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persing, “just as the realities of life are reassuming their steadfast forms-reshaping themselves and settling anew into those fixed relations which they are to preserve throughout the waking hours ; in that particular crisis of transition from the unreal to the real, the woe which besieges the brain and the life-springs at the heart rushes in afresh amongst the other crowd of realities, and has at the moment of restoration literally the force and liveliness of a new birth—the very same pang, and no whit feebler, as that which belonged to it when it was first made known.
« From the total hush of oblivion which had buried and sealed it up, as it were, during the sleeping hours, it starts into sudden life on our first awaking, and is to all intents and purposes a new and not an old afiliction-one which brings with it the original shock which attended its first annunciation.”*
When the Marquis de Lassay lost sa chère Marianne, he was oppressed with a peine poignante which cruelly deprived him of sleep, the balm of hurt minds,-protracting his insomnies far into the morning; when, at a late hour, he would fall into a doze, from sheer exhaustion. " Mais j'ai beau faire,” he writes, d'un accent très-senti, -—"Je ne saurais perdre de vue l'objet de mon tourment. En m'éveillant, il vient se saisir de moi, et me serre le cœur avant que ma raison soit encore éveillée et m'ait appris la cause de ma douleur.”+ Like the confused sensations of the awaking Haidee, in Byron :
She woke at length, but not as sleepers wake,
Brought back the sense of pain without the cause. The last breath of Frederick William II. having fled, Mr. Carlyle relates how Frederick, his son, the Great that was to be, hurried to a private room ; and sat there all in tears; looking back through the gulfs of the Past, upon a father now rápt away for ever :-sad all, and soft in the moonlight of memory. “At an after hour, the same night, Friedrich went to Berlin; met by acclamation enough.
“He slept there, not without tumult of dreams, one may fancy; and on awakening next morning, the first sound he heard was that of the regiment Glasenap under his windows, swearing fealty to the new King. He sprang out of bed in a tempest of emotion; bustled distractedly to and fro, wildly weeping. Pöllnitz, who came into the ante-room, found him in this state, half-dressed, with dishevelled hair, in tears, and as if beside himself.' • These huzzahings only tell me what I have lost !' said the new King. He was in great suffering,' suggested Pöllnitz ; "he is
now at rest. * True, he suffered; but he was here with us; and
* See De Quincey's impassioned, pathetic, sometimes prolix and flagging, but always characteristic novelet, “ The Household Wreck" (Blackwooch, 1838);-not reprinted (why not reprinted?) in his collected, or rather selected, Works.
7 Recueil de différentes Choses. Par le Marquis de Lassay (A.D. 1652-1738). I Don Juan, canto iv.
$ Ranke, II. 46, 47 ; Carlyle, IL 693-4.
One of Southey's letters resignedly begins: “ Yesterday evening it pleased God, by an easy and merciful death, to release my dear daughter Isabel from her long sufferings. ... I thought myself strong in heart for the first few hours after the event; but this morning I am weak as a child, and my whole bodily frame is shaken. . . . Last night I felt like a man who has just undergone the amputation of a painful limb; I have arisen this morning with a full feeling of the wound and of the loss."*
A sonnet of Wordsworth’s, on the loss of his child, Catharine,-a loss which so strangely shook, to the centre of his being, her doting neighbour and daily associate, the English Opium-eater,-is, in the latter portion of it, fully pertinent to our theme; although in point of fact the sonnet was not composed until long after Catharine Wordsworth's death :
But how could I forget thee? Thro' what power,
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.t The reader will not have overlooked the parallelism of this passage, without the exception, save one, one only,” with what we have previously quoted from the impassioned prose of Thomas de Quincey.
But bereavement by death has no monopoly in the aching sense of a wobegone next morning. Other calamities, in their several ways, and according to their several powers of afflicting, usher in a like gloom of daybreak, and make dawn the signal for darkness that may be felt.
