Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

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

occalt manifestations, but he was at once the Oliphant's was condemned in the Brocton

director of the domestic life within, where the community. Mrs. Oliphant records the members of the community 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 sent out into business affairs, to conduct cor:

mercial operations or other kinds of profitable part of the second volume. We shall not work, in order that they might bring in money linger over thein. 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 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 misAnd 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 medieval Roman Catholic his usual brave indifference to circumasceticism. 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 community, 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 He 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 four persons to assimilate ; but if the magnet

of the most popular men in London.” It isin 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

and the Two Smiths,” the first of a brillcases, all ties of relationship were broken ruthlessly, 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 race ; so that, instead of acting and reacting been on Laurence Oliphant, they did not

the effects of “ living the life” may hare on one another, it could be poured out on all the world, or at least on those who were in a

obtrude themselves on the surface-alcondition to receive this pure spiritual love, though he was perfectly frank when questo the perfection of which the most perfect tioned about his religious experiences-and harmony was necessary, any bickering or jeali he still appeared as the brilliant, humoropsy immediately dispelling the influx and brenking 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

Oliphant, on his return, again threw fortune, through Mr. Harris, yet he could not fail to see that such unbounded power as wis

himself into literary and journalistic work. relegated to him (Mr. Harris) was an unusually He served for some time as special cərresevere test for any man.

spondent of the “Times" during the

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

as

Franco-Prussian war, and afterward set- bad to receive Harris's sanction, which tled down in Paris as representative of was withheld, 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 wbich the prophet was disposed to use husband already was. The marriage had his power. It was in Paris ebat Laurence to be postponed in deference to an ediet 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 obtained. It is a beautiful pure, and tender passion. The loves of and torching 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 rative, and would rather refer our readers knew of only as an enemy to her happiness to her book itself. A few words, how- -and poois out the whole feelings of her ever, 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. Oliphant, who knew her to make it "

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 all 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 bright

Times,” a sudden ness and originality, sympathetic, clear head- represent the ed, yet an enthusiast, and with that gift of mons from Brocton broke up their housebeautiful diction and melodious speech which hold, and Oliphant with his wife and is one of the most perfect ever given to mother set out for America.

A greater She was so full of 'cbarm,' that inexplicable fascination which is more than

trial of his faith could scarcely have been beauty, that it was possible her 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 ber at Brocton-and such a life! all; so that the beanty, 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 Jeniently with face to face with a being so gracious and de. the new-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 balls 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 night have "lived a life" this experience was the "Autobiography 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.

[ocr errors]

man,

sarcasm

[ocr errors]

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: visit 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 lowed 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- upon 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 aspersions 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 Larris, 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, wbo 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 mieplaced, 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. Olipbant 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 vory ing of the prophet, upon the finger of a mem. probably working under bis 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 had

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

ever

get about to recover his property in Har- must have been very difficult to preserve. ris's hands, a portion of which it is satis- We shall probably never know the exact factory to know the prophet was compelled truth regarding the relations of Harris piecemeal to disgorge. In a letter to the with Laurence Oliphant; but should it ** Standard” of June 8, Mr. J. D. Walker, come out, it will, we believe, be a Californian friend of Laurence Oliphant, found that Mrs. Oliphant has penetrated who was of great assistance in disentangling into its essence, and done substantial jushis pecuniary relations with Harris, tice to all parties. writes :

In 1882, Laurence Oliphant settled at On the plea that the money placed by the

the little town of Haifa on the Bay of Oliphants with Mr. Harris was placed subject Acre, and there and in his mountain home to withdrawal by them, should they at any on Carmel, at the Druse village of Dalieh, time sever their connection with him, I in the remainder of his life was spent, varied sisted on Mr. Harris making restitution. After with occasional trips to England. There considerable correspondence, a personal visit from my lawyer, and threats of legal proceed

can be no doubt that these years in Palesings, Mr. Harris deeded to Oliphant the Broc- tine were the best and happiest of his life. ton property ; this, Oliphant informed me, They were full of literary activity. Con. represented some fifteen thousand pounds, tributions

tributions came steadily pouring into placed with Mr. Harris by him and his wife. The property has been sold within the past

“Maga" upon all sorts of topics, and all few months for some eight thousand pounds, characterized by Oliphant's peculiar vi. and the proceeds distributed in terms of Olis vacity and power. It was there that plant's will, so that they are still large con- " Altiora Peto” and “Masollam”' were tributors to the Harris community."

