Section XXII

[Imperator having been absent, I asked some questions as to the cause, and was told that he had other work, not in this world, which had detained him. He was able, he said, to influence me without actual presence with me, as I should understand the term, but that this required the direction of thought (so to say) to me. Preoccupation would prevent that. And on this and other occasions he spoke of what I may call a meeting of the spirits for solemn adoration, and prayer, and praise, and intercession. More questions elicited amongst other answers the following on 12th October 1873--:]
We had betaken ourselves to prayer and intercession, and had withdrawn for awhile from the cares and anxieties which beset a mission to your nether sphere, into the peaceful seclusion and harmonious atmosphere of the sphere of adoration. It is well that we refresh ourselves at times with rest and the society of the blessed lest we fail and faint in our work; lest we grow sad and weary in spirit, and cease to labour with zeal and success.

Ah! you who in your earth-life have toiled among the lanes and alleys of your crowded cities, who have trodden the haunts of vice in the mission of mercy, who have breathed the stifling air, fever-laden and noisome in its impurity; who have watched the scenes of misery and sin, and have felt yourselves powerless to alleviate, much more to remove distress and want--you may know what are the feelings with which we minister amongst you. You have felt sick at heart, or you have pondered over the ignorance and folly and vice which you have no means of removing. You have felt prostrate with association with poverty and crime, and mind and body has wavered under the thankless toil. Yet what do we see and feel compared with what we do? You are apt to think of us as mysterious far-off beings who have no interest in your lives, no knowledge of your miseries, and no share in the troubles that beset you. You do not understand that we can enter into your feelings and know the hidden griefs that vex you, even more really than your fellow- man can. You think of us as dissociated from earth, whereas we have very real knowledge alike of its sorrows and its delights. And you fancy that the miseries, physical and spiritual, which crowd around the lives of some are beyond our ken. It is far otherwise. We see far more clearly than you the causes that produce sorrow, the temptations that beset the criminal, the miseries that drive to despair, the hordes of the undeveloped who throng around and tempt to vice and sin.

Our view is not alone of material misery, but of spiritual temptation; not alone of the sorrows that meet the eye of sense, but of the hidden grief of which man knows nothing. Do not fancy that we are unable to see and to know your sorrows and crimes, nor that we can mix with your people, and breathe the atmosphere of your world without drinking in somewhat of its curse.

What is the constrast from your life to that of the outcast in the noisome atmosphere of some foul den in a back alley of your crowded cities--the home of misery and crime--compared with that which strikes cold and chilling on us as we come to your lower spheres! We come from the land of light and purity and beauty, wherein is naught that is unclean, unholy, or impure--from a scene blurred with no disfigurement, where is no shadow of darkness--nothing but radiance and unspotted purity. We leave the society of the perfected, and the atmosphere in which dwells peace; we quit the light and love, the harmony and adoration of the spheres, and we descend to your cold earth, to a clime of darkness and despair--to an atmosphere of repulsion and sorrow--to an air heavy with misery and guilt--to a people disobedient, unbelieving, steeped in materialism, and dead to spirit influence--to a world crowded thick with vice, surrounded by the spirits of the undeveloped, and deaf to the voice of God. We quit the home where God's light and truth prevail, for the outer darkness of your earth, where only the faintest glimmer of spirit-truth, from circles rare and few, greets our eyes. Harmony and peace we exchange for turbulence and discord, for war and turmoil; the society of the pure and peaceful for the chilling company of the sceptic and scorner, or even of the drunkard and sensualist, the outcast and the thief. We leave temples where we adore the God of heaven for your nether world, where our God is unknown, and where a being of man's own imagining reigns in His place, save when even that idol has been dethroned, and man has relapsed into absolute disbelief in all spirit and all incorporeal existence.

This we do, only in most cases to find a people who are deaf and dead to us; aye, and even those who do in a measure listen to our words so long as they please them, and coincide with what they have themselves fancied--even they will turn away from following when we would raise them to a higher level and show them a purer light. The story of Jesus is fulfilled again. The people will wonder at miraculous works; they will follow so long as personal interest is excited, and personal curiousity gratified; but when we raise them from that level, when we cut out the egoistic element, and deal with eternal and imperial facts, they turn back--they are not able to receive what is too high for them. And so the designs of God are thwarted, and the benefits which we are commissioned to bestow are cast aside with thanklessness; and the chilling sense of threatened failure is added to our sorrow. So it is; and we withdraw at times for rest and refreshment, and return with the harmony of the spheres to cheer and comfort us in the midst of our labours in a cheerless world, and among a thankless people.

[I had not received a communication before which so savoured of pure human weakness, almost of the tone of despair. There had before been a tone of dignity which seemed to be above that of earth. Nothing, indeed, was more striking in the presence and words of IMPERATOR than his absolute superiority to the weaknesses, the petty cares and concerns of earth. He seemed to move, as indeed he did, in another world, and to be at once careless and unconcerned by the things which filled our human gaze. He was superior to them: his views were wide, and concerned with matters of imperial significance. Yet he was always tender and compassionate to our weakness, and quite undisturbed by any gusts of human passion. He was "in the world, but not of it," a visitor from a calmer and more peaceful sphere, bringing with him somewhat of its repose. I remarked the tone of his words, and it was replied:--]

We complain, but we do not faint. Association with you and with your surroundings causes us to imbibe somewhat of the tone of your mind. We have said what we have said that you may know that we sacrifice somewhat, and that we are amenable to the same feelings which sway you. We suffer mental agony and spiritual distress. We feel pangs as real as those which wring the hearts of men. Were we not (as you say) human in our sympathies, we could not enter into your necessities. You will know, too, one day, that by a law as yet unknown to you, the spirit returning to earth takes on much of the pure human tone which it loses when absent. It becomes assimilated to earth and earthly ideas.

[The advice to refrain from seeking too frequent communication and to ponder the past, was repeated. The production of physical phenomena in excess was said to be dangerous for me, the drain on the vital power being too great. Above all, I was warned not to join mixed circles, except in cases of necessity, as for the observing of phenomena which I wished to describe in print. Moderation in all things was urged, in work as well as other things, and reflection and rest encouraged. We did not omit sitting but did not meet so frequently as before. It was noticeable that great efforts were made to bring home evidence of identity. One very striking case occured on (Oct. 14) thus: A spirit who had long communicated with us was cross- examined by one of our circle from a book which recorded some facts in his life. The book had lately been published, and no one of us except the questioner had seen it. The names and dates had got jumbled in his head, and it was most striking to find the unseen intelligence correcting every mistake, refusing flatly and persistently to acquiesce in an error, and even spelling out words that had been mispronounced.

The sounds made were most expressive of annoyance, irritation, and vexation. The corrections were rapped out with the greatest promptness before a question was complete, and in all cases with literal exactness. It was impossible to doubt that one was dealing with an entity whose individuality was as strong as ever, whose memory was by no means impaired, and who had lost nothing of the energy that characterised him in his embodied state. I refer to that evening the growth in my mind of a strong conviction that the intelligences who communicated were really the persons they pretended to be. The accent of denial was so perfect, the irritable rejoinder and correction were so human, so natural, that I do not believe a personator could have done it, or would have thought of such a subtle trait. On the following morning I questioned on the subject:--]

I was much struck by your corrections last night.

The book was wrong, and imperfect in many ways. I did make aquaintance with ---- before he became my pupil, and I told you truly that I studied in Paris.

I don't doubt it. You were evidently in earnest, and quite angry.

It is provoking to me to be questioned wrongly, and from imperfect information imperfectly remembered. I knew what I said.

I can't affect to be sorry; for it brought out the best proof of identity I have had yet. Of course we only value it as such.

Yes. But you watch for an opportunity of entangling.

Oh, no! I only want proof.

You have proof which it would be hard to increase.

[My faith in the information given, and especially in the tests furnished, though what was said was always true, suffered many relapses. I was haunted by a suspicion which, if vague, was none the less real, that what was pretended was not literally true; that the information given did not really come from those whose names were used; that, in short, there was a mystery or an allegory in all, which might be deception, or simply something which I could not understand. This frame of mind, the very worst in which to seek communion with the spheres, caused our circle to be practically broken up. We all saw, I think, the wisdom of discontinuing our sittings, and IMPERATOR strongly urged, and finally enforced, that course upon us. He left us--so far as our sittings were concerned--with an injunction to ponder over the past, and with a very strong warning as to the risk we should run by attempting to join other seances, or to ourselves meet after his withdrawal. The automatic writing continued somewhat fitfully. I made enquiries as to what was proposed, and the answers I received showed just the same determined will working out its own purpose as I always found in IMPERATOR. The most cogent evidence was given of a clear and decisive intelligence operating in antagonism to my own mind. At no period had I more forcible evidence of external intelligence than now. Elaborate plans were made and carried out, convincing and logical arguments used to defend them, and I was forced to admit the coherence of all.

It was at this time that a long account was written out of the spiritual influence which had been brought to bear upon my whole life. The narrative startled me very much, and renewed my conviction of the sincerity and reality of the intelligence that was dealing with me. Though I am going a long way in laying bare so much that I should prefer to keep secret, I cannot bring myself to print what is of so personal a nature. I print personal remarks and details only so far as they tend to throw light upon the general course of teaching and proof of Spirit Identity.]