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No. 586. FRIDAY; August 27, 1714.
BY DR. BYROM.
— Qua invito usurpant homilies, cogitant, curunt, vulcnt, quxque agunt vigilante; agitantque, ea cuique in somno accidunt- Cic. de Div.
The things which employ men's waking thoughts and actions recur to their imaginations in sleep.
B Y the last post I received the following letter, which is built upon a thought that is new, and very well carried on: for which reasons I shall give it to the public without alteration, addition or amendment.
"It was a good piece of advice which Pythagoras gave to his scholars, that every night before they slept they should examine what they had been doing that day, and so discover what actions were worthy of pursuit to-morrow, and what little vices were to be prevented from slipping unawares into a habit. If I might second the philosopher's advice, it should be wine, that in a morning before my scholar rose, he should consider what he had been about that' night, and with the same strictness as if the condition he has believed himself to be in was real. Such a scrutiny into the actions of his fancy must be of considerable advantage ; for this reason, because the circumstances whicha manimagineshimself induring sleep are generally such as entirely favor his inclina
tions, good or bad, and give him imaginary opportunities of pursuing them to the utmost; so that his temper will lie Fairly open to his view, while he considers how it is moved when free from those constraints which the accidents of real life put it under. Dreams are certainly the result of our waking thoughts, and our daily hopes and fears are what give the mind such nimble relishes of pleasure, and such severe touches of pain in its midnight rambles. A man that murders his enemy, or deserts his friend, in a dream, had need to guard his temper against revenge and ingratitude, and take heed that he be not tempted to do a vile thing in pursuit of false or the neglect of true honor. For my part, I seldom receive a benefit, but in a night or two's time I make most noble returns for it; which, though my benefactor is not a whit the better for, yet it pleases me to think that it was from a principle of gratitude in me, that my mind was susceptible of such generous transport while I thought myself repaying the kindness of my friend; and I have often been ready to beg pardon, instead of returning an injury, after considering, that when the offender was in my power I had carried my resentment much too far.
"I think it has been observed in the course of your papers, how much one's happiness or misery may depend upon the imagination ; of which truth those strange workings of fancy in sleep are no inconsiderable instances: so that not only the advantage a man has of making discoveries of himself, but a regard to his own ease or disquiet, may induce him to accept of nay advice. Such as are willing to comply with it, I shall put into a way of doing it with pleasure, by observing only one maxim which I shall give them, vi z. To go to bed with a mind entirely free from fiassion, and a body clear of the least intemfierance.
"They indeed who can sink into sleep with their thoughts less calm or innocent than they should be, do but plunge themselves into scenes of guilt and misery ; or they who are willing to purchase any midnight disquietudes for the satisfaction of a full meal, or a skinful of wine ; these I have nothing to say to, as not knowing how to invite them to reflections full of shame and horror : but those that will observe this rule, I promise them they shall awake into health and cheerfulness, and be capable of recounting with delight those glorious moments, wherein the mind has been indulging itself in such luxury of thought, such noble hurry of imagination. Suppose a man's going supperless to bed should introduce him to the table of soma great prince or other, where he shall be entertained with the noblest marks of honor and plenty, and do so much business after, that he shall rise with as good a stomach to his breakfast as if he had fasted all night long: or suppose he should see his dearest friends remain all night in great distresses, which he could instantly have disengaged them from, could he have been content to have gone to bed without the other bottle ; believe me these effects of fancy are no contemptible consequences of commanding or indulging one's appetite.
"I forbear recommending my advice upon many other accounts, till I hear how you and your readers relish what I have already said; among whom, if there be any that may pretend it is useless to them, because they never dream at all, there may be others perhaps who do little else all day long. Were every one as sensible as I am of what happens to him in his sleep, it would be no dispute whether we pass so considerable a portion of our time in the condition of stocks and stones, or whether the soul were not perpetually at work upon the principle of thought. However, it is an honest endeavor of mine to persuade my countrymen to reap some advantage from so many unregarded hours, and as such you will encourage it.
"I shall conclude with giving you a sketch or two of my way of proceeding.
"If I have any business of consequence to do tomorrow, I am scarce dropt asleep to-night but I am in the midst of it; and when awake, I consider the whole procession of the affair, and get the advantage of the next day's experience before the sun has risen upon it.
"There is scarce a great post but what I have some time or other been in; but my behavior while I was master of a college^ pleases me so well, that whenever there is a province of that nature vacant, I intend to step in as soon as I can.
"I have done many things that would not pass examination, when I have had the art of flying or being invisible ; for which reason I am glad I am not possessed of those extraordinary qualities.
"Lastly, Mr. Spectator, I have been a great correspondent of yours, and have read many of my letters in your paper which I never wrote you. If you have a mind I should really be so, I have got a parcel of visions and other miscellanies in my noctuary, which I shall send to enrich your paper with on proper occasions.
« I am, &c.
Oxford, Aug. 20. « John Shadow." No. 587. MONDAY, August 30, 1714,
Intus, et in cute novi. Pebs. Sat. 3. v 30.
I know thee to thy bottom: from within
Tthough the author of the following vision is unknown to me, I am apt to think it may be the work of that ingenious gentleman who promised me in the last paper some extracts out of his noctuary.
"I Was the other day reading the life of Mahomet. Among many other extravagancies, I find it recorded of that impostor, that in the fourth year of his age the angel Gabriel caught him up, while he was among his play-fellows, and carrying him aside, cut open his breast, plucked out his heart, and wrung out of it that black drop of blood, in which, says the Turkish divines, is contained the fomet peccati, so that he was free from sin ever after. I immediately said to myself, though this story be a fiction, a very good moral may be drawn from it, would every man but apply it to himself, and endeavor to squeeze out of his heart whatever sins or ill qualities he finds in it.
"While my mind was wholly taken up with this contemplation, I insensibly fell into a most pleasing