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Testament in his pocket ;” and the little consistent with the most orthodox Christianvolume was forthcoming, and the accuracy theory, which replaces the Trinity by a Father
ity, slightly tempered by the Swedenborgian of the text settled there and then.
and Mother God-atwofold instead of a threewith all this he was no precisian, as wit- fold Unity—though even that is so little dwelt ness the nest from which the “ Owl” first upon that it might easily be overlooked, even winged that night which was to astonish by a critical hearer ; but not even the most the world for a season. He contrived to
careless could, I think, be unimpressed by the extract his full share of enjoyment out of spiritual indignation against wrong doing and
fervent and living nobility of faith, the high the world and the world's pleasures, and against all that detracts from the divine eswhatever deeper feelings were simmering sence and spirit of Christianity, with which within him, did not obtrude themselves the dingy pages, badly printed upon bad upon the attention of his friends, or, for paper and in the meanest form, still burn and
glow. The effect, no doubt, must have been aught one could see, dictate to him any greatly heightened when they were spoken by special and unusual line of conduct. a man possessing so much sympathetic power
And yet at the time when he had a seat as Mr. Harris evidently had, to an audience in Parliament, and was comporting him already prepared, as the hearers in whom we
are most interested certainly were, for the comself more or less after the fashion of a
munication of this sacred fire. The very man of the world, he had already come points that had most occupied the mind of under an influence which was destined to Laurence Oliphant, as the reader has already change the whole course of 'bis life and seen–the hollowness and unreality of what conduct. It cannot be positively ascer
was called religion, the difference between
the divine creed and precepts, and the everytained when Oliphant first encountered day existence of those who were their exHarris, the American nystic and scer, ponents and professed believers - were the obwho cast so unfortunate a spell upon the ject of Harris's crasade. He taught no novbest period of his life. Amid the con
elty, but only—the greatest novelty of allflicting accounts which we have of this practice, not playing with the possibilities of
that men should put what they believed into person, the statements of hostile critics
a divided allegiance between God and mam. and the still more untrustworthy lauda- mon, but giving an absolute-nay, remorseless tions of his own devotees, it is impossible obedience, at the cost of any or every sacrito form an accurate estimate of Harris's fice, to the principles of a perfect life. I pre
sume confidently that, so far as the disciples character ; but such records as we have of could be aware, the prophet himself at this his life do not prepossess us in his favor. * period was without blame, and maintained his So far as Laurence Oliphant was con
own high standard. Perhaps, it may be sug. cerned, we are forced to the conclusion gested by profano criticism, the mystery in that Harris was his evil genius. Harris
which he wrapped himself would be beneficial
to the maintenance of this impression upon appears to have been in England in 1858, their minds. The great novelty in him was and on several other occasions during sub- that he required no adhesion to any doctrine, sequent years, when Oliphant was proba- and did not demand of his converts that they bly attracted toward him, if he had not necessity of living a Christ-like life.'
should agree with him upon anything but the already fallen in with him in America. In 1860 Oliphant refers to him with interest The last indication of Laurence Oliin one of his letters, and it seems proba- phant's views, before he suddenly exiled ble that in the interval between that time himself from public life and society, is to and his return for the Stirling Burghs, the be found in his novel of “ Piccadilly.' foundation of their future connection had In this, the most brilliant of his works, been laid, if it was the case, as there is marked by his sparkling wit, his incisive reason to believe, that Laurence Oliphant's penetration into shams and humbugs, bis failure in Parliament was due to a com- shrewd yet genial faculty of unmasking mand from Harris to refrain from speak all that was hollow and untrue, we fail to ing.
discover any traces of a serious quarrel We must quote the description which with the world and society, in spite of the Mrs. Oliphant, with notable leniency and imperfections with which he charged charity, gives of this man's teaching :- them. Indeed, the circumstances under
which “Piccadilly" began in the Maga'V'ery little, if anything, is said that is in.
zine lead directly to the supposition that
the dénouement was other than that origi* See Oxley's “ Modern Messiahs' for a full and apparently reliable account of Harris's nally intended. It is possible, perhaps, checkered career.
