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CHAPTER IV

 

THE CONFIRMATION

 

            THE clouds and mists rolled back like a scroll; the heavens surpassingly clear, and bright with a light which was neither of sun nor of moon, but of both combined, so brilliant and withal so soft was it; and to the empyrean thus illumined a hand stretched out to write, as on a vast wall, in gigantic letters of fire, the word READY. Such was the vision, thrice in one night repeated, whereby the conclusion of the “New Revelation” was announced. And the dreamer was one ungiven to dreams, a simple-minded and true-hearted dame of well-nigh ninety years, and who, moreover, had not only never heard that such a work was in progress, but would have deemed it an impiety to contemplate it. It was enough for the spirits that our Seeress was beneath the roof.

 

            It seemed as if the conclusion of my book was being waited for only to give me the assurance I desired respecting the character and quality of the influence by which it had been dictated. The manner of its bestowal had been such as to

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indicate a long period of anticipation and preparation on part of the controlling influences. Had further evidence been wanting to complete the conviction of the reality of the agencies at work, the circumstances in question would have supplied it. Of these, then, I must give some account.

 

            Towards the middle of January, by a combination of events in which throughout their whole course we had recognised something wholly removed from the ordinary, the friend and coadjutor whom I call the Seeress, who in the previous November had a few weeks before been forced to quit the Continent and return to England, came to reside near at hand to me – namely, in J–– Street – in a circle of which, while one member of it only was previously known to her, all but one had become abstainers from flesh through her means. Of these, moreover, who were four in number, all but one were believers in the phenomena and doctrine known as “spiritualism,” and were in varying degrees possessed of mediumistic gifts. The non-believer was no disbeliever, but simply an inquirer, a stage she was destined soon to quit for that of positive assurance.

 

            The day after my friend’s arrival at the house in question, I called and was introduced to the circle. Nothing was then said on the subject either of my book or experiences; but as I afterwards

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learnt, on the same evening, on an intimation being given that the party were to sit at the table, a séance was held, and a communication received, saying, “A new prophet is among you; one whom you have seen to-day.” Several guesses were made as to whom this could be, the Seeress keeping silence; for although sharing my convictions respecting the nature of my book, she was as yet no believer in the current “spiritualism,” her experiences having been identical with mine. At length my name was suggested, when an energetic answer in the affirmative was given through the table, with the addition, “Send for him, that we may speak with him.” It was added that the Seeress herself also was chosen for a work; an announcement at which the friend who had been the means of bringing her there hid her face in her hands, and with much emotion exclaimed, “I knew it, I knew it!” To the further question what spirit it was that was speaking, it was replied, “John the Baptist,” with the direction for me, “Let him come to-morrow.”

 

            The employment of such a name was conjectured as implying, not that the spirit of one so long passed away was likely to have returned to earth, but that it had been adopted either by some spirit who desired thereby to intimate that he was exercising the Baptist’s function of herald, or that it was the spirit who had

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formerly spoken through the Baptist, and who was now once more engaged on a like mission. The emotion and exclamation of the lady who had uttered the words “I knew it,” were due to the following circumstances.

 

            This lady, whom I will call Mrs. W––, had about four years before this time been much impressed by reading a certain romantic story which set forth the way of the perfect life, in a manner which appealed to her so forcibly as to minister to her renunciation of a diet of flesh. Becoming spiritualistic soon afterwards, she received an imperative direction to seek out the writer and communicate to her a message respecting her future course of life. Having ascertained the writer’s name, and found that it was the Seeress of this narrative, she had taken a long journey to see her, having first written to apprise her of her probable coming. I will give the rest in the Seeress’s words.

 

            “One morning being at home in the country, I awoke to find a telegram signed Anna W––, announcing that the sender would be with me that very afternoon. At the hour named I met her on the way as she was driving from the station, and her manner and appearance surprised me as much as had her communication, and as, subsequently, her conversation. She was tall, erect, distinguished-looking, with hair of iron-grey, and

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strangely brilliant eyes. She told me that she had received a distinct message from the holy spirit, and that she had been impressed so strongly to come and deliver it to me, that she could not refuse. The purport of her message was that for five years to come I was to remain in retirement, to continue the studies on which I was engaged, and the mode of life on which I had entered, and to suffer nothing and no one to draw me aside from them. That when these probationary five years were past, the holy spirit would bring me forth from seclusion, and that a great work would be given me to do. All this was uttered with a rapt and inspired expression, as though it had been some sibyl delivering an oracle. And when she had ended, seeing, no doubt, the surprised expression of my face, she asked me if I thought her mad, a question to which I was at some loss to find a reply; for hitherto I had had no experiences of prophets or prophetesses but rather shared the general impression concerning those who professed to be either. After delivering her message, my prophetess kissed me on both cheeks and departed. The mode of life she referred to as that which I was not to abandon, was the study I had just commenced, of the physical sciences, and to which I had been irresistibly impelled against all my natural tastes and affinities. On thinking

