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was succeeded by one of profound oblivion which lasted eight or nine hours, when he awoke refreshed, and restored to perfect health of body and soundness of mind.
Were opium as rarely used, and as judiciously applied, as in the above case, one half of the English opium-eater's clever volume might have been spared.
KILLING NO MURDER.
This renowned pamphlet, it would appear, was not written by Colonel Titus, as averred by Hume, and by almost every body else; but by Colonel Edward Sexby, who was committed to the Tower, July 24th, 1657, on a charge of high treason; and there, being taken ill, and, as it proved, on his deathbed, confessed to Mr. Carril, a minister, and others, that he wrote the book called “Killing no Murder ;" and added, that he still held the opinions maintained in that work. - See Mercurius Politicus, 1658, No. 399.
There is somewhat of mystery connected with the statement I have made relative to this wondrous pamphlet, “Killing no Murder," whoever may have been its author. It did not, perhaps, kill Oliver Cromwell, as, in all probability, the writer hoped it would ; but assuredly it served almost to deprive him of life, and entirely of his peace of mind, by the vexation it must have inflicted on him. The English language, old or modern, has few things so well
written to boast of; none forming such a total of unmitigated severity: it is, in fact, for its day, much more powerfully worked up than any of the far-famed letters of Junius.
While I write, a story is in circulation with respect to those papers called “the Mercuries;" viz. that many of the copies in the British Museum, long concluded to be original, are forgeries ; and it is added, that in these falsifications the unfortunate Chatterton was concerned. This has at least the air of fiction; for it begs the question of Chatterton's being an adroit and practised fabricator of antiques. Whether he was such or not, I do not, nor never did, believe, any more than Dr. Johnson did, that the half-educated boy was the inventor of Rowley's poems; and that the Mercuries in the great national depository are not genuine, is more than improbable. That No. of the “Mercurius Politicus,” from which I have taken my extract, and which belongs to myself, is, beyond a doubt, a hundred years older than the age of Chatterton.
PHILOSOPHY OF SLEEP.
BY ROBERT MACNISH.
“The Philosophy of Sleep," third edition, Glasgow, 1836. This work has great merit. Its faults are, a servile reliance on the truth of a system, which is at least questionable—that of phrenology ; precepts too loose and general as to the indulgence of sleep; and an exaggerated description of what Doctor Macnish terms the disease of night-mare, which hardly deserves the name of distemper. Disease, or not, the author should have called this affection night-mere: the misnomer in his text is unworthy of a scholar. The phrase properly means mother, or hag, or beldame, and has nothing to do with the female of the horse species, as Fuseli has thought fit to paint it; and as thousands of persons, better educated than Fuseli, have supposed it should be. Doctor M.'s Essay on “ the sleep of plants” is extremely beautiful.
Page 71. “Some authors imagine that we never dream of objects which we have not seen; but the absurdity of this notion is so glaring as to carry its own refutation along with it. I have a thousand times dreamed of such objects.”
There is nothing absurd or untrue in the supposition of the authors arraigned by Doctor M. We can dream only of what we have seen. The combination of objects in a dream may be new, but the component parts must have been already presented to the senses of the dreamer.
Page 203. Long continued study is highly prejudicial to repose: Boerhaave mentions that on one occasion, owing to this circumstance, he did not close his eyes for six weeks.” This is but old-womanish and heedless writing where fact is concerned. Boerhaave probably lied in saying that he had not slept for six weeks : he certainly lied, if he said that he did not “close his eyes” during that space of time.
Page 205. “An easy mind, a good digestion, and
plenty of exercise in the open air, are the grand conducives to sound sleep; and accordingly, every man whose repose is indifferent, should endeavour to make them his own as soon as possible.”
All this is most abominably bad writing. The author seriously prescribes “an easy mind and good digestion,” not only to promote sound sleep (which, no doubt, they do), but recommends every one to make these blessings his own! An
easy mind is the result of previous moral rectitude, over which a man cannot afterwards have any control; good digestion” depends quite as much on the native structure as on the management of the stomach : a man can no more make either for himself then he can cause himself to be
when he is seventy! Moreover, the Doctor employs the word indifferent just as an old nurse would : “my poor Missus is but indifferent this morning.”
Page 207. “The cause of this constitutional disposition to doze upon every occasion, seems to be a certain want of activity in the brain; the result of which is, that the individual is singularly void of fire, energy, and passion. He is of a phlegmatic temperament, generally a great eater, and very destitute of imagination.” This is all very poor! Pope, who had the distemper of drowsiness, was not void of fire, energy, passion, or powers of imagination. Doctor Johnson says that the bard “ one day dropped asleep at the dinner-table of Frederick, Prince of Wales, while His Royal Highness was talking of poetry.”
Page 208. “Boerhaave speaks of an eccentric physician, who took it into his head that sleep was the natural state of man; and accordingly slept eighteen hours out of the twenty-four ;-till he died of apoplexy-a disease which is always apt to be produced by excess of sleep.” This whole passage is one of incredible absurdity, at least on the part of the renowned Boerhaave. As a man of common sense he might have known that a person suffers sleep, and cannot command that condition of body; he cannot even counteract the propensity to sleep. And as a medical man he should have remembered that a disposition to sleep unseasonably, is disease ; and is not the cause, but the consequence, of organic derangement, and of a liability to apoplexy.
In his clever chapter on the sleep of plants, Doctor M. speaks of plants with pinnated leaves, and ternate leaves. He should have explained these hard words: that the first means feathered, or notched at the edges; the latter, leaves in three divisions.
There is much that is strange and inexplicable in the sleep of animals, of probably every class; certainly of man. When accompanied by dreaming, as in the human race it perpetually is, one might be tempted to say that it is invariably a state of mental insanity. We see in utter darkness, objects, which, if the images beheld were not forgeries of the fancy, would be invisible. We are perfectly satisfied with the existence and fitness of absolute impossibilities, the most trivial incompleteness in which formations