What follows is the text of Authentic Dreams of Peter Blobbs, complete except for the contents page and two advertisements for books by Arthur John Hubbard, who - according to the catalogue of the British Library - was 'Peter Blobbs'.
THE authors have hopes that, after their out of-pocket expenses in connection with the publication of this little book have been recouped, they may possibly derive some profit from its sale. In that event, the whole of any such profit that may accrue to them before the end of 1917 will be used in the manner that, in their discretion, is best adapted 'to relieve suffering in connection with, or to serve the purpose of, the War.
Their desire at present is to send a contribution to the funds of the Prisoners of War Help Committee at 5 and 7 Southampton Street, Strand, London, W.C.
'Twas the voice of the Sluggard; I heard him complain,
'You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again'-
As the door on its hinges, so he, on his bed,
Turns his sides, and his shoulders, and his heavy head.
' A little more sleep, and a little more slumber;'
Thus he wastes half his days, and his hours without number ;
And when he gets up, he sits folding his hands,
Or walks about sauntering, or trifling he stands.
I passed by his garden, and saw the wild brier,
The thorn and the thistle grow broader and higher;
The clothes that hang on him are turning to rags,
And his money still wastes, till he starves or he begs.
I made him a visit, still hoping to find
That he took better care for improving his mind ;
He told me his dreams, talk'd of eating and drinking;
But he scarce reads his Bible, and never loves thinking.
THE man who tells his dreams in private is generally an insufferable bore. The man who has the temerity to offer them to the public is, obviously, one who ought to be killed:-and buried securely. The gentle reader will kindly note that the present writers have therefore preferred to remain pseudonymous. Peter Blobbs, M.D., does not exist : neither does Mrs. Blobbs.
Still, it may be as well to explain that the real name of the Chief Dreamer can be easily found in the official Medical Register; that he is an elderly doctor who, after many laborious years, has now retired from practice. It should be added that he is a teetotaler, and that his dreams are not the result of any drug-habit. He is quite sane, and his family history is free from the taint of insanity.
The most mysterious of dreams is the so called ' proleptic' dream. In this, the dreamer creates a difficulty for himself that only subsequently, perhaps during sleep, perhaps while awake, receives its solution. The mystery is usually accounted for by the statement that various centres in the brain ' are not acting in harmony.' Dr. Blobbs is told that the proleptic element in his dreams can be explained by the supposition that, when they arise, one part of his brain is ' asleep ' while another is ' awake.' Unfortunately, Dr. Blobbs finds that it is easier to repeat this statement by rote than it is to accept its implications, or even to attach any intelligible meaning to it. He, is inclined to think that the solution of the problem of the proleptic dream, when it comes, will be found to carry with it the solution of some of the most profound problems of philosophy and psychology. Meanwhile, although the explanation that is usually given appears to him to be totally insufficient to account for the phenomenon, he has no substitute to offer.
Dr. Blobbs comes of a family of dreamers - dreamers especially of proleptic dreams. His mother, for instance, once dreamed that she picked up a book-a rough unbound paper book, bearing the title
This was too bewildering to her, and she turned to examine the book more closely. Upon doing so, she observed that the book had received much hard usage, the paper was frayed and completely worn away at the beginning of the word' Astrology.' She then realised that the letter ' G ' had been destroyed, and that the word originally had been' Gastrology.' In this case, the explanation came during sleep. The word ' Gastrology ' is much treasured in the Blobbs family.
While speaking of his mother, Dr. Blobbs cannot refrain from placing on record a proverb that came to her in one of her dreams ; a proverb that he commends to the attention of those who may feel tempted by the flamboyant prospectuses of certain proposed Companies:'No grass too green for Ass-land ! '
Another instance of prolepsis in dreaming may be given from the experience of Dr. Blobbs himself.
In a dream, he had been reading a book on Astronomy. The book was profoundly interesting, and the various parts of the midnight sky had each a separate chapter assigned to them. On turning the leaves, and commencing a new chapter, these words met his astonished gaze:
'The section of the sky that we are about to describe is distinguished by the number of Binary Systems and Fascinities that it contains.'
Dr. Blobbs was completely puzzled by the word ' Fascinities.' Binary Systems he knew, Algol and his Dark Companion were familiar subjects of study, but what were 'Fascinities' ? The context showed that the word indicated not Binary Systems, but systems of three or more stars usually known as 'Multiple Systems,' whose members are engaged in the figures of a dance, the mazes whereof are incalculable to the mathematician. But why allude to a Multiple System as a 'Fascinity' ? The mystery was revealed to the dreamer on waking, after he had recalled the Latin word fascis, a bundle.
More or less akin to these proleptic dreams, is one that occurred to Dr. Blobbs's brother, Mr. Tiberius Blobbs, F.S.A., Past Vice-President of the R.I.B.A. Mr. Tiberius Blobbs was walking hurriedly along the pavement in the City, when he encountered himself hurrying in the opposite direction. The two stopped for a moment, gazing upon one another. 'You yellow-faced Devil !' said he, and they both hastened on, each in his own direction.
