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Robert James Lees, "Through the Mists", book extract


In my earth-life I was called a misanthrope. This is a strange admission with which to break
my silence, but being now beyond the consequences to which such frankness might lead, I
have no reason - even though I had the will - to speak with less reserve. If any apology be
demanded for the pleasant task I have undertaken, let it be found in the ceaseless wail to
which I have referred to in my preface to these pages. Is my statement true in that respect?
I bid you turn that question inwards. Ask your own heart, and I will be content to take the
answer, merely adding that as you are, so is all mankind.
Pardon  me  one  or  two  sentences  in  necessary  explanation  of  myself  before  I  carry  you
across the borders of the other world. My life was overshadowed by the consequences of
some prenatal trouble of which I knew nothing, save the phantom remaining to haunt me,
and that it robbed me of a mother’s guiding hand. My father was an inflexible Calvanist,
with  a  mode  of  life  as  carefully  arranged  as  an  architectural  elevation,  while  its  working
details  were  as  rigorously  insisted  upon.  An  elder  of  the  Presbyterian  Church,  with  a
banking account of sufficient magnitude to allow him to live a life of most unquestioning
faith, he spent all the years of his pilgrimage free from the shadow of reproach.
My brother and sister were not so strictly inclined, and their almost open rebellion, as they
grew,  by  no  means  tended  to  soften  my  father’s  character.  For  myself  I  neither  received
from, nor extended to, any member of the household any sympathy. No one ever spoke to
me of my mother - her name, in fact, was seldom mentioned - but I always felt that had she
lived we should have been all in all to each other, but she was gone, and I was left alone!
Books  were  my  only  companions  -  the  poets  my  greatest  favourites.  My  earliest
recollections are of the religious baby-farm to which I had been entrusted, whose managers
I learned to loathe for the duplicity and hypocrisy they habitually practised there. With a
naturally  morbid  mind,  the  shadow  of  some  unknown  wrong  above  me,  and  a  soul
shrinking from the appearance of deceit, I soon learned to hate those who did not hesitate
to lie in act and prayer, and plead with God to grant success to infamy.
By these things I was gradually led to draw all my comfort from books, and to entertain a
great aversion to any fellowship with those about me.
I was naturally of a religious turn of mind, but preferred to solve its questions by the light of
my  own  reason  and  the  plain  teachings  of  the  Bible  as  I  could  comprehend  them.  A
practical  acquaintance  with  the  public  worship  of  the  various  sects  only  confirmed  my
original idea of there being much more of form and fashion than solid worship or spirit in
them all, therefore in this, as in everything else, I learned to rely upon myself alone, and
trust to the leniency and justice of a righteous God in respect to any error resulting from my
honest endeavour to do His will according to the light within me.
Nevertheless,  I  had  companionship  and  sweet  communion  in  my  worship,  after  this
manner: Led by some influence, to me nothing less than an inspiration, I would find myself
in one of the courts and alleys so numerous in the East of London, where vice, poverty, and - 6 -
wretchedness  most  abound;  where  help,  though  urgently  needed,  is  seldom  met  with;
where the inhabitants are not learned in metaphysics, but hunger for the bread of practical
sympathy.  Among  such  outcast  and  fallen  members  of  our  common  humanity,  I  always
found  I  had  a  sermon  to  preach  which  was  comprehended  in  every  part,  a  gospel  to
proclaim  that  they  would  gladly  hear,  a  seed  to  sow  which  brought  forth  fruit  sixty  or  a
If the Church was right, and I at the last found that I was wrong, the gratitude which these
poor unfortunates showed for the interest I took in them would be sufficient to make the
pains  of  my  punishment  not  only  bearable  but  welcome.  There  would  be  plenty  of  good
people  in  Heaven  to  ensure  the  happiness  of  every  soul  who  should  gain  an  entrance  to
those streets of gold. I had no voice to sing, and if the religious conversation on earth were
fair specimens of what would be the standard there, the goody-goodiness would have no
charm for me. Forced into such society, without any congenial work to do, the place would
have no interest - no attraction - for me. It was not my idea of Heaven, consequently I did
not want it.
It would be very different with the poor, cast adrift into that other place - for if the Church
was right the division would be made more upon those lines than any other. The rich build
the  temples,  keep  them  out  of  financial  difficulties,  are  constant  at  the  means  of  grace,
make  them  fashionable,  provide  everything  necessary  to  worship  God  in  the  beauty  of
architecture and ritual, while they generously subscribe towards the salary of the minister;
paying  in  every  way  for  their  salvation,  it  is but right and honest they should meet with
their reward. But the poor, who have to work long hours, with nothing to give, scarcely one
suit  to wear, and that unpleasantly suggestive by the odours of the workshop, with their
vulgar  habits  and  loud-voiced  song,  for  whose  accommodation  the  white-washed,
ill-lighted,  draughty  mission  hall  is  provided,  have  no  right  to  expect  such  an  abundant
entrance as those who contribute better while they live, and can be drawn in a four-horse
hearse when they take their departure.
