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A FEW THOUGHTS ON SLEEP.

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'HIS is an article for the reader to think of when he or she

is warm in bed, a little before he goes to sleep, the clothes

at his ear, and the wind moaning in some distant crevice. “ Blessings," exclaimed Sancho, “on him that first invented sleep! It wraps a man all round like a cloak.” It is a delicious moment certainly, that of being well nestled in bed, and feeling that you shall drop gently to sleep. The good is to come-not past: the limbs have been just tired enough to render the remaining in one posture delightful; the labour of the day is done. A gentle failure of the perceptions comes creeping over one: the spirit of consciousness disengages itself more and more, with slow and hushing degrees, like a mother detaching her hand from that of her sleeping child ; the mind seems to have a balmy lid

1 closing over it, like the eye. 'Tis closing—'tis more closing—'tis closed. The mysterious spirit has gone to take its airy rounds.

It is said that sleep is best before midnight; and Nature herself, with her darkness and chilling dews, informs us so. There is another reason for going to bed betimes; for it is universally acknowledged that lying late in the morning is a great shortener of lisc—at least, it is never found in company with longevity. It also tends to make people corpulent. But these matters belong rather to the subject of early rising than of sleep.

Sleep at a late hour in the morning is not half so pleasant as the more timely one. It is sometimes, however, excusable, especially to a watchful or over-worked head; neither can we deny the seducing merits of " t other dose "—the pleasing wilfulness of nestling in a new posture, when you know you ought to be up, like the rest of the house. But then you cut up the day, and your sleep the next night.

In the course of the day, few people think of sleeping, except after dinner; and then it is often rather a hovering and nodding on the borders of sleep than a sleep itself. This is a privilege allowable, we think, to none but the old, or the sickly, or the very tired and care-worn; and it should be well understood before it is exercised in company. To escape into slumber from an argument, or to take it as an affair of course, only between you and your biliary duct, or to assent with involuntary nods to all that you have just been disputing, is not so well; much less to sit nodding and tottering beside a lady, or to be in danger of dropping your head into the fruit-plate or your host's face, or of waking up, and saying, “ Just so,” to the bark of a dog, or “ Yes, madam,” to the black at your elbow.

Care-worn people, however, might refresh themselves oftener with day-sleep than they do, if their bodily state is such as to dispose them to it. It is a mistake to suppose that all care is wakeful. People sometimes sleep, as well as wake, by reason of their sorrow. The difference seems to depend upon the nature of their temperament, though, in the most excessive cases, sleep is perhaps Nature's never-failing relief, as swooning is upon the rack. A person with jaundice in his blood shall lie down and go to sleep at noonday, when another of a different complexion shall find his eyes as uncloseable as a statue's, though he has had no sleep for nights together. Without meaning to lessen the dignity of suffering, which has quite enough to do with its waking hours, it is this that may often account for the profound sleeps enjoyed the night before hazardous battles, executions, and other demands upon an over-excited spirit.

The most complete and healthy sleep that can be taken in the day is in summer-time, out in a field. There is perhaps no

a

move.

solitary sensation so exquisite as that of slumbering on the grass or hay, shaded from the hot sun by a tree, with the consciousness of a fresh but light air running through the wide atmosphere, and the sky stretching far overhead upon all sides. Earth, and heaven, and a placid humanity, seem to have the creation to themselves. There is nothing between the slumberer and the naked and glad innocence of nature.

Next to this, but at a long interval, the most relishing snatch of slumber out of bed is the one which a tired person takes before he retires for the night, while lingering in his sitting-room. The consciousness of being very sleepy, and of having the power to go to bed immediately, gives great zest to the unwillingness to

Sometimes he sits nodding in his chair; but the sudden and leaden jerks of the head, to which a state of great sleepiness renders him liable, are generally too painful for so luxurious a moment; and he gets into a more legitimate posture, sitting sideways with his head on the chair-back, or throwing his legs up at once on another chair, and half reclining. It is curious, however, to find how long an inconvenient posture will be borne for the sake of this foretaste of repose. The worst of it is, that on going to bed the charm sometimes vanishes--perhaps from the colder temperature of the chamber, for a fireside is a great opiate.

