Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:26 am

CHAPTER 16

Ardua vallatur duris sapientia scrupis.
Hadr. Jun., "Emblem." xxxvii.
(Lofty wisdom is circled round with rugged rocks.)


We must go back some hours in the progress of this narrative. It was the first faint and gradual break of the summer dawn; and two men stood in a balcony overhanging a garden fragrant with the scents of the awakening flowers. The stars had not yet left the sky, -- the birds were yet silent on the boughs: all was still, hushed, and tranquil; but how different the tranquillity of reviving day from the solemn repose of night! In the music of silence there are a thousand variations. These men, who alone seemed awake in Naples, were Zanoni and the mysterious stranger who had but an hour or two ago startled the Prince di -- in his voluptuous palace.

"No," said the latter; "hadst thou delayed the acceptance of the Arch-gift until thou hadst attained to the years, and passed through all the desolate bereavements that chilled and seared myself ere my researches had made it mine, thou wouldst have escaped the curse of which thou complainest now, -- thou wouldst not have mourned over the brevity of human affection as compared to the duration of thine own existence; for thou wouldst have survived the very desire and dream of the love of woman. Brightest, and, but for that error, perhaps the loftiest, of the secret and solemn race that fills up the interval in creation between mankind and the children of the Empyreal, age after age wilt thou rue the splendid folly which made thee ask to carry the beauty and the passions of youth into the dreary grandeur of earthly immortality."

"I do not repent, nor shall I," answered Zanoni. "The transport and the sorrow, so wildly blended, which have at intervals diversified my doom, are better than the calm and bloodless tenor of thy solitary way -- thou, who lovest nothing, hatest nothing, feelest nothing, and walkest the world with the noiseless and joyless footsteps of a dream!"

"You mistake," replied he who had owned the name of Mejnour, -- "though I care not for love, and am dead to every PASSION that agitates the sons of clay, I am not dead to their more serene enjoyments. I carry down the stream of the countless years, not the turbulent desires of youth, but the calm and spiritual delights of age. Wisely and deliberately I abandoned youth forever when I separated my lot from men. Let us not envy or reproach each other. I would have saved this Neapolitan, Zanoni (since so it now pleases thee to be called), partly because his grandsire was but divided by the last airy barrier from our own brotherhood, partly because I know that in the man himself lurk the elements of ancestral courage and power, which in earlier life would have fitted him for one of us. Earth holds but few to whom Nature has given the qualities that can bear the ordeal. But time and excess, that have quickened his grosser senses, have blunted his imagination. I relinquish him to his doom."

"And still, then, Mejnour, you cherish the desire to revive our order, limited now to ourselves alone, by new converts and allies. Surely -- surely -- thy experience might have taught thee, that scarcely once in a thousand years is born the being who can pass through the horrible gates that lead into the worlds without! Is not thy path already strewed with thy victims? Do not their ghastly faces of agony and fear -- the blood-stained suicide, the raving maniac -- rise before thee, and warn what is yet left to thee of human sympathy from thy insane ambition?"

"Nay," answered Mejnour; "have I not had success to counterbalance failure? And can I forego this lofty and august hope, worthy alone of our high condition, -- the hope to form a mighty and numerous race with a force and power sufficient to permit them to acknowledge to mankind their majestic conquests and dominion, to become the true lords of this planet, invaders, perchance, of others, masters of the inimical and malignant tribes by which at this moment we are surrounded: a race that may proceed, in their deathless destinies, from stage to stage of celestial glory, and rank at last amongst the nearest ministrants and agents gathered round the Throne of Thrones? What matter a thousand victims for one convert to our band? And you, Zanoni," continued Mejnour, after a pause, -- "you, even you, should this affection for a mortal beauty that you have dared, despite yourself, to cherish, be more than a passing fancy; should it, once admitted into your inmost nature, partake of its bright and enduring essence, -- even you may brave all things to raise the beloved one into your equal. Nay, interrupt me not. Can you see sickness menace her; danger hover around; years creep on; the eyes grow dim; the beauty fade, while the heart, youthful still, clings and fastens round your own, -- can you see this, and know it is yours to -- "

"Cease!" cried Zanoni, fiercely. "What is all other fate as compared to the death of terror? What, when the coldest sage, the most heated enthusiast, the hardiest warrior with his nerves of iron, have been found dead in their beds, with straining eyeballs and horrent hair, at the first step of the Dread Progress, -- thinkest thou that this weak woman -- from whose cheek a sound at the window, the screech of the night-owl, the sight of a drop of blood on a man's sword, would start the colour -- could brave one glance of -- Away! the very thought of such sights for her makes even myself a coward!"

"When you told her you loved her, -- when you clasped her to your breast, you renounced all power to foresee her future lot, or protect her from harm. Henceforth to her you are human, and human only. How know you, then, to what you may be tempted; how know you what her curiosity may learn and her courage brave? But enough of this, -- you are bent on your pursuit?"

"The fiat has gone forth."

"And to-morrow?"

"To-morrow, at this hour, our bark will be bounding over yonder ocean, and the weight of ages will have fallen from my heart! I compassionate thee, O foolish sage, -- THOU hast given up THY youth!"
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:27 am

CHAPTER 17

Alch: Thou always speakest riddles. Tell me if thou art that fountain of which Bernard Lord Trevizan writ?
Merc: I am not that fountain, but I am the water. The fountain compasseth me about.
Sandivogius, "New Light of Alchymy."


The Prince di -- was not a man whom Naples could suppose to be addicted to superstitious fancies. Still, in the South of Italy, there was then, and there still lingers a certain spirit of credulity, which may, ever and anon, be visible amidst the boldest dogmas of their philosophers and sceptics. In his childhood, the prince had learned strange tales of the ambition, the genius, and the career of his grandsire, -- and secretly, perhaps influenced by ancestral example, in earlier youth he himself had followed science, not only through her legitimate course, but her antiquated and erratic windings. I have, indeed, been shown in Naples a little volume, blazoned with the arms of the Visconti, and ascribed to the nobleman I refer to, which treats of alchemy in a spirit half-mocking and half-reverential.

Pleasure soon distracted him from such speculations, and his talents, which were unquestionably great, were wholly perverted to extravagant intrigues, or to the embellishment of a gorgeous ostentation with something of classic grace. His immense wealth, his imperious pride, his unscrupulous and daring character, made him an object of no inconsiderable fear to a feeble and timid court; and the ministers of the indolent government willingly connived at excesses which allured him at least from ambition. The strange visit and yet more strange departure of Mejnour filled the breast of the Neapolitan with awe and wonder, against which all the haughty arrogance and learned scepticism of his maturer manhood combated in vain. The apparition of Mejnour served, indeed, to invest Zanoni with a character in which the prince had not hitherto regarded him. He felt a strange alarm at the rival he had braved, -- at the foe he had provoked. When, a little before his banquet, he had resumed his self-possession, it was with a fell and gloomy resolution that he brooded over the perfidious schemes he had previously formed. He felt as if the death of the mysterious Zanoni were necessary for the preservation of his own life; and if at an earlier period of their rivalry he had determined on the fate of Zanoni, the warnings of Mejnour only served to confirm his resolve.

"We will try if his magic can invent an antidote to the bane," said he, half-aloud, and with a stern smile, as he summoned Mascari to his presence. The poison which the prince, with his own hands, mixed into the wine intended for his guest, was compounded from materials, the secret of which had been one of the proudest heir-looms of that able and evil race which gave to Italy her wisest and guiltiest tyrants. Its operation was quick yet not sudden: it produced no pain, -- it left on the form no grim convulsion, on the skin no purpling spot, to arouse suspicion; you might have cut and carved every membrane and fibre of the corpse, but the sharpest eyes of the leech would not have detected the presence of the subtle life-queller. For twelve hours the victim felt nothing save a joyous and elated exhilaration of the blood; a delicious languor followed, the sure forerunner of apoplexy. No lancet then could save! Apoplexy had run much in the families of the enemies of the Visconti!

The hour of the feast arrived, -- the guests assembled. There were the flower of the Neapolitan seignorie, the descendants of the Norman, the Teuton, the Goth; for Naples had then a nobility, but derived it from the North, which has indeed been the Nutrix Leonum, -- the nurse of the lion-hearted chivalry of the world.

Last of the guests came Zanoni; and the crowd gave way as the dazzling foreigner moved along to the lord of the palace. The prince greeted him with a meaning smile, to which Zanoni answered by a whisper, "He who plays with loaded dice does not always win."

The prince bit his lip, and Zanoni, passing on, seemed deep in conversation with the fawning Mascari.

"Who is the prince's heir?" asked the guest.

"A distant relation on the mother's side; with his Excellency dies the male line."

"Is the heir present at our host's banquet?"

"No; they are not friends."

"No matter; he will be here to-morrow."

Mascari stared in surprise; but the signal for the banquet was given, and the guests were marshalled to the board. As was the custom then, the feast took place not long after mid-day. It was a long, oval hall, the whole of one side opening by a marble colonnade upon a court or garden, in which the eye rested gratefully upon cool fountains and statues of whitest marble, half-sheltered by orange-trees. Every art that luxury could invent to give freshness and coolness to the languid and breezeless heat of the day without (a day on which the breath of the sirocco was abroad) had been called into existence. Artificial currents of air through invisible tubes, silken blinds waving to and fro, as if to cheat the senses into the belief of an April wind, and miniature jets d'eau in each corner of the apartment, gave to the Italians the same sense of exhilaration and COMFORT (if I may use the word) which the well-drawn curtains and the blazing hearth afford to the children of colder climes.

The conversation was somewhat more lively and intellectual than is common amongst the languid pleasure-hunters of the South; for the prince, himself accomplished, sought his acquaintance not only amongst the beaux esprits of his own country, but amongst the gay foreigners who adorned and relieved the monotony of the Neapolitan circles. There were present two or three of the brilliant Frenchmen of the old regime, who had already emigrated from the advancing Revolution; and their peculiar turn of thought and wit was well calculated for the meridian of a society that made the dolce far niente at once its philosophy and its faith. The prince, however, was more silent than usual; and when he sought to rouse himself, his spirits were forced and exaggerated. To the manners of his host, those of Zanoni afforded a striking contrast. The bearing of this singular person was at all times characterised by a calm and polished ease, which was attributed by the courtiers to the long habit of society. He could scarcely be called gay; yet few persons more tended to animate the general spirits of a convivial circle. He seemed, by a kind of intuition, to elicit from each companion the qualities in which he most excelled; and if occasionally a certain tone of latent mockery characterised his remarks upon the topics on which the conversation fell, it appeared to men who took nothing in earnest to be the language both of wit and wisdom. To the Frenchmen, in particular, there was something startling in his intimate knowledge of the minutest events in their own capital and country, and his profound penetration (evinced but in epigrams and sarcasms) into the eminent characters who were then playing a part upon the great stage of continental intrigue.

It was while this conversation grew animated, and the feast was at its height, that Glyndon arrived at the palace. The porter, perceiving by his dress that he was not one of the invited guests, told him that his Excellency was engaged, and on no account could be disturbed; and Glyndon then, for the first time, became aware how strange and embarrassing was the duty he had taken on himself. To force an entrance into the banquet-hall of a great and powerful noble, surrounded by the rank of Naples, and to arraign him for what to his boon-companions would appear but an act of gallantry, was an exploit that could not fail to be at once ludicrous and impotent. He mused a moment, and, slipping a piece of gold into the porter's hand, said that he was commissioned to seek the Signor Zanoni upon an errand of life and death, and easily won his way across the court, and into the interior building. He passed up the broad staircase, and the voices and merriment of the revellers smote his ear at a distance. At the entrance of the reception-rooms he found a page, whom he despatched with a message to Zanoni. The page did the errand; and Zanoni, on hearing the whispered name of Glyndon, turned to his host.

"Pardon me, my lord; an English friend of mine, the Signor Glyndon (not unknown by name to your Excellency) waits without, -- the business must indeed be urgent on which he has sought me in such an hour. You will forgive my momentary absence."

"Nay, signor," answered the prince, courteously, but with a sinister smile on his countenance, "would it not be better for your friend to join us? An Englishman is welcome everywhere; and even were he a Dutchman, your friendship would invest his presence with attraction. Pray his attendance; we would not spare you even for a moment."

Zanoni bowed; the page was despatched with all flattering messages to Glyndon, -- a seat next to Zanoni was placed for him, and the young Englishman entered.

"You are most welcome, sir. I trust your business to our illustrious guest is of good omen and pleasant import. If you bring evil news, defer it, I pray you."

Glyndon's brow was sullen; and he was about to startle the guests by his reply, when Zanoni, touching his arm significantly, whispered in English, "I know why you have sought me. Be silent, and witness what ensues."

"You know then that Viola, whom you boasted you had the power to save from danger -- "

"Is in this house! -- yes. I know also that Murder sits at the right hand of our host. But his fate is now separated from hers forever; and the mirror which glasses it to my eye is clear through the streams of blood. Be still, and learn the fate that awaits the wicked!

"My lord," said Zanoni, speaking aloud, "the Signor Glyndon has indeed brought me tidings not wholly unexpected. I am compelled to leave Naples, -- an additional motive to make the most of the present hour."

"And what, if I may venture to ask, may be the cause that brings such affliction on the fair dames of Naples?"

"It is the approaching death of one who honoured me with most loyal friendship," replied Zanoni, gravely. "Let us not speak of it; grief cannot put back the dial. As we supply by new flowers those that fade in our vases, so it is the secret of worldly wisdom to replace by fresh friendships those that fade from our path."

"True philosophy!" exclaimed the prince. "'Not to admire,' was the Roman's maxim; 'Never to mourn,' is mine. There is nothing in life to grieve for, save, indeed, Signor Zanoni, when some young beauty, on whom we have set our hearts, slips from our grasp. In such a moment we have need of all our wisdom, not to succumb to despair, and shake hands with death. What say you, signor? You smile! Such never could be your lot. Pledge me in a sentiment, 'Long life to the fortunate lover, -- a quick release to the baffled suitor'?"

"I pledge you," said Zanoni; and, as the fatal wine was poured into his glass, he repeated, fixing his eyes on the prince, "I pledge you even in this wine!"

He lifted the glass to his lips. The prince seemed ghastly pale, while the gaze of his guest bent upon him, with an intent and stern brightness, beneath which the conscience-stricken host cowered and quailed. Not till he had drained his draft, and replaced the glass upon the board, did Zanoni turn his eyes from the prince; and he then said, "Your wine has been kept too long; it has lost its virtues. It might disagree with many, but do not fear: it will not harm me, prince, Signor Mascari, you are a judge of the grape; will you favour us with your opinion?"

"Nay," answered Mascari, with well-affected composure, "I like not the wines of Cyprus; they are heating. Perhaps Signor Glyndon may not have the same distaste? The English are said to love their potations warm and pungent."

