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and mind and body alike, for a period, lie in a state of utter unconsciousness.
Here, however, it may fairly be asked, how happens it that the same persons will at one time remember, and at another, forget his dreams? This circumstance may, we conceive, thus be explained :
Those dreams which occur in very deep sleep, and in the early part of the night, are not so likely to be remembered as those which happen towards morning, when the sleep is less profound; hence the popular notion that our morning dreams-which are always best remembered-are likely to prove true. Then, again, the imagery of some dreams is more striking, and actually makes a deeper impression than the incidents of other dreams. We are told by Sir Humphrey Davy, that on one occasion, a dream was so strongly impressed upon his eye, that even after he had risen and walked out, he could not be persuaded of its unreal nature, until his friends convinced him of its impossibility. The effect of some dreams upon children is very remarkable; they are, it is believed, more liable to dreams of terror than grown persons, which may be accounted for by their being more subject to a variety of internal complaints, such as teething, convulsions, derangement of the bowels, &c.; added to which, their reasoning faculties are not as yet sufficiently developed to correct such erroneous impressions. Hence, sometimes, children appear, when they awake, bewildered and distressed, and remain for a considerable period in a state of agitation almost resembling de lirium. The incidents which are conceived in dreams are indeed not unfrequently confounded by adults with real events; hence, we often hear people, in alluding to some doubtful circumstance, exclaim, "Well! if it be not true, I certainly must have dreamed it." We confess we have
ourselves been puzzled in this way; the spell may be broken; but the impression made by the delusion still clings to us; its shadow is still thrown across our path.
The question therefore recurs, what are Dreams? Whence do they arise? We believe that the ideas and emotions which take place in the dreaming state may be ascribed to a twofold origin. They may arise from certain bodily sensations, which may suggest particular trains of thought and feeling; or they may be derived from the operations or activity of the thinking principle itself; in which case they are purely mental. The celebrated Dr. James Gregory—whose premature death was a great loss to science-states, that having gone to bed with a vessel of hot water at his feet, he dreamt of walking up the crater of Mount Etna, and felt the ground warm under him. He likewise, on another occasion, dreamt of spending a winter at Hudson's Bay, and of suffering much distress from intense frost; and found, when he awoke, that he had thrown off the bedclothes in his sleep, and exposed himself to cold. He had been reading, a few days before, a very particular account of this colony. The eminent metaphysician, Dr. Reid, relates of himself that the dressing of a blister, which he had applied to his head, becoming ruffled, so as to produce pain, he dreamt that he had fallen into the hands of a party of North American Indians, who were scalping him. These were dreams suggested by sensations which were conveyed from the surface of the body, through the nerves, until a corresponding impression was produced on the mind. Upon the same principle, very strong impressions received during the day may modify and very materially influence the character of our dreams at night. Dr. Beattie states that once, after riding thirty miles in a very high wind, he passed a night of dreams which were so terrible, that he
found it expedient to keep himself awake, that he might no longer be tormented with them. "Had I been superstitious," he observes, "I should have thought that some disaster was impending; but it occurred to me that the tempestuous weather I had encountered the preceding day might be the cause of all these horrors." Other and less obvious causes are in constant operation. A change in the weather in the electrical state of the atmosphere-and its barometrical pressure the temperature of the bed-roomarrangements of the bed-furniture-the adjustment of the bed-clothes-nay, the position of the sleeper, particularly if he cramp a foot, or benumb an arm, will at once affect the entire concatenation and issue of his dreams.
Furthermore. Impressions may be made on the mind during sleep, by speaking gently to a person, or even whispering in the ear. We ourselves, when in Italy, could on one occasion trace the origin of a very remarkable dream to our having heard, in an obscure and half-conscious manner, during sleep, the noise of people in the streets, on All Souls'-night, invoking alms for the dead. Dr. Beattie knew a man in whom any kind of dream could be produced if his friends, gently addressing him, afforded the subject matter for his ideas. Equally curious is the circumstance that dreams may be produced by whispering in the ear. A case of this description is recorded by Dr. Abercrombie :
"An officer, whose susceptibility of having his dreams thus conjured before him, was so remarkable, that his friends could produce any kind of dream they pleased, by softly whispering in his ear, especially if this were done by one with whose voice he was familiar. His companions were in the constant habit of amusing themselves at his expense. On one occasion they conducted him through the whole progress of a quarrel, which ended in a duel; and
when the parties were supposed to meet, a pistol was put into his hand, which he fired off in his sleep, and was awakened by the report. On another, they found him. asleep on the top of a locker or bunker in the cabin, when, by whispering, they made him believe he had fallen overboard; and they then exhorted him to save himself by swimming. He immediately imitated the motions of swimming. They then suggested to him that he was being pursued by a shark, and entreated him to dive for his life. This he did, or rather attempted, with so much violence, that he threw himself off the locker, by which he was bruised, and, of course, awakened." Dr. Abercrombie adds that the most remarkable circumstance connected with this case was, that after these and a variety of other pranks had been played upon him, "he had no distinct recollection of his dreams, but only a confused feeling of oppression or · fatigue, and used to tell his friends that he was sure they had been playing some tricks upon him."
It appears also and the fact is very remarkable—that a similar kind of sensation will produce the same description of dream in a number of individuals at the same time. Hence different people will sometimes have the same dream. We read of a whole regiment starting up in alarm, declaring they were dreaming that a black dog had jumped upon their breasts and disappeared, which curious circumstance was explained by the discovery, that they had all been exposed to the influence of a deleterious gas, which was generated in the monastery. The effect of music, also, in exciting delightful dreams, has often been attested. A French philosopher whose experiments are reported by Magendie, according to the airs which he had arranged should be played while he was asleep, could acter of his dreams directed at pleasure.
have the char"There is an
art," says Sir Thomas Browne-in his usual quaint style— "to make dreams as well as their interpretations; and physicians will tell us that some food makes turbulent, some gives quiet dreams. Cato, who doted upon cabbage, might find the crude effects thereof; and Pythagoras might have had calmer sleeps if he had totally abstained from beans."
The influence of the day's occurrences, and the thoughts which have occupied the mind during the day, have been said to give a corresponding tone and coloring to our dreams at night. Thus the lover dreams of his mistress; the miser of his gold; the merchant of his speculations ; the man of science of his discoveries. The poets of all ages and nations adopt this view. Virgil describes Dido forsaken by Æneas, wandering alone on a desert shore in pursuit of the Tyrians. Milton represents Eve relating to Adam the dreams which were very naturally the repetition of her waking thoughts. Petrarch invokes the beauty of Laura. Eloisa, separated from Abelard, is again happy in his company, even amidst "dreary wastes" and low-browed rocks."
There can be no doubt that the dreams of many persons are very greatly influenced by the reflections and emotions they have experienced the preceding day; but this is by no means invariably the case. We have known persons whose dreams refer habitually to events which occurred to them, perhaps, twenty years ago, and upon whom recent events seem to possess no such influence. We have often been told by ladies happily and affectionately married, that while they were engaged, although their thoughts were naturally much set on their engagement, they never dreamt of their lovers. So, also, the father of a family, habitually impressed with a sense of his responsibility and affection