The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 12 (March 1, 1938.)
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses;
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
The world is in itself a dream place, but we are only human and so we dream of dream places that are infinitely more desirable. For many of us the dream place of our hopes is the hereafter—“the eye hath not seen, neither has the ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man … .”
Yes, I have dreamed of this hereafter but I have also dreamed of the material heaven upon earth. Surely, this heaven, granting we have the physical perfection to appreciate it to the full, must be found somewhere on earth. Our mind fixes on some coral island and the picture comes back to us from the R. M. Ballantyne of our boyhood days. It is there in clear delight. The green, green tropical isle surrounded by the blue, blue sea. The temperature is always broken down to suit the moment as though it were a bath regulated by some super conscientious steward on an ocean liner. Luscious tropical fruit, turtle's eggs, wild pigs (everyone as tender as a sucking pig), glorious trout in the mountain streams—in short, Nature's larder stocked to capacity with the finest fare for the island table. Yes, it makes a nice picture but a very lonely one. A pleasant week or two and we would be longing for company. Even if we have this companionship, we would, after a few weeks, be yearning for all the comforts of civilisation. We would want an outboard motor boat for fishing in the lake, a 1938 sedan car with a few hundred miles of bitumen thrown in, a ten-valve wireless set, the latest talkies and so on.
No, we must leave aside the coral island as a dream place. Anyhow, it's bound to be infested with mosquitoes and other pests with a score or two of sharks hanging about hungrily in the water.
The dream place must be a peace place, but is it possible to find peace in this world?
To dream is to sleep and sleep is of a few hours’ duration, unless one wishes to go into a trance and that prolonged state of insensibility must have its end—even if that end be death.
And, I am afraid of death. This sleep that is coming on me now may end in death, but I must sleep for I am tired as I was never tired before. Somehow the tiredness seems to come from my heart. There is no pain, simply a dull, peaceful feeling of a heart that is running down. My eyes close slowly, ever so slowly. Even that film of dark that the closed lids envelop me in fades away to nothingness. The tick of the timepiece of life ebbs away faintly, and yet more faintly, and then ceases …..
Peace has come—there is naught but a vast impenetrable silence. Seeing nothing, hearing nothing, feeling nothing—doing nothing …..
I am in a long narrow box. Voices, and I think the sound of sobbing, come to me from far, far away. My body is cold. I cannot move, but there is still an instinct left—the dim realisation of the vastness of the great eternal peace.
I sense my narrow wood-lined bed being lifted. I am being carried forward. After a long time there is a further murmur of voices. My bed is being lowered—I sense it is into the ground. For a moment I hear vividly. Something, as of lumps of clay and sods of earth, is falling on the roof of my wooden chamber.
I realise at last that I am dead—I am being buried …..
Once more all sense of feeling fades from me except the great peace. So I lay without pain, without pleasure, yet there is a something within me that still endures. Several hours pass and then a strange warmth of ineffable sweetness steals slowly over me. I feel that something within me is leaving that cold, cold body. The feeling grows like the crescendo of a grand burst of music. Then there is one mighty effort and I am free.
I dart upwards through that cold, dark clay. The light of a glorious day envelops me. My eyes almost bewilderingly clear drink in the undreamt of beauties of the world I knew but a few hours before. But what a different world! I look upwards and see the glories above the roof of the sky. I look around me and see Nature's body unclothed. I breathe such sweet savours from plants and flowers glorious scents that I had never known before. The air is soft with the music of movement. I find I have but to wish and what I desire is before me.
So it is that a feeling for companionship brings kindred souls about me. There are familiar faces I knew in life; page 21 people who had died before me and not one of them I did not then yearn with all my heart to meet again. About them is the amity, happiness and ecstasy I found on being freed from my body. We look at each other and our look tells all that is in our minds and creates an immensity of interest to be spread over an immensity of time. There are new faces all sweetly and beautifully different, all breathing peace and joy that is the essence of our being. And it is still the world and there are still the friends, but all are beatified.
And where is the God of it all? Instantly I am in His presence and then my joy is great indeed for He smiles on me, and smiling, speaks a wealth of wonderful words and thoughts. The greater joy of seeing Him endures. I have reached the ultimate pinnacle of peace and happiness, and it is to continue for ever.
