페이지 이미지


ory's case, he draws out the wrong one, and and the marvelous composition of the fragment leaves the aching tooth in statu quo. A blister “ Kubla Khan” by Coleridge will occur to every applied to the head is highly suggestive of being reader. He says that he had fallen asleep in his scalped by Indians, especially if Mayne Reid's chair while reading in “ Purchas's Pilgrimage ” ghastly details a

at all fresh in the memory. of a palace built by Khan Kubla, and remained Coming to dreams which seem only capable asleep about three hours, during which time he of being referred to the mind and the memory, “could not have composed less than two or some very curious theories have been put forth three hundred lines.” The images rose up before to explain them. The body is perfectly at rest, him as things, and with them the corresponding and there certainly appears in these cases to be expressions, “ without any sensation or consciousbut a slender connection between the soul and ness of effort." When he awoke he instantly sat its material dwelling-place. And hence has arisen down to commit his composition to paper, but the notion that the mind does actually leave the was called away by a person on business; and body and witness the events of which we dream. when he returned to resume the poem it had If so, vast distances are traversed in a moment, utterly vanished from his memory. Languages if indeed space can be spoken of in connection long forgotten, or apparently but imperfectly with the disembodied soul. In the middle ages known in waking life, have been known to recur many and ingenious were the attempts to account in dreams and delirium. Abercrombie relates for infinite spaces being passed over in infinitesi- several authenticated instances of this sort; and mal times. Some were daring enough to assert the writer knew an able clergyman who, when a that by a single effort of the will they were first boy, preached over in his sleep the sermon he at one place and then at another without having had last heard, seemingly word for word, and it passed through the intervening space. The was no uncommon occurrence for his friends to movements of angels on their missions to man- gather round his bedside to hear his discourse. kind offered ample scope for the play of fancy, But he was endowed with a marvelous memory which in those days often became as erratic as in his waking hours; and, on one occasion, it is the wildest dreams. And this is saying a great said, he learned three books of Euclid on his deal, for the majority of dreams are as incoherent way home from school. Missing documents and and improbable as they are numerous. Ideas forgotten places are sometimes recovered in chase and jostle each other like a mob of rioters. dreams. Sir Walter Scott, in his notes to “The Time, place, circumstances, are alike violated, Antiquary,” speaks of a gentleman sorely trouand we do not feel in the least astonished at the bled in his mind because he was pressed for the incongruity. We walk in the streets arm-in-arm payment of some tithe-money which he believed with people who never have met and who never was unjustly charged, and which he had a concan meet in this world. Bacon, Shakespeare, fused recollection of as having been bought out and other venerable characters will accompany by his deceased father many years ago. In his us down Regent Street and make no remarks on dreams he thought the shade of his father apthe march of progress. But every one will ad- peared to him and inquired the cause of his grief. mit that other dreams are just the reverse of Not at all startled at the apparition, he gravely these. Trains of thought sometimes follow each stated the facts of the case. The shade told him other with a regularity and a coherence which that he must seek out an old lawyer who had resimply astound the dreamer in his waking hours. tired from professional business and was now Condorcet, the French philosopher, whose frigid living at Inveresk. He gave the lawyer's name, manners but warm heart caused him to be likened and remarked that the papers relating to the to a volcano covered with snow, seemed able to purchase of the tithes were in his hands now, freeze the “ airy sprite” even in sleep; and it is but that as the transaction had occurred many said that some of his most abstruse calculations years ago, and this was the only one in which were accomplished in dreams. We hear, too, of the lawyer was ever engaged on his account, it a certain lawyer seriously perplexed with a com- would be necessary to call it to his recollection plicated law case, whose troubled soul sought by this token, that “when I went to pay his acrefuge in sleep. In the night, his wife saw him count there was a difficulty in getting change for get up, walk to a writing-table, compose an elab- a Portugal piece of gold, and we were forced to orate “opinion,” place it carefully in a drawer, drink out the balance at a tavern." On reaching and return to bed. Next morning he remembered Inveresk, the gentleman called upon the lawyer, nothing of his dream, and could not believe it till who could not remember the transaction till the his wife gave him ocular demonstration of the incident of the Portugal coin was mentioned, fact by pointing out the drawer where the “opin- when it all recurred to his memory. The docuion ” lay complete. Students and poets are often ments were handed over to him and carried to indebted to dreams for their brightest ideas, Edinburgh to prove his case. Sir Walter Scott himself disclaims all idea of a supernatural agency but cured the mischievous propensity. Dr. Reid, in this dream, and thinks it quite explicable on too, after suffering much in the same way, adoptthe assumption that the son had heard the detailsed the same plan; and for forty years afterward of the transaction from his father long before, he was not even sensible of dreaming at all! Pasand that the missing links were recovered in his 'cal, “one of the sublimest spirits of the world," dream by a complicated train of association. had much faith in the influence of dreams, and