"Do you wish my friend also to taste the wine, prince?" said Zanoni. "Recollect, all cannot drink it with the same impunity as myself."

"No," said the prince, hastily; "if you do not recommend the wine, Heaven forbid that we should constrain our guests! My lord duke," turning to one of the Frenchmen, "yours is the true soil of Bacchus. What think you of this cask from Burgundy? Has it borne the journey?"

"Ah," said Zanoni, "let us change both the wine and the theme."

With that, Zanoni grew yet more animated and brilliant. Never did wit more sparkling, airy, exhilarating, flash from the lips of reveller. His spirits fascinated all present -- even the prince himself, even Glyndon -- with a strange and wild contagion. The former, indeed, whom the words and gaze of Zanoni, when he drained the poison, had filled with fearful misgivings, now hailed in the brilliant eloquence of his wit a certain sign of the operation of the bane. The wine circulated fast; but none seemed conscious of its effects. One by one the rest of the party fell into a charmed and spellbound silence, as Zanoni continued to pour forth sally upon sally, tale upon tale. They hung on his words, they almost held their breath to listen. Yet, how bitter was his mirth; how full of contempt for the triflers present, and for the trifles which made their life!

Night came on; the room grew dim, and the feast had lasted several hours longer than was the customary duration of similar entertainments at that day. Still the guests stirred not, and still Zanoni continued, with glittering eye and mocking lip, to lavish his stores of intellect and anecdote; when suddenly the moon rose, and shed its rays over the flowers and fountains in the court without, leaving the room itself half in shadow, and half tinged by a quiet and ghostly light.

It was then that Zanoni rose. "Well, gentlemen," said he, "we have not yet wearied our host, I hope; and his garden offers a new temptation to protract our stay. Have you no musicians among your train, prince, that might regale our ears while we inhale the fragrance of your orange-trees?"

"An excellent thought!" said the prince. "Mascari, see to the music."

The party rose simultaneously to adjourn to the garden; and then, for the first time, the effect of the wine they had drunk seemed to make itself felt.

With flushed cheeks and unsteady steps they came into the open air, which tended yet more to stimulate that glowing fever of the grape. As if to make up for the silence with which the guests had hitherto listened to Zanoni, every tongue was now loosened, -- every man talked, no man listened. There was something wild and fearful in the contrast between the calm beauty of the night and scene, and the hubbub and clamour of these disorderly roysters. One of the Frenchmen, in especial, the young Duc de R -- , a nobleman of the highest rank, and of all the quick, vivacious, and irascible temperament of his countrymen, was particularly noisy and excited. And as circumstances, the remembrance of which is still preserved among certain circles of Naples, rendered it afterwards necessary that the duc should himself give evidence of what occurred, I will here translate the short account he drew up, and which was kindly submitted to me some few years ago by my accomplished and lively friend, Il Cavaliere di B -- .

"I never remember," writes the duc, "to have felt my spirits so excited as on that evening; we were like so many boys released from school, jostling each other as we reeled or ran down the flight of seven or eight stairs that led from the colonnade into the garden, -- some laughing, some whooping, some scolding, some babbling. The wine had brought out, as it were, each man's inmost character. Some were loud and quarrelsome, others sentimental and whining; some, whom we had hitherto thought dull, most mirthful; some, whom we had ever regarded as discreet and taciturn, most garrulous and uproarious. I remember that in the midst of our clamorous gayety, my eye fell upon the cavalier Signor Zanoni, whose conversation had so enchanted us all; and I felt a certain chill come over me to perceive that he wore the same calm and unsympathising smile upon his countenance which had characterised it in his singular and curious stories of the court of Louis XIV. I felt, indeed, half-inclined to seek a quarrel with one whose composure was almost an insult to our disorder. Nor was such an effect of this irritating and mocking tranquillity confined to myself alone. Several of the party have told me since, that on looking at Zanoni they felt their blood yet more heated, and gayety change to resentment. There seemed in his icy smile a very charm to wound vanity and provoke rage. It was at this moment that the prince came up to me, and, passing his arm into mine, led me a little apart from the rest. He had certainly indulged in the same excess as ourselves, but it did not produce the same effect of noisy excitement. There was, on the contrary, a certain cold arrogance and supercilious scorn in his bearing and language, which, even while affecting so much caressing courtesy towards me, roused my self-love against him. He seemed as if Zanoni had infected him; and in imitating the manner of his guest, he surpassed the original. He rallied me on some court gossip, which had honoured my name by associating it with a certain beautiful and distinguished Sicilian lady, and affected to treat with contempt that which, had it been true, I should have regarded as a boast. He spoke, indeed, as if he himself had gathered all the flowers of Naples, and left us foreigners only the gleanings he had scorned. At this my natural and national gallantry was piqued, and I retorted by some sarcasms that I should certainly have spared had my blood been cooler. He laughed heartily, and left me in a strange fit of resentment and anger. Perhaps (I must own the truth) the wine had produced in me a wild disposition to take offence and provoke quarrel. As the prince left me, I turned, and saw Zanoni at my side.

"'The prince is a braggart,' said he, with the same smile that displeased me before. 'He would monopolize all fortune and all love. Let us take our revenge.'

"'And how?'

"'He has at this moment, in his house, the most enchanting singer in Naples, -- the celebrated Viola Pisani. She is here, it is true, not by her own choice; he carried her hither by force, but he will pretend that she adores him. Let us insist on his producing this secret treasure, and when she enters, the Duc de R -- can have no doubt that his flatteries and attentions will charm the lady, and provoke all the jealous fears of our host. It would be a fair revenge upon his imperious self-conceit.'

"This suggestion delighted me. I hastened to the prince. At that instant the musicians had just commenced; I waved my hand, ordered the music to stop, and, addressing the prince, who was standing in the centre of one of the gayest groups, complained of his want of hospitality in affording to us such poor proficients in the art, while he reserved for his own solace the lute and voice of the first performer in Naples. I demanded, half-laughingly, half-seriously, that he should produce the Pisani. My demand was received with shouts of applause by the rest. We drowned the replies of our host with uproar, and would hear no denial. 'Gentlemen,' at last said the prince, when he could obtain an audience, 'even were I to assent to your proposal, I could not induce the signora to present herself before an assemblage as riotous as they are noble. You have too much chivalry to use compulsion with her, though the Duc de R -- forgets himself sufficiently to administer it to me.'

"I was stung by this taunt, however well deserved. 'Prince,' said I, 'I have for the indelicacy of compulsion so illustrious an example that I cannot hesitate to pursue the path honoured by your own footsteps. All Naples knows that the Pisani despises at once your gold and your love; that force alone could have brought her under your roof; and that you refuse to produce her, because you fear her complaints, and know enough of the chivalry your vanity sneers at to feel assured that the gentlemen of France are not more disposed to worship beauty than to defend it from wrong.'

"'You speak well, sir,' said Zanoni, gravely. 'The prince dares not produce his prize!'

"The prince remained speechless for a few moments, as if with indignation. At last he broke out into expressions the most injurious and insulting against Signor Zanoni and myself. Zanoni replied not; I was more hot and hasty. The guests appeared to delight in our dispute. None, except Mascari, whom we pushed aside and disdained to hear, strove to conciliate; some took one side, some another. The issue may be well foreseen. Swords were called for and procured. Two were offered me by one of the party. I was about to choose one, when Zanoni placed in my hand the other, which, from its hilt, appeared of antiquated workmanship. At the same moment, looking towards the prince, he said, smilingly, 'The duc takes your grandsire's sword. Prince, you are too brave a man for superstition; you have forgot the forfeit!' Our host seemed to me to recoil and turn pale at those words; nevertheless, he returned Zanoni's smile with a look of defiance. The next moment all was broil and disorder. There might be some six or eight persons engaged in a strange and confused kind of melee, but the prince and myself only sought each other. The noise around us, the confusion of the guests, the cries of the musicians, the clash of our own swords, only served to stimulate our unhappy fury. We feared to be interrupted by the attendants, and fought like madmen, without skill or method. I thrust and parried mechanically, blind and frantic, as if a demon had entered into me, till I saw the prince stretched at my feet, bathed in his blood, and Zanoni bending over him, and whispering in his ear. That sight cooled us all. The strife ceased; we gathered, in shame, remorse, and horror, round our ill-fated host; but it was too late, -- his eyes rolled fearfully in his head. I have seen many men die, but never one who wore such horror on his countenance. At last all was over! Zanoni rose from the corpse, and, taking, with great composure, the sword from my hand, said calmly, 'Ye are witnesses, gentlemen, that the prince brought his fate upon himself. The last of that illustrious house has perished in a brawl.'

"I saw no more of Zanoni. I hastened to our envoy to narrate the event, and abide the issue. I am grateful to the Neapolitan government, and to the illustrious heir of the unfortunate nobleman, for the lenient and generous, yet just, interpretation put upon a misfortune the memory of which will afflict me to the last hour of my life.

(Signed) "Louis Victor, Duc de R."

In the above memorial, the reader will find the most exact and minute account yet given of an event which created the most lively sensation at Naples in that day.

Glyndon had taken no part in the affray, neither had he participated largely in the excesses of the revel. For his exemption from both he was perhaps indebted to the whispered exhortations of Zanoni. When the last rose from the corpse, and withdrew from that scene of confusion, Glyndon remarked that in passing the crowd he touched Mascari on the shoulder, and said something which the Englishman did not overhear. Glyndon followed Zanoni into the banquet-room, which, save where the moonlight slept on the marble floor, was wrapped in the sad and gloomy shadows of the advancing night.

"How could you foretell this fearful event? He fell not by your arm!" said Glyndon, in a tremulous and hollow tone.

"The general who calculates on the victory does not fight in person," answered Zanoni; "let the past sleep with the dead. Meet me at midnight by the sea-shore, half a mile to the left of your hotel. You will know the spot by a rude pillar -- the only one near -- to which a broken chain is attached. There and then, if thou wouldst learn our lore, thou shalt find the master. Go; I have business here yet. Remember, Viola is still in the house of the dead man!"

Here Mascari approached, and Zanoni, turning to the Italian, and waving his hand to Glyndon, drew the former aside. Glyndon slowly departed.

"Mascari," said Zanoni, "your patron is no more; your services will be valueless to his heir, -- a sober man whom poverty has preserved from vice. For yourself, thank me that I do not give you up to the executioner; recollect the wine of Cyprus. Well, never tremble, man; it could not act on me, though it might react on others; in that it is a common type of crime. I forgive you; and if the wine should kill me, I promise you that my ghost shall not haunt so worshipful a penitent. Enough of this; conduct me to the chamber of Viola Pisani. You have no further need of her. The death of the jailer opens the cell of the captive. Be quick; I would be gone."

Mascari muttered some inaudible words, bowed low, and led the way to the chamber in which Viola was confined.
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:27 am

CHAPTER 18

Merc: Tell me, therefore, what thou seekest after, and what thou wilt have. What dost thou desire to make?
Alch: The Philosopher's Stone.
-- Sandivogius.


It wanted several minutes of midnight, and Glyndon repaired to the appointed spot. The mysterious empire which Zanoni had acquired over him, was still more solemnly confirmed by the events of the last few hours; the sudden fate of the prince, so deliberately foreshadowed, and yet so seemingly accidental, brought out by causes the most commonplace, and yet associated with words the most prophetic, impressed him with the deepest sentiments of admiration and awe. It was as if this dark and wondrous being could convert the most ordinary events and the meanest instruments into the agencies of his inscrutable will; yet, if so, why have permitted the capture of Viola? Why not have prevented the crime rather than punish the criminal? And did Zanoni really feel love for Viola? Love, and yet offer to resign her to himself, -- to a rival whom his arts could not have failed to baffle. He no longer reverted to the belief that Zanoni or Viola had sought to dupe him into marriage. His fear and reverence for the former now forbade the notion of so poor an imposture. Did he any longer love Viola himself? No; when that morning he had heard of her danger, he had, it is true, returned to the sympathies and the fears of affection; but with the death of the prince her image faded from his heart, and he felt no jealous pang at the thought that she had been saved by Zanoni, -- that at that moment she was perhaps beneath his roof. Whoever has, in the course of his life, indulged the absorbing passion of the gamester, will remember how all other pursuits and objects vanished from his mind; how solely he was wrapped in the one wild delusion; with what a sceptre of magic power the despot-demon ruled every feeling and every thought. Far more intense than the passion of the gamester was the frantic yet sublime desire that mastered the breast of Glyndon. He would be the rival of Zanoni, not in human and perishable affections, but in preternatural and eternal lore. He would have laid down life with content -- nay, rapture -- as the price of learning those solemn secrets which separated the stranger from mankind. Enamoured of the goddess of goddesses, he stretched forth his arms -- the wild Ixion -- and embraced a cloud!

The night was most lovely and serene, and the waves scarcely rippled at his feet as the Englishman glided on by the cool and starry beach. At length he arrived at the spot, and there, leaning against the broken pillar, he beheld a man wrapped in a long mantle, and in an attitude of profound repose. He approached, and uttered the name of Zanoni. The figure turned, and he saw the face of a stranger: a face not stamped by the glorious beauty of Zanoni, but equally majestic in its aspect, and perhaps still more impressive from the mature age and the passionless depth of thought that characterised the expanded forehead, and deep-set but piercing eyes.

"You seek Zanoni," said the stranger; "he will be here anon; but, perhaps, he whom you see before you is more connected with your destiny, and more disposed to realise your dreams."

"Hath the earth, then, another Zanoni?"

"If not," replied the stranger, "why do you cherish the hope and the wild faith to be yourself a Zanoni? Think you that none others have burned with the same godlike dream? Who, indeed in his first youth, -- youth when the soul is nearer to the heaven from which it sprang, and its divine and primal longings are not all effaced by the sordid passions and petty cares that are begot in time, -- who is there in youth that has not nourished the belief that the universe has secrets not known to the common herd, and panted, as the hart for the water-springs, for the fountains that lie hid and far away amidst the broad wilderness of trackless science? The music of the fountain is heard in the soul WITHIN, till the steps, deceived and erring, rove away from its waters, and the wanderer dies in the mighty desert. Think you that none who have cherished the hope have found the truth, or that the yearning after the Ineffable Knowledge was given to us utterly in vain? No! Every desire in human hearts is but a glimpse of things that exist, alike distant and divine. No! in the world there have been from age to age some brighter and happier spirits who have attained to the air in which the beings above mankind move and breathe. Zanoni, great though he be, stands not alone. He has had his predecessors, and long lines of successors may be yet to come."

"And will you tell me," said Glyndon, "that in yourself I behold one of that mighty few over whom Zanoni has no superiority in power and wisdom?"

