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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 phrenzy, 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 bedclothes pressing on our mouth and 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 occasion 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 atended 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 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 Yours, &c.
No. LXXIV. SATURDAY, JANUARY 22.
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 în 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 would, 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 improve-" ment 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 dis"traction of mind, that I thought myself even out " of the possibility of receiving comfort. The oc"casion was as follows: when I was a youth, in a 66 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 en"dearments, she snatched a paper of verses out of ་་ my hand, and ran away with them. I was fol"lowing her, when on a sudden the ground, though "at a considerable distance from the verge of the "precipice, sunk under, and threw her down, from "so prodigious an 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 66 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 mo"ment before, appeared to be altogether inextri"cable."
What fable of Esop, 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 surprize 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 influence. Persons who think much, and take little todily 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