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On the subject of the foregoing article we have received the following very important letter. The statements in it may, we believe, be relied upon.
To the Editor of the “Spiritual Magazine." Sır, – You ask me to put on paper the gossip. I told you about Mr. Harris and his followers on Lake Erie. I comply with this request, premising that the subjoined matter was told to my household in my absence by a lady lately come from Erie, and by them was told to me. On her arrival among Mr. Harris's people, this lady, whom I will call Mrs. X- asked for pen and ink to write to her husband, but was told that these things were not allowed in this place. She submitted, and two days afterwards she was supplied with writing materials.
She took her young son with her, and during her stay Mr. Harris informed her that this boy was designed to play an important part among the children of the New Age.
She saw among the people some of her friends whom she well knew in England, but found that all intercourse was forbidden, that forced silence reigned in the houses. Once she came upon an inmate who was drinking out of his hand from a water vessel, and she offered him a cup which she carried with her; but he put his finger to his lips as a sign of non-intercourse.
The rule seems to be, no speech. When Mr. Harris was in London with his wife, he usually silenced her when she spoke in ny presence on the ground that it disturbed his state. He now seems to have extended to his community the command of silence which he first put in force upon his wife. The life at Erie is gagged.
Mrs. X— left, as I gather, because she found it impossible to put up with the vagarious injunctions of Mr. Harris. Her son voluntarily remained behind her; but he was sent away after her two days subsequently to her departure.
"Internal Respiration” is the creed of the Erie people. And they take orders for each day's work from Miss Waring, who is the administratrix of the whole affair under Mr. Harris. Field-work, garden-work, house-work, handicrafts are the employments here. The aim seems to be to do everything on the premises. The whole machinery of existing social service is set aside, and ladies and gentlemen, and their children have to commence society anew by hard labour from the very bottom. Inspiration is supposed to guide all the commanded day's works of this community.
Mr. and Mrs. Y—, whom I know well, went there to enter the new life. Mrs. Y—'s delicate daughters were ordered to do garden-work in the hot July sun, and on refusal, to rise at 4 o'clock in the morning for the same task; Mrs. Y- expostulated, but Mr. Harris counselled her husband to send her from the place. He and she were however of the same mind. Their property was to be invested in the Erie community; and Mr. Harris insisted that absolute faith should be placed in him as the depositary of the trust. Mr. Y—demurred, and wished to see the deeds. He was told that be and his family must leave within four days. Shortly afterwards a command came that they must leave in two hours. This they did, being forced to take temporary shelter in the hovel of a neighbouring farmer.
It is long since Mrs. Harris was sent away to New Orleans: Mr. Harris says she is no longer "a pivotal woman."
Mrs. Z- still continues devoted to the New Life. She is cook among the people; but does not see Mr. Harris more than once a month. Her husband is away, disciplining himself with the lumber trade in Michigan. After his departure his wife had a miscarriage, and Mr. Harris told Mrs. Z—that this was well, for that the creature was a monster, and had it attained birth, and lived, would have destroyed all his work of internal respiration, and the New Life therewith.
Mrs. Z_'s living son Mr. Harris declared would be a pivotal man; but of late he says he is a common place person.
Mr. Harris took with him some Japanese, on the ground that he had a new revelation of a Japanese New Testament to deliver to them, which would induct
Japan into the New Christian Life. The Japanese have left him long ago. Mr. Harris proclaims himself infallible, and says he is an incarnation of a part of the Word of God.
Whatever he says is divinely right, and must be done. This seems to extend to all mundane things. Obviously, the faculties, the affections, the ties, the hearts of other people about him, and who yield to him, only hinder his holy ghost in so far as they do not obey utterly, and speechlessly. They are a desert before him: through his breath they blossom as a rose.
