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as the exertion of the nobler faculties of the mind requires more vigorous efforts, so we find that these are the powers affected and suspended by sleep; judgment, memory, reflection, and consciousness, gradually ceasing, and the imagination alone being left awake; which active faculty, being indeed the power of thinking and forming ideas, is not to be overpowered or suspended, for the soul must always necessarily think, although she may be so disturbed or restrained by the impressions of matter, as not to be always capable of arranging her thoughts, and reflecting and reasoning upon them. The state of the soul in sleep, therefore, seems to me not to be the weakest proof of her immortality and excellence. Sleep is justly observed to be the image of death, and this temporary death, we see, does not destroy the power of thinking; the soul indeed seems to be deprived of her nobler faculties, but that is only caused by the still subsisting union between her and the sleeping body, which clogs and renders her less active and powerful. But were the death rendered perfect and complete by the dissolution of this union, and the soul quite disincumbered, then we might expect that she would not only exert all her present faculties with inconceivable vigour, but perhaps find new powers to which she is now quite a stranger. Her nobler faculties are impeded by the indisposition of the bodily organs, aud suspended by her union with them whilst they are in a dead and torpid state, and rise in perfection and vigour according as her material fetters less incumber and sit lighter upon her.
In the argument I have considered dreaming in general as the effect of the operation of our own minds, as indeed I believe it is, but I do not absolutely deny that dreams may sometimes be suggested by superior spiritual beings. The properest time for such impressions, or infusions, is certainly when the soul is not conscious, nor under her own command, her powers suspended, and her most vigilant and discerning centinels asleep. The famous Sylla, a man not at all addicted to superstition, gave great credit to dreams; we have instances of several extraordinary dreams in holy writ, and we find all antiquity paid a great regard to them. But such predictive inspired dreams must be very rare, they must be also rational and consistent, and the impressions strong and lively, therefore easily distinguishable from others, and not needing interpretation; so that those instances should afford no encouragement to a weak and superstitious anxiety and solicitude about every idle fancy that passes though our heads in sleep, nor induce us to pay any regard.
to the ridiculous and dreaming rules given by Artemidorus and other profound personages, for the interpretation of dreams.
II. Joy and Grief in Dreams, why superior to reality.
MR. URBAN THE following speculations may, perhaps, not be thought unworthy of insertion in a Magazine, which, in the diversity of its contents, appears to embrace every possible subject of research.
That we are frequently affected in a much more lively manner with joy and grief in our dreams than we ever experienced when awake, is a fact sufficiently notorious. There is often a peculiar glow of colouring in our raptures, and in our distresses, in these imaginary scenes, which no power of language can describe, nor any situation in actual life realize. Few persons, I believe, Sir, have ever passed through life without making this reflection. Philosophers, I know, have endeavoured to account for this phenomenon, by supposing, that the soul in sleep, being more abstracted from the body, is more open to those finer sensibilities which the grossness of our material organs either totally extinguishes, or considerably deadens, when we are awake: but, I must confess, Sir, the errors, the follies, the absurdities, of dreams, are such, that I cannot draw any inference from the superior perfection of the soul in that state, to explain any phenomenon whatever. An intelligent friend, with whom I was conversing on the subject, has given a much more easy, and, as it appears to me, satisfactory, solution of the question, “When we are awake,” says he, “we are never entirely occupied with the object before us; we are either looking back on the past, or forward to the future; and our attention is always, in some degree, more or less, diverted from the direct impression of the moment; but, in sleep, both memory and foresight are extinguished; we are solely occupied with the object before us; and we receive from that object the full impression it is capable of producing on our minds."
There are not wanting a variety of topics to illustrate and enforce this opinion of my friend. Supposing the natural acuteness of feeling the same, a man possesses sensibility
in proportion as he is abstracted from the cares of life. A man immersed in business or pleasure can never be a man of sensibility. The man of sensibility is, if I may say so, in a state of perpetual dream; he lives and acts in a world of his own creation; and attends to external circumstances little more than as they coincide with his internal system.He feels more than other men on particular subjects, because he feels on other subjects less. The effect of ebriety is to make us forgetful of the past, and careless of the future: in this state we are particularly open to the impression of the moment; those impressions are generally pleasurable, and a state of moderate intoxication is a state of jollity: but we are highly susceptible on these occasions of grief as well as of joy, and the most affecting scenes I ever witnessed have taken place after a free circulation of the bottle. Madness, Sir, -that most dreadful and tremendous calamity which afíicts the human species---madness appears often to arise from excess of sensibility. A man of high and acute feelings is deeply struck with some momentous event; he broods over it day and night; his mind at length becomes totally occupied and possessed with this idea ; and we behold him a maniac. I speak, Sir, from observation. That there are “in madness joys which none but madmen know", has been affirmed by one who was not-unacquainted with the sensations of that frightful malady; and I believe him. There appear, too, to be sorrows and anguish in that state, which no sound imagination can conceive.
