Phil Morpheus’s Vision

Miss Appleton

Sent to the Editor of the Attic Chest for acceptance or refusal


If you ever condescend to notice dreams and visions, and such old romanish fancies, I beg permission to present you with this of mine.

Methought I was in the Cave of Prometheus, in which he formed his mortal. She was now busily employed in framing specimens of man to present to Vulcan, who wished to people a little Island, newly won from Neptune. She was, it appeared, to receive so much per head, without regard to beauty or intellect; and was under no restriction, but with respect to Variety: he being enjoined, not to produce two beings of similar feature and temperament. To this Prometheus willingly attended; indeed, Fancy, whom he employed as Directress, and who was of very great service to him, could not have consented to assist in forming two alike: for as the respective moulds were withdrawn from the work, she broke them, and made new ones.

There are, besides the two Principals, several inferior agents, in this large Cave, employed in different offices. As it was Fancy’s business to make the moulds, so Fate, in the shape of an old Dwarf, gathered the Materials in heaps, ready for the admixture. Nature kept the stores, and furnished them as they were asked for; and I observed that Genius stood by her, and now and then said, when he perceived a favourite ingredient, “I will carry that to Fate.” She accordingly took it from the Serving Nymph, a homely Being called Ordinary, and delivered the packet himself. Fate took the same, and threw it into the first heap he reached as it might happen — hence, no two favourites of Genius were alike — except in possessing that one ingredient, the name of which I could not learn but which he begged from Nature.

I was too astonished at the Scene, and confounded by the bustle, to dare to advance and interrupt the important business: but after some time, I crept forward, when Nature spied me, and kindly bade me come and stand by her, if I wished to see what was going on. I immediately did so, making my obeisance to the busy company, who, however, did not bestow one regard upon me in return; being, as I supposed, too much engaged; or, perhaps, considering me too insignificant a being [an animal] to notice in any way.

I now saw a Being whom I learned was a relation to Judgment. His name was Opinion — he was writing a great many Labels which he delivered to an over-grown monstrous creature, called World, whose business it was to affix a label to the forehead of every male and female, as he or she might be perfected. As I had opportunity to see the whole process, I shall relate it to you.

The Servant, Ordinary, took, I observed, and delivered to Fate, a huge mass of clay, a pile of different metals, some coloured pastes ground from flowers, all kinds of minerals, and Water, pure, brackish, muddy or salt.

The old Being, then, with much promptitude, cut off a large piece of clay, threw in a handful of salt, ground in a yellow paste with bitumen that tinged the whole with gall, and put for a heart a piece of black flint. This mass was worked up in muddy water, and immediately delivered to Fancy; who seeing so great a quantity of materials, picked out a large sized mould, and pressed the whole in it. She then turned out a tall muscular hard-featured shape of a man. Prometheus then took it, and consigned it during two or three minutes to red hot furnaces, when, behold! I saw the figure come out, walking, and a lively man. Opinion then gave his label to World, who stretched forth his large arm, and pasted on the forehead of the new creature ”The Cynic”. When all this was settled, Prometheus hurried his man into an adjoining cave, to wait for his fellows, lest he might injure himself before he should be sold to Vulcan: in which case, I presume, he would have had to make good the loss.

The next was a portion of pipe clay rolled round a slip of indian gum, which is very elastic, and is used to rub out lead marks — this was a substitute for bone. With it was mixed a little juice of Lemon, and a conserve of Vapours, a lump of white sugar of lead was put for a heart, and the whole was diluted with warm sea water. Fate delivered this to Fancy, who was very well pleased with the delicacy of the mixture — she, however, thought there was not colour sufficient in the face, and she stole a bit of carmine powder and put it in the creature’s hand, be be ready for use in after times. The whole was then pressed in a fine mould, and immediately heated in the oven. No sooner did the woman (for it was one) walk forth, than she began dawbing her cheeks with the red paint, whilst Opinion handed a label to World, who immediately pasted it on her front. I peeped to read it, and found that she was called “The modern Fine Lady”.

The next was composed of a small quantity of fine clay; a large piece of pure gold; a handful of aromatic essence; a branch of the sensitive plant; a few grains of Quicksilver; and a leaf or two of the Common Nettle. The heart was a large one, of fine chrystal. Genius tossed in his ingredient to this heap — it looked a little like Salt, but salt of a very extraordinary quality. The whole was mixed in pure water. This man, when vivified, I found, was called ”The Poet” and I observed he was in rags, for I should have told you, that every one had some kind of attire given him by a Nymph who stood by the Furnace, named Fortune, and whom I had just before laughed to see bestow an extraordinary hooped petticoatt and curious toupee headdress upon the fair Lady. The Poet moved away to the inner cave, seemingly very indifferent as to all that was passing round him. Genius, however, looked very earnestly after him, smiled, and wrote down his private name on his Tablets.

The next was a mixture of earth, and the Weed called Dragon’s Blood, with quicklime, vermilion, and Leeks. A blown bladder was sent for the heart, and the whole was diluted with warm water, and inflated by gas, with a garland of Aspen leaves around the head — The creature all this produced was I found “The Bully”

The one after this was a pleasant compound of fine clay, milk of human kindness, pure water, and the flowers called Thrift — together with a handsome piece of fine gold, ground up in honey and virgin wax. The whole tempered with an infusion of “Heart’s ease”, “Forget me not”, “Maiden’s blush”, and perfumed with Essence of roses. Nature was much taken with this figure. She looked in her stores, and picked out a very find cornelian for the heart; and two very brilliant diamonds she fixed in the spot for the eyes. The permitting this was a great favour granted by Fate, who was not in general satisfied to have his work meddled with.

Fancy, now seeing such fine materials, sorted out her very best mould, and delivered her work, with much pride, to Prometheus; who, struck by its beauty and worth, watched its progress into life. This was soon affected, and he supposed Fortune would have given a very splendid robe, but she chose out a very plain and simple dress and bestowed it, together with a wreath of oak leaves, upon the woman who received both, with modest gratitude. Opinion then drew forth her Label, and World quickly afforded me an opportunity of knowing that this fine creature was “A virtuous Woman”.

I saw many more productions of those belonging to different orders of the State — and a variety of women, but as I fear to tire you by a further description, I shall cut short this hasty communication by saying that Fancy at last spied me out, and was going to press me in a mould, and hand me to Prometheus, when the dread of such an operation so affected me that I started, and awoke.

I am Mr. Editor

Yours etc. etc.


May 1818