« PreviousContinue »
I dare for once prescribe for your disease,
"Two sovereign herbs, which I by practice know,
Take just three worms, nor under nor above,
"Madam," quoth he, "grammercy for your care, But Cato, whom you quoted, you may spare: 'Tis true, a wise and worthy man he seems, And (as you say) gave no belief to dreams: But other men of more authority, And, by th' immortal powers, as wise as he,
Maintain, with sounder sense, that dreams forebode;
Impos'd in Cato's name on boys at school.
"Believe me, madam, morning dreams foreshow Th' event of things, and future weal or woe: Some truths are not by reason to be try'd, But we have sure experience for our guide. An ancient author, equal with the best, Relates this tale of dreams among the rest.
"Two friends or brothers, with devout intent,
"So were they forc'd to part; one stay'd behind, His fellow sought what lodging he could find: At last he found a stall where oxen stood, And that he rather chose than lie abroad. 'Twas in a farther yard without a door; But, for his ease, well litter'd was the floor.
"His fellow, who the narrow bed had kept, Was weary, and without a rocker slept : Supine he snor'd; but in the dead of night, He dreamt his friend appear'd before his sight, Who, with a ghastly look and doleful cry,
Said, Help me, brother, or this night I die:
Arise, and help, before all help be vain,
"Rous'd from his rest, he waken'd in a start, Shivering with horrour, and with aching heart, At length to cure himself by reason tries; 'Tis but a dream, and what are dreams but lies? So thinking, chang'd his side, and clos'd his eyes. His dream returns; his friend appears again : • The murderers come, now help, or I am slain : 'Twas but a vision still, and visions are but vain. He dreamt the third: but now his friend appear'd Pale, naked, pierc'd with wounds, with blood besmear'd:
Thrice warn'd, Awake,' said he; 'relief is late,
"The frighted friend arose by break of day, And found the stall where late his fellow lay. Then of his impious host inquiring more, Was answer'd that his guest was gone before: • Muttering, he went,' said he,' by morning light, And much complain'd of his ill rest by night.'
This rais'd suspi-ion in the pilgrim's mind; Because all hosts are of an evil kind, And oft to share the spoils with robbers join'd. "His dream confirm'd his thought: with troubled look
Straight to the western gate his way he took;
"The word thus given, within a little space, The mob came roaring out, and throng'd the place. All in a trice they cast the cart to the ground, And in the dung the murder'd body found; Though breathless, warm, and reeking from the wound.
Good Heaven, whose darling attribute we find
The criminals are seiz'd upon the place:
Stiff in denial, as the law appoints,
On engines they distend their tortur'd joints:
"Here may you see that visions are to dread; And in the page that follows this, I read Of two young merchants, whom the hope of gain Induc'd in partnership to cross the main. Waiting till willing winds their sails supply'd, Within a trading town they long abide, Full fairly situate on a haven's side; One evening it befell, that looking out, The wind they long had wish'd was come about: Well pleas'd they went to rest; and if the gale Till morn continued, both resolv'd to sail. But as together in a bed they lay, The younger had a dream at break of day. A man he thought stood frowning at his side: Who warn'd him for his safety to provide, Nor put to sea, but safe on shore abide. 'I come, thy genius, to command thy stay; Trust not the winds, for fatal is the day, And Death unhop'd attends the watery way.'
"The vision said: and vanish'd from his sight: The dreamer waken'd in a mortal fright: Then pull'd his drowsy neighbour, and declar'd What in his slumber he had seen and heard. His friend smil'd scornful, and with proud contempt Rejects as idle what his fellow dreamt.
'Stay, who will stay: for me no fears restrain, Who follow Mercury the god of gain;
Let each man do as to his fancy seems,