« السابقةمتابعة »
tical and figurative; and, in short, every species that does not involve the idea of inspiration.
On a general reflection that dreams take place when the body is inactive and dormant, it may be expedient to examine a little into the nature of sleep, which is one of the most remarkable regulations of Providence, and intimately connected with some of the great arrangements of his appointment, who has “ established day and night for a perpetual ordinance;" the latter for sleep, which is well described as “ Nature's soft nurse," as that which
“ knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
As indeed it is the fostering and gentle so other of human cares and infirmities, the guardian of that repose in which the preservation of the
human frame is cherished. If sleep be considered in abstract distinction, it is certain that notwithstanding the effects which we experience from it in recruited strength and renovated spirits, it is a state of apathy; if considered separately from dreams, it is a suspension of the mental as well as of the corporeal powers * ; it is a seeming prelude of death + however salubrious in supporting life, and the senses, though capable of being roused, are closed in insensibility; it appears to loosen the links of connection which subsist between the soul and body without breaking the chain.
“ It is death's counterfeit, We seem in it as passing to our former state Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve f.”
* Johnson's Dict. fol. ed.
+ Υπνος δε θανατος τις στρομελετεοις σελει: Υπνος δε σασιν εςιν η υγεια βιος.
Diversorum yvelab. Paradise Lost, B. vüi. L. 290.
“ It is," says Sir Thomas Brown," a death whereby we live, a middle moderating point between life and death, and so like death, I dare not trust it without my prayers, and an half adieu unto the world, and take my farewell in a colloquy with God. After which I close my eyes in security, content to take my leave of him, and sleep unto the resurrection*.”
Thomas Tryon, a student in physick in the last century, defines sleep to be the natural rest of a living creature, or a partial temporary cessation of animal action, and the functions of the external senses, caused immediately by the weakness of the animal faculty proceeding from a steep and stupifying vapour, arising from the concoction and digestion of the alimentary food exhaled from the stomach, and hence ascending to the brain, and watering and bedewing it with unctious fumes, whereby the operation of the senses is for a time obstructed, to the end the powers of the mind
and body may be recruited, refreshed, and strengthened.
Sleep as it is a state of exemption from impressions from external objects, can occasion no positive sensations of pain or pleasure, unless by the aid of dreams. If during sleep we are safe and tranquil, yet, as insensible of our security, we derive no satisfaction from it.
To enjoy advantages we must be conscious that we possess them, and the only consciousness which we have in sleep is a consciousness of the existence of the ideal objects which our imagination creates in dreams, for when the senses are so strongly affected by external impressions as to produce sensations on the mind, sleep is disturbed, and if no impressions continue we awake.
To the unhappy sleep may indeed be considered as good, inasınuch as it intermits the agonies of pain, and closes the wounds of misery; if it bring no joys, it at least suspends sorrow, he who mourns even that ihanklessingratitude which is “ sharper than a serpent's tooth" forgets the anguish of his soul in sleep, which, like the medicated wine of Circe, induces a cessation of sorrow and passion, and a forgetfulness of all evils. The tear is at least for some time checked, the sigh suppressed.
As the will seems to exercise little influence over the powers of the mind or body in sleep, though it occasionally exert a control over them, the character of sleep must take its cast from the nature of the dreams which occur; and in this state of ideal existence the man whose waking thoughts revel in festivity may pine under imaginary distress, while the wretched and depressed may enjoy the cheerful scenes of prosperity. The sovereign whose living brows are encircled with a diadem may see himself “ despoiled of the pride of kingly sway” till the early courtiers attend his levee. The embarrassed debtor may be restored to opulence,