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Title: Seraphita
Author: Balzac, Honoré de, 1799-1850
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                             SERAPHITA

                                BY

                         HONORE DE BALZAC



                          Translated by
                   Katharine Prescott Wormeley



                            DEDICATION

  To Madame Eveline de Hanska, nee Comtesse Rzewuska.

  Madame,--Here is the work which you asked of me. I am happy, in
  thus dedicating it, to offer you a proof of the respectful
  affection you allow me to bear you. If I am reproached for
  impotence in this attempt to draw from the depths of mysticism a
  book which seeks to give, in the lucid transparency of our
  beautiful language, the luminous poesy of the Orient, to you the
  blame! Did you not command this struggle (resembling that of
  Jacob) by telling me that the most imperfect sketch of this
  Figure, dreamed of by you, as it has been by me since childhood,
  would still be something to you?

  Here, then, it is,--that something. Would that this book could
  belong exclusively to noble spirits, preserved like yours from
  worldly pettiness by solitude! THEY would know how to give to it
  the melodious rhythm that it lacks, which might have made it, in
  the hands of a poet, the glorious epic that France still awaits.
  But from me they must accept it as one of those sculptured
  balustrades, carved by a hand of faith, on which the pilgrims
  lean, in the choir of some glorious church, to think upon the end
  of man.

I am, madame, with respect,
Your devoted servant,
De Balzac.



                             SERAPHITA



                             CHAPTER I

                             SERAPHITUS

As the eye glances over a map of the coasts of Norway, can the
imagination fail to marvel at their fantastic indentations and
serrated edges, like a granite lace, against which the surges of the
North Sea roar incessantly? Who has not dreamed of the majestic sights
to be seen on those beachless shores, of that multitude of creeks and
inlets and little bays, no two of them alike, yet all trackless
abysses? We may almost fancy that Nature took pleasure in recording by
ineffaceable hieroglyphics the symbol of Norwegian life, bestowing on
these coasts the conformation of a fish's spine, fishery being the
staple commerce of the country, and well-nigh the only means of living
of the hardy men who cling like tufts of lichen to the arid cliffs.
Here, through fourteen degrees of longitude, barely seven hundred
thousand souls maintain existence. Thanks to perils devoid of glory,
to year-long snows which clothe the Norway peaks and guard them from
profaning foot of traveller, these sublime beauties are virgin still;
they will be seen to harmonize with human phenomena, also virgin--at
least to poetry--which here took place, the history of which it is our
purpose to relate.

If one of these inlets, mere fissures to the eyes of the eider-ducks,
is wide enough for the sea not to freeze between the prison-walls of
rock against which it surges, the country-people call the little bay a
"fiord,"--a word which geographers of every nation have adopted into
their respective languages. Though a certain resemblance exists among
all these fiords, each has its own characteristics. The sea has
everywhere forced its way as through a breach, yet the rocks about
each fissure are diversely rent, and their tumultuous precipices defy
the rules of geometric law. Here the scarp is dentelled like a saw;
there the narrow ledges barely allow the snow to lodge or the noble
crests of the Northern pines to spread themselves; farther on, some
convulsion of Nature may have rounded a coquettish curve into a lovely
valley flanked in rising terraces with black-plumed pines. Truly we
are tempted to call this land the Switzerland of Ocean.

Midway between Trondhjem and Christiansand lies an inlet called the
Strom-fiord. If the Strom-fiord is not the loveliest of these rocky
landscapes, it has the merit of displaying the terrestrial grandeurs
of Norway, and of enshrining the scenes of a history that is indeed
celestial.

The general outline of the Strom-fiord seems at first sight to be that
of a funnel washed out by the sea. The passage which the waves have
forced present to the eye an image of the eternal struggle between old
Ocean and the granite rock,--two creations of equal power, one through
inertia, the other by ceaseless motion. Reefs of fantastic shape run
out on either side, and bar the way of ships and forbid their
entrance. The intrepid sons of Norway cross these reefs on foot,
springing from rock to rock, undismayed at the abyss--a hundred
fathoms deep and only six feet wide--which yawns beneath them. Here a
tottering block of gneiss falling athwart two rocks gives an uncertain
footway; there the hunters or the fishermen, carrying their loads,
have flung the stems of fir-trees in guise of bridges, to join the
projecting reefs, around and beneath which the surges roar
incessantly. This dangerous entrance to the little bay bears obliquely
to the right with a serpentine movement, and there encounters a
mountain rising some twenty-five hundred feet above sea-level, the
base of which is a vertical palisade of solid rock more than a mile
and a half long, the inflexible granite nowhere yielding to clefts or
undulations until it reaches a height of two hundred feet above the
water. Rushing violently in, the sea is driven back with equal
violence by the inert force of the mountain to the opposite shore,
gently curved by the spent force of the retreating waves.

The fiord is closed at the upper end by a vast gneiss formation
crowned with forests, down which a river plunges in cascades, becomes
a torrent when the snows are melting, spreads into a sheet of waters,
and then falls with a roar into the bay,--vomiting as it does so the
hoary pines and the aged larches washed down from the forests and
scarce seen amid the foam. These trees plunge headlong into the fiord
and reappear after a time on the surface, clinging together and
forming islets which float ashore on the beaches, where the
inhabitants of a village on the left bank of the Strom-fiord gather
them up, split, broken (though sometimes whole), and always stripped
of bark and branches. The mountain which receives at its base the
assaults of Ocean, and at its summit the buffeting of the wild North
wind, is called the Falberg. Its crest, wrapped at all seasons in a
mantle of snow and ice, is the sharpest peak of Norway; its proximity
to the pole produces, at the height of eighteen hundred feet, a degree
of cold equal to that of the highest mountains of the globe. The
summit of this rocky mass, rising sheer from the fiord on one side,
slopes gradually downward to the east, where it joins the declivities
of the Sieg and forms a series of terraced valleys, the chilly
temperature of which allows no growth but that of shrubs and stunted
trees.

The upper end of the fiord, where the waters enter it as they come
down from the forest, is called the Siegdahlen,--a word which may be
held to mean "the shedding of the Sieg,"--the river itself receiving
that name. The curving shore opposite to the face of the Falberg is
the valley of Jarvis,--a smiling scene overlooked by hills clothed
with firs, birch-trees, and larches, mingled with a few oaks and
beeches, the richest coloring of all the varied tapestries which
Nature in these northern regions spreads upon the surface of her
rugged rocks. The eye can readily mark the line where the soil, warmed
by the rays of the sun, bears cultivation and shows the native growth
of the Norwegian flora. Here the expanse of the fiord is broad enough
to allow the sea, dashed back by the Falberg, to spend its expiring
force in gentle murmurs upon the lower slope of these hills,--a shore
bordered with finest sand, strewn with mica and sparkling pebbles,
porphyry, and marbles of a thousand tints, brought from Sweden by the
river floods, together with ocean waifs, shells, and flowers of the
sea driven in by tempests, whether of the Pole or Tropics.

At the foot of the hills of Jarvis lies a village of some two hundred
wooden houses, where an isolated population lives like a swarm of bees
in a forest, without increasing or diminishing; vegetating happily,
while wringing their means of living from the breast of a stern
Nature. The almost unknown existence of the little hamlet is readily
accounted for. Few of its inhabitants were bold enough to risk their
lives among the reefs to reach the deep-sea fishing,--the staple
industry of Norwegians on the least dangerous portions of their coast.
The fish of the fiord were numerous enough to suffice, in part at
least, for the sustenance of the inhabitants; the valley pastures
provided milk and butter; a certain amount of fruitful, well-tilled
soil yielded rye and hemp and vegetables, which necessity taught the
people to protect against the severity of the cold and the fleeting
but terrible heat of the sun with the shrewd ability which Norwegians
display in the two-fold struggle. The difficulty of communication with
the outer world, either by land where the roads are impassable, or by
sea where none but tiny boats can thread their way through the
maritime defiles that guard the entrance to the bay, hinder these
people from growing rich by the sale of their timber. It would cost
enormous sums to either blast a channel out to sea or construct a way
to the interior. The roads from Christiana to Trondhjem all turn
toward the Strom-fiord, and cross the Sieg by a bridge some score of
miles above its fall into the bay. The country to the north, between
Jarvis and Trondhjem, is covered with impenetrable forests, while to
the south the Falberg is nearly as much separated from Christiana by
inaccessible precipices. The village of Jarvis might perhaps have
communicated with the interior of Norway and Sweden by the river Sieg;
but to do this and to be thus brought into contact with civilization,
the Strom-fiord needed the presence of a man of genius. Such a man did
actually appear there,--a poet, a Swede of great religious fervor, who
died admiring, even reverencing this region as one of the noblest
works of the Creator.

Minds endowed by study with an inward sight, and whose quick
perceptions bring before the soul, as though painted on a canvas, the
contrasting scenery of this universe, will now apprehend the general
features of the Strom-fiord. They alone, perhaps, can thread their way
through the tortuous channels of the reef, or flee with the battling
waves to the everlasting rebuff of the Falberg whose white peaks
mingle with the vaporous clouds of the pearl-gray sky, or watch with
delight the curving sheet of waters, or hear the rushing of the Sieg
as it hangs for an instant in long fillets and then falls over a
picturesque abatis of noble trees toppled confusedly together,
sometimes upright, sometimes half-sunken beneath the rocks. It may be
that such minds alone can dwell upon the smiling scenes nestling among
the lower hills of Jarvis; where the luscious Northern vegetables
spring up in families, in myriads, where the white birches bend,
graceful as maidens, where colonnades of beeches rear their boles
mossy with the growth of centuries, where shades of green contrast,
and white clouds float amid the blackness of the distant pines, and
tracts of many-tinted crimson and purple shrubs are shaded endlessly;
in short, where blend all colors, all perfumes of a flora whose
wonders are still ignored. Widen the boundaries of this limited
ampitheatre, spring upward to the clouds, lose yourself among the
rocks where the seals are lying and even then your thought cannot
compass the wealth of beauty nor the poetry of this Norwegian coast.
Can your thought be as vast as the ocean that bounds it? as weird as
the fantastic forms drawn by these forests, these clouds, these
shadows, these changeful lights?

Do you see above the meadows on that lowest slope which undulates
around the higher hills of Jarvis two or three hundred houses roofed
with "noever," a sort of thatch made of birch-bark,--frail houses,
long and low, looking like silk-worms on a mulberry-leaf tossed hither
by the winds? Above these humble, peaceful dwellings stands the
church, built with a simplicity in keeping with the poverty of the
villagers. A graveyard surrounds the chancel, and a little farther on
you see the parsonage. Higher up, on a projection of the mountain is a
dwelling-house, the only one of stone; for which reason the
inhabitants of the village call it "the Swedish Castle." In fact, a
wealthy Swede settled in Jarvis about thirty years before this history
begins, and did his best to ameliorate its condition. This little
house, certainly not a castle, built with the intention of leading the
inhabitants to build others like it, was noticeable for its solidity
and for the wall that inclosed it, a rare thing in Norway where,
notwithstanding the abundance of stone, wood alone is used for all
fences, even those of fields. This Swedish house, thus protected
against the climate, stood on rising ground in the centre of an
immense courtyard. The windows were sheltered by those projecting
pent-house roofs supported by squared trunks of trees which give so
patriarchal an air to Northern dwellings. From beneath them the eye
could see the savage nudity of the Falberg, or compare the infinitude
of the open sea with the tiny drop of water in the foaming fiord; the
ear could hear the flowing of the Sieg, whose white sheet far away
looked motionless as it fell into its granite cup edged for miles
around with glaciers,--in short, from this vantage ground the whole
landscape whereon our simple yet superhuman drama was about to be
enacted could be seen and noted.

The winter of 1799-1800 was one of the most severe ever known to
Europeans. The Norwegian sea was frozen in all the fiords, where, as a
usual thing, the violence of the surf kept the ice from forming. A
wind, whose effects were like those of the Spanish levanter, swept the
ice of the Strom-fiord, driving the snow to the upper end of the gulf.
Seldom indeed could the people of Jarvis see the mirror of frozen
waters reflecting the colors of the sky; a wondrous site in the bosom
of these mountains when all other aspects of nature are levelled
beneath successive sheets of snow, and crests and valleys are alike
mere folds of the vast mantle flung by winter across a landscape at
once so mournfully dazzling and so monotonous. The falling volume of
the Sieg, suddenly frozen, formed an immense arcade beneath which the
inhabitants might have crossed under shelter from the blast had any
dared to risk themselves inland. But the dangers of every step away
from their own surroundings kept even the boldest hunters in their
homes, afraid lest the narrow paths along the precipices, the clefts
and fissures among the rocks, might be unrecognizable beneath the
snow.

Thus it was that no human creature gave life to the white desert where
Boreas reigned, his voice alone resounding at distant intervals. The
sky, nearly always gray, gave tones of polished steel to the ice of
the fiord. Perchance some ancient eider-duck crossed the expanse,
trusting to the warm down beneath which dream, in other lands, the
luxurious rich, little knowing of the dangers through which their
luxury has come to them. Like the Bedouin of the desert who darts
alone across the sands of Africa, the bird is neither seen nor heard;
the torpid atmosphere, deprived of its electrical conditions, echoes
neither the whirr of its wings nor its joyous notes. Besides, what
human eye was strong enough to bear the glitter of those pinnacles
adorned with sparkling crystals, or the sharp reflections of the snow,
iridescent on the summits in the rays of a pallid sun which
infrequently appeared, like a dying man seeking to make known that he
still lives. Often, when the flocks of gray clouds, driven in
squadrons athwart the mountains and among the tree-tops, hid the sky
with their triple veils Earth, lacking the celestial lights, lit
herself by herself.

Here, then, we meet the majesty of Cold, seated eternally at the pole
in that regal silence which is the attribute of all absolute monarchy.
Every extreme principle carries with it an appearance of negation and
the symptoms of death; for is not life the struggle of two forces?
Here in this Northern nature nothing lived. One sole power--the
unproductive power of ice--reigned unchallenged. The roar of the open
sea no longer reached the deaf, dumb inlet, where during one short
season of the year Nature made haste to produce the slender harvests
necessary for the food of the patient people. A few tall pine-trees
lifted their black pyramids garlanded with snow, and the form of their
long branches and depending shoots completed the mourning garments of
those solemn heights.

Each household gathered in its chimney-corner, in houses carefully
closed from the outer air, and well supplied with biscuit, melted
butter, dried fish, and other provisions laid in for the seven-months
winter. The very smoke of these dwellings was hardly seen, half-hidden
as they were beneath the snow, against the weight of which they were
protected by long planks reaching from the roof and fastened at some
distance to solid blocks on the ground, forming a covered way around
each building.

