December 9, 2016
Steve says, "Aren't we writing too soon after your last entry?" But I have repeatedly given him to feel that it was for a particular person; and that person has received the message, so it is okay to go ahead.
Now, as we (i.e., you) enter the Christmas season, I have some things to say about Christmas; but can Steve put his own ideas in abeyance? It is difficult. Both Mathew and I loved Christ intensely--it was this which drew us together. But I do not mean the dogma which has come down to us as the official version. I mean both the man, Jesus, and the Universal Christ who resides as the indweller in each heart. Our Guru taught openly that it is this Christ who is the true, essential soul, the true Self, in all. This was a hidden teaching in our day, for obvious reasons. Now, it is hidden under church dogma, on the one side, and the rampantly metasticized cancer of materialism, on the other. What used to be secret, is now "hidden in plain sight" by the nonsense piled on top of it. But in our day, we had to be careful.
There were several great themes of social progress in our time, in the 19th century; only one of them was science and technology. Steve saw a program online yesterday, in which it was claimed that magic and science used to be all mixed together, and then they branched off--the implication being, that science took the high road of rationality, leaving magic in the murky confusion of imagination.
As they say, when confronted with misinformation so profound that you are at a loss to untangle it, "No, no, no." In ancient times, the seers, the geniuses--where "genius" was understood to be channeled, not generated--had a spiritual understanding which illuminated the quest for knowledge. But that spiritual understanding became lost by the ignorant who inherited it, and things became muddled. This was before recorded history. Then, science attempted to eliminate the ignorance by throwing out everything spiritual, "lock, stock, and barrel." But this is not true understanding.
True understanding--including a true understanding of Jesus, and the Christ--is not lost. It is in safe-keeping, to be vouchsafed at a time when Society is ready. In the same way, I remained in waiting to be "vouchsafed" to Steve, here in the astral realm, while he went through his wayward searching and struggling. The minute--the "instant," he will tell you--that he became ready to rejoin me, he returned. Well, there was a tense moment, there, where I despaired of it, even having contacted him! But he didn't let me down. He thumbed his nose at the entire world, which would declare him a fool, or worse, and believed in me. (He was right.)
Now, we are about to share my Christmas story with you, but a little preparation is needed. If it is ever proven that this is not, actually my story, well, Steve writes what he feels is true, from me. He has done a great deal of research, with me helping him to find things, and everything points to it. But between you and me, this is my story.
Mathew, who was a regular contributor to first one literary newspaper mid-19th century, and then another, edited my stories (mostly, Steve thinks, to convert them from plays to short stories, but also to update them a little). The very first one was submitted under my maiden initials, "A.P." Henceforth, they were signed as "From the Author of" the first story. But this one we are about to share, was unsigned. It was held back, and submitted to the second paper; and it is ostensibly part of an unsigned series, which Steve has shown was almost certainly Mathew's work. So it was submitted for Christmas (being published, actually, the edition after), as though it was part of the same series--but it is clearly part of the "A.P." series, instead, by the style of writing. Mathew left it essentially intact, only modernizing it with a reference to the date.
You will see that I present a palm reader, only to give a worldly explanation for it at the end. I had to do this, though it pained me. One did not--Steve was going to say "publish," but one did not even dare write anything which made the occult out to be genuine, you see, in my day. And I had already gotten in trouble for that. It was only in the manuscript I did, which became Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," in which I threw caution to the winds--because I was dying, and because I was convalescing in Guadeloupe, where such things were acceptable--that I allowed occult matters to stand in their reality. Also, I must give credit to my cousin, Charles, who had given demonstrations of Mesmerism in America, despite being scorned and ridiculed there. He urged me to courageously present the truth of occult themes, so it is partly due to his encouragement, as well.
