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vol. 3, p. 174
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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Historical and Philosophical

No Death

There is no death ; the common end
Of life and growth we comprehend
Is not of forms that cease, but mend ;
It is not death, but change.

When wastes the seed, the sower sows,
Beneath the clog of winter snows,
The autumn harvest plainly shows
It was not death, but change.

When Science weighs and counts the strands
In economic Nature’s bands,
She re-collects them in her hands,
To show no loss from change.

They do not die, our darling ones ;
From falling leaves to burning, suns,
Through worlds on worlds the legend runs—
That death is naught but change.

When stills the heart, and dims the eye,
And round our couch, friends wonder why
The signs have ceased they knew us by,—
It is not death, but change.

George Wentz

Vision of the Author of "Home, Sweet Home", and Origin of the Song

John Howard Payne, the author of the beautiful and most popular of all our English ballads, was a most unfortunate man ; he was not only poor, but a homeless wanderer. In conversation with a friend, he once gave the following sad recital:—

“ How often have I been in the heart of Paris, Berlin, and London, or some other city, and heard persons playing ‘Sweet Home,’ without a shilling to buy the next meal, or a place to lay my head. The world has literally sung my song until every heart is familiar with its melody. Yet I have been a wanderer from my boyhood. My country -has turned me ruthlessly from office, and in my old age I have to submit to humiliation for bread."

He had given the most exact and beautiful expression of the heart’s emotion regarding home, and yet personally he was a stranger to all its tender and loving influences. A wanderer and sometimes a vagabond, he had moved the human heart to its very depths by his exquisite lines.

Disgusted with his treatment in his own country, and still impelled by his disposition to roam, his only wish was to die in a foreign land, to be buried by strangers, and sleep in obscurity. He obtained an appointment as United States Consul at Tunis, where he died.

We now return to a period antecedent to the composition of his song. A t times he was greatly depressed, and seemed to feel most acutely his utter loneliness. One day a friend called to see him, and, on entering, said,—

“ How are you to-day, Payne ?”

“ Downhearted enough,” was the reply; “ but last night I had one of the most glorious visions in a dream that ever met mortal eye.”

“ Ah, indeed, what was it ?”

“ Well, I will tell you. I suppose you think it was a scene of vast wealth, of a palace, or something else of that kind that man’s desires are most set upon. It was nothing of the sort. I don't often have dreams, but when I do they impress me greatly. In this dream I saw a scene of roost transcendent rural peacefulness and beauty. It was all that poet and painter could imagine. The landscape was composed of gently rolling hills, and sweet still valleys, and meandering streams. There were flowers and birds, crops, flocks, and herds. In the midst of all this stood various habitations of man, where I saw happy men, women, and children, and heard pleasant voices, laughter, music, and song.”

“ Truly a beautiful picture of human domestic contentment,” said the friead.

“ The life-long imagery of my brain,” cried the poet, “of ‘ Home, Sweet Home.’ Ah, how my soul revelled in the picture 1 But gradually it faded from my sight I was transfixed. I strained my vision to catch its outlines as they, (row fainter and fainter; but at last it had faded entirely away. I then looked up, and saw a great cloud gathering, which grew dark and terrible. ‘Ah !’ said I, ‘that cloud is significant of my own lot.’ A s I said these words, I saw traced upon it, in burning letters, those words of the Almighty to another miserable man :—

‘A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth !'

In terror I recognized my doom, and awoke to find it both a dream and a reality.”

The unhappy man buried his face in his hands, and seemed in the deepest misery.

“ A very wonderful dream,” said his companion.

“ Well, do you know w hat I intend to do ?” said Payne, looking up. “ I ’ll tell you. I’ve been thinking a great deal over this matter, and I intend to write a song called and about ‘Home, Sweet Home.’ The picture of my dream shall be my aspiration for the task, and my lonely heart can well give touching pathos to my words."

Not long after, the song of “ Home, Sweet Home” was given to the world by John Howard Payne. The dream is more especially recalled by the closing verse :—

“An exile from home, pleasure dazzles in vain ;
Ah ! give me my lowly thatch’d cottage again.
The birds singing sweetly, that came to my call—
Give me them, and that peace of mind dearer than all !
Home, sweet home !
There’s no place like home !”

Home, Sweet Home
by John Howard Payne

An Oriental Trance Medium

The following interesting narrative is some three-and-twenty centuries old, and is to be found in “ Plato's Republic ” Book x., c. 16.

I will tell you the story of a brave man (Erus), the son of Armenius, by descent a Pamphylian, who happening on a time to die in battle, when the dead were on the tenth day carried off, already corrupted, was taken up sound ; and being carried home, as he was about to be buried on the twelfth day, when laid on the funeral pile, revived ; and being revived he told what he saw in the other state, and said, after the soul left the body, it went with many others, and that they came to a certain mysterious, hallowed place, where there were two chasms in the earth, near to each other, and two other openings in the heavens opposite to them, and that the judges sat between these; that when they gave judgment they commanded the just to go on the right hand and upwards through the heaven, having fitted marks on the front of those that had been judged; but the unjust they commanded to the left, and downwards, and these likewise had behind them marks of all that they had done. But when he came before the judges, they said he ought to be a messenger to men concerning things there, and they commanded him to hear and contemplate everything therein; and that he saw there through two openings, one of the heaven and one of the earth the souls departing, after they were there judged; and through the other two openings he saw, rising through the one out of the earth, souls full of squalidness and dust; and through the other, be saw other souls descending pure from, heaven; and that on their arrival from time to time they seemed as if they came from a long journey, and that they gladly went to rest themselves in the meadow, as in a public assembly, and such as were acquainted saluted one another, and those who rose out of the earth asked the others concerning the things above, and those from heaven asked them concerning the things below, and that they told one another, — those wailing and weeping, while they called to mind what and how many things they suffered and saw in their journey under the earth (for it was a journey of a thousand years); and that these, again, from heaven explained their enjoyments, and spectacles of amazing beauty.

To narrate many of them, Glaucon, would occupy much time; but this, he said, was the same, that whatever just actions a man had committed, and whatever injuries a man had committed, they were punished for all these separately tenfold ; and that it was in each, according to the rate of a hundred years— the life of man being considered as so long—that they might suffer tenfold punishment for the injustice they had done ; so that if any had been the cause of many deaths, either by betraying cities or armies, or bringing men into slavery, or being confederates in any other wickedness for each of all these they reaped tenfold sufferings; and if <... continues on page 3-176 >

Editor's notes

  1. image by unknown author
  2. No Death by Wentz, George, Spiritual Scientist, Boston, April 22, 1875, p. 76
  3. Vision of the Author of "Home, Sweet Home", and Origin of the Song by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, Boston, April 22, 1875, p. 76
  4. An Oriental Trance Medium by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, Boston, April 22, 1875, p. 76