During these terrible winter months the women spun and dyed the
woollen stuffs and the linen fabrics with which they clothed their
families, while the men read, or fell into those endless meditations
which have given birth to so many profound theories, to the mystic
dreams of the North, to its beliefs, to its studies (so full and so
complete in one science, at least, sounded as with a plummet), to its
manners and its morals, half-monastic, which force the soul to react
and feed upon itself and make the Norwegian peasant a being apart
among the peoples of Europe.

Such was the condition of the Strom-fiord in the first year of the
nineteenth century and about the middle of the month of May.

On a morning when the sun burst forth upon this landscape, lighting
the fires of the ephemeral diamonds produced by crystallizations of
the snow and ice, two beings crossed the fiord and flew along the base
of the Falberg, rising thence from ledge to ledge toward the summit.
What were they? human creatures, or two arrows? They might have been
taken for eider-ducks sailing in consort before the wind. Not the
boldest hunter nor the most superstitious fisherman would have
attributed to human beings the power to move safely along the slender
lines traced beneath the snow by the granite ledges, where yet this
couple glided with the terrifying dexterity of somnambulists who,
forgetting their own weight and the dangers of the slightest
deviation, hurry along a ridge-pole and keep their equilibrium by the
power of some mysterious force.

"Stop me, Seraphitus," said a pale young girl, "and let me breathe. I
look at you, you only, while scaling these walls of the gulf;
otherwise, what would become of me? I am such a feeble creature. Do I
tire you?"

"No," said the being on whose arm she leaned. "But let us go on,
Minna; the place where we are is not firm enough to stand on."

Once more the snow creaked sharply beneath the long boards fastened to
their feet, and soon they reached the upper terrace of the first
ledge, clearly defined upon the flank of the precipice. The person
whom Minna had addressed as Seraphitus threw his weight upon his right
heel, arresting the plank--six and a half feet long and narrow as the
foot of a child--which was fastened to his boot by a double thong of
leather. This plank, two inches thick, was covered with reindeer skin,
which bristled against the snow when the foot was raised, and served
to stop the wearer. Seraphitus drew in his left foot, furnished with
another "skee," which was only two feet long, turned swiftly where he
stood, caught his timid companion in his arms, lifted her in spite of
the long boards on her feet, and placed her on a projecting rock from
which he brushed the snow with his pelisse.

"You are safe there, Minna; you can tremble at your ease."

"We are a third of the way up the Ice-Cap," she said, looking at the
peak to which she gave the popular name by which it is known in
Norway; "I can hardly believe it."

Too much out of breath to say more, she smiled at Seraphitus, who,
without answering, laid his hand upon her heart and listened to its
sounding throbs, rapid as those of a frightened bird.

"It often beats as fast when I run," she said.

Seraphitus inclined his head with a gesture that was neither coldness
nor indifference, and yet, despite the grace which made the movement
almost tender, it none the less bespoke a certain negation, which in a
woman would have seemed an exquisite coquetry. Seraphitus clasped the
young girl in his arms. Minna accepted the caress as an answer to her
words, continuing to gaze at him. As he raised his head, and threw
back with impatient gesture the golden masses of his hair to free his
brow, he saw an expression of joy in the eyes of his companion.

"Yes, Minna," he said in a voice whose paternal accents were charming
from the lips of a being who was still adolescent, "Keep your eyes on
me; do not look below you."

"Why not?" she asked.

"You wish to know why? then look!"

Minna glanced quickly at her feet and cried out suddenly like a child
who sees a tiger. The awful sensation of abysses seized her; one
glance sufficed to communicate its contagion. The fiord, eager for
food, bewildered her with its loud voice ringing in her ears,
interposing between herself and life as though to devour her more
surely. From the crown of her head to her feet and along her spine an
icy shudder ran; then suddenly intolerable heat suffused her nerves,
beat in her veins and overpowered her extremities with electric shocks
like those of the torpedo. Too feeble to resist, she felt herself
drawn by a mysterious power to the depths below, wherein she fancied
that she saw some monster belching its venom, a monster whose magnetic
eyes were charming her, whose open jaws appeared to craunch their prey
before they seized it.

"I die, my Seraphitus, loving none but thee," she said, making a
mechanical movement to fling herself into the abyss.

Seraphitus breathed softly on her forehead and eyes. Suddenly, like a
traveller relaxed after a bath, Minna forgot these keen emotions,
already dissipated by that caressing breath which penetrated her body
and filled it with balsamic essences as quickly as the breath itself
had crossed the air.

"Who art thou?" she said, with a feeling of gentle terror. "Ah, but I
know! thou art my life. How canst thou look into that gulf and not
die?" she added presently.

Seraphitus left her clinging to the granite rock and placed himself at
the edge of the narrow platform on which they stood, whence his eyes
plunged to the depths of the fiord, defying its dazzling invitation.
His body did not tremble, his brow was white and calm as that of a
marble statue,--an abyss facing an abyss.

"Seraphitus! dost thou not love me? come back!" she cried. "Thy danger
renews my terror. Who art thou to have such superhuman power at thy
age?" she asked as she felt his arms inclosing her once more.

"But, Minna," answered Seraphitus, "you look fearlessly at greater
spaces far than that."

Then with raised finger, this strange being pointed upward to the blue
dome, which parting clouds left clear above their heads, where stars
could be seen in open day by virtue of atmospheric laws as yet
unstudied.

"But what a difference!" she answered smiling.

"You are right," he said; "we are born to stretch upward to the skies.
Our native land, like the face of a mother, cannot terrify her
children."

His voice vibrated through the being of his companion, who made no
reply.

"Come! let us go on," he said.

The pair darted forward along the narrow paths traced back and forth
upon the mountain, skimming from terrace to terrace, from line to
line, with the rapidity of a barb, that bird of the desert. Presently
they reached an open space, carpeted with turf and moss and flowers,
where no foot had ever trod.

"Oh, the pretty saeter!" cried Minna, giving to the upland meadow its
Norwegian name. "But how comes it here, at such a height?"

"Vegetation ceases here, it is true," said Seraphitus. "These few
plants and flowers are due to that sheltering rock which protects the
meadow from the polar winds. Put that tuft in your bosom, Minna," he
added, gathering a flower,--"that balmy creation which no eye has ever
seen; keep the solitary matchless flower in memory of this one
matchless morning of your life. You will find no other guide to lead
you again to this saeter."

So saying, he gave her the hybrid plant his falcon eye had seen amid
the tufts of gentian acaulis and saxifrages,--a marvel, brought to
bloom by the breath of angels. With girlish eagerness Minna seized the
tufted plant of transparent green, vivid as emerald, which was formed
of little leaves rolled trumpet-wise, brown at the smaller end but
changing tint by tint to their delicately notched edges, which were
green. These leaves were so tightly pressed together that they seemed
to blend and form a mat or cluster of rosettes. Here and there from
this green ground rose pure white stars edged with a line of gold, and
from their throats came crimson anthers but no pistils. A fragrance,
blended of roses and of orange blossoms, yet ethereal and fugitive,
gave something as it were celestial to that mysterious flower, which
Seraphitus sadly contemplated, as though it uttered plaintive thoughts
which he alone could understand. But to Minna this mysterious
phenomenon seemed a mere caprice of nature giving to stone the
freshness, softness, and perfume of plants.

"Why do you call it matchless? can it not reproduce itself?" she
asked, looking at Seraphitus, who colored and turned away.

"Let us sit down," he said presently; "look below you, Minna. See! At
this height you will have no fear. The abyss is so far beneath us that
we no longer have a sense of its depths; it acquires the perspective
uniformity of ocean, the vagueness of clouds, the soft coloring of the
sky. See, the ice of the fiord is a turquoise, the dark pine forests
are mere threads of brown; for us all abysses should be thus adorned."

Seraphitus said the words with that fervor of tone and gesture seen
and known only by those who have ascended the highest mountains of the
globe,--a fervor so involuntarily acquired that the haughtiest of men
is forced to regard his guide as a brother, forgetting his own
superior station till he descends to the valleys and the abodes of his
kind. Seraphitus unfastened the skees from Minna's feet, kneeling
before her. The girl did not notice him, so absorbed was she in the
marvellous view now offered of her native land, whose rocky outlines
could here be seen at a glance. She felt, with deep emotion, the
solemn permanence of those frozen summits, to which words could give
no adequate utterance.

"We have not come here by human power alone," she said, clasping her
hands. "But perhaps I dream."

"You think that facts the causes of which you cannot perceive are
supernatural," replied her companion.

"Your replies," she said, "always bear the stamp of some deep thought.
When I am near you I understand all things without an effort. Ah, I am
free!"

"If so, you will not need your skees," he answered.

"Oh!" she said; "I who would fain unfasten yours and kiss your feet!"

"Keep such words for Wilfrid," said Seraphitus, gently.

"Wilfrid!" cried Minna angrily; then, softening as she glanced at her
companion's face and trying, but in vain, to take his hand, she added,
"You are never angry, never; you are so hopelessly perfect in all
things."

"From which you conclude that I am unfeeling."

Minna was startled at this lucid interpretation of her thought.

"You prove to me, at any rate, that we understand each other," she
said, with the grace of a loving woman.

Seraphitus softly shook his head and looked sadly and gently at her.

"You, who know all things," said Minna, "tell me why it is that the
timidity I felt below is over now that I have mounted higher. Why do I
dare to look at you for the first time face to face, while lower down
I scarcely dared to give a furtive glance?"

"Perhaps because we are withdrawn from the pettiness of earth," he
answered, unfastening his pelisse.

"Never, never have I seen you so beautiful!" cried Minna, sitting down
on a mossy rock and losing herself in contemplation of the being who
had now guided her to a part of the peak hitherto supposed to be
inaccessible.

Never, in truth, had Seraphitus shone with so bright a radiance,--the
only word which can render the illumination of his face and the aspect
of his whole person. Was this splendor due to the lustre which the
pure air of mountains and the reflections of the snow give to the
complexion? Was it produced by the inward impulse which excites the
body at the instant when exertion is arrested? Did it come from the
sudden contrast between the glory of the sun and the darkness of the
clouds, from whose shadow the charming couple had just emerged?
Perhaps to all these causes we may add the effect of a phenomenon, one
of the noblest which human nature has to offer. If some able
physiologist had studied this being (who, judging by the pride on his
brow and the lightning in his eyes seemed a youth of about seventeen
years of age), and if the student had sought for the springs of that
beaming life beneath the whitest skin that ever the North bestowed
upon her offspring, he would undoubtedly have believed either in some
phosphoric fluid of the nerves shining beneath the cuticle, or in the
constant presence of an inward luminary, whose rays issued through the
being of Seraphitus like a light through an alabaster vase. Soft and
slender as were his hands, ungloved to remove his companion's
snow-boots, they seemed possessed of a strength equal to that which the
Creator gave to the diaphanous tentacles of the crab. The fire darting
from his vivid glance seemed to struggle with the beams of the sun,
not to take but to give them light. His body, slim and delicate as
that of a woman, gave evidence of one of those natures which are
feeble apparently, but whose strength equals their will, rendering
them at times powerful. Of medium height, Seraphitus appeared to grow
in stature as he turned fully round and seemed about to spring upward.
His hair, curled by a fairy's hand and waving to the breeze, increased
the illusion produced by this aerial attitude; yet his bearing, wholly
without conscious effort, was the result far more of a moral
phenomenon than of a corporal habit.

Minna's imagination seconded this illusion, under the dominion of
which all persons would assuredly have fallen,--an illusion which gave
to Seraphitus the appearance of a vision dreamed of in happy sleep. No
known type conveys an image of that form so majestically made to
Minna, but which to the eyes of a man would have eclipsed in womanly
grace the fairest of Raphael's creations. That painter of heaven has
ever put a tranquil joy, a loving sweetness, into the lines of his
angelic conceptions; but what soul, unless it contemplated Seraphitus
himself, could have conceived the ineffable emotions imprinted on his
face? Who would have divined, even in the dreams of artists, where all
things become possible, the shadow cast by some mysterious awe upon
that brow, shining with intellect, which seemed to question Heaven and
to pity Earth? The head hovered awhile disdainfully, as some majestic
bird whose cries reverberate on the atmosphere, then bowed itself
resignedly, like the turtledove uttering soft notes of tenderness in
the depths of the silent woods. His complexion was of marvellous
whiteness, which brought out vividly the coral lips, the brown
eyebrows, and the silken lashes, the only colors that trenched upon
the paleness of that face, whose perfect regularity did not detract
from the grandeur of the sentiments expressed in it; nay, thought and
emotion were reflected there, without hindrance or violence, with the
majestic and natural gravity which we delight in attributing to
superior beings. That face of purest marble expressed in all things
strength and peace.

Minna rose to take the hand of Seraphitus, hoping thus to draw him to
her, and to lay on that seductive brow a kiss given more from
admiration than from love; but a glance at the young man's eyes, which
pierced her as a ray of sunlight penetrates a prism, paralyzed the
young girl. She felt, but without comprehending, a gulf between them;
then she turned away her head and wept. Suddenly a strong hand seized
her by the waist, and a soft voice said to her: "Come!" She obeyed,
resting her head, suddenly revived, upon the heart of her companion,
who, regulating his step to hers with gentle and attentive conformity,
led her to a spot whence they could see the radiant glories of the
polar Nature.

"Before I look, before I listen to you, tell me, Seraphitus, why you
repulse me. Have I displeased you? and how? tell me! I want nothing
for myself; I would that all my earthly goods were yours, for the
riches of my heart are yours already. I would that light came to my
eyes only though your eyes just as my thought is born of your thought.
I should not then fear to offend you, for I should give you back the
echoes of your soul, the words of your heart, day by day,--as we
render to God the meditations with which his spirit nourishes our
minds. I would be thine alone."

"Minna, a constant desire is that which shapes our future. Hope on!
But if you would be pure in heart mingle the idea of the All-Powerful
with your affections here below; then you will love all creatures, and
your heart will rise to heights indeed."

"I will do all you tell me," she answered, lifting her eyes to his
with a timid movement.

"I cannot be your companion," said Seraphitus sadly.

He seemed to repress some thoughts, then stretched his arms towards
Christiana, just visible like a speck on the horizon and said:--

"Look!"

"We are very small," she said.

