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A HOME TO DIE IN
THE pleasure of having for the first time in her life a comfortable home of her own did much at first to reanimate the invalid with fresh energy and hope, though her medical knowledge told her that, physiologically, she had no right to look for a recovery. At least it was a home in which to die if not to live. Meanwhile she eagerly adopted every means which promised to conduce to a cure – fresh air and exercise, walking or driving, cheerful conversation with congenial friends, the most nutritious diet compatible with her principles, though not such as satisfied her doctor, whom she plainly told that she preferred to die, if die she must, as a vegetarian, than to live as a flesh-eater, so greatly did she loathe the idea as well as disapprove the practice. Her faculties, mental and psychical, remained undeteriorated, and while she wielded by day a pen which showed an intellect as vigorous and a hand as firm as ever, her experiences by night showed no falling off, whether in quantity, quality, or variety, and I was in constant requisition to take them down at her lips. The following is my record of the first of them: –
August 1, 1887. – M. saw last night, sitting in the arm-chair between her bed and the window, a man with a white covering on his head and shoulders, exceedingly distinct and real. Whereupon she got out of bed on the opposite side – that by the door – and went round the foot of the bed, and turned up the gas in front of him in order to have a better view. At this the figure stood up and looked her full and fixedly in the face. Its face was remarkably pale, horrible for its pallor, she said, and much disfigured, and she recognised it as that of a nephew – H.B. by name – who is in Australia. Presently he disappeared, and she found herself in bed, awake, and wondering whether she had actually left her bed, or only dreamed that she had done so. The relative in question had not been at all in her mind, nor was likely to be, as her acquaintance with him was slight, and it was long since they had met.
August 10. – M. has received from her mother a letter saying that
news has just come from Australia, announcing a terrible horse accident to her grandson, H.B., in June last, in which he had been kicked in the face and otherwise badly hurt. He is, however, getting over it.
August 3. – Between ten and eleven yesterday evening, M. – being in bed, but not asleep – had an interview with a person who had with him two globes, one bright and the other dark, between which he sat, and they conversed about her illness and the probable duration of her life. And he asked her whether she wished to recover or to die.
“To die, certainly,” she replied, “if by ‘recover’ you mean only that I should have such health as I always have, which is continual and intense suffering.”
“Is that your deliberate choice?” he inquired.
“Yes,” she said firmly and positively.
“Then you are ready to die on the 15th of this month, rather than recover to be as you have always been?”
“Most certainly. If I am still to suffer and be unable to work, I would far rather die.”
“Then if that be indeed your deliberate choice, you will die on August 15.”
Having thus spoken, he turned to his bright globe and gave it a spin which set it whirling rapidly round. From which she understood that the bright globe represented death and the dark one life, and that she had made a wise choice.
Without attaching much value to this prediction – for I was disposed to regard it as of astral origin, and as representing a wish and an attempt on the part of those influences to bring about her death – I could not but await the date named with much anxiety. It was a relief to me to find that she herself was uninfluenced by it, the following entry in the interval in her Diary pointing to a somewhat later period as probably that of her departure: –
KENSINGTON, August 3, 1887. – Dying is a very slow process. Save that I am a little weaker, a little thinner, and my cough a little more frequent, I am in the same state as when I made my last memoranda at La Bourboule. It does not appear to me possible now that I should recover. I expect to die this autumn; for I am sure I shall not survive the first frosts: –
“O Death, rock me to sleep!
Give me my rest!
Let pass my weary ghost
Out of my breast.”
Life is a fever; Death is convalescence. Life is a fury and a brawl; Death is sweet peace and quietness. It is a black and hateful planet on which I am now incarnate, and to be away and
rid of its abominations will be all for joy. I shall go to the Gods; I shall see my Master, Hermes, the Teacher and queenly Athena and their holy Angels.
The handwriting of this entry varied in no wise from her ordinary style, but was as perfect in its calligraphy as the most deliberately written of any of her manuscripts, showing how complete was the mastery of the spirit over the nervous system, even under circumstances so disturbing.
“15 WYNNSTAY GARDENS, W.
“August 10, 1887.
“DEAR MRS. JAMES.
“Our dear invalid continues in much the same state of fluctuation. At one time apparently at death’s door, and at another seeming capable of recovery. But my fear is that the level of each recurring depression is lower than before. Just now we have especial cause for anxiety on account of certain intimations specifying a very early date as that of her death. They may, of course, be delusive, or may be overruled by a positive adverse attitude of will. But it will be a relief to see the date in question pass without anything serious occurring. Please think of her with special intention – as the Catholics say – on Monday the 15th. Perhaps the best I have to report is that she herself has been of late more desirous to live, provided she can recover health and strength to work and to escape suffering. But, as she says, – and it is difficult for one who knows how great cause she has for saying it [to think otherwise] – it would be no kindness to wish to keep her here if life is to be the rack it has hitherto been for her.
“Always yours sincerely,
The following is from my notes written on the night of August 14: –
The last few days M. has rallied considerably, and is more hopeful and wishful to live than she has been for a long time, and has made every effort to do so by avoiding anything that might fatigue her, and taking more food. To-day, however, she has been very low, drooping gradually throughout, and this evening she has had a sudden access of severe pain in the left lung when coughing. Indeed, her state has been one almost of complete collapse, so extraordinarily low has been her force. She said that she felt as if her vitality were being wound out of her, just as the visitant of her vision of the 2nd instant had seemed to wind it on his globe. She ascribes her present attack partly to a chill caught when out in a wheel-chair in Kensington Gardens on Friday last, but mostly to the fatigue of seeing some visitors on Saturday, one of whom stayed a long time and affected her very disagreeably by reason of the uncongenial nature of his magnetic aura. I am very anxious for
to-morrow to be safely passed. Not only is it the day so positively named by the visitant for her death, it is also the Feast of the Assumption, B.V.M., a day fraught with associations for her, not all of which are happy. For it is the anniversary of the death of her chiefest pet, little “Rufus,” who had been her constant companion for nine years, and whom she has never ceased to mourn.
After midnight on the following day I wrote, first congratulating her on falsifying the prediction: –
August 15 . – Mary has survived the day so strongly insisted on as that of her death, but only after what seemed a very narrow escape. She was almost in extremis from complete loss of force, when, as if to destroy what chance she had of living through it, she received from one of her brothers, an Anglican clergyman of high views and extreme zeal, whom she rarely sees, and with whom she has little in common, a sudden and unlooked-for visit, which even at the best of times would have been most trying. For, seeing how serious was her condition, he insisted peremptorily on her doing at once three things – make confession to a priest, receive extreme unction, and make her will, (1) alleging as his reason that she was so ill that she could not recover, but must die very soon. On her pleading her desire to be cremated as a reason for not seeing a priest – the Pope having forbidden the practice (which pretext she put forward in order to avoid touching on deeper subjects) – he asked her whether she thought she knew better than the Holy Father, to which she replied that her horror of burial was stronger than her attachment to the Church, and also that – believing as she believed – no mere rites or ceremonies possessed any meaning or value for her. “Do you, then,” he asked, “mean to say you are not a Christian? Don’t you believe in the Incarnation of our Lord?” To which she replied, “I am not a Christian in your sense, nor a believer in the Incarnation in your sense. In the spiritual and only true sense I am both.” Having never heard of any sense but the traditional and sacerdotal one, and being wholly unacquainted with her writings, he necessarily failed to comprehend her, and after some further expostulations concerning the distress she would cause her family, and the impossibility of being saved without the last sacraments, he took his leave, saying he would return shortly bringing a priest, and leaving her so prostrated by the effort, excitement, and surprise at this sudden and unlooked-for visitation, that for some hours it appeared as if she would indeed die on the day predicted.
