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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of



Poetry and Mystery of Dreams,









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THE object of this work is not to form a prophetic

guide to the future, but to present to those who are interested in the curiosities of Literature the belief of the great dreamers of antiquity as to the imagined signification of a few of the vagaries of the mind during slumber, and to illustrate poetically the caprices of what is with many a highly poetic faculty. Dreams are no longer for intelligent minds, sources of hope or fear, but they still wanton through the halls of the spirit as of old, though the horn and ivory gates which were once supposed to determine their truth or falsehood, have long since been broken away. And they are still recorded as mysterious or pleasing fantasies, still narrated at the breakfast table, and still quoted by lovers as affording involuntary illustrations of a passion which dares not declare itself in more direct terms. And there are many, especially among the young, who though devoid of superstition are still curious to know what this or that dream is said to signify, yet who very properly shrink from consulting those popular “dream-books” which are not only replete

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with coarse vulgarity, but also fail to give those explanations which were accepted as authentic in days when even the wisest placed full faith in the interpretations of Oneirology.

I was first induced to compile this work, by observing that many of the similes of the older English and German poets were evidently inspired by the beautiful superstitions of their day, and indeed that all the art of the Middle Ages, whether literary or plastic, rests to a degree upon a supernatural foundation. The mysticism or spiritualism of HERRICK is by no means confined to his “Fairy Land” or 66 Charms and Ceremonies ;" CHAUCER has carried his respect for Dreamland to the verge of faith, while in SIAKSPEARE we find the inspiration of popular belief constantly developed in the most exquisite fancies. In illustrating the ancient interpretations of dreams by fragments of modern poetry, I have therefore simply attempted to bring back the latter to the point whence it in many instances originated, and to compare the perfect flower with the first rude cutting from which it sprung.

In “Mackay's Memoirs of Popular and Extraordinary Delusions”—a work distinguished in most respects for ingenuity, interest, and erudition-we find the following remarkable assertion. “The rules of the Art of OneiroCriticism (or the interpreting dreams), if any existed in ancient times, are no longer known.” Without pretending to the slightest vindication of the merit of the works in question I must be allowed to express my astonishment that a gentleman of Mr. Mackay's reading should have been

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