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over her communication, however, I found myself less and less surprised at it, for the reason that it coincided closely with certain ideas by which I had been haunted from childhood, but which had always been discouraged as mere fancies. These ideas included the notion that I distinctly remembered having voluntarily quitted a previous state of existence for some purpose I was eager to accomplish, and which, though I knew not precisely what it was, was in some respects connected with animals, for whom I always had an extraordinary affection. So cold, and hard and ugly, however, had the world seemed to me as a child in comparison with what I recollected of my previous home, that I was throughout childhood constantly pining to return to it. My very dreams were like reminiscences; and, what used to puzzle me exceedingly, these often possessed an allegorical character, disclosing a philosophy far in advance of anything I had a conception of in my waking state. It seemed as if it were the real and perfect world to which I had returned in my visions, and that the world to which I awoke was an imaginary and miserable existence, a hell, or at least a purgatory, for which I had left a heaven. With but one or two trifling exceptions, I heard nothing more of my prophetess until last winter, when being in London for my studies, I received from

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her a letter, saying that she was visiting some friends in J–– Street, and was expecting to see me, though she had no idea where I was. I was at the time terribly troubled about a place to live in, not merely through my then home disagreeing with me by reason of its proximity to the river; but I was subjected to extraordinary influences, whose character I could in no way comprehend on any ordinary hypothesis, and which made a further residence there impossible. That they were not of a subjective nature, or due to my own fancy, was shown by the fact that they excited the utmost uneasiness in a pet animal I had with me. Afterwards, when I had learnt something of the reality of the spiritual world, and of the work that was in store for me, I was at no loss to explain them. I was fairly being driven out of my abode, but whither, and to what end, I had no conception. It was while I was at my wits’ end what to do, or where to seek a home, that I received from my friend the prophetess the communication which led to my joining the circle in J–– Street. The incident which has been related in this narrative – namely; that of my being impelled to write a passage in England and Islam, without being aware what I was doing – occurred while still at my river-side residence. It was there also that I received the dream described in that book. I can now

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only regard the influences which operated to drive me from the house as those of friendly spirits, who knew that the air of the locality was injurious to me, and who moreover had a special object of their own in making me join the circle in J–– Street”.

 

            Such being the circumstances, all of which were previously known to me, by which the message I have recorded had been preceded, it was impossible not to attach more importance to it, strange as it might seem, than would ordinarily have been justifiable; and I accordingly obeyed the summons by attending the sitting at the appointed time. Of what is called “spiritualism,” in any serious sense, I knew nothing. The various endeavours I had made to investigate it having resulted in my failure to convince myself even of the genuineness of the phenomena; and being a fairly-accomplished conjuror, I was not ill-qualified to detect any attempt at imposition. In the present instance, although the characters and antecedents of the parties utterly forbade any suspicion of insincerity, and I had the strongest conviction of the genuineness of whatever might take place, and knew by my own recent experiences that existence was by no means of so limited a range as represented by the current philosophy of the day, I was resolved, nevertheless, to keep my analytic faculties on the alert

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in order to avoid the possibility of deception, conscious or unconscious. Consequently, throughout the whole of what took place, notwithstanding its extraordinary character and absorbing interest, while all the rest of the party were at times under influences which made them appear like so many sibyls or pythonesses possessed or inspired, I never for a moment relaxed the vigilance of my scrutiny; so that the sitting had for me all the conclusiveness of a crucial test many times repeated.

 

            The circle consisted at first of the whole party present – namely, the five ladies and myself. The early manifestations were of a strange and conflicting kind. The room was far from dark, nevertheless the more sensitive of the sitters declared that they perceived shadowy forms hovering round us. They were conscious also that there was an antagonism between the influences present, as if good and evil spirits were contending for the possession of the table through which we were communicating. The messages given were in accordance with this view. These all purported to be for me, and to have reference to my book; but while some of them were endeavouring to urge me to finish it at once, others sought to dissuade me, declaring either that there was yet more to be said, or that I had made important misstatements. Sharp conflicts,

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moreover, took place, even between the sitters, as to through whom the messages should come, one claiming to be conscious of a spirit seeking to speak through her, and another declaring that that was an evil influence, and that the right one was beside her. All this was done apparently in the most perfect seriousness, the speakers being evidently unaware of the strangeness of their conduct. At length, so turbulent became the proceedings, and so seriously affected the sitters, that at the instigation of the prophetess the sitting was suspended, after it had continued for more than an hour, in order to give them time to recover their equanimity. Meanwhile she herself engaged in prayer, while the Seeress, utterly exhausted, sank into a sound slumber.

 

            The interval was broken by one of the ladies, the non-vegetarian, advancing to the table and declaring that a powerful spirit, claiming to be that of Oliver Cromwell, was demanding to be heard, as the matter involved the destinies of England. But at this moment the Seeress awoke suddenly, and said that she had just received an intimation that it was through her that the communications were to come, and that the other spirit was a bad, and false one. Upon this the previous speaker retired abashed, confessing that now she saw that she was under an evil influence.