"In me," answered the stranger, "you see one from whom Zanoni himself learned some of his loftiest secrets. On these shores, on this spot, have I stood in ages that your chroniclers but feebly reach. The Phoenician, the Greek, the Oscan, the Roman, the Lombard, I have seen them all! -- leaves gay and glittering on the trunk of the universal life, scattered in due season and again renewed; till, indeed, the same race that gave its glory to the ancient world bestowed a second youth upon the new. For the pure Greeks, the Hellenes, whose origin has bewildered your dreaming scholars, were of the same great family as the Norman tribe, born to be the lords of the universe, and in no land on earth destined to become the hewers of wood. Even the dim traditions of the learned, which bring the sons of Hellas from the vast and undetermined territories of Northern Thrace, to be the victors of the pastoral Pelasgi, and the founders of the line of demi-gods; which assign to a population bronzed beneath the suns of the West, the blue-eyed Minerva and the yellow-haired Achilles (physical characteristics of the North); which introduce, amongst a pastoral people, warlike aristocracies and limited monarchies, the feudalism of the classic time, -- even these might serve you to trace back the primeval settlements of the Hellenes to the same region whence, in later times, the Norman warriors broke on the dull and savage hordes of the Celt, and became the Greeks of the Christian world. But this interests you not, and you are wise in your indifference. Not in the knowledge of things without, but in the perfection of the soul within, lies the empire of man aspiring to be more than man."

"And what books contain that science; from what laboratory is it wrought?"

"Nature supplies the materials; they are around you in your daily walks. In the herbs that the beast devours and the chemist disdains to cull; in the elements from which matter in its meanest and its mightiest shapes is deduced; in the wide bosom of the air; in the black abysses of the earth; everywhere are given to mortals the resources and libraries of immortal lore. But as the simplest problems in the simplest of all studies are obscure to one who braces not his mind to their comprehension; as the rower in yonder vessel cannot tell you why two circles can touch each other only in one point, -- so though all earth were carved over and inscribed with the letters of diviner knowledge, the characters would be valueless to him who does not pause to inquire the language and meditate the truth. Young man, if thy imagination is vivid, if thy heart is daring, if thy curiosity is insatiate, I will accept thee as my pupil. But the first lessons are stern and dread."

"If thou hast mastered them, why not I?" answered Glyndon, boldly. "I have felt from my boyhood that strange mysteries were reserved for my career; and from the proudest ends of ordinary ambition I have carried my gaze into the cloud and darkness that stretch beyond. The instant I beheld Zanoni, I felt as if I had discovered the guide and the tutor for which my youth had idly languished and vainly burned."

"And to me his duty is transferred," replied the stranger. "Yonder lies, anchored in the bay, the vessel in which Zanoni seeks a fairer home; a little while and the breeze will rise, the sail will swell; and the stranger will have passed, like a wind, away. Still, like the wind, he leaves in thy heart the seeds that may bear the blossom and the fruit. Zanoni hath performed his task, -- he is wanted no more; the perfecter of his work is at thy side. He comes! I hear the dash of the oar. You will have your choice submitted to you. According as you decide we shall meet again." With these words the stranger moved slowly away, and disappeared beneath the shadow of the cliffs. A boat glided rapidly across the waters: it touched land; a man leaped on shore, and Glyndon recognised Zanoni.

"I give thee, Glyndon, -- I give thee no more the option of happy love and serene enjoyment. That hour is past, and fate has linked the hand that might have been thine own to mine. But I have ample gifts to bestow upon thee, if thou wilt abandon the hope that gnaws thy heart, and the realisation of which even _I_ have not the power to foresee. Be thine ambition human, and I can gratify it to the full. Men desire four things in life, -- love, wealth, fame, power. The first I cannot give thee, the rest are at my disposal. Select which of them thou wilt, and let us part in peace."

"Such are not the gifts I covet. I choose knowledge; that knowledge must be thine own. For this, and for this alone, I surrendered the love of Viola; this, and this alone, must be my recompense."

"I cannot gain say thee, though I can warn. The desire to learn does not always contain the faculty to acquire. I can give thee, it is true, the teacher, -- the rest must depend on thee. Be wise in time, and take that which I can assure to thee."

"Answer me but these questions, and according to your answer I will decide. Is it in the power of man to attain intercourse with the beings of other worlds? Is it in the power of man to influence the elements, and to insure life against the sword and against disease?"

"All this may be possible," answered Zanoni, evasively, "to the few; but for one who attains such secrets, millions may perish in the attempt."

"One question more. Thou -- "

"Beware! Of myself, as I have said before, I render no account."

"Well, then, the stranger I have met this night, -- are his boasts to be believed? Is he in truth one of the chosen seers whom you allow to have mastered the mysteries I yearn to fathom?"

"Rash man," said Zanoni, in a tone of compassion, "thy crisis is past, and thy choice made! I can only bid thee be bold and prosper; yes, I resign thee to a master who HAS the power and the will to open to thee the gates of an awful world. Thy weal or woe are as nought in the eyes of his relentless wisdom. I would bid him spare thee, but he will heed me not. Mejnour, receive thy pupil!" Glyndon turned, and his heart beat when he perceived that the stranger, whose footsteps he had not heard upon the pebbles, whose approach he had not beheld in the moonlight, was once more by his side.

"Farewell," resumed Zanoni; "thy trial commences. When next we meet, thou wilt be the victim or the victor."

Glyndon's eyes followed the receding form of the mysterious stranger. He saw him enter the boat, and he then for the first time noticed that besides the rowers there was a female, who stood up as Zanoni gained the boat. Even at the distance he recognised the once-adored form of Viola. She waved her hand to him, and across the still and shining air came her voice, mournfully and sweetly, in her mother's tongue, "Farewell, Clarence, -- I forgive thee! -- farewell, farewell!"

He strove to answer; but the voice touched a chord at his heart, and the words failed him. Viola was then lost forever, gone with this dread stranger; darkness was round her lot! And he himself had decided her fate and his own! The boat bounded on, the soft waves flashed and sparkled beneath the oars, and it was along one sapphire track of moonlight that the frail vessel bore away the lovers. Farther and farther from his gaze sped the boat, till at last the speck, scarcely visible, touched the side of the ship that lay lifeless in the glorious bay. At that instant, as if by magic, up sprang, with a glad murmur, the playful and freshening wind: and Glyndon turned to Mejnour and broke the silence.

"Tell me -- if thou canst read the future -- tell me that HER lot will be fair, and that HER choice at least is wise?"

"My pupil!" answered Mejnour, in a voice the calmness of which well accorded with the chilling words, "thy first task must be to withdraw all thought, feeling, sympathy from others. The elementary stage of knowledge is to make self, and self alone, thy study and thy world. Thou hast decided thine own career; thou hast renounced love; thou hast rejected wealth, fame, and the vulgar pomps of power. What, then, are all mankind to thee? To perfect thy faculties, and concentrate thy emotions, is henceforth thy only aim!"

"And will happiness be the end?"

"If happiness exist," answered Mejnour, "it must be centred in a SELF to which all passion is unknown. But happiness is the last state of being; and as yet thou art on the threshold of the first."

As Mejnour spoke, the distant vessel spread its sails to the wind, and moved slowly along the deep. Glyndon sighed, and the pupil and the master retraced their steps towards the city.
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:28 am

BOOK 4. THE DWELLER OF THE THRESHOLD.

Bey hinter ihm was will! Ich heb ihn auf.
"Das Verschleierte Bildzu Sais"
(Be behind what there may, - I raise the veil.)


CHAPTER 1

Come vittima io vengo all' ara.
"Metast.," At. ii. Sc. 7.
(As a victim I go to the altar.)


It was about a month after the date of Zanoni's departure and Glyndon's introduction to Mejnour, when two Englishmen were walking, arm-in-arm, through the Toledo.

"I tell you," said one (who spoke warmly), "that if you have a particle of common-sense left in you, you will accompany me to England. This Mejnour is an imposter more dangerous, because more in earnest, than Zanoni. After all, what do his promises amount to? You allow that nothing can be more equivocal. You say that he has left Naples, -- that he has selected a retreat more congenial than the crowded thoroughfares of men to the studies in which he is to initiate you; and this retreat is among the haunts of the fiercest bandits of Italy, -- haunts which justice itself dares not penetrate. Fitting hermitage for a sage! I tremble for you. What if this stranger -- of whom nothing is known -- be leagued with the robbers; and these lures for your credulity bait but the traps for your property, -- perhaps your life? You might come off cheaply by a ransom of half your fortune. You smile indignantly! Well, put common-sense out of the question; take your own view of the matter. You are to undergo an ordeal which Mejnour himself does not profess to describe as a very tempting one. It may, or it may not, succeed: if it does not, you are menaced with the darkest evils; and if it does, you cannot be better off than the dull and joyless mystic whom you have taken for a master. Away with this folly; enjoy youth while it is left to you; return with me to England; forget these dreams; enter your proper career; form affections more respectable than those which lured you awhile to an Italian adventuress. Attend to your fortune, make money, and become a happy and distinguished man. This is the advice of sober friendship; yet the promises I hold out to you are fairer than those of Mejnour."

"Mervale," said Glyndon, doggedly, "I cannot, if I would, yield to your wishes. A power that is above me urges me on; I cannot resist its influence. I will proceed to the last in the strange career I have commenced. Think of me no more. Follow yourself the advice you give to me, and be happy."

"This is madness," said Mervale; "your health is already failing; you are so changed I should scarcely know you. Come; I have already had your name entered in my passport; in another hour I shall be gone, and you, boy that you are, will be left, without a friend, to the deceits of your own fancy and the machinations of this relentless mountebank."

"Enough," said Glyndon, coldly; "you cease to be an effective counsellor when you suffer your prejudices to be thus evident. I have already had ample proof," added the Englishman, and his pale cheek grew more pale, "of the power of this man, -- if man he be, which I sometimes doubt, -- and, come life, come death, I will not shrink from the paths that allure me. Farewell, Mervale; if we never meet again, -- if you hear, amidst our old and cheerful haunts, that Clarence Glyndon sleeps the last sleep by the shores of Naples, or amidst yon distant hills, say to the friends of our youth, 'He died worthily, as thousands of martyr-students have died before him, in the pursuit of knowledge.'"

He wrung Mervale's hand as he spoke, darted from his side, and disappeared amidst the crowd.

By the corner of the Toledo he was arrested by Nicot.

"Ah, Glyndon! I have not seen you this month. Where have you hid yourself? Have you been absorbed in your studies?"

"Yes."

"I am about to leave Naples for Paris. Will you accompany me? Talent of all order is eagerly sought for there, and will be sure to rise."

"I thank you; I have other schemes for the present."

"So laconic! -- what ails you? Do you grieve for the loss of the Pisani? Take example by me. I have already consoled myself with Bianca Sacchini, -- a handsome woman, enlightened, no prejudices. A valuable creature I shall find her, no doubt. But as for this Zanoni!"

"What of him?"

"If ever I paint an allegorical subject, I will take his likeness as Satan. Ha, ha! a true painter's revenge, -- eh? And the way of the world, too! When we can do nothing else against a man whom we hate, we can at least paint his effigies as the Devil's. Seriously, though: I abhor that man."

"Wherefore?'

"Wherefore! Has he not carried off the wife and the dowry I had marked for myself! Yet, after all," added Nicot, musingly, "had he served instead of injured me, I should have hated him all the same. His very form, and his very face, made me at once envy and detest him. I felt that there is something antipathetic in our natures. I feel, too, that we shall meet again, when Jean Nicot's hate may be less impotent. We, too, cher confrere, -- we, too, may meet again! Vive la Republique! I to my new world!"

"And I to mine. Farewell!"

That day Mervale left Naples; the next morning Glyndon also quitted the City of Delight alone, and on horseback. He bent his way into those picturesque but dangerous parts of the country which at that time were infested by banditti, and which few travellers dared to pass, even in broad daylight, without a strong escort. A road more lonely cannot well be conceived than that on which the hoofs of his steed, striking upon the fragments of rock that encumbered the neglected way, woke a dull and melancholy echo. Large tracts of waste land, varied by the rank and profuse foliage of the South, lay before him; occasionally a wild goat peeped down from some rocky crag, or the discordant cry of a bird of prey, startled in its sombre haunt, was heard above the hills. These were the only signs of life; not a human being was met, -- not a hut was visible. Wrapped in his own ardent and solemn thoughts, the young man continued his way, till the sun had spent its noonday heat, and a breeze that announced the approach of eve sprung up from the unseen ocean which lay far distant to his right. It was then that a turn in the road brought before him one of those long, desolate, gloomy villages which are found in the interior of the Neapolitan dominions: and now he came upon a small chapel on one side the road, with a gaudily painted image of the Virgin in the open shrine. Around this spot, which, in the heart of a Christian land, retained the vestige of the old idolatry (for just such were the chapels that in the pagan age were dedicated to the demon-saints of mythology), gathered six or seven miserable and squalid wretches, whom the curse of the leper had cut off from mankind. They set up a shrill cry as they turned their ghastly visages towards the horseman; and, without stirring from the spot, stretched out their gaunt arms, and implored charity in the name of the Merciful Mother! Glyndon hastily threw them some small coins, and, turning away his face, clapped spurs to his horse, and relaxed not his speed till he entered the village. On either side the narrow and miry street, fierce and haggard forms -- some leaning against the ruined walls of blackened huts, some seated at the threshold, some lying at full length in the mud -- presented groups that at once invoked pity and aroused alarm: pity for their squalor, alarm for the ferocity imprinted on their savage aspects. They gazed at him, grim and sullen, as he rode slowly up the rugged street; sometimes whispering significantly to each other, but without attempting to stop his way. Even the children hushed their babble, and ragged urchins, devouring him with sparkling eyes, muttered to their mothers; "We shall feast well to-morrow!" It was, indeed, one of those hamlets in which Law sets not its sober step, in which Violence and Murder house secure, -- hamlets common then in the wilder parts of Italy, in which the peasant was but the gentler name for the robber.

Glyndon's heart somewhat failed him as he looked around, and the question he desired to ask died upon his lips. At length from one of the dismal cabins emerged a form superior to the rest. Instead of the patched and ragged over-all, which made the only garment of the men he had hitherto seen, the dress of this person was characterised by all the trappings of the national bravery. Upon his raven hair, the glossy curls of which made a notable contrast to the matted and elfin locks of the savages around, was placed a cloth cap, with a gold tassel that hung down to his shoulder; his mustaches were trimmed with care, and a silk kerchief of gay hues was twisted round a well-shaped but sinewy throat; a short jacket of rough cloth was decorated with several rows of gilt filagree buttons; his nether garments fitted tight to his limbs, and were curiously braided; while in a broad parti- coloured sash were placed two silver-hilted pistols, and the sheathed knife, usually worn by Italians of the lower order, mounted in ivory elaborately carved. A small carbine of handsome workmanship was slung across his shoulder and completed his costume. The man himself was of middle size, athletic yet slender, with straight and regular features, sunburnt, but not swarthy; and an expression of countenance which, though reckless and bold, had in it frankness rather than ferocity, and, if defying, was not altogether unprepossessing.

