Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 125.djvu/461

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
447
LITERARY CURIOSITIES.

Something of the same relation may be traced in dreams. Feelings and ideas which are dominant by day may be entirely absent in sleep — nay, be even "conspicuous by their absence." "Sleep, deaths twin brother, knows not death;" and, although the statement of the Laureate has less accuracy than some of his aphorisms, it is sufficiently exact to illustrate the independence of the reproduced ideas on those from which they have arisen. Unfelt, in short respite, the burden of sorrow may vanish, while some chance perhaps unremembered association of the day before originates a train of ideas in happy contrast to the reality which returning consciousness reveals.

The influence of the physical organs on the mind in sleep is familiar to all students of mental physiology. Sensations unnoticed during the day may be sufficient to set up a train of ideas of definite character and vivid distinctness, and such sensations are especially effective when sudden and contrasted with those previously influencing the sensorium. As Dr. Maudsley has pointed out, the character of the delusion may be so determined by the organ diseased as to be sometimes the earliest indication of a subsequent malady, which may thus seem to be foretold during the dream, which had apparently no physical origin.

Such an effect of an organic derangement of the brain is no doubt the explanation of this peculiar delusion of motion through the air, which has lately furnished a daily contemporary with a subject for abundant correspondence. There is probably no one to whom the feeling of such passive locomotion is not common enough. No delusions are more vivid than those which, in the waking state, accompany the phenomena of vertigo and its allied sensations. A subjective sense of movement, too sudden, too intense to allow at once the consciousness to realize the contrary evidence of other senses, produces a conviction, sometimes invincible, of change of place in the individual or surrounding objects. It is, then, a matter of small surprise that when the other senses are in entire abeyance, as they are, for the most part, during sleep, a "swimming in the head" produces the distinct impression of "levitation;" but beyond this the phenomenon has no significance, and is only interesting as a train of ideas which can have no counterpart in any preceding physical experience, and as an instance of the novel associations which may be provoked by the action of a sensory centre uncontrolled by remembered experience or correcting sensations of other organs.




From The Gentleman's Magazine.

LITERARY CURIOSITIES.

The intended celebration this year of the five-hundredth anniversary of the death of Boccaccio, who would have been a lawyer had it not been — so he says — for a sight of Virgils tomb, suggests a remarkable addition to the museum of literary curiosities. Poetry could ill afford to spare

Clerk foredoomed his fathers soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza when he should engross.

Petrarch was a law-student — and an idle one — at Bologna. Goldini, till he turned strolling player, was an advocate at Venice. Metastasio was for many years a diligent law-student. Tasso and Ariosto both studied law at Padua. Politian was a doctor of law. Schiller was a law-student for two years before taking to medicine. Goethe was sent to Leipzig, and Heine to Bonn, to study jurisprudence. Uhland was a practising advocate, and held a post in the ministry of justice at Stuttgart. Rückert was a law-student at Jena. Mickiewicz, the greatest of Polish poets, belonged to a family of lawyers, Kacinczy, the Hungarian poet, and creator of his country's literature, studied law at Kischau. Corneille was an advocate, and the son of an advocate. Voltaire was for a time in the office of procureur. Chaucer was a student of the Inner Temple. Gower is thought to have studied law; it has been alleged that he was chief justice of the Common Pleas. Nicholas Rowe studied for the bar. Cowper was articled to an attorney, called to the bar, and appointed a commissioner of bankrupts. Butler was clerk to a justice of the peace. The profession of Scott need not be stated. Moore was a student of the Middle Temple. Gray, until he graduated, intended himself for the bar. Campbell was in the office of a lawyer at Edinburgh. Longfellow, a lawyer's son, spent some in the office of his father. The peculiarity of this list — which might be extended with little trouble — lies in the eminence of these six-and-twenty names it contains. If they were omitted from literary history, Italian and German poetry would be nowhere, France would be