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We then assembled again round the table, when it was intimated that two of the party were the quit it. These were the non-believer and the flesh-eater.

 

            The reason of this exclusion was subsequently made evident. Only those who were pure in habit and firm in faith could be made partakers of the higher influences now about to present themselves. The contrast between the character of the proceedings now and what it had been was very remarkable. Instead of disturbance and conflict, there was perfect calmness and peace, and a total absence of any attempt on the part of hostile influences to obtain possession of the table. It was like the return of serenity after a storm. What first occurred now was deeply affecting to me, not only as constituting an absolute demonstration of the reality of that in which we were engaged, but by reason of its own intrinsic character. As it lay apart from the special object of the sitting, and moreover requires for its confirmation a reference to an after occurrence, I will defer its relation until I have told the rest.

 

            The table at which we sat was a small one, weighing about ten pounds, and the answers were given by means of raps, tilts, and jumpings, in which it sometimes rose completely from off the floor. We sat so as to keep entirely clear of

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it, and stretched out our hands so as to touch it lightly on the surface near the centre with the ends of our fingers, a process necessary to charge it with the magnetic aura.

 

            In reply to the first question, asking for whom the communication was intended, it was indicated by an inclination of the table that it was for me. To the question whether the communication concerned my book, an answer was given in the affirmative in a very impressive manner. To the next question as to who the spirit was that was speaking, and whether he was concerned in the dictation of my book, the following reply was given in a firm and unhesitating manner: –

 

            “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord. All flesh is grass. The grass withered, the flower fadeth, but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. The ideal is the real.”

 

            After pleased comments from some of the party at this striking apposition of the old and new methods of expressing the reality and eternality of the Divine Idea as compared with that of its phenomenal expression in creation, I inquired –

 

            “Is it then really John the Baptist that speaks and that controlled my book?”

 

            “The same spirit.”

 

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            “And that spoke through Isaiah also, whom you have quoted?”

 

                “The same spirit.”

 

                “Through Hermes, Daniel, and John of Patmos also?”

 

                “The same spirit.”

 

                “And I am to understand that my book was really dictated by the spirit that spoke trough the great prophets of old?”

 

                “Yes; by the same spirit.”

 

                To my question as to whom or of what grade the spirit in question was, no further answer was vouchsafed. I then inquired whether he had any further instructions; to which the answer was given –

 

            “Make haste and finish your book.”

 

                “Tell me first, am I right in predicting a great war in which England will be engaged?”

 

                To this there was no reply, and the prophetess remarked that the higher spirits never answered questions respecting the future. Anxious on the point, I inquired whether I had done right in saying what I had said on the subject; for I feared that I might have exceeded my directions through some misapprehension of my own. The answer given was in the affirmative, with the addition –

 

                “Publish your book at once.”

 

                “Is there anything I need withdraw?”

 

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                “No.”

 

                “Is there anything I should add?” “Yes – Consummatum Est.

 

                “Meaning that the revelation is finished for the present?”

 

                “Yes.”

 

                “Am I to put that phrase in the book?”

 

                “Yes, yes.”

 

                “Where? At the end, in place of the finis?

 

                “Yes, yes, yes!” And the raps came in a shower all over the table, as if in delighted satisfaction at having been so readily understood; for the very questions seemed to have been suggested by the influence; while the table, which for the whole of the last few questions had been poised in the air several inches from the ground, danced and rocked and vibrated like a living and sentient thing. To my renewed inquiry whether my prophecies would be soon fulfilled, no answer was given; but on my repeating the question whether I had done my part of the work satisfactorily, the reply was emphatic in the affirmative. The sitting finished with a fresh injunction to “publish the book without loss of time; to live the perfect life; and to go on working hard at righting wrong.”

 

            No description can give any idea of the solemnity which pervaded the whole of this sitting. It seemed like an impiety in me to keep cool

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and collected as I did, in order to scrutinise it all closely, while the disclosure of the circumstances now seem almost like a betrayal of the sacred mysteries of old. It may be interesting to the physiologist to be informed that my temperature during the evening was of the same extraordinarily low degree I have before mentioned as occurring under the process of supplying force for spiritual communication. The brain felt like a mass of ice.

 

            In order to show how much reason there was both for gravity of feeling and for depth of conviction and being desirous of not withholding anything that may by any means tend to impart to others the grounds of my own confidence, I will now relate the incident which occurred in the interval between the two parts of the sitting just described.

 

            The period of violent and conflicting manifestations was followed by a succession of minute taps on the table, apparently between my hands. On my inquiring who it was, the table spelt out the name of my wife, who had died twenty years before in Australia, and was unknown, even by name, to any of the others. It was Esther.