For this reason the poor always had my sympathy. When I thought upon the subject, I often
felt as if I should be glad to find the pearly gates shut upon me, if by that means I could be
some little consolation to the multitudes in hell. It was wicked - blasphemous - to feel so, so
the vicar once told me; but it was constitutional - part of my unfortunate malady, and he
found it useless to attempt to change my mind.
I never could understand the righteousness of poverty here and damnation there ; or the
logical sequence of riches here and salvation there. It was not according to my reading of
the Bible, or the teaching of Jesus in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, as I understood the
English language. It may have been a defect in my power of analogy, but if so I held to the
It  was  one  evening,  when  on  my  way  to visit some of these uncared-for people, that the
great  change  overtook  me.  I  was  walking  along  a  crowded  footpath,  engaged  in  the
contemplation of the lights and shadows visible on the faces of passers-by, when I heard a
scream, and saw a child in deadly peril among the horses in the road. He was not far away, - 7 -
so bounding forward - with no thought but for his safety - I reached and dragged him from
his hazardous position, then turned, and…
Something  touched  me.  I  clasped  the  boy  more  firmly  and  stepped  forward.  The  noise
ceased, vehicles and street faded away, as if some great magician had waved his wand, the
darkness disappeared, and I was lying upon a grassy slope in an enchanted land.
Neither  did  all  the  changes  lie  in  our  surroundings.  Few  people  would  have  been
enamoured  of  the ragged child I rushed to save, with his shoeless feet, matted hair, and
unwashed face; but the angel I found lying upon my breast would have driven an artist into
raptures. For myself, in that instant, I had changed my morning suit for a loosely flowing
robe which somehow seemed to be a part of myself; and though I was fully assured of my
own individuality. I was curious to know what had taken place, and by what means, in the
interval of one solitary step, a transformation of such completeness had been effected.
The  lad,  though  evidently  conscious  of  the  alteration,  looked  into  my  face  with  calm
laughing eyes, void of any trace of fear; perhaps he expected me to give some explanation,
but I needed that myself. Then he buried his head in my shoulder and fell asleep. I sat and
nursed him, trying to answer the only question which occupied my mind –  “ Where are we?”
I  was  reclining  upon  the  grass  of  what  can  only  be  described  as  the  auditorium  of  an
immense but natural amphitheatre, with the arena occupied by a multitude who appeared
to be engaged in the reception of strangers, whom they were welcoming and congratulating.
If only I could have understood it, the scene would have been as pleasing as it was brilliant,
but, under the circumstances, my feelings were more of curiosity than of appreciation. It
resembled  the  performance  of  an  elaborate  tableau  of  which  I  held  no  descriptive
programme, being alike ignorant of the place, the players and the purpose. This was all that
I could understand: - There were two classes of persons represented - the one, evidently
residents,  attired  in  garments  embracing  almost  every  shade  of  colour  with  which  I  was
familiar, and some the like of which I had never seen before, and therefore have no means
to  make  you  understand.  The  other,  by  far  the  smaller  of  the  two,  gave  me  the  idea  of
strangers,  who,  having  just  arrived,  stood  in  need  of  the  help  and  assistance  so  freely
proffered.  Where  did  they  come  from,  I  asked  myself?  To  this  I  was  enabled  to  find  a
somewhat satisfactory reply. Before me lay a plain, across which numbers were continually
coming and going; at its further side I saw a heavy bank of fog lying, the outlines of which
were  boldly  portrayed  as  if  confined  within  certain  limitations.  The  atmosphere  was  so
unusually clear, that although the fog was perhaps some two miles distant from where I lay,
I  could  easily  discern  that  they  entered  the  plain  from  that  direction.  I  now  became
intensely interested in something which baffled my powers to determine whether it was real
or an optical illusion. I noticed that the variegated colour of the dresses worn by those who
went from us towards the mists gradually faded, until in the distance but one uniform tone
of grey was visible; on the contrary, as they, returned the original hues were as mysteriously
restored.  It  seemed  to  me,  at  length,  as  if  some  magical  influence  was  exerted  by  that
vapour or that the plain was one which might legitimately, be called enchanted. - 8 -
The moment I saw the fog I was conscious of a cold chill running through me, not due to
any change of temperature, which was warm and genial, but such as one experiences at the
thought of leaving a cosy fire to become enveloped in the piercing mist of autumn or early
winter. What caused this is more than I can say - perhaps it was sympathy with those I saw
emerging  from  such  surroundings;  for  many  were  so  overcome  they  scarcely  had  the
strength to reach the open plain; while for some the watchers plunged into the mists and
carried them through; others being borne all the way across the plain before they had the
power to stand upon their feet.
