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Indeed, so impressed is Homer's imagination dorus, another Ephesian, seems to have spent with the supernatural character of dreams, that the best of his days in reducing dreams to the he is careful to distinguish between the visions obedience of exact rules, but with little success. occurring during sound sleep and those between He said that all true dreams foretold some good sleeping and waking. Che di ms most preg- or evil ; that to dream of a chain meant a wife or nant with consequences occurred after midnight, hindrance, and to dream of the “belly" meant “about the time when the cows were milked." children, for they cry for meat. Thus, in that beautiful dream so full of sweetest Coming to Latin writers of the later days of poetry, which is recorded at the end of the fourth the republic and the empire, we find that the book of the “Odyssey,” Penelope, heart-wounded skepticism which pervaded their ideas of the gods and weary with the pertinacity of her suitors, and religion extended itself to dreams; and Enretires to rest “without refection due,” and nius, who was often quoted by Cicero, is by no dreams at midnight that her “phantom-sister," means prepossessed in their favor, or in that of Iphthimia, appears and prophesies:
the oneirocritic: “Thy son the gods propitious will restore, · Augurs and soothsayers, astrologers, And bid thee cease his absence to deplore." Diviners, and interpreters of dreams,
I ne'er consult, and heartily despise. . . Penelope has been informed that the suitors in
Wanderers themselves, they guide another's steps, tend to destroy Telemachus on his way home;
And for poor sixpence promise countless wealth : and therefore this comforting dream at so fortu- Let them, if they expect to be believed, nate an hour is needed to allay her maternal Deduct the sixpence, and bestow the rest." fears. Philosophers at the present day would
-Addison's Translation. probably say that the fact of going to bed foodless, and torn with distracting thoughts, was Epictetus, whose opinions were so highly valquite enough to account for her dream without ued by the Emperor Antoninus, seemed to have the intervention of Pallas.
a thorough appreciation of Roman skepticism, Heraclitus, the Ephesian philosopher, who for one of his rules of conduct was, “Never flourished about B. C. 500, ought to have been a tell thy dream, for though thou thyself mayst good judge of dreams, for much of his life was take a pleasure in telling thy dream, another will spent in solitude. What does this “mourner” take no pleasure in hearing it"; from which we say? “All men while they are awake are in may infer that oneirocritics had a worse time one common world, but each of them when he is of it at Rome than at Athens. The acute and asleep is in a world of his own." Addison, in learned Tertullian, converted from paganism to commenting on this passage, says, There is the doctrines of Christianity, naturally took the something in this consideration which intimates opposite extreme, and attached great importance to us a natural grandeur and perfection of soul to the soul's power of divining in dreams. By which is rather to be admired than explained.” some connection with the disembodied state, he
Setting aside the imagery of the Greek poets boldly asserts that the soul is able to see into and the opinions of their merely speculative phi- futurity-a view which has been vindicated by losophers, we find that dreams were considered many authors, both ancient and modern, who of such importance in the common life of the can not certainly be charged with enthusiasm or Greeks that one of the learned professions was superstition. that of oneirocritics, or interpreters of dreams. Passing on to the middle ages, and to the A Greek would probably consult one of these darker days of the Church, the interpretation of men as naturally as he would a lawyer or doctor, dreams became in the hands of unscrupulous and no doubt oftener; for the oneirocritics were priests a most dangerous power, and bore much very badly paid at Athens, and there was no bitter fruit. Dreams of fire and plagues were heavy fee “to open the eyes" of the dreamer. sure indications of consignment to eternal flames Thus we are told of a man who dreamed that he and everlasting agonies, unless the miserable and saw an egg hanging from the tester of his bed. ignorant dreamers should place themselves unBeing sorely exercised at the unwonted vision he reservedly in the hands of mother Church, or repaired to the oneirocritic, who informed him, rather in those of an abandoned priesthood. The as a wise and ready interpreter, that there was tales of Boccaccio bear abundant evidence of a treasure under his bed. He immediately set such moral and religious depravity. The Moabout digging, and, to his great joy, found some hammedans, too, were very superstitious about gold set round with silver. He gave the oneiro- dreams. With them the most fortunate dream a critic some silver in payment for his information; man could have was to see his wife's tongue cut but the sage asked: “Was there no gold? If off at the root. It would be curious to inquire not, what meant the yolk of the egg?" Artemi- how far this feeling has developed since the intro
duction of well-stocked harems. To dream of them has done much mischief. He then exone's teeth signified that something good or evil plains why they are often credited-an explanawas about to happen to the relations of the tion which is sufficient to account for some coindreamer. The Caliph Almanzor dreamed that cidences, but quite inapplicable to special cases. all his teeth fell out. He immediately sought an He maintains that “men mark when they hit, interpreter, who told him that all his relations and never mark when they miss, as they generwould die. Not relishing such a construction ally do, and also in dreams.” There can be no put upon his dream, he cursed the interpreter's doubt that this incisive remark exposes one of evil mouth, and sought another. The second the commonest fallacies in life. A chance coinsage told him that he should outlive all his rela- cidence is immediately seized upon and noted, tives. This explanation suiting the Caliph bet- while the numerous cases in which the predicter, he gave this prophet his blessing and ten tion fails is passed over or neglected. Many thousand drachms of gold.
