue of organization is attested by these results, but large credit must always be given to the noble fidelity, capability, and dauntless courage of the stout groups of seven who man the lonely stations. Wherever native manliness is held in honor, these heroic Pleiads of the seaboard beaches, and the gangs of nine who drive the life-boats through overwhelming seas upon the Lakes and the Pacific, with hearts greater than danger, can never fail of their meed.

 
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DISEASED CONDITION OF THE FACULTY OF WONDER.
By Professor GAIRDNER,
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH.[1]

I HAVE never gone into this matter professionally, or even as a scientific man, but have always on the other hand held that the duty of a physician toward these things was to have as little as possible to do with them. But, still, in my career instances have come to my knowledge, and it was in consideration of all these that I was led to attempt to formulate a few nights ago the state of my mind upon the subject by saying—and it is something like a distinct, and I think not an untrue and unintelligible definition—that I call the state of mind of people inclined to spiritualism a diseased condition of the family of wonder. I hold that the faculty of wonder, or reverence, if you like to call it so, is an innate and necessary part of the human mind. Nay, more, it is one of the most essential, one of the most beneficial of all our endowments—that faculty by which we grasp, by which we strive to a certain extent to comprehend, and, if we do not comprehend, submit ourselves to, and even delight in the unknown—by which we strive to apprehend that which we can not comprehend. You will easily see that the higher aspect of this faculty of wonder is the basis of the whole of our religious aspirations. Therefore it can not be that I mean to denounce it—to speak ill of it. But, like all our other faculties, this part of our mental constitution is liable to abnormal action—in fact, to get into a state of disease. What I said of this faculty is, that, when it is rightly applied by a thoroughly healthy mind to the connection between the spiritual and the material world, it does or should find abundant opportunity for its exercise within the realms of strict law. I do not mean here to touch or raise the question whether there are what are called miracles connected with

  1. Extract from a lecture to his class, on the subject of spiritualism.