This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
Of the truth of this view I will submit further evidence.
There is no proof that babes ever dream. The interpretation of the smile of the infant, which in former times led fond mothers to suppose that "an angel spoke to it," is now that the cause is "spirit" in the original sense of the word—internal gaseous phenomena. Aristotle says, " Man sleeps the most of all animals. Infants and young children do not dream at all, but dreaming begins in most at four or five years old".
Pliny, however, does not agree with Aristotle in this, and gives two supposed evidences that infants dream. First, they will instantly awake with every symptom of alarm; secondly, while asleep they will imitate the action of sucking. Neither of these is of any value as proof. As to the first, an internal pain, to which infants appear to be much subject, will awaken them; and as they are incapable of being frightened by any external object until they are some months old, the symptom is not of alarm, but of pain. The imitation while asleep of the action of sucking is instinctive, and an iufant will do so when awake, and when there is obviously not the slightest connection between the state of mind and the action. The condition of the babe in sleep is precisely such as might be expected from its destitution of recorded sensations.
Aristotle's history of animals declares that horses, oxen, sheep, goats, dogs, and all viviparous quadrupeds dream. Dogs show this by barking in their sleep. He says further that he is not quite certain from his observations whether animals that lay eggs, instead of producing their young alive, dream; but it is certain that they sleep. Pliny, in his natural history, specifies the same animals. Buffon describes the dreams of animals. Mac-nish calls attention to the fact that horses neigh and rear in their sleep, and affirms that cows and sheep, especially at the period of rearing their young, dream. Scott, in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," says:
The stag-hounds, weary with the chase, Lay stretched upon the rushy floor, And urged in dreams the forest race From Teviot-stone to Eskdale Moor.
Tennyson also speaks of dogs that hunt in dreams. Darwin, in the " Descent of Man," Vol. I., p. 44, says that "dogs, cats, horses, and probably all the higher animals, even birds, as is stated on good authority (Dr. Jerdon, 'Birds of India'), have vivid dreams, and this is shown by their movements and voice." George John Romanes, in his "Mental Evolution in Animals," says that the fact that dogs dream is proverbial, quotes Seneca and Lucretius, and furnishes proof from Dr. Lauder Lindsay, an eminent authority, that horses dream. Cuvier, Jerdon, Houzeau, Bechstein, Bennett, Thompson, Lindsay, and Darwin assert that birds dream; and, according to Thompson, among birds the stork, the canary, the eagle, and the parrot, and the elephant as well as the horse and the dog, are " incited" in their dreams. Bechstein holds that the bullfinch dreams, and gives a case where the dream took on the character of nightmare and the bird fell from its perch; and four great authorities say that occasionally dreaming becomes so vivid as to lead to somnambulism. Guer gives a case of a somnambulistic watch-dog which prowled in search of imaginary strangers or foes, and exhibited toward them a whole series of pantomimic actions, including barking. Dryden says:
The little birds in dreams the songs repeat, and Dendy's "Philosophy of Mystery" quotes from the "Domestic Habits of Birds" in proof of this.
We have often observed this in a wild bird. On tho night of tho 6th of April, 1811, about ton o'clock, a dunnock (Accentor nodularis) was heard in the garden to go through its usual song more than a dozen times very faintly, but distinctly enough for the species to bo recognized. The night was cold and frosty, but might it not be that tho little musician was dreaming of summer and sunshine ? Aristotle, indeed, proposes the question— whether animals hatched from eggs ever dream? Mac-grave, in reply, expressly says that his "parrot Laura often arose in the night and prattled while half asleep".
The dreams of the blind are of great importance, and the fact that persons born blind never dream of seeing is established by the investigations of competent inquirers. So far as we know, there is no proof of a single instance of one born blind ever in dreams fancying that he saw. The subject has been treated in the "New Princeton Review" by Joseph Jastrow, who has examined nearly two hundred persons of both sexes in the institutions for the blind in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Thirty-two became blind before completing their fifth year, and not one of these thirty-two sees in dreams. Concerning Laura Bridgman, the blind and deaf mute, Mr. Jastrow says, " Sight and hearing are as absent from her dreams as they are from the dark and silent world which alone she knows".
