When I first of all took it in my Head to write Dreams and Visions, I determin'd to Print nothing of that nature, which was not of my own Invention. But several laborious Dreamers have of late communicated to me Works of this Nature, which, for their Reputations and my own, I have hitherto suppressed. Had I printed every one that came to my Hands, my Book of Speculations would have been little else but a Book of Visions. Some of my Correspondents have indeed been so very modest, as to offer at an Excuse for their not being in a Capacity to dream better. I have by me, for example, the Dream of a young Gentleman not past Fifteen. I have likewise by me the Dream of a Person of Quality, and another called the Lady's Dream. In these, and other Pieces of the same nature, it is suppos'd the usual Allowances will be made to the Age, Condition and Sex of the Dreamer. To prevent this Inundation of Dreams, which daily flows in upon me, I shall apply to all Dreamers of Dreams, the Advice which Epictetus has couched, after his manner, in a very simple and concise Precept. Never tell thy Dreams, says that Philosopher, for tho' thou thy self may'st take a Pleasure in telling thy Dream, another will take no Pleasure in hearing it. After this short Preface, I must do Justice to two or three Visions which I have lately publish'd, and which I have owned to have been written by other Hands. I shall add a Dream to these, which comes to me from Scotland, by one who declares himself of that Country, and for all I know may be second-sighted. There is, indeed, something in it of the Spirit of John Bunyan; but at the same time a certain Sublime, which that Author was never master of. I shall publish it, because I question not but it will fall in with the Taste of all my popular Readers, and amuse the Imaginations of those who are more profound; declaring at the same time, that this is the last Dream which I intend to publish this Season.
'I was last Sunday in the Evening led into a serious Reflection on the Reasonableness of Virtue, and great Folly of Vice, from an excellent Sermon I had heard that Afternoon in my Parish-Church. Among other Observations, the Preacher shew'd us that the Temptations which the Tempter propos'd, were all on a Supposition, that we are either Madmen or Fools, or with an Intention to render us such; that in no other Affair we would suffer ourselves to be thus imposed upon, in a Case so plainly and clearly against our visible Interest. His illustrations and Arguments carried so much Persuasion and Conviction with them, that they remained a considerable while fresh, and working in my Memory; till at last the Mind, fatigued with Thought, gave way to the forcible Oppressions of Slumber and Sleep, whilst Fancy, unwilling yet to drop the Subject, presented me with the following Vision.
'Methought I was just awoke out of a Sleep, that I could never remember the beginning of; the Place where I found my self to be, was a wide and spacious Plain, full of People that wandered up and down through several beaten Paths, whereof some few were strait, and in direct lines, but most of them winding and turning like a Labyrinth; but yet it appear'd to me afterwards, that these last all met in one Issue, so that many that seemed to steer quite contrary Courses, did at length meet and face one another, to the no little Amazement of many of them.
'In the midst of the Plain there was a great Fountain: They called it the Spring of Self-Love; out of it issued two Rivulets to the Eastward and Westward, the Name of the first was Heavenly-Wisdom, its Water was wonderfully clear, but of a yet more wonderful Effect; the other's Name was Worldly-Wisdom, its Water was thick, and yet far from dormant or stagnating, for it was in a continual violent Agitation; which kept the Travellers whom I shall mention by and by, from being sensible of the Foulness and Thickness of the Water; which had this Effect, that it intoxicated those who drunk it, and made 'em mistake every Object that lay before them: both Rivulets were parted near their Springs into so many others, as there were strait and crooked Paths, which they attended all along to their respective Issues.
'I observ'd from the several Paths many now and then diverting, to refresh and otherwise qualify themselves for their Journey, to the respective Rivulets that ran near them; they contracted a very observable Courage and Steadiness in what they were about, by drinking these Waters. At the end of the Perspective of every strait Path, all which did end in one Issue and Point, appeared a high Pillar, all of Diamond, casting Rays as bright as those of the Sun into the Paths; which Rays had also certain sympathizing and alluring Virtues in them, so that whosoever had made some considerable progress in his Journey onwards towards the Pillar, by the repeated impression of these Rays upon him, was wrought into an habitual Inclination and Conversion of his Sight towards it, so that it grew at last in a matter natural to him to look and gaze upon it, whereby he was kept steddy in the strait Paths, which alone led to that radiant Body, the beholding of which was now grown a Gratification to his Nature.
'At the Issue of the crooked Paths there was a great black Tower, out of the Centre of which streamed a long Succession of Flames, which did rise even above the Clouds; it gave a very great Light to the whole Plain, which did sometimes outshine the Light, and opprest the Beams of the Adamantine Pillar; tho' by the Observation I made afterwards, it appeared that it was not for any Diminution of Light, but that this lay in the Travellers, who would sometimes step out of the strait Paths, where they lost the full Prospect of the Radiant Pillar, and saw it but side-ways: but the great Light from the black Tower, which was somewhat particularly scorching to them, would generally light and hasten them to their proper Climate again.
