Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVI / The Wager of Battle. A Tale of the Feudal Ages. >> Page 352

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Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 35J SOUTHWARD Ho !
been first given to the company by one bolder than the rest. Our
captain's anecdote led to a variety of experiences and revela-
tions, at the close of which, one of the party, being reminded of
his appointment as next raconteur, bestowed the following dark
fancy-piece upon us, which he assured us was woven in the
world of dreams, and was, in most respects, a bona fide report of
a real experience in the domain of sleep :
THE WAGER OF BATTLE.
A TALE OF THE FEUDAL AGES.
CHAPTER I.
THE analysis of the dreaming faculty has never yet been
made. The nearest approach to it is in our own time, and by
the doctors of Phrenology. The suggestion of a plurality of
mental attributes, and of their independence, one of the other,
affords a key to some of the difficulties of the subject, without
altogether enabling us to penetrate the mystery. Many diffi-
culties remain to be overcome, if we rely upon the ordinary
modes of thinking. My own notion is, simply, that the condition
of sleep is one which by no means affects the mental nature. I
think it probable that the mind, accustomed to exercise, thinks
on, however deep may be the sleep of the physical man ; that
the highest exercise of the thinking faculty that which involves
the imagination´┐Żis, perhaps, never more acutely free to work
out its problems than when unembarrassed by the cares and
anxieties of the temperament and form ; and that dreaming is
neither more nor less than habitual thought, apart from the or-
dinary restraints of humanity, of which the memory, at waking,
retains a more or less distinct consciousness. This thought may
or may not have been engendered by the topics which have im-
pressed or interested us during the day; but this is not necessary
nor is it inevitable. We dream precisely as we think, with sug-
gestions arising to the mind in sleep, spontaneously, as they do
continually when awake, without any special provocation ; and
our dreams, in all probability, did not our memory fail us at
awaking, would possess that coherence, proportion and mutual
relation of parts, which the ordinary use of the ratiocinative