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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 prompts so readily, that the mind is imposed upon, and mistakes its own suggestions for the compositions of another.
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 slumber of the body seems 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 nativity my ascendant was the watery sign 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 facetious, nor disposed for the mirth and galliardize of company; yet in one dream I can compose a whole comedy, behold the action, comprehend the jests, and laugh myself awake at the conceits thereof. Were my memory as faithful as my reason is then fruitful, I would 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 abstracted understandings, that they forget the story, and can only relate to our awaked souls a confused and broken tale of that that has passed.--Thus it is observed, 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, begins 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 sensations of pain or pleasure at this time, than any other. Devotion likewise, as the excellent author above-mentioned has hinted, is in a very particular manner heightened and inflamed, when it rises in the soul at a time that the body is thus laid at rest. Every man's experience will inform him in this matter, though it is very probable that this may happen differently in different constitutions. I shall conclude this head with the two following problems, which I shall leave to the solution of my reader. Supposing a man always happy in his dreams, and miserable in his waking thoughts, and that his life was equally divided between them, whether would he be more happy or miserable? Were a man a king in his dreams, and a beggar awake, and dreamt as consequentially and in as continued unbroken schemes as he thinks when awake, whether he would be in reality a king or a 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 what passes in dreams, I mean that innumerable multitude and variety of ideas which then arise in her. Were that active and 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 sensible 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 a solitude:
Sola sibi semper longam incomitata videtur
But this observation I only make by the way. What I would here remark, is that wonderful power in the soul, of producing her own company upon 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 actor, 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 himself. 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 several such divinations have been made, none can question, who believes the holy writings, or who has but 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 of 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 sufficient, 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 she actuates the machine in its waking hours. The corporeal 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 a 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.
No. 488. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19.
Quanti emptæ ? parvi. Quanti ergo? octo assibus. Eheu! HOR.
I FIND, by several letters which I receive daily, that many of my readers would be better pleased to pay three
halfpence for my paper, than two-pence. The ingenious T. W. tells me, that I have deprived him of the best part of his breakfast, for that, since the rise of my paper, he is forced every morning to drink his dish of coffee by itself without the addition of the Spectator, that used to be better than lace to it. Eugenius informs me very obligingly, that he never thought he should have disliked any passage in my paper, but that of late there have been two words in every one of them, which he could heartily wish left out, viz. "Price Two-pence." I have a letter from a soap-boiler who condoles with me very affectionately, upon the necessity we both lie under of setting an higher price on our commodities since the late tax has been laid upon them, and desiring me, when I write next on that subject, to speak a word or two upon the present duties on Castle-soap. But there is none of these my correspondents, who writes with a greater turn of good sense and elegance of expression, than the generous Philomedes, who advises me to value every Spectator at sixpence, and promises that he himself will engage for above a hundred of his acquaintance, who shall take it in at that price.
Letters from the female world are likewise come to me, in great quantities, upon the same occasion; and, as I naturally bear a great deference to this part of our species, I am very glad to find that those who approve my conduct in this particular, are much more numerous than those who condemn it. A large family of daughters have drawn me up a very handsome remonstrance, in which they set forth, that their father having refused to take in the Spectator, since the additional price was set upon it, they offered him unanimously to abate him the article of bread and butter in the tea-table account, provided the Spectator might be served up to them every morning as usual. Upon this the old gentleman, being pleased, it seems, with their desire of improving themselves, has granted them the continuance both of the Spectator and their bread and butter; having given particular orders, that the tea-table shall be set forth every morning with its customary bill of fare, and without any manner of defalcation. I thought myself obliged to mention this particular, as it does honour to this worthy gentleman; and if the young lady Letitia, who sent me this account, will acquaint me with his name, I will insert it at length in one of my papers, if he desires it.
I should be very glad to find out any expedient that might alleviate the expense which this my paper brings to any of my readers; and, in order to it, must propose two points to their consideration. First, that if they retrench any the smallest particular in their ordinary expense, it will easily make up the halfpenny a day, which we have now under consideration. Let a lady sacrifice but a single ribbon to her morning studies, and it will be sufficient: let a family burn but a candle a night less than the usual number, and they may take in the Spectator without detriment to their private affairs.
In the next place, if my readers will not go to the price of buying my papers by retail, let them have patience, and they may buy them in the lump, without the burthen of a tax upon them. My speculations, when they are sold single, like cherries upon the stick, are delights for the rich and wealthy; after some time they come to market in greater quantities, and are every ordinary man's money. The truth of it is, they have a certain flavour at their first appearance, from several accidental circumstances of time, place, and person, which they may lose if they are not taken early; but in this case every reader is to consider, whether it is not better for him to be half a year behind-hand with the fashionable and polite part of the world, than to strain himself beyond his circumstances. My bookseller has now about ten thousand of the third and fourth volumes, which he is ready to publish, having already disposed of as large an edition both of the first and second volume. As he is a person whose head is very well turned to his business, he thinks they would be a very proper present to be made to persons at christenings, marriages, visiting days, and the like joyful solemnities, as several other books are frequently given at funerals. He has printed them in such a little portable volume, that many of them may be ranged together upon a single plate; and is of opinion, that a salver of Spectators would be as acceptable an entertainment to the ladies, as a salver of sweetmeats.
I shall conclude this paper with an epigram lately sent to the writer of the Spectator, after having returned my thanks to the ingenious author of it.