In the interests of letting you get to know me, I feel like telling you this; I have oddly elaborate and emotive dreams. I suppose many people do, but I often recall mine, and I’m told that’s more rare. Here’s one I had yesterday afternoon, during a 90-minute nap on the sofa.
If you’ve seen either the BBC’s 1996(?) miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice, or their TV series Rome (2005?) you’ll know the actor who occupied most of the dream as Mr. Collins or Cicero, respectively. Because I was thinking of him as a weird hybrid of both IN the dream, I’m going to refer to him thus: as Mr.Collins/Cicero.
When the dream opened, a prisoner was being escorted into a large room. At one end, there were wooden benches and tables, and behind the tables, sat we, the senators/oligarchs/politicians of ancient Rome/19th-century England/Amandria. Each of us wore a garment not unlike a toga generally, but different in the specifics (for one thing, we were in various colours, and I believe senators of ancient Rome wore white togas–for another, a toga leaves one shoulder bare, and ours were covered). At any rate, we were clad in a manner unlike my present state of dress (rainbow plaid pyjama pants, Nerdasaurus t-shirt). We looked very official, and we were there on official business.
As the prisoner ascended a dais at the far end of the room, Mr. Collins/Cicero invited him to say anything in his own defence, if he had anything to say. That may have been a mistake; the prisoner spoke at length, and with an eloquence born of conviction and a deep, far-seeing intellect. The courthouse, as it was now clear this was, was packed full of avid listeners, and they alternately booed or applauded as he spoke; but it was clear, he was gaining more followers than he was losing.
Mr. Collins/Cicero, as lawyer for the State, answered each of the prisoner’s points, and although he struggled more than once, the State and its laws were on his side. Victory was inevitable. After several weeks of daily debating with the prisoner, the close of the debate drew near, and in the end, Mr. Collins/Cicero forced the prisoner to admit that, whatever his intentions, he *had* acted in a manner detrimental to the State, and utterly illegal besides; and for this treason, the punishment was, as he’d known when he committed the crime, execution.
With that, Mr. Collins/Cicero–a bachelor, well into his 40s, with no secret children or mistress, not even any parents or siblings still alive–showed the prisoner a great courtesy and kindness, in allowing his family to come forward from the courtroom benches, to climb aboard the dais, and to embrace their husband/father/brother before he was led away. As a woman, presumably his wife, clasped him to her breast tightly and tried to hold back her tears, the prisoner was heard to say something like, “Try not to cry, my dear. I know your love for me will survive even my death, and is a comfort.”
“Fool,” says Mr. Collins/Cicero, barely loud enough that we at his table can hear him. “Their love for you will die with you, or shortly thereafter; and you were a fool to risk all you had with them, for your misguided principles.”
Around the table, we are startled–Mr. Collins/Cicero has never spoken this way, and we’ve always known that his own principles are of utmost importance to him, hence he is able to treat others with such respect and compassion for upholding their own–but only one of us speaks. A younger senator, distantly related to the prisoner, in fact, speaks up and says, “Oh, come now. A man who speaks like that is a man who doesn’t believe in love; and I know you to be far too clever to believe love doesn’t exist, merely because you’ve never experienced it yourself.”
And Mr. Collins/Cicero lifts his head, which, now that we think about it, has been bowed for the last half hour, since the prisoner began his final oration; and there are tears streaming down his face.
In spite of his tears, his voice is as ever; calm, mild, factual. His words, though. They are something else.
“Oh, have I not?” he asks. “Have I, indeed, never experienced love?” And Mr. Collins/Cicero turns his hungry, red-rimmed eyes to the prisoner; who walks, head high, with only the barest hint of trembling in his frame, to the gallows.