that the severe tests which he applied to social and religious institutions in analyz- of a disciple became practically that of a ing them for this work, may have shown serf.* them to him in a more severe and serious light than before, and thus precipitated
* Amid the mass of newspaper correspondhis resolution to shake himself rid of their
ence which this Memoir has called forth, there trammels. There is some significance in
is no more valuable light thrown upon the
connection with Harris than in a communicathe episode of the mysterious stranger in tion from Mrs. Rosamond Oliphant (now Tem“Piccadilly,” with his revelations of a pleton), in the “ Times” of the 6th June : better life, and we may safely presume that
“At this time he met Thomas Lake Harris, Harris and his doctrines are indicated, as
and was deeply impressed by his magnetic well as that in the course of his work his eloquence; yet it was not the power of the
man which held him in thrall, but rather his mind had been led to contrast the artificia!
own great need of help. He believed in Mr. world he was describing with the quiet Harris, and loved him with that self-giving and simple life which had been represented
sweetness of devotion which was one of the to him as to be found beyond the Atlan- itself the gentlest attributes of femininity with
traits of his singular nature, holding within tic. This mental evolution which went on
the manliest courage of masculinity; and this concurrently with the progress of “ Picca- love continued for some years. But, so my dilly’’ is further confirmed by wbat Oli- husband told me, even during these years bis phant wrote to Mr. John Blackwood : “I faith had a number of slight shocks, of which
he gave me an instance, Harris said to Lau. dare say you will be surprised at the half
rence that he had'received the message spiritu. serious, half-mysterious tone of the last ally that one of his (Laurence's) most dangerparts ; but after having attacked the re- ous characteristics was that of personal vanity, ligious world so sharply, it is necessary to
and that he must do all that lay in his power show that one does not despise religion of
to subdue his love of dress, etc. As a matter
of fact, Mr. Oliphant had scarcely enongh re. a right kind.”:
gard for his personal appearance to take the It was not, however, until two years necessary pains with his toilet, although posafter the conclusion of “ Piccadilly” that sibly appearing well dressed in a country vil. Laurence Oliphant disappeared from Eng- lage. And as he was aware that Harris could Jand, and took up his residence in the scarcely have made a greater mistake, this
naturally somewhat shook his belief in the Harris colony at Broctun. Did he take keenness of the prophet's judgment, and in this step of his own free-will, or was he the general trustworthiness of his unseen acting under Harris's orders ? We have gnidance. Mr. Oliphant, howewer, did not no means of knowing ; but the question, gradually on a little different plane, as he
swerve in his allegiance, he only readjusted it at least, deserves to be mooted. He had
found him to be a more fallible man than he already put himself in Harris's hands, and bad at first imagined. Nevertheless, so Mr. this second Mokanna had not scrupled to Oliphant stated to me, Mr. Harris was at this exercise bis power even in so serious a
time a noble aspirational soul, far above the matter as closing Oliphant's mouth in the average in his ideals ; and he Laurence) con
tinued to revere and to love bim for many House of Commons. It is but fair, how
years. ever, to say that Oliphant always repre- Perhaps among all the gifts intrusted to sented himself as being “ rather beld at man or woman, the most dangerously tempt. arm's-length than cajoled into the tremen
ing is that of a strong magnetic personality ;
and this temptation Mr. Harris bad. For he dous step which severed him from all bis undoubtedly possessed a singular power over
It may have been honestly so, those who surrounded him, and, like many but no one can read these volumes without another, this temptation proved by degrees being forced to the conclusion that he was
too strong for him. His success finally in
toxicated him. When he found himself the wax in the hands of Harris. And
master of such individualities as Laurence whence did Harris derive this superiority ? and Alice, Lady Oliphant, and others equally From an intellectual point of view he was aspiring and almost as talented, he who had unquestionable Laurence Oliphant's in- been originally an obscure man or the people ferior. So far as we can see, there was
had not the equilibrium of soul to maintain
his balance. And this is perhaps scarcely to nothing in bis character to overawe and
be wondered at when we retlect how easily the impress a man who had mixed with the heads of the most of us are turned. At the most talented and cultivated society of the time of his death Mr. Oliphant believed that Old World. On whatever grounds and the teachings of Harris in latter years had by whatever means, this is at least certain, was willing to give every man his due, even
worked grievous mischief. Nevertheless, he that Harris obtained the mastery of Lau- though he may have suffered by his errors ; rence Oliphant's will, and that his position and to the last Mr. Oliphant always spoke of
It is a pitiable story to tell of the sense- “And not only did the head of the comless drudgery to which such an intellect as
munity keep incessant watch over all these Oliphant's was condemned in the Brocton
occult manifestations, but he was at once the
director of the domestic life within, where the community. Mrs. Oliphant records the
members of the coinmunity worked together facts with remarkable moderation and keen at agriculture---and also the head of every sympathy ; and her chapters relating to operation without, many of his disciples being the Brocton life are the most interesting mercial operations or other kinds of profitable
sent out into business affairs, to conduct com. part of the second volume.
