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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 perforniing, with great labour, some work, we know not precisely what, in which we never make any progress. This imagination will occur in sleep, even while one has no means of observing, when awake, any symptom that could lead one to suspect one's health to be in danger: and, when it does occur, may it not give warning to make some change in the ordinary regimen, to eat or drink less than usual, or have recourse to some of those other methods whereby acute distempers are prevented ? In general, when one is haunted more than usual with disagreeable dreams, it may, I think, be taken as a sign that something is wrong in the constitution; and therefore that temperance, fasting, or exercise, may be requisite to avert the impending evil. And these are remedies which one may have recourse to; and in regard to which one may venture to make a few experiments in almost any circumstances. Agreeable dreams I would take for the signs of health, and accordingly consider them as good, and not evil.
“ If you approve of these remarks, you shall have more on the same subject, in a few days, from
“ Your's, &c.
No. 74. SATURDAY, JANUARY 22, 1780.'
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
“ In my last I hinted that dreams may be useful as physical admonitions. What if I should go a step further, and say that they may be serviceable as means of our moral improvement?. I will not affirm, however, as some have done, that by them we may make a more accurate discovery of our temper and ruling passions, than by observing what passes in our minds when awake : for, in sleep, we are very incompetent judges of ourselves, and of every thing else ; and one will dream of committing crimes with little remorse, which, if awake, one could not think of without horror. But as many of our passions are inflamed or allayed by the temperature of the body, this, I think, may be said with truth, that, by attending to what passes in sleep, we may sometimes discern what passions are predominant, and consequently receive some useful cautions for the regulation of them. A man dreams, for example, that he is in a violent anger, and that he strikes a blow which knocks a person down, and kills him. He awakes in horror at the thought of what he has done, and of the punishment he thinks he has reason to apprehend ; and while, after a moment's recollection, he rejoices to find that it is but a dream, he will also be inclinable to form resolutions against violent anger, lest it should, one time or other, hurry him on to a real perpetration of a like nature. If we ever derive this advantage from a dream, we cannot pronounce it useless. And this, or a similar advantage, may sometimes be derived from dreaming. For why may we not, in this way, reap improvement from a fiction of our own fancy, as well as from a novel, or a fable of Æsop.
“ One of the finest moral tales I ever read, is an account of a dream in the Tatler, which, though it has every appearance of a real dream, comprehends a moral so sublime and so interesting, that I question whether any man who attends to it can ever forget it; and if he remembers, whether he can ever cease to be the better for it. Addison is the author of the paper ; and I shall give the story in his own elegant words.
I was once,' says the Tatler, in agonies of grief that are unutterable, and in so great a distraction of mind, that I thought myself even out of the possibility of receiving comfort. The occasion was as follows :—When I was a youth, in a part of the army which was then quartered at Dover, I fell in love with an agreeable young woman of a good family in those parts, and had the satisfaction of seeing my addresses kindly received, which occasioned the perplexity I am going to relate. We were, in a calm evening, diverting ourselves, on the top of a cliff, with the prospect of the sea; and trifling away the time in such little fondnesses as are most ridiculous to people in business, and most agreeable to those in love. In the midst of these our innocent endearments, she snatched a paper of verses out of my hand, and ran away with them. ' I
was following her ; when on a sudden the ground, though at a considerable distance from the verge of the precipice, sunk under her, and threw her down from so prodigious a height, upon such a range of rocks, as would have dashed her into ten thousand pieces, had her body been made of adamant. It is much easier for my reader to imagine my state of mind upon such an occasion, than for me to express it. I said to myself, It is not in the power of Heaven to relieve me—when I awaked, equally transported and astonished, to see myself drawn out of an affliction, which, the very moment before, appeared to be altogether inextricable.
“ What fable of Æsop, nay of Homer, or of Virgil, conveys so fine a moral? Yet most people have, if I mistake not, met with such deliverances by means of a dream. And such a deliverance will every good man meet with at last, when he is taken away from the evils of life, and awakes in the regions of everlasting light and peace; looking back upon the world, and all its troubles, with a surprise and a satisfaction, similar in kind, though incomparably higher in degree, to that which we now feel, when we escape from a terrifying dream, and open our eyes upon the sweet serenity of a summer morning. Let us not despise instruction, how mean soever the vehicle may be that brings it. Even if it be a dream, let us learn to profit by it. For, whether asleep or awake, we are equally the care of Providence; and neither a dream, nor a waking thought, can occur to us without the permission of Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being
" Some men dream more and others less; and some, perhaps, though these are few, none at all. This cannot be fully accounted for, from the different degrees of health which different men enjoy, nor from their different ways of life; though these, and the like peculiarities, may, no doubt, have some in- ' fluence. Persons who think much, and take little bodily exercise, will, perhaps, be found to be the greatest dreamers ; especially if their imagination be active, and their nervous system very sensible; which last is too common an infirmity among men of learning. The sleep of the labouring man is sweet and sound ; and his dreams he rarely remembers: for the faculties of his mind are not much employed, his nerves are strong, and the sphere of his imagination is narrow. As Nature does nothing in vain, is it not probable, that to the constitutions of some people, dreaming may be more necessary, as a mental recreation, than to those of others?' To meditate continually on one set of objects, is detrimental to health and even to reason; and, when one is oppressed with low spirits, which often proceed from this very cause, the physician never fails to recommend amusements, company, travelling, sea-voyages, and other expedients, for leading the mind out of its old gloomy track, refreshing it with new ideas, and forcing it to exert itself with unusual energy, and in a new direction.
Go, soft enthusiast, quit the cypress groves,