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We may likewise observe in the third place, that the passions affect the mind with greater strength when we are asleep, than when we are awake. Joy and sorrow give us more vigorous sensations of pain or pleasure at this time, than at any other. Devotion likewise, as the excellent author above-mentioned has hinted, is in a very particular manner heightened and inflamed, when it rises in the soul at a time that the body is thus laid at rest. Every man's experience will inform him in this matter, though it is very probable 10 that this may happen differently in different constitutions. I shall conclude this head with the two following problems, which I shall leave to the solution of my reader. Supposing a man always happy in his dreams, and miserable in his waking thoughts, and that his life was equally divided between them, whether would he be more happy or miserable? Were a man a king in his dreams, and a beggar awake, and dreamt as consequentially, and in as continued unbroken schemes as he thinks when awake, whether he would be in reality a king or beggar, or rather whether he would not be 20 both.
There is another circumstance, which methinks gives us a very high idea of the nature of the soul in regard to what passes in dreams, I mean that innumerable multitude and variety of ideas which then arise in her. Were that active watchful being only conscious of her own existence at such a time, what a painful solitude would her hours of sleep be? Were the soul sensible of her being alone in her sleeping moments, after the same manner that she is sensible of it while awake, the time would hang very heavy on her, as it 30 often actually does when she dreams that she is in such a solitude.
Sola sibi, semper longam incomitata videtur
Ire viam.-Virg. Aen. iv. 476.
She seems alone
To wander in her sleep through ways unknown
But this observation I only make by the way. What I would here remark, is that wonderful power in the soul, of producing her own company on these occasions. She converses with numberless beings of her own creation and is transported into ten thousand scenes of her own raising. She is herself the theatre, the actors, and the beholder. This puts me in mind of a saying which I am infinitely pleased with, and which Plutarch ascribes to Heraclitus. "That all men whilst they are awake are in one common world; but that each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own." 10 The waking man is conversant in the world of nature, when he sleeps he retires to a private world that is particular to himself. There seems something in this consideration that intimates to us a natural grandeur and perfection in the soul, which is rather to be admired than explained.
I must not omit that argument for the excellency of the soul, which I have seen quoted out of Tertullian, namely, its power of divining in dreams. That several such divinations have been made, none can question who believes the Holy Writings, or who has but the least degree of a common 20 historical faith: there being innumerable instances of this nature in several authors, both ancient and modern, sacred and profane. Whether such dark presages, such visions of the night proceed from any latent power in the soul, during this her state of abstraction, or from any communication with the supreme Being, or from any operation of subordinate spirits, has been a great dispute among the learned: the matter of fact is, I think, incontestable, and has been looked upon as such by the greatest writers, who have been never suspected either of superstition or enthusiasm.
I do not suppose that the soul in these instances is entirely loose and unfettered from the body: it is sufficient, if she is not so far sunk and immersed in matter, nor entangled and perplexed in her operations, with such motions of blood and spirits, as when she actuates the machine in its waking hours. The corporeal union is slackened enough to give the mind
more play. The soul seems gathered within herself, and recovers that spring which is broke and weakened, when she operates more in concert with the body.
The speculations I have here made, if they are not arguments, they are at least strong intimations, not only of the excellency of an human soul, but of its independence on the body and if they do not prove, do at least confirm these two great points, which are established by many other reasons that are altogether unanswerable.
XXXIV. WILL. HONEYCOMB'S PROPOSAL FOR A FAIR FOR MARRIAGE.
Thursday, October 16, 1712.
Quis non invenit turbâ quod amaret in illâ ?-Ovid.
Who could fail to find
In such a crowd a mistress to his mind?
"Finding that my last letter took, I do intend to continue my epistolary correspondence with thee, on those dear confounded creatures, women. Thou knowest, all the little learning I am master of is upon that subject; I never looked in a book, but for their sakes. I have lately met with two pure stories for a Spectator, which I am sure will please mightily, 20 if they pass through thy hands. The first of them I found by chance in an English book called Herodotus, that lay in my friend Dapperwit's window, as I visited him one morning. It luckily opened in the place where I met with the following account. He tells us that it was the manner among the Persians to have several fairs in the kingdom, at which all the young unmarried women were annually exposed to sale. The men who wanted wives came hither to provide themselves: every woman was given to the highest bidder, and the
money which she fetched laid aside for the public use, to be employed as thou shalt hear by and by. By this means the richest people had the choice of the market, and culled out all the most extraordinary beauties. As soon as the fair was thus picked, the refuse was to be distributed among the poor, and among those who could not go to the price of a beauty. Several of these married the agreeables, without paying a farthing for them, unless somebody chanced to think it worth his while to bid for them, in which case the best bidder was always the purchaser. But now you must 10 know, Spec., it happened in Persia as it does in our own country, that there were as many ugly women, as beauties or agreeables; so that by consequence, after the magistrates had put off a great many, there were still a great many that stuck upon their hands. In order therefore to clear the market, the money which the beauties had sold for, was disposed of among the ugly; so that a poor man, who could not afford to have a beauty for his wife, was forced to take up with a fortune; the greatest portion being always given to the most deformed. To this the author adds, that every 20 poor man was forced to live kindly with his wife, or in case he repented of his bargain, to return her portion with her to the next public sale.
"What I would recommend to thee on this occasion is, to establish such an imaginary fair in Great Britain: thou couldst make it very pleasant, by matching women of quality with cobblers and carmen, or describing titles and garters leading off in great ceremony shopkeepers' and farmers' daughters. Though, to tell thee the truth, I am confoundedly afraid that as the love of money prevails in our island more 30 than it did in Persia, we should find that some of our greatest men would choose out the portions, and rival one another for the richest piece of deformity; and that on the contrary, the toasts and belles would be bought up by extravagant heirs, gamesters, and spendthrifts. Thou couldst make very pretty reflections upon this occasion in honour of
the Persian politics, who took care, by such marriages, to beautify the upper part of the species, and to make the greatest persons in the government the most graceful. this I shall leave to thy judicious pen.
“I have another story to tell thee, which I likewise met with in a book. It seems the general of the Tartars, after having laid siege to a strong town in China, and taken it by storm, would set to sale all the women that were found in it. Accordingly, he put each of them into a sack, and after 10 having thoroughly considered the value of the woman who was inclosed, marked the price that was demanded for her upon the sack. There were a great confluence of chapmen, that resorted from every part, with a design to purchase, which they were to do unsight unseen. The book mentions a merchant in particular, who observing one of the sacks to be marked pretty high, bargained for it, and carried it off with him to his house. As he was resting with it upon a half-way bridge, he was resolved to take a survey of his purchase: upon opening his sack, a little old woman popped her head 20 out of it; at which the adventurer was in so great a rage, that he was going to shoot her out into the river. The old lady, however, begged him first of all to hear her story, by which he learned that she was sister to a great mandarin, who would infallibly make the fortune of his brother-in-law as soon as he should know to whose lot she fell. Upon which the merchant again tied her up in his sack, and carried her to his house, where she proved an excellent wife, and procured him all the riches from her brother that she had promised him.
30 "I fancy, if I was disposed to dream a second time, I could make a tolerable vision upon this plan. I would suppose all the unmarried women in London and Westminster brought to market in sacks, with their respective prices on each sack. The first sack that is sold is marked with five thousand pound: upon the opening of it, I find it filled with an admirable housewife, of an agreeable counten