Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
BACK Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Haunted Mind," in Hawthorne, Tales and Sketches, 200–01; here Ekirch speculates that the quote from Hawthorne  “might have been a reference to the tranquillity associated with heightened levels of the hormone prolactin” however from the full passage it is clear that the tranquillity here is that of being warm in bed on a very cold night. Note that while Ekirch claims that this elevated levels of prolactin occur in his hypothesised “up to an hour or more of quiet wakefulness midway through the night” this passage actually talks about feelings on going to bed.  “You sink down and muffle your head in the clothes, shivering all the while, but less from bodily chill, than the bare idea of a polar atmosphere. It is too cold even for the thoughts to venture abroad. You speculate on the luxury of wearing out a whole existence in bed, like an oyster in its shell, content with the sluggish ecstasy of inaction, and drowsily conscious of nothing but delicious warmth, such as you now feel again. Ah! that idea has brought a hideous one in its train. You think how the dead are lying in their cold shrouds and narrow coffins, through the drear winter of the grave, and cannot persuade your fancy that they neither shrink nor shiver, when the snow is drifting over their little hillocks, and the bitter blast howls against the door of the tomb. That gloomy thought will collect a gloomy multitude, and throw its complexion over your wakeful hour”.   John Wade, Redemption of Time (London, 1692), 187. Ekirch is disingenuous in his partial quote from Wade the “solitary hours”, in the full passage they are described as “When we are sitting, or walking, or riding alone in the Day-time, or waking in the Night or early in the Morning.” Also “devising Mischief upon their Beds” is only one of many things such people do. A fourth Sort of Persons reproved. How many lose much precious Time in vain and sinful Thoughts? These are they that swallow up most of our solitary Hours. When we are sitting, or walking, or riding alone in the Day-time, or waking in the Night or early in the Morning; then do our Minds talk idly with themselves; then do Men wilder away their Time in unsetled independent Thoughts; mis-spend their Time in vain unprofitable Musing, proud self reflecting, self-admiring and self-applauding, strange and unreasonable Projecting; in mere imaginary Suppositions of what they would both be and do; in fond self-flattering Presumptions, and foolish Expectations of Things; in fretting and fuming Thoughts at cross Accidents; in curious searching into other Mens Actions and secret Ends, and studying Things that do not at all concern themselves, and would do them no good at all to know; in evil Surmisings and causeless jealous Workings; in angry revengeful Thoughts and  devising Mischief upon their Beds;  Psal. 36.4. in lustful wanton, profane and dissolute Thoughts; in speculative Wickedness, in representing and acting those Sins in their Thoughts which they want Power or Opportunity to put into outward Act, in recalling, revolving and reviewing in their Thoughts past sinful Actions with a tickling Pleasure and Delight. If a Man should write down his thoughts but of one Day, and reade them at Night, he would reckon himself: half-distracted, and be greatly amazed at himself. And many a Person would even blush, and be quite asham'd to speak out what he loved to imagine and muse upon. These idle and evil Thoughts are they that justle and shut out serious and savoury Thoughts and meditations, and hinder the divine Law and Testimony from being our  Meditation all the Day. Vain Thoughts too commonly  lodge with us: Jer. 4.14. They come into our Minds just as Travellers go into an Inn, who boldly take up their Chamber there, and command and call for what they would have: Whereas Thoughts should be suffered to come into our Minds only as Men are permitted to go into a Garrison, who are first strictly examined, who they are, whence they come, and what is their Business. We should, with David,  hate vain Thoughts, Psal 119.113.  call in our vagabond wandring Thoughts and Imaginations, and fix them upon solid and serious Things. Think nothing (says   St. Bernard) that may make against thy Salvation: 'Twas too little to say against it; I should have said, says he, think of nothing beside it. BACK
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2018