popular superstitions are undoubtedly attributaChaucer is very severe on dreamers and ble to this fallacy. dreams; and his contempt for both is effectively Sir Thomas Browne, a traveler and a physiset forth in the following lines, polished by the cian, author of that charming book, the “Religio masterly hand of Dryden:
Medici,” has some quaint and interesting remarks
on dreams, which he had best relate in his own “Dreams are but interludes which fancy makes : inimitable way, and which are by no means so When monarch reason sleeps, this mimic wakes ;
skeptical as those of Bacon. He says: “We are Compounds a medley of disjointed things,
somewhat more than ourselves in our sleeps, and A court of cobblers, and a mob of kings,
the slumber of the body seems to be but the Light fumes are merry, grosser fumes are sad :
waking of the soul. It is the ligation of sense, Both are the reasonable soul run mad;
but the liberty of reason; and our waking conAnd many monstrous forms in sleep we see, That neither were, or are, or e'er can be. ...
ceptions do not match the fancies of our sleep. In short, the farce of dreams is of a piece
I was born in the planetary hour of Saturn, and In chimeras all; and more absurd or less." I think I have a piece of that leaden planet in
me. I am in no way facetious, nor disposed for Shakespeare's frequent references to dreams the mirth and galliardise of company; yet in one will occur to the mind of every reader; and we dream I can compose a whole comedy, behold need only revert to that horrible vision of Clar- the action, apprehend the jests, and laugh myself ence in “ Richard III.,” the vivid imagery of awake at the conceits thereof. Were my memory which is enough to make the flesh creep as we as faithful as my reason is then fruitful, I would read it. It is interesting, too, as being one of never study but in my dreams. ... Thus it is those dreams which are represented as “coming observed that men sometimes in the hour of true," and of which so many people, whose veraci- their departure do speak and reason above themty is unquestionable, can furnish examples within selves; for then the soul, beginning to be freed their own experience.
from the ligaments of the body, begins to reason Lord Bacon, in his essay on “ Prophecies," like herself, and to discourse in a strain above relates some curious instances of dreams, which, mortality.” In another part of the “Religio” he however, crumble to pieces under the application expresses his belief in the supernatural with great of his keen intellect. “The daughter of Polycra- fervor and point, and thinks those narrow-minded tes," he relates, “dreamed that Jupiter bathed who refuse to grant that the soul in slumber may her father, and Apollo anointed him; and it hold converse with disembodied beings. “We came to pass that he was crucified in an open do surely,” he says, “owe the knowledge of many place, where the sun made his body run with secrets to the discovery of good and bad angels sweat, and the rain washed it. . . . Domitian . . . and the ominous prognostics which forerun dreamed, the night before he was slain, that a the ruin of states, princes, and private persons, golden head was growing out of the nape of are the charitable premonitions of good angels.” his neck; and, indeed, the succession that fol- He would much rather believe too much than too lowed him, for many years, made golden times.” little; and in this respect is the exact opposite of He looks upon Cleon's dream as a jest; for the cautious, suspicious, logical Bacon. Cleon dreamed that he was devoured by a long Coming nearer to our own times, we find Addragon, and it was expounded as referring to a dison, in his grave and elegant way, discoursing maker of sausages who troubled him greatly. on dreams. His opinions are always the results Bacon's judgment of dreams is closely identical of much observation and experience. He diswith that of Chaucer. He says, “They ought to cusses the subject philosophically, and propounds be despised, and to serve but for winter talk by several questions which can not fail to set his the fireside"; and he thinks the publication of readers reflecting, The cardinal point round
which his arguments center is that the soul is ab-' The other asserts that body and mind are insolutely distinct from the body, and that the latter separable, and can no more exist without each but clogs and cripples its marvelous activity. In other than a fire can without fuel, that mind is a dreams the soul has full play, being as free from peculiar organization and development of matter, the trammels of the body as if it had left it for an affair of blood and nerve, a conglomeration a while, and was disporting itself in utter forget- of nucleated corpuscles which for all the world fulness of its fleshly charge. If this be true, resemble infinitesimal tadpoles, bundles of fibers what must be the freedom and energy of the in which that mysterious phosphorus holds its disembodied state; and what may not a soul sway in company with untold electric batteries. develop and achieve when the millstone of the The development of thought is therefore the debody, with its pains, its ailments, and its imperfec- velopment of matter; ideas become embodied in tions, does not require its watchful care ! Then ganglia and cerebral hemispheres, and as these indeed may souls, now apparently sluggish and increase in number and weight the intellect inwitless, be lively and intelligent, “the grave creases in “wisdom and stature." Whether abound in pleasantries, the dull in repartees and thought be identical with brain-substance and points of wit.” This is a characteristic of dreams part and parcel of its structure, or whether it which is supported by considerable evidence, and exist independently of matter, and use matter Dr. Abercrombie relates some singular instances only as its vehicle for communicating with a in confirmation of Addison's remark. Emotions, material world, we will not stay to inquire, besuch as joy and sorrow, are intensified in dreams, yond hazarding the opinion that the truth as and can not fail to have a great effect on the life. usual lies between the two, that the connection And so Addison asks these two questions, which, between them is as intimate as it is mysterious, with him, we leave to the solution of the reader. and that if one suffer both suffer. It is, howFirst : “Supposing a man always happy in his ever, an established fact that intellect, as a gendreams, and miserable in his waking thoughts, eral rule, is proportionate to weight of brain, and and that his life were equally divided between that, the more convoluted a brain is, the more them, whether would he be more happy or mis- intelligent is the being which possesses it. The erable?" Second : “Were a man a king in his average weight of the human brain, we are told, dreams and a beggar awake, and dreamed as is about forty-eight ounces; but there are great consequentially, and in as continued unbroken occasional variations, as we might expect from schemes, as he thinks when awake, whether he the great varieties of men. Lord Campbell's would be in reality a king or a beggar, or rather brain, for instance, weighed seventy-nine ounces, whether he would not be both?” Although Cuvier's sixty-four, Dr. Abercrombie's sixty-three, there can be no doubt of the independent action a Bushwoman's brain, mentioned by Mr. Marof the soul in dreams, and its increased powers, shall Hall, thirty-one and a half ounces, and that he thinks it a pernicious practice to lay stress and of an idiot woman, whose age was forty-two, regulate the future conduct on the mere evidence only ten ounces. The last-mentioned could of transient dreams, which may have no meaning scarcely walk, was just able to nurse a doll and beyond the present hour.
to say a few words. In the matter of convoluLeaving history, let us ask ourselves, “What tion some qualification is necessary. Cuvier's is it to dream? and what evidence have we of brain was rich in convolutions, but men of known the state of the mind and body in dreaming?” mental superiority have not been so distinguished Well, then, to dream, is to think during sleep. in this respect as some of their intellectual inIdeas and trains of thought follow one another feriors. A dog's brain, moreover, is less convoin quick succession, and in a manner over which luted than that of a sheep, though none would we have no control. And what is thought ? deny that a dog is far more intelligent than a This is the question which has distracted the sheep. minds of philosophers from the most ancient It therefore appears that, if the bodily mechantimes down to the present day. Broadly speak- ism goes wrong, the mind will be more or less ing, there are two important theories which have affected ; and the phenomena of dreams are to a been put forth with equal vigor by opposing rea- great extent referable to this principle. To seek soners. The first maintains that thought is in- out the physical disarrangement or discomfort tuitive, an affair of the mind, is totally indepen- is the first and most natural interpretation of dent of the body, and can exist and will exist dreams. But this physical explanation is often hereafter without it, that the body is a tempo- insufficient to account for the far-reaching powrary habitation for the soul, a casket containing a ers of the mind in sleep, though it may account precious jewel which must be yielded up at death, for the irritation which has started the dream. and that in dreaming the mind is “ fancy free" Then, again, it has been said that we are not and uncontrolled while its sluggish jailer is asleep. wholly asleep when we dream, and that in really