Look, for a conspicuous example, to the royal family of France, on the first night after their expulsion from the Tuileries, and the wholesale slaughter of their Swiss guards, -as pictured by the Historian of the Girondin Revolutionists. Their attempt to snatch a few moments’ sleep, after a vigil of thirty-six hours. “ This slumber was brief,--the waking, terrible. - The Queen, on opening her eyes to the rays of a burning sun which penetrated to her couch, closed them again that she might believe she was only dreaming.”I Painfully susceptible, in such a case, of human import is that couplet of Dryden's,
The joyless morning late arose, and found
A dreadful desolation reign around. 3 Or again, to such a sunrise, as unwelcomed by such a sufferer, or group of sufferers, may be applied the obscure but imposingly impressive line of the laureate's,
God made Himself an awful rose of dawon. || Note the morning entries in Scott's Diary, after his becoming a ruined
Here is one: Slept ill, not having been abroad these eight days
* Robert Southey to John May, July 17, 1826.
|| Tennyson, The Vision of Sin.
-splendida bilis. Then a dead sleep in the morning, and when the awakening comes, a strong feeling how well I could dispense with it for once and for ever. This passed away, however, as better and more dutiful thoughts, as he styles them, arose in his mind. But new every morning, for a long time to come, if not for the rest of the brave veteran's life, new every morning was the pang his waking and uprising felt. A subsequent entry in the journal records, " This is the first time since my troubles that I felt at awaking,
I had drunken deep
Of all the blessedness of sleep”of the sleep that maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it.
Acton Bell enters feelingly into a description of troubled night and troublous next morning, in the experience of Gilbert Markham, after the shock endured by that misconceiving lover, in the precincts of Wildfell Hall. “ Never did I endure so long, so miserable a night as that. And yet, it was not wholly sleepless : towards morning my distracting thoughts began to lose all pretensions to coherency, and shape themselves into confused and feverish dreams, and, at length, there followed an interval of unconscious slumber.
“ But then the dawn of bitter recollection that succeeded—the waking to find life a blank, and worse than a blank — teeming with torment and misery-not a mere barren wilderness, but full of thorns and briars-to find myself deceived, duped, hopeless, my affections trampled upon, my angel not an angel, and my friend a fiend incarnate—it was worse than if I had not slept at all.”+
It is an observation quaintly metaphysical or mathematical of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes's, that the rapidity with which ideas grow old in our memories is in a direct ratio to the squares of their importance. Their apparent age, he says, runs up miraculously, like the value of diamonds, as they increase in magnitude. A great calamity, for in. stance, is as old as the trilobites an hour after it has happened. It stains backward through all the leaves we have turned over in the book of life, before its blot of tears or of blood is dry on the page we are turning. “For this we seem to have lived ; it was foreshadowed in dreams that we leaped out of in the cold sweat of terror; in the dissolving views' of dark day-visions ; all omens pointed to it; all paths led to it. After the tossing half-forgetfulness of the first sleep that follows such an event, it comes upon us afresh, as a surprise, at waking; in a few moments it is old again,-old as eternity.”[
But in our muster-roll of next mornings, let us not overlook the cheering sort, of which there are, thank God, so many. Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. True, the heaviness of the night watches may be such as no cheer of dawn will remove-like that of the guilty and fallen sovran in Southey's epic:
-O what a night
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ch. xii.
But, in other than exceptional cases, marked out for reprobation or retribution, and to other than morbid or distempered minds, the benignant law of Heaven is, that morning shall dispel shadows, not induce them; and dissipate, not deepen gloom.
