Sleepless in Toronto

As noted previously, I’m re-reading Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. On this particular re-read, the chapter epigraphs have come into focus. I admired the epigraph for the chapter in which Lord Peter appears unexpectedly in Oxford, then naps in a boat on the river during a lazy spring Sunday. I find it even more apt now that I find I’ve drunk too much coffee and cannot sleep. The quote is attributed to Thomas Dekker, but doesn’t note which of his many works it comes from. A quick search of the internet has produced no obvious results except the continued attribution of the quote to Dekker without reference to the particular work. Here is Dekker on sleep, as quoted by Sayers.

Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is: it is so inestimable a jewel that, if a tyrant would give his crown for an hour’s slumber, it cannot be bought: of so beautiful a shape is it, that though a man lie with an Empress, his heart cannot beat quite till he leaves her embracements to be at rest with the other: yea, so greatly indebted are we to this kinsman of death, that we owe the better tributary, half of our life to him: and there is good cause why we should do so: for sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Who complains of want? of wounds? of care? of great men’s oppressions ? of captivity? whilst he sleepeth? Beggars in their beds take as much pleasure as kings: can we therefore surfeit on this delicate Ambrosia? Can we drink too much of that whereof to taste too little tumbles us into a churchyard, and to use it but indifferently throws us into Bedlam? No, no, look upon Endymion, the moon’s minion, who slept three score and fifteen years, and was not a hair the worse for it.

Now, lets see if I can get me some of that sleep, the golden chain, etc.


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