The testimony is the same with regard to those born deaf. The celebrated Harvey P. Peet, LL. D., in his researches, among the most philosophical ever made, places this fact beyond rational doubt; but other investigators furnish equally valuable evidence. In visiting institutions for the blind and the deaf, I have made inquiry, and have never found an instance of a person born deaf, or of a child who lost his hearing before he was four years of age, dreaming of hearing. Among the results of recent inquiries I present the following from the principal of the State Institution for the Blind and Deaf at St. Augustine, Florida:
I have closely questioned the deaf children hero as to whether they have ever dreamed of hearing, and the invariable answer is No. I have asked the same question of upward of fifty deaf persons with the same result, except where the person interrogated had lost his hearing after learning to talk. These last mentioned are all persons of some education who understood the question fully and were very positive that they had never dreamed of hearing more than a rumbling sound.
I was one of the members of a committee of three? to visit the State institution of Michigan for the blind and deaf, at Flint, where there were hundreds of pupils. The method of awakening them in the morning and of calling them to recitations and to chapel services was by beating a bass-drum, which, of course, the bliud could hear. But it was curious to observe the deaf awaking from a sound sleep in the morning, or called to chapel and recitation at other hours of the day, by the beating of a bass-drum in the central hall. Those who could not have heard the reverberation of all the artillery in the world felt the vibration of the building produced by the beating of the drum, and obeyed the signal. Some of them dreamed of vibration; none born deaf of hearing.
In further elucidation of the subject, I addressed a letter to Professor J. W. Chickering, Jr., of the National Deaf Mute College at Washington, D. C, and under date of February 3,1888, received the following:
Deaf mutes of all grades dream frequently, though they aro not given to imagination. As to the question whether they dream about anything involving sound, I have made diligent inquiry, and have been answered in the negative except in tho case of the Rev. Job Turner. He says that he once dreamed of being counsel for a prisoner, and being greatly delighted to find himself making a very eloquent speech in his behalf.
The question of dreaming about sounds in the case of semi-mutes was discussed in the "American Annals " some years ago by Professor Groenberger of New York, and some statistics wore given; but he dismisses your inquiry (i. e, whether persons born deaf ever dream of hearing) very abruptly by saying, " This question was put to a number of congenital deaf mutes, and, as might have been expected, their answers were all in tho negative".
I may state to you, as a matter of fact, that one of our deaf-mute teachers, who has no memory of hearing, has waked from sleep in a fright by tho report of firearms; but that would be accounted for by the concussion and consequent action upon tho nerves of general sensation.
J. W. Ciiickeuino, Jr.
Upon the above letter I may remark that the single case of the Rev. Job Turner, an educated man, accustomed to read and imagine spoken oratory, can be accounted for without assuming that he dreamed of hearing sounds, the speech-making being a movement of his mind involving an act rather than a perception. The being wakened by the explosion of firearms is, as Professor Chickering justly says, explicable on the same principle as that which accounts for the awaking of the deaf and the communication of information by the rhythmical vibration of a building.
Leaving out of account the question of the dreamless state of infants and very young children, I deem the facts that animals dream, that the congenital blind and deaf never dream of seeing or hearing, conclusive proof that dreams are phenomena of the physical basis of mind, dependent upon changes in the circulation of the blood, and the condition of the brain and the nervous system; and that images constructed in dreams are automatic combinations of the sensations, experiences, ideas, and images stored in the mind.
Three further collateral evidences can be adduced. First, the modification of dreams by physical conditions. With this all are familiar. These are plainly, so to speak, efforts of the image-making faculty active in dreams to account without the aid of the judgment for a physical sensation. Every one knows that the condition of the digestive organs, the position of the head or any other part of the body, will affect dreams.
Another fact is that the dreams of the very aged, unless something unusually agitating is anticipated or occurs, generally recur to scenes of former years, and therein greatly resemble their conversation. Even when the intellectual faculties are unimpaired, and the aged person is much interested in current events, and pursues a train of study and reflection by day under the control of the will, when at night the imagination is set free, scenes of early life or childhood furnish the materials of the images much more frequently than contemporaneous events. This is in harmony with the known laws of memory.
In regard to the dreams of the insane, the "Medical Critic and Psychological Journal" of April, 1862, says:
The dreams of the insane are generally characteristic of the nature of the aberration under which they labor; those of the typho-maniac are gloomy and frightful; of the general paralytic, gay and smiling; of the maniac, wild, disordered, pugnacious ; in stupidity they are vague, obscure, and incoherent; in dementia, few and fleeting; in hypochondria and hysteria the sleep, especially during indigestion, is disturbed and painful.
This is in accordance with all the indications.