« AnteriorContinuar »
return to him a positive answer in less that fifty
She had not been long among her own people in the valleys, when she received new overtures, and at the same time a most splendid visit from Mishpach, who was a mighty man of old, and had built a great city, which he called after his own name. Every house was made for at least a thousand years, nay there were some that were leased out for three lives; so that the quantity of stone and timber consumed in this building is scarce to be imagined by those who live in the present age of the world. This great man entertained her with the voice of musical instruments which had been lately invented, and danced before her to the sound of the timbrel. He also presented her with several domestic utensils wrought in brass and iron, which had been newly found out for the conveniency of life. In the mean time Shalum grew very uneasy with himself, and was sorely displeased at Hilpa for the reception which she had given to Mishpach, insomuch that he never wrote to her or spoke of her during a whole revolution of Saturn; but, finding that this intercourse went no further than a visit, he again renewed his addresses to her ; who, during his long silence, is said very often to have cast a wishing eye upon mount Tirzah.
Her mind continued wavering about twenty years longer between Shalum and Mishpach ; for though her inclinations favoured the former, her interest pleaded very powerfully for the other. While her heart was in this unsettled condition, the following accident happened, which determined her choice. A high tower of wood that stood in the city of Mishpach having caught fire by a flash of lightning, in a few days reduced the whole
town to ashes. Mishpach resolved to rebuild the place whatever it should cost him; and, having already destroyed all the timber of the country, he was forced to have recourse to Shalum, whose forests were now two hundred years old. He purchased these woods with so many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, and with such a vast extent of fields and pastures, that Shalum was now grown more wealthy than Mishpach; and therefore appeared so charming in the eyes of Zilpah's daughter, that she no longer refused him in marriage. On the day in which he brought her up into the mountains he raised a most prodigious pile of cedar, and of every sweet-smelling wood, which reached above three hundred cubits in height: he also cast into the pile bundles of myrrh and sheaves of spikenard, enriching it with every spicy shrub, and making it fat with the gums of his plantations. This was the burnt-offering which Shalum offered in the day of his espousals: the smoke of it ascended up to heaven, and filled the whole country with incense and perfume.
No. 586. FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 1714.
Quæ in vita usurpant homines, cogitant, curant, vident, quæque agunt vigilantes, agitantque, ea cuique in somno accidunt.
Cic. de Div.
The things which employ men's waking thoughts and actions
recur to their imaginations in sleep
By the last post I received the following letter, which is built upon a thought that is new, and very well carried on; for which reasons I shall give it to the public without alteration, addition, or amendment.
It was a good piece of advice which Pythagoras gavę to his scholars--that every night before they slept they should examine what they had been doing that day, and so discover what actions were worthy of pursuit to-morrow, and what little vices were to be prevented from slipping unawares into a habit. If I might second the philosopher's advice, it should be mine, that in a morning before my scholar rose he should consider what he had been about that night, and with the same strictness as if the condition he has believed himself to be in was real. Such a scrutiny into the actions of his fancy must be of considerable advantage; for this reason, because the circumstances which a man imagines himself in during sleep are generally such as entirely favour his inclinations, good or bad, and give him imaginary opportunities of pursuing them to the utmost; so that his temper will lie fairly open to his view, while he considers how it is moved when free from those constraints which the accidents of real life put it under. Dreams are certainly the result of our waking thoughts, and our daily hopes and fears are what give the mind such nimble relishes of pleasure, and such severe touches of pain in its midnight rambles. A man that murders his enemy, or deserts his friend, in a dream, had need to guard his temper against revenge and ingratitude, and take heed that he be not tempted to do a vile thing in the pursuit of false, or the neglect of true honour. For my part, I seldom receive a benefit, but in a night or two's time I make most noble returns for it; which, though my benefactor is not a whit the better for, yet it pleases me to think that it was from a principle of gratitude in me that my mind was susceptible of such generous transport, while I thought myself repaying the kindness of my friend: and I have often been ready to beg pardon, instead of returning an injury, after considering that when the offender was in my power I had carried my resentments much too far.
I think it has been observed, in the course of your papers, how much one's happiness or misery may depend upon the imagination: of which truth those strange workings of fancy in sleep are no inconsiderable instances ; so that not only the advantage a man has of making discoveries of himself, but a regard to his own ease or disquiet, may induce him to accept of my advice. Such as are willing to comply with it, I shall put into a way of doing it with pleasure, by observing only one maxim which I shall give them, viz, « To go to bed with a mind entirely free from passion, and a body clear of the least intemperance.".
• They, indeed, who can sink into sleep with their thoughts less, calm or innocent than they
should be, do but plunge themselves into scenes of guilt and misery; or they who are willing to purchase any midnight disquietudes for the satisfaction of a full meal, or a skin full of wine, these I have nothing to say to, as not knowing how to invite them to reflections full of shame and horror : but those that will observe this rule, I promise them they shall awake into health and cheerfulness, and be capable of recounting with delight those glorious moments, wherein the mind has been indulging itself in such luxury of thought, such noble hurry of imagination. Suppose a man's going supperless to bed should introduce him to the table of some great prince or other, where he shall be entertained with the noblest marks of honour and plenty, and do so much business after, that he shall rise with as good a stomach to his breakfast as if he had fasted all night long : or suppose he should see his dearest friends remain all night in great distresses, which he should instantly have disengaged them from, could he have been content to have gone to bed without the other bottle; believe me these effects of fancy are no contemptible consequences of commanding or indulging one's appetite.
I forbear recommending my advice upon many other accounts, until I hear how you and your readers relish what I have already said; among whom, if there be any that may pretend it is useless to them, because they never dream at all, there may be others perhaps who do little else all day long. Were every one as sensible as I am what happens to him in his sleep, it would be no dispute whether we pass so considerable a portion of our time in the condition of stocks and stones, or whether the soul were not perpetually at work upon the principle of thought. However, it is an honest