 

            Completely taken by surprise – for after such an interval the thought of receiving such a communication had not occurred to me – I exclaimed, –

 

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                “Have you, then, been with me all these years without my knowing it?”

 

                “I have been with Mary” (my Seeress), was the answer; and it was one that accounted for much that had puzzled us both. My remaining questions were put mentally; when the replies indicated a perfect acquaintance with my history and feelings. To a question in which I indicated the anxiety I was feeling on a certain family matter of importance then pending, I received for answer –

 

                “Trust the love that has always been with you.”

 

                Such an interposition, occurring at such a moment, struck me as indicating on the part of the high influences at work not only the most delicate appreciation of human feelings, but a desire to adopt the extremest means of impressing me with the reality and importance of the work for which they had selected me.

 

                On calling next morning to see how the sitters had fared after the evening’s experiences, the Seeress said that a curious thing had happened to her in the night, which had rather distressed her, as nothing had occurred to account for it. While asleep some one had said to her –

 

            “Tell him not to ask me about money matters – it lowers me.”

 

                The voice awakened her; and, sitting up, she

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asked aloud who it was that spoke; whereupon a faint voice, seeming to come from a distance, replied, “Esther.” She took it as a caution for the future rather than as a rebuke for the past; and was surprised to learn that the matter respecting which I had asked whether I had really cause for anxiety, did, though not immediately, involve a reference of the kind.

 

            For my relation of the following incident I must ask the indulgence of the parties implicated. The testimony it affords to the reality of the spirit world and the after-life, as well as to the importance there attached to my work, is too strong for it to be suppressed, no matter in deference to whose or what feelings. To myself, and those who were cognisant of it at the time of its occurrence, it afforded at once a convincing proof of the greatest fact in existence; while to myself and the Seeress it was evidence both of the reality of all we had experienced, and of a concert subsisting between the gentle spirit of her who had gone so long before me, and those mightier ones who were giving the world through us a new revelation of the things that make for its peace. The sitting just recorded occurred in the middle of January. This incident came about a week later.

 

            Calling one evening on a near relative, who knew nothing whatever of my recent work or

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experiences, I had let fall, indicative of the unusual character of the book I was on the point of publishing, two or three remarks which to one unfamiliar with the regions of thought in which I was now at home, were perhaps not unnaturally calculated to arouse some apprehension respecting my complete sanity. At least, I thought I detected signs that an idea of the kind was not far distant from his mind. And I was not mistaken. For the further relation of the incident of the apparition of my son on New Years Day, procured me on the spot a homily on the de-spiritualising virtues of blue-pill; and a day or two later, a letter urging me to submit my work to some literary friend. Somewhat nettled at the assumption involved in the advice thus volunteered, and recalling sundry unappreciative remarks from the same source respecting a previous book of mine, I replied, somewhat maliciously, that as well might the Seer of Patmos have been advised to “submit his work to some literary friend,” and thought no more of the matter, nor did I make mention of it to any person whatever.

 

                Sitting the same evening with my circle, I had the delight of receiving fresh evidences of tender and intelligent interest from the same dear spirit of whom I have spoken. And I was rejoiced to note a manifest advance both in intellectual perception and decision of character since her entry

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into the spirit-life. Among other things she said, referring to our son –

 

            “Make C–– lead a better life. If he only had the courage to live as you do, I should have power over him.”

 

            As the youth in question lived but the average life of young men in general, I took this as a confirmation of my view that the prevailing mode of life, especially in respect of diet, is radically defective, in that it ministers to the quickening of anything rather than those sympathies and intuitions wherein alone we are amenable to spiritual impression. On asking whether I should communicate this message to him, I received for answer –

 

            “Not yet. Say nothing to any one.” And presently the communications closed abruptly with the words –

 

            “I will come to Mary alone;” and the influence withdrew, as it seemed to us, with a haste and perturbation we were unable to account for. The hour was between nine and ten.

 

            The next morning, about ten o’clock, I was surprised by a visit from the Seeress, who said hurriedly, “I have something very extraordinary to tell you, but cannot wait now, as I have to go to the City. Be in for me in an hour’s time.”

 

            She returned about the time named, breathless with haste and excitement, and threw down

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on my table an open letter marked “private and confidential,” telling me to read it. I did so, and found it was a letter from the relative named, addressed to the quarter in which, he rightly surmised, interference was most likely to be effective, urging the suppression of my book at all hazards and on any available pretext, on the ground of its author undoubted insanity. The language was of the most peremptory description; and indicated a desire to keep me in the dark and unsuspicious until I could be taken care of.

 

            The true source and significance of this action at once became apparent to me. I had been warned that hostile spiritual influences were seeking to keep my book back from publication; and that it would need all my caution to counteract them. It had been withheld from me, however, for reasons since made obvious, that spiritual influences of the kind would find access in the quarter in question. Asking the Seeress how she came by the letter, I received the following explanation.