Mr: X- reports that Harris has his yacht ou Lake Erie, and is ont yachting for days together—a privilege not allowed to others, and that his house is furnished luxuriously. When a new comer arrives, his or her baggage goes to Harris, and is rummaged by him, and what he has need of he appropriates. All the silver plate of Mr. and Mrs. Y- - was thus taken possession of, and their carpets; and when they left, Harris brought them in a bill of £200 for expenses. They sent in a counter bill for carpets. They got away ultimately, paying £200 in full quittance. Harris's meddling with the personality of his people, and with their deepest relations is indescribable. Since they have left Harris, Mr. and Mrs. Y- sometimes are stricken with long laughter at the awful ludicrousness of their experiences in the Brotherhood of the New Life.
In this “New Life," which seems to be a final form of irresponsible despotism, there is internal breath, but no speech, no thought, no intercourse, no inviolate family, no acceptance of the vastness of social service, no publicity, and no recognized worship: Menial drudgery for persons unfit for it, the prison of mute unsociality, the go lhead of Mr. Harris, and the goddesshead of Miss Waring, are all I can see of distinct figures in what has reached one of the New Life in Erie. I could say more from letters I have seen, but am precluded from using them.
W. (Can anything be more painful than the grim weird details here given of the vagaries of a man possessed of such a soul as was that of Harris-perhaps rather we might say—how painful to recognize such opposing qualities in so great a soul ! Greatly admiring very much that Harris has done, and written, and spoken, we are bound to ask ourselves how it is that he has come to make shipwreck of himself in this pitiful, almost ludicrous, fashion. How is it that he has made himself so miserable an antithesis to himself, and has brought his admirers to shame. One hardly knows whether to laugh or to weep over so strange an exhibition as these last doings in The Brotherhood of the New Life." We believe that the solution is not far off to seek, nor exceeding difficult to find. As we read, and have read, the character of the man, we find him to have been penetrated, amongst his most prominent qualities, with a love of dominion and of power, which has never been absent from him, and has never ceased to be observable throughout his successive changes. Yet it was not so prominent in his earlier phases as in these latter days. His ambition has grown by what it fed on, till now the lean kine have eaten up the fat kine, and selfhood stands as the stark and most distinct figure in this miserable hoax of a new life. This is the lesson we have to learn from this great-little man-that selfhood is a devouring vampire, which gradually destroys the life of all that is good,
and great, and noble, and true. And we may also learn from his example how this overwhelming vice grows and grows from small beginnings, till it outshadows the whole soul-till the man, who commenced with the words on his lips that he was a servant of the Lord Jesus, sets up at last as a god on his own account, and whilst he thinks that he has evolved a vast new heaven and a new life of brothers, is seen to be really ruling over a little hell composed of himself, and himself alone.—ED.]
NOTES AND GLEANING S.
SINGULAR CIRCUMSTANCES CONNECTED WITH SHELLEY'S DEATH. “A YEAR before Shelley's death” writes his widow," he had poured into verse, (in writing the Adonais, a poem upon the death of Keats) all such ideas about death as give it a glory of its own.
He had, as it now seems, almost anticipated his own destiny; and when the mind figures his skiff wrapped from sight by the thunder-storm, as it was last seen upon the purple sea; and then, as the cloud of the tempest passed away, no sign remained' of where it had been—who but will regard as a prophecy the last stanza of the Adonais?
The breath, whose might I have invoked in song
Descends on me; my spirit's bark is driven
and sphered skies are riven!
The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the above, where the Eternal are. “Captain Roberts watched the vessel with his glass from the top of the lighthouse at Leghorn, on its homeward track. Á storm was driven over the sea—it enveloped them. When the cloud passed onward, Roberts looked again, and saw every other vessel sailing on the ocean except their little schooner which had vanished."
Mrs. Shelley relates that during the whole of their stay at Zerici, previous to the loss of her husband, a terrible presentiment of coming evil hung upon her, and seemed to brood over the beautiful scenes by which they were surrounded, and to make melancholy the brightness of an unusually glowing summer. When the hour of Shelley's departure with his friend Captain Williams, who was to share his melancholy fate, arrived, Mrs. Shelley's foreboding increased she says" till a vague expectation of evil shook her to agony," and she could scarcely bring herself to let them depart; not that she anticipated any special danger for them at sea, since Shelley's love of boats and ships had caused the ocean to lose for her all association of danger.
