صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

E'en birds awaken’d in a sudden fright
Fly to securer groves, if chance by night
The visionary hawk should hov'ring seem
To soar and threaten mischief in a dream."

There is, it must be confessed, some force in this objection, and a parity of reasoning may seem to compel us to allow the existence of an immaterial nature in animals, as far, at least, as the proof is to rest on the power of dreaming, exclusive of other arguments; and notwithstanding, indeed, the spirit of the beast is said in Scripture to go downward to the earth, we may conceive it to be endowed with powers of reflection, and to be capable of being impressed by ideas, and therefore of a constitution which, though manifestly inferior to the human mind, and, it is presumed, not destined to immortality, may be considered as distinct from a material substance, no organization of which we can conceive to be capable of thought*.

* Nam si quid in illis rationis similitudinem imitatur, non ratio, sed memoria est, et memoria non illa ratione mixta, sed quæ hebitudinem sensuun quinque comitatur. Macrob. in Somn. Scipio--L. i. c. 14. See also Locke,

There is a relation of St. Austin, in a letter to Euodius, which prettily illustrates the argument of the immateriality of the mind to be drawn from its distinct operations. Genadius, we are told, a Carthaginian physician, who doubted of the immortality of the soul, saw in his sleep a youth, who shewed to him a beautiful city, and who, returning on the succeeding night, inquired of Genadius whether he recollected him. Genadius answered that he did, and remembered his dream. The youth then asked him what he was then about: the physician replied, that he was in his bed sleeping. The apparition left him to reflect with salutary conviction, that as his mind then beheld a city, though his eyes were closed in sleep, and his body lay dormant, so the spirit of man might continue to live and exercise its powers of observation and intelligence, though the body should lie lifeless in the tomb *

* See Fulgosius.

It is an idea to which we have before adverted, that those faculties of the mind often display themselves with greater energy when the body is sepulchred in sleep, and when the spirit is as it were released from “ the earthly tabernacle which weigheth down the mind that museth on many things *.”—They seem to expatiate with uncontrolled freedom, to unfold new powers of intelligence and fancy, to range with sudden and excursive flights, in which the horizon of the prospect is varied and enlarged, and the scattered scenes of memory collected into one point of view; objects are grouped with rapid observation, our action seems uncircumscribed, and we glide in visionary celerity from scene to scene with the imperceptible. flight of the eagle soaring through the trackless air, aud moving as the heathen deities are represented, or as Adam describes himself,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

or like Shakespear, when

« Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign,
And panting Time toil'd after him in vain *.”

It may perhaps be argued, that whatever excellency of thought and reflection is displayed by the mind in sleep, it is the excellency of the lesser faculties, not of reason, but of those that “ serve reason as chief," of mimic Fancy, which but wakes to imitate rea

[ocr errors]

son, and which

[ocr errors]

Joining or inisjoining shapes,
Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams;
Ill matching words and deeds long past, or late t."

And Mr. Locke indeed represents dreams as not under the rule and conduct of the understanding ; but it may still be maintained, that however the fancy may appear to predominate over the judgment, and however the mind may

* Johnson. + Parad. Lost, B. v. L. 100. 110.

be deluded into a belief of the reality of those fictitious scenes which it forms, when it

“ With inward apprehension gently moves
Our fancy to believe we yet have being,
And live * :"

yet that the superior powers of the mind are often exercised in sleep with considerable efę fect, and its faculties of discrimination and judgment manifested in a chain of reasoning. Much of incongruity, which is supposed to prove the suspension of reason, and much of the wild discordancy of representation which appears to prevail, may arise from the defect of memory when we awake, that does not retain the impression of images which have passed across the mind in light and rapid succession; and which, therefore, exhibit but a partial and imperfect sketch of the picture that engaged the attention in sleep.

* Parad. Lost.

« السابقةمتابعة »