After Mathew had submitted my stories to the first paper, about a year later, he wrote to the editor, in-character, as myself. Was he channeling me, as Steve has believed? Well, yes and no. He wrote in character, but it became channeling, and Mathew really wasn't sure if he was doing it, or not. His faith was not so completely developed then, as it is, today, even though he had the benefit of personal contact with prominent advocates for Spiritualism. So here, before we present my story, we want to give a brief sample of the way that Mathew presented me, in 1851. Of course he had known me physically, which Steve has not in his current life. So as Mathew, he knew how I spoke, and how I thought. Mathew "fudged" what I was saying, here--he makes it appear that I may be talking about trends in modern society, but in actuality, he has slipped into his accustomed "royal we," and is having me describe my own experience of religion in the astral realm. "We no longer read" means I no longer read, having passed over--and so-on. Thus Mathew is writing on two levels, as he often did.
I know nothing of the fashionable cant of progress and reform so prevalent just now; but, seriously, that and romance and tale apart, is not Time really moving on faster than of old? Amid all the stir and activity of to-day, does it not seem as though the whole world had caught up that "banner with a strange device--Excelsior"? We no longer read the Scriptures as in times past, content with comprehending the mere letter. God has said--"Let there be light," and lo! our eyes are opened to a treasury of deeper, higher revelation, that gleams out through the sacred volume, illuminating every word and passage, just as the mysterious spiritual world lies all about us and within us, the unseen pulse that vivifies and keeps alive the natural. And thus we find interpreted those other scripture leaves, the great book of creation, and again others speaking out from the world's history; all three confirming the same truths, eloquent with like teaching, as though each one made up its portion of a wondrous chant. Let us believe them all, and let us look upon these changes not as mere things of chance, but prophets telling dimly, but unerringly of the far-away yet sure-coming New Jerusalem.
Mathew has "said a mouthful," here. He has revealed me as a mystic, who draws not from the outward form of scripture, but from the living Word; and equally, from Nature, and from "others speaking out from the world's history." And who were those others? Perhaps Hermes--perhaps Buddha, Krishna, the Sufi poets. Thus I was in physical life, when Mathew knew me, but on top of that, you can see my experience of spirituality--and hence, of Christmas--in the astral realm. Channeling in this life, Steve has conveyed that I experience everything as energy. Here, in 1851, Mathew conveyed my experience of the "unseen pulse." It is the same, just different words.
Now, in the story, I feature a boy who was at odds with his father. I am borrowing heavily from Mathew's own life--but it is Mathew's life as I saw it, as his wife. Some of my other stories treat the same subject. I saw the deep wounding between Mathew and his father, and wanted very much to heal it. The wounding from his mother was another matter--I sensed it, but because Mathew refused to acknowledge it, I was helpless to address it. Thus I had to portray her as he saw her. I had the same name as she--Abigail--and I was mostly concerned that he never transfer his hidden feelings of betrayal from that relationship, onto our relationship! But that is a different story. Here, I am only addressing his emotional estrangement from his father.
Of course you know that I lived in the early Victorian era, and I imbibed the culture and the "milieu" of the time. (Steve will have to look that up--it's a French term, and I want to use it, so I will not let him feel comfortable about substituting something for it.) So I can be preachy and take myself too seriously, and all of that. You will, of course, forgive me! ;-). Steve wants to add, here--and I am not averse--that there are several elements of Mathew's own personal life in this story, including that I have given the hero his middle name, "Franklin." There is also a mention of the girl he had a hopeless crush on, before me, who appears as well in one version of Mathew's story about how we first met. This, in case you are reading both my journal, and Steve's "Updates," and want to "compare notes"! I never really intended that this be published--it was a gift, a Christmas gift, to Mathew (something I am just now telling him). We didn't go to the mall and purchase a store-bought gift--we gave each other a piece of our soul, something wrought by our own mind and hand. (I gave him something special that night, too--I was never shy about sex in the context of my sacred marriage, which was the real Victorian teaching. Were it not, Queen Victoria would hardly have had so many children, would she?)
Here is my story, and to each and all of you, a Very Merry Christmas!
