THE CHILD-ANGEL, A Dream
I chanced upon the prettiest, oddest, fantastical thing of
a dream the other night, that you shall hear of. I had been
reading the "Loves of the Angels," and went to bed with my head
full of speculations, suggested by that extraordinary legend. It
had given birth to innumerable conjectures, and, I remember, the
last waking thought, which I gave expression to on my pillow, was
a sort of wonder, "what could come of it."
I was suddenly transported, how or whither I could scarcely
make out -- but to some celestial region. It was not the real
heavens neither -- not the downright Bible heaven -- but a kind of
fairyland heaven, about which a poor human fancy may have leave
to sport and air itself, I will hope, without presumption.
Methought -- what wild things dreams are! -- I was present -- at
what would you imagine? -- at an angel's gossiping.
Whence it came, or how it came, or who bid it come, or whether
it came purely of its own head, neither you nor I know -- but
there lay, sure enough, wrapped in its little cloudy swaddling
bands -- a Child-Angel.
Sun-threads -- filmy beams -- ran through the celestial napery of
what seemed its princely cradle. All the winged orders hovered
round, watching when the new-born should open its yet closed
eyes, which, when it did, first one, and then the other -- with a
solicitude and apprehension, yet not such as, stained with fear,
dims the expanding eye-lids of mortal infants, but as if to explore
its path in those its unhereditary palaces -- what an inextinguishable
titter that time spared not celestial visages! Nor wanted
there to my seeming -- O the inexplicable simpleness of dreams !
-- bowls of that cheering nectar,
-- which mortals caudle call below --
Nor were wanting faces of female ministrants, -- stricken in years,
as it might seem, -- so dexterous were those heavenly attendants
to counterfeit kindly similitudes of earth, to greet, with terrestrial
child-rites the young present, which earth had made to heaven.
Then were celestial harpings heard, not in full symphony as
those by which the spheres are tutored, but, as loudest instruments
on earth speak oftentimes, muffled, so to accommodate
their sound the better to the weak ears of the imperfect-born.
And, with the noise of those subdued soundings, the Angelet
sprang forth, fluttering its rudiments of pinions -- but forthwith
flagged and was recovered into the arms of those full-winged
angels. And a wonder it was to see how, as years went round
in heaven -- a year in dreams is as a day -- continually its white
shoulders put forth buds of wings, but, wanting the perfect angelic
nutriment, anon was shorn of its aspiring, and fell fluttering -- still
caught by angel hands -- for ever to put forth shoots, and to fall
fluttering, because its birth was not of the unmixed vigour of
And a name was given to the Babe Angel, and it was to be
called Ge-Urania, because its production was of earth and heaven.
And it could not taste of death, by reason of its adoption into
immortal palaces: but it was to know weakness, and reliance, and
the shadow of human imbecility, and it went with a lame gait,
but in its goings it exceeded all mortal children in grace and
swiftness. Then pity first sprang up in angelic bosoms, and
yearnings (like the human) touched them at the sight of the immortal
And with pain did then first those Intuitive Essences, with pain
and strife to their natures (not grief), put back their bright
intelligences, and reduce their ethereal minds, schooling them to
degrees and slower processes, so to adapt their lessons to the
gradual illumination (as must needs be) of the half-earth-born,
and what intuitive notices they could not repel (by reason that
their nature is, to know all things at once), the half-heavenly
novice, by the better part of its nature, aspired to receive into
its understanding, so that Humility and Aspiration went on
even-paced in the instruction of the glorious Amphibium.
But, by reason that Mature Humanity is too gross to breathe
the air of that super-subtle region, its portion was, and is, to
be a child for ever.
And because the human part of it might not press into the
heart and inwards of the palace of its adoption, those full-natured
angels tended it by turns in the purlieus of the palace, where
were shady groves and rivulets, like this green earth from which
it came: so Love, with Voluntary Humility, waited upon the
entertainment of the new-adopted.
And myriads of years rolled round (in dreams Time is nothing),
and still it kept, and is to keep, perpetual childhood, and is the
Tutelar Genius of Childhood upon earth, and still goes lame and
By the banks of the river Pison is seen, lone-sitting by the
grave of the terrestrial Adah, whom the angel Nadir loved, a
Child, but not the same which I saw in heaven. A mournful
hue overcasts its lineaments, nevertheless, a correspondency is
between the child by the grave, and that celestial orphan, whom
I saw above, and the dimness of the grief upon the heavenly, is
as a shadow or emblem of that which stains the beauty of the
terrestrial. And this correspondency is not to be understood
but by dreams.
And in the archives of heaven I had grace to read, how that
once the angel Nadir, being exiled from his place for mortal
passion, upspringing on the wings of parental love (such power
had parental love for a moment to suspend the else-irrevocable
law) appeared for a brief instant in his station, and, depositing
a wondrous Birth, straightway disappeared, and the palaces knew
him no more. And this charge was the self-same Babe, who
goeth lame and lovely -- but Adah sleepeth by the river Pison.