['To THE EDITOR OP THE 'SPECTATOR]
SIR,—The letter of your correspondent "F. M." on "Sleep" in the Spectator of December 25th recalls Cardinal Newman's fine attempt to describe the sensations of a soul separated from the body in his "Dream of Gerontina" :—
" I had a dream. Yes, some one softly said
'He's gone;' and then a sigh went round the room; And then I surely heard a priestly voice Cry Subiimite; and they knelt in prayer.
Ah I Whence is this ? What is this severance ?
Am I alive or dead ? I am not dead, But in the body still, for I possess A sort of confidence which clings to me, That each particular organ holds its place As heretofore, combining with the rest Into one symmetry, that wraps me round And makes me man; and surely I could move Did I but will it, every part of me.
And yet I cannot to my sense bring home By very trial, that I have the power.
'Tis strange; I cannot stir a hand or foot, I cannot make my fingers or my lips
By mutual pressure witness each to each, Nor by the eyelid's instantaneous stroke Assure myself I have a body still. .
Nor do I know my very attitude,
Nor if I stand, or lie, or sit, or kneel.
So much I know, not knowing how I know,
That the vast universe where I have dwelt Is quitting me, or I am quitting it;
Or 1, or it, is rushing on the wings
Of light or lightning on an onward course, And we e'en now are million miles apart."
It is true that Gerontins is dead or dying, but the attempt to realise such a condition of mental consciousness with loss of bodily control must have been suggested (one would think) by the experience of sleep such as "F. M." describes.—I am, Sir, E. M. R.