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tree, which grew in the entrance of the infernal regions.
“ In medio, ramos annosaque brac’ria prndit
Ulmus, opaca, ingens; quam sedem somnia vulgo
“ Full in the midst of this infernal road
“ And it is somewhat remarkable that he describes this tree to be situated amidst the Furies, Centaurs, Gorgons, Harpies, Diseases, Cares, Pain, Famine, Poverty, and all the horrid crew which inhabit that tremendous abode; alluding, no doubt, to the influence which the passions represented by these al. legorical beings are known to possess in producing dreams. The same author afterwards copies Homer in describing the_avenues by which dreams pass from the Elysian Fields to the upper world. There are two gates, he says; the one of ivory, through which false dreams find their way; the other of horn, which admits only the true. These were the regular channels of communication; but it sometimes happened, on extraordinary occasions, that a dream was sent down from the throne of Jupiter himself, as in the case of Agamemnon, when he was persuaded by a vision to give battle to the Trojans without the assistance of Achilles.
“ The manes, or the ghosts of the dead, were believed to send pleasant dreams, with salutary admonitions respecting futurity, to their former friends on earth, and frightful and ghastly apparitions to those who had offended or injured them. Hence it became a principal part of domestic worship to appease the
“ Ne tibi neglecti mittant mala somnia manes.
• The ceremony used for this purpose was the offering of a cake sprinkled with salt : “ Somnia fallaci ludunt temeraria nocte,
Et pavidas mentes falsa timere jubent ;
Farre pio placant, et saliente sale,
Dire dreams rush forth, and timorous souls affright;
“ I quote this from Tibullus; who, in another passage, describes himself as occupied in expelling evil dreams from the slumbers of his sick mistress, by the same means :
“ Ipse procuravi ne possent seva nocere
Soninia, ter sanctâ deveneranda molâ.
From sad tumultuous dreams her sacred sleep. “ I know not whether the practice among the vulgar in many parts of this country, of laying a piece of cake under their pillow, on certain occasions, to procure pleasant dreams, have not taken its origin from this old ceremony; and I have no doubt but that a regular analogy might be traced between the notions and customs of the ancients, and those of the moderns, on this curious subject, since superstition is nearly the same in all ages and countries. Instead of the agency of the manes, we have substituted that of good and evil spirits; and the belief of this supernatural interference will continue till the natural cause of dreams is generally understood. Milton has given countenance to this opinion by the well-known passage which he puts into the mouth of Adam :
“ Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth,
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep, &c.
“ And more strongly still by the description wherein Satan is represented in the act of inspiring evil dreams into the fancy of Eve:
“ Him there they found
“ I do not mean to examine whether supernatural communications have at any time been made to men during sleep; but it is certain that the greater number of dreams proceed from natural causes. It is
generally agreed, that a person will seldom fail to dream in the night of whatever has seriously engaged his attention during the day. An uneasy posture in bed, a bad state of body, or any impressions of disease or pain, will likewise infallibly produce uneasy and frightful dreams. The same effect attends a heavy supper, or, in short, any thing which overloads and oppresses the body, or agitates the mind. An instance is mentioned by Mr. Locke, of a person who dreamed that he was ascending Mount Ætna, and that he felt his feet scorched with the heat of the soil, which was really occasioned by a bottle of warm water that was applied to his soles. Every person is
furnished with stories and instances in proof of this observation. Those who have known what it is to love, will have no occasion to be reminded of the influence of this powerful passion on their sleeping thoughts. In short, the prevailing passion, or the leading habit of our lives, if it do not create, will at least always give a tinge and colour to our dreams, which is fancifully attributed by Shakspeare to the influence of Queen Mab, who
Gallops, night by night,
ROMEO AND JULIET.
“ I have only to remark further, that in very sound sleep the mind is not subject to be disturbed by dreams; and accordingly it is in the morning chiefly that these illusions appear, when the slumbers are light. This naturally suggests a remedy, which while it goes to the bottom of this complaint, will circulate at the same time its moral advantages through the whole system of our duties and exertions -I mean that of early rising, which I consider as an object of such importance as to lay claim to a separate discussion in some future paper. The fresh air of the morning is a sort of bath to the spirits, that braces and restores them after the tumultuous tossings of a feverish night. “ I do not mean to say that the remedy I have mentioned will be of any avail to save the mind of the oppressor from nightly fears, or to wipe away remorse from an evil conscience : these are the proper rewards of crimes. The blessings of a sound and undisturbed imagination are not to be procured but by temperance, activity, and a good life.
“ I am, sir, « Your most obedient “ and most humble servant,
“ G--" London, 26 March, 1792.
My correspondent's sensible letter leaves me room for a few remarks, with which I shall close this paper.
In the course of my speculations upon human life, some thoughts have naturally been bestowed
upon that large and miscellaneous part of it which is spent in dreaming. Mankind are divided in their opinions on this subject, as on most others on which two opinions can be held, by too wide an interval. The vulgar and superstitious regard their dreams as oracular; while those who pretend to greater culture and intelligence consider them as wholly unworthy of regard. There is a point that stands equally distant from these two opposite sentiments, by attending to which some useful ideas may arise on the subject.
When we carry our respect for ordinary dreams so far as to suppose them prophetical, very serious impressions may be given, and much inconvenience may result to the waking and substantial parts of our lives. It has often happened (no doubt) that a dream, by presenting to the imagination a lucky number, has induced a poor man to commit himself in the lottery: and I have been told of young ladies, who have stooped to low alliances, in obedience to the suggestions of these empty counsellors. I think