Sleep may torment one's imagination "with Fantoms too dreadful to be described"

— Fielding, Henry (1707-1754)

Place of Publication
Printed for the Author
Sleep may torment one's imagination "with Fantoms too dreadful to be described"
Metaphor in Context
When his Mind was thoroughly fatigued, and worn out with the Horrours which the approaching Fate of the poor Wretch, who lay under a Sentence, which he had iniquitously brought upon him, had suggested. Sleep promised him Relief; but this Promise was, alas! delusive. This certain Friend to the tired Body, is often the severest Enemy to the oppressed Mind. So at least it proved to Wild, adding visionary to real Horrours, and tormenting his Imagination with Fantoms too dreadful to be described. At length starting from these Visions, he no sooner recovered his waking Senses than he cry'd out: "I may yet prevent this Catastrophe. It is not too late to discover the whole." He then paused a Moment: But Greatness instantly returning to his Assistance, checked the base Thought, as it first offered itself to his Mind. He then reasoned thus coolly with himself: "Shall I, like a Child, or a Woman, or one of those mean Wretches, whom I have always despised, be frightened by Dreams and visionary Phantoms, to sully that Honour which I have so difficulty acquired, and so gloriously maintained! Shall I, to redeem the worthless Life of this silly Fellow, suffer my Reputation to contract a Stain, which the Blood of Millions cannot wipe away! Was it only that the few, the simple Part of Mankind, should call me a Rogue, perhaps I could submit; but to be for ever contemptible to the PRIGS, as a Wretch who wanted Spirit to execute my Undertaking, can never be digested. What is the Life of a single Man? Have not whole Armies and Nations been sacrificed to the Humour of ONE GREAT MAN? Nay, to omit that first Class of Greatness, the Conquerors of Mankind, how often have Numbers fallen, by a fictitious Plot, only to satisfy the Spleen, or perhaps exercise the Ingenuity of a Member of that second Order ofGreatness the Ministerial! What have I done then? Why, I have ruined a Family, and brought an innocent Man to the Gallows. I ought rather to weep, with Alexander, that I have ruined no more, than to regret the little I have done." He at length, therefore, bravely resolved to consign over Heartfree to his Fate, though it cost him more struggling than may easily be believed, utterly to conque r his Reluctance, and to banish away every Degree of Humanity from his Mind, these little Sparks of which composed one of those Weaknesses, which we lamented in the opening of our History.
(pp. 312-5)
At least 13 entries in ESTC (1743, 1754, 1758, 1763, 1774, 1775, 1782, 1785, 1793, 1795).

Text from Miscellanies, by Henry Fielding, 3 vols. (London: Printed for the Author, 1743). [Jonathan Wild in Vol. 3] <Link to LION>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.