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a thing unknown, above conception because beyond experience; but equally so was Sleep. And though every attempt to describe sensations so unique must, more or less, involve a sort of ex post facto ascription of subsequent impressions, still, the Miltonic supposition is too natural not to be in accord with what men in gener would assume as Adam's actual feelings. On a green shady bank, profuse of flowers, pensive he sits him down :
There gentle sleep
former state, Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve. The affinity between Death and Sleep is, and ever has been, univer. sally recognised. The Divine One, who spake as never man spake, said of a dead and buried follower, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.” The brigands of revolutionary France-earthly, sensual, devilish-proclaimed death an eternal sleep. The image is everywhere in vogue, the analogy always holds good, the relationship is remarked by every age, in every clime, by saint, by savage, and by sage. Not a mortal day passes, but sleep is a familiar presence. Not a mortal life, but closes in a longer, deeper, stiller, more perfect sleep.
The epithets bestowed on death by the ancients are profusely borrowed from its living counterpart, or similitude, or foreshadow. If they call it a dura necessitas, they call it also a dura quies. It is a ferreus somnus. On the other hand, somnus, sleep itself, is mortis imago. It is letho simillimus. It is consanguineus lethi sopor. Death and his brother Sleep-—is that an original idea of Shelley's ? Not by centuries upon centuries. Gelidæ mortis frater languidus is an old-world paraphrase for man's nightly repose.
When considering, in that discursive manner of his, how a man may, in some measure, make death familiar to him, Montaigne pronounces it to be not without reason that we are taught to consider sleep as a resemblance of death-calling attention to the facility with which we pass from waking to sleeping, and the little concern we feel in losing the knowledge of light and of ourselves. "Perhaps the faculty of sleeping would seem useless and contrary to nature, since it deprives us of all action and sense, were it not that by it Nature instructs us that she has equally made us to die as to live, and from life presents us the estate she reserves for us after it, to accustom us to it, and to take from us the fear of it. But such as have by some violent accident fallen into a swoon, and in it have lost all sense, these, methinks, have been very near seeing the true and natural face of death." Such an accident Michael himself had experienced, and his experience he details for the use of others.
“When boys go first to bed,” says holy George Herbert,
“They step into their voluntary graves ;
Makes them not dead.
Which of us but bas, at some time, felt a sweet thrill, and been conscious of an awe, and an earnestness, solemn as strange, when joining in the petition of England's Evening Hymn-that true national anthemto be taught so to live that we may dread the grave as little as our bed ? George Herbert had anticipated Bishop Ken in this Christian aspiration, and glorified Death as a transfigured form :
Therefore we can go die as sleep, and trust
Half that we have
Making our pillows either down or dust. Shakspeare makes the Duke, in “ Measure for Measure,” thus reason with life--when reasoning that it is a thing that none but fools would keep :
Thy best of rest is Sleep,
Thy Death, which is no more. In the same strain, only more at large, reasons George Chapman, of the same age, in his now forgotten tragedy of “Cæsar and Pompey :"
Poor slaves, how terrible this Death is to them !-
His stern approaches ! The hunting Lord, gazing on Christopher Sly, who lies dead drunk before the alehouse on the heath, is moved to exclaim : “Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!". Paulina, preparing Leontes for a view of the supposed statue of his wife, bids him expect " to see the life as lively mocked, as ever still sleep mocked death.” We have a Shakspearean glimpse of Lucrece asleep, her hair, like golden threads, playing with her breath
Showing life's triumph in the map of death,
But that life lived in death, and death in life. One of the leading articles,” so to speak, in the “Newes" of Sir Thomas Overbury, describes death as “ sleep's picture drawn to life, or the twilight of life and death.” In sleep, he says, "we kindly shake death by the hand; but when we are awaked, we will not know him. Often sleepings are so many trials to die, that at last we may do it perfectly.” Elsewhere he affirms, in the paradoxical style then so much cultivated, that “no man goes to bed till he dies, nor wakes till he be dead.” To the same effect writes Jeremy Taylor, that “we so converse every night with the image of death, that every morning we find an argument of the re
surrection. Sleep and death have but one mother, and they have but one name in common. Charnel-houses are but
KOLuntasia, cemeteries' or sleeping-places ;” and “in sleep our senses are as fast bound by Nature, as our joints are by the grave-clothes; and unless an angel of God waken us every morning, we must confess ourselves as unable to converse with men, as we now are afraid to die and converse with spirits. But, however, death itself is no more ; it is but a darkness and a shadow, a rest and a forgetfulness. What is there more in death? What is there less in sleep?”
