Imágenes de páginas

could recollect nothing but an odd fancy that he had eaten his cake ; which being found upon search reduced to a few crumbs, he is resolved to remember more of his dreams another time, believing from this that there may possibly be somewhat of truth in them. I have received numerous complaints from several delicious dreamers, desiring me to invent some method of silencing those noisy slaves whose occupations lead them to take their early rounds about the city in a morning, doing a deal of mischief, and working strange confusion in the affairs of its inhabitants. Several monarchs have done me the honour to acquaint me how often they have been shook from their respective thrones by the rattling of a coach or the rumbling of a wheelbarrow. And many private gentlemen, I find, have been bawled out of vast estates by fellows not worth threepence. A fair lady was just upon the point of being married to a young, handsome, rich, ingenious nobleman, when an impertinent tinker passing by forbid the banns ; and a hopeful youth, who had been newly advanced to great honour and preferment, was forced by a neighbouring cobbler to resign all for an old song. It has been represented to me, that those inconsiderable rascals do nothing but go about dissolving of marriages, and spoiling of fortunes, impoverishing rich and ruining great people, interrupting beauties in the midst of their conquests, and generals in the course of their victories. A boisterous peripatetic hardly goes through a street without waking half a dozen kings and princes, to open their shops or clean shoes, frequently transforming sceptres into paringshovels, and proclamations into bills. I have by me a letter from a young statesman, who in five or six hours came to be emperor of Europe, after which he made war upon the great Turk, routed him horse and foot, and was crowned lord of the universe in Constantinople: the conclusion of all his successes is, that on the 12th instant, about seven in the morning, his imperial majesty was deposed by a chimney-sweeper. On the other hand, I have epistolary testimonies of gratitude from many miserable people, who owe to this clamorous tribe frequent deliverances from great misfortunes. A small-coal man, by waking one of these distressed gentlemen, saved him from ten years' imprisonment. An honest watchman bidding a loud good-morrow to another freed him from the malice of many potent enemies, and brought all their designs against him to nothing. People may dream on as long as they please, but I shall take no notice of any imaginary adventures, that do not happen while the sun is on this side the horizon. For which reason I stifle Fritilla's dream at church last Sunday, who, while the rest of the audience were enjoying the benefit of an excellent discourse, was losing her money and jewels to a gentleman at play, until after a strange run of ill luck she was reduced to pawn three lovely pretty children for her last stake. When she had thrown them away, her companion went off, discovering himself by his usual tokens, a cloven foot and a strong smell of brimstone; which last proved a bottle of spirits which a good old lady applied to her nose, to put her in a condition of hearing the preacher's third head concerning time. If a man has no mind to pass abruptly from his imagined to his real circumstances, he may employ himself a while in that new kind of observation which my oneirocritical correspondent has directed him to make of himself. Pursuing the imagination through all its extravagancies, whether in sleeping or waking, is no improper method of correcting and bringing it to act in subordination to reason, so as to be delighted only with such objects as will affect it with pleasure when it is never so cool and sedate.