A STORY FOR CHRISTMAS.
It was with a clouded brow and an angry eye that young Frank Harlowe stood looking upon his father's face and hearkening to his words, as he violently rebuked him. The flush upon the old man's cheek betokened the tempest that raged within his breast, and his raised and clenched hand descended in fearful emphasis as he uttered the words--"Obey me, or by heaven, you leave my house forever!"
Mr. Harlowe, the father of Frank, was one of those unfortunate men, whose impulses are stronger than their powers of resistance. His passion once aroused, reason, affection, common kindness were forgotten in the storm that held him in mastery. The hasty and severe word that conveys such bitterness in its utterance, in his moods of temper was always ready, and the hasty blow fell upon his children with cruel violence, at the last provocation. Correct they never received. It was the vindictive visitation of an avenger of wrong rather than the chastisement of a parent.
At heart Mr. Harlowe was a kind man, and oftentimes and bitterly, when the storm had blown by, and his mind was calm again, did he repent with a sincere repentance the evil he had done, of which he was fully sensible. Benevolent, intelligent, noble spirited, self sacrificing, as occasion called for action, he had won himself a name for probity and usefulness that was enviable, and, but for the turbulence of temper above described, few finer men could be found. This weakness was his besetting sin, his temptation, and his will was insufficient to resist it.
Frank Harlowe, his youngest son, and favorite, was his counterpart in body and mind. Handsome, intelligent, and witty, at seventeen he was the favorite of all in the village in which he lived. His generosity was unbounded, and the tendrils of his youthful nature shot forth and strengthened in the fertile soil of congeniality. At social gatherings, he was the crowning spirit. His voice rang merriest at the harvest home, his story elicited the warmest plaudits at the husking frolic, and in the old woods his song echoed through its sombre arches with the joyousness of unrestricted freedom. No jealous rivalry stood in the way of his supremacy, young and old admitted his claim to the distinction, and the smile of beauty--the rustic rose of rural artlessness--beamed for him with constant and kindly glow.
Such was Frank Harlowe in his social intercourse--petted and happy in the genial flow of his unembittered enjoyment, but at home he was a different being. The contrast between the sphere of home and that of neighborhood was too marked. The reverence due parental authority was too little excited by parental love. Disobedience to imperious command was followed by violence of invective or blows, and his high spirit revolted at the irksomeness of domestic oppression. His two elder brothers had no sympathy with him. They were plodding and matter of fact men. Taking from their mother a more passive and quiescent nature than his own, they grubbed along the way of life--like the oxen they drove--that knew no joy beyond the herbage they cropped, having no aspiration beyond the bound of their enclosure. Content with old routines, no new hope obtruded upon their ruminations. They frowned upon the bold boy, whose spirit and brilliancy cast a reproach upon their lethargy, and they rejoiced when the reproof came to curb his ambition. Home was no longer home to him; the ties of consanguinity were to him iron bonds from whose release he would pray to be freed; his mother's love alone sanctified the existence he led--it was the one solitary star in his night of domestic gloom.
His affections, thus turned from the home circle, had concentrated upon one, the fairest of the village, but whose coquetish predilections had rendered her obnoxious to censure, and her fame having reached his father, the knowledge of Frank's attachment for her had provoked a discussion, the result of which was the imperative command with which my story commences, a command that he must renounce her forever.
The boy stood gazing upon his father, with a flashing eye and a swelling breast, as he spoke. Feelings too powerful for utterance were depicted in the look he gave, and he left the room with an expression of bitter rage.
The next morning there was confusion in Mr. Harlowe's house. Frank had fled, no one knew whither, and the circle, whose union was so illy cemented, was broken. A letter in the village post office explained the reason. It read as follows:
"Dear Mother--It grieves me to bid you farewell, but longer sufferance from father's tyrannical usage is impossible. I go to seek my fortune, and when we meet again may be when he and I shall have learned a lesson from our separation and the alienation of father and child may be forgotten in the renewed intercourse of a man and man. Farewell, mother, and may you be more happy than I should have been able to make you had I lived with you a thousand years. Farewell. Remember sometimes your poor boy Frank."
