Lastly, I have never had any dream of any real or vital significance, any warning or presentiment, anything which bore in the least degree upon the issues of life.
There is a beautiful passage in the “Purgatorio” of Dante about the dawn: he writes
When near the dawn the swallow her sad song,
Haply remembering ancient grief, renews;
And when our minds, more wanderers from the flesh
And less by thought restrained, are, as ’t were, full
Of holy divination in their dreams.
I suppose that it would be possible to interpret one’s dreams symbolically; but in my own case my dream-experiences all seem to belong to a wholly different person from myself, a light-hearted, childish, careless creature, full of animation and inquisitiveness, buoyant and thoughtless, content to look neither forwards nor backwards, wholly without responsibility or intelligence, just borne along by the pleasure of the moment, perfectly harmless and friendly as a rule, a sort of cheerful butterfly. That is not in the least my waking temperament; but it fills me sometimes with an uneasy suspicion that it is more like myself than I know.
I am going to try to put into words a very singular and very elusive experience which visits me not infrequently. I cannot say when it began, but I first became aware of it about four years ago.
It takes the form of an instantaneous mental vision, not very distinct but still not to be mistaken for anything else, of two people, a husband and wife, who are living somewhere in a large newly built house. The husband is a man of, I suppose, about forty— the wife is a trifle younger, and they are childless. The husband is an active, well-built man with light, almost golden hair, rather coarse in texture, and with a pointed beard of the same hue. He has fine, clean-cut, muscular hands, and he wears, as I see him, a rough, rather shabby suit of light, homespun cloth. The wife is of fair complexion, a beautiful woman, with brown hair, and dressed, I think, in a very simple and rather peculiar dress. They are people of high principle, wealthy, and with cultivated tastes. They care for music and books and art. The husband has no profession. They live in a wide, well-wooded landscape, I am inclined to think in Sussex, in a newly built house, as I have said, of white plaster and timber, tiled, with many gables and with two large, bow-windowed rooms, rather low, the big mullioned oriels of which, with leaded roofs, are a rather conspicuous feature of the house. The house stands on a slightly rising ground, in a park-like demesne of a few acres, well timbered, and with open paddocks of grass. The house is approached by a drive from the main road, with two big gateposts of brick, and a white gate between. To the right of the house among the trees is the louvre of a stable. There is a terrace just in front of the house, full of flowers, with a low brick wall in front of it separating it from the field. I see the house and its surroundings more clearly than I see the figures themselves.