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Last Letters From The Living Dead Man
(Mr. "X" is David Patterson Hatch 1846-1912, a former judge)

 
INTRODUCTION PART 1
INTRODUCTION PART 2

LETTER

 I.

THE GENIUS OF AMERICA
II. FEAR NOT
III. THE PROMISE OF SPRING
IV. THE DIET OF GOLD
V. CONTINGENT FEES
VI. THE THREE APPEALS
VII. THE BUILDERS
VIII. THE WORLD OF MIND
IX. AMERICA'S GOOD FRIDAY
X. THE CRUCIBLE
XI. MAKE CLEAN YOUR HOUSE
XII. LEVEL HEADS
XIII. TREES AND BRICK WALLS
XIV. INVISIBLE ARMIES
XV. THE WEAKEST LINK
XVI. A COUNCIL IN THE FOREST
XVII. THE IDEAL OF SUCCESS
XVIII. ORDER AND PROGRESS
XIX. THE FEDERATION OF NATIONS
XX. THE NEW IDEAL
XXI. A RAMBLING TALK
XXII. THE LEVER OF WORLD UNITY
XXIII. THE STARS OF MAN'S DESTINY
XXIV. MELANCHOLY
XXV. COMPENSATORY PLAY
XXVI. THE AQUARIAN AGE
XXVII. THE WATCHERS
XXVIII. THE RITUAL OF FELLOWSHIP
XXIX. RECRUITING AGENTS
XXX. THE VIRUS OF DISRUPTION
XXXI. THE ALTAR FIRE
 

LETTER XVI

 

A COUNCIL IN THE FOREST

            One night, to repose my soul from the labors I had undertaken, I retired to a pine forest upon the earth, in one of the New England States. Thinking to be alone, I had sought the place; but no sooner had I drifted into meditation than a strange sound fell upon my ears. It was not like the sounds of earth, it was more subtle yet more penetrating; and I knew that I was listening to a song (if you may call it a song) by some of my fellow sojourners in the region beyond the sunlight.

            Suddenly with a rush they leaped past me into the clearing, and forming in a circle, they waited. Then I saw a light that was not of earthly origin, the light of a campfire, and I knew that I had been surprised by a band of Indians who were preparing to hold some rite of their old religion.
            Though I had not been invited to their ceremony, neither had I invited them to intrude upon my contemplation, so I remained and watched them.
            (Yes, there is less secrecy out here, for the reason that there is greater understanding and greater tolerance.)
            Soon I was looking on at a strange dance. All in a circle they swung round and round the blazing fire, singing and leaping. I did not know the meaning of the words they sang; but I could read their minds by the thought-images they formed, and I knew that they were celebrating the date—reached by what lunar reckoning I knew not—of some great Indian massacre in which they had taken part a hundred or two hundred years ago.

            And the impulse of their dance, the motive power of it, was hatred of the white man who had scattered them and driven them away from their old hunting grounds.
            Shocked, yet fascinated by this inner glimpse at the souls of the American aborigines, I watched them.
            Though I am not skilled in magic rituals, I soon perceived that there was form and method in this dance, method and form and a hostile purpose.
            They were, by exciting themselves and by fixity of thought, trying to excite a scattered company of men in these United States—men of a low grade of intellect but of psychic temperament—to deeds of violence and destruction.

            “So that is the way they do it!” I thought.
            Then I drew a veil around my thoughts, that they might not be perceived by the beings before me. Yes, I can do that, and so can many men upon the earth.
            I could smell the keen fresh odors of the pine grove, and I could feel the rising wind as it swept across the clearing; for the wind seemed to respond to their call and to offer its forces to them. You must know that the elements are impersonal, though semi-personalities inhabit them, and that the elements and these semi-personalities can be used and guided, for purposes good or evil, by any being who has gained that peculiar power in one or many lives.

            And looking off in the distance, I could see that the wind as it swept along carried the thoughts and passions of these long dead men, these souls that by reason of their own downward tendencies had not broken away from the attraction of matter, the astral gravitation that makes so many souls earth-bound.
            Still looking off and projecting my consciousness in a way I have learned to do, I saw the influence of this magic ritual of revenge and menace as it touched the minds of men far scattered. I saw their thoughts take on suddenly the tinge of hatred, hatred for the civilization in which they had failed to realize their personal desires.
            And I knew that on that night and on the morrow, and at intervals for many days, deeds of violence would be committed, that property would be destroyed, and men of order threatened.

            My heart was sad, for I had not understood before how real was the danger to my country in these times of crisis from the karma the old settlers had made. Of course they believed they were doing right in ridding themselves and their adopted land from the simple but complex natives, whose civilization was older than the civilization of Europe, and who had loved this land as only those can love a land who have known the freedom of its spaces.
            When the magic dance was over, and one by one and two by two the communicants slipped away among the shadows, I strode forward into the circle to have speech with any who should willingly respond to my desire for acquaintanceship.
            Suddenly I found myself face to face with a majestic chieftain, wearing one of those long feather bonnets whose every feather marks some deed of daring or achievement. (What a splendid custom was that! What an incentive to action! Truly among the red men, deed won a feather in the cap.)

            His face was like that of a hawk, and his eyes were bright with an inner fire, that intensity of feeling and thought commingled which marks the leader and master of men and him alone.
            And I said to him in the forms of thought, for I knew no word of his old language:
            “I have been an unintentional witness to your ceremony this evening. Will you enlighten me further as to its purpose? for I see that it was directed towards the land of breathing men.”
            With a sweep of his authoritative arm he dismissed the few of his companions who had not already moved away among the trees, and we two were alone together.
            “I come as a friend,” I said, seeing that he hesitated.

