The Wonderful Spectacles
Dreamed 1877/1/31 by Anna Kingsford
I was walking alone on the sea-shore. The day was singularly clear and sunny. Inland lay the most beautiful landscape ever seen; and far off were ranges of tall hills, the highest peaks of which were white with glittering snows. Along the sands by the sea came towards me a man accoutred as a postman. He gave me a letter. It was from you. It ran thus:
"I have got hold of the earliest and most precious book extant. It was written before the world began. The text is easy enough to read; but the notes, which are very copious and numerous, are in such minute and obscure characters that I cannot make them out. I want you to get for me the spectacles which Swedenborg used to wear; not the smaller pair--those he gave to Hans Christian Andersen--but the large pair, and these seem to have got mislaid. I think they are Spinoza's make. You know he was an optical-glass maker by profession, and the best we have ever had. See if you can get them for me."
When I looked up after reading this letter, I saw the postman hastening away across the sands, and I cried out to him; "Stop! how am I to send the answer? Will you not wait for it?"
He looked round, stopped, and came back to me.
" I have the answer here," he said, tapping his letterbag, "and I shall deliver it immediately."
"How can you have the answer before I have written it?" I asked. "You are making a mistake."
"No," he said. "In the city from which I come, the replies are all written at the office, and sent out with the letters themselves. Your reply is in my bag."
"Let me see it," I said. He took another letter from his wallet and gave it to me. I opened it, and read, in my own handwriting, this answer, addressed to you:
"The spectacles you want can be bought in London. But you will not be able to use them at once, for they have not been worn for many years, and they sadly want cleaning. This you will not be able to do yourself in London, because it is too dark there to see well, and because your fingers are not small enough to clean them properly. Bring them here to me, and I will do it for you."
I gave this letter back to the postman. He smiled and nodded at me; and I then perceived to my astonishment that he wore a camel's-hair tunic round his waist. I had been on the point of addressing him--I know not why--as Hermes. But I now saw that he must be John the Baptist; and in my fright at having spoken with so great a saint, I awoke.
The dreamer knew nothing of Spinoza at this time, and was quite unaware that he was an optician. Subsequent experience made it clear that the spectacles in question were intended to represent her own remarkable faculty of intuitional and interpretive perception.
(--Edward Maitland, 1888)
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