"Yes, but we become great through feeling and through intellect,"
answered Seraphitus. "With us, and us alone, Minna, begins the
knowledge of things; the little that we learn of the laws of the
visible world enables us to apprehend the immensity of the worlds
invisible. I know not if the time has come to speak thus to you, but I
would, ah, I would communicate to you the flame of my hopes! Perhaps
we may one day be together in the world where Love never dies."

"Why not here and now?" she said, murmuring.

"Nothing is stable here," he said, disdainfully. "The passing joys of
earthly love are gleams which reveal to certain souls the coming of
joys more durable; just as the discovery of a single law of nature
leads certain privileged beings to a conception of the system of the
universe. Our fleeting happiness here below is the forerunning proof
of another and a perfect happiness, just as the earth, a fragment of
the world, attests the universe. We cannot measure the vast orbit of
the Divine thought of which we are but an atom as small as God is
great; but we can feel its vastness, we can kneel, adore, and wait.
Men ever mislead themselves in science by not perceiving that all
things on their globe are related and co-ordinated to the general
evolution, to a constant movement and production which bring with
them, necessarily, both advancement and an End. Man himself is not a
finished creation; if he were, God would not Be."

"How is it that in thy short life thou hast found the time to learn so
many things?" said the young girl.

"I remember," he replied.

"Thou art nobler than all else I see."

"We are the noblest of God's greatest works. Has He not given us the
faculty of reflecting on Nature; of gathering it within us by thought;
of making it a footstool and stepping-stone from and by which to rise
to Him? We love according to the greater or the lesser portion of
heaven our souls contain. But do not be unjust, Minna; behold the
magnificence spread before you. Ocean expands at your feet like a
carpet; the mountains resemble ampitheatres; heaven's ether is above
them like the arching folds of a stage curtain. Here we may breathe
the thoughts of God, as it were like a perfume. See! the angry billows
which engulf the ships laden with men seem to us, where we are, mere
bubbles; and if we raise our eyes and look above, all there is blue.
Behold that diadem of stars! Here the tints of earthly impressions
disappear; standing on this nature rarefied by space do you not feel
within you something deeper far than mind, grander than enthusiasm, of
greater energy than will? Are you not conscious of emotions whose
interpretation is no longer in us? Do you not feel your pinions? Let
us pray."

Seraphitus knelt down and crossed his hands upon his breast, while
Minna fell, weeping, on her knees. Thus they remained for a time,
while the azure dome above their heads grew larger and strong rays of
light enveloped them without their knowledge.

"Why dost thou not weep when I weep?" said Minna, in a broken voice.

"They who are all spirit do not weep," replied Seraphitus rising; "Why
should I weep? I see no longer human wretchedness. Here, Good appears
in all its majesty. There, beneath us, I hear the supplications and
the wailings of that harp of sorrows which vibrates in the hands of
captive souls. Here, I listen to the choir of harps harmonious. There,
below, is hope, the glorious inception of faith; but here is faith--it
reigns, hope realized!"

"You will never love me; I am too imperfect; you disdain me," said the
young girl.

"Minna, the violet hidden at the feet of the oak whispers to itself:
'The sun does not love me; he comes not.' The sun says: 'If my rays
shine upon her she will perish, poor flower.' Friend of the flower, he
sends his beams through the oak leaves, he veils, he tempers them, and
thus they color the petals of his beloved. I have not veils enough, I
fear lest you see me too closely; you would tremble if you knew me
better. Listen: I have no taste for earthly fruits. Your joys, I know
them all too well, and, like the sated emperors of pagan Rome, I have
reached disgust of all things; I have received the gift of vision.
Leave me! abandon me!" he murmured, sorrowfully.

Seraphitus turned and seated himself on a projecting rock, dropping
his head upon his breast.

"Why do you drive me to despair?" said Minna.

"Go, go!" cried Seraphitus, "I have nothing that you want of me. Your
love is too earthly for my love. Why do you not love Wilfrid? Wilfrid
is a man, tested by passions; he would clasp you in his vigorous arms
and make you feel a hand both broad and strong. His hair is black, his
eyes are full of human thoughts, his heart pours lava in every word he
utters; he could kill you with caresses. Let him be your beloved, your
husband! Yes, thine be Wilfrid!"

Minna wept aloud.

"Dare you say that you do not love him?" he went on, in a voice which
pierced her like a dagger.

"Have mercy, have mercy, my Seraphitus!"

"Love him, poor child of Earth to which thy destiny has indissolubly
bound thee," said the strange being, beckoning Minna by a gesture, and
forcing her to the edge of the saeter, whence he pointed downward to a
scene that might well inspire a young girl full of enthusiasm with the
fancy that she stood above this earth.

"I longed for a companion to the kingdom of Light; I wished to show
you that morsel of mud, I find you bound to it. Farewell. Remain on
earth; enjoy through the senses; obey your nature; turn pale with
pallid men; blush with women; sport with children; pray with the
guilty; raise your eyes to heaven when sorrows overtake you; tremble,
hope, throb in all your pulses; you will have a companion; you can
laugh and weep, and give and receive. I,--I am an exile, far from
heaven; a monster, far from earth. I live of myself and by myself. I
feel by the spirit; I breathe through my brow; I see by thought; I die
of impatience and of longing. No one here below can fulfil my desires
or calm my griefs. I have forgotten how to weep. I am alone. I resign
myself, and I wait."

Seraphitus looked at the flowery mound on which he had seated Minna;
then he turned and faced the frowning heights, whose pinnacles were
wrapped in clouds; to them he cast, unspoken, the remainder of his
thoughts.

"Minna, do you hear those delightful strains?" he said after a pause,
with the voice of a dove, for the eagle's cry was hushed; "it is like
the music of those Eolian harps your poets hang in forests and on the
mountains. Do you see the shadowy figures passing among the clouds,
the winged feet of those who are making ready the gifts of heaven?
They bring refreshment to the soul; the skies are about to open and
shed the flowers of spring upon the earth. See, a gleam is darting
from the pole. Let us fly, let us fly! It is time we go!"

In a moment their skees were refastened, and the pair descended the
Falberg by the steep slopes which join the mountain to the valleys of
the Sieg. Miraculous perception guided their course, or, to speak more
properly, their flight. When fissures covered with snow intercepted
them, Seraphitus caught Minna in his arms and darted with rapid
motion, lightly as a bird, over the crumbling causeways of the abyss.
Sometimes, while propelling his companion, he deviated to the right or
left to avoid a precipice, a tree, a projecting rock, which he seemed
to see beneath the snow, as an old sailor, familiar with the ocean,
discerns the hidden reefs by the color, the trend, or the eddying of
the water. When they reached the paths of the Siegdahlen, where they
could fearlessly follow a straight line to regain the ice of the
fiord, Seraphitus stopped Minna.

"You have nothing to say to me?" he asked.

"I thought you would rather think alone," she answered respectfully.

"Let us hasten, Minette; it is almost night," he said.

Minna quivered as she heard the voice, now so changed, of her guide,
--a pure voice, like that of a young girl, which dissolved the
fantastic dream through which she had been passing. Seraphitus seemed
to be laying aside his male force and the too keen intellect that
flames from his eyes. Presently the charming pair glided across the
fiord and reached the snow-field which divides the shore from the
first range of houses; then, hurrying forward as daylight faded, they
sprang up the hill toward the parsonage, as though they were mounting
the steps of a great staircase.

"My father must be anxious," said Minna.

"No," answered Seraphitus.

As he spoke the couple reached the porch of the humble dwelling where
Monsieur Becker, the pastor of Jarvis, sat reading while awaiting his
daughter for the evening meal.

"Dear Monsieur Becker," said Seraphitus, "I have brought Minna back to
you safe and sound."

"Thank you, mademoiselle," said the old man, laying his spectacles on
his book; "you must be very tired."

"Oh, no," said Minna, and as she spoke she felt the soft breath of her
companion on her brow.

"Dear heart, will you come day after to-morrow evening and take tea
with me?"

"Gladly, dear."

"Monsieur Becker, you will bring her, will you not?"

"Yes, mademoiselle."

Seraphitus inclined his head with a pretty gesture, and bowed to the
old pastor as he left the house. A few moments later he reached the
great courtyard of the Swedish villa. An old servant, over eighty
years of age, appeared in the portico bearing a lantern. Seraphitus
slipped off his snow-shoes with the graceful dexterity of a woman,
then darting into the salon he fell exhausted and motionless on a wide
divan covered with furs.

"What will you take?" asked the old man, lighting the immensely tall
wax-candles that are used in Norway.

"Nothing, David, I am too weary."

Seraphitus unfastened his pelisse lined with sable, threw it over him,
and fell asleep. The old servant stood for several minutes gazing with
loving eyes at the singular being before him, whose sex it would have
been difficult for any one at that moment to determine. Wrapped as he
was in a formless garment, which resembled equally a woman's robe and
a man's mantle, it was impossible not to fancy that the slender feet
which hung at the side of the couch were those of a woman, and equally
impossible not to note how the forehead and the outlines of the head
gave evidence of power brought to its highest pitch.

"She suffers, and she will not tell me," thought the old man. "She is
dying, like a flower wilted by the burning sun."

And the old man wept.



                             CHAPTER II

                             SERAPHITA

Later in the evening David re-entered the salon.

"I know who it is you have come to announce," said Seraphita in a
sleepy voice. "Wilfrid may enter."

Hearing these words a man suddenly presented himself, crossed the room
and sat down beside her.

"My dear Seraphita, are you ill?" he said. "You look paler than
usual."

She turned slowly towards him, tossing back her hair like a pretty
woman whose aching head leaves her no strength even for complaint.

"I was foolish enough to cross the fiord with Minna," she said. "We
ascended the Falberg."

"Do you mean to kill yourself?" he said with a lover's terror.

"No, my good Wilfrid; I took the greatest care of your Minna."

Wilfrid struck his hand violently on a table, rose hastily, and made
several steps towards the door with an exclamation full of pain; then
he returned and seemed about to remonstrate.

"Why this disturbance if you think me ill?" she said.

"Forgive me, have mercy!" he cried, kneeling beside her. "Speak to me
harshly if you will; exact all that the cruel fancies of a woman lead
you to imagine I least can bear; but oh, my beloved, do not doubt my
love. You take Minna like an axe to hew me down. Have mercy!"

"Why do you say these things, my friend, when you know that they are
useless?" she replied, with a look which grew in the end so soft that
Wilfrid ceased to behold her eyes, but saw in their place a fluid
light, the shimmer of which was like the last vibrations of an Italian
song.

"Ah! no man dies of anguish!" he murmured.

"You are suffering?" she said in a voice whose intonations produced
upon his heart the same effect as that of her look. "Would I could
help you!"

"Love me as I love you."

"Poor Minna!" she replied.

"Why am I unarmed!" exclaimed Wilfrid, violently.

"You are out of temper," said Seraphita, smiling. "Come, have I not
spoken to you like those Parisian women whose loves you tell of?"

Wilfrid sat down, crossed his arms, and looked gloomily at Seraphita.
"I forgive you," he said; "for you know not what you do."

"You mistake," she replied; "every woman from the days of Eve does
good and evil knowingly."

"I believe it"; he said.

"I am sure of it, Wilfrid. Our instinct is precisely that which makes
us perfect. What you men learn, we feel."

"Why, then, do you not feel how much I love you?"

"Because you do not love me."

"Good God!"

"If you did, would you complain of your own sufferings?"

"You are terrible to-night, Seraphita. You are a demon."

"No, but I am gifted with the faculty of comprehending, and it is
awful. Wilfrid, sorrow is a lamp which illumines life."

"Why did you ascend the Falberg?"

"Minna will tell you. I am too weary to talk. You must talk to me,
--you who know so much, who have learned all things and forgotten
nothing; you who have passed through every social test. Talk to me,
amuse me, I am listening."

"What can I tell you that you do not know? Besides, the request is
ironical. You allow yourself no intercourse with social life; you
trample on its conventions, its laws, its customs, sentiments, and
sciences; you reduce them all to the proportions such things take when
viewed by you beyond this universe."

"Therefore you see, my friend, that I am not a woman. You do wrong to
love me. What! am I to leave the ethereal regions of my pretended
strength, make myself humbly small, cringe like the hapless female of
all species, that you may lift me up? and then, when I, helpless and
broken, ask you for help, when I need your arm, you will repulse me!
No, we can never come to terms."

"You are more maliciously unkind to-night than I have ever known you."

"Unkind!" she said, with a look which seemed to blend all feelings
into one celestial emotion, "no, I am ill, I suffer, that is all.
Leave me, my friend; it is your manly right. We women should ever
please you, entertain you, be gay in your presence and have no whims
save those that amuse you. Come, what shall I do for you, friend?
Shall I sing, shall I dance, though weariness deprives me of the use
of voice and limbs?--Ah! gentlemen, be we on our deathbeds, we yet
must smile to please you; you call that, methinks, your right. Poor
women! I pity them. Tell me, you who abandon them when they grow old,
is it because they have neither hearts nor souls? Wilfrid, I am a
hundred years old; leave me! leave me! go to Minna!"

"Oh, my eternal love!"

"Do you know the meaning of eternity? Be silent, Wilfrid. You desire
me, but you do not love me. Tell me, do I not seem to you like those
coquettish Parisian women?"

"Certainly I no longer find you the pure celestial maiden I first saw
in the church of Jarvis."

At these words Seraphita passed her hands across her brow, and when
she removed them Wilfrid was amazed at the saintly expression that
overspread her face.

"You are right, my friend," she said; "I do wrong whenever I set my
feet upon your earth."

"Oh, Seraphita, be my star! stay where you can ever bless me with that
clear light!"

As he spoke, he stretched forth his hand to take that of the young
girl, but she withdrew it, neither disdainfully nor in anger. Wilfrid
rose abruptly and walked to the window that she might not see the
tears that rose to his eyes.

"Why do you weep?" she said. "You are not a child, Wilfrid. Come back
to me. I wish it. You are annoyed if I show just displeasure. You see
that I am fatigued and ill, yet you force me to think and speak, and
listen to persuasions and ideas that weary me. If you had any real
perception of my nature, you would have made some music, you would
have lulled my feelings--but no, you love me for yourself and not for
myself."

The storm which convulsed the young man's heart calmed down at these
words. He slowly approached her, letting his eyes take in the
seductive creature who lay exhausted before him, her head resting in
her hand and her elbow on the couch.

