244 Life and Letters of Francis Galton
`What?' always excited the idea of a fat man cracking a long whip. And such pictures are the regular concomitants of the words and go back as long as memory is able to recall.
(d) Pictures in the Field of View, when the eyes are closed, or in perfect darkness. Many persons appear to have this kaleidoscopic change of forms, if they simply close their eyes and wait; thus Galton himself had these forms to a slight extent, but too fugitive to describe or draw. The Rev. George Henslow had them in a marked degree, and Goethe apparently also'.
(e) Phantasmagoria. A common form of vision is the appearance of a crowd of phantoms. hurrying past like men in the street. They are occasionally seen in broad daylight, but generally come to a person in bed, after putting the candle out and preparing to sleep, but by no means yet asleep. Galton reports that he knew three scientific men of eminence who had such phantasmagoria in one form or another'. Galton concludes with actual hallucinations occurring to sane people in good working health corresponding to the familiar hallucinations of the insane.
"I have," he writes, "a sufficient variety of cases to prove the continuity between all the forms of visualisation, beginning with an almost total absence of it and ending with a complete hallucination. The continuity is, however, not simply that of varying degrees of intensity, but of variations in the character of the process itself, so that it is by no means uncommon to find two very different forms of it concurrent in the same person. There are some who visualise well and who also are seers of visions, who declare that the vision is not a vivid visualisation; but altogether a, different phenomenon. In short if we call all sensations due to external impressions `direct,' and all others 'induced,' then there are many channels through which 'induction' may take place, and the channel of ordinary visualisation in the persons just mentioned is different from that through which, the visions arise." (p. 649.)
"It is remarkable how largely the visionary temperament has manifested itself in certain periods of history and epochs of national life. My interpretation of the matter, to a certain extent, is this-that the visionary tendency is much more common among sane people than is generally suspected. In early life it seems to be a hard lesson to an imaginative child to distinguish between the real and visionary world. If the fantasies are habitually laughed at and otherwise discouraged, the child soon acquires the power of distinguishing them; any incongruity or non-conformity is quickly noted, the vision is found out and discredited, and is no further attended to. In this way the natural tendency to see them is blunted by repression. Therefore, when popular opinion is of the matter-of-fact kind, the seers of visions keep quiet; they do not like to be thought fanciful or mad, and they hide their experiences, which only come to light through inquiries such as those that I have been making. But let the tide of
1 The present writer has them somewhat vividly, first colour patterns, then floral devices, succeeded by the abrupt appearance of highly characteristic faces, corresponding to no individuals known to him, and with traits emphasised to caricature.
2 I do not know whether Galton would have classed under vision or phantasmagoria another form of visualisation which comes to the present writer without any willing or power of control. Waking in the morning he lies on his back and looks eyes wide open at the empty white washed ceiling. In a varying number of seconds it will become closely covered with written matter in long narrow columns. It is never print, but has finely made, heavy black vertical letters, as those of a medieval MS. Hortulus cvnimae. The words although apparently on the ceiling and of normal size are perfectly clear and legible, but on attempting to read them only a word, here or there, will be grasped before the whole script either vanishes, or changes. The author recently caught two words widely apart 'mathematics' and 'faithful' in the vision. He can well imagine that more easily moved natures, unaware of the frequency of such phantasmagoria, might by pondering on them intensify them and read from them supernatural messages directing their conduct, thus crossing the border line between sanity and insanity.