Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

and even rouse the organs of the will—the muscles-into activity. There are instances of persons having finished the most beautiful poems while dreaming; of others having composed music, or completed things which when awake they had left unfinished. Examples of the prediction of future events are so frequent and so well authenticated as to result that it is unnecessary to make any quotations here: all this taken together induces the belief that the spirit of dreams is identical with that of the seer as well as that of the poet and prophet. And why should not a bigher inspiration come over the dreamer, in which the divine breath planted within him might inflame his heart and illuminate his countenance, so that, like David, he should raise hymns of praise to his Creator, who permits him to look beyond the bounds of time and space ? Dreams also give evidence of the universal and original language which sees the original in its symbol, and at once comprehends it, while the prosaic understanding is occupied with its laborious explanations and conclusions. In this manner the poetic dreamer, the Pythia, and the Prophets, are of similar origin and powers.

It is not of rare occurrence that relations, or persons intimately connected with each other, have similar dreams at the same time; but very peculiar when a poetic inspiration is as it were the connecting medium. It was thus that a Canon of Werda, on the Rhine, repeated the verses in which Melancthon announced his death during a dream. A friend of Schubert's, who was perfectly ignorant of his sister's illness, arose in the night of her death, and with sighs and lamentations wrote something on a paper. The next morning he found, to his alarm and astonishment, the paper with a poem on the death of his sister. (Werner.)

Through impressions produced on the outer senses, particularly by whispering into the ears, the sleeper may be forced to dream, and placed as it were in any desired frame of mind.

But more remarkable is the power of producing dreams in others by the mere action of the will. Agrippa v. Nettesheim (De Occulta Philosophia, lib. iii. p. 13, Lugd.) states “ that at a great distance it is possible, without any doubt, to influence another person spiritually, even when their position and the distance is unknown, although the time cannot

be fixed within twenty-four hours.” This had been done by the Abbot Trithemius, and he himself had also done it several times ;—(et ego id facere novi et sæpius feci.) In later times Wesermann relates many experiments in Düseldorf, of this power of sending dreams. (Kieser's Archiv. für den thier. Magnet. vol. vi. p. 136.)

It has been also remarked that in the Scotch second-sight several seers have at the same time, though at distant places, had the same visions.

As such facts are not to be disputed, and as it is well known that precisely similar thoughts and presentiments occur simultaneously among friends, it is impossible to dispute the fact of a mental communication. But how does it take place? Spirits, as intermediate beings, are out of the question; it would be a strange occupation for them, and we are not aware by what means they could make their cominunications. The transmission of the soul of one person from its proper body to the body of another person is utterly impossible, as during life the soul cannot leave the body, and is equally unable to double itself; and even could this be the case it could not act

upon the other person outwardly, but must do so inwardly and spiritually. This mutual inAuence cannot therefore be otherwise explained than by an immediate mental magnetic excitement; and, if this is possible, other mental impressions are equally possible and according to reason.

Examples of dreams from the world's early ages must not omitted. The dreams of the Israelites, as recorded in the Bible, will be noticed later. I shall mention a few from Cicero, who gives instances of

many

dreams from common life as well as having occurred to philosophers. Particularly remarkable are those of Simonides, to which the Stoics so often refer. When this Simonides discovered the corpse of an unknown person, it appeared to warn him not to go on board a vessel which he was about to do, as it would be lost at sea.

Simonides followed this admonition; but all those who were in the ship were lost during the voyage. The other and still more remarkable one was as follows:- When two Arcadians were travelling together and reached Megara, one turned into an inn, and the other went to a friend. At night, when the one who was staying at his friend's house was asleep, it seemed to him that his companion appeared, and implored him to hasten to his assistance, as the innkeeper was about to murder him: alarmed by this dream he sprang from his bed, but lay down again when he had collected his faculties, and considered the dream as of no account. However, no sooner was he asleep, than his comrade reappeared, and begged him, that, as he had been unable to render him assistance when alive, he would still avenge his murder; that he had been killed by the innkeeper, had been concealed upon a dung-cart, and that he should be driven through the city gate the next morning. This dream produced such an impression that he proceeded to the gate early in the morning, and inquired of the driver what he had in the cart : no sooner had he said this than the latter took to flight: the corpse was discovered, and the innkeeper was punished. The dream of Alexander the Great was slso most singular. Sleeping beside his friend Ptolomæus, who was mortally wounded, he dreamed that a dragon belonging to his mother appeared before him bearing in his mouth