Dreams are sometimes said to be the reflex said, “ If we dreamed every night the same thing, of our waking thoughts, and the exponents of it would doubtless affect us as powerfully as the the soul's character. Evil propensities will pro- objects which we perceive every day,” and produce evil dreams. The sleeping culprit writhes ceeds to propound the problem of the king and as he listens to the reproaches and accusations artisan which Addison borrowed. We must look that disturb his slumber, and his mind is far more well into our hearts and lives if we would have distracted by night than by day. The midnight pleasant dreams; and not delude ourselves like cravings of love, blighted by a hapless fate, are the Irishman who took the mirror to bed to see portrayed by Pope in Eloisa's passionate appeal how he looked when he was asleep. to Abelard :

Leaving what may be called “sensational”

and “mental” dreams, there remains what, in " When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,

default of a better term, we have called superFancy restores what vengeance snatched away,

natural dreams. But here we tread on dangerous Then conscience sleeps, and, leaving nature free, All my loose soul unbounded springs to thee. .

ground, and must be cautious; for skeptics have I hear thee, view thee, gaze o'er all thy charms,

eyes like the eagle, weapons of opposition keen And round thy phantom glue my clasping arms."

and sharp-edged, and are as jealous and solici

tous about the uniformity of nature's laws as a So powerful an influence do they exert on her lover of his mistress. It must be frankly admitconduct and daily life that the ceremonial pompted that powers and influences of a natural kind of the convent in which she is hopelessly im- may be at work in producing dreams of which mured fails to hold her wandering thoughts, and we are ignorant, but which may some day be disshe exclaims :

covered by the ever-brightening eye of Science.

But provisionally, at all events, we must claim for "I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee;

some dreams a higher origin. By such dreams Thy image steals between my God and me;

as these, great and crushing evils have been avoidThy voice I seem in every hymn to hear ;

ed, the innocent spared, and the guilty detected. With every bead I drop too soft a tear. When from the censer clouds of fragrance roll,

Some years ago, it is related, a peddler was murAnd swelling organs lift the rising soul,

dered in the north of Scotland, and the crime reOne thought of thee puts all the pomp to flight, mained for a long time a mystery. At length a Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight.”

man came forward, and declared that he had had

a dream in which there was shown to him a house, Many little sins and secret inclinations which and a voice directed him to a spot near the house seem to escape us awake are disclosed to us in our where was buried the pack of the murdered man; dreams; and any particular tendency in a man's and, on search being made, the pack was actually character may be strengthened by the repeated found near the spot. At first it was thought that action of dreams. Sir Benjamin Brodie says that, the dreamer was himself the murderer, but the as they are an exercise of the imagination, “we man who had been accused confessed the crime, may well conceive them as tending to increase that and said that the dreamer knew nothing about it. faculty during our waking hours," and possibly It turned out afterward that the murderer and also to serve a much higher purpose. It is there- the dreamer had been drinking together for sevfore of some importance to study the art of pro- eral days a short time after the murder. It has curing pleasant dreams, and Dr. Franklin has been suggested, as a possible solution, that the some very pertinent remarks in his essay on this murderer allowed statements to escape him while subject. Unpleasant dreams, too, need to be under the influence of drink which had been rebanished; and the horrible propensity for preci- called to the other in his dream, though he had pices and yawning chasms which some dreamers not the slightest remembrance of them in his have is well known. Dr. Beattie found himself sober hours.* A gentleman dreamed his house once, in a dream, standing in an uncomfortable was on fire; and the dream made so vivid an situation on the parapet of a bridge. Recollect- impression that he immediately returned, saw it ing that he was never given to pranks of this on fire indeed, and was just in time to save one sort, he fancied it might be a dream, and so de- of his children from the flames. A lady dreamed termined to throw himself headlong, hoping that * Abercrombie, “ Intellectual Powers." this would rouse him. It not only roused him,

+ Ibid.

