No. 597. Wednesday, September 22, 1714. Byrom.

--Metis sine Pondere ludit--'

Since I received my Friend Shadow's 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, Inchanters, 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 a Clock, and the Change of the Air not agreeing with him, he turned to his Left Side in order to a second Voyage: but e'er he could get on Shipboard, was unfortunately apprehended for stealing a Horse, try'd and condemn'd for the Fact, and in a fair way of being executed, if some Body 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 publick-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 prevailed too far. He would be informed whether he has not a Right to petition the Lord Mayor and Alderman 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 an handsome Slice of Bride-Cake, which he placed very conveniently under his Pillow. In the Morning his Memory happen'd to fail him, and he could recollect nothing but an odd Fancy that he had eaten his Cake; which being found upon Search reduced to a few Crums, 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 Wheel-barrow. And many private Gentlemen, I find, have been baulk'd of vast Estates by Fellows not worth Three-pence. 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 an hopeful Youth, who had been newly advanced to great Honour and Preferment, was forced by a neighbouring Cobler 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 Peripatetick hardly goes through a Street without waking half a Dozen Kings and Princes to open their Shops or clean Shoes, frequently transforming Sceptres into Paring-Shovels, 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-coalman, [1] by waking of one of these distressed Gentlemen, saved him from ten Years Imprisonment. An honest Watchman bidding aloud Good-morrow to another, freed him from the Malice of many potent Enemies, and brought all their Designs against him to nothing. A certain Valetudinarian confesses he has often been cured of a sore Throat by the Hoarseness of a Carman, and relieved from a Fit of the Gout by the Sound of old Shoes. A noisy Puppy that plagued a sober Gentleman all Night long with his Impertinence, was silenced by a Cinder-Wench with a Word speaking.

Instead therefore of suppressing this Order of Mortals, I would propose it to my Readers to make the best Advantage of their Morning Salutations. A famous Macedonian Prince, for fear of forgetting himself in the midst of his good Fortune, had a Youth to wait on him every Morning, and bid him remember that he was a Man. A Citizen who is waked by one of these Criers, may regard him as a kind of Remembrancer, come to admonish him that it is time to return to the Circumstances he has overlooked all the Night-time, to leave off fancying himself what he is not, and prepare to act suitably to the Condition he is really placed in.

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 of 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, till 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 only 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 Onicrocritical 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 Subordinancy 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.

[Footnote 1: Thomas Britton. (Old Note.) Why he in particular?]

Translation of motto:
'The mind uncumber'd plays.'