"You think that I do not love you," she resumed. "You are mistaken.
Listen to me, Wilfrid. You are beginning to know much; you have
suffered much. Let me explain your thoughts to you. You wished to take
my hand just now"; she rose to a sitting posture, and her graceful
motions seemed to emit light. "When a young girl allows her hand to be
taken it is as though she made a promise, is it not? and ought she not
to fulfil it? You well know that I cannot be yours. Two sentiments
divide and inspire the love of all the women of the earth. Either they
devote themselves to suffering, degraded, and criminal beings whom
they desire to console, uplift, redeem; or they give themselves to
superior men, sublime and strong, whom they adore and seek to
comprehend, and by whom they are often annihilated. You have been
degraded, though now you are purified by the fires of repentance, and
to-day you are once more noble; but I know myself too feeble to be
your equal, and too religious to bow before any power but that On
High. I may refer thus to your life, my friend, for we are in the
North, among the clouds, where all things are abstractions."

"You stab me, Seraphita, when you speak like this. It wounds me to
hear you apply the dreadful knowledge with which you strip from all
things human the properties that time and space and form have given
them, and consider them mathematically in the abstract, as geometry
treats substances from which it extracts solidity."

"Well, I will respect your wishes, Wilfrid. Let the subject drop. Tell
me what you think of this bearskin rug which my poor David has spread
out."

"It is very handsome."

"Did you ever see me wear this 'doucha greka'?"

She pointed to a pelisse made of cashmere and lined with the skin of
the black fox,--the name she gave it signifying "warm to the soul."

"Do you believe that any sovereign has a fur that can equal it?" she
asked.

"It is worthy of her who wears it."

"And whom you think beautiful?"

"Human words do not apply to her. Heart to heart is the only language
I can use."

"Wilfrid, you are kind to soothe my griefs with such sweet words
--which you have said to others."

"Farewell!"

"Stay. I love both you and Minna, believe me. To me you two are as one
being. United thus you can be my brother or, if you will, my sister.
Marry her; let me see you both happy before I leave this world of
trial and of pain. My God! the simplest of women obtain what they ask
of a lover; they whisper 'Hush!' and he is silent; 'Die' and he dies;
'Love me afar' and he stays at a distance, like courtiers before a
king! All I desire is to see you happy, and you refuse me! Am I then
powerless?--Wilfrid, listen, come nearer to me. Yes, I should grieve
to see you marry Minna but--when I am here no longer, then--promise me
to marry her; heaven destined you for each other."

"I listen to you with fascination, Seraphita. Your words are
incomprehensible, but they charm me. What is it you mean to say?"

"You are right; I forget to be foolish,--to be the poor creature whose
weaknesses gratify you. I torment you, Wilfrid. You came to these
Northern lands for rest, you, worn-out by the impetuous struggle of
genius unrecognized, you, weary with the patient toils of science,
you, who well-nigh dyed your hands in crime and wore the fetters of
human justice--"

Wilfrid dropped speechless on the carpet. Seraphita breathed softly on
his forehead, and in a moment he fell asleep at her feet.

"Sleep! rest!" she said, rising.

She passed her hands over Wilfrid's brow; then the following sentences
escaped her lips, one by one,--all different in tone and accent, but
all melodious, full of a Goodness that seemed to emanate from her head
in vaporous waves, like the gleams the goddess chastely lays upon
Endymion sleeping.

"I cannot show myself such as I am to thee, dear Wilfrid,--to thee who
art strong.

"The hour is come; the hour when the effulgent lights of the future
cast their reflections backward on the soul; the hour when the soul
awakes into freedom.

"Now am I permitted to tell thee how I love thee. Dost thou not see
the nature of my love, a love without self-interest; a sentiment full
of thee, thee only; a love which follows thee into the future to light
that future for thee--for it is the one True Light. Canst thou now
conceive with what ardor I would have thee leave this life which
weighs thee down, and behold thee nearer than thou art to that world
where Love is never-failing? Can it be aught but suffering to love for
one life only? Hast thou not felt a thirst for the eternal love? Dost
thou not feel the bliss to which a creature rises when, with twin-soul,
it loves the Being who betrays not love, Him before whom we kneel in
adoration?

"Would I had wings to cover thee, Wilfrid; power to give thee strength
to enter now into that world where all the purest joys of purest
earthly attachments are but shadows in the Light that shines,
unceasing, to illumine and rejoice all hearts.

"Forgive a friendly soul for showing thee the picture of thy sins, in
the charitable hope of soothing the sharp pangs of thy remorse. Listen
to the pardoning choir; refresh thy soul in the dawn now rising for
thee beyond the night of death. Yes, thy life, thy true life is there!

"May my words now reach thee clothed in the glorious forms of dreams;
may they deck themselves with images glowing and radiant as they hover
round you. Rise, rise, to the height where men can see themselves
distinctly, pressed together though they be like grains of sand upon a
sea-shore. Humanity rolls out like a many-colored ribbon. See the
diverse shades of that flower of the celestial gardens. Behold the
beings who lack intelligence, those who begin to receive it, those who
have passed through trials, those who love, those who follow wisdom
and aspire to the regions of Light!

"Canst thou comprehend, through this thought made visible, the destiny
of humanity?--whence it came, whither to goeth? Continue steadfast in
the Path. Reaching the end of thy journey thou shalt hear the clarions
of omnipotence sounding the cries of victory in chords of which a
single one would shake the earth, but which are lost in the spaces of
a world that hath neither east nor west.

"Canst thou comprehend, my poor beloved Tried-one, that unless the
torpor and the veils of sleep had wrapped thee, such sights would rend
and bear away thy mind as the whirlwinds rend and carry into space the
feeble sails, depriving thee forever of thy reason? Dost thou
understand that the Soul itself, raised to its utmost power can
scarcely endure in dreams the burning communications of the Spirit?

"Speed thy way through the luminous spheres; behold, admire, hasten!
Flying thus thou canst pause or advance without weariness. Like other
men, thou wouldst fain be plunged forever in these spheres of light
and perfume where now thou art, free of thy swooning body, and where
thy thought alone has utterance. Fly! enjoy for a fleeting moment the
wings thou shalt surely win when Love has grown so perfect in thee
that thou hast no senses left; when thy whole being is all mind, all
love. The higher thy flight the less canst thou see the abysses. There
are none in heaven. Look at the friend who speaks to thee; she who
holds thee above this earth in which are all abysses. Look, behold,
contemplate me yet a moment longer, for never again wilt thou see me,
save imperfectly as the pale twilight of this world may show me to
thee."

Seraphita stood erect, her head with floating hair inclining gently
forward, in that aerial attitude which great painters give to
messengers from heaven; the folds of her raiment fell with the same
unspeakable grace which holds an artist--the man who translates all
things into sentiment--before the exquisite well-known lines of
Polyhymnia's veil. Then she stretched forth her hand. Wilfrid rose.
When he looked at Seraphita she was lying on the bear's-skin, her head
resting on her hand, her face calm, her eyes brilliant. Wilfrid gazed
at her silently; but his face betrayed a deferential fear in its
almost timid expression.

"Yes, dear," he said at last, as though he were answering some
question; "we are separated by worlds. I resign myself; I can only
adore you. But what will become of me, poor and alone!"

"Wilfrid, you have Minna."

He shook his head.

"Do not be so disdainful; woman understands all things through love;
what she does not understand she feels; what she does not feel she
sees; when she neither sees, nor feels, nor understands, this angel of
earth divines to protect you, and hides her protection beneath the
grace of love."

"Seraphita, am I worthy to belong to a woman?"

"Ah, now," she said, smiling, "you are suddenly very modest; is it a
snare? A woman is always so touched to see her weakness glorified.
Well, come and take tea with me the day after to-morrow evening; good
Monsieur Becker will be here, and Minna, the purest and most artless
creature I have known on earth. Leave me now, my friend; I need to
make long prayers and expiate my sins."

"You, can you commit sin?"

"Poor friend! if we abuse our power, is not that the sin of pride? I
have been very proud to-day. Now leave me, till to-morrow."

"Till to-morrow," said Wilfrid faintly, casting a long glance at the
being of whom he desired to carry with him an ineffaceable memory.

Though he wished to go far away, he was held, as it were, outside the
house for some moments, watching the light which shone from all the
windows of the Swedish dwelling.

"What is the matter with me?" he asked himself. "No, she is not a mere
creature, but a whole creation. Of her world, even through veils and
clouds, I have caught echoes like the memory of sufferings healed,
like the dazzling vertigo of dreams in which we hear the plaints of
generations mingling with the harmonies of some higher sphere where
all is Light and all is Love. Am I awake? Do I still sleep? Are these
the eyes before which the luminous space retreated further and further
indefinitely while the eyes followed it? The night is cold, yet my
head is on fire. I will go to the parsonage. With the pastor and his
daughter I shall recover the balance of my mind."

But still he did not leave the spot whence his eyes could plunge into
Seraphita's salon. The mysterious creature seemed to him the radiating
centre of a luminous circle which formed an atmosphere about her wider
than that of other beings; whoever entered it felt the compelling
influence of, as it were, a vortex of dazzling light and all consuming
thoughts. Forced to struggle against this inexplicable power, Wilfrid
only prevailed after strong efforts; but when he reached and passed
the inclosing wall of the courtyard, he regained his freedom of will,
walked rapidly towards the parsonage, and was soon beneath the high
wooden arch which formed a sort of peristyle to Monsieur Becker's
dwelling. He opened the first door, against which the wind had driven
the snow, and knocked on the inner one, saying:--

"Will you let me spend the evening with you, Monsieur Becker?"

"Yes," cried two voices, mingling their intonations.

Entering the parlor, Wilfrid returned by degrees to real life. He
bowed affectionately to Minna, shook hands with Monsieur Becker, and
looked about at the picture of a home which calmed the convulsions of
his physical nature, in which a phenomenon was taking place analogous
to that which sometimes seizes upon men who have given themselves up
to protracted contemplations. If some strong thought bears upward on
phantasmal wing a man of learning or a poet, isolates him from the
external circumstances which environ him here below, and leads him
forward through illimitable regions where vast arrays of facts become
abstractions, where the greatest works of Nature are but images, then
woe betide him if a sudden noise strikes sharply on his senses and
calls his errant soul back to its prison-house of flesh and bones. The
shock of the reunion of these two powers, body and mind,--one of which
partakes of the unseen qualities of a thunderbolt, while the other
shares with sentient nature that soft resistant force which deifies
destruction,--this shock, this struggle, or, rather let us say, this
painful meeting and co-mingling, gives rise to frightful sufferings.
The body receives back the flame that consumes it; the flame has once
more grasped its prey. This fusion, however, does not take place
without convulsions, explosions, tortures; analogous and visible signs
of which may be seen in chemistry, when two antagonistic substances
which science has united separate.

For the last few days whenever Wilfrid entered Seraphita's presence
his body seemed to fall away from him into nothingness. With a single
glance this strange being led him in spirit through the spheres where
meditation leads the learned man, prayer the pious heart, where vision
transports the artist, and sleep the souls of men,--each and all have
their own path to the Height, their own guide to reach it, their own
individual sufferings in the dire return. In that sphere alone all
veils are rent away, and the revelation, the awful flaming certainty
of an unknown world, of which the soul brings back mere fragments to
this lower sphere, stands revealed. To Wilfrid one hour passed with
Seraphita was like the sought-for dreams of Theriakis, in which each
knot of nerves becomes the centre of a radiating delight. But he left
her bruised and wearied as some young girl endeavoring to keep step
with a giant.

The cold air, with its stinging flagellations, had begun to still the
nervous tremors which followed the reunion of his two natures, so
powerfully disunited for a time; he was drawn towards the parsonage,
then towards Minna, by the sight of the every-day home life for which
he thirsted as the wandering European thirsts for his native land when
nostalgia seizes him amid the fairy scenes of Orient that have seduced
his senses. More weary than he had ever yet been, Wilfrid dropped into
a chair and looked about him for a time, like a man who awakens from
sleep. Monsieur Becker and his daughter accustomed, perhaps, to the
apparent eccentricity of their guest, continued the employments in
which they were engaged.

The parlor was ornamented with a collection of the shells and insects
of Norway. These curiosities, admirably arranged on a background of
the yellow pine which panelled the room, formed, as it were, a rich
tapestry to which the fumes of tobacco had imparted a mellow tone. At
the further end of the room, opposite to the door, was an immense
wrought-iron stove, carefully polished by the serving-woman till it
shone like burnished steel. Seated in a large tapestried armchair near
the stove, before a table, with his feet in a species of muff,
Monsieur Becker was reading a folio volume which was propped against a
pile of other books as on a desk. At his left stood a jug of beer and
a glass, at his right burned a smoky lamp fed by some species of
fish-oil. The pastor seemed about sixty years of age. His face belonged
to a type often painted by Rembrandt; the same small bright eyes, set
in wrinkles and surmounted by thick gray eyebrows; the same white hair
escaping in snowy flakes from a black velvet cap; the same broad, bald
brow, and a contour of face which the ample chin made almost square;
and lastly, the same calm tranquillity, which, to an observer, denoted
the possession of some inward power, be it the supremacy bestowed by
money, or the magisterial influence of the burgomaster, or the
consciousness of art, or the cubic force of blissful ignorance. This
fine old man, whose stout body proclaimed his vigorous health, was
wrapped in a dressing-gown of rough gray cloth plainly bound. Between
his lips was a meerschaum pipe, from which, at regular intervals, he
blew the smoke, following with abstracted vision its fantastic
wreathings,--his mind employed, no doubt, in assimilating through some
meditative process the thoughts of the author whose works he was
studying.

On the other side of the stove and near a door which communicated with
the kitchen Minna was indistinctly visible in the haze of the good
man's smoke, to which she was apparently accustomed. Beside her on a
little table were the implements of household work, a pile of napkins,
and another of socks waiting to be mended, also a lamp like that which
shone on the white page of the book in which the pastor was absorbed.
Her fresh young face, with its delicate outline, expressed an infinite
purity which harmonized with the candor of the white brow and the
clear blue eyes. She sat erect, turning slightly toward the lamp for
better light, unconsciously showing as she did so the beauty of her
waist and bust. She was already dressed for the night in a long robe
of white cotton; a cambric cap, without other ornament than a frill of
the same, confined her hair. Though evidently plunged in some inward
meditation, she counted without a mistake the threads of her napkins
or the meshes of her socks. Sitting thus, she presented the most
complete image, the truest type, of the woman destined for terrestrial
labor, whose glance may piece the clouds of the sanctuary while her
thought, humble and charitable, keeps her ever on the level of man.