'It is sad to relate,' adds Tiberius, 'but on yet another occasion one of my other selves died, and I attended his funeral.'
Further on in these pages will be found a longer dream by Mr. Tiberius Blobbs, and also one by Dr. Blobbs's daughter, Miss Belinda Blobbs. Dr. Blobbs's sister, now Mrs. Vinea Vietor, when she was a very tiny person, used to narrate her dreams to her mother, always beginning with the introduction: 'When I went into the pretty things last night . . .' Mrs. Vinea Victor writes (1916) : ' Mother-of-pearl boats with white sails, on blue water, and all sorts of birds and flowers and clouds made a rapturous combination.'
Perhaps the most remarkable dreaming feat, whose accomplishment is known, was performed by one of Dr. Blobbs's maternal uncles, when, at the age of nineteen, he composed the following sonnet. Dr. Blobbs possesses a copy, on a half-sheet of notepaper, in his uncle's handwriting. Some notes have been added by the same hand, and Dr. Blobbs transcribes the whole:
Feeding my flocks by seven silvery streams,
I lay beneath an elm-tree on the ground;
And the warm turf was dappled all around
With leaf-cast shadows :-opposite the beams
Of the high sun a marble mansion gleams,
In the far distance; and the humming sound
Of busy insects from yon thymy mound, Like the soft voice of flower-born music seems.-
'Peace! ' murmured low the streams. - 'Strife ! ' cried my heart.
'Ease ! ' rustled forth the elm. - 'Not so! Disquiet!'
'Home!' spoke the mansion.-'All are strangers there ! '
'Music!' hummed forth the bees. - 'No! Discord! Riot ! '-
I was at war with all things - for they were
Too calm and still for me to be a part!
(Signed here) April 2, 1849.
On the top right-hand corner of the half sheet of notepaper are the words ' Turn over,' and, on doing so, one finds the following note
on the back: - 'The first part of this sonnet I remembered entire, and the last part is very little if at all different to a dream that I had this morning. I got up and wrote it as soon as I awoke-about half-past seven.
(Signed again) April 2, 1849.
Lines 1, 2, 8, 4,-8, 9, 10, 11, 12,-14 verbatim. The rest as nearly so as I could remember.
Dr. Blobbs also possesses a manuscript copy of a song by the author of this sonnet. He dreamed, in old age, that he heard it sung by a lady who was well known to him. The dreamer was fortunately able to remember it on waking, and immediately wrote it down. In the estimation of Dr. Blobbs, this is one of the three or four most beautiful songs in the English language. It has, never been published, and is not given here. The lines that are quoted above suffice to demonstrate the possibilities and power possessed by the dreaming mind. Those who are acquainted with the complex difficulties that attend the successful composition of a sonnet, will admit that, compared with the achievement of his uncle, Dr. Blobbs's disentanglement of the involutions of his dream, '£100,000 for a Revolver' was but a very little thing.
The dreams here narrated have occurred at various times, and Dr. Blobbs has originally recalled them to fill up vacant days spent in a Nursing Home, while disabled by a refractory eye.
In writing them down he has had the assistance of his wife, not only as an amanuensis, but also as the one individual who, having heard them in the early mornings of long-ago, is now able to assist him in bringing them to mind again.
Dr. and Mrs. Blobbs make no scientific claim in connection with this little book. Their hope is that it may serve to while away an hour for someone else who may be placed in circumstances similar to those under which it was written, and their ambition is that it may assist, in however small a degree, in relieving the results of the War, or in furthering the attainment of its objects.
NOTE.-Dr. and Mrs. Blobbs cannot quite agree as to whether the two following dreams, 'The Night of the Flaming Censer,' and 'The Path of the Swinging Axe,' occurred in the same night, or on separate occasions. They have therefore treated them as one, but divided into two parts.
It was the eve of the Coronation.
I found myself in a vast and lofty cathedral, so lofty that I could see no roof, and so vast that all the outlines were vague, and left but little impression on my mind.
I was one of a crowd assembled to witness the strange ceremony known as ' The Night of the Flaming Censer.'
During the night preceding the Coronation of their King, peasants and yeomen have the immemorial right to occupy the cathedral in which the ceremony takes place on the following day.
I found myself surrounded by whispering groups of country-folk, attired in curious old world dress. Many wore loose jackets, heirlooms from generation to generation, made of red or purple velvet, trimmed with cloth-of gold, and ornamented with hollow spherical buttons of chased silver. Their feet, encased in skins, fell noiselessly upon the stone floor.
The women had come wearing heavy belts, with great silver buckles, and were decked with jewellery which was strangely at variance with the life revealed by their hard and toil worn hands.
