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18
MELBOURNE AND MARS.

CHAPTER IV.


Strange Dreams.

WRITING in the year sixty-three, his forty-fifth year, Jacobs tells of a few months of illness and of a low nervous condition into which he drops as a result of that illness. He never entirely recovers. He is often absent-minded, and he needs much more sleep than he used to require. His hard life has evidently told upon him, and the grand climateric has come early.

He writes:—"I had a strange dream last night, a series of strange sensations mostly painful and terribly real. I was struggling in the dark towards some end, and great forces were pitching behind and around me, and I, ever trying to escape, worked in the same direction, until at last I emerged into a blaze of light and a cold air that made me pant and gasp for a long time until I got relief, and cried out loudly for help. No sooner had I called than strong and gentle hands grasped me, and using soothing appliances made me comfortable, and then in my dream I went to sleep."

This experience is never repeated, but for several months he dreams that he is a little child, and all the time, his surroundings are the same. He is frequently listening to sounds that he only understands in part and to music which be tries to imitate. No sooner is he asleep than he is on the knees of a gentle giantess, whom he learns to call mother. Sometimes he appears to pass hours lying on soft, white substances, and playing with any little object that he can grasp. A Few months after the first, of his strange dreams we find the record of his idea.

"I am at length forced to the conclusion that I have been been somewhere else, and am living the life of a happy, healthy baby in a most comfortable and cheerful home. Everything is built to that scale. The people about me are giants in relation to me because of my own littleness, I know several people, and am talked to and played with by first one then another. I am never tossed about, no one ever frightens me. I am learning to talk, and begin to understand much of what is said to me. I can get about in a tumbling sort of way, and might walk if I did not get tripped up by so many things. There is a bright warm fire, but I can never reach it. I am even puzzled to know where I am. There are certainly many things about me that would not he about me if I were a baby in Melbourne, or in any country that I know. Were I to tell anyone that I am at once a man of middle and a baby in the arms, I should be regarded as qualified for a lunatic asylum. Am I in what is called dotage? Do old people who become childish do so because they are children elsewhere?"

The diaries now contain scarcely anything but a record of what he no longer regards us a dream. He says little of business, and not much of domestic life. He only works a few hours daily, and is frequently absent-