« AnteriorContinuar »
affair; and get the advantage of the next day's experience before the sun has risen upon it. “There is scarcely a great post but what I have some time or other been in ; but my behaviour while I was master of a college pleases me so well, that whenever there is a province of that nature vacant I intend to step in as Soon as I can. * “I have done many things that would not pass examination, when I have had the art of flying or being invisible; for which reason I am glad I am not possessed of those extraordinary qualities. “Lastly, Mr. Spectator, I have been a great correspondent of yours, and have read many of my letters in your paper which I never wrote you. If you have a mind I should really be so, I have got a parcel of visions and other miscellanies in my noctuary, which I shall send you to enrich
your paper on proper occasions. I am, &c.,
THE BLACK SPOT IN THE HEART. A VISION.
Though the author of the following vision is unknown to me, I am apt to think it may be the work of that ingenious gentleman, who promised me, in the last paper, some extracts out of his noctuary.
“I was the other day reading the life of Mahomet. Among many other extravagancies, I find it recorded of that impostor, that in the fourth year of his age the angel Gabriel caught him up while he was among his playfellows, and carrying him aside cut open his breast, plucked out his heart, and wrung out of it that black drop of blood, in which, say the Turkish divines, is contained the fomes peccati, so that he was free from sin ever after. I immediately said to myself, ‘Though this story be a fiction, a very good moral may be drawn from it, would every man but apply it to himself, and endeavour to squeeze out of his heart whatever sins or ill qualities he finds in it.’ “While my mind was wholly taken up with this contemplation, I insensibly fell into a most pleasing slumber, when methought two porters entered my chamber, carrying a large chest between them. After having set it down in the middle of the room they departed. I immediately endeavoured to open what was sent me, when a shape, like that in which we paint our angels, appeared before me, and forbade me. “Inclosed,” said he, “are the hearts of several of your friends and acquaintance; but before you can be qualified to see and animadvert on the failings of others, you must be pure yourself: ' whereupon he drew out his incision knife, cut me open, took out my heart, and began to Squeeze it. I was in a great confusion, to see how many things, which I had always cherished as virtues, issued out of my heart on this occasion. In short, after it had been thoroughly squeezed, it looked like an empty bladder; when the phantom, breathing a fresh particle of divine air into it, restored it safe to its former repository; and having sewed me up, we began to examine the chest. “The hearts were all inclosed in transparent phials, and preserved in liquor which looked like spirits of wine. The first which I cast my eye upon, I was afraid would have broken the glass which contained it. It shot up and down with incredible swiftness through the liquor in which it swam, and very frequently bounced against the side of the phial. The fomes, or spot in the middle of it, was not large, but of a red fiery colour, and seemed to be the cause of these violent agitations. ‘That,’ says my instructor, ‘is the heart of Tom Dreadnought, who behaved himself well in the late wars, but has for these ten years last past been aiming at some post of honour to no purpose. He is lately retired into the country, where, quite choked up with spleen and choler, he rails at better men than himself, and will be for ever uneasy, because it is impossible he should think his merits sufficiently rewarded.” The next heart that I examined was remarkable for its smallness; it lay still at the bottom of the phial, and I could hardly perceive that it WOL. II. L
beat at all. The fomes was quite black, and had almost diffused itself over the whole heart. ‘This,’ says my interpreter, ‘is the heart of Dick Gloomy, who never thirsted after anything but money. Notwithstanding all his endeavours, he is still poor. This has flung him into a most deplorable state of melancholy and despair. He is a composition of envy and idleness, hates mankind, but gives them their revenge by being more uneasy to himself than to any one else.' “The phial I looked upon next contained a large fair heart which beat very strongly. The fomes or spot in it was exceeding small; but I could not help observing, that which way soever I turned the phial, it always appeared uppermost, and in the strongest point of light. “The heart you are examining,’ says my companion, ‘belongs to Will Worthy. He has indeed a most noble soul, and is possessed of a thousand good qualities. The speck which you discover is Vanity.’ “‘Here,' says the angel, “is the heart of Freelove, your intimate friend.’ ‘Freelove and I,' said I, “are at present very cold to one another, and I do not care for looking on the heart of a man which I fear is overcast with rancour." My teacher commanded me to look upon it: I did so, and, to my unspeakable surprise, found that a small swelling spot, which I at first took to be ill-will towards me, was only passion, and that upon my nearer inspection it wholly disappeared; upon which the phantom told me Freelove was one of the best-natured men alive. “‘This,' says my teacher, ‘is a female heart of your acquaintance.’ I found the fomes in it of the largest size, and of a hundred different colours, which were still varying every moment. Upon my asking to whom it belonged, I was informed that it was the heart of Coquetilla. “I set it down, and drew out another, in which I took the fomes at first sight to be very small, but was amazed to find that as I looked steadfastly upon it it grew still larger. It was the heart of Melissa, a noted prude who lives next door to me. “I show you this,' says the phantom, ‘because it is indeed a rarity, and you have the happiness to know the person to whom it belongs.’ He then put into my hands a large crystal glass, that inclosed a heart, in which, though I examined it with the utmost nicety, I could not perceive any blemish. I made no scruple to affirm that it must be the heart of Seraphina, and was glad, but not surprised, to find that it was so. “She is, indeed, continued my guide, ‘the ornament as well as the envy of her sex:’ at these last words he pointed to the hearts of several of her female acquaintance which lay in different phials, and had very large spots in them, all of a deep blue. “You are not to wonder,’ says he, “that you see no spot in a heart whose innocence has been proof against all the corruptions of a depraved age. If it has any blemish, it is too small to be discovered by human eyes.' “I laid it down, and took up the hearts of other females, in all of which the fomes ran in several veins, which were twisted together, and made a very perplexed figure. I asked the meaning of it, and was told it represented Deceit. “I should have been glad to have examined the hearts of several of my acquaintance, whom I knew to be particularly addicted to drinking, gaming, intriguing, &c.; but my interpreter told me, I must let that alone until another opportunity, and flung down the cover of the chest with so much violence, as immediately awoke me.” DR. BYROM.
ON DREAMING. (No. 597).
SINCE I received my friend Shadows letter, several of my correspondents have been pleased to send me an account how they have been employed in sleep, and what notable adventures they have been engaged in during that moonshine in the brain. I shall lay before my readers an abridgment of some few of their extravagancies, in hopes that they will in time accustom themselves to dream a little more to the purpose.
One, who styles himself Gladio, complains heavily that his fair-one charges him with inconstancy, and does not use him with half the kindness which the sincerity of his passion may demand; the said Gladio having by valour and stratagem put to death tyrants, enchanters, monsters, knights, &c., without number, and exposed himself to all manner of dangers for her sake and safety. He desires in his postscript to know whether, from a constant success in them, he may not promise himself to succeed in her esteem at last. Another, who is very prolix in his narrative, writes me word, that having sent a venture beyond sea, he took occasion one night to fancy himself gone along with it, and grown on a sudden the richest man in all the Indies. Having been there about a year or two, a gust of wind that forced open his casement blew him over to his native country again, where awaking at six o'clock, and the change of the air not agreeing with him, he turned to his left side in order to a second voyage; but, before he could get on shipboard, was unfortunately apprehended for stealing a horse, tried and condemned for the fact, and in a fair way of being executed, if somebody stepping hastily into his chamber had not brought him a reprieve. This fellow too wants Mr. Shadow's advice, who, I dare say, would bid him be content to rise after his first nap, and learn to be satisfied as soon as nature is. The next is a public-spirited gentleman, who tells me, that on the second of September at night the whole city was on fire, and would certainly have been reduced to ashes again by this time, if he had not flown over it with the New River on his back, and happily extinguished the flames before they had prévailed too far. He would be informed whether he has not a right to petition the lord mayor and aldermen for a reward. A letter, dated September the ninth, acquaints me, that the writer, being resolved to try his fortune, had fasted all that day; and, that he might be sure of dreaming upon something at night, procured a handsome slice of bridecake, which he placed very conveniently under his pillow. In the morning his memory happened to fail him, and he