The following more curious case is given by Lord Mon-boddo in his "Ancient Metaphysics":1
"It was communicated in a letter from the late Mr. Hans Stanley, a gentleman well known both to the learned and political world, who did me the honor to correspond with me upon the subject of my first volume of Metaphysics. I will give it in the words of that gentleman. He introduces it by saying that it is an extraordinary fact in the history of mind, which he believes stands single, and for which he does not pretend to account; then he goes on to narrate it: 'About six-and-twenty years ago, when I was in France, I had an intimacy in the family of the late Marechal de Montmorenci de Laval. His son, the Comte de Laval, was married to Mademoiselle de Man-peaux, the daughter of a lieutenant-general of that name, and the niece of the late chancellor. This gentleman was killed at the battle of Hastenbeck. His widow survived him some years, but is since dead.
" ' The following fact comes from her own mouth; she has told it me repeatedly. She was a woman of perfect veracity and very good sense. She appealed to her servants and family for the truth. Nor did she, indeed, seem to be sensible that the matter was so extraordinary as it appeared to me. I wrote it down at the time, and I have the memorandum among some of my papers.
"' The Comtesse de Laval had been observed, by servants who sat up with her on account of some indisposition, to talk in her sleep a language that none of them understood; nor were they sure, or, indeed, herself able to guess, upon the sounds being repeated to her, whether it was or was not gibberish.
" ' Upon her lying-in of one of her children she was attended by a nurse who was of the province of Brittany, and who immediately knew the meaning of what she said, it being in the idiom of the natives of that country; but she herself when awake did not understand a single syllable of what she had uttered in be! sleep, upon its being retold her.
1 Vol. ii. p. 217.
" ' She was born in that province, and had been nursed in a family where nothing but that language was spoken; so that in her first infancy she had known it, and no other; but when she returned to her parents, she had no opportunity of keeping up the use of it; and, as I have before said, she did not understand a word of Breton when awake, though she spoke it in her sleep.
"' I need not say that the Comtesse de Laval never said or imagined that she used any words of the Breton idiom, more than were necessary to express those ideas that are within the compass of a child's knowledge of objects.' "
A highly interesting case is given by Mr. Coleridge in his "Biographia Literaria."1
"It occurred," says Mr. Coleridge, "in a Roman Catholic town in Germany, a year or two before my arrival at Gottingen, and had not then ceased to be a frequent subject of conversation. A young woman of four or five and twenty, who could neither read nor write, was seized with a nervous fever, during which, according to the asseverations of all the priests and monks of the neighborhood, she became possessed, and as it appeared, by a very learned devil. She continued incessantly talking Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, in very pompous tones, and with most distinct enunciation. This possession was rendered more probable by the known fact that she was, or had been, a heretic. Voltaire humorously advises the devil to decline all acquaintance with medical men; and it would have been more to his reputation if he had taken this advice in the present instance. The case had attracted the particular attention of a young physician, and by his statement many eminent physiologists and psychologists visited the town and cross-examined the case on the spot. Sheets full of her ravings were taken down from her own mouth, and were found to consist of sentences, coherent and intelligible each for itself, but with little or no connection with each other.
Of the Hebrew, a small portion only could be traced to the Bible; the remainder seemed to be in the Rabbinical dialect. All trick or conspiracy was out of the question. Not only had the young woman ever been a harmless, simple creature, but she was evidently laboring under a nervous fever. In the town in which she had been resident for many years as a servant in different families, no solution presented itself. The young physician, however, determined to trace her past life step by step; for the patient herself was incapable of returning a rational answer. He at length such ceeded in discovering the place where her parents had lived; travelled thither, found them dead, but an uncle surviving; and from him learned that the patient had been charitably taken by an old Protestant pastor at nine years old, and had remained with him some years, even till the old man's death. Of this pastor the uncle knew nothing, but that he was a very good man. With great difficulty, and after much search, our young medical philosopher discovered a niece of the pastor's who had lived with him as his housekeeper, and had inherited his effects.
She remembered the girl; related that her venerable uncle had been too indulgent, and could not bear to hear the girl scolded; that she was willing to have kept her, but that, after her parent's death, the girl herself refused to stay. Anxious inquiries were then, of course, made concerning the pastor's habits; and the solution of the phenomenon was soon obtained. For it appeared that it had been the old man's custom for years to walk up and down a passage of his house into which the kitchen-door opened, and to read to himself, with a loud voice, out of his favorite books. A considerable number of these were still in the niece's possession. She added that he was a very learned man and a great Hebraist. Among the books were found a collection of Rabbinical writings, together with several of the Greek and Latin Fathers; and the physician succeeded in identifying so many passages with those taken down at the young woman's bedside that no doubt could remain in any rational mind concerning the true origin of the impressions made on her nervous system".
1 Vol. i. p. 117 (edit. 1847).
The reader will not fail to observe that in all these cases the subjects reproduced simply what they had seen, heard, or read. The impressions upon the objective mind, particularly in the case related by Coleridge, must have been superficial to the last degree; but the result demonstrated that the record upon the tablets of the subjective mind was ineffaceable.
These are not isolated cases. Thousands of similar phenomena have been recorded by the most trustworthy of observers. Their significance cannot be mistaken. In their light the wonderful mental feats of trance-speakers are easily explicable, without invoking the aid of a supernatural agency. Speaking "in unknown tongues" is seen to be merely a feat of subjective memory.
When we consider what a prodigy of learning the average man would be if he could have at his command all that he had ever seen, heard, or read; when we remember that the subjective mind does record, and does have at its command, all the experiences of the individual, and that, under certain abnormal conditions, in obedience to the initial impulse of suggestion, all its treasures are instantly available, - we may marvel at the wonderful gifts with which the human mind is endowed; but we may rest assured that the phenomena displayed are the results of the operations of natural law.
The reader should distinctly bear in mind that there is a wide distinction between objective and subjective memory. The former is one of the functions of the brain, and, as has been shown by recent investigations, has an absolute localization in the cerebral cortex; and the different varieties of memory, such as visual memory, auditory memory, memory of speech, etc., can be destroyed by localized disease or by a surgical operation. Subjective memory, on the other hand, appears to be an inherent power, and free from anatomical relations; or at least it does not appear to depend upon the healthy condition of the brain for its power of manifestation. On the contrary, the foregoing facts demonstrate the proposition that abnormal conditions of the brain are often productive of the most striking exhibitions of subjective memory. The late Dr. George M. Beard of New York, who was the first American scientist clearly to recognize the scientific importance of the phenomena of hypnotism, who was the formulator of the "Six Sources of Error" which beset the pathway of the investigator of that science, and the one who did more than any other American of his time to place the study of hypnotic phenomena on a scientific basis, evinces a clear recognition of this distinction when he says:-
"To attempt to build up a theory of trance [hypnotic phenomena1, on a basis of cerebral anatomy is to attempt the impossible.
All theories of trance based on cerebral anatomy or physiology - such as suspension of the activity of the cortex, or half the brain - break down at once when brought face to face with the facts."1
All the facts of hypnotism show that the more quiescent the objective faculties become, or, in other words, the more perfectly the functions of the brain are suspended, the more exalted are the manifestations of the subjective mind. Indeed, the whole history of subjective phenomena goes to show that the nearer the body approaches the condition of death, the stronger become the demonstrations of the powers of the soul. The irresistible inference is that when the soul is freed entirely from its trammels of flesh, its powers will attain perfection, its memory will be absolute. Of this more will be said in its proper place. In the mean time, it may be proper here to remark that subjective memory appears to be the only kind or quality of memory which deserves that appellation; it is the only memory which is absolute. The memory of the objective mind, comparatively speaking, is more properly designated as recollection. The distinction here sought to be made can be formulated in no better language than that employed by Locke in defining the scope and meaning of the two words: "When an idea again recurs without the operation of the like object on the external sensory, it is remembrance; if it be sought after by the mind, and with pain and endeavor found, and brought again into view, it is recollection"2
1 Nature and Phenomena of Trance ("Hypnotism" or "Somnambulism"), p. 6.
2 Essays Concerning Human Understanding, vol. i. p. 213.