 

            “You remember how our sitting was closed yesterday evening by Esther saying she would come to me alone. Well, in the night I dreamt that a lady, dressed in a dark costume and with a veil over her face came to see me in my room. She sat opposite to me by the fire, and when she lifted her veil, I was struck by the resemblance to myself. She seemed greatly agitated, and said

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with much emotion and earnestness, ‘He has been so imprudent. For God’s sake go instantly to X––’s. I will go before you.’ ‘What is the matter?’ I asked; ‘what has he to dread?’ ‘His relatives,’ she replied, specifying them. ‘They will stop his book, and plot against him to take him away. He has been so imprudent.’ And this she repeated several times; concluding with again imploring me to lose no time in seeing Mr. X––, and saying that she would prepare the way for me.

 

            “When I got up,” continued the Seeress, “I was in considerable perplexity what to do. I had learnt to believe in my dreams; and her distress was so evident and her injunction so positive that it seemed a duty to comply. But what was I to say to Mr. X––? I had no reason that I could give for going to him, except one that would have made him think me out of my mind. While I was hesitating, Mrs. G––” [the lady with whom she was staying] “said she had some business in the City on which she wanted my advice, and asked me to drive thither with her. The invitation came so opportunely that I took it as intended to settle the matter. So I just called on you to make sure you would be in on my return, and then went on my way, still wholly at a loss what to say when l got there. However, my faith is tolerably strong after all we have seen of late, and she said she would prepare the

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way, so I went boldly in and asked for Mr. X––. To my dismay he was engaged; and my friend was waiting! But, as it turned out, it was the very fact of his being engaged that made the result possible. It was the impossibility of discussing the letter before a third person that enabled me to bring it away. For on being informed of my call he came out of his office, accompanied by his visitor, and on seeing me said eagerly, ‘Oh, you are just the person I want to see. You know Mr. Maitland.’” [I had introduced her to him for a literary purpose.] “‘Can you tell me,’ he continued, looking exceedingly serious, ‘what to do about this letter?’ and he placed that from your relative in my hands. I was in a state of great agitation, everything in the matter being so extraordinary; and not least of all that Mr. X–– should not have thought a moment of my having any reason for going to him, and should trust a comparative stranger with such a letter; though I see now that he was bound to consult some one, and that some one who knew you, and who was likely lately to have seen you. As he was still engaged, and my friend was waiting, and I wanted to think what to do, I asked him to let me take the letter with me into the City, where I was going on business, and that I would return with it as soon as possible. So I hurried

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over my business with Mrs. G––, and came on here straight. And now what is to be done? The tone of that letter shows that there is real danger.”

 

            I sent her back to Mr. X––, desiring her to say that his correspondent had taken for serious a joke I had played on him; and as for the rest, she and plenty of others could vouch for my sanity. So she went; and on returning told me that Mr. X–– manner had struck her very much as that of a person who was evidently acting under some influence of which he was unconscious, but which he was unable to resist. For he had expressed surprise at himself for trusting her, but said that he could not help it; that he was bound to consult some one likely to know, and as she was a person of intelligence and acquainted with me, and competent to judge, he would take her opinion of my condition sooner than a stranger’s; and as she was herself an author and a clergyman’s wife, he would take her opinion, also about the book. Had she read it? And was there in it anything that struck her as irreligious or otherwise objectionable? He was at length reassured on all points, and so the matter terminated. And I shall always feel grateful to Mr. X–– for the courage, tact, and firmness displayed by him in a question so perplexing and so delicate; while I more than ever rejoice that it is out of what,

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in relation to the dominant orthodoxies, may be accounted a Nazareth rather than a Jerusalem, that these volumes have proceeded.

 

            The Seeress’s recognition of a resemblance had not been imaginary. I had myself observed it, but had refrained from mentioning the fact. On my now for the first time producing a portrait, she exclaimed –

 

            “That is the lady who came to me in my dream!”

 

            The book was not, however, safe past all rocks; and the greatest watchfulness was requisite to circumvent the influences which were evidently bent upon arresting its issue. To the discomfiture of these my own faculty as Seer enabled me to contribute not a little. It seemed to have been specially sustained for the purpose, for the book was no sooner out past recall than the faculty was withdrawn.

 

            It was not so with my Seeress, whose capacity for spiritual impression steadily increased. It was chiefly through her that our communications were received; and it was by way of enforcing on me the necessity of paying heed to the products of her gift, that the following admonition was delivered. It was spelt out by raps on the table, – for we had not at this time learnt to communicate in writing.

 

            “A blind man once lost himself in a forest. An angel took pity on him, and led him into an

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open place. As he went he received his sight. Then he saw the angel, and said to him, ‘Brother, what dost thou here? Suffer me to go before thee, for I am thine elder.’ So the man went first, taking the lead. But the angel spread his wings and returned to heaven. And darkness fell again upon him to whom sight had been given.”

 

            It suggested the probability that many of the exquisite apologues of the East were similarly derived.