written, and later on

on the two works In spite of all they had suffered at the Sympneumata” and “Scientific Rehands of Harris, and of the active hos- ligion, which embodied the peculiar tility which they had good reason to be- views of his mature years. The life wbich lieve their revolt had brought upon them, was lived at Haifa was at least free from it is remarkable that the Olipliants ever the degradiug and objectionable features afterward continued to speak of him with of the Brocton usage ; and, as far as Olirespect, and to extenuate any charges that phant and his wife were concerned, it were brought against him and his system. scems to have been one of active benevoEven in discussing matters which had lence and practical philanthropy. Into directly affected themselves, and regard- the religious principles which regulated ing which an expression of resentment the little family at Haifa, whither some would bave been both justifiable and ex- few of the remaining members of the Brocpected, Laurence Oliphant was wont, if he ton community were soon attracted, we do did not take the blame wholly to himself, not choose to enter. England too conat least to find plausible excuses for the tributed a sinall band of inquirers, the prophet's share of the transaction. Har

Har- most distinguished of whom was Mr. ris unquestionably did supply some traits Haskett Smith, an author and clergy man for the character of Masollam, but we of the Church of England, who became have good reason to believe that Laurence Oliphant's right-hand man in his work. Oliphant did not intend Masollam to be The Haifa community never got beyond received as either a caricature or a likeness the experimental stage, and Laurence Oliof the Brocton Prophet.

phant was still obviously feeling his way Before finally quitting the Brocton epi- toward a faith when his career was cut sode, we must congratulate Mrs. Oliphant short : whether or not, had he been spared upon the skill with which she has traversed to perfect his views, they would have made this delicate and complicated episode of a wider impression upon thinkers, it is Laurence Oliphant's life. She bas pre- impossible to say. To us both “Symserved a rare moderation wben dealing pneumata” and Scientific Religion” are with passages which must bave prompted as unintelligible in their teaching as they the indignation of any author; she has are mysterious in their ascribed origin; spared no pains to get at the truth, and and it would be of little profit to discuss has had scruples in telling it ; and she bas speculations which had no better foundaapplied her unrivalled power of mental tion than an individual iniagination, and analysis to lay bare the aimns and motives which never got farther than the rudi. on both sides with an impartiality that it mentary stage. The death of his wife

undoubtedly affected Laurence Oliphant's which he had little more than begun when view of things spiritual in a very marked he was called away. If literary fame be a manner, and induced him to translate legitimate aim in life, he certainly earned dreams into actual experiences ; but it a fair share of it. If active goodness also deepened the seriousness of his views within one's own sphere and possibilities of life, as well as led him to indulge in be a duty to the world, then Oliphant duly wilder conjectures regarding futurity and discharged his part. If social distinction the unseen. Yet the old fire of genius be an honor worth striving for, then Oliburned brightly, and Oliphant was proba- phant with slender advantages outstripped bly never more his natural self than when most of his equals in the race. If selfpenning those records of his eventful sacrifice confers a title to public respect, career which appeared in the Magazine then comparatively few can boast of havunder the title of “ Moss from a Rolling ing surrendered more than Laurence OliStone."

phant did. And if we believe that his He paid a final visit to America in the views were mistaken, that he himself was spring of 1888, and, to the astonishment the victim of a delusion, it detracts nothof his friends, returned to be married to ing from the generous nobility of his charMiss Rosamond Dale Owen. But the acter. He was a man who well deserved hand of death was upon him. The “ loss so admirable a memorial as these volumes of spiritual influx,'' of which he had for supply ; and there is no one who ever some time complained since the death of met him who will not beartily endorse the his first wife, was really the loss of vital eloquent words with which Mrs. Oliphant power under an internal malady. A few lays down her pen : days after his marriage he was struck down with illness, and though he rallied The generation, not only of his contemrepeatedly, he was never able to shake off poraries but of their children, must be ex

hausted, indeed, before the name of Laurence his mortal disorder. “His last conscious Oliphant will cease to conjure up memories of nioment on Sunday,” says his wife, all that was most brilliant in intellect, most one of hope and effort lifeward. ... He tender in heart, most trenchant in attack, passed away as into a tranquil sleep, and most enger to succor in life. There has been

no such bold satirist, no such cynic philosowoke-four hours after in another world, or

pher, no such devoted enthusiast, no ad. rather under another form, without having venturer so daring and gay, no religious tasted death either physically or spiritu- teacher so absolute and visionary, in this ally.'

Victorian age, now beginning to round toward Was Laurence Oliphant's a wasted life?

its end, and which holds in its brilliant roll do

more attractive and interesting name. The answer to that question will depend upon the view we take of the work to

-Blackwood's Magazine. which he specially devoted himself, and

was

FRANCESCA DA RIMINI.

BY MAXWELL GRAY.

“ Nessun maggior dolore Che ricordarsi del tempo felice Nella miseria.”Inferno.

Well might the memory of the "happy sighs,"
The “much desire," whose fair, fruit-boding bloom,
Set in the trembling kiss that held their doom,
Burn fiercelier than the flaine that never dies :
Those ever-linked souls, whom Dante's eyes,
Weeping, saw driven through the dawnless gloom
By hissing tempest ; imminent sorrows loom
Less darkly than such thoughts of rapture rise ;

« VorigeDoorgaan »