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which his arguments center is that the soul is absolutely distinct from the body, and that the latter but clogs and cripples its marvelous activity. In dreams the soul has full play, being as free from the trammels of the body as if it had left it for a while, and was disporting itself in utter forgetfulness of its fleshly charge. If this be true, what must be the freedom and energy of the disembodied state; and what may not a soul develop and achieve when the millstone of the body, with its pains, its ailments, and its imperfections, does not require its watchful care! Then indeed may souls, now apparently sluggish and witless, be lively and intelligent, "the grave abound in pleasantries, the dull in repartees and points of wit." This is a characteristic of dreams which is supported by considerable evidence, and Dr. Abercrombie relates some singular instances in confirmation of Addison's remark. Emotions, such as joy and sorrow, are intensified in dreams, and can not fail to have a great effect on the life. And so Addison asks these two questions, which, with him, we leave to the solution of the reader. First: "Supposing a man always happy in his dreams, and miserable in his waking thoughts, and that his life were equally divided between them, whether would he be more happy or miserable?" Second: "Were a man a king in his dreams and a beggar awake, and dreamed 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?" Although there can be no doubt of the independent action of the soul in dreams, and its increased powers, he thinks it a pernicious practice to lay stress and regulate the future conduct on the mere evidence of transient dreams, which may have no meaning beyond the present hour.
Leaving history, let us ask ourselves, "What is it to dream? and what evidence have we of the state of the mind and body in dreaming?" Well, then, to dream, is to think during sleep. Ideas and trains of thought follow one another in quick succession, and in a manner over which we have no control. And what is thought? This is the question which has distracted the minds of philosophers from the most ancient times down to the present day. Broadly speaking, there are two important theories which have been put forth with equal vigor by opposing reasoners. The first maintains that thought is intuitive, an affair of the mind, is totally independent of the body, and can exist and will exist hereafter without it, that the body is a temporary habitation for the soul, a casket containing a precious jewel which must be yielded up at death, and that in dreaming the mind is "fancy free" and uncontrolled while its sluggish jailer is asleep.
The other asserts that body and mind are inseparable, and can no more exist without each other than a fire can without fuel, that mind is a peculiar organization and development of matter, an affair of blood and nerve, a conglomeration of nucleated corpuscles which for all the world resemble infinitesimal tadpoles, bundles of fibers in which that mysterious phosphorus holds its sway in company with untold electric batteries. The development of thought is therefore the development of matter; ideas become embodied in ganglia and cerebral hemispheres, and as these increase in number and weight the intellect increases in "wisdom and stature." Whether thought be identical with brain-substance and part and parcel of its structure, or whether it exist independently of matter, and use matter only as its vehicle for communicating with a material world, we will not stay to inquire, beyond hazarding the opinion that the truth as usual lies between the two, that the connection between them is as intimate as it is mysterious, and that if one suffer both suffer. It is, however, an established fact that intellect, as a general rule, is proportionate to weight of brain, and that, the more convoluted a brain is, the more intelligent is the being which possesses it. The average weight of the human brain, we are told, is about forty-eight ounces; but there are great occasional variations, as we might expect from the great varieties of men. Lord. Campbell's brain, for instance, weighed seventy-nine ounces, Cuvier's sixty-four, Dr. Abercrombie's sixty-three, a Bushwoman's brain, mentioned by Mr. Marshall Hall, thirty-one and a half ounces, and that of an idiot woman, whose age was forty-two, only ten ounces. The last-mentioned could scarcely walk, was just able to nurse a doll and to say a few words. In the matter of convolution some qualification is necessary. Cuvier's brain was rich in convolutions, but men of known mental superiority have not been so distinguished in this respect as some of their intellectual -inferiors. A dog's brain, moreover, is less convoluted than that of a sheep, though none would deny that a dog is far more intelligent than a sheep.