 

            It was only as Parliament met that the book appeared. And then it was far from “Ready” as I could have desired. Poured through me like a torrent; it had been printed as fast as it came, without possibility of due revision, either for manuscript or press, though the printers admirably seconded my endeavours to make it as perfect as possible. Anything in the shape of introduction or index was out of the question. Indeed, I had been fortunate in finding a publisher at all; for, as I have since seen reason to believe, an avowal of its character would, so far as the trade generally is concerned, have prevented its acceptance. But when first sent to the press, however, I myself was not aware of its nature. My belief, as already stated, is that my guides, though desiring that the book should come out as and when it did, were not desirous that it

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should have immediate recognition. A message I received from them almost immediately after its publication led me to think this. It was to the effect that there was a disappointment in store for me. I was wrong to anticipate an early success for my book. The seed was sown, and in good time would come up.

 

            I should not have published the following communication, as it was not delivered under my own observation, save for the verification I received concerning it.

 

            The first of the two messages purported to come from a son, long since dead, of the lady I have called the “prophetess,” whose name for his mother is “the White Messenger.” The messages were written through her, but in a hand different to her own. The first one refers to the sitting which I have described, and is as follows: –

 

            “I am the son of the White Messenger, and I am well acquainted with you since the night you were spoken of by the great spirit who told of you through me at the table in J–– Street. I was hoping to convey his name to my mother. I am unable through her to tell you how wonderful was the sight of him and his when he came. A great work is indeed begun, and to those who can interpret, the writing on the wall is plain. You will be sorely spoken of by the bigoted and ignorant, but you will reap a harvest which even we cannot estimate. My mother is

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very happy to make you her friend on earth, but she does not know how great the benefit is yet. My friend, David of Carnac, wishes to say a word to you.”

 

            The message which followed was headed by some cabalistic signs, of which one represented a stone such as are to be found at Carnac, Stonehenge, and other Druidic circles. Then came the following: –

 

            “I greet you, Brother of our circle, and in the future you will know me and call me Friend, as does this woman whom I love as my sister, I, who have passed away ages ago. And I will teach you the secrets of the past as I teach her. True Druid, true Prophet, hail! We will help you to set up true and living stones in the hearts of people; truths – white stones that will last for ever, and ever, and ever. PURE LIFE is our great law. Only establish that, and you will bring back the golden age, which is no myth, but a fact. The stones of Carnac are witnesses.” My correspondent added: “I have written this almost in darkness, and I know the earnest noble spirit that writes it. As I read I feel them round me, and truly realise the communion of saints.”

 

            This communication reached me while on a visit to my Seeress’s country home, and we discussed together the probabilities of its trustworthiness with some freedom, both of us being yet young and proportionately sceptical in such

(p. 150)

matters. In the evening we sat down to the “planchette,” an instrument of which we were just beginning to learn the use. To our surprise and satisfaction, on our asking if there was any message for us, our invisible friends wrote, in reference to the subject of our day’s discourse: –

 

            “You distrust Mrs. W––. She is genuine; but her genii are not always of a high order.” We have since found that those of few persons are.

 

            The spirit who had guided me in my book had manifestly taken his departure on its completion, and left me wholly without fresh impulse or idea, to recover my normal state. The tension of mind and body alike had been tremendous. For the greater part of two months I had worked almost continuously from twelve to eighteen hours a day, without once finding my mental vision clouded, or my powers exhausted beyond the ability of four or five hours’ sleep to restore them. I fully anticipated a serious reaction; but no symptoms appeared of anything of the kind. It was gradually, as by the letting out of air trough a minute puncture, that the influence by which I had been hyper-vitalised seemed to withdraw, so as to let me down with all possible gentleness to my usual level. But though the great spirit had departed, we were not left comfortless or alone with the everyday world. For, as I have said, we had established relations with influences which claimed to be our “guardians”

(p. 151)

and “genii;” and these declared themselves ready and willing to lead us into all truth, provided only we obeyed their directions and “lived the perfect life;” a life, as we found, by no means to be confounded with that of asceticism. Neither were some of the dear ones who had gone before, backward to maintain communication with us, and, so far as they might, disclose the mysteries beyond the veil. We even made new acquaintances with the spirits of some recently passed away, and who eagerly availed themselves of our faculty to renew their intercourse with earth. The regard and affection showed for “Mary” by the “genii” were most marked. They delighted to call her “our Seeress” – it was from them she first obtained the name – and to enable me through her to comprehend the nature and functions of the sibyls, pythonesses, and prophetesses of the ancient religious systems. It was a re-discovery of an anciently known and supremely valued function of woman. Of the existence of the faculties of clairvoyance and prophecy we could no longer have any doubt. And not only was it made clear to us that the traditions of a revelation to the early world were perfectly true; but we were shown the modes of its communication, and the process whereby the faculty had become gradually obscured and lost; and also the means whereby from time to time the Influences who seek man’s

(p. 152)

welfare endeavour, by a resuscitation of religious feeling, to regain their ascendency. All these things were made clear to us, to the complete solution, so far as the time had yet allowed, of the various problems of the world’s religious history.