He had, of course, but done what he conceived to be his solemn duty, in the further pursuance of which he subsequently wrote to A.: –
“December 15 .
“I hear this morning very bad news about Annie. Do, pray, tell me what you think. It is very sad and grieving. Can you get her
to see some priest? Will she receive the Blessed Sacrament? Do, my dear fellow, do your utmost for her; I feel so for the dear mother. If you could win her over to receive Communion and Christian rites and burial, it would take away the agony of the parting.”
To which A. responded, as it seemed to me, wisely and truly: –
“Don’t trouble yourself about her spiritual state. Nobody could be more prepared to die than she. She may not be quite orthodox in some of her views; but if we were half as good as she is, we need have no fear as regards our future state. Her remains will be buried at Atcham with the rites of the Church of England.”
The extent to which she rallied after this occurrence was such as to excite hopes that the enemy had done his worst, and would be baffled after all by her restoration, at least, to some tolerable measure of health. Nevertheless, the memory of what had just occurred dwelt in her mind, with the result of suggesting to her the propriety of putting on record a distinct statement of her position, and this first and foremost for her brother’s sake, with a view to removing the serious apprehensions and disquietude for her after-state, which otherwise he would inevitably entertain. Such were the occasion and motive of the following manifesto, which she wrote off at a single sitting in her usual faultless style, not staying her hand for a moment until it was finished: –
“August 20, 1887.
“Until the occurrence of a recent incident, it had not entered my mind that any of my relations would regard it as a duty to interest himself actively about my religious faith, and to press upon me the performance of certain customary religious rites, either as a means of saving my own soul or of satisfying family scruples. I had believed that my recently published works were sufficient evidence of the ground taken by me in regard to dogmatic Christianity, and that the whole course of my life during the past ten years would show the state of my mind respecting popular conceptions of religion. But as it seems necessary that I should not die without some sort of Apologia, I will attempt in this brief letter to explain my position.
“When, in 1872, I entered the Communion of the Roman Church, I was actuated by the conviction – which has since enormously strengthened – that this Church, and this alone, contained and promulgated all truth. Especially was I attracted by the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass, and by the cultus of the B.V.M. But I did not then comprehend the spiritual import of these doctrines, but endeavoured to accept them in the sense ordinarily understood. My Spirit strove within me to create me a Catholic without my knowing why. It was not until 1875-6 that I began by means of the Inner Light to comprehend why my
Spirit had caused me to take this step. For then began to be unfolded to my soul, by means of a long series of interior revelations, extending over ten years, that divine system of the Theosophia which I afterwards discovered to be identical with the teaching of the Hermetic science, and with the tenets of the Kabala, Alchemy, and the purest Oriental religion. Enlightened by this Inner Light, I perceived the fallacy and idolatry of popular Christianity, and from that hour in which I received the spiritual Christ into my heart, I resolved to know Him no more after the flesh. The old historical controversies over the facts and dates and phenomena of the Old and New Testaments ceased to torment and perplex me. I perceived that my soul had nothing to do with events occurring on the physical plane, because these could not, by their nature, be cognates to spiritual needs. The spiritual man seeketh after spiritual things, and must not look for Christ upon earth, but in heaven. ‘He is not here; He is risen.’ I therefore gave up troubling myself to know anything about Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh, or whether, indeed, such a person ever existed; not only because no certainty in regard to these matters is intellectually possible, but because, spiritually, they did not concern me any longer. I had grasped the central truth of Alchemy that is one with the doctrine of Transubstantiation, namely, that the Objective must be transmuted into the Subjective before it can be brought into cognate relation with the soul. Truth is never phenomenal; it is always noumenal. If I have not sufficiently explained my meaning, I earnestly refer readers of this letter to the Preface to the Revised Edition of The Perfect Way.
“In the faith and doctrine set forth in that book I desire to die. And, having ceased to require assurance in any physical or historical fact whatever as a factor of my redemption, or to crave for any sort of outward ceremony as a means of spiritual beatitude, I am content to trust the future of my soul to the Justice of God, by whom I do not understand a personal being capable of awarding punishments or pardons, but the Pivotal Principle of the Universe, inexorable, knowing neither favour nor relenting. For, as says the Kabala, ‘Assuredly, thus have we learned, – There is no judge over the wicked, but they themselves convert the measure of Mercy into a measure of Judgment.’ This is a declaration of the esoteric doctrine of Karma, which I fully accept, believing with Buddha and with Pythagoras, and the whole company of wise and holy teachers of the East and of the Kabala, that the soul is many lived, and that men are many times reborn upon earth. As I am certainly not yet perfected, I shall return to a new birth after my merits have been exhausted in Paradise. Or if I should, on the contrary, need purgation in the subjective states, I accept that gladly as the will of Justice.
“But how or why, holding such belief as this, should I, on my deathbed, seek the intervention of a priest, seeing that, to accept such intervention, I must necessarily deceive him?
“I die, therefore, a Hermetist, believing in the spiritual Gods, with whom, I indeed aver, I have inwardly conversed and have seen them face to face; in the Evolution of Soul from the lowest grade of Jacob’s Ladder unto the Presence of the Holy One; in the solidarity and brotherhood of all creatures, so that all may come at
length to eternal life which are on the upward path. For Christ gives Himself for all, and shall save both man and beast. And therefore I desire after death to be burned, as the Greeks were burned, and as the Orientals are who believe as I believe.
Having written it, she handed it to me, desiring me to forward it after reading it. My perusal of it suggested grave reasons for doubting the wisdom of sending it. For, though finding it admirable from our own point of view, I felt that from that of its intended recipient it would be quite the reverse, and that he not only would not understand it, but would disastrously misunderstand it. But to explain this to her it was necessary to wait until the mood in which it had been struck off had given way to a mood in which it could be calmly judged. This came on the following day, and in reply to her questionings I gave the following exposé of my view. Its object, I remarked, was of course to lessen or remove any uneasiness that might be entertained concerning her spiritual condition, by explaining the nature of her convictions. To do this it must be intelligible to the recipient, both as regards the argument and the language. Would it be so? As regarded the language, it used terms such as “Hermetic,” “Kabala,” “noumenal,” Karma, and the like. Did she suppose, from what she knew of him and his order, that he understood their meaning and value? To this she replied with an emphatic negative. “Very well, then,” I continued; “you have written in an unknown tongue so far as he is concerned.” So much for the language. Now about the argument. There are sentences in it which, superficially apprehended, as he is sure to apprehend them, would convey to him exactly the opposite of what you mean by them and intend him to understand, even to leading him to regard you as at once Anti-Christian and Atheistic. “How so?” she asked. “Because your denial of the deity of Jesus will be for him a denial of Christ; and your denial of a personal God, in the only sense in which he understands the word ‘person,’ will be to him a denial of God altogether. So that the result of sending it will be such an outburst of consternation from him and others – for he is sure to send it at least to your mother – about your last state that they will give you no peace except on condition of your disavowing all that you hold to be true, and separating from me, whom they will inevitably regard as the cause of your perversion. For you cannot expect them to understand that you are so
differently constituted from themselves and the mass of people that you can know positively by direct perception about things which they learn only at second hand and by rote, and accept without understanding them, on the strength of authority or habit.”
Her only reply at the time was, “Let me read it again. I want to see exactly how it appears from his point of view.” And having read it, she said I was right, and I was not to send it, but put in among our archives. It would be a profanation of the mysteries to put such doctrine before those who held such ideas. And she added in a tone almost of despair, “How is the truth to be got to the world, so long as priests bear rule, preachers preach falsely, and the people are content to have it so? Can it be that we have made a mistake, and come ages before the time was ripe?” To which I replied that the Gods do not make mistakes, and can see better than we how far the time is ripe.
