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origin both of our waking thoughts and of our dreams. Aristotle seems to think, that every object of outward sense makes upon the human soul, or upon some other part of our frame, a certain impression, which remains for some time after the objeet that made it is gone, and which, being afterwards recognised by the mind in sleep, gives rise to those visions that then present themselves.
These ppinions, if one were to examine them, would be found either to amount to nothiog that can be understood, or to ascribe to human thought a sort of material nature, which is perfectly inconceivable.
Neither shall I trouble you with enumerating five different species of dreams acknowledged by some of the ancients, and particularly described by Macrobius. Dreams are, indeed, of different sorts and characters; but I see no reason why they may not be rided into five hundred classes, as well as into five... My own remarks I shall set down without method, and in the order in which they occur to me.
Though some of our dreams are exceedingly wild and extravagant, others are more regular, and more like real life. When the mind is at ease, and the body in health, we are apt to dream of our ordinary business. The passions, too, which occupy the mind when awake, and the objects and causes of those passions, are apt to recur in sleep, though, for the most part, under some disguise; accompanied with painful circumstances when we are in trouble, and with more pleasing ideas when we are happy. To this the poets attend; and, in describing the dreams of their heroes and heroines, are careful to give them a resemblance to their real fortune. Dido, when forsaken by Æneas, dreams that she is going a long journey alone, and seeking her Tyrians in a desert land;
longam incomitata videtur Ire viam, Tyriosque desertâ quærere terrâ. Thus uniting, as it were, in one image, the two passious that engrossed her through the day, love to her people, and a sense of her forlorn condition. Eloisa, separated for ever from her friend, dreams of being again happy in his company; but, the next moment, says she,
-Methinks we wandering go
On these occasions, the poet will not describe a dream exactly like the real circumstances of the dreamer; he makes it only a sort of dark allegorical similitude; and this we approve of, because we know that it is according to nature. For a reason to be given in the sequel, it will appear to be mercifully ordered by Providence, that our dreams should thus differ from our waking thoughts: and, from what we know- of the influence of our passions upon the general tenor of our thinking, we need not wonder that there should be, notwithstanding, some analogy between them. It is this mixture of resemblance and diversity, that makes some of our dreams allegorical. But, when that happens, an attentive observer, who is free from superstition, will find that they allude not to what is future, but to what is present or past, unless where we have been anticipating some future event; in which case our dreams may possibly resemble our conjectures. Now, if our conjecturesbe right, and if our dreams resemble them, it may
happen that there shall be a likeness between a certain dream and a future occurrence; but in this there is nothing more supernatural, than that I should dream to-night of what I have been employed in today; for this is nothing more than a particular train of thought impressed upon us in sleep, by a certain previous train of thought into which reason and experience had led us when awake. For example: When I see a man dissipating his fortune by debauchery, I may, with reason, apprehend that disease and poverty will soon overtake him. If this conjecture trouble me in the day-time, it may also recur in sleep, accompanied with some visionary circumstances; and I shall dream, perhaps, that I see him in rags and misery. Suppose this really to happen soon after, what opinion am I to entertain concerning my dream ? Surely I have no more reason to consider it as prophetical, than I have to look upon the conjecture which gave rise to it as the effect of inspiration.
Some of our dreams bear little or no resemblance to any thing that ever before occurred to our senses, or fancy. But this is not common, except in bad health. It holds true in general, that dreams are an imitation, though often a very extravagant one, of reality.
There are people who observe, that one particular dream frequently returns upon them. Socrates, in the Phædo of Plato, tells his friend, that he had all his life been haunted with a vision of this kind, in which one seemed to say to him, that he ought to study music. If this repetition of dreams be the effect of habit, which is not unlikely, we may from it learn the expediency of concealing such as are disagreeable, and banishing them from our thoughts as soon as we can. Indeed, it is a vulgar observation, that they who never speak of dreams are not often troubled with them.
Intemperance of every kind, in eating or drinking, in sleep or watching, in rest or exercise, tends to make dreams, disagreeable ; and therefore, one end of dreaming may be, to recommend sobriety and moderation. For the time we may employ in sleep bears a great proportion to the whol of human life; and, if there be any expedient for rendering that portion of our time agreeable, it is surely worth while to put it in practice.
Habits of virtue and soberness, the repression of turbulent desires and the indulgence of pious, social, and cheerful dispositions, are, for the most part, effectual in giving that lightness to the animal spirits, and that calm temperature to the blood, which promote thoughts pleasurable through the day, and sweet slumber and easy dreams by night.
The ancients thought, that morning dreams come nearest the truth. In the morning, no doubt, the perspiration and digestion continued through the night will make the stomach, and the whole frame of the body, more composed and cool than when we go to sleep; and hence, perhaps, it is not absurd to say, that dreams may be more regular then, and more like real life. But if we have passed the earlier hours of the morning without sleep, and fall a dozing about the time we usually rise, our dreams are seldom agreeable, and our slumber is rather stupifying than salutary; whence we may perhaps infer, that it is the intention of Nature that we should rise early, and at a stated hour.
As agreeable thoughts accompany good health; as violent passions, and even frenzy, are the attendants of certain diseases; as dulness and confusion of thought may be occasioned by a loaded stomach; and as the swallowing of much strong
liquor produces a temporary madness ;-as our thoughts, I say, when we are awake, are so much determined by our bodily habit, it is no wonder that they should be still more liable to such influence when we are asleep. Accordingly, certain dreams do, for the most part, accompany certain positions and states of the body. When our breathing is in any degree interrupted, by our head falling awry, by the bed-clothes pressing on our mouth or nostrils
, or by any internal disorder, we are apt to dream of going, with great uneasiness, through narrow passages, where we are in danger of suffocation. When the state of the stomach and bowels occasions any convulsive motion in the jaws, a thing not uncommon in sleep, and which frequently produces a strong compression and grinding of the teeth, we are apt to dream that the teeth are loose, or falling out, or that our mouth is full of pins, or of something very disagreeable. In cold weather too, when by any accident we throw aside the bed-clothes, we sometimes dream of going naked. Of all these facts I have often had experience; and, if the thing could be accurately attended to, I make no doubt but many of our dreams might be accounted for in the same manner; and therefore, when we have an uncommon dream, we ought not to look forward with apprehension, as if it were to be the forerunner of calamity; but rather backward, to see whether we can discover its cause, and whether, from such a discovery, we may not learn something that may be profitable to our health.
In some constitutions, certain dreams do generally go before, or accompany the beginnings of certain diseases. When, for example, there is any tendency to fever, we are apt to dream of performing, with. great labour, some work, we know not precisely what, in which we never make any progress. This