 

            It was made evident also, that it was not for nothing that all these things had been shown to us, and that our work was by no means over. Among other indications of what was required of me, were frequent allusions to Spinoza. My acquaintance with the doctrines of that great thinker was of the slightest, and was instinctive rather than acquired. Conscious, however, of a profound sympathy subsisting between us, it was with no small satisfaction that I received the following account of a vision which was imparted to my Seeress just before my book appeared. For I accepted it as at once a confirmation of my past intuition, and an earnest of future enlightenment. I will entitle it

 

The Vision of the Glasses.

 

            “I was walking alone on the sea-shore. The day was singularly clear and sunny. Inland lay the most beautiful landscape ever seen; and far off were ranges of tall hills, the highest peaks of which were white with glistening snow. Along the sands towards me came a man, accoutred as

(p. 153)

a postman, He gave me a letter. It was from you. It was this: –

 

            “‘I have got hold of the rarest and most precious book extant. It was written before the world began. The text is easy enough to read; but the notes, which are very copious and numerous, are in such very minute and obscure characters that I cannot make them out. I want you to get for me the spectacles which Swedenborg used to wear; not the smaller pair – those he gave to Hans Christian Anderssen – but the large pair, and these seem to have got mislaid. I think they are Spinoza’s make – you know he was an optical-glass maker by profession, and the best we have ever had. See if you can get them for me.’

 

            “When I looked up after reading this letter, I saw the postman hastening away across the sands, and I called out to him, ‘Stop! How am I to send the answer? Won’t you wait for me?’ He looked round, stopped, and came back to me.

 

            “‘I have the answer here,’ he said, tapping his letter-bag, ‘and I shall deliver it immediately.’

 

            “‘How can you have the answer when I have not written it?’ said I. ‘You are making a mistake.’

 

            “‘No,’ said he. ‘In the city from which I come the replies are all written at the office and

(p. 154)

sent out with the letters themselves. Your reply is in my bag.’

 

            “‘Let me see it,’ I said. He took another letter out and gave it to me. I opened it, and read in my own handwriting this answer addressed to you: –

 

            “‘The spectacles you want can be bought in London. But you will not be able to use them at once, for they have not been worn for many years, and they want cleaning badly. This you will not be able to do yourself in London, because it is too dark there to see, and because your fingers are not small enough to clean them properly. Bring them here to me, and I will do it for you.’

 

            “I gave this letter back to the postman. He smiled and nodded at me; and I saw then to my astonishment that he wore a camel’s hair tunic round his waist. I had been on the point of calling him Hermes. But I now saw that it was John the Baptist; and in my fright at having spoken with the Baptist I woke.”

 

            This singular method of impressing on me the supreme importance of the doctrine of Correspondence between the spiritual and physical worlds, as the key to the nature of the universe, implied an ingenuity and even playfulness on the part of our spirit-friends, not a little encouraging respecting the nature of the existence on “the other side,” at least for those who are not above –

(p. 155)

or beneath – cultivating their intuition here. The first act of the Seeress on rising was to verify the statement that Spinoza had been a maker of spectacles. For she was quite unaware of the fact; as also was she of the import of the allegory.

 

            A few days later, in answer to an inquiry for instruction respecting this dream, a “genius” calling himself A. Z. wrote: “Ask the guardian of Spinoza to tell you what you are to do.’’ A second attempt produced the information that I should have to leave London in order to receive and carry out instructions. And after another interval I was told that I was “to go to France in the spring, or later, to meet Spinoza’s guardian,” and that they had tried to get him here. He would communicate with me “by inspiration.”

 

            The allusion to Swedenborg in the vision just described, was especially gratifying to me. The little I knew of that remarkable man had convinced me that I was on his tracks, and that our experiences in a very great measure coincided. His own followers also had already recognised a certain identity in our respective ideas. Early in the previous year I had received a letter from the Council of the Swedenborg Society, informing me that they had been struck by the coincidence between the system of correspondences of the solar phenomena and the history of the human soul as regarded in the ancient religions and set forth in my book, The Keys of the Creeds,

(p. 156)

and the system of Swedenborg; and they offered to present me with Swedenborg’s works. I had replied that I was desirous of studying him, as I had an instinctive consciousness of sympathy with him; but that now I should prefer to wait until I had found all I could by myself; that I felt more and more I was being led in the same way; and should eagerly compare notes at my journey’s end. After the publication of England and Islam, I claimed and received the fulfilment of their kind offer. I now can say that I recognise to the fullest extent the claims of Swedenborg to be a true seer, and to have enjoyed with the spiritual world the intercourse he claims. To the truth of all that he has said respecting the correspondences subsisting between the spiritual and phenomenal worlds; the existence in the former of various orders of intelligences, and the general accuracy of his teaching, I can bear my positive witness. And while there are some directions in which he seems to have gone beyond me, and I am unable to confirm his statements, there are, I think, others in which I was permitted to see beyond him. One of his most advanced disciples, an accomplished and well-known London physician, has recognised the inspiration of my book and its revelation of new spiritual truths.

