Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/780
If we consider the expensiveness of the Delphian oracle and the Loretto miracle-factory, the suras wasted on all kinds of amulets, from a brickbat fetich to a marble cathedral, we must admit that superstitions are costly luxuries. Dome-building, the most expensive phase of the mania, culminated during the night of the middle ages, and that night is certainly passing away, but many of its specters still frequent their ancient haunts; for supernaturalism is a Proteus, and apt to assume shapes that can not be exorcised with daylight. Like the poison-habit, the thirst for miracles satisfies its craving with a variety of stimulants. Ex-Romanists revel in mysticism, as their ancestors fuddled with the Rosicrucian Gnostics, and afterward with magic and astrology. Protestants often yield to the craving for stronger stimulants and glut it with rectified spiritism, undiluted with traditions and homilies. Mr. Kiddle's apocalypse is the confession of a moral opium-eater. In France professional free-thinkers patronize not less professional clairvoyants; the pythoness Lenormand amassed a fortune of two million francs, and was consulted by atheists and philosophers, and twice even by the Emperor Napoleon, whose speculative dogmas were limited to a few negative tenets. German non-conformists are apt to contract a passion for ghost-stories. Their publishers have regular sample-rooms of supernaturalism; Arnim's novels, a rock-and-rye mixture of romantic poetry and spook stories, have become household works; Jung Stirling's Geister-kunde (Spectrology), a sort of proof-spirits with a flavor of pietism, has still an enormous circulation. Men who never enter a church, and treat all sects with the tolerance of absolute indifference, procure their tipple from a circulating library, like peace-loving topers who shun tavern-brawls, but now and then purchase a quart of rum and take it home in a pocket-flask. On the whole, it is a step in the right direction. Their liquor is often as strong as anything sold across the bar, but the effects of their inspiration are limited to the precincts of a private sanctum, and they are less apt to force their poison upon their neighbors.
By W. A. HAMMOND, M.D.
THE simplest forms of insanity are those which consist merely of false perceptions, and they are not of such a character as to lessen the responsibility of the individual. There are two forms of false
- Abridged from advance sheets of Dr. Hammond's forthcoming work on "Insanity in its Medical Relations."