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small and dark chamber, the vehiculum of its present being—and there observing the impressions made by a purelyphysical process upon the organs of sense—just as the artist examines the image made in the camera-obscura; but as going forth to the object itself. We are thus, by a very common and almost universal misapprehension, led to mistake the point at which the physical terminates and the spiritual begins, in the process of conception. When this point is clearly apprehended, we are able to grasp more fully the function of mind in its relation to sense, and the wisdoin, fitness, and beauty of our wonderful organization dawns upon us in a light never seen before.
IV. That the senses are mere instruments of the soul is further proved from the fact that the loss of one of the organs of sense—though it may embarrass the operations of the intellect, does not impair either its vitality or power.
The idea we wish to elaborate here may be, perhaps, more forcibly presented by an illustration. A carpenter plying his trade, finds one of the tools—his plane or his saw-missing from his chest; he may devise various substitutes, but fails in the perfection of his work and also in the facility of its execution. The failure is not owing to any lack of strength or skill on the part of the mechanic, but to the lack of the right tools with which to work.
If a single string in a violin is broken, or can not be keyed up into harmony with the others, the most skillful player will fail to produce the varied harmonies of which the instrument is capable. The general skill of the violinist is not diminished. The defect is in the violin. In like manner, in the loss of one or more of the senses, the action of the soul in its relation to the external world is disturbed, but its native powers remain unimpaired.
The loss of the sense of hearing is a serious embarrassment. It interrupts the intercourse of life; shuts out tho
glorious harmonies of nature. The soul fails of many ideas and of many enjoyments it would otherwise have possessed. But its general powers are not impaired. The tools, it might otherwise have worked with, are lessened in number; but the power of memory, of thought, of reason, and even the ability to interpret such impressions as continue to be made upon the senses, are unimpaired. Nay, they are often quickened; without hearing a syllable, the keen eye of the deaf person will often interpret what is said by closely observing the movement of the lips of the speaker.
There is another fact bearing upon this point that must not escape our observation. It is universally noticed that where one or more of the senses fails, the others become more acute, and thus in a measure make up for the loss. The sight is destroyed, and as an effect, or rather by an effort of nature to repair the damage, the sense of touch becomes exceedingly acute. In some blind persons this sense has become so acute that they could determine the denomination of a silver coin by slipping it through their fingers, even when it was so worn that the keenest eye could not determine the characters upon it. So, also, blind persons often determine their approach to any solid body by the pressure of the atmosphere—a pressure so slight as to be inappreciable to one having full possession of all his senses. Of the former case we may cite, as an example, the celebrated blind mathematical professor, Dr. Saunderson, of Cambridge University, in England, and also the pupils in our blind asylums generally. In the books printed for their use, the letters are slightly raised, and so delicate becomes the sense of touch, that the letters and words are ascertained by passing the fingers over them. Of the latter, John Metcalf, the celebrated blind road-surveyor over the Derbyshire peaks, may be cited. Some philosophers have even gone so far as to predict, that by new methods of culture yet to be devised, persons deprived of both sight and hearing, "would so inerease the sensibility of touch as to locate the seat of the soul in the tips of the fingers."
Now we come to the point of inquiry, By what process is this increased acuteness of the sense obtained? and where shall the improvement be located ? Evidently not in the finger-tips. They are no more delicate than before; perhaps not as delicate. The very excessive use of them tends to render them callous. Nor will any one contend that it is in any increased facility in the nerve for the transmission of the impression to the brain, nor yet in the brain for receiving. It is all resolved, then, into increased attention to, and closer scrutiny of, the impressions made upon the organs of sense. This is the work of the intelligent principle within. So far, then, from being impaired by the loss of one of the organs of sense, it seems to have nerved itself to repair the damage, so far as it could lie within the function of the intellect to do so. Here we find illustration of not only the great principle of nature's compensation, but of the wonderful harmony of that divine structure, designed to mirror forth God in the created uni
V. Concluding remarks.
The line of discussion we have employed, and the conclusions we have reached, are fruitful in suggestions, having an important bearing upon the nature and destination of man.
1. This foregoing argument applies to animal life and sensation as well as to human. The animal is something more than a mere physical organism. If it does not embody "a living soul,” yet it does embody animal life. What the interior nature of that animal life may be is as little known to us as the interior nature of the living soul. But it is something that is so near akin to intelligence that it can observe and interpret the impressions made upon the organs of sense. The hound that scents the game is not doubtful as to the import of the impressions made upon his organ of smell; the eagle that, from his aerial hight, sights his prey in the deep below, darts down upon it with lightning velocity, just as the hunter levels his gun at the game seen in the distance. Is there not a similitude between them in the manner in which they interpret the impression made by the object upon the organ of sight?
This is a highly-suggestive fact. We have already seen that there are radical differences which separate the animal mind from the living soul; that these differences are radical, precluding utterly the confounding of the one with the other. The facts just noticed, however, suggest similitudes as well as differences. They suggest, also—as Mr. Wesley and others have believed—the possibility of a future life for the animal; so that the expectation of the poor Indian
“Who thinks, admitted to yon equal sky,
may possibly be within the scope of creation's grand design. Such a purpose, if it exists, does not disturb the spiritual realm of man's empire; does not lessen the dignity of his character nor the grandeur of his destiny; but it does give us broader views of the plans and purposes of the great Creator.
2. The views here developed suggest an explanation of the phenomena of disordered sensations. We have already seen that our perceptions comprise two distinct elements—the sensible sign, and the observing of that sign by the mind. The mind has no higher function in the process than that of observing, or, perhaps, we might say, receiving, the impressions made upon the senses, and interpreting them. In order that this may be done correctly, there must be not
only a perfect correspondence between the soul and the body, but also a sound state of the nervous system. “The nerves being disordered, false impressions are received. Experience may correct them, but it often happens that she is incompetent, or that the defect is congenital. Then the mind manifests itself in a defective manner. The relation between the senses and the soul, the link that connects them, is broken, and the thinking principle continues to act according to the power of the machinery with which it is associated, and according to its innate energy of consciousness."
But its action is distorted by the erroneous conveyances of the organs
To those of sound nerves, looking on, the man appears insane. His mind
the most incongruous assemblage of old sensations revived, and of new ones distorted by the disordered state of the nerves: hence his wild imaginings, his incoherent expressions, his absurd actions, and even his maniac ravings.
All this may occur from diseases purely nervous and physical. Let the most skillful pianist that ever touched an instrument run his fingers over the keys. No music is produced, but strange, discordant notes break upon the air, splitting the ear and torturing the soul! Why these discordant, unmeaning, and grating, if not ludicrous sounds? The mind of the musician has not lost its knowledge, nor his fingers their skill; but the instrument is out of tune, and all the musicians in the world could not extort music from the crazy, rattling machinery. So, often, the wildest madness results from some derangement of the bodily system—a nervous disease, a fracture of the skull, or a de. rangement of the fluids in the system. Cure the physical disease, restore the fractured skull to its position, and thus put the instrument in order again, and the apparent mental disorder at once
Even in those cases where the insanity has been induced by moral or mental causes,