Wilfrid had flung himself into a chair between the two tables and was
contemplating with a species of intoxication this picture full of
harmony, to which the clouds of smoke did no despite. The single
window which lighted the parlor during the fine weather was now
carefully closed. An old tapestry, used for a curtain and fastened to
a stick, hung before it in heavy folds. Nothing in the room was
picturesque, nothing brilliant; everything denoted rigorous
simplicity, true heartiness, the ease of unconventional nature, and
the habits of a domestic life which knew neither cares nor troubles.
Many a dwelling is like a dream, the sparkle of passing pleasure seems
to hide some ruin beneath the cold smile of luxury; but this parlor,
sublime in reality, harmonious in tone, diffused the patriarchal ideas
of a full and self-contained existence. The silence was unbroken save
by the movements of the servant in the kitchen engaged in preparing
the supper, and by the sizzling of the dried fish which she was frying
in salt butter according to the custom of the country.

"Will you smoke a pipe?" said the pastor, seizing a moment when he
thought that Wilfrid might listen to him.

"Thank you, no, dear Monsieur Becker," replied the visitor.

"You seem to suffer more to-day than usual," said Minna, struck by the
feeble tones of the stranger's voice.

"I am always so when I leave the chateau."

Minna quivered.

"A strange being lives there, Monsieur Becker," he continued after a
pause. "For the six months that I have been in this village I have
never yet dared to question you about her, and even now I do violence
to my feelings in speaking of her. I began by keenly regretting that
my journey in this country was arrested by the winter weather and that
I was forced to remain here. But during the last two months chains
have been forged and riveted which bind me irrevocably to Jarvis, till
now I fear to end my days here. You know how I first met Seraphita,
what impression her look and voice made upon me, and how at last I was
admitted to her home where she receives no one. From the very first
day I have longed to ask you the history of this mysterious being. On
that day began, for me, a series of enchantments."

"Enchantments!" cried the pastor shaking the ashes of his pipe into an
earthen-ware dish full of sand, "are there enchantments in these
days?"

"You, who are carefully studying at this moment that volume of the
'Incantations' of Jean Wier, will surely understand the explanation of
my sensations if I try to give it to you," replied Wilfrid. "If we
study Nature attentively in its great evolutions as in its minutest
works, we cannot fail to recognize the possibility of enchantment
--giving to that word its exact significance. Man does not create
forces; he employs the only force that exists and which includes all
others namely Motion, the breath incomprehensible of the sovereign
Maker of the universe. Species are too distinctly separated for the
human hand to mingle them. The only miracle of which man is capable is
done through the conjunction of two antagonistic substances. Gunpowder
for instance is germane to a thunderbolt. As to calling forth a
creation, and a sudden one, all creation demands time, and time
neither recedes nor advances at the word of command. So, in the world
without us, plastic nature obeys laws the order and exercise of which
cannot be interfered with by the hand of man. But after fulfilling, as
it were, the function of Matter, it would be unreasonable not to
recognize within us the existence of a gigantic power, the effects of
which are so incommensurable that the known generations of men have
never yet been able to classify them. I do not speak of man's faculty
of abstraction, of constraining Nature to confine itself within the
Word,--a gigantic act on which the common mind reflects as little as
it does on the nature of Motion, but which, nevertheless, has led the
Indian theosophists to explain creation by a word to which they give
an inverse power. The smallest atom of their subsistence, namely, the
grain of rice, from which a creation issues and in which alternately
creation again is held, presented to their minds so perfect an image
of the creative word, and of the abstractive word, that to them it was
easy to apply the same system to the creation of worlds. The majority
of men content themselves with the grain of rice sown in the first
chapter of all the Geneses. Saint John, when he said the Word was God
only complicated the difficulty. But the fructification, germination,
and efflorescence of our ideas is of little consequence if we compare
that property, shared by many men, with the wholly individual faculty
of communicating to that property, by some mysterious concentration,
forces that are more or less active, of carrying it up to a third, a
ninth, or a twenty-seventh power, of making it thus fasten upon the
masses and obtain magical results by condensing the processes of
nature.

"What I mean by enchantments," continued Wilfrid after a moment's
pause, "are those stupendous actions taking place between two
membranes in the tissue of the brain. We find in the unexplorable
nature of the Spiritual World certain beings armed with these wondrous
faculties, comparable only to the terrible power of certain gases in
the physical world, beings who combine with other beings, penetrate
them as active agents, and produce upon them witchcrafts, charms,
against which these helpless slaves are wholly defenceless; they are,
in fact, enchanted, brought under subjection, reduced to a condition
of dreadful vassalage. Such mysterious beings overpower others with
the sceptre and the glory of a superior nature,--acting upon them at
times like the torpedo which electrifies or paralyzes the fisherman,
at other times like a dose of phosphorous which stimulates life and
accelerates its propulsion; or again, like opium, which puts to sleep
corporeal nature, disengages the spirit from every bond, enables it to
float above the world and shows this earth to the spiritual eye as
through a prism, extracting from it the food most needed; or, yet
again, like catalepsy, which deadens all faculties for the sake of one
only vision. Miracles, enchantments, incantations, witchcrafts,
spells, and charms, in short, all those acts improperly termed
supernatural, are only possible and can only be explained by the
despotism with which some spirit compels us to feel the effects of a
mysterious optic which increases, or diminishes, or exalts creation,
moves within us as it pleases, deforms or embellishes all things to
our eyes, tears us from heaven, or drags us to hell,--two terms by
which men agree to express the two extremes of joy and misery.

"These phenomena are within us, not without us," Wilfrid went on. "The
being whom we call Seraphita seems to me one of those rare and
terrible spirits to whom power is given to bind men, to crush nature,
to enter into participation of the occult power of God. The course of
her enchantments over me began on that first day, when silence as to
her was imposed upon me against my will. Each time that I have wished
to question you it seemed as though I were about to reveal a secret of
which I ought to be the incorruptible guardian. Whenever I have tried
to speak, a burning seal has been laid upon my lips, and I myself have
become the involuntary minister of these mysteries. You see me here
to-night, for the hundredth time, bruised, defeated, broken, after
leaving the hallucinating sphere which surrounds that young girl, so
gentle, so fragile to both of you, but to me the cruellest of
magicians! Yes, to me she is like a sorcerer holding in her right hand
the invisible wand that moves the globe, and in her left the
thunderbolt that rends asunder all things at her will. No longer can I
look upon her brow; the light of it is insupportable. I skirt the
borders of the abyss of madness too closely to be longer silent. I
must speak. I seize this moment, when courage comes to me, to resist
the power which drags me onward without inquiring whether or not I
have the force to follow. Who is she? Did you know her young? What of
her birth? Had she father and mother, or was she born of the
conjunction of ice and sun? She burns and yet she freeze; she shows
herself and then withdraws; she attracts me and repulses me; she
brings me life, she gives me death; I love her and yet I hate her! I
cannot live thus; let me be wholly in heaven or in hell!"

Holding his refilled pipe in one hand, and in the other the cover
which he forgot to replace, Monsieur Becker listened to Wilfrid with a
mysterious expression on his face, looking occasionally at his
daughter, who seemed to understand the man's language as in harmony
with the strange being who inspired it. Wilfrid was splendid to behold
at this moment,--like Hamlet listening to the ghost of his father as
it rises for him alone in the midst of the living.

"This is certainly the language of a man in love," said the good
pastor, innocently.

"In love!" cried Wilfrid, "yes, to common minds. But, dear Monsieur
Becker, no words can express the frenzy which draws me to the feet of
that unearthly being."

"Then you do love her?" said Minna, in a tone of reproach.

"Mademoiselle, I feel such extraordinary agitation when I see her, and
such deep sadness when I see her no more, that in any other man what I
feel would be called love. But that sentiment draws those who feel it
ardently together, whereas between her and me a great gulf lies, whose
icy coldness penetrates my very being in her presence; though the
feeling dies away when I see her no longer. I leave her in despair; I
return to her with ardor,--like men of science who seek a secret from
Nature only to be baffled, or like the painter who would fain put life
upon his canvas and strives with all the resources of his art in the
vain attempt."

"Monsieur, all that you say is true," replied the young girl,
artlessly.

"How can you know, Minna?" asked the old pastor.

"Ah! my father, had you been with us this morning on the summit of the
Falberg, had you seen him praying, you would not ask me that question.
You would say, like Monsieur Wilfrid, that he saw his Seraphita for
the first time in our temple, 'It is the Spirit of Prayer.'"

These words were followed by a moment's silence.

"Ah, truly!" said Wilfrid, "she has nothing in common with the
creatures who grovel upon this earth."

"On the Falberg!" said the old pastor, "how could you get there?"

"I do not know," replied Minna; "the way is like a dream to me, of
which no more than a memory remains. Perhaps I should hardly believe
that I had been there were it not for this tangible proof."

She drew the flower from her bosom and showed it to them. All three
gazed at the pretty saxifrage, which was still fresh, and now shone in
the light of the two lamps like a third luminary.

"This is indeed supernatural," said the old man, astounded at the
sight of a flower blooming in winter.

"A mystery!" cried Wilfrid, intoxicated with its perfume.

"The flower makes me giddy," said Minna; "I fancy I still hear that
voice,--the music of thought; that I still see the light of that look,
which is Love."

"I implore you, my dear Monsieur Becker, tell me the history of
Seraphita,--enigmatical human flower,--whose image is before us in
this mysterious bloom."

"My dear friend," said the old man, emitting a puff of smoke, "to
explain the birth of that being it is absolutely necessary that I
disperse the clouds which envelop the most obscure of Christian
doctrines. It is not easy to make myself clear when speaking of that
incomprehensible revelation,--the last effulgence of faith that has
shone upon our lump of mud. Do you know Swedenborg?"

"By name only,--of him, of his books, and his religion I know
nothing."

"Then I must relate to you the whole chronicle of Swedenborg."



                            CHAPTER III

                       SERAPHITA-SERAPHITUS

After a pause, during which the pastor seemed to be gathering his
recollections, he continued in the following words:--

"Emanuel Swedenborg was born at Upsala in Sweden, in the month of
January, 1688, according to various authors,--in 1689, according to
his epitaph. His father was Bishop of Skara. Swedenborg lived
eighty-five years; his death occurred in London, March 29, 1772. I use
that term to convey the idea of a simple change of state. According to
his disciples, Swedenborg was seen at Jarvis and in Paris after that
date. Allow me, my dear Monsieur Wilfrid," said Monsieur Becker, making
a gesture to prevent all interruption, "I relate these facts without
either affirming or denying them. Listen; afterwards you can think and
say what you like. I will inform you when I judge, criticise, and
discuss these doctrines, so as to keep clearly in view my own
intellectual neutrality between HIM and Reason.

"The life of Swedenborg was divided into two parts," continued the
pastor. "From 1688 to 1745 Baron Emanuel Swedenborg appeared in the
world as a man of vast learning, esteemed and cherished for his
virtues, always irreproachable and constantly useful. While fulfilling
high public functions in Sweden, he published, between 1709 and 1740,
several important works on mineralogy, physics, mathematics, and
astronomy, which enlightened the world of learning. He originated a
method of building docks suitable for the reception of large vessels,
and he wrote many treatises on various important questions, such as
the rise of tides, the theory of the magnet and its qualities, the
motion and position of the earth and planets, and while Assessor in
the Royal College of Mines, on the proper system of working salt
mines. He discovered means to construct canal-locks or sluices; and he
also discovered and applied the simplest methods of extracting ore and
of working metals. In fact he studied no science without advancing it.
In youth he learned Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, also the oriental
languages, with which he became so familiar that many distinguished
scholars consulted him, and he was able to decipher the vestiges of
the oldest known books of Scripture, namely: 'The Wars of Jehovah' and
'The Enunciations,' spoken of by Moses (Numbers xxi. 14, 15, 27-30),
also by Joshua, Jeremiah, and Samuel,--'The Wars of Jehovah' being the
historical part and 'The Enunciations' the prophetical part of the
Mosaical Books anterior to Genesis. Swedenborg even affirms that 'the
Book of Jasher,' the Book of the Righteous, mentioned by Joshua, was
in existence in Eastern Tartary, together with the doctrine of
Correspondences. A Frenchman has lately, so they tell me, justified
these statements of Swedenborg, by the discovery at Bagdad of several
portions of the Bible hitherto unknown to Europe. During the
widespread discussion on animal magnetism which took its rise in
Paris, and in which most men of Western science took an active part
about the year 1785, Monsieur le Marquis de Thome vindicated the
memory of Swedenborg by calling attention to certain assertions made
by the Commission appointed by the King of France to investigate the
subject. These gentlemen declared that no theory of magnetism existed,
whereas Swedenborg had studied and promulgated it ever since the year
1720. Monsieur de Thome seizes this opportunity to show the reason why
so many men of science relegated Swedenborg to oblivion while they
delved into his treasure-house and took his facts to aid their work.
'Some of the most illustrious of these men,' said Monsieur de Thome,
alluding to the 'Theory of the Earth' by Buffon, 'have had the
meanness to wear the plumage of the noble bird and refuse him all
acknowledgment'; and he proved, by masterly quotations drawn from the
encyclopaedic works of Swedenborg, that the great prophet had
anticipated by over a century the slow march of human science. It
suffices to read his philosophical and mineralogical works to be
convinced of this. In one passage he is seen as the precursor of
modern chemistry by the announcement that the productions of organized
nature are decomposable and resolve into two simple principles; also
that water, air, and fire are _not elements_. In another, he goes in a
few words to the heart of magnetic mysteries and deprives Mesmer of
the honors of a first knowledge of them.

"There," said Monsieur Becker, pointing to a long shelf against the
wall between the stove and the window on which were ranged books of
all sizes, "behold him! here are seventeen works from his pen, of
which one, his 'Philosophical and Mineralogical Works,' published in
1734, is in three folio volumes. These productions, which prove the
incontestable knowledge of Swedenborg, were given to me by Monsieur
Seraphitus, his cousin and the father of Seraphita.

