The Holinshed Project

Holinshed Project Home

The Texts

Previous | Next

10.42. Sundrie examples concerning visions. Chap. 42.

Sundrie examples concerning visions. Chap. 42.

[...]Or so much as there be sundrie opini|ons and iudgments concerning visions, it shall not be much amisse, or impertinent to our matter, to recite a few examples & true reports of the same. Ualerius Maximus in his first Prognosticall [...]. booke and seauenth chapter writeth, that two men of Arcadia, iournieng togither in companie towards a towne named Megara, when they came [...]ther, the one of them lodged himselfe with his fréend, but the other at a common Inne. He who late in his fréends house being in bed and asléepe, dreamed that his com|panion came vnto him, and requested him to helpe him, bicause his hoast did oppresse him; wherewith he awooke, but verie shortlie he fell asléepe againe, and dreamed that his said companion came againe vnto him being verie sore wounded, and praied him that although he would not at the first time come and helpe him, yet that he would now reuenge his death, declaring that his host had taken his head and corps, and put it into a cart to be caried to the dunghill, and there to be buried. This man being awaked, and much troubled with this dreame, arose and sought for his fellow, and finding his dreame to be true, caused the hoast to be taken and apprehended, who for that his fact was executed and put to death. Aterius Ru|fus a gentleman of Rome likewise, being on a time at Siracusa, he dreamed that he was killed by a maister of fense, which came so to passe: for on the morrow after he was present at the plaie or game of swordplaiers or maisters of defense, whereas a (1) netcaster was brought in to fight with a sword|plaier. Wherevpon Aterius vttering his dreame to him that sat next by him, would haue gone and de|parted awaie; but being persuaded to the contrarie, did staie to his owne destruction. For the netcaster hauing ouerthrowne the swordplaier, and thinking to haue pearsed him through with his sword, [...]ed him and stroke Aterius, who sat in place next there|vnto, and so was he slaine. Also Simonides the poet, being on a time let on land vpon the sea shore, he saw there a dead man lieng vnburied. The night follow|ing he dreamed that the said dead man did aduise and admonish him, that he should not take ship the daie following: but his felowes minding not to lose anie time, and the weather seeming then to be faire, they went all aboord, and hoised vp their sailes; which Si|monides refused to doo, and tarried at land. It was not long after but that the weather wared to be fowle, and the seas to be high, and in the end both the ship and men to be all lost: but Simonides credi|ting his dreame, was saued. Moreouer Calphurnia, the wife vnto Iulius Cesar, the night before hir hus|band was s [...]aine, dreamed that she saw him greatlie wounded to lie in hir lap: wherewith she being a|fraid did awake, and told Iulius hir dreame, reque|sting him that he would forbeare to repaire to the se|nat house that daie: but he giuing small credit to a womans dreame, followed his mind, and was [...] by the senators. But to leaue these examples fetched from out of other nations, let vs come neere home to our selues. A brother of mine named Walter Bar|rie, a lustie yoong gentleman, making himselfe rea|die on a time to serue in a certeine hosting against his enimie; the night before he should take his iour|nie, he dreamed that my mother who was dead on long before, did come vnto him, and aduise & warne him, that if he loued his life he should in anie wise refraine and forbeare that iournie. She in déed was not his naturall mother, but his mother in law, and yet loued him in hir life time as intirelie as hir owne child. When he had told this his dreame to his father and mine, for indéed we were both brothers by one father, though we had not one mother: he also gaue him the like aduise and counsell, but he of his pre|sumptuous mind, not regarding the same, followed his owne mind, and the same daie was killed by his enimie.