It therefore appears that, if the bodily mechanism goes wrong, the mind will be more or less affected; and the phenomena of dreams are to a great extent referable to this principle. To seek out the physical disarrangement or discomfort is the first and most natural interpretation of dreams. But this physical explanation is often insufficient to account for the far-reaching powers of the mind in sleep, though it may account for the irritation which has started the dream. Then, again, it has been said that we are not wholly asleep when we dream, and that in really
sound sleep dreams are unknown. The senses drop off one by one, and not altogether, as is popularly supposed. With the closing of the eyelids the sense of sight disappears, then taste and smell. Hearing follows, and last of all the sense of touch. The two latter are certainly more susceptible in sleep than the former, and it has therefore been said that they sleep with less soundness. Another explanation would be that the sleeper is more likely to be disturbed by sounds and touches than by other sensations from without. It is further asserted that certain muscles begin to sleep before others, that sleep commences at the extremities, beginning with the feet and legs, and creeping" toward the center of the nervous action." We all know the necessity of keeping the feet warm before going to sleep. It may be taken as an established fact that particular sensations are localized in particular portions of the brain; and it frequently happens that some of the mental faculties are suspended while others are still active. These faculties, too, may be kept alive by an excess of nervous energy flowing to them, and a train of thoughts kept up with surprising vigor. Association has full play, and there are no distracting influences from without. But this theory of dreaming, during partial sleep only, does not explain all circumstances, and it has, moreover, opposed to it the evidence of many of the deepest thinkers. Sir William Hamilton says that "whether we recollect our dreams or not, we always dream," though he goes on to add that, "as a general rule, those faculties are most in action which have been least exhausted during the day." It is certainly a matter of observation that many dreams seem to have no direct connection with our present circumstances. Forgetfulness of dreams is common with some people, though they may have been heard to talk in their sleep. Kant says: “To cease to dream would be to cease to live; the mind must necessarily be active." Dr. Cunningham, in an article which he wrote some years ago, remarks that all thought is objective and pictorial. "We can not think," he urges, "without thinking of something, and that something must be thought of as outside the mind. It is not our thoughts, but the things we think of, that are present to our consciousness; and thus our thinking consists of a series of visions."
But whatever impressions arise in our minds during sleep, we believe that they have a real and present existence; and our sensations are often so acute as to awake us in a manner anything but pleasant. Events that have happened long ago come before us; we take our part in them, and are not surprised in the least at their recurrence. We see friends who have perhaps
been long dead; we talk to them, and they talk to us, and often there seems nothing strange in the matter. Indeed, as a rule, the dead live again for us in our dreams.
Another fact which has been pretty clearly established is, that we have no measure of time when asleep-a moment may seem a thousand years, and the events of a thousand years be crowded into a moment. This suggests a very serious thought; for if this be indeed the property of the soul in the disembodied state, time will appear to us eternity. Those who have studied the matter most closely agree in acknowledging that our longest dreams do not last above a few minutes, if indeed they last so many seconds. It has frequently happened that the cause of a dream and the dream itself have taken place in the same moment. The student who burns the midnight oil" can recount many instances of this sort which have occurred through dropping a book, stirring the fire, or carrying about a light. Dr. Abercrombie, in his "Intellectual Powers," relates a remarkable dream of this kind. A gentleman dreamed that he enlisted for a soldier; that after a time he joined the regiment, and remained a soldier for a long period; that he deserted, and was taken, tried, and condemned to be shot, and at last led out to execution. The usual preliminaries were gone through, the gun was fired, and he awoke "instead of being shot." A noise in the next room had both caused his dream and awakened him. Another gentleman, who had once slept in a damp bed, always felt a sensation of suffocation when in a lying posture, as if a skeleton were grasping his throat and causing him the greatest agony. And yet his attendant assured him that the moment he began to sink into a lying posture he was roused. If we dream, as has been asserted, the whole of the time we are asleep, and remember or forget our dreams according as our sleep is deep or light, what a multitude will occur in a single night, and how many must be entirely lost to us! The dreams which we most distinctly remember are probably those which occur during imperfect sleep, or when the sleep begins to be broken by an approach toward waking. It often happens that a person dreams, and yet feels conscious that it is only a dream. This also, no doubt, happens at the point of awaking-in fact, just when reason is beginning to be exercised.
Dreams, with respect to cause, may be arranged under three heads: First, those which are caused by sensations of the muscular feelings, the viscera, and the senses proper; secondly, those which seem only to be referable to the mind and the memory; thirdly, those to which, in default of further evidence, we must assign a supernatural interpretation.
With regard to dreams of sensation, it has already been remarked that hearing and touch seem to be the most acute in sleep, though sight and taste have much to account for in producing unpleasant visions. Indigestion, it is well known, is a fruitful cause of bad dreams; and to go to bed on a heavy supper is simply to court the most frightful apparitions. An empty stomach, on the contrary, seems to have a very favorable effect on the dreaming mind. Those who have been kept without food generally imagine themselves guests at a delightful feast, and it is related of Baron Trenck, when lodged in a dungeon, and almost dying of hunger, that he dreamed nearly every night of the table luxuries of Berlin. The dreams of such persons are, indeed, so remarkably bright and agreeable that Byron and other authors of his school when in Italy sometimes fasted for several days in order to produce brilliant effects on their imaginations. Particular kinds of food and plants, too, have a very powerful influence over the mind in sleep, and the frightful slumbers consequent on the habitual use of opium, Indian hemp, and other narcotics are well known. The visions of De Quincey "in his cups " make the blood run cold; and his "Confessions of an Opium-Eater," if sown broadcast in China, where the pernicious poppy is so largely exported, should be enough to frighten even "celestial" pates into abandoning a practice which, like a canker-worm, is eating away the very life of the nation. But Chinese depravity and misery are, in this matter, India's gain.
It has been often remarked how singularly unproductive of dreams is the sense of smell; nor have we been able to find any properly authenticated cases caused by this sense alone. The organ of sight undergoes a curious change during sleep, as may be proved by slightly raising the eyelid. The pupil is observed to be contracted, and will quiver with an irregular motion as if inclined to dilate, but it at length ceases to move, and will remain contracted till the person awakes. If a strong light be held before the sleeper's eyes he is almost sure to awake; but, at the very moment, he may have a dream of some tremendous fire, perhaps that his house is in flames. The ear of the dreamer is generally on the alert, and proves a gong to the mysterious spirit to make its airy rounds. To some sleepers the sound of a flute fills the air with music, or they dream of a delightful concert. A loud noise will produce terrific thunder and crashings unutterable, and at the same time awake the sleeper. According to Dr. Abercrombie a gentleman who had been a soldier dreamed that he heard a signalgun, saw the proceedings for displaying the signals, heard the bustle of the streets, the assem
bling of troops, etc. Just then he was roused by his wife, who had dreamed precisely the same dream, with this addition, that she saw the enemy land, and a friend of her husband killed; and she awoke in a fright. This occurred at Edinburgh at the time when a French invasion was feared, and it had been decided to fire a signal-gun at the first approach of the foe. This dream was caused, it appears, by the fall of a pair of tongs in the room above; and the excited state of the public mind was quite sufficient to account for both dreams turning on the same subject. An old lady, a friend of the writer, relates a similar dream which occurred to her just before the battle of Waterloo, when the fear of an invasion by Napoleon was at its height. She heard the march of troops in the streets, and the screams of the populace. They broke into her own house, ransacked it, and pursued her with bayonets. She fell on the floor and pretended to be dead. After sundry thrusts, which seemed to her "roving spirit" to be quite innocuous, the soldiers remarked that she was “done for.” They departed, and she escaped to consciousness. This dream was no doubt caused, in the first instance, by a noise in the house or street, and the painless bayonet-thrusts by some slight irritation, such as a hair-pin or other adjunct to dress. Whispering in a sleeper's ear will often produce a dream; and there are cases on record in which people who sleep with their ears open have been led through dreadful agonies at the will of their wakeful tormentors. The vivid description* given of a young officer so treated by his comrades is both interesting and suggestive. In changing our position, as we constantly do in sleep, we touch the bedclothes, etc., perhaps the nose gets tickled or the sole of the foot, and dreams painful or pleasant are the consequence. These may seem trivial causes, but it must be remembered that the mind is ready to fly into the realms of fancy at the slightest intimation. People have often dreamed of spending the severest winters in Siberia, and of joining the expeditions to the north pole, simply because the bedclothes have been thrown off during sleep. It is said that a moderate heat applied to the soles of the feet will generate dreams of volcanoes, burning coals, etc. Dr. Gregory dreamed of walking up the crater of Mount Etna, and that he felt the earth warm under his feet. He had placed a hot-water bottle at his feet on going to bed. The memory of a visit he had once paid to Mount Vesuvius supplied the mental picture. Persons suffering from toothache imagine that the operator is tugging at the faulty tooth, and somehow can not extract it; or, as in Dr. Greg
* Abercrombie, "Intellectual Powers."
ory's case, he draws out the wrong one, and leaves the aching tooth in statu quo. A blister applied to the head is highly suggestive of being scalped by Indians, especially if Mayne Reid's ghastly details are at all fresh in the memory.