Glyndon, after eyeing this figure for some moments with great attention, checked his rein, and asked the way to the "Castle of the Mountain."

The man lifted his cap as he heard the question, and, approaching Glyndon, laid his hand upon the neck of the horse, and said, in a low voice, "Then you are the cavalier whom our patron the signor expected. He bade me wait for you here, and lead you to the castle. And indeed, signor, it might have been unfortunate if I had neglected to obey the command."

The man then, drawing a little aside, called out to the bystanders in a loud voice, "Ho, ho! my friends, pay henceforth and forever all respect to this worshipful cavalier. He is the expected guest of our blessed patron of the Castle of the Mountain. Long life to him! May he, like his host, be safe by day and by night; on the hill and in the waste; against the dagger and the bullet, -- in limb and in life! Cursed be he who touches a hair of his head, or a baioccho in his pouch. Now and forever we will protect and honour him, -- for the law or against the law; with the faith and to the death. Amen! Amen!"

"Amen!" responded, in wild chorus, a hundred voices; and the scattered and straggling groups pressed up the street, nearer and nearer to the horseman.

"And that he may be known," continued the Englishman's strange protector, "to the eye and to the ear, I place around him the white sash, and I give him the sacred watchword, 'Peace to the Brave.' Signor, when you wear this sash, the proudest in these parts will bare the head and bend the knee. Signor, when you utter this watchword, the bravest hearts will be bound to your bidding. Desire you safety, or ask you revenge -- to gain a beauty, or to lose a foe, -- speak but the word, and we are yours: we are yours! Is it not so, comrades?"

And again the hoarse voices shouted, "Amen, Amen!"

"Now, signor," whispered the bravo, "if you have a few coins to spare, scatter them amongst the crowd, and let us be gone."

Glyndon, not displeased at the concluding sentence, emptied his purse in the streets; and while, with mingled oaths, blessings, shrieks, and yells, men, women, and children scrambled for the money, the bravo, taking the rein of the horse, led it a few paces through the village at a brisk trot, and then, turning up a narrow lane to the left, in a few minutes neither houses nor men were visible, and the mountains closed their path on either side. It was then that, releasing the bridle and slackening his pace, the guide turned his dark eyes on Glyndon with an arch expression, and said, --

"Your Excellency was not, perhaps, prepared for the hearty welcome we have given you."

"Why, in truth, I OUGHT to have been prepared for it, since the signor, to whose house I am bound, did not disguise from me the character of the neighbourhood. And your name, my friend, if I may so call you?"

"Oh, no ceremonies with me, Excellency. In the village I am generally called Maestro Paolo. I had a surname once, though a very equivocal one; and I have forgotten THAT since I retired from the world."

"And was it from disgust, from poverty, or from some -- some ebullition of passion which entailed punishment, that you betook yourself to the mountains?"

"Why, signor," said the bravo, with a gay laugh, "hermits of my class seldom love the confessional. However, I have no secrets while my step is in these defiles, my whistle in my pouch, and my carbine at my back." With that the robber, as if he loved permission to talk at his will, hemmed thrice, and began with much humour; though, as his tale proceeded, the memories it roused seemed to carry him farther than he at first intended, and reckless and light-hearted ease gave way to that fierce and varied play of countenance and passion of gesture which characterise the emotions of his countrymen.

"I was born at Terracina, -- a fair spot, is it not? My father was a learned monk of high birth; my mother -- Heaven rest her! -- an innkeeper's pretty daughter. Of course there could be no marriage in the case; and when I was born, the monk gravely declared my appearance to be miraculous. I was dedicated from my cradle to the altar; and my head was universally declared to be the orthodox shape for a cowl. As I grew up, the monk took great pains with my education; and I learned Latin and psalmody as soon as less miraculous infants learn crowing. Nor did the holy man's care stint itself to my interior accomplishments. Although vowed to poverty, he always contrived that my mother should have her pockets full; and between her pockets and mine there was soon established a clandestine communication; accordingly, at fourteen, I wore my cap on one side, stuck pistols in my belt, and assumed the swagger of a cavalier and a gallant. At that age my poor mother died; and about the same period my father, having written a History of the Pontifical Bulls, in forty volumes, and being, as I said, of high birth, obtained a cardinal's hat. From that time he thought fit to disown your humble servant. He bound me over to an honest notary at Naples, and gave me two hundred crowns by way of provision. Well, signor, I saw enough of the law to convince me that I should never be rogue enough to shine in the profession. So, instead of spoiling parchment, I made love to the notary's daughter. My master discovered our innocent amusement, and turned me out of doors; that was disagreeable. But my Ninetta loved me, and took care that I should not lie out in the streets with the Lazzaroni. Little jade! I think I see her now with her bare feet, and her finger to her lips, opening the door in the summer nights, and bidding me creep softly into the kitchen, where, praised be the saints! a flask and a manchet always awaited the hungry amoroso. At last, however, Ninetta grew cold. It is the way of the sex, signor. Her father found her an excellent marriage in the person of a withered old picture-dealer. She took the spouse, and very properly clapped the door in the face of the lover. I was not disheartened, Excellency; no, not I. Women are plentiful while we are young. So, without a ducat in my pocket or a crust for my teeth, I set out to seek my fortune on board of a Spanish merchantman. That was duller work than I expected; but luckily we were attacked by a pirate, -- half the crew were butchered, the rest captured. I was one of the last: always in luck, you see, signor, -- monks' sons have a knack that way! The captain of the pirates took a fancy to me. 'Serve with us?' said he. 'Too happy,' said I. Behold me, then, a pirate! O jolly life! how I blessed the old notary for turning me out of doors! What feasting, what fighting, what wooing, what quarrelling! Sometimes we ran ashore and enjoyed ourselves like princes; sometimes we lay in a calm for days together on the loveliest sea that man ever traversed. And then, if the breeze rose and a sail came in sight, who so merry as we? I passed three years in that charming profession, and then, signor, I grew ambitious. I caballed against the captain; I wanted his post. One still night we struck the blow. The ship was like a log in the sea, no land to be seen from the mast-head, the waves like glass, and the moon at its full. Up we rose, thirty of us and more. Up we rose with a shout; we poured into the captain's cabin, I at the head. The brave old boy had caught the alarm, and there he stood at the doorway, a pistol in each hand; and his one eye (he had only one) worse to meet than the pistols were.

"'Yield!' cried I; 'your life shall be safe.'

"'Take that,' said he, and whiz went the pistol; but the saints took care of their own, and the ball passed by my cheek, and shot the boatswain behind me. I closed with the captain, and the other pistol went off without mischief in the struggle. Such a fellow he was, -- six feet four without his shoes! Over we went, rolling each on the other. Santa Maria! no time to get hold of one's knife. Meanwhile all the crew were up, some for the captain, some for me, -- clashing and firing, and swearing and groaning, and now and then a heavy splash in the sea. Fine supper for the sharks that night! At last old Bilboa got uppermost; out flashed his knife; down it came, but not in my heart. No! I gave my left arm as a shield; and the blade went through to the hilt, with the blood spurting up like the rain from a whale's nostril! With the weight of the blow the stout fellow came down so that his face touched mine; with my right hand I caught him by the throat, turned him over like a lamb, signor, and faith it was soon all up with him: the boatswain's brother, a fat Dutchman, ran him through with a pike.

"'Old fellow,' said I, as he turned his terrible eye to me, 'I bear you no malice, but we must try to get on in the world, you know.' The captain grinned and gave up the ghost. I went upon deck, -- what a sight! Twenty bold fellows stark and cold, and the moon sparkling on the puddles of blood as calmly as if it were water. Well, signor, the victory was ours, and the ship mine; I ruled merrily enough for six months. We then attacked a French ship twice our size; what sport it was! And we had not had a good fight so long, we were quite like virgins at it! We got the best of it, and won ship and cargo. They wanted to pistol the captain, but that was against my laws: so we gagged him, for he scolded as loud as if we were married to him; left him and the rest of his crew on board our own vessel, which was terribly battered; clapped our black flag on the Frenchman's, and set off merrily, with a brisk wind in our favour. But luck deserted us on forsaking our own dear old ship. A storm came on, a plank struck; several of us escaped in a boat; we had lots of gold with us, but no water. For two days and two nights we suffered horribly; but at last we ran ashore near a French seaport. Our sorry plight moved compassion, and as we had money, we were not suspected, -- people only suspect the poor. Here we soon recovered our fatigues, rigged ourselves out gayly, and your humble servant was considered as noble a captain as ever walked deck. But now, alas! my fate would have it that I should fall in love with a silk-mercer's daughter. Ah, how I loved her! -- the pretty Clara! Yes, I loved her so well that I was seized with horror at my past life! I resolved to repent, to marry her, and settle down into an honest man. Accordingly, I summoned my messmates, told them my resolution, resigned my command, and persuaded them to depart. They were good fellows, engaged with a Dutchman, against whom I heard afterwards they made a successful mutiny, but I never saw them more. I had two thousand crowns still left; with this sum I obtained the consent of the silk-mercer, and it was agreed that I should become a partner in the firm. I need not say that no one suspected that I had been so great a man, and I passed for a Neapolitan goldsmith's son instead of a cardinal's. I was very happy then, signor, very, -- I could not have harmed a fly! Had I married Clara, I had been as gentle a mercer as ever handled a measure."

The bravo paused a moment, and it was easy to see that he felt more than his words and tone betokened. "Well, well, we must not look back at the past too earnestly, -- the sunlight upon it makes one's eyes water. The day was fixed for our wedding, -- it approached. On the evening before the appointed day, Clara, her mother, her little sister, and myself, were walking by the port; and as we looked on the sea, I was telling them old gossip-tales of mermaids and sea-serpents, when a red-faced, bottle-nosed Frenchman clapped himself right before me, and, placing his spectacles very deliberately astride his proboscis, echoed out, 'Sacre, mille tonnerres! this is the damned pirate who boarded the "Niobe"!'

"'None of your jests,' said I, mildly. 'Ho, ho!' said he; 'I can't be mistaken; help there!' and he griped me by the collar. I replied, as you may suppose, by laying him in the kennel; but it would not do. The French captain had a French lieutenant at his back, whose memory was as good as his chief's. A crowd assembled; other sailors came up: the odds were against me. I slept that night in prison; and in a few weeks afterwards I was sent to the galleys. They spared my life, because the old Frenchman politely averred that I had made my crew spare his. You may believe that the oar and the chain were not to my taste. I and two others escaped; they took to the road, and have, no doubt, been long since broken on the wheel. I, soft soul, would not commit another crime to gain my bread, for Clara was still at my heart with her sweet eyes; so, limiting my rogueries to the theft of a beggar's rags, which I compensated by leaving him my galley attire instead, I begged my way to the town where I left Clara. It was a clear winter's day when I approached the outskirts of the town. I had no fear of detection, for my beard and hair were as good as a mask. Oh, Mother of Mercy! there came across my way a funeral procession! There, now you know it; I can tell you no more. She had died, perhaps of love, more likely of shame. Can you guess how I spent that night? -- I stole a pickaxe from a mason's shed, and all alone and unseen, under the frosty heavens, I dug the fresh mould from the grave; I lifted the coffin, I wrenched the lid, I saw her again -- again! Decay had not touched her. She was always pale in life! I could have sworn she lived! It was a blessed thing to see her once more, and all alone too! But then, at dawn, to give her back to the earth, -- to close the lid, to throw down the mould, to hear the pebbles rattle on the coffin: that was dreadful! Signor, I never knew before, and I don't wish to think now, how valuable a thing human life is. At sunrise I was again a wanderer; but now that Clara was gone, my scruples vanished, and again I was at war with my betters. I contrived at last, at O -- , to get taken on board a vessel bound to Leghorn, working out my passage. From Leghorn I went to Rome, and stationed myself at the door of the cardinal's palace. Out he came, his gilded coach at the gate.

"'Ho, father!' said I; 'don't you know me?'

"'Who are you?'

"'Your son,' said I, in a whisper.

"The cardinal drew back, looked at me earnestly, and mused a moment. 'All men are my sons,' quoth he then, very mildly; 'there is gold for thee! To him who begs once, alms are due; to him who begs twice, jails are open. Take the hint and molest me no more. Heaven bless thee!' With that he got into his coach, and drove off to the Vatican. His purse which he had left behind was well supplied. I was grateful and contented, and took my way to Terracina. I had not long passed the marshes when I saw two horsemen approach at a canter.

"'You look poor, friend,' said one of them, halting; 'yet you are strong.'

"'Poor men and strong are both serviceable and dangerous, Signor Cavalier.'

"'Well said; follow us.'

"I obeyed, and became a bandit. I rose by degrees; and as I have always been mild in my calling, and have taken purses without cutting throats, I bear an excellent character, and can eat my macaroni at Naples without any danger to life and limb. For the last two years I have settled in these parts, where I hold sway, and where I have purchased land. I am called a farmer, signor; and I myself now only rob for amusement, and to keep my hand in. I trust I have satisfied your curiosity. We are within a hundred yards of the castle."

"And how," asked the Englishman, whose interest had been much excited by his companion's narrative, -- "and how came you acquainted with my host? -- and by what means has he so well conciliated the goodwill of yourself and friends?"

Maestro Paolo turned his black eyes very gravely towards his questioner. "Why, signor," said he, "you must surely know more of the foreign cavalier with the hard name than I do. All I can say is, that about a fortnight ago I chanced to be standing by a booth in the Toledo at Naples, when a sober-looking gentleman touched me by the arm, and said, 'Maestro Paolo, I want to make your acquaintance; do me the favour to come into yonder tavern, and drink a flask of lacrima.' 'Willingly,' said I. So we entered the tavern. When we were seated, my new acquaintance thus accosted me: 'The Count d'O -- has offered to let me hire his old castle near B -- . You know the spot?'

"'Extremely well; no one has inhabited it for a century at least; it is half in ruins, signor. A queer place to hire; I hope the rent is not heavy.'

"'Maestro Paolo,' said he, 'I am a philosopher, and don't care for luxuries. I want a quiet retreat for some scientific experiments. The castle will suit me very well, provided you will accept me as a neighbour, and place me and my friends under your special protection. I am rich; but I shall take nothing to the castle worth robbing. I will pay one rent to the count, and another to you.'

"With that we soon came to terms; and as the strange signor doubled the sum I myself proposed, he is in high favour with all his neighbours. We would guard the whole castle against an army. And now, signor, that I have been thus frank, be frank with me. Who is this singular cavalier?"

"Who? -- he himself told you, a philosopher."

"Hem! searching for the Philosopher's Stone, -- eh, a bit of a magician; afraid of the priests?"

"Precisely; you have hit it."