August 23 . – When the Feast of the Assumption came round this year, I was too ill to write even my customary prayers for little Rufus. But I thought of him, and prayed for him in my heart. I wish I knew whether I am to recover or not. It seems, judging from physical signs, as if I could not live long; but then strange things hap where prophetesses are concerned! I am so sure that the prophecy is not finished, and that a vast amount of work remains to do which must be done by me, or not at all, that I cannot but think the Gods will restore me in time. Meanwhile the suffering and exhaustion are very bad indeed to bear. Of all my pains, the enforced idleness is the worst. To rise at eleven; to crawl – not dressed, but only wrapped up in a loose gown – from the bedroom to the drawing-room; to sink wearily into an easy-chair, and to lie there all day – hour after hour – with idle hands and nothing to mark the progress of the time except the coming on of the afternoon fever and its slow departure; to creep wearily back to bed at night, and lie propped up with pillows and racked with cough all the dreary night, – this now represents the routine of my life, and this is now the eleventh month of my illness.
And all the while my spirit is alive and beating its wings like a caged wild-bird against the bars of this body of death, longing to be away, out yonder in the clear high blue of the supernal height, longing to break forth as of old into song – into song, and to search out the secrets of the Lords of Dawn. O sweet, sharp wind blowing between the turfy spaces of the hills, laden with bean and clover scents, I feel you on my face! I greet you. You are full of health and comfort. Deep, deep dome of holy sky, up there above the fig-trees, I look towards you reverently. I know you are the bosom of the Father wherein the Son, our Lord, dwelleth. But upon the glory of His face I cannot look. I shade my eyes. I salute the beautiful dappled lights of it, lying here and there under the trees along the woodland
pathway. Sky, Sun, and Wind – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, perfect and inseparable Trinity; the first unfathomable and infinite, revealed only by the Light of the second, who is the only begotten of the Sky and its express image and glory, distinctly set forth before the eyes of men, rising and setting and leading their life with them; going forth with them to their daily toil, and sinking with them to rest at night, having taken on Him their humanity, and showing Himself already as their heavenly Brother. And, last, the Wind, invisible and mysterious, now roaring like a Fire, and breathing like a child asleep; Wind proceeding from the Sky and the Sun-heat, and performing their holy will; Wind, the comforter and sustainer; Wind, the chastener and searcher of hearts, rending asunder the rocks and cleaving the depths of the sea. Cleanly Wind, wholesome Wind, sweet Wind, avenging Wind, destroying Wind, tender, loving, balmy Wind!
See now! I have been out on the hills in spirit, even while sitting here in my narrow chair, coughing and burning with fever. I have seen the grass wave, and the harebells toss their blue heads, and the grey rounded clouds float slow across the lovely sky. I have lain there, yonder in the wood, on that bank of dry moss, and looked up through the tremulous fronds, green and innumerable overhead, swaying, pulsating, and whispering – full of the secret of the Lord. Is not this better than the talk of any priest? Who shall convert and sanctify and absolve me so well or so purely as those beautiful faces and voices of God? Who reveal to me the things invisible and eternal of Him so well as the things visible and made by Him? Priests are of no use to Poets. The Poet can go to God direct. What should he want with an ecclesiastic to help him into the presence, forsooth? Does this wafer or that drop of oil from the priest’s fingers heal my soul as do these glories of the Ideal? What have I to do with confessions to clerks in orders, when the ear of the Lord is open to me? As for past sins, – what are sins? “Avidya” – ignorance, the mistakes of the blind eye and the deaf ear; ignorances by which the Soul gains experience, and for which, too, she thanks God. We sin only so long as we do not know the nature of things. When once our eyes and ears are open we cannot sin. No man who has seen the Lord can abide in sin. Nor is past sin a thing to be either regretted or forgiven. Forgiven it cannot be, because all Avidya has its Karma, and Karma must be reaped; regretted it need not be, both because regret is useless and because it is needless. Keep the lesson sin has taught, and cast out the memory of the sin. Perhaps the Gods are bringing me so near the threshold of death to try my faithfulness to them; to see if I will give in to the priest and the ceremonial, or resolve to die a Hermetist. Well, I will have no priest: “I have known whom I have believed.” (...)
Why do not the Gods give me the three hymns which are yet wanting to their series? I have the hymns of Phoibos, of Hermes, of Aphrodite, of Dionysos, of Saturn. I yet want the hymns of Ares, of Zeus, and of Artemis. If these hymns be not given to me, they will never be given to any other. (...)
I had hoped to have been one of the pioneers of the new awakening of the world. I had thought to have helped in the overthrow of the idolatrous altars and the purging of the Temple. And now I
must die just as the day of battle dawns and the sound of the chariot-wheels is heard. Is it, perhaps, all premature? Have we thought the time nearer than it really is? Must I go and sleep, and come again before the hour sounds? (...) That was the scent of the sea that floated past me just then! Fresh and pungent, and full of great life and heaving tides! I hear the waves break on the headland; beyond is white mist, beautiful, soft, diaphanous. You cannot tell where the sea ends and the mist begins. There are white shining gleams upon it here and there; it rends itself and parts, and again it flows together. I feel it drift over my hair and cheeks, dewy and salt, like a blessing from Zeus touching me out of the sky. (...) Now everything fades; the shore is gone; I see nothing any more. It is the dreary afternoon at Kensington again, and I am sitting here alone in this narrow, low-ceilinged parlour, dying of consumption!
Her loneliness was of her own choice, being one of the occasions when she desired to be left to solitary meditation. Electric wires were attached to the bells in every room frequented by her, enabling her always to summon anyone in a moment without stirring from her seat.
A few moments later and she was solacing herself with illustrating her note-paper with the bird and flower and animal forms so dear to her.
The following verses were obtained by her while dozing in her chair in the drawing-room after a day of much suffering and exhaustion: –
“Sweet lengths of shore with sea between;
Sweet gleams of tender blue and green;
Sweet wind caressive and unseen,
Soft breathing from the deep;
What joy have I in all sweet things!
How clear and wild my spirit sings,
Rising aloft on mystic wings
While sense and body sleep!
In some such dream of grace and light
My soul shall pass into the sight
Of the dear Gods who in the height
Of inward Being dwell;
And joyful at Her perfect feet,
Whom most of all I long to greet,
My soul shall lie in meadows sweet
All white with asphodel.”
The last reference, of course, is to Pallas Athena, as the representative of the Divine Wisdom, one of her two chief instructors.
Her dream-experiences were not all of this lofty character. They varied according to the plane of activity, every principle in her system manifesting itself in turn, independently of its fellow-principles. Thus, on September 1, the night following the receipt of the above verses, she dreamt that there was a ring at the bell of the outer door, on opening which she found no person, but only two coffins standing up on end, which she judged from their dimensions to be intended for herself and me.
Two nights later a humorous vein controlled her dreams, in one of which she was with me in Ireland inspecting the house and grounds of some nobleman’s country-seat which she contemplated hiring; and all the fruit-trees, vegetables, flowers, and other plants had been plucked up by the roots, and were laid flat side by side on the ground. On her asking the gardener the reason of this, she was told that it was always done in his lordship’s absence, and would be so long as the place was unlet, because the plants could not be allowed to waste themselves in growing when no one was there. Being much puzzled by this reply, she turned to me for an explanation; whereupon I said, quite seriously, that no doubt it was because in these times Irish landowners were obliged to practise the utmost economy – an answer which continued to cause her perplexity even after waking.
Of the same order was a dream in which she found herself in a room the fireplace of which was outside in the verandah, and on asking the reason, was told that it was so much more convenient than the ordinary plan, as it was only necessary to open the window to let the heat in when required. This was an invention the advantages of which continued to strike her as very great even after being for some time awake.