But the object that most attracted my attention, and that was the centre of interest to all eyes, was a huge silver-gilt censer, suspended from the gloom of the roof of the nave. It hung half-way between the west window and the high Gothic arches supporting the tower of the cruciform building, and must have weighed many tons. Perhaps ten feet high, and as big round as an ox, its surface was made up of an interlacing tracery, leaving holes which, in its upper part; were two or three inches across. From some of these the smoke of the burning incense gently curled in minute spirals.
As evening drew on, I observed that the bystanders were regarding it with increasing attention, and, as the sun was setting, I saw, to my amazement, that the huge censer was no longer at rest. With a movement that was almost imperceptible at first, the ponderous mass slowly gathered way, swinging to and fro with the stately movement of the bob of a gigantic pendulum. It is difficult to describe the slowness with which its impetus was increased; but the arc through which it swept was greater with every beat, and, as the hours passed, it swung with a steadily increasing speed and momentum.
Flames began to issue from the openings in its tracery, and, as the night wore on, it moved with awful speed, and a violence impossible to describe. Its maximum was reached at midnight. Filling the cathedral with the smoke of its incense, the glowing monster swung to and fro, in a semicircle which extended from - end to end of the nave, hissing, roaring, and followed by a stream of sparks and flame.
As the hours of the new day waxed, so its movements waned. Its path became shorter and shorter, and with a gradation as slow as that by which it had increased, the great censer slowly sank to rest, and, as the sun rose, it hung motionless, red-hot and unapproachable.
THE day had dawned, the Coronation of the King was at hand.
Again I found myself in the vast-cathedral, but now the scene had changed. Since the morning, wooden stages had been erected, and, instead of the peasants, the cathedral was filling with princes and lords and gaily dressed ladies. I knew, but only dimly, that galleries had been set up under the great arches, and that they, too, were filling.
Other preparations had been made.
Towards the west window, an oblong space extending nearly across the nave was kept vacant. Its long diameter began under one of the great arches forming the south side of the nave, and reached as far as three-quarters of the way towards those on the north. The sides of this, the long diameter of the oblong space, were enclosed by a high and heavy, unscaleable iron railing. The north end, which, of course, was in the nave, was open and unprotected; but the south end, that under the arch, was furnished with iron gates of the same heavy construction as the railing.
Somehow - dreamwise - I became aware that this gigantic axe had been preserved by these strange people as a national possession from time immemorial. It looked to me as though it were made of bronze, and its shape was exactly that of the Labrys of the prehistoric Cretan civilisation.
It hung motionless, as though guarding the regalia.
People were still pressing into the cathedral, filling the nave, except for a lane along the middle of it, and crowding the stages in the aisles. The chancel was raised high above the level of the nave, and I could see but little of what was going on there. I never saw the altar, for all was hidden by the clouds of incense that filled the chancel. Every now and then, however, when the clouds were partly swept aside, I saw white-robed ecclesiastics, and, at intervals, the monotonous droning of an interminable litany came faintly down the nave.
Then the great event of the day began. The iron gates at the south end of the oblong space were flung open, and the upright figure of the King about-to-be appeared in the gateway. There he paused.
As though inspired by his presence, the great axe quivered, and began to swing to and fro, from east to west, from west to east, much as the great censer had done in the night, but of course with a shorter sweep.
Then I saw that, with every sweep, the axe moved nearer to the King. The King stepped forwards toward the axe, advancing at right angles to the line of its swing. The iron gates, not to be opened again, clanked-to behind him, and the real ceremonies of the coronation had begun.
In my dream I knew that once, some five hundred years ago, the King then chosen lost his nerve and feared to face the axe. The axe moved ever towards him, horrible and unrelenting, and the King shrank before it, pressing himself in terror against the iron gates. Just as the axe reached him, he screamed aloud to the horror-stricken multitude. What he said was well known, but was never communicated to me, a foreigner. The night after this horrible event, the great censer was set swinging again, and by the following day a braver king had been found.
No such calamity marred the ceremony that I witnessed. As the axe drew nearer to the King, so the King drew nearer to the axe. Every time that the axe swept before him, the King advanced a short pace towards it. Now, in the tense silence of the cathedral, they were close together : the strain became unendurable.
Once more the axe swept past the King, the wind of its passage stirring the hem of his gold-embroidered robe; and then, with one long stride, he crossed its path, and by the time that the axe returned, the King had reached the table.
There he paused again, while the axe swung harmlessly behind him.
I cannot remember that there was any noise of cheering; there were no shouts, no signs of welcome - the tension of the appalling scene appeared to have paralysed the spectators.
In a silence only broken by the droning of the litany, the King, now cut off from all other men, stood motionless before his people.
Then, slowly, he raised the crown in both hands, and:- for now no other had the right to do so :- he set it upon his own head. One by one he took up the other emblems, and then, in all the splendour of royalty, he passed out into the nave and commenced his solitary progress through the cathedral. Slowly, slowly he ascended the steps that led up to the chancel and was lost to sight in the cloud of incense.
I never saw him again.
I was on board ship in one of the ports of the Malacca Straits. We were fast to the wharfside, and I was alone on board. Not a breath stirred the leaves of the bananas that fringed the shore: all was stillness and peace.
Suddenly I was aware of commotion on the beach; cries and the angry shouting of men broke the calm ; shots were fired, and, a moment afterwards, I saw the captain and crew rush from under the palms, followed closely by armed natives. Racing for the ship, the captain turned, and, before my eyes, killed several of his pursuers. This stayed them for a little while, and captain and crew burst on board in urgent haste they cast loose, set sail for the open sea, and we found ourselves in safety. I then learned from the captain that he and his men had been interrupted while rifling a temple. They had had to drop all their loot, except one stone which the captain had got - a gem known to be worth £100,000. In addition, they had lost all their arms and weapons of every description.
* * * * * *
The days pass, and I become conscious that my relations with the captain, hitherto so cordial, are gradually changing. A slight coolness springs up between us, and we become just a little more distant and polite to one another. I realise that I am living with a man who is a murderer and a sacrilegious thief. He, on his part, realises that I witnessed the commission of the murders, that I am not implicated, and that, so surely as I am a gentleman, I shall give information against him as soon as the vessel puts into any port. But this is not all. I know what is in his mind, and know that he is aware that the only chance for him and his crew is to kill me also. Fortunately, I have my revolver by me, and, of course, the rest are all unarmed. The revolver is always in my pocket or under my pillow: no one dare attack me.
With all this knowledge of one another's purposes in our minds, and oppressed by a sense of the horror of impending events, life goes on as though nothing had occurred. We dine, play cards, and pass the days together as usual. Then it comes into my mind that this is an impossible state of things, that it cannot continue indefinitely, and that my position is hopeless. Someone will club me some day, awake or asleep; and it dawns upon me that the only course, by which I can combine safety with honour, is to shoot the captain myself - he being the only man by whom I have actually seen murder committed. And, again, somehow I know that the captain is aware that I have come to this conclusion.
At length, I decide that the time has come for putting my plan into execution, and I am in the act of quitting my room in the house-on-deck, in order to shoot the captain, when it suddenly occurs to me that he is the only man on board who understands navigation, and that, if I kill him, we are all inevitably lost.
And, once again, life goes on as though nothing had occurred. We dine, play cards, and pass the days together as usual.
But one day, when I am off my guard, the captain steals my revolver.
All is up with me : I am entirely in his power, and, so well does he know it, that he does not kill me at once: he can do that any day. And I say nothing to him about the revolver, and he says nothing to me, and again life goes on as though nothing had occurred. We dine, play cards, and pass the days together as usual.
Then a brilliant idea strikes me. I am not watched now, for there is no longer any need to do so, and I hunt feverishly through .the ship until I find a somewhat loose knot in one of the great beams. This I contrive to pull out ; I saw off the inner part, and replace the rest exactly in its former position. Thus I make me a secret chamber deep in the beam.
Next, I wait for a moment when the captain, in his turn, is off his guard; I enter his room, snatch the gem from under his pillow, and hurriedly convey it to my hiding-place in the beam, securely corking it up with the knot. The captain discovers that I have stolen the gem, and, just as before I could not kill the captain while I had the revolver, because he was the only man who understood navigation, so, now that he has it, he cannot kill me, because I alone know where the stone is hidden. And he says nothing to me about it, and I say nothing to him, and again life goes on as though nothing had occurred. We dine, play cards, and pass the days together as usual.
But the calm is more superficial than ever, for now a furious search throughout the ship begins, and in my sleep 'the horrors' come upon me worse than ever. While the searchers are far away from my beam, I am dry in the mouth with terror. I know that, if they find it, I cannot in any way twist or double again; my death is certain, I shall be ruthlessly shot at once. I dare not so much as think of the spot where I have hidden it, lest my very thoughts should lead them there. And, when they become, as the children say, 'hot,' my state is such as one can scarcely fall into except in one's dreams. But the cavity was small, and deep, and tightly corked, and gave out no resonant note when they tapped the beam. And through all the long time that the search continues, life goes on as usual; we dine, play cards, and pass the days together as though nothing had occurred.
But the gem's hiding-place was never discovered, and, gradually, as time went by, the captain and I again conceived each a certain frank respect for the other: each saw that the other was a man of nerve and resource. We understood one another, and as the ship arrived in port, we came to an agreement. I give him the gem worth £100,000, he returns my revolver to me, and thus the dream justifies its title.
I found myself, as one often does in a dream, wandering in a vast dark space. On this occasion I became conscious, first of all, of a low, heavy, continuous sound over my head. It seemed distant, and, although it rose and fell in volume, it never ceased entirely. The next thing that I realised was that the space in which I found myself had been hollowed in rock, leaving a flat roof of rough stone not so very far above my head, and that the dull sound was conveyed to me from the upper surface of the superincumbent mass. Then, dreamwise, I became aware that I was in the Roman Catacombs, and that the noise I heard was the reverberation from the stream of vehicles in the streets above me.
