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Oliphant
Oliphant
137

in the Bay of Acre, in the neighbourhood of various Jewish colonies. He wrote there his story 'Altiora Peto,' 1883, in the 'Piccadilly' style, the name being derived from a motto of his branch of the Oliphant family. At Haifa they collected a number of sympathisers, though they did not form exactly a community. Oliphant, it seems, was now regarded as a 'sort of head of affairs at Brocton,' which was no longer in connection with Harris. Visitors from Brocton, as well as natives and Jewish immigrants, gathered around them. They built a small house at Dalieh in the neighbourhood, and endeavoured to carry out their ideal of life. They gave expositions of their views to various inquirers, and were not converted to 'Esoteric Buddhism.' A strange book, called 'Sympneumata,' was written by them in concert and, as they thought, by a kind of common inspiration. Some who had sympathised, however, were alienated 'in fear' and others 'in disgust.' Others regarded it as harmless nonsense. Oliphant also wrote 'Massollam,' 1886, which gives his final judgment of Harris.

During a trip to the Lake of Tiberias, at the end of 1886, Mrs. Oliphant caught a fever, and died on 2 Jan. 1887. Oliphant believed that she soon came back to him in spirit, and sent messages through him to her friends. Her presence was shown by strange convulsive movements. lie ret umed to England to carry out a tour which they had Elanned to take together. He was much broken, though he could still often talk with his old brightness. He wrote a series of papers in 'Blackwood,' published in 1887 as 'Episodes in a Life of Adventure ; or Moss from a Rolling Stone,' which describe his early career with great spirit. He also published at Haifa a description of Palestine and 'Fashionable Philosophy,' 1887, a collection of various stories. In 1887 he returned to Haifa, and wrte a pamphlet called 'The Star in the East' for the benefit of Mahommedans. It is said to have made one Arab convert, who was 'not much credit to his leader.' He returned to England and finished his last book, 'Scientific Religion; or Evolutionary Forces now Active in Man,' 1888. It helped to bring about him a crowd of 'spiritualists' and people capable of mistaking twaddle about the masculine-feminine principle for philosophy. He visited America in 1888, and returned with Miss Rosamond Dale Owen, daughter of Robert Dale Owen [q. v], to whom he was married at Malvern on 16 Aug. A few days later he was seized with a dangerous illness at the house of his old friends, the Walkers, at Surbiton. Thence he was moved to York House, Twickenham, to be the guest of his friend Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff. The illness was hopeless from the first, though he was flattered by hopes of a miraculous cure. He was still cheerful and even witty to the last, and died peacefully on 23 Dec. 1888.

The charm of Oliphant's alert and versatile intellect and sympathetic character was recognised by a wide circle of friends. It was felt not least by those who most regretted the strange religious developments which led to the waste of his powers and his enslavement to such a propnet as Harris. He was beloved for his boyish simplicity and the warmth of heart which appeared through all his illusions. Suggestions of insanity were, of course, made, but apparently without definite reasons. Remarkable talents without thorough training have through many minds off their balance, and Oliphant's case is only exceptional for the singular combination of two apparently inconsistent careers. Till his last years, at any rate, his religious mysticism did not disqualify him for being also a shrewd financier, a charming man of the world, and a brilliant writer. His works have been mentioned above. He also contributed many articles to 'Blackwood's Magazine' and the 'Times.'

[Memoir of the Life of Laurence Oliphant and of Alice Oliphant, his wife, by Margaret Oliphant W. Oliphant, 2 vols. 1891. Oliphant's writings give many details of his early travels and adventures. See also Personal Reminiscences of L. Oliphant, by Louis Leesching (n.d.); and, for some account of the Brocton community from the other side, Brotherhood of the New Life: a letter from Thomas Lake Harris, 1893, and the Brotherhood of the New Life by Richard MacCully, Glasgow, 1893, pp. 146-61.]

L. S.


OLIPHANT, THOMAS (1799–1873), writer and musical composer, was born 25 Dec. 1799, at Condie, Strathearn, Perthshire, in the house of his father, Ebenezer Oliphant; his mother was Mary, the third daughter of Sir William Stirling, bart., of Ardoch, Perthshire. After being educated at Winchester College and by private tutors, he became for a short time a member of the Stock Exchange, London, but soon relinquished commerce to devote himself to literature and music. In 1830 he was admitted a member of the Madrigal Society, of which he afterwards became honorary secretary, and, for the use of its members, he adapted English words to a considerable number of Italian madrigals, in some cases writing original verses, in others by merely trans-