In another she found herself visiting the animals in the Regent’s Park, and gravely holding a conversation of the most ridiculous character with a solemn functionary who held the post of Bishop of the Zoological Gardens.
The following, which occurred September 30 , had more point in it, and accorded exactly with the intimations given us from time to time ever since the beginning of our illuminations in 1876. She dreamt that she was present at a great State function in Westminster Abbey, where the Queen was bestowing decorations for eminent services. On Mr. Gladstone approaching the throne to receive the honour allotted to him, the Queen flushed with
anger, and rose and turned to go away. Upon this the Prince of Wales stepped forward and spoke with her in a low tone, evidently of remonstrance, but without avail; for the Queen replied, saying with great emphasis, in a loud, firm voice, “No; it would be a disgrace to the sovereign of these realms to touch a man who has done so much to divide and ruin the Empire.”
I cannot forbear recounting here, as belonging to this history, though not to this period of it, yet another example of the manner in which, as revealed to us, Mr. Gladstone and his career are regarded in the spheres upper and inner. It occurred to me in the summer of 1892, while on a visit to a country rectory, and at a moment when my mind was altogether free from any thought in that direction.
I was lying in bed awake, and in a state of complete mental passivity, when I found myself one of a vast crowd assembled in the streets of London, to witness the pageant of Mr. Gladstone’s funeral. Escaping from the crowd, I was viewing it from an elevation which seemed to me to be the balcony of my club in Pall Mall, whence, many years before, I had witnessed the procession of Lord Palmerton’s funeral. Presently I caught sight of Mr. Gladstone hovering over the crowd and gazing on the scene. And I said to myself, “Why, he has come back to see his own funeral. But where has he been in the meantime?” And I determined to follow him if I could, after it was over, and see where he went to. I did so, and followed him in a north-west direction, to what seemed an open country, lying somewhere about Wormwood Scrubbs. But, as I presently found, it lay on an interior plane, being no longer in the material but in the astral world; for we were both in the spirit. Here I followed him at a distance as he wended his way along a scarcely perceptible path through an interminable tract of desert land, going very slowly, lost apparently in thought, and yet so surely and steadily as to cause me to remark, “Why, he knows the way! He must, then, be returning to the place to which he had gone after his death, and from which he had come to see his funeral.” The country was flat and treeless, the only vegetation some occasional stunted shrubs. Nor was there any sign of habitation. It was a perfectly desolate wilderness. At length he approached a slight depression in the ground, down which he went, I following. Here was a structure, half bench, half chair, high-backed, and made of iron. In this he seated himself with all the air of its being his appointed resting-place, with which he was familiar, and beyond which he was not at liberty to seek. Having seated himself, he leant back in the chair, and thrust out his legs in front as if to resign himself to repose. But not to a peaceful repose, for he at once commenced to raise first one arm and then the other to wave off haunting thoughts or apparitions which he found intolerable, using much energy of action, but indicating stern resolution to endure whatever might be his doom. I was reminded of my previous vision of him in 1881 (1) surveying his own effigy in Westminster
Hall, with the aspect of a soul writhing in agony at the contemplation of its own past. And then, as I watched him, standing unperceived before him, he began to get red-hot from within, which I took to be a sign of the remorse he was experiencing at the review of his career, with its many and grievous shortcomings, political, moral, and religious, and its pernicious results to his country; his lust of power, his blindness to principles, his determined rejection of new light in favour of the worst traditions of sacerdotalism, all of which, with many other of his salient points, recurred to my mind. But I no sooner perceived the outward and visible sign, which I have described, of his inward and spiritual state than I withdrew, feeling it to be a moment when he ought to be free from intrusion. And as I turned to depart, there again recurred to my mind Byron’s line on the Laocoon, “The immortal agony of that Grand Old Man.” But the thought that remained by me was the same as on the former occasion, that in virtue of his very capacity for remorse he was redeemable and will be redeemed. For by the ministry of suffering he will eventually be led to subordinate his own will to the Supreme.
On the evening of November 5 , while reposing in her bedchair in the drawing-room, Mary had the following dream, in which, notwithstanding its varied, and in some respects fantastic character, we recognised a deep purpose. She thus related it to me soon after waking from it: –
“I dreamt that I had died while quite unconscious, as if in a swoon from want of breath. And I recovered consciousness to find myself in the presence of a great light like that of flame, such as to suggest the thought that the Christians were after all correct in their belief about hell, and I had gone to the place to which they would doubtless assign me. But presently I discovered that I was lying in a lovely green meadow, among long grasses and white flowers, which I recognised as asphodel. And while wondering where I was I was accosted by a radiant female figure very heavily draped in a white stuff like the finest cashmere, folds upon folds, having only the face visible. I knew her for Pallas Athena. And she said to me joyously, ‘My true Greek child! So you have come to me through the fire!’ By which I remembered that I had been cremated, and this was the cause of my impression about fire. And I bethought me of the verses given me a few weeks before my death: –
‘And joyful at Her perfect feet,
Whom most of all I long to greet,
My soul shall lie in meadows sweet,
All white with asphodel.’
And I said to myself, ‘Then that was a prophecy, and this is the realisation.’ We had a long conversation together, which I cannot recall, and then she intimated to me that I was to rest, and bade me
lie down again on the grass, and then she glided away like a mist and disappeared from my sight.
“Then, as I was lying on the grass after Pallas left me, a group of girls and lads passed by near me, the girls all clad, as I was, in translucent tunics, and the lads quite nude, with myrtle crowns on their heads. After they had gone on a little way, the last girl of the party whispered something to the last lad, evidently about me. Upon this they all returned and came near me and saluted me, the lads lifting their crowns. They all were wonderfully graceful; their skins shone with a clear, bright colour like copper, and the last lad struck me so much by his frank expression that I wish much I could have made a drawing of him, he would have made so beautiful a picture. They passed on without speaking to me. My only garment was a tunic of apple-green, bordered with lines of gold round the neck and sleeves, and quite translucent.
“I then fell asleep, and when I awoke I found lying on my chest, fast asleep, my dear little friend Rufus. And on rising and looking about I saw a number of guinea-pigs scampering about and playing among the grass. And as I went along, a crowd of animals of different kinds, but no carnivorous ones – for all were pure feeders – cam running towards me and flocking round me. And presently I beheld approaching me a glorious, bright-shining golden figure, nude, but wearing a winged cap on his head, whom I recognised as Hermes. And we walked on together and talked; but first I asked him if I ought not to remain and look after the animals, especially the guinea-pigs; but he said they were quite safe; nothing was ever lost or hurt in that place. I asked him then how long I had been dead, for it seemed to me as if l had been asleep but for an instant, and he answered, ‘There is no “how long” in this place.’ So I said, ‘How long according to the reckoning on earth?’ To which he replied, ‘You have been what you call dead ten years.’ This astonished me so greatly that for a considerable time I was unable to speak. When I had recovered myself I asked after my husband and daughter and mother, and was told that the two first were still on earth, and the last was in the Christian heaven. It was very clear to me that I was in the Greek heaven and these were the Elysian fields. And beautiful fields they were, covered with grass and innumerable flowers; while the light and air were brilliant and delicious beyond all imagining. I asked next if the Christian heaven was far off, and he said it was very, very far off indeed, and quite inaccessible from where we were, and the nearest to us of all the heavens was the Brahminical heaven, where all Oriental souls go. This put me in mind of Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society, and I asked him about them, and how they had fared in these ten years; and he told me that she had quitted the earth and was in the Brahminical heaven, and that in England the Society had gone to pieces. Then a strong fancy took me to see Madame Blavatsky, if possible. And he said the journey was a long one for me, and we could not quit one heaven to enter directly another; but we could communicate with persons in it across the dividing waters. So we set off in that direction; and as we went he told me, in reply to my questionings as to why I had been taken away from earth with my work unfinished, that it was due to my diseased
organism; and that they, the Gods, have no jurisdiction over things physical, and cannot come into relation with them. Their empire is that of the Mind and Soul; and they instruct those among men who are sufficiently advanced in Spirit, and enable them to do what they can so far as their organisms permit.
“And so we conversed until we had quitted the plains and reached a country which became more and more mountainous as we proceeded, until we arrived at a range of snow-clad hills, which seemed impassable. But, instead of attempting to climb them, we entered a passage by which they had been pierced, and passing through them, we at length emerged, to find ourselves on the brink of the stream which divided the two heavens; and looking across, I beheld, resting in an arbour on the very verge of the Brahminical heaven, Madame Blavatsky, clad in an ample robe of dark purple, with a girdle round the waist; and on seeing me, she came running out with great agility, rolling a cigarette between her fingers, and exclaiming that it was so delightful to have no legs to prevent her from moving freely, such as she had when in her body. She had evidently just been eating, which reminded me that I had as yet had no food. Whereupon, as if reading my thought, she said that she had plenty, and very good it was, though quite Buddhistic; and she was so glad she had come there instead of going to the Christian heaven, where they spent all their time sitting on damp clouds and playing on the harp, with Salvationists and such-like folk. Here Hermes, who was standing back in the shadow of the tunnel, looked grave at her flippancy, and remarked to me that the Salvationists could not reach that elevation, being too rudimentary and unfolded in their higher nature, but remained in the lower strata of air near the earth, soon to return again into the body.
“Madame Blavatsky then asked me if there were any animals in my heaven, and I told her that a number of them had gathered round and run after me, but only innocent, pure-feeding ones. There was no place in the heavens for any others, for the carnivora and cruel animals must pass through the forms of the herbivora to become purified. And she said, ‘We too have animals here of the same kind as yours, especially elephants, but no insects. They can’t rise high enough to reach this place, but remain below, close to the earth, to sting the Salvationists, I suppose. But how came you in the Greek heaven? Had you no priest when you died?’ I told her that not only did I have no priest, but I refused Christian burial, and insisted on being cremated. She then said, ‘I heard such a capital story the other day about a man on your side. He too was a worshipper of the Greek Gods, and when he lay dying the folks about him said, “Shan’t we send for a minister?” “No,” says he. “Nor yet for the priest?” “No.” “Haven’t you got any religion, then?” “The best on earth,” he said, “but it has not got any priests.” “How is that?” they asked. “Because the half of them died more than two thousand years ago, and the other half are not born yet.”
“Here Hermes came forward out of the shadow, and was seen by her. At the sight of him she started with amazement and let her hands fall. Then, recovering herself, she asked me who he was, and I said, ‘This is my Master, the God Hermes.’ At which she exclaimed,
‘Well! I never saw a Personal God before! How beautifully he shines! Just as in the pictures.’ (1) Then, holding up her cigarette, she asked him if she might smoke without offence, to which he smiled an assent. She continued to talk in the way usual to her when on earth as she smoked, remarking, among other things, that ‘Colonel Olcott is still going it in India’; and then she suddenly inquired of me, ‘And is Mr. Maitland with you?’ To which I replied, ‘No; he is still alive upon earth.’ At this Hermes bent forward gently, and touching my wrist, said, ‘You never asked me if he is still alive.’ To which I replied, with great positiveness, ‘No; because I knew that, if he were dead, the great affection between us would have drawn him here to me.’ At this Hermes looked intently on me, and I saw that his eyes were suffused with tears, and he said, ‘My child, there was a greater love than yours – his mother’s. He is gone to the Christian heaven.’ This unexpected reply gave me such a shock of grief that I burst into tears and woke weeping, and continued to weep after waking; and – and – I cry again now while telling it to you.”
As regarded her mother and Madame Blavatsky the dream proved correct, for the former survived her but three weeks, and the other three years. It still, at the time of this writing, 1895, remains to be shown whether it was correct as regards myself, two years remaining to clear up the doubt. (2) But, as concerned ourselves, a little reflection led us to the conclusion that it was to be taken not so much as a positive prophecy as an approximate forecast, combined with an instruction which, if unheeded, would make it a prophecy; in which view it depended on circumstances within our own control how far it would prove prophetic. The effect of the dream on her was greatly to modify her preference for cremation, and for a time to make her as wishful to live as she had before been to die. This change of mood found expression in her readiness to take more nourishment, and consent
to such treatment as was deemed calculated to arrest her disease, to both of which she had given but a grudging assent, asking why she should seek to prolong her suffering.
It had the result, moreover, of impelling her to expressions of her sense of indebtedness to me for my care and guidance such as had never before escaped her. It was as a sudden awakening to facts of which as yet she had been but little sensible, and nothing could be more fervent, and consequently more gratifying to me, than the manner in which she now expressed her recognition.
The tokens which poured in upon us of sympathy, regret, and concern from the many friends who had become attached to her, for her work’s sake as well as for her own, were numerous and fervid. Only to a few of those who called was she accessible; but though grateful for their affection and respect, she confessed to feeling humiliated by the consciousness of her own unworthiness. “You cannot think,” she said to me after occasions of the kind, “how mortified it makes me feel, when people make obeisance before me and kiss my hand, to know what possibilities of evil still remain in my nature, and how different I really am from what they imagine me to be. They see but one side only of me; I see all sides, and know that I am yet very far from being regenerate. Whatever you say or write of me, when called on to do either, do not make me out to be a saint.”
The two following letters are from Madame Blavatsky: –
“MAYCOT, August 1887.
“DEAR MR. MAITLAND, – Thanks for your kind letter. You have no idea how deeply with the illness of Mrs. Kingsford l feel grieved and ready to rebel against fate and Karma. We cannot pretend to question the latter and its immutable wisdom. But Fate, or Destiny, to which only the manifested physical world is subject, does seem a cruel, idiotic, ever-blind and erring something. For the Mystics of England and English-speaking peoples – I mean the true Mystics, not the spiritualists – to lose such an intellect is more than they deserve, and would be a blow indeed. I feel one thing. Apart from her great intellect, I love her as a woman. I really first made her acquaintance at Ostende, and since then a strange revulsion of feeling took place in inner me. I had always admired her, but I had little personal sympathy till then with her. Why is this? Why should I feel such a sincere affection for her now? But I really do. For me she is quite another woman, or rather Being, and quite apart from the A.K. the world knows of. Perhaps you will understand me. Others won’t; therefore I say very little.
“Ah, dear Mr. M.! If you had followed the advice given to take her to Davos, no blood-spitting would nave developed there. A
man I knew who had both lungs decaying and threw up blood terribly, and was condemned only last autumn, returned in May nearly cured, and never spat blood since. I had never heard of the place before I was told (occultly) to advise you to go there; after which I took an interest in it. He went there late in November, and yet he is cured. It is as I told you: Davos has become an ELIXIR OF LIFE in consequence of the incessant seismic disturbances and the shifting of electro-magnetic centres, and their gathering or grouping on several particular spots – (occult doctrine, whether scientific or not). But it is too late now, and it is useless to talk of it. It is the Mediterranean climate and the mistrals that have developed so rapidly the illness. Yet if she can only succeed in never allowing her will-power-to-live to break down, she can save her body and nearly recover. She could recreate her lungs at all events, – crystallise them and make them remain in statu quo. You will regard all this as nonsense. So I shut up. (...) Have you seen a very curious work by one G.H. Pember, M.A., author of The Great Prophecies, called The Earth’s Earliest Ages, and their Connection with Modern Spiritualism and Theosophy? It has been sent to me by the author to review in Lucifer. In it the kind man combs the hair of all of us with delightful impartiality. You, Mrs. K., myself, C.C. Massey, Sinnett, Olcott, Edwin Arnold, Perfect Way, Isis, etc., etc., all are boiled in the same pot into an olla podrida of Satanism and Devil-worship. We are all servants of Anti-Christ, and subject to the ‘Spirits of the Air’ or devils. It reads like the nightmare of an insane Methodist or Bible-lunatic.
“I am going to emigrate to town, to Lansdowne Road. Tell me how high you live, and how I can see you (both) when you are alone. I do so wish to see her. Give her my affectionate love. Ah, poor dear great soul! Now I know that cactus-leaves water would stay blood-spitting and do her the greatest good; but where can those cactuses, which grow in millions at Adyar and by the Indian roads, be got here? Suppose a large cactus-leaf, half-an-inch thick, with fine thick hairs on it, could be got from some hothouse. Cut it into pieces after scrubbing off well the outer fine prickles, and put the pieces into a large tumbler of water. In two or three hours it will become oily, and in twenty-four hours like thick oil. Try it for mercy’ sake. – Yours sincerely and sympathetically,
“17 LANSDOWNE ROAD, HOLLAND PARK,
“October 10, 1887.
“DEAREST MRS. KINGSFORD, – I am so glad to hear from the Countess that you feel better, and are now determined to will to live. I do hope you will go on strengthening and progressing in health. Thanks so much for your pretty story; it is really very, very charming. But do let me put your full name. You must do this for poor Lucifer, as you are too good a writer, and too well known, for him to afford to receive a visit from you almost anonymously. We have many reverends wanting to write for it. There is a regular steeple-chase, and you will laugh.
“If you were well enough by the end of this month, I would ask you to write an answer to Gerald Massey, who, speaking of the contradictions of the New Testament, calls it ‘a volume of falsehoods
and lies.’ I must do so if you do not feel strong enough, for it is absolutely necessary to show that the Bible is as esoteric as any other Scripture of old. You will read his attack in Nº. 2 of Lucifer, which will appear in about a week.
“Please give my love to Mr. Maitland. I hear he does look pulled down. I love him, and would love him if it were only for the care he gives you, and nursing you as he does throughout your illness. He is a dear man. – Yours sincerely and faithfully,
Among her visitors this autumn was our friend Lady Caithness, between whom and Mary the parting was very sad, so evident was it that it would be their last meeting. She was accompanied by her son, and as we were at that moment considering whom to ask to witness her will, which had required remaking, we took advantage of their presence for the purpose, thinking it a somewhat curious coincidence that their coming should have been so aptly timed. (1)
The following is from her Diary: –
November 12, 1887. – What is Sin? The root of Sin is Ignorance, and the nature of Sin is Injustice. The word Sin is best interpreted by the Biblical word Transgression: “Sin is transgression of the Law.” Of what Law? Of the Law which maintains order in the world – the Law of Nature; in other words, of the Will of God. Sin is always the result of Ignorance, because no sane creature does that which is the worst thing he can do for himself, knowing it to be the worst. He sins because he is ignorant and does not yet know the Truth; that is, the Law. What, then, is the relation of Sin to disease? Disease is the result of an injustice done to the body; of a violation of or deviation from the Order of Nature. Therefore disease is undoubtedly the product of Sin, insomuch that but for Sin there would be no disease.
But disease may be inherited, in which case the parents’ sin, or the ancestors’ sin, is the cause of it. Immediately, this is so; but the diseased person would not have been born of such parents but for Karmic influences and attractions. The chief sins are murder, cruelty, theft, rape, envy, hatred, gluttony, drunkenness, lying, and all kinds of frauds and idlenesses. All these are sins because they are injustices. Some forms of sensual vice are sins in a lesser degree; but most ecclesiastical “sins” are not sins at all. There is no forgiveness of sins in the ecclesiastical sense. Sin – or transgression, as it is much better to call it – may be wiped out by the enlightenment of the transgressor, and his consequent abandonment of his mistake. But the consequences will have to work themselves out to the end, as is the Law of Nature. No merits of another, or sacrifices made
by anybody else on behalf of the sinner, can obtain pardon for his sin. The merit of holy men, whether dead or living, may indeed act on a penitent soul as a means of grace; that is, a good influence or influx, creating a purer moral and spiritual atmosphere about him, and so inducing favourable conditions for grace and imparting grace; and the power of holy souls, living or departed, to be thus helpful to others depends on the amount of merit they possess. “But no man can redeem his brother, or make atonement unto God for him.”
Sometimes, for occult reasons, because of the intervention of the operation of a Law more powerful than the natural (physical) Law (as that of magnetism suspends that of gravitation), the effects of Sin are suspended or suppressed, but they are never annulled. No soul is ever absolved from penance. The penance is as inevitable as effect always is to every cause. It is idle to say, and it is a terrible heresy to say, that man cannot sin because he is God. It is not the God in him that sins, of course, but the human. The Divine Selfhood, or Atmân, knows all things, and is therefore free from Ignorance, which is the only cause of Sin. But the lower selfhood is ignorant, and learns knowledge by experience; hence it is prone to sin. If everything were Pure Mind, and man were wholly, in all his nature, Pure Mind (God), the world would be resolved into Himself, and would have no material existence. But so long as there is material existence, there is Limitation; hence Ignorance, and hence Sin. Man is the Microcosm, and as the world is, so is he. When he shall have united himself wholly with his Divine part, and become one with It, and permeated by It, he will cease to sin, and will be “resolved” or transmuted, as the world would be in a similar state. But now is not the world Pure Mind only, nor is man Pure Mind only, but consisting of many complex elements and consciousnesses which are far from being in harmony. Hence the Karmic Law by which Sin is expiated and experience gained, and the sinner saved. When the truth of things is clearly seen, the denial of it becomes impossible, and action adverse to the Truth ceases. But such enlightenment occurs only when man is made perfect, or “raised from the dead.” “Awake, thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
November 17, 1887. – To-day, a year ago, the disease from which I am now suffering began. To-day, a year ago, C. and I were at the hotel in the Rue Balzac, and J. came to see me with one of his sons, just after I had returned from an expedition in rain and wind – disastrous indeed – to find Pasteur’s Laboratory. And for a whole year since November 17, 1886, the disease that struck my lungs that day has gone on destroying them, slowly, no doubt, but still destroying.
On November 23  she recounted to me a long dream in which she dreamt that she had died in the night of December 31, and immediately gone to visit some of her relatives and friends. It was full of the most circumstantial details, all graphically told, but of too personal a nature for reproducing in full. Its occult value consisted in its exhibition of her perfect familiarity with
the state immediately after death, which it seemed to me could be due only to her frequent experiences of that state within a period so recent as to allow of full recollection. In it she had told one of the persons visited that she had renounced her right to proceed straight to Devachan (the Hindû equivalent for Paradise, or place of rest of the freed soul), in order to carry on her work. But she experienced much distress at finding people unwilling to converse with her, and even terrified at her presence. One, however, was more reasonable, and soon got over her alarm. But when first she perceived her, she had exclaimed with astonishment, “‘Why, Nina, they said you had died, and were buried yesterday! I wonder they should have played me such a trick.’ ‘They played you no trick,’ I said; ‘they but spoke the truth.’ ‘Then you are not Nina, but ––.’ ‘Yes, I am Nina, but not her body. Surely you understand ––.’ And she, too, began to show signs of great alarm. So I reasoned quietly with her, explaining to her that I only illustrated the lately recovered doctrine of man’s survival of his physical body, and of his ability to manifest himself in his astral form; and that I had been able to keep intact and unseparated all my principles, so that only my body was wanting; and that the burning of that had enabled me to get away from it so much sooner and more completely that I could come to her at once. Hearing this, she gradually resumed her composure, and became quite absorbed in interest. And then I told her of the irrational terror of one person known to her whom I had visited, and how glad I should be if she would use her influence to put him right. ‘It is,’ I said, speaking energetically, for I was very angry about it, ‘the ingrained falsehood and superstition of centuries that makes people act so.’”