(2) As dreames sometimes are good forewarnings to men to eschew euils which are towards, yet they are not alwaies to be so receiued, as prognostica|tions infallible. For sometimes the same fall out to the contrarie, as dooth appeere by Augustus the empe|ror; who hauing warres against Brutus and Cassi|us, and he by reason of his sicknesse carried in a lit|ter, his physician Arterius dreamed that the goddesse Minerua did appeare vnto him, willing him to aduise and counsell the emperor, that he should not by rea|son of his sicknesse come into the field, nor be pre|sent in the battell, which he did. But the emperor not|withstanding entered into the field, being carried in his litter, and tooke maruellous great pains. And al|beit Brutus taking the emperors tents, séem [...]d to haue the victorie; yet was he for all that vanquished, and the emperor had the conquest. Likewise in west Wales, of late yeares, it happened a certeine rich man dwelling on the north side of a certeine moun|teine; he dreamed thrée nights togither, that there was a chaine of gold hidden in the head stone, which couered and laie vpon a certeine well or founteine, named saint Bernaces well, and that he should go and fetch it. This man at length, som what beléeuing the dreame, and minding to trie the same, went to the place, and did put his hand into the hole or place: but his hand was no sooner in, but that it was bitten, stoong, and enuenomed with an adder. Wherefore a man may sée hereby what credit is to be giuen to dreams, and I for my part doo so credit of them as I doo of rumors. But concerning such visions as God dooth send by his angels to his prophets and holie men, we must otherwise thinke of them; bicause the effect of them is most vndoubted, certeine, and as|sured.

(1) The Romans had diuerse games, plaies, and exercises amongst themselues, and had for the same certeine amphitheaters and [...]heaters made of pur|pose, EEBO page image 28 wherein the people might sit to view and behold the same. Of these plaies or games some were of cruell beasts the one fighting with the other, some of men fighting with beasts, and some of men fighting the one with the other, and these plaies were called Ludi gladiatorij, games of sword plaieng or fighting: for as in combates in England, so they being vnharnessed, did fight with their swords or weapons in the open sight of the people, indeuouring ech one to kill the other, which were spectacles of cru|eltie to harden the peoples hearts against killing in the warres. Of these some were called Mirmillones, which were such as chalenged the fight; some were called Gladiatores, and these were such as we doo name masters of defenses, bicause they vsed onelie or cheef|lie the sword; and some were called Retiarij, and these besides their weapons did vse a certeine kind of net, which in fighting they were woont to take and in|trap their enimies, and such a one was this man, who fighting with a chalenger, did by chance misse him and kill Aterius.

(2) In the old and first ages, men were much gi|uen to dreames and visions: and oftentimes great forewarnings and prognostications were giuen thereby, as dooth appeare in the holie scriptures, as also in prophane histories. For Ioseph the son of Ia|cob, king Pharao, king Nabuchodonozor, Mardo|cheus, Daniell, Iudas Machabeus, Hercules, Pyr|rhus, Cicero, Cassius, Parmensis, & manie others dreamed dreames, and the same came to passe. But yet these being but particular examples, and which it pleased God for some secret cause to vse: they are not to be drawne for presidents and examples to be dailie or in these daies vsed; but rather we must haue a respect and a regard to Gods speciall com|mandement, who by the mouths of his prophets hath vtterlie forbidden vs to listen to anie dreamer, or to giue credit vnto his words. Thou shalt not (saith he) hearken to the words of a dreamer of dreames, for dreames haue deceiued manie a man, and they haue failed them who haue put their trust in them: for whie, they are full of deceipts and guiles, and in|uented either for the maintenance of superstition and error, or for the increasing of some filthie lucre and gaine. Phauorinus therefore inueighing against the Chaldeans, who were a people which were woont to relie much vpon dreames, willeth and aduiseth that no dreamer or interpreter of dreames should be sought or dealt withall. For (saith he) if they tell thee of anie good thing, and in the end doo deceiue thee, thou shalt be in miserie to hope in vaine for the same. If they tell thée of some misfortune, and yet doo lie, yet shalt thou be in miserie, bicause thou shalt be still in feare least it may happen. And likewise if they shew thée of euill haps, and the same doo so fol|low, thou shalt be in miserie and vnquieted, that thy fortune and destinie is so euill. But if they tell thee of good things, and it be long yer the same doo hap|pen, thou shalt be much vnquieted to looke so long for it; and alwaies in feare least thine expectation shall be frustrated: wherefore in no wise doo thou séeke anie such persons, nor giue anie credit vnto them.

Previous | Next