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brother!” Grasping Mr. Dunn by the hair of the head, he nearly lifted him with one hand from the sofa. The scene, half tragedy, half comedy, set the congregation in a roar of merriment.
Macaulay remarks that "absent-mindedness is the mark of either a genius or a fool.” A man's mind may be so intensely occupied upon high themes that his senses, seemingly, are scarcely awake to the realities of this outer world.
But, notwithstanding these little eccentricities, Mr. Peebles's mental productiveness through all his public life has been unfailing, uplifting. It seems like a perennial fountain, both in amplitude and versality. His mental processes are extremely rapid. It is difficult to say which he loves most his library, controversy or garden of flowers. As a writer he is florid, versatile, racy and very popular. As an author he is scholarly and profound. His library is a veritable workshop,- shelves, tables, and floor covered with piles of manuscripts, scraps, and books lying open. While engaged in literary work, he alternately stands at a high desk and walks the room. Much of his matter is dictated to an amanuensis. He sticks to his work early and late, spending but little time in making social calls or entertaining company. Previous to the burning of his library in San Antonio, Texas, he had a most complete collection of works containing the philosophies of the Mystics and Neo-Platonists. He manifested his joy with actual kisses upon the books, when he received from England at great expense the “Anacalypsis," “ Bhagavat Geeta," "Rig Veda Sanhita," “ Asiatic Researches," “Divine Pymander," " Proclus," " Plotinus," and several volumes of the Mystics.
In Hammonton thirty miles east of Philadelphia — he purchased about four or five acres of fine fruit land, where he had a very pleasant home. Here he established his prime essentials for literary work - a library, a fruit orchard, and a flower garden. The Eastern cities were readily accessible. He could go out and fill Sunday engagements, then return and spend the week days with his books and manuscripts.
Mr. Peebles properly holds that the culture and civilization we present to-day are not alone the expression of what we have accomplished by our own unaided efforts, but that this generation is a deposit from all the generations that have gone before, with only a few increments added by ourselves. Egypt, Greece, Rome, Palestine, have all helped to qualify our present enlightenment. We are only a link in the long succession of nations and races. As the past has helped to shape the present, so the present will help determine the future. While he regards Plato with great admiration, he also recognizes a grandeur and nobility in that other philosopher whom the later generations have treated with injustice as fragrant as they meted out to Thomas Paine - Epicurus, who said:
“This, then, my sons, is our duty, for this is our interest and our happiness: to seek our pleasures from the hands of the Virtues, and for the pain which may befall us, to submit to it with patience, or bear up to it with fortitude. To walk, in short, through life innocently and tranquilly; and to look on death as its gentle termination, which it becomes us to meet with ready minds, neither regretting the past nor anxious for the future.”
WIT, HUMOR, AND IMMORTALITY
" True sympathy, a light that grows
And broadens like the Summer morn's;
Being out of tune with all the scorns.
“For such a leader lifts his times
Out of the limits of the night,
- M. B. Smedley. Since becoming a Spiritualist Mr. Peebles has become disposed to see the ludicrous side of solemn and melancholy subjects,- even of death, and hardly a day passes that he does not launch forth his sallies of wit. But he never runs his horse until it becomes jaded. His wit is only a momentary gleam of sunshine flung on the landscape where his accustomed labors are prosecuted, - a by-play which serves to "oil the hinges of the mind” and render his labor delightful. If his brain is exhausted and a playmate is handy, he indulges in a brief and sometimes boisterous frolic, and so refreshes himself for another brilliant paragraph in the book he may be writing. During the busy hours of labor his periods of rest are like the working of the heart, whose strong muscles relax between each pulsation. The writer has often sat with him in his study as he was writing on some important subject, and he would occasionally pause, thinking how to coin some choice phrase, when there would come the quaintest joke or sharpest hit of the ludicrous. Then again seizing his pen, the coy thought or sentiment became immediately clothed with its fitting golden drapery.
His correspondence abounds in witticisms. When alluding to trials or disappointments, he often turns all into a focus of sunlight to burn up the darkness, and in this way keeps himself in better balance.
Burns is one of his favorite poets; and he delights to quote his hits against popular theology like this:
"Auld Orthodoxy lang did grapple,
But now she's got an unco ripple;
Nigh unto death.
And gasps for breath!”
In a private letter to a friend he says:
“I am a pilgrim. Have here no continuing city. God is my father; Earth is my mother; Jesus, my elder brother; John, my spirit-guide; and among my very distant cousins is Jeho-ka, the ancient spirit-guide of the murderous Moses. .
“A clerical brother, for whom I cherish a deep heartfellowship, writing me a while since, commenced his fraternal epistle thus, My Dear Heathen Brother. The appellation charmed me. If I am to find the legitimate meaning of 'Christian' in the prevailing Christianity of this age, with its wars and pious wickedness, and if Pythagoras and Democritus, Empedocles and Aristides, Confucius and the Neo-Platonists of later times, were types of heathenism, count me ever a 'heathen.'
“Will not our 'Christian ’ brother join with us in singing my new doxology?
“To Krishna, Plato, Jesus,
With mystics, seers, and sages,
Through everlasting ages.''
Mr. Peebles is an Aristomenes, sure to escape caverns of his own digging by the leadership of some stray fox. During one of his speeches in Decatur, Mich., he ascended to a pitch
of defiant eloquence, and then thundered down upon his hearers after this style: “Let no man who swears come within four feet of me; six feet, who chews tobacco; ten feet, who drinks whisky — breaths of such, like Lazarus's dead body, stink."
After this explosion, he cooled down a little, and touched the kinder sympathies of his auditors. In the rear of the house, sat a dignified ex-judge, somewhat "over the bay," amusing himself at the orator's somersets. Rising, he deliberately came toward the desk, commented upon "the eloquence of the speaker, just seated,” and suggested that he be paid for his services. As no man can travel and work without money, I propose to make him a donation.” Putting his huge hand into his pocket, he drew out a half-eagle, and stepped back from the desk just four feet, saying, “I sometimes swear.” Then stepped back six feet, -- "I chew tobacco;" then ten feet,-“I drink whisky;" and at that distance held out his long arm toward Mr. Peebles, looking him complaisantly in the eye, squealing out, “ Here is a half-cagle, sir!” and then quietly put it into his pocket. There was no chance for a retort; the house was in a perfect uproar, his own laughter loud as the rest; and, when still again, he dignifiedly thanked the judge for his “ generous donation, - a gentleman whom he would never forget.” And he never did. The severe joke taught him not to defy men by measure of distances; but to take them by the hand, and hold upon their hearts till they twain shall be one spirit.
As is his custom in visiting places where he had previously labored, he called, at Oswego, upon a dear old woman whom everybody styled “grandmother," and, after the usual greeting, she said,
" Why, Mr. Peebles, I knew you when you were a little boy! Your folks were Baptists; and you were a blessed Baptist. After you grew up to a man, you came here a Universalist minister; and now you've come again, this time a Spiritualist. Well, I never! and where will you go next?"
Peebles was too full of a roguish courtesy to disturb her mind except by an occasional encouraging word: