It has been my Custom, as I grow old, to allow my self in some little Indulgencies which I never took in my Youth. Among others is that of an Afternoon's Napp, which I fell into in the Fifty fifth Year of my Age, and have continued for the three Years last 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 Publick. 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 dreamt that this Cave was put into my Possession, and that I gave publick 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 Pickle-herring 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, Pr'ythee 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 a Severity of a Vestal, and throwing from her several Female Gugaws, 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 many Coquets 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 Day-light, 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 their 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 applyed 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 Shole of them, who, after having taken a Survey of the Place, came out in a very good Order, and with Looks entirely English. I afterwards put in a Dutch Man, who had a great Fancy to see the Kelder, as he called it, but I could not observe that it had made any manner of 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 qualifie 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 Surprize, he came out a Quaker. Seeing my self 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 'em. 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 'till 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 begg'd 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 Curtsie. 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 seem'd covered with Philosophers. I was at length resolv'd to go into the Cave my self, 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 something low, I gave such a Nodd in my Chair, that I awaked. After having recovered my self from my first Startle, I was very well pleas'd at the Accident which had befallen me, as not knowing but a little Stay in the Place might have spoiled my SPECTATORS.Translation of motto: