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NO MIRACLE

I wait the falling on the street
Of miracle down to my feet,

I wait within my drowsy chair
A miracle upon my hair,

I wait a miracle in bed

To steal out of my dreaming head;
But when the sparrows, twittering,
Make small the morning of the spring,

I

say, "This is a prelude too

For miracle not come to you.'

April 11, 1921.

EDWARD SAPIR.

STEVENSON THE DREAMER.

R

OBERT Louis Stevenson was a curious observer of his own dreams. They were closely connected with his literary activity and once or twice gave hints to an exhausted imagination. The Chapter on Dreams shows how the dreamartist developed skill side by side with his literary twin, for both are of a piece. If you search further, the trail leads to childhood. No artist has been more conscious of his debt to the boy who framed fantasies and played with 'fury'. Treasure Island and Kidnapped are the full bloom of interests that filled his childish mind, waking and sleeping, while the flood of reminiscences which he poured out at an age when other men look mostly to the future show that his growing time still occupied his mind. Let us try to disentangle a few of the threads that bound together the child and the man, dreamer and artist.

In one of his less-known essays' Stevenson has told how the child of five or so pictured the twenty-third psalm. It was dramatized, and he was the hero. One verse may serve for

all.

'My table thou hast furnished

In presence of my foes,

My head with oil thou dost anoint
And my cup overflows.'

'I saw myself,' said Stevenson, 'seated in a kind of open stone summerhouse at table; over my shoulder a hairy, bearded, and robed presence anointed me from an authentic shoehorn; the summerhouse was part of the green court of a ruin, and from the far side of the court black and white imps discharged against me ineffectual arrows.' This fragment of fantasy rescued from oblivion has the marks of an adult dream -all save one. The images are concrete and visual; they are gathered from half a dozen different sources to illustrate each several element in the verse-thus the authentic shoehorn comes from a quaint illustration of the anointing of Saul by Samuel and the imps are from the Pilgrim's Progress; and,

Rosa Quo Locorum.

finally, the effortless synthesis of all these, like the verse itself, is turned to the glory of the central figure. He is Saul and Christian in one, a prophet attends him, and the impotent arrows of the evil one set off his inviolable security. The verse, indeed, became 'alive' for him because his personal importance is enhanced by it. At first one is struck by the fact that all the elements of the vision are derived from book illustrations. This is no evidence of disinterested literary tastes, however. The child has seized on what enlarges his small experience, and tricked out his own person with consolatory images of greatness. If we may adapt a dream that vexed the child, he would fain swallow the world if it could comfortably be done. All the make-believe, the 'fury of play', and the freer self-projections that dreams allow, still further aided the lad in his explorations of a world made for him. Such are the beginnings of creative imagination. But we must pass by days and nights full of Jacobite conspiracy and the like, to the exercise of a power on which we have not yet touched, the moulding force of criticism.

The very effort to play the 'sedulous ape' to other writers implies such a selective process, and Stevenson has told 'by what arts of impersonation and in what purely ventriloquial efforts I first saw my words on paper.' But the power which we are to discuss, the element lacking in the naïve day-dream, is far from being voluntary or conscious, yet casts its shadow upon waking and dream life too. The main fascination of the Chapter on Dreams is Stevenson's sense of this constant tension and pressure of the mind. We will and think, but underneath a drama goes forward which we do not plan and seem hardly to control. The persons in it are shot out of a past so alien that the puppets are hardly recognized as ours.

But Freud has shown that even in sleep the desire to control our inmost feelings is not wholly relaxed. We must assume, he says, 'in each human being, as the primary cause of dream formation, two psychic forces (stresses, systems) of which one constitutes the wish expressed in the dream, while the other acts as a censor upon this dream wish, and by means of this censoring forces a distortion of its expression.' This theory attempts to explain the mystery that baffled Stevenson.

Not only does it insist on the duality in man, but explains that the dream-puppets are not at once recognized because they are distorted.1

One incident, made famous in the allegory of Jekyll and Hyde, is a particularly striking example of this disguise. Stevenson had been searching for a story to illustrate the existence of the profound duality in man, when he dreamed a scene in which Hyde, pursued for some crime, took the powder and underwent the change in the presence of his pursuers. The dream, of course, was not made to order; it is rather an instance of that duality. The allegory was written 'at redheat' and, as he said, much in the manner of his dreamBrownies. 'I do most of the morality, worse luck', he wrote, 'and my Brownies have not a rudiment of what we call conscience.' It is when the bonds of conscience are relaxed, though not dissolved, in sleep that the Brownies have their best chance. To adapt a phrase used by Dr. Jekyll of his drug; sleep unlocks 'the doors of the prison house of our disposition; and like the captives of Philippi, that which stood within ran forth.' But as the jailers of sleep are not entirely off guard, the price of freedom is disguise. That is why Hyde appears and why he is transformed into Jekyll. The name itself is significant, 'If he be Mr. Hyde,' thought Mr. Utterson, 'I shall be Mr. Seek.' The metamorphosis, as in the allegory, means that a second mask hides him from the dreamer's criticism, and the powder is the clumsy mechanism which effects the change. The horror of the transformation reflects the actual struggle in the mind which brings about the triumph of the 'censor.' Even then Hyde is not destroyed, he has only a more bearable mask. Such is the drama we all enact, and Stevenson's allegory has a wide appeal because men feel it is so.

This repressive power of criticism, which Stevenson saw to be exercised by his 'conscience ego' explains much that is curious in other dreams. He was always haunted, he says

We cannot further elaborate this hypothesis here. Readers unfamiliar with Freud's theory may conceive the mechanism of dreams by remembering how pagan legends took on a Christian form or how Gil Blas, apparently referring to Spain, is actually a criticism of French polity.

somewhere, by the feeling of something dark and evil lying under common experiences. Now this is a favourite motif of his dreams. There was that 'old brown curly dog of the retriever breed', who sat close against the wall of the house and seemed to be dozing 'in the heat.' 'Something about the dog disgusted the dreamer; it was quite a nameless feeling, for the beast looked right enough-indeed he was so old and dusty and broken down that he should rather have awakened pity; and yet the conviction grew upon him that this was no proper dog at all, but something hellish.' And so it was. This dream has no artistic value, but another, not impossibly on the same theme, gave birth to the tale of Olalla. The dozing figure in the court (the very home of slumber) is now a Spanish señora, placid in the sun, yet suddenly leaping to bite the dreamer's hand like a beast. It may be fanciful, but the drowsy figure in the sun, the upland place, the lodging of the dreamer upstairs in a first-floor room, the great stillness of the world, the insistent suspicion of something uncanny in the slumbering figure, the sudden discovery of horrors-all these common elements seem to hint at a common source for both scenes, disparate as are their elements. However that may be, both dreams illustrate a disguise which evades the critical self only to break out later, though even then the real character of the act is veiled.

One result of this interplay of forces is to produce that dexterity of plot in the dream which so amazed and delighted the craftsman in Stevenson. The Brownies, as it were, must not allow an inkling of the true nature of the dream to reach the critic or the curtain would be rung down. Thus in one dream the dreamer slew his father, and played an intricate game of cross-purposes with the young widow, who withheld the evidence of his crime, and kept him in suspense. At last, tortured beyond endurance, he dared her to act. 'Do you not understand?' she cried, 'I love you.' The whole dream is a means to that confession, which could not before be hazarded without abruptly stopping the story. As the full revelation was delayed, the painful uncertainties of his position left the dreamer free to remain with the lady he wished to love him. Two questions may naturally be asked about the hints—

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