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Oliphant
Oliphant
136

ever, and was again 'Times' correspondent at Paris towards the end of 1871. His mother was permitted to join him there. There he met Alice, daughter of Mr. Henry le Strange of Hunstanton, Norfolk, and stepdaughter of Mr. Wynne-Finch. All who knew her speak of her singular fascination. She was twenty-six, and she had been much admired in society, but shared some of Oliphant's dissatisfaction with the world. She adopted his creed, and they were engaged at the beginning of 1872. The consent, however, of Harris was required, and the genuine 'human sentiment' was to be considered as an 'abstract and spiritual passion,' a text upon which Oliphant discourses in letters quoted by his biographer. Her family were naturally displeased at the pecuniary arrangements, as the 'whole of her property was placed unreservedly in the hands' of Harris (Life, p. 115). Oliphant appears (ib. pp. 120-2) to have equivocated upon this occasion in a rather painful way, though the details are not very clear. He was married in June 1872 at St. George's, Hanover Square, though it would seem the relation was regulated in some way by the spiritual authorities (ib. p. 125). In 1873 Oliphant, with his wife and mother, returned to Brocton by Harris's orders. The wife and mother were employed in menial offices. Oliphant himself was directed to take part in various commercial enterprises for the benefit, apparently, of the community. He was in New York and Canada, and occasionally sent over to England. In 1874 he joined the 'Direct United States Cable Company,' and was 'coaching a bill through the Dominion Legislature.' He learnt the secrets of commercial 'rings,' and was kindly treated by the great Jay Gould, upon whose mercy he threw himself. In 1876 he contributed to 'Blackwood's Magazine' the 'Autobiography of a Joint-stock Company,' revealing some mysteries of commercial jugglery. He is said to have shown much financial ability in these transactions.

Meanwhile Harris had migrated to Santa Rosa, near San Francisco, and taken Mrs. Oliphant with him. In the beginning of 1878 Oliphant went to San Francisco, to the office of Mr. J. D. Walker of San Rafael, whose friendship he had won by an act of kindness. His purpose was to see his wife, but permission was refused, and he returned to Brocton. In the following autumn Mrs. Oliphant left Santa Rosa, though still under Harris's rule, and supported herself for a time, first at Vallego and then at Benicia, by keeping a school. She was warmly appreciated by the Californians, and Mrs. Walker was able to see her occasionally. It seems that about this time Harris had discovered not only that the marriage was not a marriage of 'counterparts,' but that Oliphant had a spiritual 'counterpart' in the other world, who inspired him with rhymed communications, and was therefore an obstacle to union with his earthly wife. His belief in these communications strikes his biographer as the 'only sign of mental aberration' she ever noticed. Meanwhile Oliphant took up a scheme for colonising Palestine with Jews, and early in 1879 went to the East to examine the country, and endeavour to obtain a concession from the Turkish government. An account of his journey was given in 'The Land of Gilead, with Excursions in the Lebanon,' 1880. The attempt upon the Turkish government failed, and the scheme broke down. Oliphant returned to England, and there, in the early winter of 1880, he was rejoined by his wife. She had obtained Harris's permission to return by accepting 'irritating conditions on the freedom of their intercourse.' They made, however, a journey to Egypt in the winter, described by him in 'The Land of Khemi, up and down the Middle Nile,' 1882. An accidental difficulty at Cairo prevented them from formally making over to Harris their right in the land at Brocton. In May 1881 Oliphant returned to America, to see his mother, who was still at Brocton. He found her both ill and troubled by doubts as to the Harris creed. They went to Santa Rosa, where the sight of a 'valuable ring' of Lady Oliphant's upon the finger of one of Harris's household staggered their faith. Oliphant took his mother, in spite of orders from Harris, to a village where there was a woman with an infallible panacea. She there died, in the presence of her son and their kind friend Mrs. Walker. Oliphant himself now became sceptical as to the prophet's inspiration, and, with the help of Mr. Walker, recovered his land at Brocton by legal proceedings. Harris and his disciples took a different view of these transactions. His wife had received a telegram from Santa Anna during his absence requesting her sanction to placing him in confinement. This appears to have ended her allegiance to the prophet. Oliphant was again in England in January 1882, and prepared the volumecalled 'Traits and Travesties,' 1882, consisting chiefly of reprints from 'Blackwood's Magazine.' Oliphant now took up the Palestine colonisation scheme. He travelled with his wife to Constantinople in the summer of 1882, and settled for some time at Therapia. At the end of the year they moved to Haifa