sound sleep dreams are unknown. The senses been long dead; we talk to them, and they talk drop off one by one, and not altogether, as is to us, and often there seems nothing strange in popularly supposed. With the closing of the the matter. Indeed, as a rule, the dead live eyelids the sense of sight disappears, then taste again for us in our dreams. and smell. Hearing follows, and last of all the Another fact which has been pretty clearly sense of touch. The two latter are certainly established is, that we have no measure of time more susceptible in sleep than the former, and it when asleep_a moment may seem a thousand has therefore been said that they sleep with less years, and the events of a thousand years be soundness. Another explanation would be that crowded into a moment. This suggests a very the sleeper is more likely to be disturbed by serious thought; for if this be indeed the propsounds and touches than by other sensations erty of the soul in the disembodied state, time from without. It is further asserted that certain will appear to us eternity. Those who have muscles begin to sleep before others, that sleep studied the matter most closely agree in acknowlcommences at the extremities, beginning with edging that our longest dreams do not last above the feet and legs, and creeping“ toward the cen- few minutes, if indeed they last so many secter of the nervous action.' We all know the onds. It has frequently happened that the cause necessity of keeping the feet warm before going of a dream and the dream itself have taken to sleep. It may be taken as an established fact place in the same moment. The student who that particular sensations are localized in particu- “ burns the midnight oil" can recount many inlar portions of the brain ; and it frequently hap- stances of this sort which have occurred through pens that some of the mental faculties are sus- dropping a book, stirring the fire, or carrying pended while others are still active. These about a light. Dr. Abercrombie, in his “Intelfaculties, too, may be kept alive by an excess of lectual Powers,” relates a remarkable dream of nervous energy flowing to them, and a train of this kind. A gentleman dreamed that he enlisted thoughts kept up with surprising vigor. Associ- for a soldier; that after a time he joined the ation has full play, and there are no distracting regiment, and remained a soldier for a long influences from without. But this theory of period; that he deserted, and was taken, tried, dreaming, during partial sleep only, does not ex- and condemned to be shot, and at last led out to plain all circumstances, and it has, moreover, execution. The usual preliminaries were gone opposed to it the evidence of many of the deep- through, the gun was fired, and he awoke “inest thinkers. Sir William Hamilton says that stead of being shot.” A noise in the next room “whether we recollect our dreams or not, we had both caused his dream and awakened him. always dream,” though he goes on to add that, Another gentleman, who had once slept in a “as a general rule, those faculties are most in damp bed, always felt a sensation of suffocation action which have been least exhausted during when in a lying posture, as if a skeleton were the day.” It is certainly a matter of observation grasping his throat and causing him the greatest that many dreams seem to have no direct con- agony. And yet his attendant assured him that nection with our present circumstances. Forget the moment he began to sink into a lying posture fulness of dreams is common with some people, he was roused. If we dream, as has been asthough they may have been heard to talk in their serted, the whole of the time we are asleep, and sleep. Kant says: “To cease to dream would be remember or forget our dreams according as our to cease to live; the mind must necessarily be sleep is deep or light, what a multitude will occur active.” Dr. Cunningham, in an article which he in a single night, and how many must be entirely wrote some years ago, remarks that all thought is lost to us! The dreams which we most distinctly objective and pictorial. “We can not think,” he remember are probably those which occur during urges, “ without thinking of something, and that imperfect sleep, or when the sleep begins to be something must be thought of as outside the broken by an approach toward waking. It often mind. It is not our thoughts, but the things we happens that a person dreams, and yet feels conthink of, that are present to our consciousness; scious that it is only a dream. This also, no and thus our thinking consists of a series of doubt, happens at the point of awaking—in fact, visions."
just when reason is beginning to be exercised. But whatever impressions arise in our minds Dreams, with respect to cause, may be arduring sleep, we believe that they have a real ranged under three heads : First, those which and present existence; and our sensations are are caused by sensations of the muscular feelings, often so acute as to awake us in a manner any- the viscera, and the senses proper; secondly, thing but pleasant. Events that have happened those which seem only to be referable to the long ago come before us; we take our part in mind and the memory; thirdly, those to which, them, and are not surprised in the least at their in default of further evidence, we must assign a
We see friends who have perhaps supernatural interpretation.
