Imagini ale paginilor

With deaf'ning clamours in the slippery shrouds ;
That, with the hurley, death itself awakes?
Canst thou, O partial Sleep, give thy repose
To the wet seaboy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and the stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? then happy low! lie down ;
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Nothing resembles death so much as sleep; and this resemblance is so striking and apparent, that sleep has been called his brother, his half-brother, his image and his counterfeit,

O'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep.


The same thought somewhat more expanded occurs in the following beautiful Latin epigram:

Somne levis, quamquam certissima mortis imago,
Consortem cupio te, tamen, esse tori:
Alma quies, optata veni; nam, sic, sine vita
Vivere, quam suave est; sic, sine morte, mort.
Come, gentle sleep, attend thy votary's prayer,
And, though, death's image, to my couch repair!
How sweet, thus lifeless, yet with life to lie,
Thus, without dying, O how sweet to die!


Sleep (says sir Thomas Browne) is so like death, that I dare not trust it without my prayers, without bidding a half adieu unto the world, and taking a farewell in a colloquy with God.'

Gratitude for a blessing so inestimable as sleep ought certainly to prevent any rational being from abusing it, by the extremes either of indulgence orof abstinence. Not to enjoy the gifts of Heaven would bespeak insensibility and ingratitude? but then he is to be censured, who, through indolence and sloth, prolongs the hours destined to repose; and equally to be condemned he, who from the incentives of

avarice and ambition, or the love of pleasure, deprives himself of a proper portion of that refreshment which is so necessary to all. To say what that proper portion is, would be to invade, perhaps, the province of the physician? but Nature, in this respect, as well as every other, requires but little and seven or eight hours of peaceful and uninterrupted sleep, seem to be sufficient; allowance being made for the difference of age and constitution.


So inestimable is the blessing of sleep, that not only the poets, as I have observed before, but the sacred scriptures, also, represent it as the gift of HeaGod giveth his beloved sleep,' says the Psalmist; and Solomon observes, that to them who 'keep sound wisdom and discretion' it is promised, that their sleep shall be sweet? Considerations of this kind should induce us to cultivate those habits of piety and virtue, which are the only sources of peace in life, and serenity in the hour of death; which can alone enable us to approach the divine Being, with humble hope and godly confidence, in the comfortable language of the Psalmist: I will both lay me down in peace and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety! With sentiments like these, replete with piety, if not with poetry, I shall conclude this paper:

[ocr errors]

Thou, whose nature cannot sleep,
On my temples centry keep.
Sleep is a death; oh! make me try
By sleeping what it is to die;
And as gently lay my head
In my grave as on my bed,
Howe'er I rest, great God, let me
Awake again, at least with thee;
And thus assured, behold I lie
Securely or to wake or die.
These are my drowsy days; în vain
I do now wake to sleep again;
O come that hour, when I shall never
Sleep again, but wake for ever.


No. XX.


Et cui quisque ferè studio devinctus adhæret,
Aut quibus in rebus multùm sumus morati,
Atque in quâ ratione fuit contenta magis mens,
In somnis eadem plerumque videmur obire.


And when soft sleep the body lays at ease,
And from the heavy mass the fancy frees,
Whate'er it is in which we take delight,
And think of most by day, we dream by night.


FROM the consideration of Sleep, which was the subject of my last paper, the transition is very natural to that of Dreams, the wonderful and mysterious phenomena of that state, the ideal transactions and vain illusions of the mind. According to Wolfius, an eminent Silesian philosopher, every dream takes its rise from some sensation, and is continued by the succession of phantasms in the mind. He observes, that when we dream, we imagine something, or the mind produces phantasms; but no phantasm can arise in the mind without some previous sensation. And yet, it is not easy to confirm this by experience; it being often difficult to distinguish those slight sensations, which give rise to dreams, from phantasms, or objects of imagination'. -The series of phantasms, which thus constitute a dream, seem to be accounted for by the law of the imagination, or association of ideas; although it difficult to assign the cause of every may be very minute difference, not only in different subjects, but

* Wolf, Psychol. Empir. sect. 123.

in the same, at different times, and in different circumstances. And hence Formey, who adopts the opinion of Wolfius, concludes, that those dreams are supernatural, which either do not begin by sensation, or are not continued by the law of the imagination'.

This opinion is as old as Aristotle, who asserted, that a dream is only, the pavlaoua, or appearance of things, excited in the mind, and remaining after the objects are removed. The opinion of Lucretius, in my motto, was likewise that of Tully. Mr. Locke, also, traces the origin of dreams to previous sensations, and says, that the dreams of sleeping men, are all made up of the waking man's ideas, though, for the most part, oddly put together. And Dr. Hartley, who explains all the phenomena of the imagination by his theory of vibrations and associations, says, that dreams are nothing but the imaginations or reveries of sleeping men, and that they are deducible from three causes, namely, the impressions and ideas lately received, and particularly those of the preceding day; the state of the body, particularly of the stomach and brain; and association".

Were I to enter more deeply into the subject of this mysterious phenomenon, my present lucubration would become too abstruse; and, after all, perhaps, no philosophical or satisfactory account can be given of it. Such of my readers, therefore, who would wish for a more minute inquiry

1 Mem. de l'Acad. de Berlin, tom. ii, p. 316. 2 De Insomn. cap. 3.

3 Quæ in vitâ usurpant homines, cogitant, curant, vident, quæque agunt vigilantes, agitantque, ea cuique in somno accidunt. De Div.

Essay on Human Understanding, book ii, chap. 1,

sec. 17.

5 Observations on Man, vol. i, sec. 5, p. 383.

into the opinions I have stated above, I must re fer to the respective authors whom I have quoted'.

From the scenes of nocturnal imagination, the reader, who is fond to find amusement even in a serious subject, will be glad, perhaps, to be transported into the regions of poetical fiction. And here we find, that the Fancy is not more sportive in dreams, than are the poets in their descriptions of her nocturnal vagaries.—I shall begin first with that admirable speech in Romeo and Juliet, on the effects of the imagination in dreams:

O, then I see, Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the Fancy's midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agat stone
On the fore finger of an alderman;
Drawn with a team of little atomies,
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep:
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film ;
Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm,
Prickt from the lazy finger of a maid.
Her chariot is an empty hazel nut,
Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,
Time out of mind the fairies coachmakers:
And in this state she gallops night by night,
Thro' lovers brains, and then they dream of love;
On courtiers knees, that dream on curtsies strait;
O'er lawyers fingers, who strait dream on fees;
O'er ladies lips, who strait on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometimes she gallops o'er a lawyer's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit:
And sometimes come she with a tithe-pig's tail,
Tickling the parson as he lies asleep;

See also Baxter on the Soul, vol. ii. Stewart's Elements of the Philos. of the Mind, p. 328, 348, and Good's Lucretius, note to Lib. iv. ver. 936.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »