A CLOUD OF WITNESSES
SADLY low as was the condition of my colleague’s
health when the time came for me to take her home for Christmas, a few days’
experience of the dry bracing airs of the Shropshire uplands wrought so great an
improvement as to enable me to return to
“In the towns I had, of course, been accustomed to see the festival of the nativity of the Divine Life that had been born into the world celebrated by the public exhibition in the provision shops of the usual hecatombs of animal corpses stripped of their skins. But this fair village among the peaceful hills far surpassed in sacrificial enthusiasm any homage which a town could render to the gory Moloch of our national orthodoxies. For some days before Christmas the population had been engaged in the annual killing of their pigs, a process which for that whole period had involved the incessant piercing of the skies by the agonised screams of the innocents thus massacred in advance.
“The slaughter was finished by Christmas Eve, and the village sent out its carollers over the country round to sing hallelujahs about the ‘Lord of Life,’ and ‘It was the joy of One,’ and ‘How beautiful upon the mountains,’ and the next morning saw them flocking to the village church to do further homage to the Genius of the day by reciting services to the keynote of ‘Peace on earth, and good will towards men!’ A thin fleece of new-fallen snow covered the ground, as if sent expressly to signify that Nature, even if she had not condoned the violence done to her in the persons of her porcine offspring, was anxious at least for that sacred day to efface all evidence of the deed. But the attempt was unsuccessful.
For in the gutters between the whitened footway and road the blood ran in streams, while every here and there a large ensanguined patch of snow indicated the place of a standing pool of blood. The decorations of the church, and the vigour of the devotions of the congregation, whose responses were fairly roared out, served to aggravate the incongruity of the whole, and to remind one that that rough little village was but an epitome and resume of all Christendom, inasmuch as it was precisely the combination of lip-service and blood-service, which ever constitute for a priest-constructed orthodoxy the realisation of perfection. And I wondered whether the Laureate could have had such a scene in his mind when he made his Harold ask of one who had turned renegade –
‘What dost thou here,
Trampling thy mother’s bosom into blood?’”
On my journey back to
words after our greeting were: “I want
to go to
In a measure this was a relief to me. For it suggested that the vision might have been due merely to some bond of sympathy subsisting between us, in virtue of which his thought had been transmitted to my mind; so that it was not necessarily an intimation from transcendental sources of impending disaster. The gloomy anticipation, however, continued to oppress me; and it was under this apprehension that I wrote, a few days later, when back again in London, a passage in strong denunciation of the policy on which Count Bismarck was then insisting, as likely to cause the loss which had been suggested to me. I had scarcely completed the utterance when my mother’s voice again addressed me, coming as from one standing by my side, and saying aloud in a reassuring tone, “Charlie shall be my care!” As she had been almost mother, as well as grandmother, to him from infancy, her continued guardianship over him from the other side – supposing such a thing possible – was not unnatural. And the event has served to confirm the idea in view of the remarkable manner in which he has been preserved through many dangers since undergone in military service. For he followed his bent so far as to combine both professions by entering the Indian medical service. But supposing the experience to have been intended as an intimation of loss to me, it has had this much of fulfilment – that he has been virtually lost to my bodily sight, our fates having been so ordered as to keep us apart ever since, saving only for very brief meetings at very long intervals; some compulsion not of our own contrivance or desire always causing separation, so that in one sense he was virtually dead to me.
About the middle of January my
colleague found herself sufficiently restored to return to her work in
nature of the anticipations already formed of her by a mind open to ideas:
TO A. K.
“Thou hast to show the world that woman’s power
Is manifold; that she with ample heart
Can in the toil that strengthens man take part,
Yet quit not Love’s serene sequestered bower;
That she can traverse all the realm of Art,
And gather therein many a regal flower;
Mix with the troubled labours of the mart,
Yet stoop not from her ancient throne one hour.
Thou has to show the world that woman’s soul
Becomes not manlike, but her own the more,
The more she seeks its individual goal;
That only when the mind’s fair power is whole,
Developed, rounded, can Love’s blossom pour
Its scent forth, crowned with sacred self-control.”
January 19, 1877.
She resumed her quarters in
Such was the situation when she received – forwarded from home – a letter from a lady who said that, though ignorant as to where she (Mrs. Kingsford) was, or what she was doing, she had been spiritually impressed to write to her and say, that if she was in need – as she was led to suppose – of a home in London, there was one in every way suitable at the house in which the writer was then staying, and she would be glad to see her
there if she would call, and, in fact, was actually expecting her. This letter was signed “Anna Wilkes,” and its writer was no other than the “prophetess” of the visitation received by Mrs. Kingsford three years before, who had meanwhile entirely lost sight of her, but had again been commissioned on her behalf. The call proposed was made with results as satisfactory as the intervention was remarkable. And Mrs. Kingsford found herself the guest of one who, besides being a vegetarian and a spiritualist, was in every way qualified to be – as she became – a valued and a devoted friend, as all who remember Letitia Going as a charming young Irish widow can testify; and our friend “the prophetess” proved to be a person in every way worthy both of the mission entrusted to her, as well as of our personal regard, being a devout woman, of high intelligence, and full of good works.
Such was the manner in which we were once more brought into the near propinquity
needful for our work. For my colleague’s new home was in
It was not, however, with manifestations merely physical that we were called to make acquaintance. The circle of which we now became members consisted of pure feeders, serious seekers, and earnest workers. And the influences attracted were of too refined an order for phenomena of that class, and the results were personal, intellectual, and affectional, rather than physical. But whatever their kind, they were, one and all, such as to afford no room for questioning their genuineness, even though submitted to the severest scrutiny, being invariably such as could by no possibility be simulated or referred to reflex mental action, conscious or unconscious. The following is one example: –
While sitting one evening for manifestations in a fairly-lighted room, and having my hands on the table a little way apart, there
came a succession of minute tappings between my hands, nothing being discernible which could have caused them; and on my inquiring who it was that tapped, the name was given of my wife, who had died twenty years before in Australia, and whose name was known to no one present beside myself. It was Esther. Completely taken by surprise – for the length of the interval had prevented me from anticipating a communication from that quarter – I exclaimed, “Have you, then, been about me all these years unsuspected by me?”
“I have been much with Mary,” was the reply, meaning by “Mary” my colleague, that being, as we came now for the first time to learn, her spiritual or “initiation” name, given her by our illuminators as the representative of the soul, the Biblical symbol for which is Mary, which name also occurs twice among her own names. The above reply suggested to me an explanation of a phenomenon which had greatly perplexed me, but of which I had made no mention. This consisted in the apparent transformation on that very morning of Mary into the complete likeness of my wife, though the resemblance between them was but slight. She herself was unconscious of this change of aspect, and I wondered how the likeness could come and go. I now ascribed it to a momentary transfiguration, caused by the apparition of my wife forming itself over her, and enveloping her as with a veil in such wise as to render herself visible to me. To my remaining questions, which were put mentally, the replies were perfectly accordant, and indicated full knowledge of my history and feelings. To one question thus put I received for answer, “Trust the love that has always been with you.”
On our meeting next day, Mary – as from henceforth I propose to call my colleague, though I myself never called her by that name – told me that a curious thing had happened in the night which had caused her some perplexity, as she was not aware of anything to account for it. While asleep a voice had said to her, “Tell him not to ask me about money matters. It lowers me.” At this she awoke, and, sitting up, asked aloud who it was that had spoken, when it was answered in a faint voice, “Esther.” Not knowing of any existing reason for the injunction, she took it as anticipatory of the future. And her surprise and satisfaction were great on hearing from me that the question which had elicited the reply, “Trust the love that has
always been with you,” did indeed involve a reference to money matters. For it bore upon a trust instituted by my wife’s father, then recently deceased, in which our son’s interests were largely involved, and the conduct of which was then causing me considerable anxiety, the matter being in Chancery.