I do not know how long I wandered aimlessly in the dark : it seemed for a long while, but I moved freely and had no fear. Then began the strange happenings of my dream.
Far away, rather to my left hand, I perceived a little dim speck of yellow light. I moved towards it, and, as I drew near, I found that, there was a number of dark figures in front of it - men and women, of whom I could see only a few. Then I realised that I had slipped bark to the earlier days of the Roman Empire that, these were Christians worshipping in secret, and that I had come upon them by accident.
I crept up, nearer and nearer, and, presently, I had reached the outskirts of the kneeling congregation. The very fact that I had found my way there seemed to be a passport that admitted me among them. My appearance created no surprise or disturbance : I was accepted in silence as one of themselves : those close by gently made room to admit me, and I fell on my knees among the humble worshippers.
Then I saw that the shaded light was on a little table, and that a priest stood behind it, facing us. I found that a Litany was being recited, but recited so quietly that, for some time, I could not hear what was said. The priest's low voice scarcely reached me, and the responses came only as a soft whisper that passed among the worshippers. When I joined in them, my words were scarcely breathed.
Presently I began to be able to hear the petitions murmured in the low tones of the priest, and I found, with the utmost surprise; that the Litany was one that I had never heard before. My surprise increased with every new petition that I heard. First the beauty of them struck me, and, though I still made scarcely any sound, I joined fervently in the responses. Then they became more and more strange, and caused me the greatest astonishment. Bitterly I regret that I could only remember the one that was last recited before my amazement woke me up. Response and petition swung to and fro, and as a response died away, I heard the priest's voice, speaking almost inaudibly, say :-
'From the drift and the tendency of things,'
Then the soft murmur of the last response :-
'Good Lord, deliver us,'
came from the congregation of the faithful. And evermore, over our heads, we heard the ceaseless rumble of the traffic of triumphant Rome.
I dreamt that I was standing at a railway book-stall, idly turning over the leaves of a list of illustrated publications.
The advertisements referred to a compilation of stories taken from history, apparently intended for children. The specimens of illustrations showed me King Alfred burning the cakes, William Tell shooting the apple from his son's head, and other historical incidents equally well known to intelligent infants.
One of them, however, I could not recognise. It represented a naked, emaciated man, holding the handle of a door at the end of a long and gorgeous passage. ' Good gracious I ' I thought, ' what is this ? What on earth is the story connected with this ? ' I paused for a moment. ' How stupid I am! ' I thought.
'Of course it was so-and-so and such-and-such.'
Then, as is the way of dreams, I became one of the witnesses of the tragedy illustrated in the publisher's circular.
The circular and book-stall vanished, and I found myself engaged on a journey. For a week or more I travelled by train with a little black bag, which was examined at many frontiers.
At length I found myself in the region of adventure. Two countries were at war: I never learned their names; in dreams such names are superfluous, and I must distinguish them as the Greater Land and the Lesser Land.
Through all the scenes that I am about to describe, I was with the people of the Greater Land. They were a remarkable mixture of old and new. Their dress was that of five hundred years ago, but their weapons were up-to-date. The origin of some of their ceremonies was lost in the dim mists of a prehistoric past, but their methods of warfare were those of to-day.
The war between these two countries had persisted for many months before I arrived upon the scenes, and it is not too much to say that I witnessed the closing act of along-drawn tragedy.
The Greater Land, at the beginning of the war, was a monarchy, and their King had belonged to a dynasty of immemorial descent.
The inhabitants of the Lesser Land were far less numerous, but were, individually, of a higher type.
The war brought to the-surface one of the officers of the Lesser Land, who became the hero of my dream.
A long succession of actions had been fought, in which the armies of the Lesser Land, though vastly outnumbered, had been frequently victorious, owing to the skill and intrepidity of this officer. He became their Commander-in-chief, and lead won, by his resourcefulness and unfailing cheerfulness, not only the respect, but the devoted love of his fellow-countrymen.
The war had been waged with bitterness: it was a war of extermination, and the victories of this hero, whose name, like those of the countries engaged, I never learnt, had been marked by a strange peculiarity. In every battle one or more of the Royal House of the Greater Land had fallen. At length the King himself had lost his life, and royalty had vanished from among them.
Meanwhile, these victories had cost the Lesser Land dearly : their resources had become exhausted, and the struggle became more and more unequal. The tide of war had turned. The numbers of the Greater Land at length wore down and finally destroyed the thinned battalions of the Lesser. Their hero maintained the struggle to the last, but shortly before my arrival, he, too, was captured, and, in this war, the fate of all prisoners was death.
He was brought in triumph to their capital, and placed in a small guard-room in the vacant palace of the Royal Family. By order of the government he was detained there and treated with every contumely.
The people among whom I found myself were indeed an extraordinary race. Fierce and unscrupulous, they were, nevertheless, capable of a vivid hero-worship, and able to appreciate the greatness of the prisoner whom fate had placed in their hands.