With regard to dreams of sensation, it has bling of troops, etc. Just then he was roused by already been remarked that hearing and touch his wife, who had dreamed precisely the same seem to be the most acute in sleep, though sight dream, with this addition, that she saw the eneand taste have much to account for in producing my land, and a friend of her husband killed ; unpleasant visions. Indigestion, it is well known, and she awoke in a fright. This occurred at is a fruitful cause of bad dreams; and to go to Edinburgh at the time when a French invasion bed on a heavy supper is simply to court the was feared, and it had been decided to fire a sigmost frightful apparitions. An empty stomach, nal-gun at the first approach of the foe. This on the contrary, seems to have a very favorable dream was caused, it appears, by the fall of a effect on the dreaming mind. Those who have pair of tongs in the room above; and the excited been kept without food generally imagine them- state of the public mind was quite sufficient to selves guests at a delightful feast, and it is re- account for both dreams turning on the same lated of Baron Trenck, when lodged in a dun- subject. An old lady, a friend of the writer, regeon, and almost dying of hunger, that he lates a similar dream which occurred to her just dreamed nearly every night of the table luxuries before the battle of Waterloo, when the fear of of Berlin. The dreams of such persons are, in- an invasion by Napoleon was at its height. She deed, so remarkably bright and agreeable that heard the march of troops in the streets, and the Byron and other authors of his school when in screams of the populace. They broke into her Italy sometimes fasted for several days in order own house, ransacked it, and pursued her with to produce brilliant effects on their imaginations. bayonets. She fell on the floor and pretended to Particular kinds of food and plants, too, have a be dead. After sundry thrusts, which seemed very powerful influence over the mind in sleep, to her “roving spirit” to be quite innocuous, and the frightful slumbers consequent on the the soldiers remarked that she was “done for." habitual use of opium, Indian hemp, and other They departed, and she escaped to consciousnarcotics are well known. The visions of De ness. This dream was no doubt caused, in the Quincey “ in his cups" make the blood run cold; first instance, by a noise in the house or street, and his “ Confessions of an Opium-Eater," if and the painless bayonet-thrusts by some slight sown broadcast in China, where the pernicious irritation, such as a hair-pin or other adjunct to poppy is so largely exported, should be enough dress. Whispering in a sleeper's ear will often to frighten even "celestial" pates into abandon- produce a dream; and there are cases on record ing a practice which, like a canker-worm, is eat- in which people who sleep with their ears open ing away the
very life of the nation. But Chinese have been led through dreadful agonies at the depravity and misery are, in this matter, India's will of their wakeful tormentors. The vivid degain.
scription * given of a young officer so treated by It has been often remarked how singularly his comrades is both interesting and suggestive. unproductive of dreams is the sense of smell ; In changing our position, as we constantly do in nor have we been able to find any properly au- sleep, we touch the bedclothes, etc., perhaps the thenticated cases caused by this sense alone. nose gets tickled or the sole of the foot, and The organ of sight undergoes a curious change dreams painful or pleasant are the consequence. during sleep, as may be proved by slightly rais- These may seem trivial causes, but it must be ing the eyelid. The pupil is observed to be con- remembered that the mind is ready to fly into tracted, and will quiver with an irregular motion the realms of fancy at the slightest intimation. as if inclined to dilate, but it at length ceases to People have often dreamed of spending the semove, and will remain contracted till the person verest winters in Siberia, and of joining the exawakes. If a strong light be held before the peditions to the north pole, simply because the sleeper's eyes he is almost sure to awake; but, bedclothes have been thrown off during sleep. at the very moment, he may have a dream of It is said that a moderate heat applied to the some tremendous fire, perhaps that his house is soles of the feet will generate dreams of volcain flames. The ear of the dreamer is generally noes, burning coals, etc. Dr. Gregory dreamed on the alert, and proves a gong to the mysterious of walking up the crater of Mount Etna, and that spirit to make its airy rounds. To some sleepers he felt the earth warm under his feet. He had the sound of a fute fills the air with music, or placed a hot-water bottle at his feet on going to they dream of a delightful concert. A loud noise bed. The memory of a visit he had once paid to will produce terrific thunder and crashings unut- Mount Vesuvius supplied the mental picture. terable, and at the same time awake the sleeper. Persons suffering from toothache imagine that According to Dr. Abercrombie a gentleman who the operator is tugging at the faulty tooth, and had been a soldier dreamed that he heard a signal- somehow can not extract it; or, as in Dr. Greggun, saw the proceedings for displaying the signals, heard the bustle of the streets, the assem
* Abercrombie, “ Intellectual Powers."