How long I was thus employed I cannot tell, but suddenly my attention was attracted to
someone standing beside me and I arose, for the first time becoming aware that the slope
whereon I had been sitting was occupied by many, evidently strangers, like myself. This,
however, did not interest me so much just then as it would previously have done; all my
mind being centred upon the person who stood beside me, in the hope that he would be
able to solve the problem so perplexing to me.
He divined my purpose before I had time to frame a question, and, stretching out his hands
towards the still sleeping lad, said :
“ There is someone coming who will answer all your enquiries, my duty is to take the boy.”
“ To take the boy ?” I answered, scarcely knowing whether I ought to give him up. “ Where?
“ Yes!”
“ But how shall we get back? How did we come here? Where are we ?”
“ You must be patient for a little while,” he answered, “ then you will know and understand
all about it.”
But, tell me, is this delirium or a dream ?
No! You will find you have been dreaming, now you are awake.”
“ Then, please, tell me where we are, and how we came here; I am so perplexed to know
“ You are in a land of surprises, but you need not fear, it will bring for you nothing but rest
and compensation.
“ That only increases my difficulty,” I said entreatingly.
“ But just now it was night in London, where I saved that boy from being run over. Then
everything faded like a flash and l found we were here. Where then, is this place. - What do
you call it? “ 
“ The land of immortality?”
“ What! - Dead? - How?”
I was conscious of falling back a step as the stupendous announcement fell upon my ears,
but  there  was  something  so  reassuring  in  his  manner  that  I  instinctively  returned  and grasped the hand he held out to give me welcome. Among all the theories by which I had
tried  to  solve  the  mystery,  this  one  had  never  suggested  itself  -  it  would  not  have  been
entertained  for  a  moment  if  it  had,  while  the  unexpected  surroundings  would  have
warranted  me  in  dismissing  it.  I  was  astonished  at  the  unquestioning faith with which I
accepted his declaration, while his sympathetic composure absolutely forbade any sense of
agitation as the startling truth was fully comprehended.
“ No! Not dead!” he replied, after a moment’s pause.
Did you ever know dead men to talk, and be surprised? When a boy leaves home for school,
or school to take his part in the more serious events of life - when a girl leaves her father’s
for her husband’s home, have you been in the habit of saying they were dead ? Certainly
not!  Neither  are  you  right  in  supposing  you  are  dead  since  passing  through  the  change
which has overtaken you.”
“ But  I  have  made  an  unmistakable  exit  from  one  world  and  an  entrance  into  another;
therefore while I am alive to this new life, I am dead to that which I have left behind.”
“  You will now be called upon to enlarge your conceptions and ideas ; as your homes on
earth are separate habitations, and nations form the dominions of different kings, so the
various states and worlds in this life become the many mansions in the universal kingdom
of our Father-God. Therefore you are only dead to earth in the same way as the schoolboy
dies  as  a  scholar,  but  has  the  greater  power  of  a  teacher;  or  as  the  girl  ceases  to  be  a
resident, and becomes a visitor.”
I do not understand you,” I replied.
Let me give you the outline of a parable over which you may reflect until someone else is
sent to afford you clearer information. Children are coaxed to sleep on earth by the singing
of nursery rhymes, the fabulous heroes of which become historical characters in the minds
of  the  little  listeners,  until  the  realities  of  life  dispel  the  illusion.  So  children  of  a  larger
growth, upon entering this life, find that even so have they been lulled to spiritual slumber
by the fictions of the nurses of their souls. It is the awakening to the truth of this fact which
makes this a land of surprises, as you will find it to be as you proceed. But now I must leave
you  and  take  our  little  brother  to  the  children’s  home,  where  you  will  meet  him  again
With a kindly salutation he departed, and I was left alone to think on all he had said. His
parable was pregnant with revelation that the future alone could intelligently unfold, but
one thing was evident - I had taken the irrevocable step - had solved the grand secret; yet
what had I learned? I was merely waiting with the knowledge that the act of dying had been
unconsciously accomplished. What would be the result? Whatever it might be I could not
now go back; I had to meet my fate. One thing I had been assured: there was no need to
fear. I did not - was not even anxious - I was content. So I waited and pondered.

If you wish to continue reading, you can continue at
 http://www.innerworlddesigns.com/circle/book12/pdf/RJ Lees - Through the Mists.pdf
Page 11.
 (please note that you have to copy and paste it manually as steemit.com seems to be unable to create a working link)
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