Cock Lane and Common-Sense eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 347 pages of information about Cock Lane and Common-Sense.
you it is matter of fact, and discernable to all that is not stone-blind".’  Those who did see minutely described ’what handles the swords had, whether small or three-barred, or Highland guards, and the closing knots of the bonnets, black or blue. . . .  I have been at a loss ever since what to make of this last,’ says Patrick Walker, and who is not at a loss?  The contagion of the hallucination, so to speak, did not affect him, fanatic as he was, and did affect a cursing and swearing cavalier, whose prejudices, whose ‘dominant idea,’ were all on the other side.  The Psychical Society has published an account of a similar collective hallucination of crowds of people, ‘appearing and disappearing,’ shared by two young ladies and their maid, on a walk home from church.  But this occurred in a fog, and no one was present who was not hallucinated.  Patrick Walker’s account is triumphantly honest, and is, perhaps, as odd a piece of psychology as any on record, thanks to his escape from the prevalent illusion, which, no doubt, he would gladly have shared.  Wodrow, it should be said, in his History of the Sufferings of the Kirk, mentions visions of bonnets, which, he thinks, indicated a future muster of militia!  But he gives the date as 1684.


Revival of crystal-gazing.  Antiquity of the practice.  Its general harmlessness.  Superstitious explanations.  Crystal-gazing and ‘illusions hypnagogiques’.  Visualisers.  Poetic vision.  Ancient and savage practices analogous to crystal-gazing.  New Zealand.  North America.  Egypt.  Sir Walter’s interest in the subject.  Mr. Kinglake.  Greek examples.  Dr. Dee.  Miss X. Another modern instance.  Successes and failures.  Revival of lost memories.  Possible thought-transference.  Inferences from antiquity and diffusion of practice.  Based on actual experience.  Anecdotes of Dr. Gregory.  Children as visionaries.  Not to be encouraged.

The practice of ‘scrying,’ ‘peeping,’ or ‘crystal-gazing,’ has been revived in recent years, and is, perhaps, the only ‘occult’ diversion which may be free from psychological or physical risk, and which it is easy not to mix with superstition.  The antiquity and world-wide diffusion of scrying, in one form or other, interests the student of human nature.  Meanwhile the comparatively few persons who can see pictures in a clear depth, may be as innocently employed while so doing, as if they were watching the clouds, or the embers.  ‘May be,’ one must say, for crystal-seers are very apt to fall back on our old friend, the animistic hypothesis, and to explain what they see, or fancy they see, by the theory that ‘spirits’ are at the bottom of it all.  In Mrs. de Morgan’s work From Matter to Spirit, suggestions of this kind are not absent:  ’As an explanation of crystal-seeing, a spiritual drawing was once made, representing a spirit directing on the crystal a stream of influence,’ and so forth.  Mrs. de Morgan herself seemed rather to hold that the act of staring at a crystal mesmerises the observer.  The person who looks at it often becomes sleepy.  ’Sometimes the eyes close, at other times tears flow.’  People who become sleepy, or cry, or get hypnotised, will probably consult their own health and comfort by leaving crystal balls alone.

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Cock Lane and Common-Sense from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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