Images de page

view of his editor, and which will be of some importance as a record of what is now doing in literature and what promises to be its future. First we would quote from his prose preface, in which he hints at a spiritual sense in his own way, thus :

"The fruition of beauty is no chance hit or miss-it is as inevitable as life-it is exact and plumb as gravitation. From the eyesight proceeds another eyesight, and from the hearing proceeds another hearing, and from the voice proceeds another voice, eternally curious of the harmony of things with man."

He justly deprecates the mythologic form that epic poems have taken, and also a favourite dogma in theology, in these terms :

"Whatever would put God in a poem, a system of philosophy as contending against some being or influence is of no account."

The inevitable consequences of our thoughts and actions in time and eternity, he thus states:

Not a move can a man or

"All that a person does or thinks is of consequence. woman make that affects him or her in a day or month, or any part of the direct lifetime or the hour of death, but the same affects him or her onward afterward through the indirect lifetime. The indirect is always as great and real as the direct. The spirit receives from the body just as much as it gives to the body. name or word or deed. . . . ever is or ever can be stamped upon the programme, but it is duly realized and returned, and that returned in further performances, and they returned again."


Not one

In referring now to Whitman's poetry we premise thus much-it is not written in any of the conventional forms of poetry; having neither measure nor rhyme. It is not to be classified by ordinary readers and critics; and it has not yet been classified. This is not the place, however, to discuss such a matter, and we leave it with the brief explanation for the poetry itself.

"How curious! how real!

Under foot the divine soil-over head the sun.

The sun and stars that float in the open air;

The apple-shaped earth, and we upon it-surely the drift of them is something grand.

I will show that there is no imperfection in the present-and can be none in the future:

And I will show that, whatever happens to anybody, it may be turned to beautiful results and I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death.

I will not make a poem, nor the least part of a poem, but has reference to the soul:

Because, having looked at the objects of the universe, I find there is no one, nor any particle of one, but has reference to the soul.

All hold spiritual joys, and afterwards loosen them:

How can any real body ever die, and be buried?

Of your real body, and any man's or woman's real body,

Item for item, it will elude the hands of the corpse-cleaners, and pass to fitting spheres,

Carrying what has accrued to it from the moment of birth to the moment of death.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Behold; the body includes and is the meaning, the main concern― -and includes and is the soul:

Whoever you are! how superb and how divine is your body, or any part of it.

Everything indicates the smallest does, and the largest does:

A necessary film envelopes all, and envelopes the soul for a proper time.

Illustrious every one!

Illustrious what we name space-sphere of unnumbered spirits;

Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all things, even the tiniest insect:

Illustrious the attribute of speech-the senses-the body:

Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the new moon in

the western sky:

Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch to the last.

Good in all,

In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,

In the annual return of the seasons,

In the hilarity of youth,

In the strength and flush of manhood,

In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,

In the superb vistas of Death.

O amazement of things! even the least particle !

O spirituality of things!

O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents-now reaching me and America!

I take your strong chords—I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass them forward.

[ocr errors]

I do not see one imperfection in the universe;

And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the universe.

I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete!

I swear the earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains broken and jagged!

Think of the soul;

I swear to you that body of yours gives proportions to your soul somehow to live in other spheres ;

I do not know how, but it is so.

Think of spiritual results;

Sure as the earth swims through the heavens, does every one of its objects pass into spiritual results.

The world below the brine ..

The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air, breathed by beings like us who walk this sphere:

The change onwards from ours, to that of beings who walk other spheres.

The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,

The earth is not an echo-man and his life, and all the things of his life, are wellconsidered.

I have dreamed that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of us changed, I have dreamed that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present and past law, And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and past law, For I have dreamed that the law they are under now is enough.

Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die now:
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward annihilation?

I believe, of all those billions of men and women that filled the unnamed lands, every one exists this hour, here or elswhere, invisible to us, in exact proportion to what he or she grew from in life, and out of what he or she did, felt, became, loved, sinned, in life.

I suspect their results curiously await in the yet unseen world-counterparts of what accrued to them in the seen world;

I suspect I shall meet them there,

I suspect I shall there find each old particular of those unnamed lands.

A vast similitude interlocks all,

[ocr errors]

All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, comets, asteroids,
All the substances of the same, and all that is spiritual upon the same,
All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this globe, or any globe;
All lives and deaths-all of the past, present, future ;

This vast similitude spans them, and always has spanned, and shall for ever span them, and compactly hold them."

Now there is a great deal of Emerson's cast of thought in Whitman's poems, and yet it is said he never read Emerson before he had written his most important poems. It is quite likely that he may say the same of Swedenborg. But it is very evident that Emerson's style and speculation must have reached him, indistinguishable though the channels be, and the same is certain of Swedenborg. He is imbued with the great Swede's ideas-he has found them congenial to his soul -he has wrought them out as he best could through them he has become a poet, and become a man of mark in his nation.

