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ESSAY IV.

1. The particular State of Society, in which a

belief of the existence of separate Spirits, and their re-appearance, most probably originated. 2. An Attempt to assign the motives of such belief in the earlier periods of Society.

87

ESSAY V.

The Influence of Superstition, when combined

with Religion, and rendered, in some degree, subservient to the imperfect sense of it which then prevailed,

122

ESSAY VI.

Courteous manners, and polished conversa

tion of the Highlanders accounted for.-Instances of visionary terrors.--Encounters with Spirits,

197

ESSAY VII.

Imagined power of pious rites in banishing an

Apparition.Food for credulity eagerly sought by the ignorant of all nations.--Depraved taste for the marvellous nourished by extravagance and absurdity,

263

ESSAYS

ON

VARIOUS SUBJECTS.

ESSAY I.
On the Superstitions of the Highlands,

their Origin, and Tendency.

PREFATORY ESSAY.

Unfold
What worlds, or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind, that hath forsook
Her prison, in this fleshly nook.

Milton.

WHEN nations, in the progress of
knowledge and refinement, have arrived
at a high state of cultivation, and are
thus enabled to take extensive views of
life and manners, from the height to
VOL. I.

A

*which they have attained, they begin to
look with a mixture of contempt and
self-gratulation on those wider regions
still inhabited by tribes, as rude and
barbarous as their own ancestors have
'been at a remoter period.

Among others, slowly advancing in
gradual progression from rudeness to re-
finement, we find much to excite our
wonder and compassion ; yet often feel
ourselves compelled to stoop from all
the pride of science, to bestow our tri-
bute of esteem or admiration on the ta-
lents that sometimes illuminate the gloom
of ignorance, or the mild affections and
faithful attachments that sometimes en-
dear the abodes of humble simplicity.

The comparison between an unciviliz-
ed and highly illuminated people, must
certainly be very much in favour of the
latter. We should cultivate the gar-
den to very little purpose, if its produc-
tions were not more beautiful and more

abundant than those of the wilderness Yet the natural taste that leads us to wander and to speculate with a kind of nameless pleasure among the wildest recesses of the forest or the fell, does not abate, but exalt our delight in the fertility and beauty of cultivated scenes: On the contrary, the pleasure is heightened by contrast.

The anology betwixt the sensations I have been describing, and the intellectual pleasure derived from contemplating the human mind in its native state, opposed to that to which the highest culture can exalt it, holds very closely. Were we to land on some savage island, where the foot of man has never trod, nor his hand removed incumbrance or opened access, we should be harrassed with fears and perplexed with intricacies The tangled luxuriancy of a thorny wild would obstruct our path; and from the gloom of the impenetrable thicket, the

lurking tiger, or the envenomed serpent would seem ready to spring; and at least haunt the startled imagination.

What nature appears to the senses uncultivated and unsubdued by man,-man, savage and unsocial, appears to the understanding, before his mind has been elevated by patriotic, or softened by tender feelings; before he has respected the ties of close affinity, and endeavoured to extend them to his tribe; before he has tasted the sweets of social life, and “ the sympathies of love and friend

ship dear;” nay, before he has been in any degree “smit with the love of “ sacred song,” the first and surest symptom of unfolding intellect. The solitary, cruel, selfish, and capricious savage, far from forming an object of amusing speculation, fills us with sensations of mingled horror and disgust, such as we feel at the Yahoo pictures of Swift; and make us, like his reader,

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