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turned rebel to my senses ; I beheld the objects around me as the painting of a dream, and thought of Maria as living still.
I was soon, however, recalled to the sad reality. The figure of her father bending over the grave of his darling child; the silent suffering composure in which his countenance was fixed; the tears of his attendants, whose grief was light, and capable of tears ; these gave me back the truth, and reminded me that I should see her no more.
There was a flow of sorrow with which I suffered myself to be borne along, with a melancholy kind of indulgence ; but when her father dropped the cord with which he had helped to lay his Maria in the earth, its sound on the coffin chilled my heart, and horror for a moment took place of pity!
It was but for a moment.—He looked eagerly into the grave; made one involuntary motion to stop the assistants who were throwing the earth into it; then, suddenly recollecting himself, clasped his hands together, threw up his eyes to Heaven ; and then first I saw a few tears drop from them. I gave language to all this. It spoke a lesson of faith, and piety, and resignation. I went away sorrowful, but my sorrow was neither ungentle nor unmanly; cast on this world a glance rather of pity than of enmity; on the next, a look of humbleness and hope!
Such, I am persuaded, will commonly be the effect of scenes like that I have described, on minds neither frigid nor unthinking; for of feelings like these, the gloom of the ascetic is as little susceptible as the levity of the giddy. There needs a certain pliancy of mind, which society alone can give, though its vices often destroy, to render us capable of that gentle melancholy which makes sorrow pleasant, and affliction useful.
It is not from a melancholy of this sort, that men
are prompted to the cold unfruitful virtues of monkish solitude. These are often the effects rather of passion secluded than repressed, rather of temptation avoided than overcome. The crucifix and the rosary, the death's head and the bones, if custom has not made them indifferent, will rather chill desire than excite virtue ; but, amidst the warmth of social affection, and of social sympathy, the heart will feel the weakness, and enjoy the duties, of humanity.
Perhaps, it will be said, that such situations, and such reflections as the foregoing, will only affect minds already too tender, and be disregarded by those who need the lessons they impart. But this, I apprehend, is to allow too much to the force of habit, and the resistance of prejudice. I will not pretend to assert, that rooted principles, and long-established conduct, are suddenly to be changed by the effects of situation, or the eloquence of sentiment; but if it be granted that such change ever took place, who shall determine by what imperceptible motive, or accidental impression, it was first begun? And, even if the influence of such a call to thought can only smother, in its birth, one allurement to evil, or confirm one wavering purpose to virtue, I shall not have unjustly commended that occasional indul. gence of pensiveness and sorrow, which will thus be rendered not only one of the refinements, but one of the improvements, of life.
N° 73. TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 1780.
The Essay contained in this and the following num. ber, was some time ago received from a gentleman of distinguished name in the literary world.
To the Author of the MIRROR.
SIR, In the course of his various inquiries into human nature, your illustrious kinsman, the Spectator, did not overlook DREAMING; on which he has given us many ingenious and useful observations. Having all my life been a great dreamer of dreams, I also have made some remarks upon that mysterious phænomenon, which, I flatter myself, may be acceptable to the author of the Mirror, as I believe some of them are new, and not unworthy of notice.
I shall not take up much of your time with the opinions of the ancients in regard to the immediate cause of dreaming. Epicurus fancied, that an infinite multitude of subtle images, some flowing from bodies, some formed of their own accord, and others made up of different things variously combined, were continually moving up and down in the air about us ; and that these images, being of extreme fineness, penetrate our bodies; and, striking upon the mind, give rise to that mode of perception which we call Imagination ; and to which he refers the 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 object that made it is gone, and which, being afterwards recognised by the mind in sleep, gives rise to those visione that then present themselves. These opinions, if one were to examine them, would be found either to amount to nothing 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 divided into five hundred classes, as well as into five. My own remarks I all set down without method, and in the order in which they occur to
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 sceking her Tyrians in a desert
longam incomitata videtur Ire viam, Tyriosque desertâ quærere terrâ.
Thus uniting as it were, in one image, the two passions 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 conjectures be right, and if our dreams resemble them, it may