"In 1740," continued Monsieur Becker, after a slight pause,
"Swedenborg fell into a state of absolute silence, from which he
emerged to bid farewell to all his earthly occupations; after which
his thoughts turned exclusively to the Spiritual Life. He received the
first commands of heaven in 1745, and he thus relates the nature of
the vocation to which he was called: One evening, in London, after
dining with a great appetite, a thick white mist seemed to fill his
room. When the vapor dispersed a creature in human form rose from one
corner of the apartment, and said in a stern tone, 'Do not eat so
much.' He refrained. The next night the same man returned, radiant in
light, and said to him, 'I am sent of God, who has chosen you to
explain to men the meaning of his Word and his Creation. I will tell
you what to write.' The vision lasted but a few moments. The _angel_
was clothed in purple. During that night the eyes of his _inner man_
were opened, and he was forced to look into the heavens, into the world
of spirits, and into hell,--three separate spheres; where he encountered
persons of his acquaintance who had departed from their human form,
some long since, others lately. Thenceforth Swedenborg lived wholly in
the spiritual life, remaining in this world only as the messenger of
God. His mission was ridiculed by the incredulous, but his conduct was
plainly that of a being superior to humanity. In the first place,
though limited in means to the bare necessaries of life, he gave away
enormous sums, and publicly, in several cities, restored the fortunes
of great commercial houses when they were on the brink of failure. No
one ever appealed to his generosity who was not immediately satisfied.
A sceptical Englishman, determined to know the truth, followed him to
Paris, and relates that there his doors stood always open. One day a
servant complained of this apparent negligence, which laid him open to
suspicion of thefts that might be committed by others. 'He need feel
no anxiety,' said Swedenborg, smiling. 'But I do not wonder at his
fear; he cannot see the guardian who protects my door.' In fact, no
matter in what country he made his abode he never closed his doors,
and nothing was ever stolen from him. At Gottenburg--a town situated
some sixty miles from Stockholm--he announced, eight days before the
news arrived by courier, the conflagration which ravaged Stockholm,
and the exact time at which it took place. The Queen of Sweden wrote
to her brother, the King, at Berlin, that one of her ladies-in-waiting,
who was ordered by the courts to pay a sum of money which she was
certain her husband had paid before his death, went to Swedenborg
and begged him to ask her husband where she could find proof of the
payment. The following day Swedenborg, having done as the lady
requested, pointed out the place where the receipt would be found. He
also begged the deceased to appear to his wife, and the latter saw her
husband in a dream, wrapped in a dressing-gown which he wore just
before his death; and he showed her the paper in the place indicated
by Swedenborg, where it had been securely put away. At another time,
embarking from London in a vessel commanded by Captain Dixon, he
overheard a lady asking if there were plenty of provisions on board.
'We do not want a great quantity,' he said; 'in eight days and two
hours we shall reach Stockholm,'--which actually happened. This
peculiar state of vision as to the things of the earth--into which
Swedenborg could put himself at will, and which astonished those about
him--was, nevertheless, but a feeble representative of his faculty of
looking into heaven.

"Not the least remarkable of his published visions is that in which he
relates his journeys through the Astral Regions; his descriptions
cannot fail to astonish the reader, partly through the crudity of
their details. A man whose scientific eminence is incontestable, and
who united in his own person powers of conception, will, and
imagination, would surely have invented better if he had invented at
all. The fantastic literature of the East offers nothing that can give
an idea of this astounding work, full of the essence of poetry, if it
is permissible to compare a work of faith with one of oriental fancy.
The transportation of Swedenborg by the Angel who served as guide to
this first journey is told with a sublimity which exceeds, by the
distance which God has placed betwixt the earth and the sun, the great
epics of Klopstock, Milton, Tasso, and Dante. This description, which
serves in fact as an introduction to his work on the Astral Regions,
has never been published; it is among the oral traditions left by
Swedenborg to the three disciples who were nearest to his heart.
Monsieur Silverichm has written them down. Monsieur Seraphitus
endeavored more than once to talk to me about them; but the
recollection of his cousin's words was so burning a memory that he
always stopped short at the first sentence and became lost in a revery
from which I could not rouse him."

The old pastor sighed as he continued: "The baron told me that the
argument by which the Angel proved to Swedenborg that these bodies are
not made to wander through space puts all human science out of sight
beneath the grandeur of a divine logic. According to the Seer, the
inhabitants of Jupiter will not cultivate the sciences, which they
call darkness; those of Mercury abhor the expression of ideas by
speech, which seems to them too material,--their language is ocular;
those of Saturn are continually tempted by evil spirits; those of the
Moon are as small as six-year-old children, their voices issue from
the abdomen, on which they crawl; those of Venus are gigantic in
height, but stupid, and live by robbery,--although a part of this
latter planet is inhabited by beings of great sweetness, who live in
the love of Good. In short, he describes the customs and morals of all
the peoples attached to the different globes, and explains the general
meaning of their existence as related to the universe in terms so
precise, giving explanations which agree so well with their visible
evolutions in the system of the world, that some day, perhaps,
scientific men will come to drink of these living waters.

"Here," said Monsieur Becker, taking down a book and opening it at a
mark, "here are the words with which he ended this work:--

"'If any man doubts that I was transported through a vast number of
Astral Regions, let him recall my observation of the distances in that
other life, namely, that they exist only in relation to the external
state of man; now, being transformed within like unto the Angelic
Spirits of those Astral Spheres, I was able to understand them.'

"The circumstances to which we of this canton owe the presence among
us of Baron Seraphitus, the beloved cousin of Swedenborg, enabled me
to know all the events of the extraordinary life of that prophet. He
has lately been accused of imposture in certain quarters of Europe,
and the public prints reported the following fact based on a letter
written by the Chevalier Baylon. Swedenborg, they said, informed by
certain senators of a secret correspondence of the late Queen of
Sweden with her brother, the Prince of Prussia, revealed his knowledge
of the secrets contained in that correspondence to the Queen, making
her believe he had obtained this knowledge by supernatural means. A
man worthy of all confidence, Monsieur Charles-Leonhard de
Stahlhammer, captain in the Royal guard and knight of the Sword,
answered the calumny with a convincing letter."

The pastor opened a drawer of his table and looked through a number of
papers until he found a gazette which he held out to Wilfrid, asking
him to read aloud the following letter:--

Stockholm, May 18, 1788.

  I have read with amazement a letter which purports to relate the
  interview of the famous Swedenborg with Queen Louisa-Ulrika. The
  circumstances therein stated are wholly false; and I hope the
  writer will excuse me for showing him by the following faithful
  narration, which can be proved by the testimony of many
  distinguished persons then present and still living, how
  completely he has been deceived.

  In 1758, shortly after the death of the Prince of Prussia
  Swedenborg came to court, where he was in the habit of attending
  regularly. He had scarcely entered the queen's presence before she
  said to him: "Well, Mr. Assessor, have you seen my brother?"
  Swedenborg answered no, and the queen rejoined: "If you do see
  him, greet him for me." In saying this she meant no more than a
  pleasant jest, and had no thought whatever of asking him for
  information about her brother. Eight days later (not twenty-four
  as stated, nor was the audience a private one), Swedenborg again
  came to court, but so early that the queen had not left her
  apartment called the White Room, where she was conversing with her
  maids-of-honor and other ladies attached to the court. Swedenborg
  did not wait until she came forth, but entered the said room and
  whispered something in her ear. The queen, overcome with
  amazement, was taken ill, and it was some time before she
  recovered herself. When she did so she said to those about her:
  "Only God and my brother knew the thing that he has just spoken
  of." She admitted that it related to her last correspondence with
  the prince on a subject which was known to them alone. I cannot
  explain how Swedenborg came to know the contents of that letter,
  but I can affirm on my honor, that neither Count H---- (as the
  writer of the article states) nor any other person intercepted, or
  read, the queen's letters. The senate allowed her to write to her
  brother in perfect security, considering the correspondence as of
  no interest to the State. It is evident that the author of the
  said article is ignorant of the character of Count H----. This
  honored gentleman, who has done many important services to his
  country, unites the qualities of a noble heart to gifts of mind,
  and his great age has not yet weakened these precious possessions.
  During his whole administration he added the weight of scrupulous
  integrity to his enlightened policy and openly declared himself
  the enemy of all secret intrigues and underhand dealings, which he
  regarded as unworthy means to attain an end. Neither did the
  writer of that article understand the Assessor Swedenborg. The
  only weakness of that essentially honest man was a belief in the
  apparition of spirits; but I knew him for many years, and I can
  affirm that he was as fully convinced that he met and talked with
  spirits as I am that I am writing at this moment. As a citizen and
  as a friend his integrity was absolute; he abhorred deception and
  led the most exemplary of lives. The version which the Chevalier
  Baylon gave of these facts is, therefore, entirely without
  justification; the visit stated to have been made to Swedenborg in
  the night-time by Count H---- and Count T---- is hereby
  contradicted. In conclusion, the writer of the letter may rest
  assured that I am not a follower of Swedenborg. The love of truth
  alone impels me to give this faithful account of a fact which has
  been so often stated with details that are entirely false. I
  certify to the truth of what I have written by adding my
  signature.

                                  Charles-Leonhard de Stahlhammer.


"The proofs which Swedenborg gave of his mission to the royal families
of Sweden and Prussia were no doubt the foundation of the belief in
his doctrines which is prevalent at the two courts," said Monsieur
Becker, putting the gazette into the drawer. "However," he continued,
"I shall not tell you all the facts of his visible and material life;
indeed his habits prevented them from being fully known. He lived a
hidden life; not seeking either riches or fame. He was even noted for
a sort of repugnance to making proselytes; he opened his mind to few
persons, and never showed his external powers of second-sight to any
who were not eminent in faith, wisdom, and love. He could recognize at
a glance the state of the soul of every person who approached him, and
those whom he desired to reach with his inward language he converted
into Seers. After the year 1745, his disciples never saw him do a
single thing from any human motive. One man alone, a Swedish priest,
named Mathesius, set afloat a story that he went mad in London in
1744. But a eulogium on Swedenborg prepared with minute care as to all
the known events of his life, was pronounced after his death in 1772
on behalf of the Royal Academy of Sciences in the Hall of the Nobles
at Stockholm, by Monsieur Sandels, counsellor of the Board of Mines. A
declaration made before the Lord Mayor of London gives the details of
his last illness and death, in which he received the ministrations of
Monsieur Ferelius a Swedish priest of the highest standing, and pastor
of the Swedish Church in London, Mathesius being his assistant. All
persons present attested that so far from denying the value of his
writings Swedenborg firmly asserted their truth. 'In one hundred
years,' Monsieur Ferelius quotes him as saying, 'my doctrine will
guide the _Church_.' He predicted the day and hour of his death. On that
day, Sunday, March 29, 1772, hearing the clock strike, he asked what
time it was. 'Five o'clock' was the answer. 'It is well,' he answered;
'thank you, God bless you.' Ten minutes later he tranquilly departed,
breathing a gentle sigh. Simplicity, moderation, and solitude were the
features of his life. When he had finished writing any of his books he
sailed either for London or for Holland, where he published them, and
never spoke of them again. He published in this way twenty-seven
different treatises, all written, he said, from the dictation of
Angels. Be it true or false, few men have been strong enough to endure
the flames of oral illumination.

"There they all are," said Monsieur Becker, pointing to a second shelf
on which were some sixty volumes. "The treatises on which the Divine
Spirit casts its most vivid gleams are seven in number, namely:
'Heaven and Hell'; 'Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the
Divine Wisdom'; 'Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence';
'The Apocalypse Revealed'; 'Conjugial Love and its Chaste Delights';
'The True Christian Religion'; and 'An Exposition of the Internal
Sense.' Swedenborg's explanation of the Apocalypse begins with these
words," said Monsieur Becker, taking down and opening the volume
nearest to him: "'Herein I have written nothing of mine own; I speak
as I am bidden by the Lord, who said, through the same angel, to John:
"Thou shalt not seal the sayings of this Prophecy."' (Revelation xxii.
10.)

"My dear Monsieur Wilfrid," said the old man, looking at his guest, "I
often tremble in every limb as I read, during the long winter evenings
the awe-inspiring works in which this man declares with perfect
artlessness the wonders that are revealed to him. 'I have seen,' he
says, 'Heaven and the Angels. The spiritual man sees his spiritual
fellows far better than the terrestrial man sees the men of earth. In
describing the wonders of heaven and beneath the heavens I obey the
Lord's command. Others have the right to believe me or not as they
choose. I cannot put them into the state in which God has put me; it
is not in my power to enable them to converse with Angels, nor to work
miracles within their understanding; they alone can be the instrument
of their rise to angelic intercourse. It is now twenty-eight years
since I have lived in the Spiritual world with angels, and on earth
with men; for it pleased God to open the eyes of my spirit as he did
that of Paul, and of Daniel and Elisha.'

"And yet," continued the pastor, thoughtfully, "certain persons have
had visions of the spiritual world through the complete detachment
which somnambulism produces between their external form and their
inner being. 'In this state,' says Swedenborg in his treatise on
Angelic Wisdom (No. 257) 'Man may rise into the region of celestial
light because, his corporeal senses being abolished, the influence of
heaven acts without hindrance on his inner man.' Many persons who do
not doubt that Swedenborg received celestial revelations think that
his writings are not all the result of divine inspiration. Others
insist on absolute adherence to him; while admitting his many
obscurities, they believe that the imperfection of earthly language
prevented the prophet from clearly revealing those spiritual visions
whose clouds disperse to the eyes of those whom faith regenerates;
for, to use the words of his greatest disciple, 'Flesh is but an
external propagation.' To poets and to writers his presentation of the
marvellous is amazing; to Seers it is simply reality. To some
Christians his descriptions have seemed scandalous. Certain critics
have ridiculed the celestial substance of his temples, his golden
palaces, his splendid cities where angels disport themselves; they
laugh at his groves of miraculous trees, his gardens where the flowers
speak and the air is white, and the mystical stones, the sard,
carbuncle, chrysolite, chrysoprase, jacinth, chalcedony, beryl, the
Urim and Thummim, are endowed with motion, express celestial truths,
and reply by variations of light to questions put to them ('True
Christian Religion,' 219). Many noble souls will not admit his
spiritual worlds where colors are heard in delightful concert, where
language flames and flashes, where the Word is writ in pointed spiral
letters ('True Christian Religion,' 278). Even in the North some
writers have laughed at the gates of pearl, and the diamonds which
stud the floors and walls of his New Jerusalem, where the most
ordinary utensils are made of the rarest substances of the globe.
'But,' say his disciples, 'because such things are sparsely scattered
on this earth does it follow that they are not abundant in other
worlds? On earth they are terrestrial substances, whereas in heaven
they assume celestial forms and are in keeping with angels.' In this
connection Swedenborg has used the very words of Jesus Christ, who
said, 'If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall
ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?'