that an aged female relative had been murdered which the regalia and crown jewels are kept. by a black servant, and this dream was repeated He heard the old woman who showed the room so often that she repaired to the old lady's house address the audience, and treasured up carefully and set a gentleman to watch in the night. About her very peculiarities of voice, dress, manner, and three o'clock in the morning the black servant was features, and created considerable amusement discovered going to his mistress's room, as he said, among his friends by mimicking the phantom with coals to mend the fire—a sufficiently absurd show-woman when he awoke. He went to Lonexcuse at such an hour and in the middle of sum- don at the proper time, and of course visited the mer. The truth was apparent when a strong Tower, where he was astounded and somewhat knife was found buried beneath the coals. The sobered by the phantom's counterpart, which coincidences of dreams are very remarkable. For was identical in every respect. Several years ago two persons to dream the same thing, at the same the newspapers were filled with details of a hortime, in different places and under different cir- rible murder, of which the facts, related from cumstances, exceeds the power of chance, bound- memory, seem to be these: Mrs. Martin, the less as that pretends to be. A Mr. Joseph Taylor wife of a farmer, was in terrible distress of mind relates that a boy residing at a school a hundred because her daughter Maria was missing. It was miles from home dreamed that he went to his feared she had been murdered by her sweetheart father's house, found all closed for the night but in a fit of jealousy, and hidden somewhere. For the back door, went into his mother's room, and a long time no trace of the body could be found. found her awake. “I come to bid you good-by,” At length the mother had a dream, in which it he said; “ I am going on a long journey.” She was revealed to her that the corpse of her child answered with great trembling, “O dear son, was buried under the barn-floor. This proved to thou art dead !” And he awoke. Soon after be the case, the body was recovered, and the he received a letter from his father making anx- murderer detected. The mother of a medical ious inquiries after his health, in consequence of student dreamed that her son had got into some a frightful dream which his mother had on the serious trouble in London, and could not rest till same night, and which was exactly identical with she left her home in the Midland counties and his, even to the very words of the conversation. sought him out. To her sorrow, the dream was Fortunately no sad results followed, though it painfully verified, and the consequences might may have proved a warning to the boy in some have been serious if she had not arrived in time. inscrutable manner unknown to his friends. A barrister of great penetration relates the story The case of the gentleman from Cornwall who of a lady who dreamed that a railway guard was dreamed eight days before the event that he saw killed in a collision. She described the man and Mr. Perceval murdered in the lobby of the House the circumstances so faithfully that there was no of Commons by Bellingham, and distinctly recog- difficulty in identifying the guard (who was actunized from prints, after the murder, both the as- ally killed the same night in a lamentable accisassin and his victim, whom he had never seen dent) as the man she saw in her dream. The previously, seems capable only of a supernatural lady rarely left home, and the guard was quite explanation, especially when it is remembered unknown to her. Archdeacon Squire, in a paper that the gentleman was with difficulty dissuaded read before the Royal Society in 1748, tells the by his friends from going to London to warn Mr. story of a certain Henry Axford, of Devizes, who Perceval (known to him in his dream as the caught a violent cold when he was twenty-eight Chancellor of the Exchequer). He urged that it years of age, which rendered him speechless, and had occurred three times in the same night, but, he remained dumb for four years. In July, 1741, his friends thinking it a fool's errand, he allowed in his sleep he dreamed that “he had fallen into the matter to drop till the news of the murder a furnace of boiling wort, which put him into so rudely resuscitated it. A lady of our acquaint- great an agony of fright that he actually did call ance, about to change her habitation, saw in out aloud, and recovered the use of his tongue sleep an exact picture of her future home, and from that moment as effectually as ever." Horace from her dream alone could recognize the rooms Bushnell, D. D., in his “Nature and the Superand passages. We tried to account for this to natural,” recounts a case which he thinks can her by saying that the dream really influenced not be explained by natural causes. Sitting by her conduct, and that when she met with a house the fire one stormy November night, in an hotel answering to her dream, she was naturally pre- parlor in the Napa Valley of California, there endisposed to take it. A gentleman from York- tered a venerable-looking person named Captain shire formed one of a party for visiting the Exhi. Yount, who had come to California as a trapper bition of 1862. A few days before leaving for more than forty years before. There he lived, London, he had a most vivid dream of the Tower, had acquired a large estate, and was highly rethe armory, and more especially the room in spected. The Captain said that, “ six or seven