We shall not
work, in order that they might bring in money linger over them. The spectacle of one for the community. All the schemes con. of the cleverest and most brilliant men of nected with it, mercantile or agricultural, the age set to “ live the life'' by cadging were in his hands; and he would constantly strawberries at railway stations, working
change the heads of departments if he thought
their minds were becoming too much en. as a farm teamster, sleeping in a straw bed grossed in business, recall and replace them over a stable, and eating his meals off a with others who often knew nothing of their deal box, is both painful and irritating. management, and had to learn through mis. And all this with a view to be more Christ
takes.' like! It would be difficult to find a greater Oliphant went through the trying ordeal insult to common-sense in the grossest ex- of the monial drudgery of Brocton with travagances of mediæval Roman Catholic his usual brave indifference to circumasceticism. And poor
And poor Lady Oliphant, stances, and without losing much of his too, a woman refined and gentle, and well light-heartedness. That he imagined he stricken in years, was sent to work out her had benefited from the discipline and from salvation in the wash-tub ! " Live the Harris's teaching, is evident from the life,” indeed! It is perhaps unnecessary
fact, that when after three years he reto inention that on joining the cominunity, turned to England, he was still loyally deLaurence Oliphant had to make over his voted to the prophet and the interests of property to its common fun I as adminis- the Brocton community. His association tered by Mr. Harris, subject, however, to with the Harrisites had produced little exa right of withdrawal should he cease to ternal change in Laurence Oliphant that become a member of it.
his friends upon his return could detect. As an illustration of Harris's power and
may have been “ more assured in his methods, we must quote the following ac. faith than ever ;'' but to the world he count of his administration of the interests, was, as Mrs. Oliphant says, as serious, human and material, which lay under his as humorous, as entertaining, as delightful sway :
a companion, and as much disposed to so“He arranged them in groups of three or
cial enjoyment, as when he had been one
It four persons to assimilate ; but if the magnet.
of the most popular men in London. ism of one was found to be injurious to an- was about this time, shortly before his reother, Harris was aware of it at once, and in. turn, that he sent home to Blackwood'' stantly separated them. Any strong, merely that daring outburst of humor, “ Dollie natural affection was injurious.' In such cases, all ties of relationship were broken
and the Two Smiths,” the first of a brillruthlessly, and separations made between
iant series of " Traits and Travesties” parents and children, husbands and wives,
which he continued to contribute to the until the affection was no longer selfish, but Magazine in subsequent years.
Whatever changed into a great spiritual love for the the effects of “living the life" may
hare race; so that, instead of acting and reacting on one another, it could be poured out on all
been on Laurence Oliphant, they did not the world, or at least on those who were in
obtrude themselves on the surface-alcondition to receive this pure spiritual love,' though he was perfectly frank when ques. to the perfection of which the most perfect tioned about his religious experiences and harmony was necessary, any bickering or jeal.
he still appeared as the brilliant, humorousy immediately dispelling the influx and ' breaking the sphere.'
ous, and sarcastic man of the world, with
an infinite capacity for enjoying everyMr. Harris with the gentlest Christian charity. thing that was enjoyable, whether it took He said to me, that although he had suffered the shape of pleasure or adventure. seriously, both spiritually and in the loss of fortane, through Mr. Harris, yet he could not himself into literary and journalistic work.