Yes, it is the same world, but intensified a thousand fold with rarer beauty.
I wish for the sight of sea and I am there in an instant on the fringe of an illimitable ocean of joyous waters. In it I bathe with effortless content, others by me even as I think of them.
Then I think of our New Zealand bush and our birds and I am there on the green, green grass, drinking in the colour tones of the foliage, of the flowers, and a newer beauty of bird music. I am aloft on the highest branches and I raise myself and am floating in that blue sky.
The snows of Mt. Cook, of Tongariro, even to the highest peak, caress me. I drink of the snow and it is both deliciously cold and warm, and tastes of nectar ineffable.
And then a city appears at my bidding, and it is a city good to look upon and its pleasures are desirable and clean and there is no bitterness anywhere.
Not because I am tired of play but because this world of dreams is seemingly illimitable I think of work, and the work I desire comes to me, and there is a grand harvest to be gathered from it.
But where are my beloved books? Ah, in a trice I am seated in the grandest library of my dreams. Here there is a soft, oh, so peaceful, light filtering through curtains of soothing colours revealing row upon row of all my best loved writers.
R.L.S. in an edition that is an exquisite pleasure to handle. In every volume he has written some new thought greater and more noble than ever he penned in life. And the Dickens set—oh, what a glory it is, and, of course, the original illustrations are in it, so lifelike that they almost move and speak. And the poets—their music sings from the pages as never before. There is one special super de luxe edition of Francis Thompson's “Hound of Heaven,” and every word shines forth like diamonds. Transcending even this edition is my Thomas a Kempis and as I opened the pages he is at my side to read to me in noble tones his inspired lines. I look for lighter, more worldly fare, and sure enough Richard Le Galliene is there and dear old Leonard Merrick. Yes, and there is a shelf of Bernard Shaw, but some of the volumes are missing, and the library seems a better place because of this. Barrie has a shelf to himself and, of course, “Margaret Ogilvie” heads the beautiful line of tomes. I seem to stay among these books for years.
Suddenly I think of food and drink and I am seated at a banquet undreamt of even by Epicurus. And the wines, and the liqueurs and the cigars that stud the banquet table are sublime. I never reach satiety in this feast. All that follows is a sleep full of wondrous dreams.
Yes, everything in this after world is peace and joy. It is the dream place—the dream place of eternity.
“That Was a Good Meal!“
In a recent letter to the “Otago Daily Times” a correspondent pays tribute to the Railway Department's Refreshment Rooms at Oamaru, in the following terms:—
To The Editor. Sir,—
One can criticise much in the Government railways, but I would like space to compliment the management and staff of the Oamaru dining rooms. To-day (Saturday) was a very hot and dusty day, and there was a very full train.
For lunch at Oamaru the tables made quite a picture—hothouse tomatoes, beet-root and lettuce salad. The cold lamb, the new potatoes and the vegetables mentioned above made a delightful meal for a hot day. The stewed apricots were perfect. I often think that in Otago we get the best flavoured and the most wholesome food in the world, but railway dining rooms—like many of our eating houses—can make a sad mess of it.
It is a pleasure to give a word of praise when it is due, and Oamaru is certainly to be complimented on its successful management and on the courteous and efficient girls who serve the meals.
This expression of thanks is prompted by overhearing several say: “That was a good meals.
I am etc.,
Such a horror of tobacco-smoke had “Victoria the Good” that those of her guests at any of the Royal palaces who chanced to be smokers were compelled, if they craved a whiff, to indulge in their bedrooms after retiring for the night, with their heads up the chimney—lest perchance the tell-tale fumes should give them away! This seems almost incredible to-day when both sexes smoke and even exalted personages puff away freely and unashamedly, and sometimes even to excess. Excessive smoking, by the way, is not always wise, but it needn't worry Maorilanders because “toasted” is always at their service. It's the tobacco full of nicotine that does the harm. But there's very little nicotine in toasted. It's cut out by the toasting. So you run no risks with these beautiful tobaccos, so sweet, pure, cool and fragrant—and so comparatively harmless. Five brands only of the genuine toasted: Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead), Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cavendish, Riverhead Gold and Desert Gold. But take care what you buy. Worthless imitations are on the market.*