years previous, he had a dream in which he saw ments; of an orphan girl electrifying a whole what appeared to him to be a company of immi- household with the angelic strains of a violin, grants arrested by the snows of the mountains, and of her conjugating a Latin verb, speaking and perishing rapidly of cold and hunger. The French, etc., all of which were most unlikely acwhole scene appeared vividly before him; he complishments to her during the day. Mr. Macnoted a huge cliff and the very features of the nish tells us of a somnambulist who walked two persons, and their looks of agonizing despair. miles along a dangerous road to the quay of an He awoke, but shortly after fell asleep again, and Irish seaport, jumped into the water, and swam dreamed precisely the same thing. Being now about for an hour and a half before being resimpressed with the truth of the story, he told it cued. Sir Walter Scott relates that one of the to an old hunter shortly afterward, who declared crew of a vessel lying in the Tagus had been that he knew a spot which exactly answered to murdered by a Portuguese, and it was said that his description. This decided him, and taking a the unfortunate man's specter haunted the ship. company of men, with mules, blankets, etc., they One of the mates, an honest, sensible Irishman, hurried to the Carson Valley Pass, one hundred said the ghost took him from his bed every night, and fifty miles distant, where they found the immi- led him about the ship, and in fact “worried his grants in exactly the condition of the dream, and life out.” The captain watched; and at midbrought in the remnant alive.”

night the mate got up with ghastly looks, lighted The phenomena of somnambulism are so a candle, and went to the galley, stared wildly common and so well known that a few remark- about, and then sprinkled some water out of a able cases will suffice. It sometimes happens can, after which he seemed relieved, and returned that nearly all the senses and the muscular feel- quietly to his bed. The captain asked him next ings are in activity, while the mind is fixed as in morning whether he had been disturbed, and he dreaming; and then the dreamer becomes a son- replied in the affirmative, and said that after nambulist, or sleep-walker. The patient has sprinkling some holy water the spirit left him. some control over the bodily organs, and is sus. To be told that it was water out of a common ceptible to some outward impressions. Mr. can had the effect of banishing the specter altoMacnish offers a very rational explanation of the gether from the sleeper's mind. If by some usual circumstances. “If we dream,” he says, chance he had burned his finger with the candle, “ that we are walking, and the vision possesses he would have carried home to Ireland an inconsuch a degree of vividness and exciting energy testable proof that the spirit had left an indelible as to rouse the muscles of locomotion, we natu- mark upon him. rally get up and walk.” So with hearing and Nightmare is generally caused by indigestion, seeing. “And thus, under a conjunction of im- but the persistent cases usually arise from cerepulses, the dreamer may talk, walk, see, and hear.” bral disorder. Thus a man in Edinburgh, who

A somnambulist is peculiarly susceptible of was chased every night by an infuriated bull, and impressions on his muscular sense ; and, if the gored with its horns, was found on his death to face, body, or limbs be brought into an attitude have been suffering from an ulcer formed at the suggestive of any particular emotion, a corre- base of his brain. Locke mentions the case of sponding mental state is immediately called up; a lady who drank a large dose of dilute tea, and thus if the angles of the mouth be gently sepa- was troubled at night by a succession of faces rated from one another, as in laughter, a dispo- which she had never seen before; some of them sition to laugh is at once produced ; and this she tried to detain, but could not. Hervey, in his expression may be turned into moroseness by “Meditations,” relates a case of the power of mind drawing the eyebrows toward each other, and over bodily action which might have produced downward upon the nose, as in frowning. The very disastrous results if one of the sleepers had movements of the somnambulist seem almost not been aroused. “Two men had been hunting guided by a supernatural hand, for he will walk during the day, and they slept together at night. on parapets, roofs of houses, and precipices with- One of them was renewing the pursuit in his out the least accident. A story is told of a boy dream; and, having run the whole circle of the who climbed a precipice and took away an eagle's chase, came at last to the fall of the stag. Upon nest during his sleep, a feat he would never have this he cried out with determined ardor, ‘I'll kill attempted in his waking hours, as is proved by him, I'll kill him!' and immediately felt for the knife the fact that he disbelieved the story till he found which he carried in his pocket. His companion the nest under his bed. Dr. Abercrombie relates happening to awake, and observing what passed, instances of a young botanist out on a scientific leaped from the bed. Being secure from danger, expedition; of a servant-girl, rather dull than and the moon shining into the room, he stood to otherwise, discoursing on astronomy, which she view the event; when to his inexpressible surprise apparently knew nothing of in her waking mo- the infatuated sportsman gave several deadly