The value, as we have said, of this phenomenon in literature, is its display of the active, although often unrecognised, influence of Swedenborg's writings. This is no less exhibited in Mr. Rosette's remarks than in Whitman, and we are fortunate enough to discern exactly how the Swede's spiritual teachings are working in the peculiar school


to which Mr. Rosette belongs. Mr. Swinburne is at the head of the school, and in that dreadful book of his on 'Blake the Poet and Painter,' there is an unmeaning attack on Swedenborg's revelations, in order that he may exalt the delirious fancies of his hero. There is to us something grimly humorous, in a writer who lacks humour in an eminent degree, depreciating Swedenborg at the expense of Blake, as if he would depose Chimborazo and replace it with Ludgate Hill. Nevertheless, Swedenborg is with Mr. Swinburne, and will speak through him in his poetry and prose, however much he denies him. Furthermore, the friend of Rosette and Swinburne is Mr. W. B. Scott. To him Rosette inscribes his edition of Whitman. W. B. Scott, like Blake, is a poet and painter. In both of these characters he has bodied forth the ideas of Swedenborg. For long we conjectured that he was intimate with the works of the founder of the New Church; and especially was this brought home to us in our frequent perusal of his fine, exquisitely fine designs of Prince Legion. We esteem Mr. Scott highly, and in wishing to possess tokens of him on his removal from the north, we purchased one item of his library-a book valuable for his sake, but more valuable for its own-nothing less than a well-read copy of the 'True Christian Religion' having pasted in it his remarkable hieroglyphical drawing.

We take encouragement from these clear and significant indications of the far-spreading influence of Swedenborg's doctrines outside the Church. This leavening process will in due time manifest itself in other and still more transcendent forms. The world of general thought is undergoing that orderly process of spirituality, which takes place in each individual. We wait for that great hour when we shall particularly feel the impulse of that advancing tide. For that great and certain hour we are not over-anxious: in the divine order of things come it will-and for it in patience we possess our souls. LAUNCELOT CROSS.


THE following letter of Swedenborg's has been found among the Manuscripts obtained in Sweden by Dr Tafel, which he has translated from the Swedish, and sent for publication :

To His Excellency Count G. Bonde.

I thank your Excellency for doing me the honour of writing to me, and for your kind invitation to Hesselby. The enclosed letter from Baron Hatzel

at Rotterdam ought to be answered by me according to his desire; but as it concerns the works that were lately published in England, upon which my name does not appear, I cannot for this reason enter into any literary correspondence with anybody abroad, nor consequently declare myself to be their author. Moreover, the booksellers who have the works for sale are forbidden to make me known. Still, persons abroad may be answered through others, and I humbly beg your Excellency to be kind enough to offer my greeting to him, and beg him to excuse me if I cannot let him have an answer from my own hand. Will you please, nevertheless, to say to him that I was very glad he had found enjoyment and light in reading the works, which is a sign that he was then in illustration from heaven; for the things which are there written are not understood without illustration, because they do not belong to the outer but to the inner understanding. As to the question about the verses in the books of Moses, which have the property and the power of introducing us into intercourse with spirits, I do not know that there are any verses to be found in the Scriptures which have this power more than others. I only know that the Word of God is everywhere so written that, when men read it with all their attention and affection, spirits and angels partake of it, and adjoin themselves to man; for the Word of God is written in order to bind angels and men together. Compare what has been written concerning this in the work on 'Heaven and Hell.' The Lord nevertheless appoints that spirits and men but seldom come so closely together as to speak with one another; for this is more dangerous than men may think, because by such a close intercourse with spirits men endanger at once their soul and their life; unless the Lord Himself does it, and takes men under His guard, and protects them in particular, as happens in my case, The Lord Himself protects me against the many crafty wiles and stratagems of the evil spirits. I, therefore, wish to counsel against all such desires. The Lord Himself has been pleased to lead me into conversation and intercourse with spirits and angels, for those purposes which are announced in my writings. That spirits and men are kept asunder from one another, is because spirits are kept in spiritual thought and speech, and men in natural thought and speech, which differ from one another, but make one by correspondences alone, the nature of which has also been treated of. As long therefore as spirits are in a spiritual state, and men in a natural state, they do not come together in such a manner as to converse with one another; and yet they are together in the affections. When spirits speak with men, they are out of their spiritual state, and are in a natural state just like men; and then they can lead men into danger, both as to their souls and bodies, as has been stated above. For which reason they ought to be kept asunder, so that the former know nothing of men, and men know nothing of them, although they are all the time together. For unless man has spirits with him he cannot live; because, through them he has connection with heaven and hell, and through this connection or bond receives his life. I take the liberty of begging your Excellency most humbly, that when you write to him in Rotterdam, you will offer to him my respectful greeting and apology; and that you will send as a reply, if you please, some of the particulars that have now been stated, because he writes in his letter about them, and desires information.

August 1760.

I remain, with all respect and deference, etc.,

« PrécédentContinuer »