            And the word was true; for I saw that whatever harm he mistakenly sought to accomplish, in his soul was the consciousness of justice, that fundamental balance between right and wrong, that proposition of law, which when native in the mind gives it dignity and attracts respect. This was no dabbler in aboriginal and nasty sorcery, but a kind of priest of retribution, a tribal demi-god who might perhaps some day be made constructive and not destructive, an instrument of the great Genius of America of which I have spoken in a former letter, the Weaver of Destiny who has our land in charge.
            We measured each other with the eyes, and I cast aside the veil that I had before drawn around my thoughts, that he might see me mind to mind and realize that I respected and to a degree understood him.

            “You have seen what you have seen,” he observed.
            “And you do not resent my presence?”
            “No.”
            The fresh odor of the pine grove was keen in my senses, and my new-found companion threw back his head with a splendid motion as if to drink it in.
            “Freedom is good,” he said, “and the land was ours.”
            So I perceived that by excusing himself and his associates he had perceived that I accused them. Then I knew that I could really commune with him mind to mind, and I was glad; for I ever seek to extend the range of my knowledge and to form acquaintance with those of sturdy will.
            “But the land is free to all the world,” I said, “to you and to me, and to those of both our races.”

            “We do not see it so,” was his reply.
            “But,” I insisted, “are we not now, you and I, enjoying it in freedom?”
            It is difficult to translate in words the rapid give and take of our thoughts, the pictures that flashed back and forth between us, as I strove with kindliness and will to make him understand that the welfare of his race did not call for the destruction of mine.
            I told him—and the idea was so new to him that, lacking words, I had to draw my story on the canvas of thought in the minutest detail—how the soul that leaves the earth for a time returns to it in another form. And I explained how hundreds upon hundreds of his people, and the most advanced among them, had already come back in material form to that America they had loved before, that they wore white bodies, and could only be distinguished from other white men by the keenness of their eyes, their gait, and certain peculiarities of speech and manner.

            He followed my story with astonished, almost painful, intensity; for he knew, with that inner knowledge which on this side of life is almost impossible to deceive, that I spoke honestly and believed that which I told him.
            “And do you not deceive yourself?” was his inevitable question.
            Then I told him of those recent and former lives of my own which I most vividly remember, and  cited proofs that I did not deceive myself.
            “But what a life is that of the white man for one of my people?” he demanded.

            Then he flashed me picture after picture of the simple white man’s life in America, the schoolhouse with the choking-hot stove and the bad air, the house and home with closed doors and windows, the “meeting-house” where a droning or a noisy preacher prated of things he did not understand, to others who believe or did not believe that they believed him. He held up before me as for ridicule the clothing of the white man in the lower walks of life, the confining and uncomfortable shoes, the binding trousers, the ugly hat that makes bald the head, and the collar. The one he pictured was a paper collar, soiled and wilted at the edges.
            Then he showed me—as if to prove the breadth of his observations—an office in a city, with the clerks seated upon stools and bent with aching backs over ledgers that contained figures, figures, long lines of figures that were the symbols of the white man’s wampum, which seemed so trivial when made the principal occupation of a soul that had rejoiced in the red man’s forest.

            “And is it for this that they come back to their native land?” he asked.
            “But the soul must gain all experience,” I said.
            The idea seemed new to him, and he pondered it with knitted brows.
            “Why should the soul gain all experience?” he asked.
            “That it may return to its God rich in knowledge,” I replied.
            “Its God.” At that thought the strange eyes of him lighted, though his face remained immobile.
            “Yes,” I said, “for your God and my God are both God.”
            “There are many gods,” he replied. “There is the Great Spirit, and there are the others.”

            “In the centre of each of them,” I assured him, “there is a spot, a core of the heart that is the same in all, that exists everywhere, and in every heart is one, that knows no division; and that centre is also in your heart and mine and in that of our respective Gods.”
            “Did you learn that in one of those hot schoolhouses?” he asked.
            “No. I did not learn it even when I was an old man upon the earth, but after I came out here. On earth I rather prided myself on my separateness.”
            “Then one can learn new religions out here?” he asked, in surprise.
            “If one finds a teacher,” I replied.
            “But what need is there of new religions?”

            “There is,” I said, “in the core of every religion also that central spot where all are one. And there is in all races,” I pursued, for I saw that he watched with half-belief , “there is in all races a core of unity. The red man is the brother and not the permanent enemy of the white man. So why should you injure the descendants of those who followed what they believed to be right in extending their holdings in this land long ago?”
            “But I was not seeking to injure them for injury’s sake.”
            “Then I misunderstood the purpose of your magic song.”
            “Oh!” he exclaimed. “You caught the feeling of my children, who cannot see beyond feeling. My purpose is only to destroy the present to make way for the old life.”

            “But the present is always a stage,” I said, “on the highroad that leads to the future. And my people reincarnated, and yours reincarnated—or so many of them as are ready to go on—shall go on together and in this land. They will form, with those who join them from beyond the seas, a new race. And thanks to the labors of a few among the white men who have studied and appreciated the traditions and civilization of the red man and sought to save them from utter obliteration, the old forest lore will become a part of the inheritance of that new race which is to grow out of the union of yours and mine and the others. And for a part of every year, when the life of the new race is adjusted, the boys and girls and men and women will go out to the wilds and enjoy the freedom of the tent and the society round the campfire, and we shall be brothers—real blood-brothers—at last, and all the old wounds shall be healed. Can you not recognize me as your brother?”
            He nodded his head.

            “And will you not spread among your people the glad tidings of the new race, in all of whose possessions they will share?”
            We stood long looking in each other’s eyes, and I told him more than I could record here if I held the use of your pencil for many hours. In the end he understood me.
            It is my belief that he will spread the story among his people, and that one danger will be lessened thereby, to some degree, for the children of the new race.

 

LETTER XVII

 

LETTER XV