I shared the general surprise at the fiendish treatment meted out to him by the government.
Starved to emaciation, he was daily beaten, and brutally ill-treated by his three guards.
Then came the dénouement.
One day his guards entered his room, and, with their accustomed violence, stripped him naked.
I ought to have said that his room opened upon a long and magnificent passage, at the end of which was a large door leading to the interior of the palace.
The doomed man was then commanded by his guards to go, all naked as he was, to the door at the end of the passage, to turn the handle, and to advance into the room beyond.
Then the first of his guards addressed him. Turning to the lost man, 'In that room,' he said, 'you will find the sword.'
Then the second spoke. ' In that room,' he said, 'you will find the sword that is for you.'
Then the third spoke. 'In that room,' he said, 'you will feel the weight of the sword that is for you.'
The broken and hopeless man went slowly down the long passage. Taking the handle of the door in his hand, he paused for a moment:- and I recognised the scene that had been depicted in the publisher's circular.
Slowly he turned the handle, passed into the inner room, and closed the door behind him.
Arrived, as he believed, in the chamber of execution, he paused again ; then, raising his downcast eyes, he ventured to survey the scene before him. To his astonishment he discovered that the room was empty: no judge or executioner was there : he was absolutely alone.
I saw that he had found himself in a vast, dim chamber, so dim that it was difficult to distinguish the details of what was before him. Presently he made out that it was a royal apartment, magnificently appointed. A rich, warm carpet was beneath his bare feet, dark tapestries covered the walls, and light was admitted faintly through stained glass in the roof.
Gradually he recognised that this was no place of execution ; and, thereafter, one surprise crowded upon another before his astonished gaze. In the middle of the room was a table draped in purple; and there, indeed, lay the sword. But it was no sword of execution. Upon a silken cushion, in a golden scabbard, rested the great sword of state ; and on other cushions on either side, were the crown and sceptre.
Then, as his eyes became accustomed to the dim light, the naked man saw, disposed in various parts of the room, all the raiment of a King.
As is the way of dreams, he grasped without an effort the meaning of the discipline through which he had passed, and of the scene which lay before him. He had slain their King indeed, but had been purged of the horrible crime. Stripped and sent naked down the passage, he had left his old life and his former self behind him. And now he divined that he, the slayer of their King, had been chosen to fill the vacant throne.
One by one he assumed the robes of royalty. He lifted the heavy sword and girded it on ; he set the Crown upon his head, and, taking the Orb and the Sceptre in either hand, he passed out through the door by which - a doomed man - he had so lately entered.
Once more he slowly passed down the passage, robed in all the habiliments of a King, and bearing the insignia of royalty. No longer was the passage empty. There, on each side, stood the chancellors and .the great officers of state, all waiting to make due obeisance to the King of the Greater Land as he left his palace to show himself before his people, and to receive the acclamation of the waiting multitudes.
One peculiarity of my dream on this occasion was that everything passed in complete darkness. From beginning to end not a glimmer of light was seen ; and in the silence of black space I held forth on the splendour of the sun and the sunshine. I was declaiming loudly and confidently, and yet with a deep sense of the gravity and importance of the significance of what I was saying:- a significance that, I knew, did not appear upon the surface of what I said. Although I spoke in an allegory, still, until the answer came, I am not quite sure how far I comprehended this allegorical element in my speech.
Standing up in the gloom that surrounded me, I described the journey of the sun:- how he rose in glory, how his coming was heralded by the clouds that lighted up at his approach, and filled the dark sky with supernal beauty. I said that he broke forth in such glowing magnificence that no eye could look upon him:- that around him was the gleam of the opal and the translucent brilliance of the ruby. I said that the glories of the sky itself were due to him alone, and described his stately progress through the heavens. I said that the earth was lighted by his beams, and sprang into life beneath their influence. I described the end of his diurnal travels:-how, having risen in the East, and pursued his majestic way across the sky, he passed, as he had come, in a scene of celestial splendour. In my oration, I declared that this was performed, not once nor twice, but day after day:- day after day until time should be no more.
Again, the silence of black space. And then, in the darkness, came a voice:-the Voice of Omniscience, making reply:-
'That these things were not so : that the Sun was motionless ; and that it was I myself who moved.'
Comfort descended upon my soul ; and I awoke, feeling the humility of one to whom a revelation had been vouchsafed.
I was walking in a London suburb, with nothing in particular to do, when, quite unexpectedly, I met the late Professor X-, who, at the ,time that my dream occurred, was living, and was an extremely well-known man. There was nothing extraordinary in this meeting, for he lived in the neighbourhood where I found myself, and I knew him slightly.
After the usual greetings, he asked me to walk home with him. We turned through the familiar streets, with the cement-faced houses, until we arrived at the professor's. On the doorstep he took out his latchkey, and asked me to come in.