I will not at present, Mr. Urban, occupy any more of your time. The subject on which I have touched, appears to me as a matter of mere curiosity, extremely interesting; if you and your readers should be of the same opinion, I may possibly resume it on some future occasion.
Yours, &c. 1793, May.
III. Effects of Imagination on Pregnant Women disproved. In a
Letter from an eminent Physician to a married Lady.
MADAM, YOU remember how much I astonished you, the other day, by calling in question the wonderful effects of the imagination in pregnant women. You told me, you had not supposed, till then, there was a man living who doubted sa
notorious a fact. You thought it had never been denied, that a fright, a longing, and various other passions of the mother, would affect the embryo in such a manner as to produce a deformity, or preternatural appearance, in some one part of its body. At the same time you declared, how happy it would make you, and many other women, could I explode this prejudice, if it were a prejudice, for that you were almost afraid to stir abroad, lest some strange object should injure your offspring ; and, in short, that the whole term of your pregnancy, was on this account, a state of uneasiness and apprehension. In order, therefore, to remove this anxiety, I shall endeavour to demonstrate, that, notwithstanding the almost universality of the opinion, it is one of the superstitions of ancient times, and has no betterauthority for its support than prescription.
The histories of monstrous births, where the imperfection or deformity is ascribed to some affection of the mother, are numberless; and indeed so authenticated, that an ad tocate for the powerof imagination will triunphantly tell
you, facts are stubborn things, and that all reasoning is sophistry, when opposed to facts: but the answer to this kind of argument is, that experience shews it is difficult to ascertain a fact; and that, when we coolly and carefully examine the truth of reputed facts, they are often discorered to have been advanced through hastiness and credulity, and to have been perpetuated through ignorance and servility. It is entirely owing to the fashion of scrutinizing into facts, that the arts and sciences have made a greater progress within these last two centuries, than they had done the preceding two thousand years. Upon this principle, therfore, I shall inquire into the credibility of those histories; and, if I can det monstrate, that they are incredible, you will then grant, that these boasted facts are either innocent delusions, or downright impostures.
The productions of nature, in the several classes both of living and inanimate things, are not all equally perfect. We see in birds, beasts, and plants, 'every now and then, an ir. regular or preternatural formation; but when the accident happens to the human species, an opinion has been adopted; that a fright, or some other affection of the mother, in the course of her pregnancy, has wrought the change. They mean, if they mean any thing, that at the instant the mother received the impression, the child was of the natural form, but, by the power of her imagination, the structure of the parts was that moment altered, and assumed the apo pearance either suddenly or gradually, with which the child
was born. They must conceive, that the infant who is born with a large discolouration on any part of its skin, had, before the discolouration took place, a fair skin : that the child who is born with six toes, had originally but five; and again that the child who is born with one leg, or one arm, had ori. ginally two; and so of every other preternatural appearance, whether it be an increase or defect of the parts of the body.
Now, Madam, to shorten my letter as much as possible, I shall single out a case, from the many narratives published in favour of that opinion; and, by exposing the absurdity of this one example, you will infer, that all the other wonderful stories of the same kind, are equally absurd. Is has been alleged, that a lady advanced five or six months in her pregnancy, has been so terrified by a beggar's thrust. ing suddenly the stump of an amputated arm into her coach, that the child, of which she was afterwards brought to bed, was born with a stump of an arm, resembling that of the beggar.
Be so good to pause here awhile, and consider what an operation must be performed to work this effect. A child at the term of five or six months, is of a considerable bulk, and the arm itself not small. This arm must drop off by the power of imagination; there inust be no blood lost to en danger the life of the child, and the wound must be healed before the birth. Does not the mere stating this proposition expose its ridiculousness ? I am almost ashamed to arge any other reasons to demonstrate the folly of it; bus shall observe, for argument's sake, that, admitting a limb could drop off by the force of fancy, it still would remain with the 'mother, till the delivery; the bones, at least, would not putrify and waste away, though the flesh should; but it was never pretended, in cases of this nature, that any part of the limb was found by the midwife; and, what is also worthy of observing, the stumps of all such imperfect limbs have a smooth skin, which plainly evinces they were, from their first formation, of the same figure; for, had there been a wound, there would have been a scar, and scars are very distinguishable from sound skin.
Perhaps you will reply, that, in the instance I have quoted, they committed a mistake who ascribed such an event to such a cause; but that, probably, though the power of imagination cannot work on the large limbs such greae effects, still it may on the less. In answer to this supposition, I must inform you, that the histories of this kind stand upon the same foundation, and are equally well attested with any of the others, which may appear less marvellous ;