THE DARLING OF THE UNSEEN
I have written you before of one whom I
call the Beautiful Being, one whose province seems to be the universe, whose
chosen companions are all men and angelkind, whose playthings are days and ages.
For some reason, the Beautiful Being has lately been so
gracious as to take an interest in my efforts to acquire knowledge, and has
shown me many things which otherwise I should never have seen.
When a tour of the planet is personally conducted by an
angel, the traveller is specially favoured. Letters of introduction to the great
and powerful of earth are nothing compared with this introduction, for by its
means I see into the souls of all beings, and my visits to their houses are not
limited to their drawing-rooms. The Beautiful Being has access everywhere.
Did you ever fancy when you had had a lovely dream
that maybe an angel had kissed you in your sleep? I have seen such things
Oh, do not be afraid of giving rein to your
imagination! It is the wonderful things which are really true; the commonplace
things are nearly all false. When a great thought lifts you by the hair, do not
cling hold of the solid earth. Let go. He whom an inspiration seizes might
even—if he dared to trust his vision—behold the Beautiful Being face to face, as
I have. When flying through the air one’s sight is keen. If one goes fast and
high enough, one may behold the inconceivable.
The other night I was meditating on a flower-seed, for
there is nothing so small that it may not contain a world. I was meditating on a
flower-seed, and amusing myself by tracing its history, generation by
generation, back to the dawn of time. I smile as I use that figure, "the dawn of
time," for time has had so many dawns and so many sunsets, and still it is
I had traced the genealogy of the seed back to the time
when the cave-man forgot his fighting in the strangely disturbing pleasure of
smelling the fragrance of its parent flower, when I heard a low musical laugh in
my left ear, and something as light as a butterfly’s wing brushed my cheek on
I turned to look, and, quick as a flash, I heard the
laughter in the other ear, while another butterfly touch came on my right cheek.
Then something like a veil was blown across my eyes, and a clear voice said:
"Guess who it is!"
I was all a-thrill with the pleasure of this divine
play, and I answered:
"Perhaps you are the fairy that makes blind children
dream of daisy fields."
However did you know me?" laughed the Beautiful Being,
unwinding the veil from my eyes. "I am indeed that fairy. But you must have been
peeping through cracks in the door when I touched the eyes of the blind babies."
"I am always peeping through cracks in the door of the
earth people’s chamber," I replied.
The Beautiful Being laughed again:
"Will you come and have another peep with me this
"You could not do it with pain if I were by," was the
And we started then and there upon the strangest
evening’s round which I have ever made.
We began by going to the house of a friend of mine
and standing quietly in the room while he and his family were at supper. No one
saw us but the cat, which began a loud purring and stretched itself with joy at
our presence. Had I gone there alone, the cat might have been afraid of me; but
who—even a cat—could fear the Beautiful Being?
Suddenly one of the children—the youngest one—looked up
from his supper of bread and milk, and said:
"Father, why does milk taste good?"
"I really don’t know," admitted the author of his
being, "perhaps because the cow enjoyed giving it."
"That father might have been a poet," the Beautiful
Being said to me; but no one overheard the remark.
One of the other children complained of feeling sleepy,
and put his head down on the edge of the table. The mother started to arouse
him, but the Beautiful Being fluttered a mystifying veil before her eyes, and
she could not do it.
"Let him sleep if he wants to," she said. "I will put
him to bed by and by."
I could see in the brain of the child that he was
dreaming already, and I knew that the Beautiful Being was weaving a fairy-tale
on the web of his mind. After only a moment he started up, wide awake.
"I dreamed," he said, "that ----- [the writer of these
letters] was standing over there and smiling at me as he used to smile, and with
him was an angel. I never saw an angel before."
"Come away," whispered the Beautiful Being again. "To
brides who dream of motherhood much also is revealed, and for this evening we
We passed along the margin of a river which divides a
busy town. Suddenly from a house by the river-bank we heard the tinkle of a
guitar and a woman’s sweet voice singing:
"When other lips and other hearts
Their tale of love shall tell,…
Then you’ll remember—you’ll remember me."
The Beautiful Being touched my hand and whispered:
"The life that is so sweet to these mortals is a book
of enchantment for me."
"Yet you have never tasted human life yourself?"
"On the contrary, I taste it every day; but I only
taste it—and pass on. Should I consume it, I might not be able to pass on."
"But do you never long so to consume it?"
"Oh but the thrill is in the taste! Digestion is a more
or less tiresome process."
"I fear you are a divine wanton," I said,
"Be careful," answered the Beautiful Being. "He who
fears anything will lose me in the fog of his own fears."
"You irresistible one!" I cried. "Who are you? What
"Did you not say yourself a little while ago that I was
the fairy who made blind babies dream of daisy fields?"
"I love you," I said, "with an incomprehensible
"All love is incomprehensible," the Beautiful Being
answered. "But come, brother, let us climb the hill of vision. When you are out
of breath, if you catch at my flying veil I will wait till you are rested."
Strange things we saw that night. I should weary you if
I told you all of them.
We stood on the crater of an active volcano and watched
the dance of the fire-spirits. Did you fancy that salamanders were only seen by
unabstemious poets? They are as real—to themselves and to those who see them—as
are the omnibus-drivers in the streets of London.
The real and the unreal! If I were writing an essay
now, instead of the narrative of a traveller in a strange country, I should have
much to say on the subject of the real and the unreal.
The Beautiful Being has changed my ideas about the
whole universe. I wonder if, when I come back to the earth again, I shall
remember all the marvels I have seen. Perhaps, like most people, I shall have
forgotten the details of my life before birth, and shall bring with me only
vague yearnings after the inexpressible, and the deep unalterable conviction
that there are more things in earth and heaven than are dreamed of in the
philosophy of the world’s people. Perhaps if I almost remember, but not quite, I
shall be a poet in my next life. Worse things might happen to me.
What an adventure it is, this launching of one’s
barque upon the sea of rebirth!
But by my digressions one would say that I was in my
second childhood. So I am—my second childhood in the so-called invisible.
When, on my voyage that night with the Beautiful Being,
I had feasted my eyes upon beauty until they were weary, my companion led me to
scenes on the earth which, had I beheld them alone, would have made me very sad.
But no one can be sad when the Beautiful Being is near. That is the charm of
that marvellous entity: to be in its presence is to taste the joys of immortal
We looked on at a midnight revel in what you on earth
would call "a haunt of vice." Was I shocked and horrified? Not at all. I watched
the antics of those human animalculæ as a scientist might watch the motions of
the smaller living creatures in a drop of water. It seemed to me that I saw it
all from the viewpoint of the stars. I started to say from the viewpoint of God,
to whom small and great are the same; but perhaps the stellar simile is the
truer one, for how can we judge of what God sees—unless we mean the god in us?
You who read what I have written, perhaps when you
come out here you will have many surprises. The small things may seem larger and
the large things smaller, and everything may take its proper place in the
infinite plan, of which even your troubles and perplexities are parts,
inevitable and beautiful.
That idea came to me as I wandered from heaven to
earth, from beauty to ugliness, with my angelic companion.
I wish I could explain the influence of the Beautiful
Being. It is unlike anything else in the universe. It is elusive as a moonbeam,
yet more sympathetic than a mother. It is daintier than a rose, yet it looks
upon ugly things with a smile. It is purer than the breath of the sea, yet it
seems to have no horror of impurity. It is artless as a child, yet wiser than
the ancient gods, a marvel of paradoxes, a celestial vagabond, the darling of