Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

 
 
Laurence Oliphant and T. L. Harris (S439a: 1891)

 
Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Comments printed on page 379 of the 8 August 1891 issue of Light (London). To link directly to this page connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S439A.htm


     It may help to a better comprehension of the relations of these two remarkable men if we take account of the early history and teachings of the former, of which Laurence Oliphant's biographer, and, presumably, most of her readers, appear to be entirely ignorant. In the introduction to Harris's "Lyric of the Golden Age," Mr. S. B. Brittan gives a sketch of the writer, showing that he was gifted with a power of mediumship equal, and in some respects superior, to that of Andrew Jackson Davis or the most remarkable trance mediums of our day. The late William Howitt, who was one of Mr. Harris's hearers in England, says: "His extempore sermons were the only perfect realisation of my conceptions of eloquence; at once full, unforced, outgushing, unstinted, and absorbing. They were triumphant embodiments of sublime poetry, and a stern, unsparing, yet loving and burning theology. Never since the days of Fox were the disguises of modern society so unflinchingly rent away, and the awful distance betwixt real Christianity and its present counterfeit made so startlingly apparent." The life and writings of Laurence Oliphant show that he was always seeking for this "real Christianity," and we can thus understand the power of Harris over him.

     The work that Oliphant, his mother, and his wife were set to perform under Harris's teaching in America, and which their biographer finds so useless and even degrading--though they themselves do not seem to have found it so--may be looked upon as a valuable training for the higher life of the future--the true golden age--which must consist in every one according to their ability, taking their share of the manual labour necessary for our existence on earth, and thereby rendering possible for all the needful leisure for intellectual enjoyment and spiritual development; and even in the biography it is clearly indicated that they themselves felt it to be so, and did not regret it. Surely the one great lesson that modern society requires to learn is, that to live lives of pleasure and luxury, rendered possible only by the continuous toil and mental degradation of others, is the thing that is really degrading, and, from a Christian no less than from a social or a spiritual point of view, absolutely sinful.

     I know nothing of Harris but what I learn from his poems and from the statements in Mrs. Oliphant's book; but it seems to me that it will be only charitable to apply to him the same lenient judgment that we apply to Madame Blavatsky, and for the same reason--that those who are still in most intimate association with him uphold his teaching and his conduct as being on the whole worthy of respect and admiration.

     In order to give those who are unacquainted with Harris's poems a sample of their quality perhaps you will be able to find space for the enclosed passage from the "Lyric of the Golden Age." It is part of a poem purporting to be inspired by Pollok, author of "The Course of Time." It is a defence of the body and the senses against the depreciation of the old theology, and seems to me to be both poetical, beautiful, and true.

Alfred R. Wallace.

The senses are the ministers of love,
The senses are the oracles of truth,
The senses the interpreters of law,
The senses the discoverers of fact;
They hold their court in beauty and in joy
On earth and in the spheres where Angels dwell,
And through the senses God reveals Himself,
And through the senses earth is taught from Heaven.
Call not the senses carnal, but respect
The use and beauty of their perfect law.
Abuse them not; degrade them not by vice;
Each hath an Angel function for thy mind.
They cradle thee in soft and loving arms;
They chant harmonious to thy being's ear;
The feed thee with divine deliciousness,
And lap thee in Elysium. From the air,
The earth, the sky, the ocean, and the stars,
From eager morn and soft reposeful night,
From flowers on earth, from Angels in the skies,
From dearest kindred, from sweet lips of love,
And forms of joy whose life pervadeth thine,
They bear a blessing ample as thy want,
Full as thy satisfaction. Mar them not,
As the foul drunkard smites th' attendant wife.
Think that they are, all in their proper sphere,
As much God's work as sun and moon and stars.
The body is not vile. Men make it so,
By harbouring vices in its tenement.
Sweet as the lily on its virgin stem,
Sweet as the rose that opes its perfumed lips,
And kisses the enamoured air of June,
Is the fair child upon its mother's breast,
And the sweet maiden in her girlhood's prime,
And the young mother sacred unto God,
Whose infant is a blossom of the soul,
Dropped by his hand, and fresh from Paradise.
The form is made to be the home of love,
And every atom bathed in innocence,
And joy and beauty, should diffuse its life,
And thrill with song--to Angels inly heard.
The mother bosom, Love's all-hallowed realm,
Is no vile dust. Born from the darkest age
Of superstition is that ancient creed
That matter is the enemy of good,
Accursed and hateful to the Infinite;
For every atom is a living thought,
Dropped from the meditations of a God,
Its every essence an immortal love
Of the incarnate Deity; and all
The inmost pulses of material things
Are mediums for the pulses of His will.
God's harmonies through matter pour their flood
Of billowy music. Nature is a rose,
Whose breath, and leaves, and buds, and flowers disclose
The beauty of the One All-Beautiful;
The grace and charm whose source is the Divine.


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