'Round about the black Tower there were, methoughts, many thousands of huge mis-shapen ugly Monsters; these had great Nets, which they were perpetually plying and casting towards the crooked Paths, and they would now and then catch up those that were nearest to them: these they took up streight, and whirled over the Walls into the flaming Tower, and they were no more seen nor heard of.
'They would sometimes cast their Nets towards the right Paths to catch the Stragglers, whose Eyes for want of frequent drinking at the Brook that ran by them grew dim, whereby they lost their way; these would sometimes very narrowly miss being catched away, but I could not hear whether any of these had ever been so unfortunate, that had been before very hearty in the strait Paths.
'I considered all these strange Sights with great Attention, till at last I was interrupted by a Cluster of the Travellers in the crooked Paths, who came up to me, bid me go along with them, and presently fell to singing and dancing; they took me by the Hand, and so carried me away along with them. After I had follow'd them a considerable while, I perceiv'd I had lost the black Tower of Light, at which I greatly wonder'd; but as I looked and gazed round about me, and saw nothing, I begun to fancy my first Vision had been but a Dream, and there was no such thing in reality: but then I consider'd, that if I could fancy to see what was not, I might as well have an Illusion wrought on me at present, and not see what was really before me. I was very much confirmed in this Thought, by the Effect I then just observ'd the Water of Worldly-Wisdom had upon me; for as I had drunk a little of it again, I felt a very sensible Effect in my Head; methought it distracted and disorder'd all there: this made me stop of a sudden, suspecting some Charm or Inchantment. As I was casting about within my self what I should do, and whom to apply to in this Case; I spy'd at some distance off me a Man beckning, and making signs to me to come over to him. I cry'd to him, I did not know the Way. He then called to me audibly, to step at least out of the Path I was in; for if I staid there any longer I was in danger to be catched in a great Net that was just hanging over me, and ready to catch me up; that he wonder'd I was so blind, or so distracted, as not to see so imminent and visible a Danger; assuring me, that as soon as I was out of that Way, he would come to me to lead me into a more secure Path. This I did, and he brought me his Palm full of the Water of Heavenly-Wisdom, which was of very great use to me, for my Eyes were streight cleared, and I saw the great black Tower just before me; but the great Net which I spy'd so near me, cast me in such a Terror, that I ran back as far as I could in one Breath, without looking behind me: then my Benefactor thus bespoke me, You have made the wonderful'st Escape in the World, the Water you used to drink is of a bewitching Nature, you would else have been mightily shocked at the Deformities and Meanness of the Place; for beside the Set of blind Fools, in whose Company you was, you may now observe many others who are only bewitched after another no less dangerous manner. Look a little that way, there goes a Crowd of Passengers, they have indeed so good a Head, as not to suffer themselves to be blinded by this bewitching Water; the black Tower is not vanished out of their sight, they see it whenever they look up to it; but see how they go side-ways, and with their Eyes downwards, as if they were mad, that they may thus rush into the Net, without being beforehand troubled at the Thought of so miserable a Destruction. Their Wills are so perverse, and their Hearts so fond of the Pleasures of the Place, that rather than forgo them they will run all Hazards, and venture upon all the Miseries and Woes before them.
'See there that other Company, tho' they should drink none of the bewitching Water, yet they take a Course bewitching and deluding; see how they chuse the crookedest Paths, whereby they have often the black Tower behind them, and sometimes see the radiant Column side-ways, which gives them some weak Glimpse of it. These Fools content themselves with that, not knowing whether any other have any more of its Influence and Light than themselves: this Road is called that of Superstition or Human Invention; they grossly over-look that which the Rules and Laws of the Place prescribe to them, and contrive some other Scheme and Set of Directions and Prescriptions for themselves, which they hope will serve their turn. He shewed me many other kind of Fools, which put me quite out of humour with the Place. At last he carried me to the right Paths, where I found true and solid Pleasure, which entertained me all the way, till we came in closer sight of the Pillar, where the Satisfaction increased to that measure that my Faculties were not able to contain it; in the straining of them I was violently waked, not a little grieved at the vanishing of so pleasing a Dream.
Glascow, Sept. 29.
[Footnote 1: The dream in this Paper is taken to have been the joint production of Alexander Dunlop, Professor of Greek in Glasgow University, and a Mr. Montgomery, who traded to Sweden, and of whom it is hinted that he disordered his wits by falling in love with Queen Christina. Alexander Dunlop, born (1684) in America, where his father was an exile till the Revolution, as Greek Professor at Glasgow, published a Grammar, which was used for many years in Scottish Universities. He died in 1742.]Translation of motto: