Dreams of Famous People: Gates of Horn and Ivory by Brian Hill

An excerpt from the book Gates of Horn and Ivory by Brian Hill, a collection of dreams of famous people in history.

GATES OF HORN AND IVORY. By Brian Hill, ed. New York: Taplinger, 1968.

About the book: An anthology of dreams of well-known persons including Nebuchadnezzar, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Carl Gustav Jung, Mary Baker Eddy, and Oscar Wilde. There is also a chapterful of dreams from fictional works. The range of dreams is from sad to funny, beautiful to grotesque, and prophetic to fantastic.


The most extraordinary dream I ever had was one in which I fancied that, as I was going into a theater, the cloak-room attendant stopped me in the lobby and insisted on my leaving my legs behind me.

I was not surprised; indeed, my acquaintanceship with theater harpies would prevent my feeling any surprise at such a demand, even in my walking moments; but I was, I must honestly confess, considerably annoyed. It was not the payment of the cloak-room fee that I so much minded--I offered to give that to the man then and there. It was the parting with my legs that I objected to.

I said I had never heard of such a rule being attempted to be put in force at any respectable theater before, and that I considered it a most absurd and vexatious regulation. I also said I should write to The Times about it.

The man replied that he was very sorry, but that those were his instructions. People complained that they could not get to and from their seats comfortably, because other people's legs were always in the way; and it had, therefore, been decided that, in future, everyone should leave their legs outside.

It seemed to me that the management, in making this order, had clearly gone beyond their usual right; and, under ordinary circumstances, I should have disputed it. Being present, however, more in the character of a guest than in that of a patron, I hardly liked to make a disturbance; and so I sat down and meekly prepared to comply with the demand.

I had never before known that the human leg did unscrew. I had always thought it was a fixture. But the man showed me how to undo them, and I found that they came off quite easily.

The discovery did not surprise me any more than the original request that I should take them off had done. Nothing does surprise one in a dream. . . .

I dreamt that the ticket the man gave me for my legs was No. 19, and I was worried all through the performance for fear No. 61 should get hold of them, and leave me his instead. Mine are rather a fine pair of legs, and I am, I confess, a little proud of them--at all events, I prefer them to anybody else's. Besides, number 61's might be a skinny pair, and not fit me.

It quite spoilt my evening fretting about this.

Jerome K. Jerome, 1859-1927

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