"I thought so; and you are his pupil?"

"I am."

"I wish you well through it," said the robber, seriously, and crossing himself with much devotion; "I am not much better than other people, but one's soul is one's soul. I do not mind a little honest robbery, or knocking a man on the head if need be, -- but to make a bargain with the devil! Ah, take care, young gentleman, take care!"

"You need not fear," said Glyndon, smiling; "my preceptor is too wise and too good for such a compact. But here we are, I suppose. A noble ruin, -- a glorious prospect!"

Glyndon paused delightedly, and surveyed the scene before and below with the eye of a painter. Insensibly, while listening to the bandit, he had wound up a considerable ascent, and now he was upon a broad ledge of rock covered with mosses and dwarf shrubs. Between this eminence and another of equal height, upon which the castle was built, there was a deep but narrow fissure, overgrown with the most profuse foliage, so that the eye could not penetrate many yards below the rugged surface of the abyss; but the profoundness might be well conjectured by the hoarse, low, monotonous roar of waters unseen that rolled below, and the subsequent course of which was visible at a distance in a perturbed and rapid stream that intersected the waste and desolate valleys.

To the left, the prospect seemed almost boundless, -- the extreme clearness of the purple air serving to render distinct the features of a range of country that a conqueror of old might have deemed in itself a kingdom. Lonely and desolate as the road which Glyndon had passed that day had appeared, the landscape now seemed studded with castles, spires, and villages. Afar off, Naples gleamed whitely in the last rays of the sun, and the rose-tints of the horizon melted into the azure of her glorious bay. Yet more remote, and in another part of the prospect, might be caught, dim and shadowy, and backed by the darkest foliage, the ruined pillars of the ancient Posidonia. There, in the midst of his blackened and sterile realms, rose the dismal Mount of Fire; while on the other hand, winding through variegated plains, to which distance lent all its magic, glittered many and many a stream by which Etruscan and Sybarite, Roman and Saracen and Norman had, at intervals of ages, pitched the invading tent. All the visions of the past -- the stormy and dazzling histories of Southern Italy -- rushed over the artist's mind as he gazed below. And then, slowly turning to look behind, he saw the grey and mouldering walls of the castle in which he sought the secrets that were to give to hope in the future a mightier empire than memory owns in the past. It was one of those baronial fortresses with which Italy was studded in the earlier middle ages, having but little of the Gothic grace or grandeur which belongs to the ecclesiastical architecture of the same time, but rude, vast, and menacing, even in decay. A wooden bridge was thrown over the chasm, wide enough to admit two horsemen abreast; and the planks trembled and gave back a hollow sound as Glyndon urged his jaded steed across.

A road which had once been broad and paved with rough flags, but which now was half-obliterated by long grass and rank weeds, conducted to the outer court of the castle hard by; the gates were open, and half the building in this part was dismantled; the ruins partially hid by ivy that was the growth of centuries. But on entering the inner court, Glyndon was not sorry to notice that there was less appearance of neglect and decay; some wild roses gave a smile to the grey walls, and in the centre there was a fountain in which the waters still trickled coolly, and with a pleasing murmur, from the jaws of a gigantic Triton. Here he was met by Mejnour with a smile.

"Welcome, my friend and pupil," said he: "he who seeks for Truth can find in these solitudes an immortal Academe."
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:28 am

CHAPTER 2

And Abaris, so far from esteeming Pythagoras, who taught these things, a necromancer or wizard, rather revered and admired him as something divine.
-- Iamblich., "Vit. Pythag."


The attendants whom Mejnour had engaged for his strange abode were such as might suit a philosopher of few wants. An old Armenian whom Glyndon recognised as in the mystic's service at Naples, a tall, hard-featured woman from the village, recommended by Maestro Paolo, and two long-haired, smooth-spoken, but fierce-visaged youths from the same place, and honoured by the same sponsorship, constituted the establishment. The rooms used by the sage were commodious and weather-proof, with some remains of ancient splendour in the faded arras that clothed the walls, and the huge tables of costly marble and elaborate carving. Glyndon's sleeping apartment communicated with a kind of belvedere, or terrace, that commanded prospects of unrivalled beauty and extent, and was separated on the other side by a long gallery, and a flight of ten or a dozen stairs, from the private chambers of the mystic. There was about the whole place a sombre and yet not displeasing depth of repose. It suited well with the studies to which it was now to be appropriated.

For several days Mejnour refused to confer with Glyndon on the subjects nearest to his heart.

"All without," said he, "is prepared, but not all within; your own soul must grow accustomed to the spot, and filled with the surrounding nature; for Nature is the source of all inspiration."

With these words Mejnour turned to lighter topics. He made the Englishman accompany him in long rambles through the wild scenes around, and he smiled approvingly when the young artist gave way to the enthusiasm which their fearful beauty could not have failed to rouse in a duller breast; and then Mejnour poured forth to his wondering pupil the stores of a knowledge that seemed inexhaustible and boundless. He gave accounts the most curious, graphic, and minute of the various races (their characters, habits, creeds, and manners) by which that fair land had been successively overrun. It is true that his descriptions could not be found in books, and were unsupported by learned authorities; but he possessed the true charm of the tale-teller, and spoke of all with the animated confidence of a personal witness. Sometimes, too, he would converse upon the more durable and the loftier mysteries of Nature with an eloquence and a research which invested them with all the colours rather of poetry than science. Insensibly the young artist found himself elevated and soothed by the lore of his companion; the fever of his wild desires was slaked. His mind became more and more lulled into the divine tranquillity of contemplation; he felt himself a nobler being, and in the silence of his senses he imagined that he heard the voice of his soul.

It was to this state that Mejnour evidently sought to bring the neophyte, and in this elementary initiation the mystic was like every more ordinary sage. For he who seeks to DISCOVER must first reduce himself into a kind of abstract idealism, and be rendered up, in solemn and sweet bondage, to the faculties which CONTEMPLATE and IMAGINE.

Glyndon noticed that, in their rambles, Mejnour often paused, where the foliage was rifest, to gather some herb or flower; and this reminded him that he had seen Zanoni similarly occupied. "Can these humble children of Nature," said he one day to Mejnour, -- "things that bloom and wither in a day, be serviceable to the science of the higher secrets? Is there a pharmacy for the soul as well as the body, and do the nurslings of the summer minister not only to human health but spiritual immortality?"

"If," answered Mejnour, "a stranger had visited a wandering tribe before one property of herbalism was known to them; if he had told the savages that the herbs which every day they trampled under foot were endowed with the most potent virtues; that one would restore to health a brother on the verge of death; that another would paralyse into idiocy their wisest sage; that a third would strike lifeless to the dust their most stalwart champion; that tears and laughter, vigour and disease, madness and reason, wakefulness and sleep, existence and dissolution, were coiled up in those unregarded leaves, -- would they not have held him a sorcerer or a liar? To half the virtues of the vegetable world mankind are yet in the darkness of the savages I have supposed. There are faculties within us with which certain herbs have affinity, and over which they have power. The moly of the ancients is not all a fable."

The apparent character of Mejnour differed in much from that of Zanoni; and while it fascinated Glyndon less, it subdued and impressed him more. The conversation of Zanoni evinced a deep and general interest for mankind, -- a feeling approaching to enthusiasm for art and beauty. The stories circulated concerning his habits elevated the mystery of his life by actions of charity and beneficence. And in all this there was something genial and humane that softened the awe he created, and tended, perhaps, to raise suspicions as to the loftier secrets that he arrogated to himself. But Mejnour seemed wholly indifferent to all the actual world. If he committed no evil, he seemed equally apathetic to good. His deeds relieved no want, his words pitied no distress. What we call the heart appeared to have merged into the intellect. He moved, thought, and lived like some regular and calm abstraction, rather than one who yet retained, with the form, the feelings and sympathies of his kind.

Glyndon once, observing the tone of supreme indifference with which he spoke of those changes on the face of earth which he asserted he had witnessed, ventured to remark to him the distinction he had noted.

"It is true," said Mejnour, coldly. "My life is the life that contemplates, -- Zanoni's is the life that enjoys: when I gather the herb, I think but of its uses; Zanoni will pause to admire its beauties."

"And you deem your own the superior and the loftier existence?"

"No. His is the existence of youth, -- mine of age. We have cultivated different faculties. Each has powers the other cannot aspire to. Those with whom he associates live better, -- those who associate with me know more."

"I have heard, in truth," said Glyndon, "that his companions at Naples were observed to lead purer and nobler lives after intercourse with Zanoni; yet were they not strange companions, at the best, for a sage? This terrible power, too, that he exercises at will, as in the death of the Prince di -- , and that of the Count Ughelli, scarcely becomes the tranquil seeker after good."

"True," said Mejnour, with an icy smile; "such must ever be the error of those philosophers who would meddle with the active life of mankind. You cannot serve some without injuring others; you cannot protect the good without warring on the bad; and if you desire to reform the faulty, why, you must lower yourself to live with the faulty to know their faults. Even so saith Paracelsus, a great man, though often wrong. ("It is as necessary to know evil things as good; for who can know what is good without the knowing what is evil?" etc. -- Paracelsus, "De Nat. Rer.," lib. 3.) Not mine this folly; I live but in knowledge, -- I have no life in mankind!"

Another time Glyndon questioned the mystic as to the nature of that union or fraternity to which Zanoni had once referred.

"I am right, I suppose," said he, "in conjecturing that you and himself profess to be the brothers of the Rosy Cross?"

"Do you imagine," answered Mejnour, "that there were no mystic and solemn unions of men seeking the same end through the same means before the Arabians of Damus, in 1378, taught to a wandering German the secrets which founded the Institution of the Rosicrucians? I allow, however, that the Rosicrucians formed a sect descended from the greater and earlier school. They were wiser than the Alchemists, -- their masters are wiser than they."

"And of this early and primary order how many still exist?"

"Zanoni and myself."

"What, two only! -- and you profess the power to teach to all the secret that baffles Death?"

"Your ancestor attained that secret; he died rather than survive the only thing he loved. We have, my pupil, no arts by which we CAN PUT DEATH OUT OF OUR OPTION, or out of the will of Heaven. These walls may crush me as I stand. All that we profess to do is but this, -- to find out the secrets of the human frame; to know why the parts ossify and the blood stagnates, and to apply continual preventives to the effects of time. This is not magic; it is the art of medicine rightly understood. In our order we hold most noble, -- first, that knowledge which elevates the intellect; secondly, that which preserves the body. But the mere art (extracted from the juices and simples) which recruits the animal vigour and arrests the progress of decay, or that more noble secret, which I will only hint to thee at present, by which HEAT, or CALORIC, as ye call it, being, as Heraclitus wisely taught, the primordial principle of life, can be made its perpetual renovater, -- these I say, would not suffice for safety. It is ours also to disarm and elude the wrath of men, to turn the swords of our foes against each other, to glide (if not incorporeal) invisible to eyes over which we can throw a mist and darkness. And this some seers have professed to be the virtue of a stone of agate. Abaris placed it in his arrow. I will find you an herb in yon valley that will give a surer charm than the agate and the arrow. In one word, know this, that the humblest and meanest products of Nature are those from which the sublimest properties are to be drawn."

"But," said Glyndon, "if possessed of these great secrets, why so churlish in withholding their diffusion? Does not the false or charlatanic science differ in this from the true and indisputable, -- that the last communicates to the world the process by which it attains its discoveries; the first boasts of marvellous results, and refuses to explain the causes?"

"Well said, O Logician of the Schools; but think again. Suppose we were to impart all our knowledge to all mankind indiscriminately, -- alike to the vicious and the virtuous, -- should we be benefactors or scourges? Imagine the tyrant, the sensualist, the evil and corrupted being possessed of these tremendous powers; would he not be a demon let loose on earth? Grant that the same privilege be accorded also to the good; and in what state would be society? Engaged in a Titan war, -- the good forever on the defensive, the bad forever in assault. In the present condition of the earth, evil is a more active principle than good, and the evil would prevail. It is for these reasons that we are not only solemnly bound to administer our lore only to those who will not misuse and pervert it, but that we place our ordeal in tests that purify the passions and elevate the desires. And Nature in this controls and assists us: for it places awful guardians and insurmountable barriers between the ambition of vice and the heaven of the loftier science."

Such made a small part of the numerous conversations Mejnour held with his pupil, -- conversations that, while they appeared to address themselves to the reason, inflamed yet more the fancy. It was the very disclaiming of all powers which Nature, properly investigated, did not suffice to create, that gave an air of probability to those which Mejnour asserted Nature might bestow.

Thus days and weeks rolled on; and the mind of Glyndon, gradually fitted to this sequestered and musing life, forgot at last the vanities and chimeras of the world without.

One evening he had lingered alone and late upon the ramparts, watching the stars as, one by one, they broke upon the twilight. Never had he felt so sensibly the mighty power of the heavens and the earth upon man; how much the springs of our intellectual being are moved and acted upon by the solemn influences of Nature. As a patient on whom, slowly and by degrees, the agencies of mesmerism are brought to bear, he acknowledged to his heart the growing force of that vast and universal magnetism which is the life of creation, and binds the atom to the whole. A strange and ineffable consciousness of power, of the SOMETHING GREAT within the perishable clay, appealed to feelings at once dim and glorious, -- like the faint recognitions of a holier and former being. An impulse, that he could not resist, led him to seek the mystic. He would demand, that hour, his initiation into the worlds beyond our world, -- he was prepared to breathe a diviner air. He entered the castle, and strode the shadowy and starlit gallery which conducted to Mejnour's apartment.
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:28 am

CHAPTER 3

Man is the eye of things.
-- Euryph, "de Vit. Hum."


...There is, therefore, a certain ecstatical or transporting power, which, if at any time it shall be excited or stirred up by an ardent desire and most strong imagination, is able to conduct the spirit of the more outward even to some absent and far-distant object. -- Von Helmont.

The rooms that Mejnour occupied consisted of two chambers communicating with each other, and a third in which he slept. All these rooms were placed in the huge square tower that beetled over the dark and bush-grown precipice. The first chamber which Glyndon entered was empty. With a noiseless step he passed on, and opened the door that admitted into the inner one. He drew back at the threshold, overpowered by a strong fragrance which filled the chamber: a kind of mist thickened the air rather than obscured it, for this vapour was not dark, but resembled a snow- cloud moving slowly, and in heavy undulations, wave upon wave regularly over the space. A mortal cold struck to the Englishman's heart, and his blood froze. He stood rooted to the spot; and as his eyes strained involuntarily through the vapour, he fancied (for he could not be sure that it was not the trick of his imagination) that he saw dim, spectre-like, but gigantic forms floating through the mist; or was it not rather the mist itself that formed its vapours fantastically into those moving, impalpable, and bodiless apparitions? A great painter of antiquity is said, in a picture of Hades, to have represented the monsters that glide through the ghostly River of the Dead, so artfully, that the eye perceived at once that the river itself was but a spectre, and the bloodless things that tenanted it had no life, their forms blending with the dead waters till, as the eye continued to gaze, it ceased to discern them from the preternatural element they were supposed to inhabit. Such were the moving outlines that coiled and floated through the mist; but before Glyndon had even drawn breath in this atmosphere -- for his life itself seemed arrested or changed into a kind of horrid trance -- he felt his hand seized, and he was led from that room into the outer one. He heard the door close, -- his blood rushed again through his veins, and he saw Mejnour by his side. Strong convulsions then suddenly seized his whole frame, -- he fell to the ground insensible. When he recovered, he found himself in the open air in a rude balcony of stone that jutted from the chamber, the stars shining serenely over the dark abyss below, and resting calmly upon the face of the mystic, who stood beside him with folded arms.

