« AnteriorContinuar »
abate. When the man appears tired and worn out with the labours of the day, this active part in his composition is still busied and unwearied. When the organs of sense want their due repose and necessary reparations, and the body is no longer able to keep pace with that spiritual substance to which it is united, the sonl exerts herself in her several faculties, and continues in action till her partner is again qualified to bear her company. In this case, dreams look like the relaxations and amusements of the soul, when she is clisincumbered of her machine, her sports, and recreations, when she has laid her charge asleep.
In the second place, dreams are an instance of that agility and perfection which is natural to the faculties of the mind, wben they are disengaged from the body. The soul is clogged and retarded in her operations, when she acts in conjunction with a companion that is so heavy and unwieldy in its motions. But in dreams it is wonderful to observe with what a sprightliness and alacrity she exerts herself. The slow of speech make unpremeditated harangues, or converse readily in languages that they are but little acquainted with. The grave abound in pleasantries, the dull in repartees and points of wit. There is not a more painful action of the mind, than invention; yet in dreams it works with that ease and activity that we are not sensible when the faculty is employed. For instance, I believe every one, some time or other, dreams that he is reading papers, books, or letters; in which case the invention pronipts so readily, that the mind is imposed apon, and mistakes its own suggestions for the compositions of anotber.
I shall under this head quote a passage out of the Religio Medici, in which the ingenious author gives an account of himself in his dreaming and his waking thoughts. “ We are somewhat more than ourselves in our sleeps, and the slumbers of the body seem to be but the waking of the soul. It is the ligation of sense, but the liberty of reason : and our waking conceptions do not match the fancies of our sleeps. At my nati. vity, my aseendant was the watery sigu of Scorpius: I was born in the planetary hour of Saturn, and I think I have a piece of that leaden planet in me. I am no way facetioas, nor disposed for the mirth and galliar. dize of company; yet in one dream I can compose a whole comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jesis, and lauglı myself awake at the conceits thereof. Were my memory as faithful as niy reason is then fruitful, I wouid never study but in my dreams; and this time also would I choose for my devotions; but our grosser memories have then so little hold of our abstracied understandings, that they forget the story, and can only relate to our awakened souls a confused and broken tale of that that has passed. Thus it is ob. served, that men sometimes, upon the hour of their departure, do speak and reason above themselves; for then the soul, beginning to be freed from the ligaments of the body, hegins to reason like herself, and to discourse in a strain above mortality."
We may likewise observe, in the third place, that the passions affect the mind with greater strength when we are asleep, than when we are awake, joy and sorrow give us more vigorous seusations of pain or pleasure at this time, than at any other. Devotion, likewise, as the excellent anthor above-mentioned has hinted, is in a very particular manner heightened and infamed, when it rises in the soul at a time that the body is thus laid at rest. Every man's experience will inform bim in this matter, though it is very probable, that this may happen differently in different constitations. I shall conclude this head with the two follow. ing problemıs, which I shall leave to the solution of my reader. Supposing a man always happy in his dreajus, and miserable in his waking thoughts, and that his life was equally divided between them, whether would be be more bappy or miserable ? Were a man a king in his dreams, and a beggar awake, and dreamed as conse quentially, and in as continued anbroken schemes as he thinks when awake, whether he would be in reality a king or beggar, or rather whether he would not be both?
There is another circumstance, which, methinks, gives us a very high idea of the nature of the soul, in regard to wbat passes in dreams: I mean that innu. merable multitude and variety of ideas which then arise in her. Were that active watchful being only conscious of her own existence at such a time, what a painful solitude would her hours of sleep be? Were the soul sepsible of her being alone in her sleeping moments, after the same manner that she is sensible of it while awake, the time would hang very heavy on her, as it often actually does when she dreams that she is in such solitude.
But this observation I only can make by the way. What I would here renark, is that wonderful power in the soul, of producing her own company on these occasions. She converses with numberless beings of her own creation, and is transported into ten thousand scenes of her own raising. She is herself the theatre, the actors, and the beholder. This puts me in mind of a saying which I am infinitely pleased with, and which Plutarch ascribes to Heraclitus. That all men whilst they are awake are in one common world; but that each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own. The waking man is conversant in the world of nature; when he sleeps he retires to a private world, that is particular to bimself. There seems something
in this consideration that intimates to us a natural grandeur and perfection in the soul, which is rather to be admired than explained.
I must not omit that argument for the excellency of the soul, which I have seen quoted out of Tertullian, namely, its power of divining in dreams.
That seve ral such divinations have been made, none can ques tion, who believes the Holy Writings, or who has bat the least degree of a common historical faith; there being innumerable instances of this nature in several authors, both ancient and modern, sacred and profane. Whether such dark presages, such visions of the night, proceed from any latent power in the soul, during this her state of abstraction, or from any communication with the Supreme Being, or from any operation of subordinate spirits, has been a great dispute among the learned; the matter of fact is, I think, incontestable, and has been looked upon as such by the greatest writers, who have been never suspected either of superstition or enthusiasm.
I do not suppose, that the soul in these instances is entirely loose and unfettered from the body; it is safficient, if she is not so far sunk and immersed in matter, nor entangled and perplexed in her operations, with such motions of blood and spirits, as when abe actuates the machine in its waking hours. The corpo real union is slackened enough to give the mind more play. The soul seems gathered within herself, and recovers that spring which is broke and weakened, when she operates more in concert with the body,
The speculations I have here made, if they are not arguments, they are at least strong intimations, not only of the excellency of an human soul, but of its independence on the body; and if they do not prove, do at least confirm, these two great points, which are established by many other reasons that are altogether unanswerable.
A FINE GENTLEMAN.
Omnis Aristippum decuit color, et status, et res.
HOR. 1 Ep. xvii. 23. All fortune fitted Aristippus well.
THE generality (the fair sex especially) have very
false impressions of what should be intended when they say a Fine Gentleman. I have revolved this sub. ject in my thoughts, and settled, as it were, an idea of that character in my own imagination.
No man ought to have the esteem of the rest of the world, for any actions which are disagreeable to those maxims which prevail, as the standards of bebaviour, in the country wherein he lives. What is opposite to the eternal rules of reason and good sense, must be excladed from any place in the carriage of a well-bred
When a gentleman speaks coarsely, he has dressed himself clean to no purpose. The clothing of onr minds certainly ought to be regarded before that of our bodies. To betray in a man's talk a corrupt imagioation, is a much greater offence against the conversation of gentlemen, than any negligence of dress imaginable. But this sense of the matter is so far from being received among people even of condition, that Vo. cifer even passes for a fine gentleman, He is loud, baughty, gentle, soft, lewd, and obsequious by turns, just as a little understanding and great impudence prompt him at the present moment. He passes among the silly part of onr women for a man of wit, because he is generally in doubt. He contradicts with a shrug, aud confutes with a certain sufficiency, in professing such and such a thing is above his capacity. What