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“BESIDES innocent delusions, there is a sinful state of dreams. Death alone, not sleep, is able to put an end unto sin ; and there
may be a night book of our iniquities; for besides the transgressions of the day, casuists will tell us of mortal sins in dreams, arising from evil precogitations. Meanwhile human law regards not noctambulos; and if a night-walker should break his neck, or kill a man, takes no notice of it."-On Dreams.
TOUCHSTONE OF MORALS.
“ Zeno was of opinion that every man might and ought to know whether he profited or no in the schoole of vertue, even by his very dreames; namely, if hee tooke no pleasure to see in his sleepe any filthy or dishonest thing, nor delighted to imagine that he either intended, did, or approved, any lewd, unjust, or outrageous action, but rather did behold (as in a settled calme, without winde, weather, and wave, in the cleare bottome of the water) both the imaginative and also the passive facultie of the soule wholly overspread and lightened with the bright beames of reason ; which Plato before him (as it should
TOUCHSTONE OF MORALS.
seeme) knowing well enough, hath prefigured and represented unto us, what fantasticall motions they be that proceed in sleepe from the imagination and sensual part of the soule given by nature to tyranize and overrule the guidance of reason; namely if a man dream that he seeketh to perpetrate any great or grievous iniquity, or that he hath a great minde and appetite to eate all strange, unlawfull and forbidden meats; as if then the said tyrant gave himselfe wholy to all those sensualities and concupiscences as being let loose at such a time, which by day the law either by feare or shame doth represse and keepe downe. Like as therefore beasts which serve for draught or saddle, if they be well taught and trained, albeit their governors and rulers let the reines loose and give them the head, fling not out nor goe from the right way, but either draw or make pace forward still, and, as they were wont ordinarily, keepe the same traine and holde on in one course and order,—even so they whose sensuall part of the soule is made trainable and obedient, tame, and well schooled by the discipline of reason, will neither in dreams nor sicknesses easily suffer the lusts and concupiscences of the flesh to rage or breake out into any enormities punishable by law; but will observe and keepe still in memorie that good discipline and custome which doth ingenerate a certeine power and efficacie unto diligence, whereby they shall and will take heed unto themselves; for if the mind hath bene used by exercise to resist passions and temptations, to hold the bodie, and all the members thereof as it were with bit and bridle under subjection, in such sort that it hath in comand the eies not to shed tears for pitty ; the heart likewise not to leape and pant in feare ; the whole nature and disposition to be easily governable and obedient to the suggestions of vertue ; how can it otherwise be but that there should be more likelihood that exercise having seized upon the sensuall parts of the soul, and tamed it should polish, lay even, reforme, and bring unto good order al the imaginations and motions thereof even as farre as the dreames and fantasies in sleepers? as is reported of Hilpo the philosopher,
TOUCHSTONE OF MORALS.
who dreamed that he saw Neptune expostulating with him in anger, because he had not killed a beefe to sacrifice unto him as the manner was of other priests to doe, and that himself nothing astonied or dismaid at the said vision, should answer thus againe, 'What is it thou saist, О Neptune ? commest thou to complaine indeed like a child (who pules and cries for not having a piece big enough) that I take not up some money at interest, and put myselfe in debt, to fill the whole citie with the sent and savor of rost and burnt, but have sacrificed unto thee such as I had at home according to my abilitie and in a meane?' Whereupon Neptune (as hee thought) should merrily smile and reach forth unto him his right hand, promising that for his sake, and for the love of him, that he would that yeere send the Megarians great store of rain, and good foison of sea loaches or fishes called Aphyrce by that means comming to them by whole sculles. Such then as while they lie asleepe have no illusions arising in their braines to trouble them, but those dreames or visions only as be joious, pleasant, plaine and evident, not painfull, not terrible, nothing rough, maligne, tortuous and crooked—may boldly say that these fantasies and apparitions be no other than the reflections and raies of that light which rebound from the good proceedings in philosophie; whereas, contrariwise, the furious pricks of lust, timorous frights, unmanly and base flights, childish and excessive joies, dolorous sorrowes, and dolefull mones by reason of some piteous illusions, strange and absurd visions appearing in dreames, may be well compared unto the broken waves and billowes of the sea beating upon the rocks and craggie banks of the shore ; for that the soule having not as yet that settled perfection in itselfe which should keepe it in good order, but holdeth on a course still according to good lawes onley and sage opinions, from which when it is farthest sequestered and most remote, to wit, in sleepe, it suffereth itselfe to returne againe to the old wont and to be let loose and abandoned to the passions.”-Of proceeding in Vertue. Translated by Philemon Holland.