"Young man," said Mejnour, "judge by what you have just felt, how dangerous it is to seek knowledge until prepared to receive it. Another moment in the air of that chamber and you had been a corpse."

"Then of what nature was the knowledge that you, once mortal like myself, could safely have sought in that icy atmosphere, which it was death for me to breathe? Mejnour," continued Glyndon, and his wild desire, sharpened by the very danger he had passed, once more animated and nerved him, "I am prepared at least for the first steps. I come to you as of old the pupil to the Hierophant, and demand the initiation."

Mejnour passed his hand over the young man's heart, -- it beat loud, regularly, and boldly. He looked at him with something almost like admiration in his passionless and frigid features, and muttered, half to himself, "Surely, in so much courage the true disciple is found at last." Then, speaking aloud, he added, "Be it so; man's first initiation is in TRANCE. In dreams commences all human knowledge; in dreams hovers over measureless space the first faint bridge between spirit and spirit, -- this world and the worlds beyond! Look steadfastly on yonder star!"

Glyndon obeyed, and Mejnour retired into the chamber, from which there then slowly emerged a vapour, somewhat paler and of fainter odour than that which had nearly produced so fatal an effect on his frame. This, on the contrary, as it coiled around him, and then melted in thin spires into the air, breathed a refreshing and healthful fragrance. He still kept his eyes on the star, and the star seemed gradually to fix and command his gaze. A sort of languor next seized his frame, but without, as he thought, communicating itself to the mind; and as this crept over him, he felt his temples sprinkled with some volatile and fiery essence. At the same moment a slight tremor shook his limbs and thrilled through his veins. The languor increased, still he kept his gaze upon the star, and now its luminous circumference seemed to expand and dilate. It became gradually softer and clearer in its light; spreading wider and broader, it diffused all space, -- all space seemed swallowed up in it. And at last, in the midst of a silver shining atmosphere, he felt as if something burst within his brain, -- as if a strong chain were broken; and at that moment a sense of heavenly liberty, of unutterable delight, of freedom from the body, of birdlike lightness, seemed to float him into the space itself. "Whom, now upon earth, dost thou wish to see?" whispered the voice of Mejnour. "Viola and Zanoni!" answered Glyndon, in his heart; but he felt that his lips moved not.

Suddenly at that thought, -- through this space, in which nothing save one mellow translucent light had been discernible, -- a swift succession of shadowy landscapes seemed to roll: trees, mountains, cities, seas, glided along like the changes of a phantasmagoria; and at last, settled and stationary, he saw a cave by the gradual marge of an ocean shore, -- myrtles and orange-trees clothing the gentle banks. On a height, at a distance, gleamed the white but shattered relics of some ruined heathen edifice; and the moon, in calm splendour, shining over all, literally bathed with its light two forms without the cave, at whose feet the blue waters crept, and he thought that he even heard them murmur. He recognised both the figures. Zanoni was seated on a fragment of stone; Viola, half-reclining by his side, was looking into his face, which was bent down to her, and in her countenance was the expression of that perfect happiness which belongs to perfect love. "Wouldst thou hear them speak?" whispered Mejnour; and again, without sound, Glyndon inly answered, "Yes!" Their voices then came to his ear, but in tones that seemed to him strange; so subdued were they, and sounding, as it were, so far off, that they were as voices heard in the visions of some holier men from a distant sphere.

"And how is it," said Viola, "that thou canst find pleasure in listening to the ignorant?"

"Because the heart is never ignorant; because the mysteries of the feelings are as full of wonder as those of the intellect. If at times thou canst not comprehend the language of my thoughts, at times also I hear sweet enigmas in that of thy emotions."

"Ah, say not so!" said Viola, winding her arm tenderly round his neck, and under that heavenly light her face seemed lovelier for its blushes. "For the enigmas are but love's common language, and love should solve them. Till I knew thee, -- till I lived with thee; till I learned to watch for thy footstep when absent: yet even in absence to see thee everywhere! -- I dreamed not how strong and all-pervading is the connection between nature and the human soul!...

"And yet," she continued, "I am now assured of what I at first believed, -- that the feelings which attracted me towards thee at first were not those of love. I know THAT, by comparing the present with the past, -- it was a sentiment then wholly of the mind or the spirit! I could not hear thee now say, 'Viola, be happy with another!'"

"And I could not now tell thee so! Ah, Viola, never be weary of assuring me that thou art happy!"

"Happy while thou art so. Yet at times, Zanoni, thou art so sad!"

"Because human life is so short; because we must part at last; because yon moon shines on when the nightingale sings to it no more! A little while, and thine eyes will grow dim, and thy beauty haggard, and these locks that I toy with now will be grey and loveless."

"And thou, cruel one!" said Viola, touchingly, "I shall never see the signs of age in thee! But shall we not grow old together, and our eyes be accustomed to a change which the heart shall not share!"

Zanoni sighed. He turned away, and seemed to commune with himself.

Glyndon's attention grew yet more earnest.

"But were it so," muttered Zanoni; and then looking steadfastly at Viola, he said, with a half-smile, "Hast thou no curiosity to learn more of the lover thou once couldst believe the agent of the Evil One?"

"None; all that one wishes to know of the beloved one, I know -- THAT THOU LOVEST ME!"

"I have told thee that my life is apart from others. Wouldst thou not seek to share it?"

"I share it now!"

"But were it possible to be thus young and fair forever, till the world blazes round us as one funeral pyre!"

"We shall be so, when we leave the world!"

Zanoni was mute for some moments, and at length he said, --

"Canst thou recall those brilliant and aerial dreams which once visited thee, when thou didst fancy that thou wert preordained to some fate aloof and afar from the common children of the earth?"

"Zanoni, the fate is found."

"And hast thou no terror of the future?"

"The future! I forget it! Time past and present and to come reposes in thy smile. Ah, Zanoni, play not with the foolish credulities of my youth! I have been better and humbler since thy presence has dispelled the mist of the air. The future! -- well, when I have cause to dread it, I will look up to heaven, and remember who guides our fate!"

As she lifted her eyes above, a dark cloud swept suddenly over the scene. It wrapped the orange-trees, the azure ocean, the dense sands; but still the last images that it veiled from the charmed eyes of Glyndon were the forms of Viola and Zanoni. The face of the one rapt, serene, and radiant; the face of the other, dark, thoughtful, and locked in more than its usual rigidness of melancholy beauty and profound repose.

"Rouse thyself," said Mejnour; "thy ordeal has commenced! There are pretenders to the solemn science who could have shown thee the absent, and prated to thee, in their charlatanic jargon, of the secret electricities and the magnetic fluid of whose true properties they know but the germs and elements. I will lend thee the books of those glorious dupes, and thou wilt find, in the dark ages, how many erring steps have stumbled upon the threshold of the mighty learning, and fancied they had pierced the temple. Hermes and Albert and Paracelsus, I knew ye all; but, noble as ye were, ye were fated to be deceived. Ye had not souls of faith, and daring fitted for the destinies at which ye aimed! Yet Paracelsus -- modest Paracelsus -- had an arrogance that soared higher than all our knowledge. Ho, ho! -- he thought he could make a race of men from chemistry; he arrogated to himself the Divine gift, -- the breath of life. (Paracelsus, "De Nat. Rer.," lib. i.)

He would have made men, and, after all, confessed that they could be but pygmies! My art is to make men above mankind. But you are impatient of my digressions. Forgive me. All these men (they were great dreamers, as you desire to be) were intimate friends of mine. But they are dead and rotten. They talked of spirits, -- but they dreaded to be in other company than that of men. Like orators whom I have heard, when I stood by the Pnyx of Athens, blazing with words like comets in the assembly, and extinguishing their ardour like holiday rockets when they were in the field. Ho, ho! Demosthenes, my hero-coward, how nimble were thy heels at Chaeronea! And thou art impatient still! Boy, I could tell thee such truths of the past as would make thee the luminary of schools. But thou lustest only for the shadows of the future. Thou shalt have thy wish. But the mind must be first exercised and trained. Go to thy room, and sleep; fast austerely, read no books; meditate, imagine, dream, bewilder thyself if thou wilt. Thought shapes out its own chaos at last. Before midnight, seek me again!"
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:28 am

CHAPTER 4

It is fit that we who endeavour to rise to an elevation so sublime, should study first to leave behind carnal affections, the frailty of the senses, the passions that belong to matter; secondly, to learn by what means we may ascend to the climax of pure intellect, united with the powers above, without which never can we gain the lore of secret things, nor the magic that effects true wonders.
-- Tritemius "On Secret Things and Secret Spirits."


It wanted still many minutes of midnight, and Glyndon was once more in the apartment of the mystic. He had rigidly observed the fast ordained to him; and in the rapt and intense reveries into which his excited fancy had plunged him, he was not only insensible to the wants of the flesh, -- he felt above them.

Mejnour, seated beside his disciple, thus addressed him: --

"Man is arrogant in proportion to his ignorance. Man's natural tendency is to egotism. Man, in his infancy of knowledge, thinks that all creation was formed for him. For several ages he saw in the countless worlds that sparkle through space like the bubbles of a shoreless ocean only the petty candles, the household torches, that Providence had been pleased to light for no other purpose but to make the night more agreeable to man. Astronomy has corrected this delusion of human vanity; and man now reluctantly confesses that the stars are worlds larger and more glorious than his own, -- that the earth on which he crawls is a scarce visible speck on the vast chart of creation. But in the small as in the vast, God is equally profuse of life. The traveller looks upon the tree, and fancies its boughs were formed for his shelter in the summer sun, or his fuel in the winter frosts. But in each leaf of these boughs the Creator has made a world; it swarms with innumerable races. Each drop of the water in yon moat is an orb more populous than a kingdom is of men. Everywhere, then, in this immense design, science brings new life to light. Life is the one pervading principle, and even the thing that seems to die and putrify but engenders new life, and changes to fresh forms of matter. Reasoning, then, by evident analogy: if not a leaf, if not a drop of water, but is, no less than yonder star, a habitable and breathing world, -- nay, if even man himself is a world to other lives, and millions and myriads dwell in the rivers of his blood, and inhabit man's frame as man inhabits earth, commonsense (if your schoolmen had it) would suffice to teach that the circumfluent infinite which you call space -- the countless Impalpable which divides earth from the moon and stars -- is filled also with its correspondent and appropriate life. Is it not a visible absurdity to suppose that being is crowded upon every leaf, and yet absent from the immensities of space? The law of the Great System forbids the waste even of an atom; it knows no spot where something of life does not breathe. In the very charnel-house is the nursery of production and animation. Is that true? Well, then, can you conceive that space, which is the Infinite itself, is alone a waste, is alone lifeless, is less useful to the one design of universal being than the dead carcass of a dog, than the peopled leaf, than the swarming globule? The microscope shows you the creatures on the leaf; no mechanical tube is yet invented to discover the nobler and more gifted things that hover in the illimitable air. Yet between these last and man is a mysterious and terrible affinity. And hence, by tales and legends, not wholly false nor wholly true, have arisen from time to time, beliefs in apparitions and spectres. If more common to the earlier and simpler tribes than to the men of your duller age, it is but that, with the first, the senses are more keen and quick. And as the savage can see or scent miles away the traces of a foe, invisible to the gross sense of the civilised animal, so the barrier itself between him and the creatures of the airy world is less thickened and obscured. Do you listen?"

"With my soul!"

"But first, to penetrate this barrier, the soul with which you listen must be sharpened by intense enthusiasm, purified from all earthlier desires. Not without reason have the so-styled magicians, in all lands and times, insisted on chastity and abstemious reverie as the communicants of inspiration. When thus prepared, science can be brought to aid it; the sight itself may be rendered more subtle, the nerves more acute, the spirit more alive and outward, and the element itself -- the air, the space -- may be made, by certain secrets of the higher chemistry, more palpable and clear. And this, too, is not magic, as the credulous call it; as I have so often said before, magic (or science that violates Nature) exists not: it is but the science by which Nature can be controlled. Now, in space there are millions of beings not literally spiritual, for they have all, like the animalculae unseen by the naked eye, certain forms of matter, though matter so delicate, air-drawn, and subtle, that it is, as it were, but a film, a gossamer that clothes the spirit. Hence the Rosicrucian's lovely phantoms of sylph and gnome. Yet, in truth, these races and tribes differ more widely, each from each, than the Calmuc from the Greek, -- differ in attributes and powers. In the drop of water you see how the animalculae vary, how vast and terrible are some of those monster mites as compared with others. Equally so with the inhabitants of the atmosphere: some of surpassing wisdom, some of horrible malignity; some hostile as fiends to men, others gentle as messengers between earth and heaven.

He who would establish intercourse with these varying beings resembles the traveller who would penetrate into unknown lands. He is exposed to strange dangers and unconjectured terrors. THAT INTERCOURSE ONCE GAINED, I CANNOT SECURE THEE FROM THE CHANCES TO WHICH THY JOURNEY IS EXPOSED. I cannot direct thee to paths free from the wanderings of the deadliest foes. Thou must alone, and of thyself, face and hazard all. But if thou art so enamoured of life as to care only to live on, no matter for what ends, recruiting the nerves and veins with the alchemist's vivifying elixir, why seek these dangers from the intermediate tribes? Because the very elixir that pours a more glorious life into the frame, so sharpens the senses that those larvae of the air become to thee audible and apparent; so that, unless trained by degrees to endure the phantoms and subdue their malice, a life thus gifted would be the most awful doom man could bring upon himself. Hence it is, that though the elixir be compounded of the simplest herbs, his frame only is prepared to receive it who has gone through the subtlest trials. Nay, some, scared and daunted into the most intolerable horror by the sights that burst upon their eyes at the first draft, have found the potion less powerful to save than the agony and travail of Nature to destroy. To the unprepared the elixir is thus but the deadliest poison. Amidst the dwellers of the threshold is ONE, too, surpassing in malignity and hatred all her tribe, -- one whose eyes have paralyzed the bravest, and whose power increases over the spirit precisely in proportion to its fear. Does thy courage falter?"