"Monsieur," continued the pastor, with an emphatic gesture, "I have
read the whole of Swedenborg's works; and I say it with pride, because
I have done it and yet retained my reason. In reading him men either
miss his meaning or become Seers like him. Though I have evaded both
extremes, I have often experienced unheard-of delights, deep emotions,
inward joys, which alone can reveal to us the plenitude of truth,--the
evidence of celestial Light. All things here below seem small indeed
when the soul is lost in the perusal of these Treatises. It is
impossible not to be amazed when we think that in the short space of
thirty years this man wrote and published, on the truths of the
Spiritual World, twenty-five quarto volumes, composed in Latin, of
which the shortest has five hundred pages, all of them printed in
small type. He left, they say, twenty others in London, bequeathed to
his nephew, Monsieur Silverichm, formerly almoner to the King of
Sweden. Certainly a man who, between the ages of twenty and sixty, had
already exhausted himself in publishing a series of encyclopaedical
works, must have received supernatural assistance in composing these
later stupendous treatises, at an age, too, when human vigor is on the
wane. You will find in these writings thousands of propositions, all
numbered, none of which have been refuted. Throughout we see method
and precision; the presence of the spirit issuing and flowing down
from a single fact,--the existence of angels. His 'True Christian
Religion,' which sums up his whole doctrine and is vigorous with
light, was conceived and written at the age of eighty-three. In fact,
his amazing vigor and omniscience are not denied by any of his
critics, not even by his enemies.

"Nevertheless," said Monsieur Becker, slowly, "though I have drunk
deep in this torrent of divine light, God has not opened the eyes of
my inner being, and I judge these writings by the reason of an
unregenerated man. I have often felt that the _inspired_ Swedenborg
must have misunderstood the Angels. I have laughed over certain visions
which, according to his disciples, I ought to have believed with
veneration. I have failed to imagine the spiral writing of the Angels
or their golden belts, on which the gold is of great or lesser
thickness. If, for example, this statement, 'Some angels are
solitary,' affected me powerfully for a time, I was, on reflection,
unable to reconcile this solitude with their marriages. I have not
understood why the Virgin Mary should continue to wear blue satin
garments in heaven. I have even dared to ask myself why those gigantic
demons, Enakim and Hephilim, came so frequently to fight the cherubim
on the apocalyptic plains of Armageddon; and I cannot explain to my
own mind how Satans can argue with Angels. Monsieur le Baron
Seraphitus assured me that those details concerned only the angels who
live on earth in human form. The visions of the prophet are often
blurred with grotesque figures. One of his spiritual tales, or
'Memorable relations,' as he called them, begins thus: 'I see the
spirits assembling, they have hats upon their heads.' In another of
these Memorabilia he receives from heaven a bit of paper, on which he
saw, he says, the hieroglyphics of the primitive peoples, which were
composed of curved lines traced from the finger-rings that are worn in
heaven. However, perhaps I am wrong; possibly the material absurdities
with which his works are strewn have spiritual significations.
Otherwise, how shall we account for the growing influence of his
religion? His church numbers to-day more than seven hundred thousand
believers,--as many in the United States of America as in England,
where there are seven thousand Swedenborgians in the city of
Manchester alone. Many men of high rank in knowledge and in social
position in Germany, in Prussia, and in the Northern kingdoms have
publicly adopted the beliefs of Swedenborg; which, I may remark, are
more comforting than those of all other Christian communions. I wish I
had the power to explain to you clearly in succinct language the
leading points of the doctrine on which Swedenborg founded his church;
but I fear such a summary, made from recollection, would be
necessarily defective. I shall, therefore, allow myself to speak only
of those 'Arcana' which concern the birth of Seraphita."

Here Monsieur Becker paused, as though composing his mind to gather up
his ideas. Presently he continued, as follows:--

"After establishing mathematically that man lives eternally in spheres
of either a lower or a higher grade, Swedenborg applies the term
'Spiritual Angels' to beings who in this world are prepared for
heaven, where they become angels. According to him, God has not
created angels; none exist who have not been men upon the earth. The
earth is the nursery-ground of heaven. The Angels are therefore not
Angels as such ('Angelic Wisdom,' 57), they are transformed through
their close conjunction with God; which conjunction God never refuses,
because the essence of God is not negative, but essentially active.
The spiritual angels pass through three natures of love, because man
is only regenerated through successive stages ('True Religion').
First, the _love of self_: the supreme expression of this love is human
genius, whose works are worshipped. Next, _love of life_: this love
produces prophets,--great men whom the world accepts as guides and
proclaims to be divine. Lastly, _love of heaven_, and this creates the
Spiritual Angel. These angels are, so to speak, the flowers of
humanity, which culminates in them and works for that culmination.
They must possess either the love of heaven or the wisdom of heaven,
but always Love before Wisdom.

"Thus the transformation of the natural man is into Love. To reach
this first degree, his previous existences must have passed through
Hope and Charity, which prepare him for Faith and Prayer. The ideas
acquired by the exercise of these virtues are transmitted to each of
the human envelopes within which are hidden the metamorphoses of the
_inner being_; for nothing is separate, each existence is necessary to
the other existences. Hope cannot advance without Charity, nor Faith
without Prayer; they are the four fronts of a solid square. 'One
virtue missing,' he said, 'and the Spiritual Angel is like a broken
pearl.' Each of these existences is therefore a circle in which
revolves the celestial riches of the inner being. The perfection of
the Spiritual Angels comes from this mysterious progression in which
nothing is lost of the high qualities that are successfully acquired
to attain each glorious incarnation; for at each transformation they
cast away unconsciously the flesh and its errors. When the man lives
in Love he has shed all evil passions: Hope, Charity, Faith, and
Prayer have, in the words of Isaiah, purged the dross of his inner
being, which can never more be polluted by earthly affections. Hence
the grand saying of Christ quoted by Saint Matthew, 'Lay up for
yourselves treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth
corrupt,' and those still grander words: 'If ye were of this world the
world would love you, but I have chosen you out of the world; be ye
therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.'

"The second transformation of man is to Wisdom. Wisdom is the
understanding of celestial things to which the Spirit is brought by
Love. The Spirit of Love has acquired strength, the result of all
vanquished terrestrial passions; it loves God blindly. But the Spirit
of Wisdom has risen to understanding and knows why it loves. The wings
of the one are spread and bear the spirit to God; the wings of the
other are held down by the awe that comes of understanding: the spirit
knows God. The one longs incessantly to see God and to fly to Him; the
other attains to Him and trembles. The union effected between the
Spirit of Love and the Spirit of Wisdom carries the human being into a
Divine state during which time his soul is _woman_ and his body _man_,
the last human manifestation in which the Spirit conquers Form, or Form
still struggles against the Spirit,--for Form, that is, the flesh, is
ignorant, rebels, and desires to continue gross. This supreme trial
creates untold sufferings seen by Heaven alone,--the agony of Christ
in the Garden of Olives.

"After death the first heaven opens to this dual and purified human
nature. Therefore it is that man dies in despair while the Spirit dies
in ecstasy. Thus, the _natural_, the state of beings not yet
regenerated; the _spiritual_, the state of those who have become Angelic
Spirits, and the _divine_, the state in which the Angel exists before he
breaks from his covering of flesh, are the three degrees of existence
through which man enters heaven. One of Swedenborg's thoughts
expressed in his own words will explain to you with wonderful
clearness the difference between the _natural_ and the _spiritual_. 'To
the minds of men,' he says, 'the Natural passes into the Spiritual;
they regard the world under its visible aspects, they perceive it only
as it can be realized by their senses. But to the apprehension of
Angelic Spirits, the Spiritual passes into the Natural; they regard
the world in its inward essence and not in its form.' Thus human
sciences are but analyses of form. The man of science as the world
goes is purely external like his knowledge; his inner being is only
used to preserve his aptitude for the perception of external truths.
The Angelic Spirit goes far beyond that; his knowledge is the thought
of which human science is but the utterance; he derives that knowledge
from the Logos, and learns the law of _correspondences_ by which the
world is placed in unison with heaven. The _word of God_ was wholly
written by pure Correspondences, and covers an esoteric or spiritual
meaning, which according to the science of Correspondences, cannot be
understood. 'There exist,' says Swedenborg ('Celestial Doctrine' 26),
'innumerable Arcana within the hidden meaning of the Correspondences.
Thus the men who scoff at the books of the Prophets where the Word is
enshrined are as densely ignorant as those other men who know nothing
of a science and yet ridicule its truths. To know the Correspondences
which exist between the things visible and ponderable in the
terrestrial world and the things invisible and imponderable in the
spiritual world, is to hold heaven within our comprehension. All the
objects of the manifold creations having emanated from God necessarily
enfold a hidden meaning; according, indeed, to the grand thought of
Isaiah, 'The earth is a garment.'

"This mysterious link between Heaven and the smallest atoms of created
matter constitutes what Swedenborg calls a Celestial Arcanum, and his
treatise on the 'Celestial Arcana' in which he explains the
correspondences or significances of the Natural with, and to, the
Spiritual, giving, to use the words of Jacob Boehm, the sign and seal
of all things, occupies not less than sixteen volumes containing
thirty thousand propositions. 'This marvellous knowledge of
Correspondences which the goodness of God granted to Swedenborg,' says
one of his disciples, 'is the secret of the interest which draws men
to his works. According to him, all things are derived from heaven,
all things lead back to heaven. His writings are sublime and clear; he
speaks in heaven, and earth hears him. Take one of his sentences by
itself and a volume could be made of it'; and the disciple quotes the
following passages taken from a thousand others that would answer the
same purpose.

"'The kingdom of heaven,' says Swedenborg ('Celestial Arcana'), 'is
the kingdom of motives. _Action_ is born in heaven, thence into the
world, and, by degrees, to the infinitely remote parts of earth.
Terrestrial effects being thus linked to celestial causes, all things
are _correspondent_ and _significant_. Man is the means of union
between the Natural and the Spiritual.'

"The Angelic Spirits therefore know the very nature of the
Correspondences which link to heaven all earthly things; they know,
too, the inner meaning of the prophetic words which foretell their
evolutions. Thus to these Spirits everything here below has its
significance; the tiniest flower is a thought,--a life which
corresponds to certain lineaments of the Great Whole, of which they
have a constant intuition. To them Adultery and the excesses spoken of
in Scripture and by the Prophets, often garbled by self-styled
scholars, mean the state of those souls which in this world persist in
tainting themselves with earthly affections, thus compelling their
divorce from Heaven. Clouds signify the veil of the Most High.
Torches, shew-bread, horses and horsemen, harlots, precious stones, in
short, everything named in Scripture, has to them a clear-cut meaning,
and reveals the future of terrestrial facts in their relation to
Heaven. They penetrate the truths contained in the Revelation of Saint
John the divine, which human science has subsequently demonstrated and
proved materially; such, for instance, as the following ('big,' said
Swedenborg, 'with many human sciences'): 'I saw a new heaven and a new
earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away'
(Revelation xxi. 1). These Spirits know the supper at which the flesh
of kings and the flesh of all men, free and bond, is eaten, to which
an Angel standing in the sun has bidden them. They see the winged
woman, clothed with the sun, and the mailed man. 'The horse of the
Apocalypse,' says Swedenborg, 'is the visible image of human intellect
ridden by Death, for it bears within itself the elements of its own
destruction.' Moreover, they can distinguish beings concealed under
forms which to ignorant eyes would seem fantastic. When a man is
disposed to receive the prophetic afflation of Correspondences, it
rouses within him a perception of the Word; he comprehends that the
creations are transformations only; his intellect is sharpened, a
burning thirst takes possession of him which only Heaven can quench.
He conceives, according to the greater or lesser perfection of his
inner being, the power of the Angelic Spirits; and he advances, led by
Desire (the least imperfect state of unregenerated man) towards Hope,
the gateway to the world of Spirits, whence he reaches Prayer, which
gives him the Key of Heaven.

"What being here below would not desire to render himself worthy of
entrance into the sphere of those who live in secret by Love and
Wisdom? Here on earth, during their lifetime, such spirits remain
pure; they neither see, nor think, nor speak like other men. There are
two ways by which perception comes,--one internal, the other external.
Man is wholly external, the Angelic Spirit wholly internal. The Spirit
goes to the depth of Numbers, possesses a full sense of them, knows
their significances. It controls Motion, and by reason of its ubiquity
it shares in all things. 'An Angel,' says Swedenborg, 'is ever present
to a man when desired' ('Angelic Wisdom'); for the Angel has the gift
of detaching himself from his body, and he sees into heaven as the
prophets and as Swedenborg himself saw into it. 'In this state,'
writes Swedenborg ('True Religion,' 136), 'the spirit of a man may
move from one place to another, his body remaining where it is,--a
condition in which I lived for over twenty-six years.' It is thus that
we should interpret all Biblical statements which begin, 'The Spirit
led me.' Angelic Wisdom is to human wisdom what the innumerable forces
of nature are to its action, which is one. All things live again, and
move and have their being in the Spirit, which is in God. Saint Paul
expresses this truth when he says, 'In Deo sumus, movemur, et
vivimus,'--we live, we act, we are in God.

"Earth offers no hindrance to the Angelic Spirit, just as the Word
offers him no obscurity. His approaching divinity enables him to see
the thought of God veiled in the Logos, just as, living by his inner
being, the Spirit is in communion with the hidden meaning of all
things on this earth. Science is the language of the Temporal world,
Love is that of the Spiritual world. Thus man takes note of more than
he is able to explain, while the Angelic Spirit sees and comprehends.
Science depresses man; Love exalts the Angel. Science is still
seeking, Love has found. Man judges Nature according to his own
relations to her; the Angelic Spirit judges it in its relation to
Heaven. In short, all things have a voice for the Spirit. Spirits are
in the secret of the harmony of all creations with each other; they
comprehend the spirit of sound, the spirit of color, the spirit of
vegetable life; they can question the mineral, and the mineral makes
answer to their thoughts. What to them are sciences and the treasures
of the earth when they grasp all things by the eye at all moments,
when the worlds which absorb the minds of so many men are to them but
the last step from which they spring to God? Love of heaven, or the
Wisdom of heaven, is made manifest to them by a circle of light which
surrounds them, and is visible to the Elect. Their innocence, of which
that of children is a symbol, possesses, nevertheless, a knowledge
which children have not; they are both innocent and learned. 'And,'
says Swedenborg, 'the innocence of Heaven makes such an impression
upon the soul that those whom it affects keep a rapturous memory of it
which lasts them all their lives, as I myself have experienced. It is
perhaps sufficient,' he goes on, 'to have only a minimum perception of
it to be forever changed, to long to enter Heaven and the sphere of
Hope.'