Shelley himself was in unusually“ brilliant spirits" during the week of his absence upon his fatal voyage. Mrs. Shelley, however, remarks “not long before talking of presentiments, Shelley had said, the only one that he ever found infallible was the certain advent of some evil fortune when he felt peculiarly joyous. Yet if ever fate whispered of coming disaster, such inaudible, but not unfelt prognostics hovered around us. The beauty of the place seemed unearthly-all things seemed to lead the mind to brood over strange thoughts, and to lift it above common every-day life, and make it familiar with the unreal."
JEALOUSY OF FAITH. “ There are, in all ages, certain pious persons whom nothing more disturbs and annoys than when any one points out how their faith is to be found also under other forms. In other words they fear to lose their own God, if He should become a common possession of mankind."-BUNSEN'S “ God in History."
SOME OBSERVATIONS BY THE POET SHELLEY UPON DREAMS.
In two volumes published by the wife of the Poet Shelley, after his death, and containing various essays on philosophical subjects, fragments of diaries and translations, are several curious and noteworthy references to things spiritual. we believe, Captain Medwin who tells us, that at one time Shelley, who always experienced extraordinary and very vivid dreams, proposed to himself to each day write out the remarkable dreams of the night previous; but that he was soon obliged to abandon his chronicle, finding that were he to carry out his idea, each day would be absorbed in transcribing the dreams of the night, and that no leisure would be left him for other occupations.
In the fragments of an essay in these volumes on the study of metaphysics, we discover some results of Shelleyobservation of his own dream-world, and can only regret he has given us simply a glimpse of his experiences, ar here and there an inference drawn from these experience
Shelley evidently regarded the study of our internal as the sole means possessed by the most metaphysical unravelling the mysteriously involved clue of our me spiritual life,—that clue which can alone lead us up perception of Deity, or lead to a comprehensior
vague-of the connexion existing between man and God. He tells us that “ we do not sufficiently attend to what passes within ourselves."
In another place he says, “ First, I am bound to present a faithful picture of my own peculiar nature relatively to sleep. I doubt not that were any individual to imitate me, it would be found that among many circumstances peculiar to their individual nature, a sufficiently general resemblance would be found to prove the connexion existing between those peculiarities and the most universal phenomena. The poet here evidently possessed a vague perception of the universal and individual or concrete “law of correspondence" to be observed in all dreams, or clairvoyant or prophetic vision. The universal use of certain objects from age to age, and in every nation, to express certain general ideas and spiritual conditions, -as witness in the Scriptures the constant repetition of the self-same images, varied according to variation of circumstance and individual --and the more subtle, and at first the far more bewildering correspondential symbols taken out of the private life's experience of the dreamer or seer. It is as though. in dreams, two modes of expression mingled, were invariably employed; one the language in general use, the other a dialect'; a full comprehension of the idea to be conveyed being alone possible to a person conversant with both the language in its general, and the dialect in its more narrow
Shelley believes that “In dreams images acquire associations peculiar to dreaming, so that the idea of a particular house when it recurs a second time in dreams will have relation with the idea of the same house, in the first time, of a nature entirely different from that which the house excites, when seen or thought of in relation to waking ideas.” He says, “I distinctly remember dreaming three several times, between intervals of two or more years, the same precise dream. It was not so much what is ordinarily called a dream ; the single image, unconnected with all other images, of a youth, who was educated at the same school with myself, presented' itself in sleep. Even now, after the lapse of many years, I can never hear the name of this youth, without the three places where I dreamed of him presenting themselves distinctly to my mind."
In another place he says, “ I have beheld a scene which has produced no unusual effect on my thoughts. After the lapse of many years, I have dreamed of this scene.
It has hung on my memory, it has haunted my thoughts at intervals with the pertinacity of an object connected with human affections. I have visited this scene again. Neither the dream could be dissociated from the landscape, nor the landscape from the dream, nor