« ElőzőTovább »
There he arriving round about doth flie, - trivs ponajon
And takes survey with busie, curious eye:
No. XIV.-WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12th, 1820.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON SLEEP. This 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 postyre 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 closing over it, like the eye;- 'tis closing ; — 'tis more closing;'tis closed. The mysterious spirit has gone to take it's airy rounds. zo
It is said that sleep is best before midnight: and Nature herself,, with her darkness and chilling dews, informs ys 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 life. :: 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
mer 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 "ľ other doze,”-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 up
the day, and your sleep the next night, uisdie 4. 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 disputing; is not so well: much less, to your head into the fruit-plate or your host's face; or of waking up, and
head into fottering beside a lady; or to be in danger of dropping 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 daysleep 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 noon-day, 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 it's 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 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 move. 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 any thing to the numberless things that have been said about sleep by the poets, it would be upon this point. Sleep never shews 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 supe. riority; in a word, he may shew 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 pantomime should create wilder laughter. The toy with the string between it's 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 ideot's, one knee lifted up, and the other leg stretched out, or both knees huddled up together; what a scarecrow to lodge majestic
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 Faerie Queene, (Canto 1, st. 39.) sends a little spirit down to Morpheus to fetch him a Dream.
He, making speedy way through spersed ayre,
In silver dew his ever-drouping head,
And more to lull him in his slumber şoft
Might there be heard, but carelesse Quiet lyes, saw 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,"
rition. i 54
of the drowned king, to let his wife know the fatal event by his appa
That slept and did none other worke. Where the credentials of this new son and heir, Eclympasteire, are to be found, we know not; but he acts very much, it must be al. lowed, like an heir presumptive, in sleeping, and doing “none other work”.
he anno 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 it's contrast to a
and the other the following scene of terrible agony, which it closes :* address in Beaumont and Fletcher's tragedy of Valentinian, the hero of which is also a sufferer under bodily torment. He is in a chair, slumbering; and these most exquisite lines are gently sung with music.
Care-charming Sleep, thou easer of all woes,
And kiss him into slumbers, like a bride. How earnest and prayer-like are these pauses! How lightly sprinkled, and yet how deeply settling, like rain, the fancy! How quiet, affectionate, and perfect the conclusion!
Sleep is most graceful in an infant; soundest, in one who has been tired in the open air; completest, to the seaman after a hard voyage; most welcome, to the mind haunted with one idea; most touching to look at, in the parent that has wept; lightest, in the playful child; proudest, in the bride adored.
* We do not translate it here, as we intend to present the reader with the whole scene in an article upon Philoctetes.
THE FAIR REVENGE.
Vi found to The elements of this story are to be found in the old poem
called Albion's England, to which we referred in the article on Charles Brandon and Mary Queen of France.
Aganippus, king of Argos, dying without heirs male, bequeathed his throne to his only daughter, the beautiful and beloved Daphles. This female succession was displeasing to a nobleman who held large possessions on the frontiers; and he came for the first time towards the court, not to pay his respects to the new queen, but to give her battle. Doracles (for that was his name) was not much known by the people. He had distinguished himself for as jealous an independence as a subject' could well assume ; and though he had been of use in repelling invasion during the latter years of the king, had never made his ap. pearance to receive his master's thanks personally. A correspondence however was understood to have gone on between him and several noblemen about the court; and there were those, who in spite of his in. attention to popularity, suspected that it would go hard with the young queen, when the two armies came face to face. I jesen 1890.00 MT
But neither these subtle statesmen, nor the ambitious young soldier Doracles, were aware of the effects to be produced by a strong personal attachment. The young queen, amiable as she was beautiful, had involuntarily baffled his expectations from her courtiers, by exciting in the minds of some a real disinterested regard, while others nourished à hope of sharing her throne instead. At least, they speculated upon becoming, each the favourite minister; and held it a better thing to reign under that 'title and a charming mistress, than be the servants of a master, wilful and domineering. By the people she was adored; and when she came riding out of her palace, on the morning of the fight, with an unaccustomed spear standing up in it's rest by her side, her diademed hair flowing a little off into the wind, her face paler than usual, but still tinted with it's roses, and a look in which confidence in the love of her subjects, and tenderness for the wounds they were going to encounter, seemed to contend for the expression,—the shout which they sent up would have told a stouter heart than a traitor's, that the royal charmer
The queen during the conflict, remained in a tent upon an eminence, to which the younger leaders vied who should best spur up their smoking horses, to bring her good news from time to time. The battle was short and bloody. Doracles soon found that he had miscalculated his point; and all his skill and resolution could not set the error to rights. It was allowed, that if either courage or military talent could entitle him to the throne, he would have had a right to it; but the popularity of Daphles supplied her cause with all the ardour, which a lax state of subjection on the part of the more powerful nobles might have denied it.
When her troops charged, or made any other voluntary movement, they put all their hearts into their blows; and when they were compelled to await the enemy, they stood as inflexible aş walls of iron. It was like hammering upon metal statuary; or staking