Coming to dreams which seem only capable of being referred to the mind and the memory, some very curious theories have been put forth to explain them. The body is perfectly at rest, and there certainly appears in these cases to be but a slender connection between the soul and its material dwelling-place. And hence has arisen the notion that the mind does actually leave the body and witness the events of which we dream. If so, vast distances are traversed in a moment, if indeed space can be spoken of in connection with the disembodied soul. In the middle ages many and ingenious were the attempts to account for infinite spaces being passed over in infinitesimal times. Some were daring enough to assert that by a single effort of the will they were first at one place and then at another without having passed through the intervening space. movements of angels on their missions to mankind offered ample scope for the play of fancy, which in those days often became as erratic as the wildest dreams. And this is saying a great deal, for the majority of dreams are as incoherent and improbable as they are numerous. Ideas chase and jostle each other like a mob of rioters. Time, place, circumstances, are alike violated, and we do not feel in the least astonished at the incongruity. We walk in the streets arm-in-arm with people who never have met and who never can meet in this world. Bacon, Shakespeare, and other venerable characters will accompany us down Regent Street and make no remarks on the march of progress. But every one will admit that other dreams are just the reverse of these. Trains of thought sometimes follow each other with a regularity and a coherence which simply astound the dreamer in his waking hours. Condorcet, the French philosopher, whose frigid manners but warm heart caused him to be likened to a volcano covered with snow, seemed able to freeze the "airy sprite " even in sleep; and it is said that some of his most abstruse calculations were accomplished in dreams. We hear, too, of a certain lawyer seriously perplexed with a complicated law case, whose troubled soul sought refuge in sleep. In the night, his wife saw him get up, walk to a writing-table, compose an elaborate opinion," place it carefully in a drawer, and return to bed. Next morning he remembered nothing of his dream, and could not believe it till his wife gave him ocular demonstration of the fact by pointing out the drawer where the "opinion" lay complete. Students and poets are often indebted to dreams for their brightest ideas,
and the marvelous composition of the fragment "Kubla Khan" by Coleridge will occur to every reader. He says that he had fallen asleep in his chair while reading in "Purchas's Pilgrimage" of a palace built by Khan Kubla, and remained asleep about three hours, during which time he "could not have composed less than two or three hundred lines." The images rose up before him as things, and with them the corresponding expressions, "without any sensation or consciousness of effort." When he awoke he instantly sat down to commit his composition to paper, but was called away by a person on business; and when he returned to resume the poem it had utterly vanished from his memory. Languages long forgotten, or apparently but imperfectly known in waking life, have been known to recur in dreams and delirium. Abercrombie relates several authenticated instances of this sort; and the writer knew an able clergyman who, when a boy, preached over in his sleep the sermon he had last heard, seemingly word for word, and it was no uncommon occurrence for his friends to gather round his bedside to hear his discourse. But he was endowed with a marvelous memory in his waking hours; and, on one occasion, it is said, he learned three books of Euclid on his way home from school. Missing documents and forgotten places are sometimes recovered in dreams. Sir Walter Scott, in his notes to "The Antiquary," speaks of a gentleman sorely troubled in his mind because he was pressed for the payment of some tithe-money which he believed was unjustly charged, and which he had a confused recollection of as having been bought out by his deceased father many years ago. In his dreams he thought the shade of his father appeared to him and inquired the cause of his grief. Not at all startled at the apparition, he gravely stated the facts of the case. The shade told him that he must seek out an old lawyer who had retired from professional business and was now living at Inveresk. He gave the lawyer's name, and remarked that the papers relating to the purchase of the tithes were in his hands now, but that as the transaction had occurred many years ago, and this was the only one in which the lawyer was ever engaged on his account, it would be necessary to call it to his recollection by this token, that "when I went to pay his account there was a difficulty in getting change for a Portugal piece of gold, and we were forced to drink out the balance at a tavern." On reaching Inveresk, the gentleman called upon the lawyer, who could not remember the transaction till the incident of the Portugal coin was mentioned, when it all recurred to his memory. The documents were handed over to him and carried to Edinburgh to prove his case. Sir Walter Scott
himself disclaims all idea of a supernatural agency in this dream, and thinks it quite explicable on the assumption that the son had heard the details of the transaction from his father long before, and that the missing links were recovered in his dream by a complicated train of association.
Dreams are sometimes said to be the reflex of our waking thoughts, and the exponents of the soul's character. Evil propensities will produce evil dreams. The sleeping culprit writhes as he listens to the reproaches and accusations that disturb his slumber, and his mind is far more distracted by night than by day. The midnight cravings of love, blighted by a hapless fate, are portrayed by Pope in Eloisa's passionate appeal to Abelard :
"When at the close of each sad, sorrowing day,
Leaving what may be called "sensational " and "mental" dreams, there remains what, in default of a better term, we have called supernatural dreams. But here we tread on dangerous ground, and must be cautious; for skeptics have eyes like the eagle, weapons of opposition keen and sharp-edged, and are as jealous and solicitous about the uniformity of nature's laws as a lover of his mistress. It must be frankly admitted that powers and influences of a natural kind may be at work in producing dreams of which we are ignorant, but which may some day be discovered by the ever-brightening eye of Science. But provisionally, at all events, we must claim for some dreams a higher origin. By such dreams as these, great and crushing evils have been avoided, the innocent spared, and the guilty detected. Some years ago, it is related, a peddler was murdered in the north of Scotland, and the crime re
"I waste the matin lamp in sighs for thee;
Thy image steals between my God and me;
Priests, tapers, temples, swim before my sight."
man came forward, and declared that he had had a dream in which there was shown to him a house, and a voice directed him to a spot near the house where was buried the pack of the murdered man; and, on search being made, the pack was actually found near the spot. At first it was thought that the dreamer was himself the murderer, but the man who had been accused confessed the crime, and said that the dreamer knew nothing about it. It turned out afterward that the murderer and the dreamer had been drinking together for several days a short time after the murder. It has been suggested, as a possible solution, that the murderer allowed statements to escape him while under the influence of drink which had been recalled to the other in his dream, though he had not the slightest remembrance of them in his sober hours.* A gentleman dreamed his house was on fire; and the dream made so vivid an impression that he immediately returned, saw it on fire indeed, and was just in time to save one of his children from the flames. A lady dreamed
So powerful an influence do they exert on her conduct and daily life that the ceremonial pomp of the convent in which she is hopelessly immured fails to hold her wandering thoughts, and she exclaims:
but cured the mischievous propensity. Dr. Reid, too, after suffering much in the same way, adopted the same plan; and for forty years afterward he was not even sensible of dreaming at all! Pascal, "one of the sublimest spirits of the world," had much faith in the influence of dreams, and said, "If we dreamed every night the same thing, it would doubtless affect us as powerfully as the objects which we perceive every day," and proceeds to propound the problem of the king and artisan which Addison borrowed. We must look well into our hearts and lives if we would have pleasant dreams; and not delude ourselves like the Irishman who took the mirror to bed to see how he looked when he was asleep.
Many little sins and secret inclinations which seem to escape us awake are disclosed to us in our dreams; and any particular tendency in a man's character may be strengthened by the repeated action of dreams. Sir Benjamin Brodie says that, as they are an exercise of the imagination, "we may well conceive them as tending to increase that faculty during our waking hours," and possibly also to serve a much higher purpose. It is therefore of some importance to study the art of procuring pleasant dreams, and Dr. Franklin has some very pertinent remarks in his essay on this subject. Unpleasant dreams, too, need to be banished; and the horrible propensity for precipices and yawning chasms which some dreamers have is well known. Dr. Beattie found himself once, in a dream, standing in an uncomfortable situation on the parapet of a bridge. Recollecting that he was never given to pranks of this sort, he fancied it might be a dream, and so determined to throw himself headlong, hoping that this would rouse him. It not only roused him,
* Abercrombie, "Intellectual Powers."