The book [England and Islam], the writing of which was made the occasion of the momentous change which had occurred in my life and thought, and which was the foundation of all our subsequent work, was not permitted to be published without the accompaniment of events as distressing from one aspect as they were gratifying from another. The former were as follows: –
My eldest surviving brother was, besides being a clergyman, a man so different temperamentally from myself as to make it difficult for me to recognise any real relationship as subsisting between us. It was a relationship of the flesh, and of that only. We happened to have the same earth-parents. And his attitude in regard to my writings was invariably one of disdain, his intellectual and critical faculties, which were of a high order, having been developed at the expense of their proper supplement and complement, the intuitional and synthetical faculties. Nothing, however, had ever occurred to cause any rupture between us, a result due partly to the restraint I put on myself, and partly to the infrequency of our intercourse. He was in total ignorance of my recent developments and experiences, and it was a question with me how far it would be judicious to acquaint him with them. On my proposing to myself one evening to call on him – chiefly for the reason that we had not met for some time, and it would probably be long before another opportunity offered – I found myself strongly dissuaded from carrying out my intention, and advised to keep aloof from him altogether. It was, however, only when too late that I recognised the wisdom of the monition. For I made my call in disregard of it, intending to compromise by keeping silence respecting the matters uppermost in my mind. In the course of our conversation, however, I let fall some remarks which, to one so unfamiliar as he was with the lines of thought and experience that were habitual to me, were undoubtedly calculated by the mere fact of their strangeness to excite his doubts as to my complete sanity. At least, I thought that I detected signs of such doubt in his mind, which somewhat nettled me, and led me to express myself
less guardedly, perhaps, than I should have done had I any anticipation of overt action on his part; one of the grounds of my irritation being a homily to which I was treated on the valuable despiritualising properties of certain well-known medicaments. The following day brought me further confirmation of my surmise in the shape of a letter urging me to submit my book to some literary friend before going into print. Somewhat resentful at the assumption involved in the advice, and mindful of sundry unappreciative criticisms from the same quarter on my previous books, I replied – not wholly without a malicious intent – expressing a wonder as to what would have been the fate of the book of Revelation had its writer submitted his work to a literary friend. Having dispatched this rejoinder, I dismissed the matter from my mind, making no mention of it to anyone. Nor had I the smallest suspicion that any action would be taken respecting it.
In the evening I resumed my sittings with Mary and her hostess, when I had the delight of receiving fresh evidences of tender and intelligent interest from the same dear spirit already named. And I was also rejoiced to note a manifest advance both in power of perception and in decision of character, such as to show a progressive unfoldment as occurring in the life beyond. Among other things she said, referring to our son, “Make Charlie lead a better life. If he only had the courage to live as you do, I should have power over him.” This was clearly a recognition of the sensitising effect of the vegetarian regimen. The youth himself was far from being an unfavourable specimen of the young men of the period. On my asking whether I should give him this message, it was replied, “Not yet. Say nothing to any one.” And presently the communication closed abruptly with these words, given with evident strong perturbation, “I will come to Mary alone.” The hour was between nine and ten.
The next morning, about ten o’clock, I was surprised by a visit from Mary, who said hurriedly, and immediately took her departure –
“I have something very extraordinary to tell you, but cannot stay now, as Mrs. Going is waiting for me to go towards the city. Be in for me in an hour’s time.”
She returned in about the time named, breathless with haste and excitement, and threw down on my table an open letter,
marked “private and confidential,” telling me to read it. I did so, and found it was addressed to my publisher by the relative above indicated, urging the suppression of my book at all hazards and on any available pretext, on the ground of its author’s undoubted insanity. The language was of the most peremptory description, and betrayed a desire to keep me in the dark and unsuspicious until I could be taken care of.
Of course I regretted the inadvertency which had thus resulted in throwing my relative into a state of panic, but I recognised a deeper source than the conduct of either of us as the true cause. I had been warned that hostile spiritual influences would endeavour to hinder the work, and that it would need caution to counteract them. About the letter and her possession of it, Mary gave me the following explanation, which I give in her own words: –
“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 with much emotion and earnestness – speaking, as I understood, of you – ‘He has been so imprudent. For God’s sake go instantly to Tinsley’s. I will go before you.’ ‘What is the matter?’ I asked; ‘what has he to dread?’ ‘His relatives,’ she replied, specifying two of 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 Tinsley, and saying that she would prepare the way for me.
“When I got up I was in considerable perplexity what to do. I had learnt to believe in my dreams; and Esther’s distress was so evident, and her injunction so positive, that it seemed a duty to comply. But what was I to say to Mr. Tinsley? 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. Going 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, as we should pass his place. 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 I got there. However, my faith is tolerably strong after all we have seen of late, and Esther had said she would prepare the way, so I went boldly in and asked for Mr. Tinsley. 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 brother 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. Tinsley 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, and promised to return with it as soon as possible. So I made my excuses to Mrs. Going and came back here straight. And now what is to be done? The tone of that letter shows that there is real danger.”
I sent her back desiring her to tell Tinsley that his correspondent, who was violently prejudiced against spiritualism, 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. She went accordingly, and on returning told me that Tinsley’s manner had struck her as that of a person who was acting under some influence of which he was unaware, but which he was unable to resist. For he had expressed surprise at himself for trusting her, saying that he could not help it; and adding as by way of apology for himself, that he was bound to consult somebody likely to know, before acting on a letter from a complete stranger. And as she was a student of medicine, and specially qualified to judge, he would take her opinion about me sooner than another’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 open to objection for any reason? He was at length reassured on all points, and so the matter terminated. On my showing her, for the first time, a portrait of my wife, she at once recognised it, and exclaimed, “It was she who came to me in my dream last night.”
It may be of some psychological interest to state that the writer of the letter was wholly unmoved by the recital of this history, the one fact which impressed him being what he chose to consider the “unpardonable breach of confidence committed by the publisher.” That the breach thus made between us remained unhealed, was a lasting grief to me; but I had to content myself with the reflection that as it was not of my making, so it could not be of my repairing. For it depended upon his own spiritual state, and only by means of his unfoldment in such wise as to be able to recognise my work, could we be brought again into relations with each other. It was his “Karma,” I was assured on appealing to my spiritual overseers, when the time came for that doctrine to be expounded to us. And it might require many more lives for him to work out of it. Meanwhile I was to consider that, having accepted a commission to do Christ-work, I must accept the conditions declared by Christ as essential to it, as by renouncing all earthly relations which would interfere with it. The contact with the hard, cold, dry intellectualism which characterised him could only prejudicially affect the fervid intuitionalism indispensable to me and my work, and it was for the sake of the latter that the separation had been permitted.
After an interval of sixteen years we met again, with every disposition on my part for a reconciliation. But it proved hopeless. The stupendous work of which I had been one of the instruments; the high recognition it had found far and wide as meeting the world’s supreme need; the life of high aspiration and earnest endeavour indispensable to it – all were ignored, and only disdain and contempt were accorded us. And this not for any fault ascertained or supposed in the work itself. Of that he had not read a word. But for the intrinsic absurdity he found in the very idea of a “New Gospel of Interpretation,” which he forthwith proceeded to blaspheme by vehemently
denouncing it as “rubbish,” and this before his wife and daughter! Restraining speech, I sorrowfully withdrew from what to me was now a house of Cain and Caiaphas, wondering how many earth-lives of bitter experience would be requisite to soften a heart so hardened.
I have already spoken of the book which was the immediate cause of this strange history, its genesis, its nature, and its defects. It remains only to add that it was published without further hindrance, and though regarded by the Press and by the generality of persons as the product of a disordered mind, was by the comparatively few who knew enough to be able to believe welcomed with an enthusiasm which led to my receipt of letters of fervid congratulations and thanks from persons altogether unknown to me; while from the far Antipodes there came a notice of it, published in the Melbourne Harbinger of Light, couched in the following terms: –
“From the author of the Pilgrim and the Shrine and Higher Law much might be expected; but these, and indeed all the other works of this remarkably original writer, are far excelled in the volume before us, the product of a pen in some directions without a fellow in contemporary literature. The vigorous style, lucid, and captivating, the fiery intensity of feeling, the loftiness and power of idea, proclaim the voice that of a prophet and a seer. It is a revelation of momentous meaning, magnificently unconscious, and weirdly suggestive.”
The following exquisite little apologue was spelt out for us by rapping on the table: –
“A blind man once lost himself in a forest. An angel took pity on him, and led him into an open place. As he went he received his sight. Then he saw the angel, and said to him, ‘Brother, what doest 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 was only by degrees, as our spiritual education advanced, that we came to discern its full significance, and to recognise in it an eternal verity applicable alike to the individual, the collective, and the universal – a parable at once Biblical and manifold.
The first instructions received by us respecting the “tinctures” of the soul were similarly given. The presiding influences claimed to be our “genii,” and called themselves A. and
Z. (1) On our asking for an explanation, the following colloquy took place: –
“‘A. is the letter of the heart, and Z. is the letter of the brain.’
“‘What do you mean by that?’
“‘A. is the heart inverted; Z. is the convolutions of the brain.’
“‘Who are you who speak?’
“‘I am the guardian of Mary. My colour is the red of the prism.’
“‘What is the colour of my guardian?’ I asked.
“‘Yours is blue, and that is the reason why you two, blending, make the royal purple.’”
There proved in due time to be much more in this communication than we then had any conception of. That these really were our respective “tinctures” appeared by the unanimous testimony of various clairvoyants, no less than by our own consciousness of our distinguishing characteristics. But the value of the fact lay in its mystic significance in relation to our work; for it was an indispensable condition of our association. The work was one, we were given to understand, which required for its due accomplishment the cooperation of all the “Seven Spirits of God.” No work could be a perfect work were any of these wanting to it; but every “week” of the divine creation must have its “seven days.” The seven rays of the prism are the mystical correspondences of these Seven Spirits. And hence the selection of persons whose “tinctures,” in virtue of their representing the two extremes of the spectrum, and being thus complementary opposites to each other, included and comprised all the intervening rays. This explanation suggested an occult reason for the selection of purple as the imperial colour.
On exchanging the practice of communicating by means of raps for that of writing through the planchette, our very first experience was a demonstration to us of the independence of the results of anything in our own minds. Mary and I sat alone, and for a long time the instrument remained motionless. At length it wrote with evident difficulty, “This planchette is unmagnetised”; which was quite true, for it was a new one. On
having passes made over it, and being breathed upon, it wrote with ease.
We spent the latter part of February at the parsonage. While there several things were written for us through the planchette, among which was the following: –
“We are going to help the spirits of the animals to find some way of coming to her whom you call Mary. Wait for it.”
This was a promise and prospect which greatly delighted her, as implying the immortality of the souls of animals as well as of men; and also as a recognition of her affection for them, and her efforts on their behalf.
Soon after our return to
“Do not wonder. It is the spirit of a dog trying to write; the first that has ever tried.”
We were talking over this message, still maintaining contact with the instrument, when it wrote further –
“He says he not a dog; but we know he is;” thus making the animal express itself in child fashion.
Here I made a remark to the effect that it may be in that world, as it so often is in this, that people are not aware to how low a grade they really belong; when my remark was assented to by the instrument writing, “Just so.”
It was during the visit home just mentioned that Mary received the dream published in Dreams and Dream-Stories, under the heading of “The Enchanted Woman.” The attendant circumstances showed that it had been carefully arranged and prepared for by our superintending influences; for, as stated in the note to it, it was preceded the night before by her being awoke by a bright light, and seeing a hand holding out to her a glass of foaming ale, while a voice said to her emphatically, “You must not drink this.” The occurrence of the following night made the object of the prohibition, which was duly heeded, apparent.
It was to prevent the obscuration of her faculty by the unaccustomed beverage which A. was wont to press upon her, in view of the experience intended to be given her. This consisted in a series of dramatic tableaux of extraordinary vividness, exhibiting the process of man’s fall from a state of perfection in doctrine and practice once attained, through the materialisation of things spiritual by the priesthoods. As in the Bible, the soul and its intuition were represented by a woman, and it was through the degradation of these, under the infernal influences implied in the term sorcery, that the fallen priesthoods had substituted for the pure and lovely truth originally divinely revealed to man, the ghastly doctrines and practices which have passed for orthodoxy. The record of this vision was very long, occupying six pages of close print; but Mary had been so deeply impressed by it, even while not at first comprehending its import, that she could not be induced to come down to breakfast until it was all written out.
A vision which gave us peculiar pleasure, alike for its exquisite playfulness and the quaintness of its humour, as well as its intimation of the purpose and nature of our association, was one that had been received [in London] on the eve of our recent excursion to Shropshire. (1) Although included in Dreams and Dream-Stories, under the heading of “The Wonderful Spectacles,” it is repeated here for the sake of the interpretation which was withheld there. I give it as written out in a letter to me.
“I was walking alone on the seashore. 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 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 Andersen – 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
“‘No,’ said he. ‘In the city from which I come the replies are all written at the office and 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
“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 so great a saint I woke.”
The full significance of this vision was beyond us at the time. Her first concern after receiving it was to verify the statement about Spinoza, of whose history she was totally ignorant. Nor, though familiar with the classic aspect of Hermes, as the “Messenger of the Gods,” was she in the least aware of the important part assigned to him as the supreme name in the spiritual science of our planet, so that she was quite at a loss to account for the impulse thus to designate the letter-carrier. The impulse, nevertheless, was justified by the facts of the case. For, as we learnt by a fuller acquaintance with that divinity, it is his wont to assume an aspect characteristic of his mission; and Hermes has from time immemorial been, in the sacred science of the West, the symbol for the Understanding, especially in relation to divine things. In that science the sea – Maria – has always been the symbol for the Soul. And the tall, far-off hills, with their peaks glistening with snow, are the pure shining heights of spiritual attainment, the Soul’s goal. Spinoza represented the utmost extent to which the mind can reach unassisted by revelation. He carried philosophy to the verge of religion. Swedenborg and Andersen were, in their respective lives, the two most notable modern representatives of the intuition. And
by the spectacles was implied that faculty which, by its combination of the intellect of Spinoza with the intuition of Swedenborg and Andersen, was destined to find in her such transcendent manifestation.
And the Baptist; how account for his presence in the allegory, and the combination of Christian with “Pagan” ideas? The full explanation was long in coming; but when at length vouchsafed, was absolutely and in the highest degree satisfactory. The revelation of the Christ-idea in interpretation of the Christ – our special task – could be made only through the process whereby Christ Himself is found – the process, that is, whereby Christ becomes Christ; this is to say, that the faculty by means of which man has the apprehension of divine things – namely, the understanding – must first undergo the purification implied in the baptism which is of John. To say that he who becomes a Christ must be baptized of John, is to say that the first and most essential step to man’s realisation of his due divinity is purification of body and mind. Only they who are thus purified can “see” – that is, can realise – God. Wherefore the first visit of the Angel of the Understanding, whose name Hermes signifies both Rock and Interpreter, must be made in the guise of John the purifier. So far, moreover, from the term “Pagan” rightly denoting the principle called Hermes, Hermes is no other than the Holy Ghost operating as the second of his own Elohim, or Seven Spirits of God, who under his title of the Spirit of Understanding pervades the Bible from beginning to end, being the presiding divinity of the second day of creation, the rock on which Christ declares that He will build His Church, and the angel with the golden rod who measures the holy city in the Apocalypse.
While thus a vision of instruction and a prophecy and an augury of success, this experience denoted also and explained the necessity for our association; for it insisted on the combination of her finer and more microscopic faculty with such faculty as was mine as indispensable to the completeness of our work.
Another relapse into ill-health was brought about by the following incident: – On attempting to enter the post-mortem room of her hospital, in pursuance of the permission duly accorded, she found herself rudely pushed back, with an insolent
remark, and the door violently slammed upon her, by one of the medical staff in attendance, who took this way of notifying his objection to “medical women.” Completely unhinged and knocked off her balance by the shock of such an affront, her system was rendered liable to incursions from the very lowest stratum of the spiritual world; so that as she sat alone in her room in the evening, brooding over the wrong, and unable to turn her mind to her work, she became aware of a presence passing slowly before her, which she described as the figure of a man, apparently a foreigner, wearing a morning robe, and having a countenance which, while handsome and highly intellectual, was obviously evil. His eyes, which were deep set, were fixed intently on her, almost paralysing her by the power of their gaze. She gathered strength, however, to summon aid, and the figure departed, leaving her in great terror; so that rather than be left alone, she resolved to give up the attempt to study that evening, and to accompany her hostess to a circle before which a noted “trance-medium” was to exhibit his faculty. Even here, though greatly interested in the performance, she was not free from molestation by the phantom; for it presented itself to her again, and so distressfully affected her as to compel her to withdraw to another room in charge of some of the party. One of these was also a sensitive; and on the apparition again presenting itself, this lady also saw it, and described it exactly as Mary had done, agreeing with her that it somewhat resembled the first Napoleon, and adding her impression that it was the spirit of some historical character noted for the strength of his will and the badness of his life, having been a poisoner and a sorcerer, and who was now endeavouring for his own evil purposes to obsess some good sensitive, such as he would know Mary to be. Another member of the party also claimed to be able to discern the figure, but less distinctly. On the following days we sat for writing in the hope of obtaining explanations and instructions; for Mary was all he time like one who had been poisoned. A week passed without any communication, and then it was written:
“Our chain has been broken by Caesar Borgia. We can do nothing against him. He has passed. We have seen nothing of him for days. He has poisoned her; he poisons us. Use carbonate of soda. We are building walls.”
None of us had thought of the personality thus named, nor were we able at this time to identify the influences who thus wrote; for we did not accept the spiritualistic hypothesis which regarded them as being necessarily the souls of the departed, but inclined to the belief – which subsequently proved to be correct – that they were not “souls” at all, but of the order called elemental, who, though non-moral, are intelligent, and are good or bad according to the spiritual states of the persons to whom they attach themselves, or who employ them, being as intelligent instruments in their hands. It was by their means, we came to learn, that our “Genii” wrote for us; for the genii are of celestial nature, and do not enter the plane of the material and astral. The idea of the “walls” was one that had often occurred to me, but in other terms; for Mary’s sensitiveness and impressibility were such as to suggest to me the idea that a skin was wanting, for want of which to cover them the nerves protruded to the very surface, rendering her extraordinarily and distressingly sensitive to extraneous impressions. The suddenness and force with which sharp sounds struck her, seemed to betoken the absence of the intervening medium by which most persons are shielded from such effects and warned in advance. That this peculiarity was not confined to her physical system, but had its counterpart in the spiritual, and found recognition in the corresponding world, was presently shown in a manner altogether unanticipated; for, in reply to a request for a prescription for her affected lung, we received the following, only her hand and mine being in contact with the instrument: –
“Get one of the terebenthine oils. Pour a little in the hollow of the hand every night before going to bed, and anoint the upper half of the body. Sprinkle some also on the pillow, so as to inhale it while sleeping.”
The word terebenthine being illegible, we asked for a repetition, when the writing continued:
“Terebenthine oils, such as balsam of Peru, or oil of cassia, or one of the essential oils of cloves, or bergamot, or flower of orange, or the aromatic oil of thyme, or balsam of México, or copaiba.
“There is a disease known to medical men in which the patient bleeds for want of the necessary dermous protection. This disease is purpura hemorrhagica. There is a spiritual disease as rare, in which the spirit bleeds for want of proper covering. The pain is very great, since the smallest spiritual or mental trouble or anxiety
causes a bruise, a sore, a wound, an extravasation of blood. The spirit in her is unclothed; it is, as it were, naked.”
Never was diagnosis more accurate, whether of a physical or of a spiritual state. It represented exactly the conditions of her existence, and the nature of the precautions by which it was necessary to guard her in order to prevent existence being altogether intolerable to her. Encased in so fragile and sensitive a frame, and possessed, nevertheless, of so energetic and vehement a spirit, she herself recognised the appropriateness of the simile which, to her amusement, I used for her – it was the favourite weapon of the anarchists of that period – “Nitroglycerine in a glass bottle.”
But to whom were we indebted for this remarkable diagnosis and sensible advice? We were never told positively, but we were in the course of a series of experiences which left no doubt on our minds that it was a certain eminent practitioner, lately deceased, who was concerned in them. Those experiences were the following: –
“On calling one day in
“‘It is locating the seat in the bulb.’
“At this everyone looked at her, when, to her surprise and confusion, she became aware that the remark had emanated from herself, having been uttered unconsciously, and without any corresponding idea in her mind. How she reached home she knew not, so perplexed was she about the matter; but she had no sooner entered her study than she found herself impelled to write the sentence which I found her endeavouring to read, and which bore all the signs of having been written, as she described it, with extraordinary speed and force. It ran thus:
“‘Be prepared. This placarding is destined to set the country on fire. There will be protests from many of the profession in the public journals charging you with publishing libels. A great storm is about to burst. You are warned.’”
Then followed a signature, which at first we took for C.W.S.
“The import of this was plain to us. We were then preparing to carry out an idea which had come to Mary, of placarding the streets with pictorial illustrations, taken from the books of the physiologists, of the horrors perpetrated in their laboratories. Of the healthiness
of the general sentiment we had no doubt; the only difficulty was to convince the public of the facts, the very horribleness of which was pleaded as an argument against their being possible, so little had the world learnt by the lesson of the Inquisition! We agreed that the message just received was valuable at least as a caution, pointing to the wisdom of allowing the suggestion to be carried out by one of the anti-vivisection societies, without implicating individuals; and we then set to work to unravel the mystery of the signature. So, placing our hands on the instrument, we requested the writer to repeat the initials. This he at once did, writing them in such a way as to indicate that what we had taken for a C was but an accidental flourish from the last letter. This letter, after several repetitions, clearly appeared to be an F. I then asked if it was one of our genii, when the word ‘No’ was written. ‘Is it quite a new spirit?’ ‘Yes.’ Then came six or seven times, in quick succession, the letters W.F., when, remembering the opposition to vivisection shown by the great surgeon, lately dead, who bore those initials, I inquired –
“‘Is it the spirit of Sir William Fergusson?’ In answer to which the word ‘Yes’ was written rapidly and plainly. The writing, we were afterwards assured by one who was familiar with his hand, bore a strong resemblance to that of Sir William, but we did not find an opportunity of making the comparison for ourselves. Neither did it strike us as a matter of much consequence, as it is scarcely possible with such an instrument to preserve the ordinary characteristics of a handwriting. And, moreover, as we subsequently learned, there are certain grades of spirits who are adepts in the simulation of handwriting, so that identity of style does not of itself prove identity of personality. In the present case, however, everything concurred to convince us that it was in very reality Sir William Fergusson himself who had diagnosed and prescribed for Mary, and had spoken through her at the hospital, his object on which occasion was to essay his power, and prepare her for what was to follow. On his next visit he wrote:
“‘She must see
“On our inquiring why he still concerned himself in the matter, he wrote:
“‘It will help me to help with this subject.’ He then moved the planchette to a separate part of the paper so as to have a clear space, and wrote:
“‘I have something very grave and solemn to tell you. It is this: That we must rise by doing some good work; and this is mine. If I refused it, I should be lowered. I left undone much that I might have done on earth in this respect.’
“On March 7th he came again, charged us to ‘strive for total abolition,’ and insisted on Mr. Gladstone being seen. He evidently considered the sufferings of British animals, the degradation of British science, and the extinction of British humanity, to be matters which ought to be near the hearts of true British statesmen; and he had carried with him to the other world an unabated confidence both in the universality of Mr. Gladstone’s sympathies, and the omnipotency of his advocacy.
“So great was his urgency on this point, that I at length seriously turned the matter over in my mind; and bethinking me of some mutual acquaintance who might serve as mediator, I asked mentally whether I should seek an introduction at the hands of the friend I was thinking of, who was the late Lady Egerton of Tatton. We frequently used tests of the kind, and always successfully. On this occasion the answer was –
“‘Yes; try and get an introduction in St. James’s Square’ (her residence).
“‘Shall I mention this message of yours?’
“‘Judge as you find her. I advise not. She may know his hours. I am tired. I have not quite recovered from my illness.’
“‘What!’ we exclaimed together, ‘do the effects of disease survive the body?’
“To this for some moments there was no reply. Then a totally different hand wrote:
“‘He has gone to rest.’ And having written so indistinctly that we were doubtful as to its meaning, the same hand re-wrote the message legibly. An attempt was made to procure the desired interview, but it came to nothing. I did not think fit to divulge the particulars.
“On the 28th of the same month I was in the chair at a conference between two of the anti-vivisection societies, convened for the purpose of arranging for a public meeting; when the selection of a fitting chairman proving difficult, I yielded to the prompting of a sudden impulse, and expressed to my neighbour, the Rev. Dr. Lee, vicar of All Saints, Lambeth, a wish that the spirit of Sir William Fergusson could materialise itself, and take the chair for us. I had not mentioned this incident; but on the same evening, when a few hours later we sat down to the planchette, he came and wrote:
“‘I was at your conference this afternoon. For God’s sake do your utmost to put down vivisection. It is peopling our side with fiends. Of all the trees in the garden of death, this is the one which bears the deadliest fruit. In my heart I believe it is the last attempt of the powers of evil to abolish God. Pray let this letter of mine be published. – WM. FERGUSSON.’
“In reply to our questions regarding this very unexpected communication, he added:
“‘I cannot describe to you what takes place here. We have monsters among us loathsome to see. Oh, my friends, hell and devils are realities; but the world mistakes their origin. They are not God-made, they are man-made. They are the conditions which men make for themselves hereafter by the evil tendencies they encourage in life. If you do not put this down, the holiest among you will have no heaven to come to. All will be one vast hell, and God will be blotted out for evermore.’
“‘Will you help us,’ I asked, ‘to make the best use of the time before Mary goes abroad?’
“This was answered in a different hand, that of his ‘guardian,’ saying –
“‘He says yes, but can talk no more. He is tired.’
“‘And, will you influence Mr. Gladstone as he wishes?’
“‘I will try, but he has a very strong will.’
“‘Are you also disembodied spirits?’
“‘We are flames; not souls.’
“‘Do the spirits of the dead, then, have human forms, while you resemble tongues of fire?’
“‘How long do you stay by us?’
“‘We follow you through all changes.’
“‘Have we been incarnate before?’
“‘Yes; and herbs and trees.’
“‘And do evil-livers descend into tigers, wolves, and pigs?’ Here the spirit of Sir William Fergusson came back. He had evidently been listening to our conversation with his guardian. In answer to my last question, he wrote impatiently:
“‘There are worse things than pigs. I have told you that devils are realities.’
“We were three in number – our hostess, who took no part in the communications, also being present – and we all felt the troubled presence of Sir William Fergusson’s spirit very sensibly. An indescribable solemnity seemed to pervade the room while he was writing the messages above given. Mary, who was in a highly sensitive state, expressed her fear that she would receive a visit from him in person – so conscious was she of his spiritual presence – and she was half afraid to be left alone. The spirits themselves, of whom there seemed to be several present, noticed her illness, and one of them, evidently an inexperienced one, wrote hastily, and scarcely legibly:
“‘We shall soon see Mary.’ Upon this another hand, which we thought to be that of the experienced and considerate surgeon who had been speaking with us, came to the planchette and wrote, evidently with the desire to soften the announcement so abruptly made:
“‘Some of us think Mary would be more useful here than with you. They hope to see her soon.’
“Her anticipations of a disturbed night proved true. After a short sleep she woke, and observed on the wall opposite the fire a shadow as of some one sitting in her arm-chair. On looking towards the chair, she found it occupied by the figure of an old man, whose face she instantly recognised as that of Sir William Fergusson. His picture was in the shop-windows, and she was familiar with it. He was looking thin and haggard, and seemed distressed; for when he spoke, it was in a somewhat querulous tone. His conversation was all of vivisection, principally urging more active measures. One phrase which he used frequently struck her as very singular. He kept saying, ‘Why don’t you do a little something? I wish you would try to do a little something;’ – a remark which, considering that she was doing all in her power, seemed to her to be uncalled for. Being much exhausted, she fell asleep, and slept for some time. But on waking, he was still there, though not quite so palpable. The fire had burnt down, and there was no shadow visible.
“We pondered much the advisability of complying with Sir William’s request, and making his letter public. The circumstances were sure, we considered, not to gain sufficient credit to exert the influence desired; and prejudiced as the public, in its ignorance
of the subject, was against anything connected with ‘spiritualism,’ we considered the advice to be of doubtful wisdom. At the same time a message from the dead, and from one of his eminence, and given under so much solemnity and with so much urgency, was a thing not lightly to be ignored. We resolved, therefore, to consult some one of larger experience in such matters, and were fortunate in finding one well qualified. The judgment of our adviser was that, in the first place, we should injure our cause by mixing it up at that critical moment of its appearance before Parliament with a story of the kind, unsupported by more than the bare statement of enthusiasts in the cause; and, in the second place, that Sir William himself would not have made the request, had he been at the time in a condition to judge calmly. ‘Young spirits,’ he said – meaning by the phrase young in the spirit-world – ‘are apt to be eager to raise themselves by doing some good work. They are allowed to have an insight into the nature of the existence on which they have just entered, which rouses their indignation against evil, and makes them enthusiastic for good. We must not suppose that the description given in the message respecting the “other side” fairly represent the condition of things there. He was evidently shown something that exists in consequence of practices prevailing here. But the notion that evil is so rampant as might be inferred from his account, is altogether inconsistent with all other testimony, as well as with the moral possibilities of the case. No doubt he had been allowed to have a glimpse into one of the “Hells” which men make for themselves by their deliberate hardening of their natures, and suppression of their intuitions of right; and in his horror and amazement he has magnified the proportions of the part he has seen.’
“We acted on this advice, but endeavoured to fulfil the injunction to ‘do a little something’ by working yet harder in the cause. Shortly afterwards we saw in the papers a memoir of Sir William stating that his favourite phrase, when about to make any unusual effort in any cause he had at heart, was that he should ‘try to do a little something’ in the matter. It was a colloquialism of his; and Mary was delighted to receive so strong a confirmation of the ‘objective reality’ of her apparition.
“The account thus given us of the after-condition of the torturers of their animal brethren, received the following confirmation from an independent source. I related our experiences to a clergyman whom I had always known, a man of large humanity, high intelligence, and no ordinary sobriety of judgment, a hard-working parish minister, and an old Etonian and King’s Fellow, the late Rev. R.A.F. Barrett, rector of Stour Provost. And I learnt from him in return that he had himself conversed through a medium with a spirit purporting to be that of a deceased vivisector, who had declared that he was in horrible agony on account of his deeds in the flesh; but that so far from being able to repent, his only wish was to inflict fresh tortures, and to make others like himself. He hated coming, he said, to make this confession, but was compelled to do so. It was part of his punishment, and he could not refuse.”
These incidents had the following sequel, after which the visits of Sir W. Fergusson to us ceased. On the afternoon of
August 17 I was walking in St. James’s Park, when I observed that I was accompanied by at least one phantasmal form, perhaps by two. Presently losing sight of them I sat down on a bench and busied myself in reading some proofs of my book. But on coming to the passage in which I stated my reasons for deferring the publication of Sir William Fergusson’s message, it occurred to me to desire some token of his approbation; and I had no sooner done so than, as it seemed to me, the presence of which I had before been conscious suddenly flung itself upon me, just as my mother had done, and covered me with an embrace that suffused and enveloped my whole being. Its substance was sufficiently dense to obscure the objects before me, and to induce me to turn towards a man who occupied the other end of the seat to ascertain whether he also perceived it, though I knew that he could not do so unless he were similarly sensitive. The contact lasted sufficiently long to impress on my mind the conviction that my visitant was no other than Sir William Fergusson himself, together with these words, “You have done the best; Mr. Hugo is with me. The idea of the placards was his. Prevented by death from carrying it out himself, he inspired Mary with it.” This was the late rector of West Hackney, one of the most whole-hearted and acute-witted of the opponents of vivisection, whose recent loss we were deeply deploring.
In April we paid a brief visit to the parsonage, during which Mary had the
following dream-vision. It is included in her Dreams and Dream-Stories
under the title of “The City of
“I dreamed that I was wandering along a narrow street of vast length, upon either hand of which was an unbroken line of high straight houses, with walls and doors resembling those of a prison. The atmosphere was dense and obscure, and the time seemed that of twilight. In the narrow line of sky visible far overhead between the two rows of house-roofs I could not discern sun, moon, or stars, or colour of any kind. All was gray, impenetrable and dim. Under foot, between the paving-stones of the street, grass was springing. Nowhere was the least sign of life: the place seemed utterly deserted. I stood alone in the midst of profound silence and desolation. Silence? No! As I listened, there came to my ears from all sides, dully at first and almost imperceptibly, a low creeping sound like subdued moaning; a sound that never ceased, and that was so native to the place, I had at first been unaware of it. But now I clearly gathered in the sound, and recognised its meaning as expressive of the
intensest physical suffering. Looking steadfastly towards one of the houses from which the most distinct of these heartrending sounds issued, I perceived a stream of blood slowly oozing out from beneath the door and trickling down into the street, staining the tufts of grass red here and there, as it wound its way towards me. I glanced up and saw that the glass in the closed and barred windows of the house was flecked and splashed with the same horrible dye.
“‘Some one is being murdered in this place!’ I cried, and flew towards the door. Then, for the first time, I perceived that the door had neither lock nor handle on the outside, but could be opened only from within. It had, indeed, the form and appearance of a door, but in every other respect it was solid and impassable as the walls themselves, In vain I searched for bell or knocker, or for some means of making entry into the house. I found only a scroll fastened with nails upon a cross-beam over the door, and upon it I read the words: ‘This is the Laboratory of a Vivisector.’ As I read, the wailing sound redoubled in intensity, and a noise as of struggling made itself audible within, as though some new victim had been added to the first. I beat madly against the door with my hands, and shrieked for help; but in vain. My dress was reddened with the blood upon the doorstep. In horror I looked down upon it, and turned and fled. As I passed along the street, the sounds around me grew and gathered volume, formulating themselves into distinct cries and bursts of frenzied sobbing. Upon the door of every house some scroll was attached, similar to that I had already seen. Upon one was inscribed: ‘Here is a husband murdering his wife’; upon another, ‘Here is a mother beating her child to death’; upon a third, ‘This is a slaughter-house.’
“Every door was impassable; every window was barred; the idea of interference from without was futile. Vainly I lifted my voice and cried for aid. The street was desolate as a graveyard; the only thing that moved about me was the stealthy blood, that came creeping out from beneath the doors of these awful dwellings. Wild with horror I fled along the street, seeking some outlet, the cries and moans pursuing me as I ran. At length the street abruptly ended in a high dead wall, the top of which was not discernible; it seemed, indeed, to be limitless in height. Upon this wall was written in great black letters: ‘There is no way out.’
“Overwhelmed with despair and anguish, I fell upon the stones of the street, repeating aloud: ‘There is no way out.’”
l was profoundly impressed by the relation of this dream, as well as apprehensive of its effect upon the dreamer, by reason of its tendency to confirm and aggravate her already strong tendency to pessimism; and I took it to be with a view to the correction of this tendency that the following sequel to it was very soon afterwards given to me, which occurred between waking and sleeping: –
‘It seemed to me that at the moment when her despair had culminated and while she was still lying prone on the stones, I joined her; and seeing with her the impossibility of rescue for others, or
escape for ourselves by any ordinary way, I pointed upwards and cried, ‘We will ascend to heaven, and save ourselves first, and perchance afterwards we may save these poor wretches. Come, then, take fast hold of me, and together we will scale the heavens. There is no blood there!’
“‘No blood there!’ was the agonized response. ‘Only look, and you will see that the very skies are encarnadined with the blood shed by priests in honour of the sanguinary deity there enthroned! Oh, folly l folly! To think to escape the deluge of blood by quitting earth for heaven! No, no, there is no hope. God and man are made in the same image. Both alike are carnivorous, and for both alike is blood the daintiest food.’
“So I looked, and seeing that what she said was true, was about to desist from my attempt, and settle down in blank despair; but ere I had done so a luminous gleam from the gory panoply overhead flashed upon me. ‘There must be light – it cannot be all blood – where that came from!’ I cried; and I cast another and more piercing glance at the sky. Then to my delight I saw that what we had taken for the substance of the firmament was not the heavens themselves, but a veil drawn over them; and not only was its fabric thin, but there were rents in it, which even as I gazed became larger, and disclosed through their openings patches of clearest blue and gleams of purest white. ‘See! See!’ I cried, ‘the heavens are not really blood. What of blood we see above us has been placed there by man. We have but to insist on rising, and we shall force our way through and behold the whole sky beyond clear and pure, and find as we near the throne that God is no blood-loving monster, but the source of all justice and mercy. Come, let us ascend to where He sits enthroned, and there seek the means to rescue our poor mother-earth from this deluge of blood.’
“As I spoke we ascended into the air and passed the veil of blood, and found that as we passed it vanished, rolled up like a scroll, and was no more seen. And the vision departed, leaving us mounting higher and higher in the clear blue of the empyrean.”
And the time came when we recognised it as an exquisite and prophetic allegory of the state to which the world has been reduced under a priest-constructed religion and a civilization wholly materialistic, and of the way in which our own and all other redemptive work must be done, in that only they who have first ascended in themselves can – returning – enable others also to ascend and accomplish their needed salvation – a luminous commentary, it seemed to us, on Eph. IV, 8-10.
Whatever the method employed for our spiritual education, the results were invariably such as to indicate a high order of influences as their source and control. Not only could they read our thoughts, they knew better than we ourselves knew what we really sought and desired to express. Of this the two following experiences are instances: –
I was wishing that our invisible friends would call me by some typical appellation, such as they had given to Mary, but I had neither made mention of my wish, nor formed any idea of a fitting name. Yet at our next sitting they wrote, “This is to Caro, the Beloved, Philemon” – designations not a little gratifying to me, as showing their recognition of the predominance of the affectional side of my nature. Mary was delighted with the “Caro,” and occasionally used it for me as a simple designation. That it was intended as my “initiation” name was shown by the fact that I was always called by it by our genii. The message which followed showed their superior knowledge of our aims. It was this:
“Finish your novel, which is the work to bring you in money. But it must nave a
new title – not the one you have now. Take Usque ad
On reading this aloud, Mrs. Going, who was present, asked the meaning of the Latin phrase, whereupon, before I could tell her, it was written:
“‘To the very altars. We mean you to lay bare the secrets of the world’s sacrificial system.’
“‘And you will show me how?’ I asked.
“‘Yes. We can, and we will make it succeed. Before finishing, we want you to go
and see S––; he may tell you of a fitting publisher. You must not go to T––. And
there is one in
The “S“ proved to be the name of the principal publisher of Swedenborg’s writings; which struck us as significant in view of the nature of our work. In reply to my inquiry concerning the personality of the communicating influence, it was answered, “Your genius.”
Not only was the fact that I had some considerable time before commenced the novel referred to, but the description now given of it, and the title proposed, expressed its leading idea with a clearness and fullness altogether beyond what I had yet attained. The task had, however, proved beyond my ability to accomplish to my satisfaction, the theme and conception containing possibilities to which I felt myself unable to do justice. But so far from being dissatisfied with my title, I was fascinated by it, both for its terseness and its suggestiveness, for what it concealed and what it implied. As there is now no prospect of my
needing it – seeing that for me to
write a novel now, from my present standpoint, would seem to me to be fiddling
It should be added that Mary was so taken by the idea, that she made several attempts to induce me to carry it out; and to my plea that not only would no publisher undertake a book containing such a portraiture of a “sinner” as would be necessary to an artistic and literary success, but that I myself felt the task of drawing either saint or sinner satisfactorily to be beyond me for want of the necessary knowledge, she made the reply to me, enigmatical at the time, and only long afterwards made clear, that she was quite sure she could supply any deficiency of knowledge on my part in either direction.
Another experience received at this time struck me as a crucial proof of the continued existence, identity, and power to communicate of the dead, so utterly inexplicable did it seem on any other hypothesis. It was in this wise.
A widowed friend, unknown even by name to any of the circle present, had written to me from Italy, where she was studying painting, asking me to try and obtain from her late husband some advice about her work. Keeping the application secret, I took the first opportunity of preferring the request, which I did mentally, my own mind being a complete blank as to what, if anything, might come of it; for I had never thought of the spirit in question as likely to communicate with me, though I knew that his widow believed herself to hold relations with him.
The reply was so immediate as to produce the impression that he must have been aware of what was wanted, and perhaps had himself prompted his widow’s application to me. The response was, moreover, accompanied by characteristics so marked as to indicate unmistakably his identity. The answer to his wife’s question was as follows: –
“Let her study the modulating of colour in the works of Titian, taking some one face and going over the same several times. Do this first, and then ask for more advice.”
The apparition of Sir William Fergusson occurred on the night of the Wednesday
before Easter. We had arranged to leave town on the following evening, on a
visit to Mary’s mother at
She told me of this vision in the course of the day, and drew for me some of the forms of the animals; for so vivid had been her sight, that she had every detail perfectly impressed on her mind. But through some interruption to our conversation, she omitted to tell me of the prohibition. She had, moreover, no apprehension of any of the animals shown coming in my way, or of my eating of them should they do so.
In the afternoon, however, owing to the presence of a visitor who desired something different from the diet usual in the house, a lobster appeared on the table. At this she was some what dismayed, for it gave rise to the suggestion that her vision might be prophetic, and have an unanticipated significance. Even now she did not tell me of the positive prohibition, but imagined it was intended as a test; and that if I partook, she was not to go on her journey with me. Consequently, after a general remark
from her, intended as a dissuasion against the eating of anything that had to be put to so cruel a death as is reputed of the lobster, I, regarding it as fish, and “cold-blooded,” and, therefore, in the absence of a sufficiency of perfectly insensitive food, allowable, partook of it, but through some cause I could not define did no more than taste it. Shortly after this she rose and quitted the room, saying she should not be able to go that evening.
After venting her disappointment alone – for she had been eagerly looking forward to her holiday – she returned and said that she saw now that she had been wrong in not having told me the whole vision; but that she had mistaken the meaning of the words uttered, and that, as she now perceived, they were not a test, but a positive prohibition. And we then sat down to consult our genii through the planchette concerning the occurrence, deeming it likely that the vision had been of their sending.
We both, as usual, placed our hands on the instrument; but after waiting for some time, there was no response. I then withdrew my hand in order to reduce the amount of the light in the room, but sat down again without doing so on finding that the writing had begun. On replacing my hand, it ceased. I withdrew it, and it went on again. And so again the third time. Thereupon I withdrew it altogether. It then wrote:
“‘Let him go. We can do nothing with him now.’
“‘For how long is this? Can we go to-morrow?’ we asked. To which it wrote:
“‘If he purge himself to-night you may go; but he may ask nothing of us for seven days.’
“‘What is the meaning of this prohibition?’
“‘The spirits who hold intercourse with you belong to an order which can have no dealings with eaters of reptiles, whether of sea or land. For all things which move upon the belly are cursed for the sake of the evil one, whose seal is set on all serpents, dragons, and scorpions, such as we showed you.’”
In answer to further questioning they said –
“If he take the purge you may go with him to-morrow.”
I complied with their injunction, and the next morning we asked some further questions respecting this strange affair. Among other queries, we inquired whether they endorsed the
whole of the Levitical code, for we had recognised and found a passage corresponding to the above. To this they replied –
“‘No, else you would have been destroyed already.’
“‘Is it right to eat flesh?’ was then asked; to which it was replied:
“‘We do not say it is right; and, even, for you it would be unlawful to eat flesh.’”
To the question whether I might now put my hand on, an answer was given in the affirmative by rapping.
It was the morning of Good Friday. Placing my hand on the planchette, I begged the spirit to tell us the precise truth respecting the events for which the season was celebrated. What were the facts of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension? And we awaited in grave eagerness what we hoped might be authentic information respecting these great problems.
Presently the planchette moved under our pressure, which we made considerably greater than usual in order to obtain a lasting impression. It wrote three lines, and then stopped, signifying by a tap that the message was finished. Hastening to see what was written, we found it to be this:
“We are not of a high order. We know no more than you. He who sent us has withdrawn.”
I was still “unclean,” and the controlling spirit of the communication had departed on my approach, leaving the inferior spirits employed to perform the mechanical act of writing without further guidance; for, as we subsequently learnt, the genii, being of the celestial order, do not themselves manifest on the physical plane, but employ the elementals for that purpose. (1) And these had not the knowledge we sought. When thus controlled the elementals would speak in the names of the genii, saying, “We are your genii,” their own personality being set aside in favour of those whose instruments they were.
A question respecting the probability of the editor of a certain weekly paper publishing Sir William Fergusson’s letter – for we had not then come to a decision – elicited the following: –
“We have but restricted power over the wills of men. Try your best. He wishes it.”
The following questions were asked, and answers given, while at
“‘Why must we hold in abhorrence creatures who go on their bellies, and crawl in sea or on land?’
“‘They are the receptacles of unclean spirits.’
“‘These spirits cannot exist in the pure elements, save to engender mischief and trouble, such as blight, fever, storm, hurricane, and the like. Wherefore the Lord, for the sake of His creatures, has given up to them certain forms which they may inhabit, that they may be shut up in them, and that the world may be saved from the destruction they would otherwise bring on it.’
“‘Then it must be wrong to kill these creatures, for they are thereby let loose to work mischief.’
“‘Not so; for they are evil beasts doing injury to all things about them. And, moreover, the vitality of the unclean spirit being given off to that of the animal energy of the beast he inhabits, perishes in great part with it; so that by its death he is partly consumed, and returns to the elements by so much weaker than before. It is good, therefore, that all such evil beasts should be destroyed. Whoso cherishes them, cherishes evil spirits.’ (1)
“‘Why, then, does not the “Lord” destroy these evil spirits?’
“‘It is the nature of them to burn out and expend themselves.’
“‘Of what animals in particular do you speak?’
“‘The worst of these evil spirits dwell in serpents, in adders, in scorpions, and their kind. Others in creeping things. Others, less pernicious, in the races which rend and devour; such as the lion, the jackal, and their kind. Others, yet less potent, in the swine and their kind. But these last are redeemable.’
“‘What do you mean by redeemable?’
“‘I mean that to kill such creatures is not a merit, but an offence.”
“‘How do you divide the evil spirits? And is their difference of degree or of kind?’
“‘Of kind. The worst are poisonous spirits. Of such is the brood of Apollyon, the falsifier of all things. Others are selfish spirits. These are encased in horny exteriors, their only soft parts being internal; such are lobsters and their kind. They are of the brood of Belial. Others are cruel spirits, as the tiger, the wolf, and the cat. These are the brood of Satura, the father of priest craft. They are redeemable hereafter. Others are impure spirits, eaters of dung and uncleanness; such are swine, dogs, and the like. They are redeemable here. To slay them, save for crime’s sake, is unlawful. These are of the offspring of Balaam. Many among men are also under his dominion. Such are the most common. Others are foul spirits, against nature, cursed of God and detestable, suckers of blood, begotten of foulness. They are the brood of Beel Zebub.
Such are lice and creeping things, to destroy which is a duty and a good work; for they shall neither be redeemed here nor hereafter, but are vile as serpents and scorpions. Such as these abounded in ancient times, when the earth was full of monstrous reptiles, offspring of Abaddon and of Belial. But their forces are weakened, and their might decreased. Adonai reigns, and shall reign. Amen.’”
The above was received on Easter morning. On the expiration of my prescribed term, they wrote:
“We want to give Caro some advice. It is that he should not wear next his flesh garments of wool, but of linen. This is an ancient law – the law which we gave to the priests. Look in the Scriptures. It is because of cleanliness. Let him wear drawers next his thighs, therefore. We will permit the vest and the coverings for the feet, because of your infirmity, so that you wash them every third day in summer, and every sixth day in winter. But we prefer silk or linen. It is the law of cleanliness.”
The concession to my “infirmity,” and with it the change of person, were made in instantaneous answer to the thought that passed through my mind as I followed the message, to the effect that I was afraid of taking cold by exchanging wool for linen.
In answer to my question, whether they had given these laws to the Hebrews, or whether the latter had inherited them from the Egyptians, they wrote:
“The genii of all the nations had these laws.”
And to my question whether I had been right in asserting the interior identity of the ancient religions, they wrote:
“It is truly so.”
In answer to a question respecting the meaning of their phrase, “The Evil One,” and who were Beel Zebub, Abaddon, etc., they gave this enigmatical reply:
“You are seeking to know the origin of evil. Know that this cannot be told you
until Mary is ready for her mission. She must first die
and be spiritually raised from the dead, then she shall
know all things. But the time is not yet. In the meantime, seek the
I at once complied with their injunction respecting the linen clothing, but refrained from mentioning it. They showed their knowledge of my movements, however, by writing at our next sitting:
“You have done well.”
Interpreting the previous message as a caution against pressing at present for Information respecting the mysteries of the spiritual world, we forbore to seek further in that direction, leaving it to them to choose their own time for enlightening us.
They were as good as their word respecting the writing-table, giving us at two sittings minute directions for its construction, and showing Mary, moreover, in a waking vision, a pattern of it so distinctly, that she was enabled to make a perfect drawing from it. There was much that was symbolical about it, and their minuteness reminded us of the directions for the Hebrew tabernacle. It was to be in the form of a cross, and have in the centre a plate of metal or fireproof stone, able to bear an intense heat, which no one was to approach, “lest,” they said, “we suffer by the contact.” Of the need of such a caution for our own sakes we had already had notice, Mary having been once burnt on the hand while sitting at the planchette, no fire or lamp being near. (1) The table was to contain no bone or ivory or animal product, and no base metal. It was, moreover, to be provided with a pen, so as to make a permanent record.
From this, and their frequent reference to a “mission,” we were led to believe that they entertained a serious desire to institute some order corresponding to the ancient mysteries, for the future continuous enlightenment of the world.
Of the importance they attached to the quality of our food, and the disposition of our sentiments, we had repeated proofs. To the question whether shrimps and prawns came under the same ban as reptiles (it was when we were about to cease from intercourse with them for a time), they wrote:
“When communicating with us do not eat either; but now that you do not wish to hold intercourse with us, you may eat them, but not lobster.” “Man’s perfect diet,” they subsequently said, “is grain, the juice of fruits, and the oil of nuts.”
We had a planchette constructed after the pattern prescribed, but it proved cumbrous and otherwise defective in the use, and
was accordingly soon discarded. In an instruction received some years later from a source we had learnt to hold in supreme respect, we were informed that its contrivers were elementals of the order of the Salamanders or fire-spirits, who – being employed by our genii – had sought to use us for their own ends, but had been restrained by a higher power, and that only under such control is it lawful to have recourse to the elementals.
Among the intimations given to her for me at this time, was one to the effect that in order to qualify me fully for my part in the work assigned us, it was needful that I be “isolated from every interest and every tie that might attach me to the world.” As already indicated in this narrative, much had been done to bring about this result. As time went on, the process was enforced with a rigour so severe, as to make it obvious that only by the utter renunciation of all other associations and interests, and the unreserved acceptance of the conditions imposed, could the work required of me be accomplished, or life itself be rendered tolerable. No ordeal was spared, no mortification withheld, that might minister to the suppression of all incompatible tendencies. The one reward held out was the joy of achieving the world’s emancipation from the tyranny of false beliefs by replacing them with true ones. And the very enhancement of the consciousness resulting from the suffering endured proved an indispensable condition of the perception of truth.
In a dream received during this period, she found herself in a group of grey-headed men, who were discoursing together on many profound subjects. They talked long and earnestly, and as if for our especial benefit. Everything said struck her as most admirable, but she was unable to retain more than these fragments. To the question put by one of the elders, “What do you mean by Almighty God?” it was replied by another:
“God comprehends all things, but is no person in the sense in which we understand person. Divinity is the substance of all things. It throws off rings which become individuated as spirits.
“And in answer to another question it was said, ‘The Jews are undoubtedly right regarding the nature of Jesus. To conceive of God as incarnate, or having a son, in the way supposed among Christians, is a blasphemy against the Divine Essence.’
“We had previously received in writing the following reply to a question concerning the method of creation: ‘Divinity is diffused at first. It is individuated in forms, gradually becoming stronger, as nebulous light is concentrated in consolidated orbs.’”
The vision in Dreams and Dream-Stories, called “The Counsel of Perfection,” was received at this period. Mary was especially delighted with it, as affording high recognition and encouragement of her labours on behalf of the animals. And I accordingly reproduce it here, for the benefit especially of those who might otherwise fail to see it. It is, moreover, a complete answer to the allegation that the Gospels are silent on the subject of man’s treatment of the animals.
“I dreamed that I was in a large room, and there were in it seven persons, all men, sitting at one long table; and each of them had before him a scroll, some having books also; and all were grey-headed and bent with age save one, and this was a youth of about twenty, without hair on his face. One of the aged men, who had his finger on a place in a book open before him, said –
“‘This spirit, who is of our order, writes in this book: “Be ye perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” How shall we understand this word “perfection”?’ And another of the old men, looking up, answered, ‘It must mean wisdom, for wisdom is the sum of perfection.’ And another old man said, ‘That cannot be; for no creature can be wise as God is wise. Where is he among us who could attain to such a state? That which is part only, cannot comprehend the whole. To bid a creature to be wise as God is wise would be mockery.’
“Then a fourth old man said, ‘It must be Truth that is intended; for truth only is perfection.’ But he who sat next the last speaker answered, ‘Truth also is partial; for where is he among us who shall be able to see as God sees?’
“And the sixth said, ‘It must surely be Justice; for this is the whole of righteousness.’ And the old man who had spoken first, answered him, ‘Not so; for Justice comprehends vengeance, and it is written that vengeance is the Lord’s alone.’
“Then the young man stood up with an open book in his hand and said, ‘I have here another record of one who likewise heard these words. Let us see whether his rendering of them can help us to the knowledge we seek.’ And he found a place in the book and read aloud:
“‘Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful.’
“And all of them closed their books, and fixed their eyes upon me.”
The time was approaching when she was to return to
could be contrived without exposing her to injurious misconstruction. It was a matter in which I had to do the thinking for both; for her aversion to the existing order of society was such as to render her indifferent to its opinion. “So long as a thing is not wrong in itself, by reason of its falsehood, in justice, or cruelty,” she would say, “I do not care. For mere conventionalities I have no respect. And, besides, if my husband approves, no one is entitled to object. Who and what is the world that one should respect it?” And so forth. Considering, however, that it was in the world that her future life and work lay, and that only by keeping in touch with it could she hope to influence it for good, and being, moreover, exceedingly doubtful whether, when put to the test, her strength would equal her courage, I felt the difficulty to be great, and was accordingly much exercised in the matter.
Of course we did not fail to consult our invisible monitors. But they seemed unwilling to give positive directions. In answer to one question they said –
“We can do nothing for either of you if you separate.” To another, “Our power over human will is restricted. For both your sakes it would be wiser not to part. But we can only counsel. You are free. You must be led by reason and consideration for others.”
Still divided between conflicting duties, I pressed for something more definite.
Her destination was
It so happened that during the writing of this message her little daughter entered the room – for we were at the parsonage at the time – and for the first time placed her hand on the planchette; and at this moment it quitted the line it was writing and travelled to another part of the paper, and then wrote, in a large and firm hand, the word “Go.” Thinking this implied an objection to the child’s presence, we dismissed her, and expressed to each other our surprise at their disliking contact with a purely-fed child such as she was. Hereupon they resumed their communication, and with unwonted vigour wrote:
“You misunderstand us entirely. The child gave us force and courage to say to you – Caro – the best for you spiritually – Go!
“We said spiritually. If you go with our Seeress to
Their determination to associate us together in their communications was evinced by their refusing to write for me with anyone else, save only to give such answers as, “You are not to write to-day. Mary is not here.” On parting they said, “We will give her messages for you.”
“Can we communicate together by means of the planchette?” I asked, thinking that some system of spiritual telegraphy might be contrived.
“No. But she will see us in visions far better than we can tell her in writing.”
“Have you any final instructions?”
“Only this. You are right in forecasting great tribulation.” (This she had done in a trance.)
“For whom, and of what nature?”
“It is Mary’s flight into the wilderness and persecution by Apollyon of which we speak.”
“Can she escape it?”
“Yes, if she gave up the mission for which she was born.”
“What is that mission?”
“You shall know in time.”
During this visit we received the following experience in direct clairvoyance without possibility of explanation by thought-reading: –
Shortly before leaving
while I alone knew from whom it came. Presently the instrument wrote, “It is a question about which we must consult the guardian-genius of the lady concerned, and we must find him.”
On my asking for more it was added, “No more information for J. Stanley Hull!” On my enclosing these replies, together with the packet still unopened, to the writer, he returned me the paper containing the question he had written. It ran thus:
“Good spirits, will you kindly say what is wrong with my daughter, and what
shall I do now; take her elsewhere, or leave her? – J. Stanley
Not only was I unaware that his daughter was ill, and had been sent from home for special medical treatment, but to make the test more complete he had altered his mode of signature. On my asking Mary for her explanation of the modus of this experience, she said that, although she was in no conscious way a party to the writing, she had by some means been made aware of the question and answer at the moment of the writing.
(142:1) There were not two genii calling themselves “A.” and “Z.” respectively. Anna Kingsford’s genius (or guardian), whose name was Salathiel, called himself A.Z. But this letter-symbol A.Z. represented also Edward Maitland’s genius, because Anna Kingsford’s genius was one with Edward Maitland’s genius, so that the two genii spoke of themselves “sometimes as I, sometimes as We” (see p. 187 post). – S.H.H.
(144:1) In Dreams and Dream-Stories it is dated January 31, 1877. – S.H.H.
(161:1) The writing of the last message was totally unlike that of the previous ones. They had had nothing like it before (The Soul and How it Found Me, p. 208). – S.H.H.
(162:1) Edward Maitland says: “We gathered from this reply that immortality is by no means a matter of course for all. That those who care to preserve their souls must tend and cultivate them: otherwise they shrink away and expire, though not until many opportunities have been afforded for repentance” (The Soul and How it Found Me, p. 210). – S.H.H.
(164:1) In The Soul and How it Found Me, Edward Maitland, referring to this incident, says: “Chancing one day to place her hand over the centre of the instrument immediately after the delivery of a message, ‘Mary’ received a somewhat severe burn which exhibited itself in the form of a large watery blister on the finger, accompanied by much pain, no light or fire being near at the time” (p. 162, and see p. 397 post).