All had been as natural as could be up to that point; but, as soon as he opened the door, I was surprised to find that the interior of the house had been entirely changed. Instead of the hall there was an immensely long corridor, apparently some hundreds of feet in length. Some hundreds of pedestals lined either side of this immense corridor, and on every pedestal stood a figure of Professor X-, life-size and frock: coated.
One pedestal had no figure upon it, and I watched the Professor X- to whom I had been talking walk down the corridor and step on to the vacant pedestal. There he stood, life-like, frock-coated, and immoveable, in all respects precisely like the hundreds of other representations of this remarkable man.
While I still stood on the door-mat, a figure from an adjacent pedestal stepped down, and, in the most natural manner possible, continued the conversation with me. He took up the thread of the conversation, and told me that he was giving a lecture that evening. He added that it was to be a humorous lecture, and as I turned to go, and shook hands with him, I glanced at the label on the pedestal from which he had just stepped down, and I noted the word 'Humorous.'
long avenue of X-s. 'Remarkable man,' I thought as I left him. 'How versatile! ' The sight of the immense corridor with the hundreds of X-s was evidence that he was a man of many parts.
Again I found myself walking down the dreary roads of the suburb, and I wandered along them to a deserted hotel on the seashore in Cumberland. In this hotel I had, as a matter of fact, taken up my abode, and nothing could be more natural than that I should turn in there. In this hotel I shared a sitting-room with a friend, and as I entered it, I found him there in duplicate. In easychairs on either side of the fireplace were the two figures of my friend : they were in all respects precisely alike. My friend - one of the most excellent of beings - was, however, a man with only two ideas.
Note by Dr. Blobbs.--I have added some commas, but, in every other respect, the following is printed exactly as it appears in a manuscript that was given to me by my daughter Belinda when she was fourteen years old.
I was one of a tribe of brown people, who lived before there were any civilised nations, except, perhaps, the Chinese.
This tribe lived in the centre of Africa, in a small village, with an impenetrable forest on one side, and a huge desert, covered with low scrubby bushes and great rough boulders, on the other side ; which desert extended as far as the eye could see.
There were many stories about this great mysterious desert ; one was that, when any person was going to die, a terrible, irresistible Force seemed to draw them forth; and when anyone felt it coming over them, their friends went with them to the edge of this unknown plain and there left the doomed one, for they could not go any further, and the unhappy victim of this terrible Force went out alone into the wilderness, and never returned. This story was true, but no one knew what became of those who went out under this dreadful magnetic Force.
One day a traveller came to the village, saying that there was a wonderful Nut, buried deep in one of these enormous boulders of rock, which would make the eater live for ever. The traveller passed on his way, and this story was accepted as another of the numerous Traditions of the Desert ; but no one thought much of it, until one of our men disappeared, no one knew where. All thought he had gone to the desert on the same dread errand as so many others.
At last, a few months after the disappearance of the man, it suddenly occurred to me to go and see if what the traveller had said was true about the Magical Nut. When I suggested this to the villagers they all cried: 'No, no; you will only go as we all must at the end ; but why go before your time? Have you. felt the call ? ' I said, ' No, the last call has not come to me yet ; but I go to seek the Magic Nut that the traveller spoke of. If I die, I must die ; but I shad never return until I have found the Nut.'
That night I went out. I was the first that had gone willingly into the Desert of Death, as it was called, since the tribe began.
I felt sure that I should find something, though I did not know, certainly, what it would be. I went along, stumbling over low bushes, and every now and then falling flat on to some rough mass of stone, until the day broke. Then I found myself in the centre of a vast expanse of country even more dreary and desolate than anyone in the village had supposed. I then realised what a hopeless task I had set myself, for I did not even know what to look out for, as the Nut was embedded in the heart of a rock.
So I wandered on vaguely until about noon, when, by a lucky chance, I came upon a rock which had been split right to the centre. I looked eagerly into this crack, and found, right in the centre, a small cavity, and attached firmly to the side was a tiny piece of the Nut.
I got this precious little piece away from the stone with great difficulty, but I found that it was only the outside husk, which would not make the eater live for ever, but would only make him live for a very long time.
I did not eat any of this husk, but kept it very carefully, to take back to the village.
As I was returning, I saw some fair-sized pieces of gum lying on the ground, which had come from the Magic Nut. I picked them up joyfully, and put them with the husk, after eating a small piece.
The man who had disappeared some time before had taken the Nut away, but had died on his way back, and had dropped these pieces of gum.
I continued my way towards the village, but, to my surprise and distress, I saw Jinnie [a living and much loved cat] coming towards me, looking very weak, and hardly able to walk. She was going out, as I knew, to die in the desert.
I had the pieces of gum, and knew I could save her; so I gave her a piece. She smelt it, but would not take it. I gave it to her again, but with the same result. I grew desperate, and, opening her mouth, pushed a piece in. She bit it a little, but would not swallow any.
Then I knew that it was no use, and with many tears I left her, and went on, feeling very sad.
But when I came to the village, instead of the quiet little native settlement I had left, I found myself in a large and prosperous town, with brightly lighted streets, fashionable shops, and trams, taxis, omnibuses, and bicycles in every direction.
Then I found that several thousand years had passed, and English people had colonised the place, and cut back the forest, and had built several streets even out into the desert. It was night when I arrived, so I had not seen anything, as I had come down a dark side street, and I now found myself in the busiest thoroughfare. I stood in a dark corner by a chemist's shop, and watched the people pass. I saw several natives, evidently descendants of the tribe to which I had belonged; but they were civilised, and I saw at once that they were servants to the English.
I was also changed, but still the same age as at first, and how and in what manner I was changed, I could not tell.
I do not know what I did, or where I went, but it is certain that I had spent thousands of years in the desert after eating the gum from the MAGIC NUT.
Sept. 1, 1914.
The battle was lost, the dead unburied, and we had rallied in the camp to prepare for flight. The air was full of the voices of unseen men calling to one another in the mist, and we watered the horses in haste.
And then, amid the urgency and stress, the word flew round the camp:-'The King ! the King was missing ! '
Dead, or wounded, or lost in the mist, no man knew.
Suddenly, into the confusion of the dim scene, a peasant rushed, crying that he had seen the King - that he knew where he lay. He was a little man, withered and bent; at once we set him on a horse, and half a dozen sprang into the saddle and prepared to follow. There were two young officers, who seemed to have suddenly grown old, and the rest of us were veterans.
Away we swept, in the wake of the peasant, on a long and spectral ride. He rode awry and hunched up on the horse, but his seat was firm, and he never faltered ; ever he pointed the way with a crooked forefinger. The horses were stretched out, as, huddled together, we galloped through a world that we could not see.
The long straight road flew beneath us, no word was spoken, and the only noise was the beating of the horses' hoofs upon the frozen ground. How long this continued I cannot recollect, but presently we were a company of worn men and half-blown horses.
Halting at length to listen, we heard other sounds distantly and faintly coming towards us through the mist. Those sounds, away in front of us, were real, but had no meaning.
But the peasant, gibbering and gesticulating, would brook no delay, and again we urged on our horses, drawing nearer to the invading host with every stride. The sounds grew more distinct, and once we heard the rumble of heavy wheels. Still the crooked finger insistently pointed the way into the ever narrowing interval that lay between us and the hostile force, and we followed on.
Soon it became evident that the noise of our horses' hoofs had been heard. The sound of words of command reached us, though we still saw nothing. Shots rang out, and bullets splintered the upper branches of the fir trees on our right. Further advance was impossible: death lay beyond the curtain of the mist.
Suddenly, in the height of the crisis, the peasant halted, pointing into the bushes on our left.
There, in pale grey uniform, wrapped in a cloak, and scarcely distinguishable in the mist, lay the body of the King. One of the troopers, an old soldier, a man of many campaigns, sprang to the ground and kneeled by him. He raised one of the eyelids of the upturned face, and the sand of the wayside was sprinkled in the eye of a King. There was no movement.
Round we swung, spurring the sweating horses. No word was spoken : leaving the dead, we galloped with loose reins to save the lives of the living.
'In similitudinem lapidis aquae durantur.'-
Job xxxviii. 30.
I woke, up one morning repeating over and over the words 'carved in Arctic marble and covered with withered snow.' At first I could not think what it meant, and then, more or less gradually, it all came back to me, except that I have no clear recollection of the beginning of this dream. I think that it began with a feeling of extreme cold, and to that was added a consciousness of utter isolation. I found myself on a journey to the North Pole, out on rough ice and in driving snow. I am not sure whether one other was with me, or two. I think there were two, but we were far apart until the end, when, awe-struck by the vision that stood before us, we drew close together, but never a word was spoken. We were oppressed by our loneliness in the remote solitudes through which we were passing:- by the loneliness and the bitter, bitter cold: far away from mankind, far from all who loved us, in a world that was dark with drifting snow, and under a leaden sky that was heavy with the icy crystals. And the bitter cold was not so penetrating as the sense of loneliness that chilled our hearts. But we held on our way, for we knew that the Pole was close at hand, the summit of our desires, the spot where we should learn the secret of the Guiding Compass, and behold the End of the World. Presently we saw that there was something upon the horizon, but in the grey light we could discern no detail.
Pressing still further over the eternal snows, we saw that a statue of ice, there more everlasting than stone, stood before us :- a statue too gigantic to be the work of man. Soon we beheld the whole. Carved in Arctic marble and covered with withered snow, there stood before us the figure of the Good Shepherd with the lamb in His arm. Slowly we crept forward, and the drifting snow swept aside, revealing the great square plinth bearing an inscription beneath the statue. For a long time we could not discern the words. Reverent and silent we drew yet nearer, and saw, or, in the frozen gloaming, thought we saw:
' LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD.'