Speaking of the painful positions into which a sleepy lounger will get himself, it is amusing to think of the more fantastic attitudes that so often take place in bed. If we could add anything to the numberless things that have been said about sleep by the poets, it would be upon this point. Sleep never shows himself a greater leveller. A man in his waking moments may look as proud and self-possessed as he pleases. He may walk proudly, he may sit proudly, he may eat his dinner proudly, he may shave himself with an air of infinite superiority ; in a word, he may show himself grand and absurd upon the most trifling occasions. But sleep plays the petrifying magician. He arrests the proudest lord as well as the humblest clown in the most ridiculous postures ; so that if you could draw a grandee from his bed without waking him, no limb-twisting fool in a pantomine should create wilder laughter. The toy with the string between its legs is hardly a posture-master more extravagant. Imagine a despot lifted up to the gaze of his valets, with his eyes shut, his mouth open, his left hand under his right ear, his other twisted and hanging helplessly before him like an idiot's ; one knee lifted up, and the other leg stretched out, or both knees huddled up together. What a scarecrow to lodge majestic power in !

But Sleep is kindly, even in his tricks; and the poets have treated him with proper reverence. According to the ancient mythologists, he had even one of the Graces to wife. He had a thousand sons, of whom the chief were Morpheus, or the Shaper; Icelos, or the Likely; Phantasus, the Fancy; and Phobetor, the Terror. His dwelling some writers place in a dull and darkling part of the earth; others, with greater compliment, in heaven ; and others, with another kind of propriety, by the sea-shore. There is a good description of it in Ovid ; but in these abstracted tasks of poetry, the moderns outvie the ancients ; and there is nobody who has built his bower for him so finely as Spenser. Archimago, in the first book of the “Faery Queene” (canto 1, st. 39), sends a little spirit down to Morpheus to fetch him a dream.

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"He, making speedy way through sperséd ayre,
And through the world of waters wide and deepe,
To Morpheus' house doth hastily repaire.
Amid the bowels of the earth full steepe,
And low, where dawning day doth never peepe,
His dwelling is. There, Tethys his wet bed
Doth ever wash; and Cynthia still doth steepe

In silver dew his ever-drouping head,
Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black doth spred.

“And more to lull him in his slumber soft,
A trickling streame, from high rocke tumbling downe,
And ever-drizzling rain upon the loft,
Mix'd with a murmuring winde, much like the soune
Of swarming bees, did cast him in a swoune.

No other noise, nor people's troublons cryes,
As still are wont to annoy the walléd towne,

Might there be heard ; but carelesse Quiet lyes,
Wrapt in eternall silence, farre from enimyes.”

Chaucer has drawn the cave of the same god with greater simplicity ; but nothing can have a more deep and sullen effect than his cliffs and cold running waters. It seems as real as an actual solitude, or some quaint old picture in a book of travels in Tartary. He is telling the story of Ceyx and Alcyone in the poem called his “ Dream.” Juno tells a messenger to go to Morpheus, and “bid him creep into the body” of the drowned king, to let his wife know the fatal event by his apparition.

“ This messenger tooke leave, and went

Upon his way; and never he stent
Till he came to the dark valley,
That stant betwixtin rockis twey.
There never yet grew corne, ne gras,
Ne tree, ne nothing that aught was,
Ne beast, ne man, ne naught else ;
Save that there weren a few wells
Came renning fro the cliffs adowne,
That made a deadly sleeping soune,
And rennen downe right by a cave,
That was under a rocke

ygrave,
Amid the valley, wonder-deepe,
There as these goddis lay asleepe,
Morpheus and Eclympasteyre,
That was the god of Slep'is heire,
That slepte, and did none other worke."

Where the credentials of this new son and heir, Eclympasteyre, are to be found, we know not ; but he acts very much, it must be allowed, like an heir presumptive, in sleeping, and doing “ none other work."

We dare not trust ourselves with many quotations upon sleep from the poets; they are so numerous as well as beautiful. We must content ourselves with mentioning that our two most favourite passages are one in the Philoctetes of Sophocles, admirable for its contrast to a scene of terrible agony, which it closes : and the other the following address in Beaumont and Fletcher's

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