There are things, as a thoughtful essayist has observed, which allow us to go to sleep at night with an undisturbed conscience, but wake us with a start hours before the dawn, and set us wondering—“How could I make such a fool of myself ? Where was the impulse to that vain show-off? What could have induced me to talk of such an one-to confide my private concerns to So-and-so ?”–We are advised to sleep upon certain designs, but it means really to wake upon
them. Nothing is more curious than the revulsion a short interval makes in our whole view of things—no magic more bewildering than the transmutations which a few hours of insensibility produce--a few hours of being thrown absolutely upon ourselves. Especially, this writer affirms, do sins against taste fret us in the heavy, yet busy excitable hour which we have fixed on for the levee of these spectres, when our thoughts, like hounds, scent out disagreeable things with a miraculous instinct, drag them to light, fly from subject to subject, however remote and disconnected, and hem us round with our own peccadilloes. "Society in the cold dawn looks on us as a hard taskmaster, exacting, unrelenting, seeing everything, taking account of everything, forgetting nothing-judging by externals, and holding its judgments irreversible. For, after all, it is a cowardly time.” Naturally the essayist suggests, that if we could believe that the people we dislike suffer these penances, and could give them credit for waking with a twinge an hour earlier than usual, under the remembrance of impertinence, vanity, unkindness, persuaded that certain definite offences against our taste and feeling would haunt their solitary walk and make their trial of the day, we could not but learn patience and toleration.* The drift of his moral is rather to discourage than foster these “ morbid regrets,” which discompose a free and social over-night's next morning, --we being, on the whole, gainers in freedom by living in a world where it is possible to commit oneself—to go beyond intentionsto be impulsive, incautious; for there is a something which is “ better than caution, though by no means a subject for self-congratulation at five o'clock in the morning"--and the influences, it is contended, which make us seem to ourselves so different in the rubs of domestic and social life from our solitary selves, over-night from next morning, so that we are constantly taking ourselves by surprise, are not all bad ones. There is an unselfishness and cordial abandon about them, which, in their social relation, and as a social agency, might be changed for the worse-redeeming points not to be ignored when their weak points are being summed up, in that dull retrospective review, by sensitive self-critics, at peep of day.
It is always a gratifying page to read in Cowper's life, that which records his brother's visit to him at Dr. Cotton's, one July day, in 1764 -a visit which lasted the whole day, and of which he tells us that it put to flight a thousand delirious delusions, and that he “rose the next morning a new creature.”+ See what a day may bring forth, of joyous
* See the essay on "Foolish Things," in No. 321 of the Saturday Review.
† Bell's Annot. ed. of Cowper, vol. i. p. 28.
as well as mournful vicissitude-a day, and a night, and their next morning. Happier symptom there could not be than for a mind distraught (with person therefore under restraint), like Cowper's, to feel gladness of heart and newness of life at that period of the day which, of all others, is to such sufferers fraught most with depressing influences.
We have seen the struggle Sir Walter Scott had to encounter with morning broodings, in the opening months of that, to him, gloomiest of years, 1826. Midway in the month of May his troubles were enlarged by the death of his wife. The last day of that month in that year contains this entry in the well-kept Diary. “ The melancholy horrors of yesterday (referring to painful scenes of family emotion] 'must not return. To encourage that dreamy state of incapacity is to resign all authority over the mind, and I have been used to say, "My mind to me a kingdom is.' I am rightful monarch ; and, God to aid, I will not be dethroned by any rebellious passion that may rear its standard against me. Such are morning thoughts, strong as carle-hemp-says Burns
Come, firm Resolve, take thou the van,
Thou stalk of carle-hemp in man.' Sir Walter had once and again illustrated in fiction, what he was now cultivating in the regions of fact,—the inspiriting and composing tendency of dawning light. He shows us Julian Peveril chafing at bondage in the Tower, and harassed by invisible disturbers. But " sleep surprised his worn-out frame in the midst of his projects of discovery and vengeance, and, as frequently happens, the light of the ensuing day proved favourable to calmer resolutions.”+ Or again, Sir Walter shows us the Master of Ravenswood, in his deserted mansion of Wolf's Crag,-a moody man, as he bethinks him, by night, of his res augusta domi, and lonely lot. But," favourable to calm reflection, as well as to the Muses, the morning, while it dispelled the shades of night, had a composing and sedative effect upon the stormy passions by which the Master of Ravenswood had been agitated on the preceding day.”! Accordingly, Edgar now feels himself able to analyse the different feelings which had been stirring his nature to its depths, and much resolved to combat and subdue them. And the morning, which has risen calm and bright, gives a pleasant effect, as he gazes out of window, even to the waste moorland view which occupies and bounds the landward side of the castle. Like him that listened to two voices, in a lay of the laureate's, and gave
heed to the better, and cast the worser of the two away, —
And I arose, and I released
* Sir W. Scott's Diary, May 31, 1826. † Peveril of the Peak, vol. iii. ch. vi. | The Bride of Lammermoor, vol. i. ch. viii.