Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/27

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15
EPIDEMIC DELUSIONS.

duced, have been allowed for. Whatever conflicts there may be among accounts of events that occurred during the feudal ages, comparison of them brings out the incontestable truth that there was a Feudal System. By implication, chronicles and laws indicate the traits of this system; and on putting side by side narratives and documents written, not to tell us about the Feudal System but for quite other purposes, we get tolerably clear ideas of these traits in their essentials ideas made clearer still on collating the evidence furnished by different contemporary societies. Similarly throughout. By making due use not so much of that which past and present witnesses intend to tell us, as of that which they tell us by implication, it is possible to collect data for inductions respecting social structures and functions in their origin and development: the obstacles which arise in the disentangling of such data in the case of any particular society being mostly surmountable by the help of the comparative method.

Nevertheless, the difficulties that have been enumerated must be ever present to us. Throughout, we hope to depend on testimony; and in every case we have to beware of the many modes in which evidence may be vitiated—have to estimate its worth when it has been discounted in various ways; and have to take care that our conclusions do not depend upon any particular class of facts gathered from any particular place or time.

 

EPIDEMIC DELUSIONS.

A LECTURE, DELIVERED IN THE HULME TOWN-HALL, MANCHESTER.

OUR subject to-night links itself in such a very decided manner to the subject in which we were engaged last week, and the illustrations which I shall give you are so satisfactorily explained on the scientific principle which I endeavored then to expound to you, that I would spend a very few minutes in just going over some of the points to which I then particularly directed your attention. My object was to show you that, between our Mental operations and our Will, there is something of that kind of relation which exists between a well trained horse and his rider; that the Will—if rightly exercised in early infancy in directing and controlling the mental operations; in directing the attention to the objects to which the intellect should be applied; in controlling and repressing emotional disturbance; restraining the feelings when unduly excited, and putting a check upon the passions—that the will in that respect has the same kind of influence