 

            We were naturally desirous of knowing something about the beings who called themselves

(p. 157)

our “guardians” and “genii.” Our interrogations were responded to by the one that had given as his symbol the letters A. Z. And in reply to our inquiry whether he claimed identity with the Alpha and Omega of the Apocalypse, he said that it meant the same thing; that A signified the heart inverted, and Z the convolutions of the brain. He was the guardian of “Mary,” and his colour the red of the prism. The colour of my guardian, I was told, is “blue, which, blending with the red, makes the royal purple.” Interpreted by the spiritual significations assigned in England and Islam (p. 595) to the various colours, this communication struck us as very remarkable; and suggested the idea that it might be through the affinity subsisting between our genii themselves, that they had associated us together for the work here. They were friends above, and we their earthly counterparts were bound to be friends here.

 

            We were continually observing the Jewish character of their utterances. In all that they told me they confirmed what I have said in my book respecting the ancient religions, and the world’s past history and future course. It was, as may well be imagined, no small satisfaction to have, actually written down by themselves, a visible confirmation of the truths previously given to me in vision and idea. In some of

(p. 158)

their subsequent statements they have given knowledge, which, though I was on the high road to it, I was far from having reached. The highest mode of communication, we were told, is by direct inspiration, or the presentation of ideas to the mind when in a waking state. The next is by visions, waking or sleeping.

 

            An attempt which I made to obtain more precise information respecting the spirit who had specially controlled the writing of my book, elicited this response from a spirit unnamed: –

 

            “The spirit you name belonged, no doubt, to a higher circle than ours. The spirits of one circle do not, as a rule, know individually other circles; and I have no knowledge of him of whom you speak.” I hope yet to obtain precise information on this point. But everything I have been told serves to show that the occasion of the dictation of my book was a special one.

 

            That under such superintendence human affairs do not go better than they do, is ascribed by them to the wilful perversity of men. “You are free,” was their repeated declaration; “and our power over human will is restricted.” It is because of the defective mode of life followed in regard to the physical as well as to the mental and spiritual part of us, that they are unable to find access to the soul of man and to influence him for good. Living grossly, and suppressing the

(p. 159)

intuitions and sympathies on behalf of low and selfish ends, we “quench the spirit” that is striving to utter itself within us, our own as well as theirs. It is in vain that they tell us to “seek the kingdom of God, and the law of the perfect life,” when we pride ourselves on following the outer sense, and cultivating everything but the spirit. In vain that they admonish us to “work hard at righting wrong,” when our only thought is how best to gratify our lower nature at the expense of no matter what principle. The utterance last quoted bore reference to the efforts made by “Mary” and myself on behalf of the removal of two of the most serious blots on our present system – namely, the practice of torturing animals for “science” sake, and the exclusion of the working classes from places of intellectual improvement on Sundays. In regard to the former, our experiences were, as will presently appear, of the most startling description. Here is one utterance we received in this connexion. It was sent to us by the, “prophetess”: –

 

            “Sunday recreation is God’s work. Anti-vivisection is angels’ work.” The distinction is a subtle one, but obvious to a little reflection.

 

            Among the curious coincidences which seemed to be specially contrived, so frequent were they, was the following: –

 

            A friend was calling on me, and in discussing

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some points in my work with him, I remarked that the New Testament must not be taken as having been written as it now stands, and that we must bring our intuition to bear upon it in order to escape serious mistake. Among other things, I told him it had been clearly shown to me that the Gospels had been tampered with in the interests of sacerdotalism; and that the belief both in a bloody atonement for the soul, and in the necessity of a diet of blood for the body, was at once the cause and the consequence of the degeneration from the true doctrine of perfection. Both were products of the spirit of priestcraft, and the Gospels had been mutilated with the express object of degrading Christianity in these respects. It was almost impossible, I added, for spirits of a high order to communicate with flesh-eaters.

 

            I was in the middle of these remarks when the Seeress entered the room. Finding us talking, she sat silent until I had spoken as above. Then, producing a letter, she said –

 

            “This is most singular. I have called on purpose to show you this letter, which has just been received by the prophetess from a lady at a distance, and which the writer says she feels compelled to write, although it contains what she has always believed to be wrong and even wicked. It is a message purporting to come from the spirit who directed the Gospel of St. Luke, and

(p. 161)

it says – in fact, exactly what you have just been saying, and in the very same words, about the gospels having been tampered with to suit sacerdotal ends, and the difficulty that high spirits have in communicating with the world on account of the practice of flesh-eating, and others which minister to man’s deterioration.”

 

 

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