[ocr errors]

stabs in the very place where, a moment before, fords a striking parallel to the phenomena dethe throat of his friend lay.” Professor Fischer* scribed by the blind Dr. Blacklock * as his expedescribes a remarkable case observed by himself rience of distinguishing persons and objects in and others when a boy at school. A young man, his dreams. apparently of a hale constitution, and far from ex- Some physiologists of course repudiate all hibiting any symptoms of a nervous temperament, supernatural agency in dreams, and Dr. Winslow was habitually subject to somnambulism. His dashes aside their romance in a few sentences. fits came on regularly about ten o'clock at night. He says: “Soft dreams are a slight irritation of The scene was a large apartment, containing the brain, often in nervous sever announcing a sixty beds in four rows. He ran about violently, favorable crisis. Frightful dreams are a sign of romped, wrestled, and boxed with his compan- determination of blood to the head. Dreams of ions, who enjoyed the sport at his expense. “I blood and red objects are signs of inflammatory think,” says the Professor, “ I can perfectly well conditions. Dreams about rain and water are remember that, while running, he always held often signs of diseased mucous membranes and his hand before him, with his fingers stretched dropsy. . . . Nightmare, with great sensitiveness, out. He was remarkably agile, and would leap is a sign of determination of blood to the chest.” over the beds, and his companions could scarcely And so on. But such causes are insufficient to ever catch him. When he escaped through the account for coherent mental phenomena in door, he flew through a long gallery to his own dreams, the circumstances of which are marvelapartment. There he rested, frequently taking ously verified by subsequent experience. up a book, and reading softly or with a loud A dream of the day of judgment has convoice, conducting—if my recollection serves me verted many people, and changed the whole tenor accurately-his outstretched fingers over the of their lives. Some dreams, by their persistent lines. His eyes were alternately open and closed; character, have totally unhinged men's minds, but even when open they were incapable of vision, and dreaming and somnambulism have lapsed being convulsively drawn upward, showing only into insanity; for the partition which separates the white. The general belief that somnambulists them is often slight indeed. Physicians have fresee by means of the points of their fingers, as well quently remarked the similarity between dreamas the observation that while running our som- ing and insanity: “In insanity, the erroneous imnambulist always carried his hands and out- pressions, being permanent, affect the conduct; stretched fingers before him, as if these were his in dreaming, no influence on the conduct is proorgans of sight, as also his reading (as it appeared duced because the vision is dissipated on awakto us) by means of the points of his fingers, led ing. Moreover, in dreams the bodily functions us to the idea of tying gloves upon his hands are generally shut up from outward impressions, and stockings upon his legs. Besides, we had whereas the maniac is often but too wide awake, been informed that during his nightly wanderings and his actions become dangerous.” When a he had been known to play at skittles, a game he dreamer imagines that “ his body is stretched on was very fond of when awake, and that he had

a wisp of straw, and sheltered by the cobwebs always accurately counted the number of pins of a barn, or else, when reclined on a couch of knocked down by stretching out his fingers in a ivory, he sinks all helpless and distressed into a direction toward them, so correctly, indeed, that furious whirlpool," his nightly thoughts differ not it was impossible to deceive or impose upon him. much from the ravings of a lunatic, and, as he In short, we seized the opportunity of his most rises from his bed with the glorious sun streamprofound sleep and insensibility to tie on the gloves ing through his lattice, he needs to thank God and stockings. At the usual time he rose up and that it was only a dream. sprang out of bed; but, although we began to Hence we conclude that some dreams origitease and provoke him, he did not move from the nate from ourselves, from our bodily sensations spot, but appeared puzzled and perplexed, and and mental proclivities, and as such are often groped and tumbled about like a blind or drunk- vain and idle like ourselves, while some are posien man. At length he perceived the cause of his tively devilish, and solicit us to evil. Others have distress, and tore off the gloves with great vio- a warning effect, and may point us to brighter lence. Scarcely were his hands uncovered when and better things; and, if we believe with our he started up in a lively manner, and threw the great dramatist, that sleep it is which gloves with ironical indignation upon the ground, making a ludicro observation upon the means

"knits up the raveled sleeve of care, taken to blind him; and then he began to run

The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,

Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, through the apartment as formerly.” This af

Chief nourisher in life's feast". * "Der Somnambulismus; von Professor Fischer." Basel, 1839.

* Abercrombie.

« 이전계속 »