Oliphant, on his return, again threw fail to see that such unbounded power as was relegated to bim (Mr. Harris) was an unusually He served for some time as special corresevere test for any man."
spondent of the “ Times" during the his power.
Franco-Prussian war, and afterward set- had to receive Harris's sanction, which tled down in Paris as representative of was withbeld, and the lovers were kept that journal. But he was still under Har- upon tenter-hooks, until it was quite clear ris's domination, and was soon to be made that the lady was to come as completely painfully sensible of the arbitrary way in under Harris's domination as her intended which the prophet was disposed to use busband already was. The marriage had
It was in Paris that Lanrence to be postponed in deference to an edict Oliphant, who might have been thought to from Brocton, and it was not without a have already exhausted all the experiences considerable amount of finessing on Oliof life, filled up the romance of his career phant's part that the prophet's sanction by falling under the influence of a strong, was finally obtainud. It is a beautiful pure, and tender passion. The loves of and touching evidence of Alice le Strange's Laurence Oliphant and Alice le Strange complete love and faith in Oliphant that are so charmingly recorded by Mrs. Oli- she humbles herself before Harris—a man phant, that we scruple to abridge her nar- whom she had never seen, and whom she fative, and would rather refer our readers knew of only as an enemy to her happiness to her book itself. A few words, bow- —and pouis'out the whole feelings of her erer, must be said to make what we have inmost soul in a letter to him, and puts still to relate about Oliphant's life intelli- herself under his “ direction in all matgible. Alice le Strange was characterized ters.” Without any wish to be unjust,
not a woman, but an angel,” by one we must express our conviction that a paswho knew and admired her in later life. sage in this letter, in which Miss le
“One of the most perfect flowers of human. Strange, speaking of her property, offers kind," says Mrs. Olipbant, who knew her to make it “ easily payable to you for any well, " a young woman of an ancient and long purpose to which you might see fit to established race, with all the advantages of apply it,” had quite as much weight with fine and careful training, and that knowledge the prophet as 'Miss le Strange's cry for from her cradle of good society, good manners, and notable persons, which is an advantage light and guidance. beyond al estimation to the mind qualitied to The marriage at length took place in profit by it. One of the most attractive June, 1872, and after a year's residence and charming of God's creatures, with consid- in Paris, where Oliphant continued to erable beauty and much talent, full of brightness and originality, sympathetic, clear head represent the “Times," a sudden sumed, yet an enthusiast, and with that gift of mons from Brocton broke up their housebeautiful dietion and melodious speech which hold, and Oliphant with his wife and is one of the most perfect ever given to mother set out for Anierica. A greater
.. She was so full of charm,' that inexplicable fascination which is more than
trial of his faith could scarcely have been beauty, that it was possible he actual gifts made than to ask him to bring the young might have been overlooked in the pleasure of wife of a year to the life which he knew encountering herself, the combination of them awaited her at Brocton-and such a life! all; so that the beauty, the wit, the sweet - but Oliphant must have been still firm vivacity, the pure and brilliant intelligence, became so many delightful discoveries after
in his trust in Harris. At first Harris the first and greatest, of finding one's self seems to have dealt rather leniently with face to face with a being so gracious and de- the pew-comers. Oliphant, for the good lightful.”'
of his soul and the benefit of the comIn this love it might have been hoped munity, was sent to Wall Street to wrestle that Laurence Oliphant's troubled career with the bulls and bears of New York would have found a haven of rest, and finance, and had the honor of crossing that in a settled life of domestic happi- swords, non sine gloria,'' with the great ness, abounding with possibilities of use. Jay Gould himself. The best outcome of ful work, he might have lived a life" this experience was the “ Antobiography more beneficial to himself and advan- of a Joint-Stock Company,” the memory tageous to the world than the senseless of which must still remain green in the rule of Brocton could prescribe. But it minds of readers of “Maga." Another was not to be. He was still under the American contribution in a similar vein of spell of Harris, and could no more shake
“ Irene Macgillicuddy,”: the prophet off his shoulders than Sindbad which produced a scarcely less powerful could get rid of the Old Man of the Sea. sensation on the other side of the Atlantic Even his engagement with Miss le Strange than “ Piccadilly" had done in England.
