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It was a bright morning early in June--that month of fragrance and sunshine, the laughing May of the old Poets—that a lively party assembled around the breakfast table of General Falkland. One guest, in addition to sons and daughters of various ages, from twenty-five to sweet fifteen,- formed the gay group. They were talking of dreams.
“I shall sit next to William,” exclaimed Emma Falkland; “ for I am quite tired of you, Raymond; you
have been in my dreams all night.”
Why, what a favoured mortal you are,” replied Raymond, laughing; "your good genius must have presided over your slumbers !” “ Not at all,” returned Emma; “
you were like
a great many persons in this waking, breathing world, who talk a great deal, and
say nothing.” Well, I cannot pay anybody the compliment of dreaming of them,” observed William, "for I never dream."
“ As few persons ever dream any thing worth dreaming of or recording, you need not deplore your delinquency very deeply," observed the General.
“My dear Sir,” interrupted Raymond, “persons of active imaginations certainly dream most.”
“ Persons of perfect digestion certainly dream least,” returned the General drily.
“ You do not mean to refer dreaming to mere physical causes, I hope?" said Raymond. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred it
be so referred,” returned the General.
“ Ah! my dear father,” said Emma, laughing, “ what would the whole race of poets and philosophers say to you?"
Why, poets and philosophers contrive to make a great deal out of nothing,” said the General: “I am less skilful.”
“ Well, but may we not consider dreams as a proof that the soul is independent of matter?” observed Raymond: “ does not the mind think vigorously-eloquently, even when the senses are
steeped in forgetfulness? Do we not see, hear, feel, act? Can we not, like Ariel, compass the wandering moon,' or soar, as with a seraph-wing, to the seventh heaven?”
“ I can answer for never having performed any feats of the kind,” replied the General.
“Well, I would not give up that world of our own,
in which, as Heraclitus said, we live in dreams,” observed Raymond, “ for the best share of this common world, where we meet to eat and drink, and where wise men and fools jostle and weary
each other." “My world of dreams so precisely resembles this dull, substantial earth,” said the General, “ that I cannot any how mistake it for Elysium or Paradise.”
“ But will you not allow," continued Raymond, “that there have been persons whose faculties and perceptions were even more acute in a sleeping state? Did not Sir Thomas Browne declare, that though he never said or thought a witty thing in his waking hours, yet, in sleep he could compose a whole comedy, and laugh himself awake at the conceits thereof?”
Perhaps the merriment would have been all his own, even if he had favoured the world with these conceits of his sleeping hours," replied the General. “ The wit of a man wide awake is of a somewhat less questionable character.”
“Well,- not to insist upon the poetical and philosophical use that may be made of dreams," said Raymond, “certainly you will not deny that many singular and important communications have been made through their medium.”
“ The Wizard, the Fairy, and the Banshee were in the habit of making singular and important communications at one time, I believe,” returned the General.
“There is, at least, neither superstition nor enthusiasm in the opinion,” observed Raymond ; " for to say nothing of profane authors, the Scriptures record many such communications."
“Yes, yes,” returned the General, “and we shall do well to confine ourselves to that record; of supernatural interposition is gone by."
“ I am by no means prepared to coincide in that opinion,” said their guest, who had hitherto been quietly engaged in discussing his coffee and ham, and had borne no part in the conversation ; “depend upon it, there are more things in heaven and earth’ than are dreamed of in your philosophy, my dear General.”
Raymond listened to his new ally with unfeigned astonishment.
Mr. Clifford — the gentleman in question - was more than fifty years of age, and a barrister of about thirty years' standing : he was remarkable for acuteness of mind and strength of judgment; very learned in the law; and looking forward, at no very distant period, to that summum bonum of a lawyer's hopes,--the judge's wig. He appeared an entirely unimaginative person; one who had never thought of setting his foot in fairy land since he was seven years old.
“ Have you any special for your opinion, Clifford ?” inquired the General.
“Twenty-five years ago," returned Mr. Clifford, “when I was a young briefless barrister, on the Northern Circuit, a cause came into court, which made a very strong impression upon my mind; and I have ever since believed it to be highly presumptuous, to declare that supernatural intimations may not sometimes be given in dreams."
“Oh! pray let us hear the story, sir,” said Raymond eagerly; and all the party joined in his entreaties.
No,” replied Mr. Clifford; “ the carriage will be at the door before I have half done, and I