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After Death
by [?]

I had so strange a dream or vision the other night, that I cannot refrain from setting it down; because the strangeness and the wonder of it seem to make it impossible for me to have conceived of it myself; it was suggested by nothing, originated by nothing that I can trace; it merely came to me out of the void.

After confused and troubled dreams of terror and bewilderment, enacted in blind passages and stifling glooms, with crowds of unknown figures passing rapidly to and fro, I seemed to grow suddenly light-hearted and joyful. I next appeared to myself to be sitting or reclining on the grassy top of a cliff, in bright sunlight. The ground fell precipitously in front of me, and I saw to left and right the sharp crags and horns of the rock-face below me; behind me was a wide space of grassy down, with a fresh wind racing over it. The sky was cloudless. Far below I could see yellow sands, on which a blue sea broke in crisp waves. To the left a river flowed through a little hamlet, clustered round a church; I looked down on the roofs of the small houses, and saw people passing to and fro, like ants. The river spread itself out in shallow shining channels over the sand, to join the sea. Further to the left rose shadowy headland after headland, and to the right lay a broad well-watered plain, full of trees and villages, bounded by a range of blue hills. On the sea moved ships, the wind filling their sails, and the sun shining on them with a peculiar brightness. The only sound in my ears was that of the whisper of the wind in the grass and stone crags.

But I soon became aware with a shock of pleasant surprise that my perception of the whole scene was of a different quality to any perception I had before experienced. I have spoken of seeing and hearing: but I became aware that I was doing neither; the perceptions, so to speak, both of seeing and hearing were not distinct, but the same. I was aware, for instance, at the same moment, of the whole scene, both of what was behind me and what was in front of me. I have described what I saw successively, because there is no other way of describing it; but it was all present at once in my mind, and I had no need to turn my attention to one point or another, but everything was there before me, in a unity at which I cannot even hint in words. I then became aware too, that, though I have spoken of myself as seated or reclined, I had no body, but was merely, as it were, a sentient point. In a moment I became aware that to transfer that sentience to another point was merely an act of will. I was able to test this; in an instant I was close above the village, which a moment before was far below me, and I perceived the houses, the very faces of the people close at hand; at another moment I was buried deep in the cliff, and felt the rock with its fissures all about me; at another moment, following my wish, I was beneath the sea, and saw the untrodden sands about me, with the blue sunlit water over my head. I saw the fish dart and poise above me, the ribbons of sea-weed floating up, just swayed by the currents, shells crawling like great snails on the ooze, crabs hurrying about among piles of boulders. But something drew me back to my first station, I know not why; and there I poised, as a bird might have poised, and lost myself in a blissful dream. Then it darted into my mind that I was what I had been accustomed to call dead. So this was what lay on the other side of the dark passage, this lightness, this perfect freedom, this undreamed-of peace! I had not a single care or anxiety. It seemed as if nothing could trouble my repose and happiness. I could only think with a deep compassion of those who were still pent in uneasy bodies, under strait and sad conditions, anxious, sad, troubled, and blind, not knowing that the shadow of death which encompassed them was but the cloud which veiled the gate of perfect and unutterable happiness.