There is a buoyancy about Oliphant's race was most prevalent. With his nsual writings during his Brocton life which we
energy he at once set out for Palestine, are tempted to ascribe to a reaction against and the interest in the country which this his environments : they afforded a safety- risit inspired led him ultimately to select valve for the feelings of disillusionment it as his future home. The literary results which, we think, must have speedily fol. of this journey took the form of the Jowed upon his second arrival at Brocton. “ Land of Gilead," a considerable portion While he was in Wall Street, his wife and of which appeared in the Magazine, and mother were washing the pocket-hand- in which Laurence Oliphant's wonderful kerchiefs of the community or working in descriptive powers are seen at their best. their cottage garden. Mrs. Laurence Oli- But his project, like all others that depend phant, however, appears to have been oc
the concurrence of the Sublime Porte, casionally allowed to join her husband in ended in failure. New York, and even to accompany him On his return to England he was joined on a visit to Lord and Lady Dufferin in by Mrs. Laurence Oliphant, who had seen Canada. But this happiness was too great the necessity of shielding her husband to last. The prophet's fiat went forth, from the aspersiops to which their separaand husband and wife were separated. tion and her condition in California had Mrs. Oliphant makes a very shrewd guess exposed him in society. She must have at the reasons :
taken this step in despite of Ilarris, and
from their union in London the date of “ As iron sharpeneth iron, so were these two likely to act upon each other, perhaps to
their emancipation from his despotism a consciousness of the wonderful character of may be calculated. But when the final their subjection, perhaps to independent plans quarrel came, when Oliphant was obliged of their own, both of which would have weak.
to assert his independence, and claim
his ened the master's hold upon them, and made their emancipation merely a question of time." rights in defiance of the prophet, it was a
sore trial to his feelings. He had gone Harris bad meanwhile opened up a new out to America to see his mother, who was settlement in California, " where he culti- dying of a painful malady, aggravated by vated vines and swayed the souls who had the mortifying discovery that her faith committed themselves into his hands ;" had been misplaced, and that her idol was and thither Mrs. Laurence Oliphant was after all but clay, for rumors had reached ordered to repair, while her husband was Brocton regarding the Santa Rosa settleto stand fast in New York. Mrs. Laurence ment sufficient to disenchant the deluded Oliphant did not remain long in the Santa devotees who had been left in the former Rosa establishment. When Laurence went community. Oliphant took his mother to California to visit his wife, he was posi- with him to Santa Rosa in hopes of benetively refused permission to see her, and fit to her health, and they visited Harris, promptly ordered back to Brocton; and but were far from graciously received. his wife soon after quitted Santa Rosa, Mrs. Oliphant mentions a significant inciand endeavored to earn her living as a dent, characteristic of the Harrisian systeacher. Though aided by kind friends tem, which occurred during this visit :of her husband's, her life for some years was one of hard toil and of considerable
“The sight of a valuable ring belonging to
Lady Oliphant, which had been given over privation. Although away from Harris,
with all other treasured things into the keepshe was still under his influence, and very ing of the prophet, upon the finger of a mem. probably working under his commands.
ber of his household, brought a keen gleam of In 1878, Oliphant was back in England conviction, both to the one who doubted al. alone. By this time his eyes appear to ready and the other who did not know whether
to doubt, or, as on former occasions, to gulp have been opened, and though he bad
down every indignity and obey.” not yet directly revolied, he was looking about him for an independent sphere of Lady Oliphant died soon after this visit, action. Events at that time were direct and Harris seems to have taken the initiaing prominent attention to the Turkish tive of declaring war, and to have teleempire and to Palestine, and Oliphant con- graphed to Mrs. Laurence Oliphant received the project of carrying out a colo- questing her permission to have her husnization of the Holy Land by Jews from band placed in a lunatic asylum. No such the countries where the oppression of the sanction was of course given, and Oliphant