REGULATION OF THE PASSIONS.
JAMES BEATTIE, LL.D.
“What if I should say that dreams may be serviceable, as a means of moral improvement? I will not affirm, however, as some have done, that by them we may make a more accurate discovery of our temper and prevailing passions than by observing what passes in our minds when awake. For in sleep we are very incompetent judges of ourselves, and of everything else; and one will dream of committing crimes with little remorse, which, if awake, one could not think of without horror. But as many of our passions are inflamed or allayed by the temperature of the body, this I think may be affirmed with truth, that by attending to what passes in sleep, we may sometimes discover what passions are predominant, and so receive good hints for the regulation of them.
A man dreams, for example, that he is in violent anger, and strikes a blow, which knocks a person down and kills him. He awakes in horror at the thought of what he has done, and at the punishment he thinks he has reason to apprehend; and while, after a moment's recollection, he rejoices to find it is only a dream, he will also be inclinable to form resolutions against violent anger, lest it should one time or other hurry him on to a real perpetration of like nature. If we even derive this advantage from dreams we cannot pronounce them useless. And why may we not, in this way, reap improvement from a fiction of our own fancy as well as from a novel or a fable of Æsop?"-Dissertations, Moral and Critical.
THE REAL NATURE UNVEILED.
“Even in sleep our imaginations are not invariably at rest. Our memories still wake, while our judgment is plunged into profound sleep; and this it is which causes our dreams to abound so much in the marvellous and incoherent. Our
DREAMS REVEAL THE TRUE CHARACTER.
imaginations confound dissimilar circumstances, and bring widely distant localities together. Judgment, which in our waking moments guards our minds against these anomalous combinations, reposes from its labours, and is no longer at its post to direct the inferior faculties of the mind. Our associations are consequently directed by mere chance.
A place which we have seen is associated with the form of a person whom our eyes have never bebeld; we converse with friends to whom we have long since paid the last sad offices, and pace rooms from which we are divided by the bounding ocean. It has been well observed, that though dreams have not that prophetic virtue which superstitious persons would fain invest them with, yet they have a use to which that class never think of applying them. A man may with very great accuracy determine his own true character of mind, by reflecting upon the particulars of those fantastic visions by which his sleeping hours are haunted.
“Deprived of the natural and acquired power of judgment, the inferior faculties of the dreamer riot in their real character. Is he cruel ? He dreams of the tumults of war, the horrors of deadly strife, and the exulting shout of conquest. He feels all the bitterness of his true and unalleviated nature, as the figment of sleep paints his enemy prostrate before him, and fills his whole soul with savage triumph, and unsparing and unrelenting resolutions.
“In this manner, all other violent determinations of the waking will are, as it were, depicted in the dreams of the night. If, for instance, a cruel man dreams of committing, and exulting while he commits, more atrocious and terrible cruelty than he would willingly commit while awake, he is not the less faithfully warned in sleep of the tendency of his waking nature; for it must be borne in mind that, as has before been stated, the judgment is absent, or rather dormant, while we dream. Now it is by judgment pointing out interested motives to us, that the chief modifications and disguises of our actual and unextinguishable natures are brought about.