It has been my custom as I grow old to allow myself some little indulgencies which I never took in my youthAmong others is that of an afternoon's nap, which I fell into in the fifty-fifth year of my age, and have continued for the three last years past. By this means I enjoy a double morning, and rise twice a day fresh to my Speculations. It happens very luckily for me, that some of my dreams have proved instructive to my countrymen, so that I may be said to sleep, as well as to wake, for the good of the public. I was yesterday meditating on the account with which I have already entertained my readers concerning the cave of Trophonius.* I was no sooner fallen into my usual slumber, but I dreamed that this cave was put into my possession, and that I gave public notice of its virtue, inviting every one to it who had a mind to be a serious man for the remaining part of his life. Great multitudes immediately resorted to me. The first who made the experiment was a Merry-andrew, who was put into my hands by a neighbouring justice of peace, in order to reclaim him from that profligate kind of life. Poor Pickleherring had not taken above one turn in it, when he came out of the cave, like a hermit from his cell, with a penitential look, and a most rueful countenance. I then put in a young laughing fop, and, watching for his return, asked him, with a smile, how he liked the place? He replied, “Prythee, friend, be not impertinent; ” and stalked by me as grave as a judge. A citizen then desired me to give free ingress and egress to his wife, who was dressed in the gayest-coloured ribbons I had ever seen. She went in with a flirt of her fan and a smirking countenance, but came out with the severity of a vestal, and, throwing from her several female gewgaws, told me with a sigh, that she resolved to go into deep mourning, and to wear black all the rest of her life. As I had had many coquettes recommended to me by their parents, their husbands, and their lovers, I let them in all at once, desiring them to divert themselves together as well as they could. Upon their emerging again into daylight, you would have fancied my cave to have been a nunnery, and that you had seen a solemn procession of religious marching out, one behind another, in the most profound silence and the most exemplary decency. As I was very much delighted with so edifying a sight, there came towards me a great company of males and females laughing, singing, and dancing, in such a manner that I could hear them a great while before I saw them. Upon my asking the leader, what brought them thither? they told me all at once, that they were French Protestants lately arrived in Great Britain, and that, finding themselves of too gay a humour for my country, they applied themselves to me in order to compose them for British conversation. I told them, that to oblige them, I would soon spoil their mirth; upon which I admitted a whole shoal of them, who, after having taken a survey of the place, came out in very good order, and with looks entirely English. I afterwards put in a Dutchman, who had a great fancy to see the Kelder, as he called it, but I could not observe that I had made any alteration in him. A comedian who had gained great reputation in parts of humour, told me that he had a mighty mind to act Alexander the Great, and fancied that he should succeed very well in it if he could strike two or three laughing features out of his face: he tried the experiment, but contracted so very solid a look by it that I am afraid he will be fit for no part hereafter but a Timon of Athens, or a Mute in The Funeral. I then clapt up an empty fantastic citizen, in order to qualify him for an alderman. He was succeeded by a young rake of the Middle Temple, who was brought to me by his grandmother; but to her great sorrow and surprise, he came out a Quaker. Seeing myself surrounded with a body of free-thinkers, and scoffers at religion, who were making themselves merry at the sober looks and thoughtful brows of those who had been in the cave, I thrust them all in, one after another, and locked the door upon them. Upon my opening it, they all looked as if they had been frighted out of their wits, and were marching away with ropes in their hands to a wood that was within sight of the place. I found they were not able to bear themselves in their first serious thoughts; but, knowing these would quickly bring them to a better frame of mind, I gave them into the custody of their friends until that happy change was wrought in them. The last that was brought to me was a young woman, who at the first sight of my short face fell into an immoderate fit of laughter, and was forced to hold her sides all the while her mother was speaking to me. Upon this I interrupted the old lady, and, taking her daughter by the hand, “Madam,” said I, “be pleased to retire into my closet, while your mother tells me your case.” I then put her into the mouth of the cave; when the mother, after having begged pardon for the girl's rudeness, told me, “that she often treated her father and the gravest of her relations in the same manner; that she would sit giggling and laughing with her companions from one end of a tragedy to the other; nay, that she would sometimes burst out in the middle of a sermon, and set the whole congregation a-staring at her.” The mother was going on, when the young lady came out of the cave to us with a composed countenance, and a low curtsy. She was a girl of such exuberant mirth, that her visit to Trophonius only reduced her to a more than ordinary decency of behaviour, and made a very pretty prude of her. After having performed innumerable cures, I looked about me with great satisfaction, and saw all my patients walking by themselves in a very pensive and musing posture, so that the whole place seemed covered with philosophers. I was at length resolved to go into the cave myself, and see what it was that had produced such wonderful effects upon the company; but as I was stooping at the entrance, the door being somewhat low, I gave such a nod in my chair, that I awaked. After having recovered myself from my first startle, I was very well pleased at the accident which had befallen me, as not knowing but a little stay in the place might have spoiled my SPECTATORS. ADDISON.

* We have a very particular description of this cave in Pausanias, who tells us that it was made in the form of a huge oven, and had many particular circumstances, which disposed the person who was in it to be more pensive and thoughtful than ordinary; insomuch that no man was ever observed to laugh all his life after, who had once made his entry into this cave. It was usual in those times, when any one carried a more than ordinary gloominess in his features, to tell him that he looked like one just come out of Trophonius's cave.

« AnteriorContinuar »