On Dreaming


Dear Madam,

I THANK you for your obliging letter, and would be thankful to the Lord, that you and all your family are well.

Surely never dog dreamed so opportunely and a propos as your Chloe. I should be half angry with her, if I believed she knew your intentions of writing upon the subject, and wilfully drop asleep in the very nick of time, out of mere spite to my h\ pothesis, and purposely to furnish you with the most plausible objection against it. I admit the probability of Chloe dreaming ; nay, I allow it to be possible she might dream of pursuing a hare ; ibr though I sup. pose such an amusement never entered into the head of a dog of her breed when awake, yet as I find my own powers and capacities, when sleeping, much more enlarged and diversified than at other times (so that I can then fill up the characters of a prime minister, or a general, or twenty other great offices, with no small propriety ; for which, except when dreaming, 1 am more unfit than Chloe is to catch a hare), her faculties may perhaps be equally heightened in her way, by foreign assistance, as I conceive my own to be. But you beg the question, if you determine that Chloe's dreams are produced by mere animal nature. Perhaps you think it impossible that invisible agents should stoop so low as to influence the imagination of a dog. 1 am not suf. ficieotly acquainted with the laws and ranks of being, in that world, fully to remove the difficulty. But allow it possible for a moment, that there are several such agents, and then suppose that one of them, to gratify a king of Prussia's ambition, causes him to dream that he has overrun Bohemia, desolated Austria, and laid Vienna in ashes ; and that another should, on the same night, condescend to treat Chloe with the chase, and a hare at the end of it, do not you think the latter would be as well, and as honourably, employed as the Former ?

But as I have not time to write a long letter, I send you a book, in which you will find a scheme, not very unlike my own, illustrated and defended with much learning and ingenuity. I hope the Greek and Latin quotations will not discourage you from reading it. Your brother will tell you the meaning of them if you have not made those Ian. guages a part of your acquisitions. I have some hope of making you a convert to my sentiments; for though 1 own they are liable to objection, yet I think you must have surmounted greater difficulties, before you thought so favourably of the sympathetic attraction between the spirits of distant friends. Perhaps distance may be necessary to give scope to the force of the attraction ; and therefore to object that this sympathy is not perceived between friends in the same house, or the same room, niay be nothing to the purpose.

I seldom fill up so much of a letter in a ludicrous way. 1 eannot call it a ludicrous subject, for to me it appears very striking and solemn. The agency of spirits is real, though mysterious ; and were our eyes open to perceive it, I believe we should hardly be able to attend to any thing else, but it is wisely and mercifully hidden from us. This we know, that they are all under the direction and control of him who was crucified for us ; his name is a strong tower, and under the shadow of his wings we have nothing to fear. I hope in those hours when you find most liberty with him, you sometimes think of me and mine. I am, &c.