"Nay; thy words but kindle it."

"Follow me, then, and submit to the initiatory labours."

With that, Mejnour led him into the interior chamber, and proceeded to explain to him certain chemical operations which, though extremely simple in themselves, Glyndon soon perceived were capable of very extraordinary results.

"In the remoter times," said Mejnour, smiling, "our brotherhood were often compelled to recur to delusions to protect realities; and, as dexterous mechanicians or expert chemists, they obtained the name of sorcerers. Observe how easy to construct is the Spectre Lion that attended the renowned Leonardo da Vinci!"

And Glyndon beheld with delighted surprise the simple means by which the wildest cheats of the imagination can be formed. The magical landscapes in which Baptista Porta rejoiced; the apparent change of the seasons with which Albertus Magnus startled the Earl of Holland; nay, even those more dread delusions of the Ghost and Image with which the necromancers of Heraclea woke the conscience of the conqueror of Plataea (Pausanias, -- see Plutarch.), -- all these, as the showman enchants some trembling children on a Christmas Eve with his lantern and phantasmagoria, Mejnour exhibited to his pupil.

***

"And now laugh forever at magic! when these, the very tricks, the very sports and frivolities of science, were the very acts which men viewed with abhorrence, and inquisitors and kings rewarded with the rack and the stake."

"But the alchemist's transmutation of metals -- "

"Nature herself is a laboratory in which metals, and all elements, are forever at change. Easy to make gold, -- easier, more commodious, and cheaper still, to make the pearl, the diamond, and the ruby. Oh, yes; wise men found sorcery in this too; but they found no sorcery in the discovery that by the simplest combination of things of every-day use they could raise a devil that would sweep away thousands of their kind by the breath of consuming fire. Discover what will destroy life, and you are a great man! -- what will prolong it, and you are an imposter! Discover some invention in machinery that will make the rich more rich and the poor more poor, and they will build you a statue! Discover some mystery in art that will equalise physical disparities, and they will pull down their own houses to stone you! Ha, ha, my pupil! such is the world Zanoni still cares for! -- you and I will leave this world to itself. And now that you have seen some few of the effects of science, begin to learn its grammar."

Mejnour then set before his pupil certain tasks, in which the rest of the night wore itself away.
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:29 am

CHAPTER 5

Great travell hath the gentle Calidore
And toyle endured...
There on a day, --
He chaunst to spy a sort of shepheard groomes,
Playing on pipes and caroling apace.
...He, there besyde
Saw a faire damzell.
-- Spenser, "Faerie Queene," cant. ix.


For a considerable period the pupil of Mejnour was now absorbed in labour dependent on the most vigilant attention, on the most minute and subtle calculation. Results astonishing and various rewarded his toils and stimulated his interest. Nor were these studies limited to chemical discovery, -- in which it is permitted me to say that the greatest marvels upon the organisation of physical life seemed wrought by experiments of the vivifying influence of heat. Mejnour professed to find a link between all intellectual beings in the existence of a certain all-pervading and invisible fluid resembling electricity, yet distinct from the known operations of that mysterious agency -- a fluid that connected thought to thought with the rapidity and precision of the modern telegraph, and the influence of this fluid, according to Mejnour, extended to the remotest past, -- that is to say, whenever and wheresoever man had thought. Thus, if the doctrine were true, all human knowledge became attainable through a medium established between the brain of the individual inquirer and all the farthest and obscurest regions in the universe of ideas. Glyndon was surprised to find Mejnour attached to the abstruse mysteries which the Pythagoreans ascribed to the occult science of NUMBERS. In this last, new lights glimmered dimly on his eyes; and he began to perceive that even the power to predict, or rather to calculate, results, might by -- (Here there is an erasure in the MS.)

***

But he observed that the last brief process by which, in each of these experiments, the wonder was achieved, Mejnour reserved for himself, and refused to communicate the secret. The answer he obtained to his remonstrances on this head was more stern than satisfactory:

"Dost thou think," said Mejnour, "that I would give to the mere pupil, whose qualities are not yet tried, powers that might change the face of the social world? The last secrets are intrusted only to him of whose virtue the Master is convinced. Patience! It is labour itself that is the great purifier of the mind; and by degrees the secrets will grow upon thyself as thy mind becomes riper to receive them."

At last Mejnour professed himself satisfied with the progress made by his pupil. "The hour now arrives," he said, "when thou mayst pass the great but airy barrier, -- when thou mayst gradually confront the terrible Dweller of the Threshold. Continue thy labours -- continue to surpass thine impatience for results until thou canst fathom the causes. I leave thee for one month; if at the end of that period, when I return, the tasks set thee are completed, and thy mind prepared by contemplation and austere thought for the ordeal, I promise thee the ordeal shall commence. One caution alone I give thee: regard it as a peremptory command, enter not this chamber!" (They were then standing in the room where their experiments had been chiefly made, and in which Glyndon, on the night he had sought the solitude of the mystic, had nearly fallen a victim to his intrusion.)

"Enter not this chamber till my return; or, above all, if by any search for materials necessary to thy toils thou shouldst venture hither, forbear to light the naphtha in those vessels, and to open the vases on yonder shelves. I leave the key of the room in thy keeping, in order to try thy abstinence and self-control. Young man, this very temptation is a part of thy trial."

With that, Mejnour placed the key in his hands; and at sunset he left the castle.

For several days Glyndon continued immersed in employments which strained to the utmost all the faculties of his intellect. Even the most partial success depended so entirely on the abstraction of the mind, and the minuteness of its calculations, that there was scarcely room for any other thought than those absorbed in the occupation. And doubtless this perpetual strain of the faculties was the object of Mejnour in works that did not seem exactly pertinent to the purposes in view. As the study of the elementary mathematics, for example, is not so profitable in the solving of problems, useless in our after-callings, as it is serviceable in training the intellect to the comprehension and analysis of general truths.

But in less than half the time which Mejnour had stated for the duration of his absence, all that the mystic had appointed to his toils was completed by the pupil; and then his mind, thus relieved from the drudgery and mechanism of employment, once more sought occupation in dim conjecture and restless fancies. His inquisitive and rash nature grew excited by the prohibition of Mejnour, and he found himself gazing too often, with perturbed and daring curiosity, upon the key of the forbidden chamber. He began to feel indignant at a trial of constancy which he deemed frivolous and puerile. What nursery tales of Bluebeard and his closet were revived to daunt and terrify him! How could the mere walls of a chamber, in which he had so often securely pursued his labours, start into living danger? If haunted, it could be but by those delusions which Mejnour had taught him to despise, -- a shadowy lion, -- a chemical phantasm! Tush! he lost half his awe of Mejnour, when he thought that by such tricks the sage could practise upon the very intellect he had awakened and instructed! Still he resisted the impulses of his curiosity and his pride, and, to escape from their dictation, he took long rambles on the hills, or amidst the valleys that surrounded the castle, -- seeking by bodily fatigue to subdue the unreposing mind. One day suddenly emerging from a dark ravine, he came upon one of those Italian scenes of rural festivity and mirth in which the classic age appears to revive. It was a festival, partly agricultural, partly religious, held yearly by the peasants of that district. Assembled at the outskirts of a village, animated crowds, just returned from a procession to a neighbouring chapel, were now forming themselves into groups: the old to taste the vintage, the young to dance, -- all to be gay and happy. This sudden picture of easy joy and careless ignorance, contrasting so forcibly with the intense studies and that parching desire for wisdom which had so long made up his own life, and burned at his own heart, sensibly affected Glyndon. As he stood aloof and gazing on them, the young man felt once more that he was young. The memory of all he had been content to sacrifice spoke to him like the sharp voice of remorse. The flitting forms of the women in their picturesque attire, their happy laughter ringing through the cool, still air of the autumn noon, brought back to the heart, or rather perhaps to the senses, the images of his past time, the "golden shepherd hours," when to live was but to enjoy.

He approached nearer and nearer to the scene, and suddenly a noisy group swept round him; and Maestro Paolo, tapping him familiarly on the shoulder, exclaimed in a hearty voice, "Welcome, Excellency! -- we are rejoiced to see you amongst us." Glyndon was about to reply to this salutation, when his eyes rested upon the face of a young girl leaning on Paolo's arm, of a beauty so attractive that his colour rose and his heart beat as he encountered her gaze. Her eyes sparkled with a roguish and petulant mirth, her parted lips showed teeth like pearls; as if impatient at the pause of her companion from the revel of the rest, her little foot beat the ground to a measure that she half-hummed, half-chanted. Paolo laughed as he saw the effect the girl had produced upon the young foreigner.

"Will you not dance, Excellency? Come, lay aside your greatness, and be merry, like us poor devils. See how our pretty Fillide is longing for a partner. Take compassion on her."

Fillide pouted at this speech, and, disengaging her arm from Paolo's, turned away, but threw over her shoulder a glance half inviting, half defying. Glyndon, almost involuntarily, advanced to her, and addressed her.

Oh, yes; he addresses her! She looks down, and smiles. Paolo leaves them to themselves, sauntering off with a devil-me-carish air. Fillide speaks now, and looks up at the scholar's face with arch invitation. He shakes his head; Fillide laughs, and her laugh is silvery. She points to a gay mountaineer, who is tripping up to her merrily. Why does Glyndon feel jealous? Why, when she speaks again, does he shake his head no more? He offers his hand; Fillide blushes, and takes it with a demure coquetry. What! is it so, indeed! They whirl into the noisy circle of the revellers. Ha! ha! is not this better than distilling herbs, and breaking thy brains on Pythagorean numbers? How lightly Fillide bounds along! How her lithesome waist supples itself to thy circling arm! Tara-ra-tara, ta-tara, rara-ra! What the devil is in the measure that it makes the blood course like quicksilver through the veins? Was there ever a pair of eyes like Fillide's? Nothing of the cold stars there! Yet how they twinkle and laugh at thee! And that rosy, pursed-up mouth that will answer so sparingly to thy flatteries, as if words were a waste of time, and kisses were their proper language. Oh, pupil of Mejnour! Oh, would-be Rosicrucian, Platonist, Magian, I know not what! I am ashamed of thee! What, in the names of Averroes and Burri and Agrippa and Hermes have become of thy austere contemplations? Was it for this thou didst resign Viola? I don't think thou hast the smallest recollection of the elixir or the Cabala. Take care! What are you about, sir? Why do you clasp that small hand locked within your own? Why do you -- Tara-rara tara-ra tara-rara- ra, rarara, ta-ra, a-ra! Keep your eyes off those slender ankles and that crimson bodice! Tara-rara-ra! There they go again! And now they rest under the broad trees. The revel has whirled away from them. They hear -- or do they not hear -- the laughter at the distance? They see -- or if they have their eyes about them, they SHOULD see -- couple after couple gliding by, love-talking and love-looking. But I will lay a wager, as they sit under that tree, and the round sun goes down behind the mountains, that they see or hear very little except themselves.

"Hollo, Signor Excellency! and how does your partner please you? Come and join our feast, loiterers; one dances more merrily after wine."

Down goes the round sun; up comes the autumn moon. Tara, tara, rarara, rarara, tarara-ra! Dancing again; is it a dance, or some movement gayer, noisier, wilder still? How they glance and gleam through the night shadows, those flitting forms! What confusion! -- what order! Ha, that is the Tarantula dance; Maestro Paolo foots it bravely! Diavolo, what fury! the Tarantula has stung them all. Dance or die; it is fury, -- the Corybantes, the Maenads, the -- Ho, ho! more wine! the Sabbat of the Witches at Benevento is a joke to this! From cloud to cloud wanders the moon, -- now shining, now lost. Dimness while the maiden blushes; light when the maiden smiles.

"Fillide, thou art an enchantress!"

"Buona notte, Excellency; you will see me again!"

"Ah, young man," said an old, decrepit, hollow-eyed octogenarian, leaning on his staff, "make the best of your youth. I, too, once had a Fillide! I was handsomer than you then! Alas! if we could be always young!"

"Always young!" Glyndon started, as he turned his gaze from the fresh, fair, rosy face of the girl, and saw the eyes dropping rheum, the yellow wrinkled skin, the tottering frame of the old man.

"Ha, ha!" said the decrepit creature, hobbling near to him, and with a malicious laugh. "Yet I, too, was young once! Give me a baioccho for a glass of aqua vitae!"

Tara, rara, ra-rara, tara, rara-ra! There dances Youth! Wrap thy rags round thee, and totter off, Old Age!
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:29 am

CHAPTER 6

Whilest Calidore does follow that faire mayd,
Unmindful of his vow and high beheast
Which by the Faerie Queene was on him layd.
-- Spenser, "Faerie Queene," cant. x. s. 1.


It was that grey, indistinct, struggling interval between the night and the dawn, when Clarence stood once more in his chamber. The abstruse calculations lying on his table caught his eye, and filled him with a sentiment of weariness and distaste. But -- "Alas, if we could be always young! Oh, thou horrid spectre of the old, rheum-eyed man! What apparition can the mystic chamber shadow forth more ugly and more hateful than thou? Oh, yes, if we could be always young! But not [thinks the neophyte now] -- not to labour forever at these crabbed figures and these cold compounds of herbs and drugs. No; but to enjoy, to love, to revel! What should be the companion of youth but pleasure? And the gift of eternal youth may be mine this very hour! What means this prohibition of Mejnour's? Is it not of the same complexion as his ungenerous reserve even in the minutest secrets of chemistry, or the numbers of his Cabala? -- compelling me to perform all the toils, and yet withholding from me the knowledge of the crowning result? No doubt he will still, on his return, show me that the great mystery CAN be attained; but will still forbid ME to attain it. Is it not as if he desired to keep my youth the slave to his age; to make me dependent solely on himself; to bind me to a journeyman's service by perpetual excitement to curiosity, and the sight of the fruits he places beyond my lips?" These, and many reflections still more repining, disturbed and irritated him. Heated with wine -- excited by the wild revels he had left -- he was unable to sleep. The image of that revolting Old Age which Time, unless defeated, must bring upon himself, quickened the eagerness of his desire for the dazzling and imperishable Youth he ascribed to Zanoni. The prohibition only served to create a spirit of defiance. The reviving day, laughing jocundly through his lattice, dispelled all the fears and superstitions that belong to night. The mystic chamber presented to his imagination nothing to differ from any other apartment in the castle. What foul or malignant apparition could harm him in the light of that blessed sun! It was the peculiar, and on the whole most unhappy, contradiction in Glyndon's nature, that while his reasonings led him to doubt, -- and doubt rendered him in MORAL conduct irresolute and unsteady; he was PHYSICALLY brave to rashness. Nor is this uncommon: scepticism and presumption are often twins. When a man of this character determines upon any action, personal fear never deters him; and for the moral fear, any sophistry suffices to self-will. Almost without analysing himself the mental process by which his nerves hardened themselves and his limbs moved, he traversed the corridor, gained Mejnour's apartment, and opened the forbidden door. All was as he had been accustomed to see it, save that on a table in the centre of the room lay open a large volume. He approached, and gazed on the characters on the page; they were in a cipher, the study of which had made a part of his labours. With but slight difficulty he imagined that he interpreted the meaning of the first sentences, and that they ran thus: --

"To quaff the inner life, is to see the outer life: to live in defiance of time, is to live in the whole. He who discovers the elixir discovers what lies in space; for the spirit that vivifies the frame strengthens the senses. There is attraction in the elementary principle of light. In the lamps of Rosicrucius the fire is the pure elementary principle. Kindle the lamps while thou openst the vessel that contains the elixir, and the light attracts towards thee those beings whose life is that light. Beware of Fear. Fear is the deadliest enemy to Knowledge." Here the ciphers changed their character, and became incomprehensible. But had he not read enough? Did not the last sentence suffice? -- "Beware of Fear!" It was as if Mejnour had purposely left the page open, -- as if the trial was, in truth, the reverse of the one pretended; as if the mystic had designed to make experiment of his COURAGE while affecting but that of his FORBEARANCE. Not Boldness, but Fear, was the deadliest enemy to Knowledge. He moved to the shelves on which the crystal vases were placed; with an untrembling hand he took from one of them the stopper, and a delicious odor suddenly diffused itself through the room. The air sparkled as if with a diamond-dust. A sense of unearthly delight, -- of an existence that seemed all spirit, flashed through his whole frame; and a faint, low, but exquisite music crept, thrilling, through the chamber. At this moment he heard a voice in the corridor calling on his name; and presently there was a knock at the door without. "Are you there, signor?" said the clear tones of Maestro Paolo. Glyndon hastily reclosed and replaced the vial, and bidding Paolo await him in his own apartment, tarried till he heard the intruder's steps depart; he then reluctantly quitted the room. As he locked the door, he still heard the dying strain of that fairy music; and with a light step and a joyous heart he repaired to Paolo, inly resolving to visit again the chamber at an hour when his experiment would be safe from interruption.