Not one of the least curious circumstances in this anticipation of her post-mortem experiences is the fact that, although based on the belief that she had been cremated, she never was cremated, as, for reasons which will appear later, she had been led to abandon her intention on that behalf.
Another token of the extraordinary activity and inventiveness of her imaginative faculty at this time, and of its independence of her bodily state, was given two nights later. It was a dream suggested by the illness of the late Emperor Frederick, while Crown-Prince of Germany, whom we held in high regard, and for whom we were greatly concerned. The following is her account
of it, as taken down by me from her lips, and included in my Diary: –
November 25 . – While I was taking my turn of watching at M.’s bedside last night about midnight, she suddenly woke from a sound sleep and said, “I have just seen such a curious story, which I will tell you. Sir Morell Mackenzie, who, you know, is the throat-specialist in attendance on the German Crown-Prince, received, while at his house in London, a letter offering to place in his hands, in case he was disposed to use it and would undertake to make a serious trial of it, a certain cure for cancer which had been in use in the writer’s own family for generations. The letter contained many scientific details which greatly struck the Doctor, and proposed his first making trial of the remedy on an inmate of some cancer hospital whose case should most nearly resemble that of his royal patient. The letter concluded by saying that no reward was expected, and that an advertisement in the second column of the Times would suffice to bring the writer – who was himself a doctor – into personal communication with Sir Morell Mackenzie.
“Sir Morell resolved at the least to comply with the last suggestion, and accordingly, in response to his advertisement, he was called on by his correspondent on the following evening. The latter proved to be a tall, slender man, evidently a foreigner, wearing a Spanish cloak, but speaking English well, and his name, according to the card he sent up, was Doctor Xeres, and a string of other Spanish names which I could not retain. His face was remarkable for its paleness as contrasted with the hair he wore on it, and his skin was of a hue and an aspect which were cadaverous and unhealthy in the extreme. His speech was slow, firm, and distinct, and his whole mien such as to give weight to his utterances. ‘To judge my pretensions,’ he said, after the first introduction, ‘you must hear my history. I am one, and the last, of a family of which every member for many generations has been afflicted with cancer, some in one place and some in another. Mine is internal, in the stomach; consequently the remedy which I propose to give you for your illustrious patient is used by me diluted, as it must be for him. Only for external application must it be used undiluted. I vouch for its effecting a cure in twelve hours, and I speak with scientific knowledge, as you will have judged by my letter. I conclude by your advertising for me that you accede to my proposition, and are prepared to put my remedy to a test upon an hospital patient. Well, take this phial,’ and he produced a small stoppered bottle made of gold. ‘It is, as you see, of gold, because no other substance will resist it. Provide yourself with a stock of new camel’s-hair brushes, which must be dipped in it and applied to the cancer. The stuff must on no account be poured out into a plate, nor exposed to the light; nor must any brush be again dipped into it after having touched the tumour. Paint the place every two hours, six times; that will make twelve hours’ treatment, at the end of which the patient will be well. But you must watch the effect of the treatment yourself closely the whole time. This is what will occur: – After the first application, and before the time comes for the second, a slight activity will be apparent beneath the skin, and the colour will change and the pain be somewhat
less. This effect will be considerably enhanced by the second application, and on the third the tumour will burst and discharge freely, and the pain will be gone. It must then be squeezed forcibly to eject the matter remaining in it. The other three applications, which must be within as well as without the wound, in order thoroughly to destroy the tumour and cleanse the tissues, will complete the cure. After you have made your experiment, advertise for me again, and I will return to give the final instructions necessary for your great case.’
“Dr. Mackenzie had no difficulty in finding a subject for his experiment. He had a friend who was house-surgeon of a cancer hospital and acceded readily to his proposal. He, however, said nothing of the source or nature of the remedy. The patient selected had a terrible cancer in the cheek, and had long been a hopeless sufferer. The first application, which was made in the evening, produced precisely the effect predicted. A slight action was set up in the tumour; the colour of the surface changed, and the patient declared himself a shade easier. After the second application these effects were so much enhanced that the doctors marvelled greatly, while the patient became excited with hope and delight, and declared that he was almost well. After the third application the agitation in the tumour became violent in the extreme, and in due time it burst, discharging quantities of virulent matter, and the pain ceased, while the patient cried and laughed by turns with joy, and expressed his unbounded gratitude. The tumour was then duly squeezed and treated as directed. The remaining applications were made in the manner prescribed, and with the result promised; and in twelve hours’ time from the first application the cancer was cured.
“Amazed and overjoyed, Sir Morell lost no time in summoning the author of the miracle, who, on his part, lost no time in presenting himself. After listening to the Doctor’s account of his experiment, the Spaniard thus addressed him: ‘You will, of course, start immediately for the South. Be sure to observe all the directions I have given you. Use new camels’-hair brushes, never dipping one which has touched the cancer. Do not expose the drug to the light or pour it out on a plate, and dilute it with half its quantity of water before painting the inside of the Prince’s throat. But you will require a fresh supply, as the bottle you have is nearly exhausted. Return that to me – they are of gold, and valuable – and take this fresh phial. One word more. If you succeed, avow the source from which you obtained the cure, and do not in any way claim it as your own, or pretend that any credit in the matter belongs to you. Disregard my injunction in this, and I will publicly expose you and will ruin you. This is my fixed determination. Adios.’
“The Doctor lost no time in journeying southwards; and after communicating to his fellow-physicians, and the patient and his family, so much of his story as was necessary to procure their consent, prepared to commence the treatment, the other doctors being present; when, immediately on the first application to the swelling in the throat, the Prince’s face turned crimson and swelled up to a frightful size; profound anaesthesia set in, from which nothing they could do would rouse him, and in about half an hour he was dead. Not suspecting a plot, or doubting the good faith of
his visitor, Sir Morell had taken it for granted that the second phial contained the same stuff as the first. The shock of horror awoke me, and all I can remember further is that, on referring to the Spaniard’s card, it was found to have no address on it.”
November 25 . – Waking from sleep while I was watching by her this evening, Mary said: “I have just dreamt a curious story of the old days of chivalry. The scene was in Italy, and a knight was engaged to be married to a beautiful girl who belonged to a family none of the women of which were found, when about to be wed, to be maids, although they were so within a week of that time. The knight was resolved that his should be an exception to this rule; and he accordingly appointed a brother knight, who was bound to him in the closest affection, to keep guard at the door of his lady-love’s bedroom every night during the week prior to his marriage. This was done, and nothing occurred save that, as the time approached, the lady became profoundly melancholy without any apparent cause. But on the last night of the knight’s vigil, the door of her apartment opened, and the lady addressing him in a supplicating voice, besought him to enter and take her virginity. The knight, amazed and offended, declined, saying, ‘I am placed here by my brother knight expressly to guard your virginity for him, and how then can I violate my knightly honour by doing such a deed?’
“The lady continued to entreat him, weeping and wringing her hands; and at length, finding all her entreaties in vain, she told him the cause of her so strange behaviour, and of the reason of the evil repute of the women of her family. ‘It is,’ she said, ‘through no wantonness or evil thought of mine that I have asked this of you, Sir Knight, but to save the life of my affianced lord, your brother, and to preserve our own happiness. It is the appointed fate of my family that if any of its women comes to her bridegroom a maid on her wedding night, the bridegroom shall die a horrible death before sunrise next morning. What, then, can I do but that which I have done?’
“And the knight answered, ‘Your duty and my duty are plain. It is my duty to keep my engagement, and it is your duty to tell your husband what you have told me, and leave him to do as shall seem good to him.’ With this the lady returned into her chamber, and the knight remained without on his watch. The marriage duly took place next day, and when night came the bridegroom retired with his bride to their marriage chamber. What passed no one knows; but just before dawn a terrible outcry came from the chamber, and on the household entering it they found that the knight had just died in a horrible agony.”
The last entry made by her in her Diary was the following: –
December 26, 1887. – In the night or early morning of this day – Christmas night – Piggy died. She had suffered a long time.
The pet in question was the little animal which she had purchased in 1885, and had been her companion throughout her illness while travelling abroad. Its death was a great relief to its
mistress, who was seriously distressed at being unable to find anyone to whose care she might leave it with assurance that it would have the constant guardianship which such creatures require on this side the Elysian fields. “I am so thankful Piggy has gone first,” she more than once remarked.
Hearing that a course of remarkable sermons was being preached at the Pro-Cathedral by an Irish monk famous for his discourses, she begged me to attend and report to her one which had for its subject the history of Satan. I myself had no little curiosity both as to the nature and the source of the information such a title implied. The occasion was a great one. The Pro-Cathedral was crammed with eager hearers; and what they were told with loud assertions of the utmost positiveness, in a torrent of Irish eloquence, was in this wise. How and why the Almighty permitted evil, and such an event as that to be described, to take place in heaven, in His own immediate presence, was a mystery which the Church had not seen fit to reveal. But these were the facts of it. The Almighty had made known to the angels His design of taking on Himself human form by incarnating as a man in order to save the world; and the angels, headed by the greatest and proudest of them, whose name was Lucifer, had taken offence at such action on the part of the Deity, regarding it as a slight to themselves that a race so mean and insignificant as mankind should be thus honoured; and they had accordingly revolted and lost their place in heaven. All this and much more of the same kind was affirmed as actual historical fact, no hint being given of its possibly allegorical significance, if any, and the congregation had been dismissed without the smallest attempt to reconcile it to their understandings. She could hardly credit my report, and made me repeat it over again. And at length, being satisfied that I had given her a faithful account, exclaimed, “No wonder the world is infidel, when the Church allows such blasphemous nonsense to be preached from its pulpits.” The mystery of Lucifer had not at this time been disclosed to us, beyond an intimation that he represented some principle in human nature. But, as will by-and-by appear, we were destined to have a solution making it perfectly intelligible and reasonable. I may add that while coming out of the church I listened eagerly for comments from the congregation. But, so far from hearing a word of resentment at having been treated as children for whom anything was
good enough, I heard only remarks worthy of an assemblage of idiots.
It was not until September  that she gave up her press-work, by discontinuing her weekly contributions to the Lady’s Pictorial. It was with great difficulty even then that she prevailed on herself to take the step, and to confess herself beaten. Her chief objection was that it would deprive her of the means of bringing her spiritual work effectively before the world. Already, despite the shortness of the time that she had been in practice, her broken health and her constant removes, the results of her professional work were such as to point to rapid and extraordinary success. For in the last year of her life her earnings from all sources connected with her profession were close on a thousand pounds.
The following is her last letter to the press: –
“FUR AND FEATHERS
“To the Editor of the ‘Pall Mall Gazette.’
“SIR, – Mr. Punch’s lines against the massacre of birds for dress, reprinted in your issue for this evening, are very pretty, and their sentiment very sound. But, alas! The birds are not the only or the worst sufferers in the interests of our fine ladies. The horrors of the seal-fishery are infinitely worse in their heart-rending details than anything Mr. Punch has depicted. It is some years since I satisfied myself that the fur trade, and the sealskin trade in particular, were incompatible with the gentle life it should be the aim of civilised beings to lead, and since that time there have been no furs in my wardrobe. There are, however, certain feathers which are obtainable without slaughter, and, I am assured, without cruelty – ostrich-feathers, the plumes being cut yearly from the birds, which are kept in large numbers on farms for the purpose and well treated. Ostrich-feather muffs, boas, and trimmings are extremely pretty, warm, and more hygienic than furs, because they are permeable to the air and do not shut in the transpiration of the skin as furs do. – Your obedient servant,
“ANNA KINGSFORD, M.D.
“September 14, 1887.”
These verses from an unknown hand bear striking testimony to the influence she was recognised as exercising: –
TO ANNA KINGSFORD, M.D.
Before me the roses are blooming
In glory of crimson and snow,
Their petals the soft air perfuming
With fragrance above and below;
Athwart the dark blue of the mountain
The red dawn is stealing on high,
And spreading its crimson-rayed fountain
Far up through the pale eastern sky.
Above the stone archway’s carved splendour,
Where roses are twining their leaves,
A sunbeam, bright, golden, and tender,
Steals over the quaint sculptured eaves;
White blossoms, with petals yet folden,
Cling close to the earth in the mist,
The sunbeam, high-gliding and golden,
Has left their pale beauties unkissed.
Our rose, deepest crimson, clings lonely
About the great archway’s keystone,
Her petals the ray has kissed only,
Her red leaves lie opened, alone;
The sunlight will spread to the roses
That cling to the ground by the wall, –
But the highest, the noblest, uncloses
Her petals the first of them all!
O thou! Who hast risen above us
In strength and in womanly power,
Who ever hast striven to love us
And aid us in sorrow’s dark hour;
O woman the truest and strongest,
Though climbing be weary and hard,
Thou hast toiled towards the sunlight the longest,
And gained for thyself its reward!
Thyself? Nay; it was not thy glory
Thy labour was given to gain,
Thy life is one gold-written story
Of aiding all creatures in pain:
Yet thou hast thy reward, – though on many
The bright dawn of Heaven may fall –
Who the highest hast mounted of any,
And touched the first sunbeam of all!
“20 BELSIZE CRESCENT, HAMPSTEAD,
“December 11, 1887.
“Precious daughter of ‘our Father’ – in whom also is our Mother – in Edinburgh, once, and once only, we met for an evening hour, but it was quite long enough to give me a deep and tender interest in you. I am therefore in fatherly-motherly sympathy with you. For I hear of the frail and suffering condition of your tent – the poor earth-body.
“I pray that the Eternal Livingness which has begotten you, and rooted itself in you, may reveal its power and sweetness all the more
through your weakness and passivity. ‘Because I live, you shall live also.’
“I would call in the hope of seeing you for a few minutes, that I might share in the Blessing which blesses you. But I conclude that those who love you most would be careful to save you from every species of excitement.
“In the Spirit of Love which we children inherit from the Ancient Bosom-Source, and our Endless Hope, right truly yours,
(326:1) P. 304, note 2 ante.
(334:1) Vol. I, p. 428.
(338:1) Those who knew this remarkable woman will at once recognise the trait here pointed at. In her enmity against the current orthodox presentment of Deity, she was wont to inveigh strongly against the idea of a personal God, and would ask persons, when first introduced to her, “Do you believe in a P.G.?” meaning a personal God, by way of testing their intelligence. I had represented to her that she did herself and her cause an injustice by this practice, inasmuch as she really did believe in a personal God when she admitted the universe to be the product of will, mind, and intelligence, since these imply personality. To which she replied that she knew that, and meant only to ridicule the notion of Deity having form and limitation such as constitute personality for people in general. – E.M.
(338:2) The dream also proved correct as regarded Edward Maitland, who died on October 2, 1897, i.e. less than ten years after the death of Anna Kingsford, who died on February 22, 1888. – S.H.H.
(341:1) This was Anna Kingsford’s last will. It is dated August 16, 1887; and was proved at Shrewsbury by her husband and G.B. Lloyd, two of the executors, on May 4, 1888. – S.H.H.
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