a root which would save his friend's life. Alexander related the dream; the root was discovered, and Ptolomæus and many other soldiers recovered by its use. The wife of Julius Cæsar, Calpurnia, dreamed that her husband fell bleeding across her knees; she told him her dream, and warned him not to go out that day: heedless of her prayers he went to the forum, and was stabbed with twenty-three wounds. There are whole nations whose dreams are considered sacred. Pomponius Mela (De situ orbis, I. viii. 50) mentions a people in the centre of Africa who have the custom of sleeping on the graves of their ancestors, and who consider their dreams as the direct inspirations of the dead.

That truths are revealed to man in sleep which, awake, he is ignorant of, is so confirmed by history that few will require many examples to prove it. Dreams have been long ago described by acute observers in such a striking manner, that we perceive at once that they were able to distinguish the real from the false.

Among the Greeks the double nature of dreams was recognised, for Homer makes the following observation in the Odyssey :

Immured within the silent bower of sleep,
Two portals firm the various phantoms keep ;
Of ivory one ; whence flit, to mock the brain,
Of winged lies a light fantastic train ;
The gates opposed pellucid valves adorn,
And columns fair incased with polished horn.

Voss remarked that Homer employed a pun in these lines ; the word ivory being in Greek similar to deception, and horn to accomplishment. There was also a meaning in the material itself; horn being transparent, and ivory opaque.

At the present time innumerable examples of remarkable dreams are recorded in psychological works, particularly in Moritz's “Magazin für Seelenkunde," and Schubert's “Symbols of Dreams.” Instances of dreams which resemble magnetic clairvoyance are mentioned by Passevant. In conclusion, one dream may be mentioned from a letter of St. Augustin's to Evadius (August. Epistola 159. Editio Antwerp, i. 428) :

“I will tell you something," writes St. Augustin, "on which you may reflect. Our brother Gennadius, well known and beloved by us all, and a most renowned physician, who now lives at Carthage, and formerly distinguished himself at Rome, and who is known to us all as a pious man and a benefactor to the needy, told us lately that when a youth, notwithstanding his love for the poor, he doubted whether there could be a future existence after death. God, however, would not forsake his soul, and therefore a youth of a radiant and noble countenance appeared to him in a dream, and said, 'Follow me! Following him, he came to a city where, on the right hand, he heard sounds of the most delicious harmony. Inquiring what this might be, the youth replied that it was the singing of the saints and the just. He awoke, and the dream fled; but he reflected as much on this dream as it was possible to do. Another night the same youth appeared, and asked if he remembered him. Gennadius was able to relate the dream, and to describe the songs and rejoicings of the saints, without hesitation. The youth then asked if he had seen that which was described

In my

in his sleep, or when awake: 'During sleep,' he replied. ' You have answered and remembered well, replied the youth ; 'it is true that you saw it during sleep, and know that that which you now behold is also beheld during sleep.' The youth then said, 'Where is your body ?' sleeping apartment,' replied Gennadius. The youth : ‘But do you know that the eyes of the body are sealed and useless ?'

Gennadius.—'I know it.'

The youth.—'What description of eyes are, then, those with which you see in the body ?'

“ Gennadius was silent, and knew not what to reply. As he hesitated, the youth explained to him that which he had come to teach, and continued: “As the eyes of your body are now inactive and useless, and yet those eyes with which you behold me and this vision are truthful, so will

you after death, and when the bodily eyes are useless, be filled with a power of life and of feeling. Therefore, harbour no more doubts of a life beyond the grave.' 'In this manner,' relates our friend, 'was all my doubt removed.' And what instructed him but the providence and mercy of God?”

« PreviousContinue »