As he crossed his threshold, Paolo started back, and exclaimed, "Why, Excellency! I scarcely recognise you! Amusement, I see, is a great beautifier to the young. Yesterday you looked so pale and haggard; but Fillide's merry eyes have done more for you than the Philosopher's Stone (saints forgive me for naming it) ever did for the wizards." And Glyndon, glancing at the old Venetian mirror as Paolo spoke, was scarcely less startled than Paolo himself at the change in his own mien and bearing. His form, before bent with thought, seemed to him taller by half the head, so lithesome and erect rose his slender stature; his eyes glowed, his cheeks bloomed with health and the innate and pervading pleasure. If the mere fragrance of the elixir was thus potent, well might the alchemists have ascribed life and youth to the draught!

"You must forgive me, Excellency, for disturbing you," said Paolo, producing a letter from his pouch; "but our Patron has just written to me to say that he will be here to-morrow, and desired me to lose not a moment in giving to yourself this billet, which he enclosed."

"Who brought the letter?"

"A horseman, who did not wait for any reply."

Glyndon opened the letter, and read as follows: --

"I return a week sooner than I had intended, and you will expect me to-morrow. You will then enter on the ordeal you desire, but remember that, in doing so, you must reduce Being as far as possible into Mind. The senses must be mortified and subdued, -- not the whisper of one passion heard. Thou mayst be master of the Cabala and the Chemistry; but thou must be master also over the Flesh and the Blood, -- over Love and Vanity, Ambition and Hate. I will trust to find thee so. Fast and meditate till we meet!"

Glyndon crumpled the letter in his hand with a smile of disdain. What! more drudgery, -- more abstinence! Youth without love and pleasure! Ha, ha! baffled Mejnour, thy pupil shall gain thy secrets without thine aid!

"And Fillide! I passed her cottage in my way, -- she blushed and sighed when I jested her about you, Excellency!"

"Well, Paolo! I thank thee for so charming an introduction. Thine must be a rare life."

"Ah, Excellency, while we are young, nothing like adventure, -- except love, wine, and laughter!"

"Very true. Farewell, Maestro Paolo; we will talk more with each other in a few days."

All that morning Glyndon was almost overpowered with the new sentiment of happiness that had entered into him. He roamed into the woods, and he felt a pleasure that resembled his earlier life of an artist, but a pleasure yet more subtle and vivid, in the various colours of the autumn foliage. Certainly Nature seemed to be brought closer to him; he comprehended better all that Mejnour had often preached to him of the mystery of sympathies and attractions. He was about to enter into the same law as those mute children of the forests. He was to know THE RENEWAL OF LIFE; the seasons that chilled to winter should yet bring again the bloom and the mirth of spring. Man's common existence is as one year to the vegetable world: he has his spring, his summer, his autumn, and winter, -- but only ONCE. But the giant oaks round him go through a revolving series of verdure and youth, and the green of the centenarian is as vivid in the beams of May as that of the sapling by its side. "Mine shall be your spring, but not your winter!" exclaimed the aspirant.

Wrapped in these sanguine and joyous reveries, Glyndon, quitting the woods, found himself amidst cultivated fields and vineyards to which his footstep had not before wandered; and there stood, by the skirts of a green lane that reminded him of verdant England, a modest house, -- half cottage, half farm. The door was open, and he saw a girl at work with her distaff. She looked up, uttered a slight cry, and, tripping gayly into the lane to his side, he recognised the dark-eyed Fillide.

"Hist!" she said, archly putting her finger to her lip; "do not speak loud, -- my mother is asleep within; and I knew you would come to see me. It is kind!"

Glyndon, with a little embarrassment, accepted the compliment to his kindness, which he did not exactly deserve. "You have thought, then, of me, fair Fillide?"

"Yes," answered the girl, colouring, but with that frank, bold ingenuousness, which characterises the females of Italy, especially of the lower class, and in the southern provinces, -- "oh, yes! I have thought of little else. Paolo said he knew you would visit me."

"And what relation is Paolo to you?"

"None; but a good friend to us all. My brother is one of his band."

"One of his band! -- a robber?"

"We of the mountains do not call a mountaineer 'a robber,' signor."

"I ask pardon. Do you not tremble sometimes for your brother's life? The law -- "

"Law never ventures into these defiles. Tremble for him! No. My father and grandsire were of the same calling. I often wish I were a man!"

"By these lips, I am enchanted that your wish cannot be realised."

"Fie, signor! And do you really love me?"

"With my whole heart!"

"And I thee!" said the girl, with a candour that seemed innocent, as she suffered him to clasp her hand.

"But," she added, "thou wilt soon leave us; and I -- " She stopped short, and the tears stood in her eyes.

There was something dangerous in this, it must be confessed. Certainly Fillide had not the seraphic loveliness of Viola; but hers was a beauty that equally at least touched the senses. Perhaps Glyndon had never really loved Viola; perhaps the feelings with which she had inspired him were not of that ardent character which deserves the name of love. However that be, he thought, as he gazed on those dark eyes, that he had never loved before.

"And couldst thou not leave thy mountains?" he whispered, as he drew yet nearer to her.

"Dost thou ask me?" she said, retreating, and looking him steadfastly in the face. "Dost thou know what we daughters of the mountains are? You gay, smooth cavaliers of cities seldom mean what you speak. With you, love is amusement; with us, it is life. Leave these mountains! Well! I should not leave my nature."

"Keep thy nature ever, -- it is a sweet one."

"Yes, sweet while thou art true; stern, if thou art faithless. Shall I tell thee what I -- what the girls of this country are? Daughters of men whom you call robbers, we aspire to be the companions of our lovers or our husbands. We love ardently; we own it boldly. We stand by your side in danger; we serve you as slaves in safety: we never change, and we resent change. You may reproach, strike us, trample us as a dog, -- we bear all without a murmur; betray us, and no tiger is more relentless. Be true, and our hearts reward you; be false, and our hands revenge! Dost thou love me now?"

During this speech the Italian's countenance had most eloquently aided her words, -- by turns soft, frank, fierce, -- and at the last question she inclined her head humbly, and stood, as in fear of his reply, before him. The stern, brave, wild spirit, in which what seemed unfeminine was yet, if I may so say, still womanly, did not recoil, it rather captivated Glyndon. He answered readily, briefly, and freely, "Fillide, -- yes!"

Oh, "yes!" forsooth, Clarence Glyndon! Every light nature answers "yes" lightly to such a question from lips so rosy! Have a care, -- have a care! Why the deuce, Mejnour, do you leave your pupil of four-and-twenty to the mercy of these wild cats-a- mountain! Preach fast, and abstinence, and sublime renunciation of the cheats of the senses! Very well in you, sir, Heaven knows how many ages old; but at four-and-twenty, your Hierophant would have kept you out of Fillide's way, or you would have had small taste for the Cabala.

And so they stood, and talked, and vowed, and whispered, till the girl's mother made some noise within the house, and Fillide bounded back to the distaff, her finger once more on her lip.

"There is more magic in Fillide than in Mejnour," said Glyndon to himself, walking gayly home; "yet on second thoughts, I know not if I quite so well like a character so ready for revenge. But he who has the real secret can baffle even the vengeance of a woman, and disarm all danger!"

Sirrah! dost thou even already meditate the possibility of treason? Oh, well said Zanoni, "to pour pure water into the muddy well does but disturb the mud."
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Re: Zanoni: A Rosicrucian Tale, by Edward Bulwer Lytton

Postby admin » Tue May 29, 2018 5:29 am

CHAPTER 7

Cernis, custodia qualis
Vestibulo sedeat? facies quae limina servet?
"Aeneid," lib. vi. 574.
(See you what porter sits within the vestibule? -- what face watches at the threshold?)


And it is profound night. All is at rest within the old castle, -- all is breathless under the melancholy stars. Now is the time. Mejnour with his austere wisdom, -- Mejnour the enemy to love; Mejnour, whose eye will read thy heart, and refuse thee the promised secrets because the sunny face of Fillide disturbs the lifeless shadow that he calls repose, -- Mejnour comes to-morrow! Seize the night! Beware of fear! Never, or this hour! So, brave youth, -- brave despite all thy errors, -- so, with a steady pulse, thy hand unlocks once more the forbidden door.

He placed his lamp on the table beside the book, which still lay there opened; he turned over the leaves, but could not decipher their meaning till he came to the following passage: --

"When, then, the pupil is thus initiated and prepared, let him open the casement, light the lamps, and bathe his temples with the elixir. He must beware how he presume yet to quaff the volatile and fiery spirit. To taste till repeated inhalations have accustomed the frame gradually to the ecstatic liquid, is to know not life, but death."

He could penetrate no farther into the instructions; the cipher again changed. He now looked steadily and earnestly round the chamber. The moonlight came quietly through the lattice as his hand opened it, and seemed, as it rested on the floor, and filled the walls, like the presence of some ghostly and mournful Power. He ranged the mystic lamps (nine in number) round the centre of the room, and lighted them one by one. A flame of silvery and azure tints sprung up from each, and lighted the apartment with a calm and yet most dazzling splendour; but presently this light grew more soft and dim, as a thin, grey cloud, like a mist, gradually spread over the room; and an icy thrill shot through the heart of the Englishman, and quickly gathered over him like the coldness of death. Instinctively aware of his danger, he tottered, though with difficulty, for his limbs seemed rigid and stone-like, to the shelf that contained the crystal vials; hastily he inhaled the spirit, and laved his temples with the sparkling liquid. The same sensation of vigour and youth, and joy and airy lightness, that he had felt in the morning, instantaneously replaced the deadly numbness that just before had invaded the citadel of life. He stood, with his arms folded on his bosom erect and dauntless, to watch what should ensue.

The vapour had now assumed almost the thickness and seeming consistency of a snow-cloud; the lamps piercing it like stars. And now he distinctly saw shapes, somewhat resembling in outline those of the human form, gliding slowly and with regular evolutions through the cloud. They appeared bloodless; their bodies were transparent, and contracted or expanded like the folds of a serpent. As they moved in majestic order, he heard a low sound -- the ghost, as it were, of voice -- which each caught and echoed from the other; a low sound, but musical, which seemed the chant of some unspeakably tranquil joy. None of these apparitions heeded him. His intense longing to accost them, to be of them, to make one of this movement of aerial happiness, -- for such it seemed to him, -- made him stretch forth his arms and seek to cry aloud, but only an inarticulate whisper passed his lips; and the movement and the music went on the same as if the mortal were not there. Slowly they glided round and aloft, till, in the same majestic order, one after one, they floated through the casement and were lost in the moonlight; then, as his eyes followed them, the casement became darkened with some object undistinguishable at the first gaze, but which sufficed mysteriously to change into ineffable horror the delight he had before experienced. By degrees this object shaped itself to his sight. It was as that of a human head covered with a dark veil through which glared, with livid and demoniac fire, eyes that froze the marrow of his bones. Nothing else of the face was distinguishable, -- nothing but those intolerable eyes; but his terror, that even at the first seemed beyond nature to endure, was increased a thousand-fold, when, after a pause, the phantom glided slowly into the chamber.

The cloud retreated from it as it advanced; the bright lamps grew wan, and flickered restlessly as at the breath of its presence. Its form was veiled as the face, but the outline was that of a female; yet it moved not as move even the ghosts that simulate the living. It seemed rather to crawl as some vast misshapen reptile; and pausing, at length it cowered beside the table which held the mystic volume, and again fixed its eyes through the filmy veil on the rash invoker. All fancies, the most grotesque, of monk or painter in the early North, would have failed to give to the visage of imp or fiend that aspect of deadly malignity which spoke to the shuddering nature in those eyes alone. All else so dark, -- shrouded, veiled and larva-like. But that burning glare so intense, so livid, yet so living, had in it something that was almost HUMAN in its passion of hate and mockery, -- something that served to show that the shadowy Horror was not all a spirit, but partook of matter enough, at least, to make it more deadly and fearful an enemy to material forms. As, clinging with the grasp of agony to the wall, -- his hair erect, his eyeballs starting, he still gazed back upon that appalling gaze, -- the Image spoke to him: his soul rather than his ear comprehended the words it said.

"Thou hast entered the immeasurable region. I am the Dweller of the Threshold. What wouldst thou with me? Silent? Dost thou fear me? Am I not thy beloved? Is it not for me that thou hast rendered up the delights of thy race? Wouldst thou be wise? Mine is the wisdom of the countless ages. Kiss me, my mortal lover." And the Horror crawled near and nearer to him; it crept to his side, its breath breathed upon his cheek! With a sharp cry he fell to the earth insensible, and knew no more till, far in the noon of the next day, he opened his eyes and found himself in his bed, -- the glorious sun streaming through his lattice, and the bandit Paolo by his side, engaged in polishing his carbine, and whistling a Calabrian love-air.
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