In Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, dreams and opium are considered simultaneously because he records the largest effect of his opium-eating to have been on his dreams. He first became aware of the effects by a re-awakening of a faculty generally found in childhood: I know not whether my reader is aware that many children, perhaps most, have a power of painting, as it were, upon the darkness, all sorts of phantoms; in some, that power is simply a mechanic affection of the eye; others have a voluntary, or a semi-voluntary power to dismiss or summon them In the middle of 1817, I think it was, that this faculty became positively distressing to me: at night, when I lay awake in bed, vast processions passes along in mournful pomp; friezes of never-ending stories (De Quincey 1996:67).
This seems to concern his daydreams, or at least dreams or visions that he had when he was not asleep. At the same time he notes that a sympathy arose between the waking and sleeping states of his brain and that what he called up and painted on the darkness, was then transferred into his sleeping dreams: he attributes all of these circumstances to his increasing use of opium. De Quincey also records two other important changes attributed to opium: For this and all other changes in my dreams, were accompanied by deep-seated anxiety and gloomy melancholy I seemed every night to descend, not metaphorically, but literally to descend, into chasms and sunless abysses, depths below depths, from which it seemed hopeless that I could ever re-ascend. Nor did I, by waking, feel that I had re-ascended (De Quincey 1996:68).
This is the first and the second is that his sense of space and time were both powerfully affected, Buildings and landscapes, &c. were exhibited in proportions so vast as the bodily eye is not fitted to receive This, however, did not disturb me so much as the vast expansion of time' (De Quincey 1996:68). It is not clear whether these effects took place in dream or waking or both; for De Quincey dream meant many things including imagination itself, but I would venture to suggest that both his waking visions and his dream were distorted in such a way.
Although De Quincey does not deal with the importance of dreams directly, his emphasis on the...