[Lebanon—Sunday, 21 June 1868]

Sunday June 21st We looked in vain for letters last night! Does not all the world know what that is? Our hopes were more baseless than those of others perhaps for we were hoping to hear from Longfellow & Dickens. If one’s friends are the great of the earth, be content with that, and with your love for them. They have inspired your devotion from their power to love & serve others and the world holds a first claim upon them for its manifold needs. By the papers we hear that L. is receiving University honors (D.C.L.) at Cambridge, and C.D. is in Paris superintending his play which drew an enormous house. He calls it “L’Abime” in French.

We have had thunder and great heat each day. Today is clouded and soft and bids fair to rain. We are going to the Shaker church.

Have just returned after two or three hours with the Shakers. Their service was more contained than I had feared but one of the sisters lamented afterward that the exercises had not been more vigorous, so I concluded it was an exceptional thing. I was thankful they did nothing more, there was quite dancing enough for my taste and I think the warm weather must have subdued the action of “The Spirits.” The motions of course are grotesque enough considered individually, but as these strange figures sway before your eyes with their countenances often full of ecstasy, always filled with solemnity, they produce the sensation which I am persuaded they feel of being possessed by an influence beyond themselves. I should not have been surprised to see any member step from the ranks and whirl away. But nothing of the kind occurred. They were mild in speech and behavior. After service Elder Frederick Evans came and addressed “J.” He invited us to see him and to “eat” there. We complied with what really appeared his desire and they spread a bountiful repast for us alone, of cold veal, hot vegetables, cooked in the best way, preserved peach fruit pie which looked very good, delicious tea & cream and a rich looking cold pudding beside the best of bread and butter.

With great delicacy, after we had enjoyed their dinner, they brought me my hat & cloak and lent me a pair of india-rubbers for it was raining hard by this time and invited us to cross the flag-stones to see another house. Hither the Elder Frederick came with Sister Antoinette and two other saintly looking women and we sat down for an hour’s talk. They all agreed H. Dixon was too short a time among them 24 hours only to qualify him to write a book “though it was certainly remarkable that he did so well.” Frederick explained how great a reverence they had for the Jewish history. To be sure we were all Gentiles but let us study the law to come as near as possible to the virtues of these peculiar people. To them if they obeyed the law came neither “the canker worm, nor the palmer worm, nor the blight” these did not now come to the Shakers, or if even a trace was discovered in that state, I say, said Frederick it is the result of our sin.

Catholicism is at present making great strides in America. It is necessary for the larger portion of the people who are among the poor and uneducated, but by & by when they need something else Shakerism is the step forward, the only one step which it is logical to take, the only thing beyond. Spurgeon is the rightful successor to Edward Irving, a man of power in his day who came to nought. After Spurgeon England will embrace Shakerism and yet it is a foundation inconsistent with other than a Republican government.

They explained as far as they could and most kindly the significance of the strange movements of their hands during divine service and of the “exercises.” David danced before the Lord and danced in nakedness! There was great meaning in that!! said Frederick. The movement of the hands said Antoinette often meant as hand shaking or a message of love between mortals, a message of love, the surrender of the body to the Lord.

In the Catholic church Frederick said men and women were kept apart by bars and walls—here they lived in the same house, and together so to speak, day and night. What enabled them to do this? He did not give the answer, but implied, the strength of the Spirit, specially bestowed upon them.

I was deeply impressed with the lovely glistening eyes of Frederick and the two sisters. They are really holy as far as they see the truth. They believe, too, in continued communion with the Spirits whom they see continually round about them. These people are by no means unmindful of the lovely scenery among which they have pitched their tent. Frederick Evans stood with me by the house door while the rain was falling. The soft clouds draped the green hill-sides and a look of peace was abroad. How beautiful that is he said pointing to the view beyond; though I have lived here so many years I never get accustomed to its beauty.

We are reading William Morris’s Earthly Paradise, a poem I hardly know yet how to speak of: full of the picturesqueness of true poetry it is certainly, but this is quite apart from the gold-ore-like value Tennyson manages to infuse into words.

I can hear the music from the little church come up to me as I write. It makes the air more precious.


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