Coleridge's Monody on the death of Chatterton opens with the exclamation,
O what a wonder seems the fear of death,
Night following night for threescore years and ten ! One section of Tennyson's In Memoriam opens with the hypothesis, “If Sleep and Death be truly one;" another, with the apostrophe,“ Sleep, kinsman thou to death and trance;" while a third, addressed to the dead friend here held in remembrance, begins with this soothing stanza
When in the down I sink my head,
Sleep, Death's twin brother, times my breath ;
Sleep, Death's twin brother, knows not Death,
Nor can I dream of thee as dead. This twin-brotherhood is, almost everywhere among the poets, an acknowledged relationship. Yet Wilson utters a protest against it, when he makes the Ettrick Shepherd object that "sleep is not death-nor yet death's brither, though it has been ca'd sae by ane wha suld hae kent better—but it is the activity o' spiritual life.” How this objection affects the poetical assumption it would, perhaps, be difficult to show. For the poets all along assume the sleep of death to have its dreams, its activity of spiritual life. To sleep-muses Hamlet—to sleep, perchance to dream : ay, there's the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come-must give him, the proposed self-slayer, pause. The good man, dying, is, in Bryant's “ Thanatopsis,”
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams. Many a time has death been taken for sleep, and sleep for death; the dead for those that slumber, and the slumbering for those that are “no more.” Innocent childhood looks on the face of the departed, and believes the repose to be life's common every-day rest. Anxious watchers rivet their gaze on the calm sleeper, and fear that calm to be of the sleep that knows no waking. Arviragus finds Imogen “as dead, smiling, as some fly had tickled slumber, not as death's dart, being laugh'd at. . . . . I thought, he slept; and put my clouted brogues from off my feet, whose rudeness answered my steps too loud." hasty," complains Shakspeare's Henry IV., when the Prince has removed his crown, -“so hasty that he doth suppose my sleep my death?". The Prince had not removed that “golden rigol" until he had watched a downy feather by the lips of the king, which stirred not-until he had called, and there was no answer—whence his inference, “ this sleep is
Is he so
sound indeed," the sleep that no morning will break, no fatigue renew. So, again, with the parents of Juliet, after she has drained the friar's draught. "Jenny, tu souffres ?" tenderly asked Grétry of his eldest girl(all Grétry's daughters died at about sixteen)-her answer was,
6 C'est fini;” and then, in the words of a biographer, “elle pencha la tête et mourut sans secousses au même instant. Le pauvre Grétry lui demanda si elle dormait : elle dormait avec les anges.” Thomas Hood, who in his “Hero and Leander" pictures a form on which "you might gaze twice ere Death it seem'd, and not his cousin, Sleep, that through those creviced lids did underpeep”—has described, in a fragment called “ The Deathbed,” with exquisite pathos and simple power, what some of us have witnessed, and having witnessed, have desired for ourselves, if the desire be lawful : so imperceptible the passage from calm slumber to calmer death, so unobserved the merging of one in the other.
Our very hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied
And sleeping when she died. The sight of sleeping childhood is often suggestive, to their elders, of the more solemn rest that remaineth for all the children of time. Three and-twenty years ago the same Thomas Hood, being at Coblentz, and gazing on his wife and two children asleep in the same chamber, was moved to an almost wish that he and they might then and there find mortality swallowed up of life, sleep merged in death. He recognised his universe of love, all that his God could give him or remove, there sleeping, save himself
, in mimic death : hence arose the half-cherished, half-withstood yearning
Almost I wish that with one common sigh
Together pant in everlasting life. The aspiration—or, rather, unformed fancy-might be a strangely sad or sadly strange one. But thoughtful and suffering minds, versed in worldly trials, and already wounded in the battle of life, are not unapt to think sad thoughts, and strange, beside slumbering childhood. Watching the serenity that there abides, and remembering the awful antitype of which a placid symbol is before us, well may the wistful desire rise from heart to lips, May my last end be like this !—Like it, in some respects, we know it will be ; for is not Death, even that of wrinkled eld, the brother of Sleep, even that of babes and sucklings? Mrs. Browning's stanzas, addressed to an infant sleeping on the floor, tired of all the playing, touchingly illustrate this aspect of our theme: the minstrel is near as tired of pain as the child seems of pleasure ; God knows that, she says; and then she anticipates a coming sleep for herself, after life's fitful fever, wearied with the din, and toil, and vanity :
Very soon too, by His grace
Gently wrapt around me,
Shall I sleep as soundly !
Differing in this, that you
Clasp your playthings sleeping,
hand shall drop the few
Sleeping shall be colder,
Brighter to beholder.
The last stanza of another poem of hers, “ The Sleep,” is set in the same key-a soft low minor
And friends, dear friends,-when it shall be
How is that, if we believe our papas, there is no such thing as a good actor in England at the present day? Why should the stage have degenerated, when every other liberal profession has made such startling progress ? But, to tell the truth, we believe the paternal hints must be taken cum grano; when he says that the sun of tragedy set with John Kemble, we are inclined to say, if we dared, that it is all nonsense, and that if we wanted actors of that sort and calibre they could be procured within a very short period, for it is an established maxim of England that the supply is only regulated by the demand. Yet, we dare say, when we come in our turn to find the easy-chair the most comfortable part of the room, and are bringing up our boys in the way they should go, we shall be also lamenting the decline of the drama which went out with Charles Kean. But no! we shall never make such an assertion as that, unless we are confined in Hanwell. What we would propound then is, that, as every hen considers her own chick the finest, so we of the present day admire our actors as the first in their respective class, and only give a doubtful faith to such assertions as those to which we alluded above.
In Germany much the same feeling is extant; though the taste for theatrical matters in that country is far more decided than they certainly produce a better ensemble than can be found anywhere in England, save at one or two small London theatres. There are very keen critics among them, and many quidnuncs who praise the past days to the disparagement of our own, and an actor must pass through a tremendous ordeal before he can become a recognised celebrity. Some few years back a German company played in London, and was deservedly admired for the perfection of their acting and the exquisite ensemble and finish; and yet, of the entire company, Emile Devrient was the only one who
among us, and