The letter fell like a thunderbolt upon that household, so unprepared for such an event, and deep contrition wrung the erring father's heart, who saw too late the evil he had wrought. The spirited boy had been his favorite, so like him was he in form and mind. He remembered that no word spoken to him in kindness had been unheeded. He heard his praise in every mouth and admitted the justness of the meet that was awarded him, and every word and every thought was a dagger to his soul in view of the ruin he had caused. Then, for the first time he felt the weight of the responsibility that rested upon him as a parent, and trembled as he reflected how far he might be instrumental in his son's eternal doom. Too late came penitence for the past, but he vowed reform for the future, and prayed for strength to fulfil his vow.
A change came over the man and his home. The mould of years and care mingled with the raven hues of youth, for years had passed and no line of remembrance had come from the absent boy. The brothers had married, and had children, and the old homestead was glad with the music of childish laughter, and a sad happiness smiled upon the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Harlowe. The mother had mourned for her child, and his remembrance often came to her in the voices of her grandchildren, and in the sweet reminiscences which solitude brought. The hope of seeing him had long died out in her breast; for twelve weary years had elapsed since he went away.
The village had changed. The young and joyous companions of Frank had turned into grave family men, or had moved to strange cities, and become the devotees of the money-god or worshipped Fame in high places. The maids with whom he had sported, had lost their smiles in the matronly cares of life, or had transferred them to their children, upon whom they bloomed again. The coquette of Frank's old idolatry had years before given place to younger rivals, and mourned her faded charms in singleness of state. The village had become populous, and new steeples gleamed above the trees in the sunlight, and new streets and houses marked the steps of progress. A railroad whistle greeted the morning sun instead of the song of birds as of old, and the quiet of village life had been usurped by the confusion of city habits.
Frank was forgotten in the march of present excitement, or only remembered as a pleasant dream.
It was Christmas night in the year of grace '50, and a pleasant party had met in the house of Mr. Harlowe, to celebrate the birthday anniversary of his eldest grandson. The wind howled around the old mansion house, and growled down the spacious chimney, as if threatening the elements of geniality that reigned below with a submerging visit. The snow rattled against the windows, red with indoor light, and piled itself in little heaps upon the sills. But all was unheeded by the party within, and the wind and snow were unheard amid the music of mirth. The song was trilled from pretty lips and manly voices joined in a chorus of praise to the festive season, when a loud knock of the ancient brazen lion upon the door arrested every attention. The sound reverberated along the old entry, and up the broad stairway, and through the large and airy rooms, with remarkable freedom for such an intruder, at such a time. The timid shrunk at the sound, as from a boding of evil, and anxiety marked every face. The door was opened, and a female for was ushered in, in whose scant and ragged habilliments poverty was but too plainly read, and in the bronzed and wrinkled face, revealed by the removal of a red hood, was seen the traces of want and exposure. Her keen black eye as she entered surveyed the scene, and her bronzed complexion glowed ruddily in the firelight.
"Good people," she said in a cracked and tuneless voice, that made the flesh of her hearers creep at its sound, "I am weary and hungry--give me of your bounty in the name of Him who upon this day took upon himself the condition of man. I am weary--I am hungry."
An appeal thus made could not be resisted, and the best the house afforded was provided for the poor stranger. The voracity with which she ate attraction the attention of the circle, fully attesting her famished condition; and a glance at her apparel confirmed the impression of want and distress, and mercy conquered the disgust which her presence had at first occasioned. Her feet protruded through her travel-worn shoes, and the snow melted from their soles and ran down upon the sanded floor.
As soon as her hunger was appeased, she turned to depart, but the voice of Mr. Harlowe asked her to remain, and in sympathetic tones reminded her of the inclemency of the night.
The woman expressed her thanks gracefully and seated herself by the fireside. The sport went on noisily and happily, when it became whispered that the old dame was one of those weird people who tell fortunes by the stars or more ignoble means, and open to view the destinies of men that lay concealed in the future.
"Can you tell fortunes, good woman?" asked one of the youngest and boldest.
"I have traveled far," replied the beldame, "and I have learned strange arts in my wanderings. The heavens are open to my gaze, and the stars, where mysteries of fate are hid, are as the printed page. The human palm is to me a key to character. Who will test my power?"
One by one did the company pass before her, and the prescience she displayed was most marvellous. The lines of the hand seemed pregnant with meaning, and the past life of each individual was read with an accuracy that gave importance to her predictions for the future. Scenes were recalled to many that had long been forgotten--loves that had been disappointed, hopes that had been destroyed, prospects that had been blasted, and many a tear was shed at the recollection of some old grief revealed by the power of that singular woman.
At length Mr. Harlowe presented his hand for examination. Gazing upon it a moment intently, with a voice choked by emotion, she said--"here is violence and strife--the line of life is crossed by threads of bitterness and wo and the whole of its deep course is marked by traces of grief. Tears, tears are here, and the lines of penitence and anguish of soul are strangely interwoven with the strong lines of resolution. I see that a deep sorrow is yours--the result of fierce passion, repented of and subdued--is it not so?
She fixed her eyes suddenly upon Mr. Harlowe's face. It was pallid as death, and the tears stood in his eye. "Yes," answered he, and trembled as he spoke, "God knows my sin and God knows my repentance. Secret tears have been my portion for years, and, oh, what would I not give if the memory of my wrong might be wiped away."
He bowed his head upon his hands and sobbed in the anguish of his spirit, and Mrs. Harlowe wept in sympathy with her husband whose deep grief she had thus discovered, which had long been concealed beneath the calm exterior of philosophical resignation.
"Woman," he cried at last, "what is the future of this picture? Is there no balm in store for my wounded spirit?" He grasped her hand forcibly, as if he would have wrung from it an answer to his question.
"Yes," said she, with deep emotion, "there is a future of peace and happiness in store for you and the sun of your declining years shall be radiant with serene splendor, and, thank God, who has given me power to verify my prophecy--"Father! mother! behold your son!"
He threw off his ragged habiliments as he spoke, removed the gray and matted hair from his brow and the patches from his cheeks, and stood before the company in the noble form--matured in manly strength and beauty--of Frank Harlowe.
There was a new joy in the house that night at the wanderer's return, and tears and smiles mingled at the recital of his story. The wide world he had traveled and he had learned and profited by the lessons it had taught him. He had returned home rich in gold, but he was richer in the spirit he had brought. It had become softened by the trials it had suffered, until it had brought him back to his father's house, and to his mother's feet.
His letters home had failed to reach their destination, and deeming himself an outcast he had at length refused to write at all. He had married a lady of wealth, and had become a denizen of a far away city. But the thoughts of home pressed upon him, and the smile of his mother haunted his sleep with fond persistence, and he longed to see once more the "old familiar faces" that were his companions in childhood. He had thus come back to revisit the home of his early life. Stopping at the hotel he had made such enquiries concerning his old friends as led him into the secret of their past lives. Then assuming his disguise, he went to his father's house in the manner above stated. The secret of his soothsaying ability was thus revealed. The whole of Christmas night was occupied with the story of Frank's adventures and in thanksgivings for the reunion.
The next summer a splendid mansion graced the hill opposite the old homestead, which soon became and is now the residence of Frank Harlowe, Esq., who, retired from business, has here settled down to enjoy himself amid the never forgotten scenes of his boyhood, and to endeavor to make up by attention to his parents for the long years he had failed in his duty to them.
Mr. Harlowe is a happy old man, and instils it as a sacred lesson into the minds of his grandchildren to beware of cultivating a hasty temper, which had been so full of misery to himself.