"His doctrine of Marriage can be reduced to the following words: 'The
Lord has taken the beauty and the grace of the life of man and
bestowed them upon woman. When man is not reunited to this beauty and
this grace of his life, he is harsh, sad, and sullen; when he is
reunited to them he is joyful and complete.' The Angels are ever at
the perfect point of beauty. Marriages are celebrated by wondrous
ceremonies. In these unions, which produce no children, man
contributes the _understanding_, woman the _will_; they become one
being, one Flesh here below, and pass to heaven clothed in the celestial
form. On this earth, the natural attraction of the sexes towards
enjoyment is an Effect which allures, fatigues and disgusts; but in
the form celestial the pair, now _one_ in Spirit find within theirself
a ceaseless source of joy. Swedenborg was led to see these nuptials of
the Spirits, which in the words of Saint Luke (xx. 35) are neither
marrying nor giving in marriage, and which inspire none but spiritual
pleasures. An Angel offered to make him witness of such a marriage and
bore him thither on his wings (the wings are a symbol and not a
reality). The Angel clothed him in a wedding garment and when
Swedenborg, finding himself thus robed in light, asked why, the answer
was: 'For these events, our garments are illuminated; they shine; they
are made nuptial.' ('Conjugial Love,' 19, 20, 21.) Then he saw the two
Angels, one coming from the South, the other from the East; the Angel
of the South was in a chariot drawn by two white horses, with reins of
the color and brilliance of the dawn; but lo, when they were near him
in the sky, chariot and horses vanished. The Angel of the East,
clothed in crimson, and the Angel of the South, in purple, drew
together, like breaths, and mingled: one was the Angel of Love, the
other the Angel of Wisdom. Swedenborg's guide told him that the two
Angels had been linked together on earth by an inward friendship and
ever united though separated in life by great distances. Consent, the
essence of all good marriage upon earth, is the habitual state of
Angels in Heaven. Love is the light of their world. The eternal
rapture of Angels comes from the faculty that God communicates to them
to render back to Him the joy they feel through Him. This reciprocity
of infinitude forms their life. They become infinite by participating
of the essence of God, who generates Himself by Himself.

"The immensity of the Heavens where the Angels dwell is such that if
man were endowed with sight as rapid as the darting of light from the
sun to the earth, and if he gazed throughout eternity, his eyes could
not reach the horizon, nor find an end. Light alone can give an idea
of the joys of heaven. 'It is,' says Swedenborg ('Angelic Wisdom,' 7,
25, 26, 27), 'a vapor of the virtue of God, a pure emanation of His
splendor, beside which our greatest brilliance is obscurity. It can
compass all; it can renew all, and is never absorbed: it environs the
Angel and unites him to God by infinite joys which multiply infinitely
of themselves. This Light destroys whosoever is not prepared to
receive it. No one here below, nor yet in Heaven can see God and live.
This is the meaning of the saying (Exodus xix. 12, 13, 21-23) "Take
heed to yourselves that ye go not up into the mount--lest ye break
through unto the Lord to gaze, and many perish." And again (Exodus
xxxiv. 29-35), "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two
Tables of testimony in his hand, his face shone, so that he put a veil
upon it when he spake with the people, lest any of them die." The
Transfiguration of Jesus Christ likewise revealed the light
surrounding the Messengers from on high and the ineffable joys of the
Angels who are forever imbued with it. "His face," says Saint Matthew
(xvii. 1-5), "did shine as the sun and his raiment was white as the
light--and a bright cloud overshadowed them."'

"When a planet contains only those beings who reject the Lord, when
his word is ignored, then the Angelic Spirits are gathered together by
the four winds, and God sends forth an Exterminating Angel to change
the face of the refractory earth, which in the immensity of this
universe is to Him what an unfruitful seed is to Nature. Approaching
the globe, this Exterminating Angel, borne by a comet, causes the
planet to turn upon its axis, and the lands lately covered by the seas
reappear, adorned in freshness and obedient to the laws proclaimed in
Genesis; the Word of God is once more powerful on this new earth,
which everywhere exhibits the effects of terrestrial waters and
celestial flames. The light brought by the Angel from On High, causes
the sun to pale. 'Then,' says Isaiah, (xix. 20) 'men will hide in the
clefts of the rock and roll themselves in the dust of the earth.'
'They will cry to the mountains' (Revelation), 'Fall on us! and to the
seas, Swallow us up! Hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the
throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!' The Lamb is the great figure
and hope of the Angels misjudged and persecuted here below. Christ
himself has said, 'Blessed are those who mourn! Blessed are the
simple-hearted! Blessed are they that love!'--All Swedenborg is there!
Suffer, Believe, Love. To love truly must we not suffer? must we not
believe? Love begets Strength, Strength bestows Wisdom, thence
Intelligence; for Strength and Wisdom demand Will. To be intelligent,
is not that to Know, to Wish, and to Will,--the three attributes of
the Angelic Spirit? 'If the universe has a meaning,' Monsieur
Saint-Martin said to me when I met him during a journey which he made
in Sweden, 'surely this is the one most worthy of God.'

"But, Monsieur," continued the pastor after a thoughtful pause, "of
what avail to you are these shreds of thoughts taken here and there
from the vast extent of a work of which no true idea can be given
except by comparing it to a river of light, to billows of flame? When
a man plunges into it he is carried away as by an awful current.
Dante's poem seems but a speck to the reader submerged in the almost
Biblical verses with which Swedenborg renders palpable the Celestial
Worlds, as Beethoven built his palaces of harmony with thousands of
notes, as architects have reared cathedrals with millions of stones.
We roll in soundless depths, where our minds will not always sustain
us. Ah, surely a great and powerful intellect is needed to bring us
back, safe and sound, to our own social beliefs.

"Swedenborg," resumed the pastor, "was particularly attached to the
Baron de Seraphitz, whose name, according to an old Swedish custom,
had taken from time immemorial the Latin termination of 'us.' The
baron was an ardent disciple of the Swedish prophet, who had opened
the eyes of his Inner-Man and brought him to a life in conformity with
the decrees from On-High. He sought for an Angelic Spirit among women;
Swedenborg found her for him in a vision. His bride was the daughter
of a London shoemaker, in whom, said Swedenborg, the life of Heaven
shone, she having passed through all anterior trials. After the death,
that is, the transformation of the prophet, the baron came to Jarvis
to accomplish his celestial nuptials with the observances of Prayer.
As for me, who am not a Seer, I have only known the terrestrial works
of this couple. Their lives were those of saints whose virtues are the
glory of the Roman Church. They ameliorated the condition of our
people; they supplied them all with means in return for work,--little,
perhaps, but enough for all their wants. Those who lived with them in
constant intercourse never saw them show a sign of anger or
impatience; they were constantly beneficent and gentle, full of
courtesy and loving-kindness; their marriage was the harmony of two
souls indissolubly united. Two eiders winging the same flight, the
sound in the echo, the thought in the word,--these, perhaps, are true
images of their union. Every one here in Jarvis loved them with an
affection which I can compare only to the love of a plant for the sun.
The wife was simple in her manners, beautiful in form, lovely in face,
with a dignity of bearing like that of august personages. In 1783,
being then twenty-six years old, she conceived a child; her pregnancy
was to the pair a solemn joy. They prepared to bid the earth farewell;
for they told me they should be transformed when their child had
passed the state of infancy which needed their fostering care until
the strength to exist alone should be given to her.

"Their child was born,--the Seraphita we are now concerned with. From
the moment of her conception father and mother lived a still more
solitary life than in the past, lifting themselves up to heaven by
Prayer. They hoped to see Swedenborg, and faith realized their hope.
The day on which Seraphita came into the world Swedenborg appeared in
Jarvis, and filled the room of the new-born child with light. I was
told that he said, 'The work is accomplished; the Heavens rejoice!'
Sounds of unknown melodies were heard throughout the house, seeming to
come from the four points of heaven on the wings of the wind. The
spirit of Swedenborg led the father forth to the shores of the fiord
and there quitted him. Certain inhabitants of Jarvis, having
approached Monsieur Seraphitus as he stood on the shore, heard him
repeat those blissful words of Scripture: 'How beautiful on the
mountains are the feet of Him who is sent of God!'

"I had left the parsonage on my way to baptize the infant and name it,
and perform the other duties required by law, when I met the baron
returning to the house. 'Your ministrations are superfluous,' he said;
'our child is to be without name on this earth. You must not baptize
in the waters of an earthly Church one who has just been immersed in
the fires of Heaven. This child will remain a blossom, it will not
grow old; you will see it pass away. You exist, but our child has
life; you have outward senses, the child has none, its being is always
inward.' These words were uttered in so strange and supernatural a
voice that I was more affected by them than by the shining of his
face, from which light appeared to exude. His appearance realized the
phantasmal ideas which we form of inspired beings as we read the
prophesies of the Bible. But such effects are not rare among our
mountains, where the nitre of perpetual snows produces extraordinary
phenomena in the human organization.

"I asked him the cause of his emotion. 'Swedenborg came to us; he has
just left me; I have breathed the air of heaven,' he replied. 'Under
what form did he appear?' I said. 'Under his earthly form; dressed as
he was the last time I saw him in London, at the house of Richard
Shearsmith, Coldbath-fields, in July, 1771. He wore his brown frieze
coat with steel buttons, his waistcoat buttoned to the throat, a white
cravat, and the same magisterial wig rolled and powdered at the sides
and raised high in front, showing his vast and luminous brow, in
keeping with the noble square face, where all is power and
tranquillity. I recognized the large nose with its fiery nostril, the
mouth that ever smiled,--angelic mouth from which these words, the
pledge of my happiness, have just issued, "We shall meet soon."'

"The conviction that shone on the baron's face forbade all discussion;
I listened in silence. His voice had a contagious heat which made my
bosom burn within me; his fanaticism stirred my heart as the anger of
another makes our nerves vibrate. I followed him in silence to his
house, where I saw the nameless child lying mysteriously folded to its
mother's breast. The babe heard my step and turned its head toward me;
its eyes were not those of an ordinary child. To give you an idea of
the impression I received, I must say that already they saw and
thought. The childhood of this predestined being was attended by
circumstances quite extraordinary in our climate. For nine years our
winters were milder and our summers longer than usual. This phenomenon
gave rise to several discussions among scientific men; but none of
their explanations seemed sufficient to academicians, and the baron
smiled when I told him of them. The child was never seen in its nudity
as other children are; it was never touched by man or woman, but lived
a sacred thing upon the mother's breast, and it never cried. If you
question old David he will confirm these facts about his mistress, for
whom he feels an adoration like that of Louis IX. for the saint whose
name he bore.

"At nine years of age the child began to pray; prayer is her life. You
saw her in the church at Christmas, the only day on which she comes
there; she is separated from the other worshippers by a visible space.
If that space does not exist between herself and men she suffers. That
is why she passes nearly all her time alone in the chateau. The events
of her life are unknown; she is seldom seen; her days are spent in the
state of mystical contemplation which was, so Catholic writers tell
us, habitual with the early Christian solitaries, in whom the oral
tradition of Christ's own words still remained. Her mind, her soul,
her body, all within her is virgin as the snow on those mountains. At
ten years of age she was just what you see her now. When she was nine
her father and mother expired together, without pain or visible
malady, after naming the day and hour at which they would cease to be.
Standing at their feet she looked at them with a calm eye, not showing
either sadness, or grief, or joy, or curiosity. When we approached to
remove the two bodies she said, 'Carry them away!' 'Seraphita,' I
said, for so we called her, 'are you not affected by the death of your
father and your mother who loved you so much?' 'Dead?' she answered,
'no, they live in me forever-- That is nothing,' she pointed without
emotion to the bodies they were bearing away. I then saw her for the
third time only since her birth. In church it is difficult to
distinguish her; she stands near a column which, seen from the pulpit,
is in shadow, so that I cannot observe her features.

"Of all the servants of the household there remained after the death
of the master and mistress only old David, who, in spite of his
eighty-two years, suffices to wait on his mistress. Some of our Jarvis
people tell wonderful tales about her. These have a certain weight in
a land so essentially conducive to mystery as ours; and I am now
studying the treatise on Incantations by Jean Wier and other works
relating to demonology, where pretended supernatural events are
recorded, hoping to find facts analogous to those which are attributed
to her."

"Then you do not believe in her?" said Wilfrid.

"Oh yes, I do," said the pastor, genially, "I think her a very
capricious girl; a little spoilt by her parents, who turned her head
with the religious ideas I have just revealed to you."

Minna shook her head in a way that gently expressed contradiction.

"Poor girl!" continued the old man, "her parents bequeathed to her
that fatal exaltation of soul which misleads mystics and renders them
all more or less mad. She subjects herself to fasts which horrify poor
David. The good old man is like a sensitive plant which quivers at the
slightest breeze, and glows under the first sun-ray. His mistress,
whose incomprehensible language has become his, is the breeze and the
sun-ray to him; in his eyes her feet are diamonds and her brow is
strewn with stars; she walks environed with a white and luminous
atmosphere; her voice is accompanied by music; she has the gift of
rendering herself invisible. If you ask to see her, he will tell you
she has gone to the _astral regions_. It is difficult to believe such a
story, is it not? You know all miracles bear more or less resemblance
to the story of the Golden Tooth. We have our golden tooth in Jarvis,
that is all. Duncker the fisherman asserts that he has seen her plunge
into the fiord and come up in the shape of an eider-duck, at other
times walking on the billows of a storm. Fergus, who leads the flocks
to the saeters, says that in rainy weather a circle of clear sky can
be seen over the Swedish castle; and that the heavens are always blue
above Seraphita's head when she is on the mountain. Many women hear
the tones of a mighty organ when Seraphita enters the church, and ask
their neighbors earnestly if they too do not hear them. But my
daughter, for whom during the last two years Seraphita has shown much
affection, has never heard this music, and has never perceived the
heavenly perfumes which, they say, make the air fragrant about her
when she moves. Minna, to be sure, has often on returning from their
walks together expressed to me the delight of a young girl in the
beauties of our spring-time, in the spicy odors of budding larches and
pines and the earliest flowers; but after our long winters what can be
more natural than such pleasure? The companionship of this so-called
spirit has nothing so very extraordinary in it, has it, my child?"

"The secrets of that spirit are not mine," said Minna. "Near it I know
all, away from it I know nothing; near that exquisite life I am no
longer myself, far from it I forget all. The time we pass together is
a dream which my memory scarcely retains. I may have heard yet not
remember the music which the women tell of; in that presence, I may
have breathed celestial perfumes, seen the glory of the heavens, and
yet be unable to recollect them here."

"What astonishes me most," resumed the pastor, addressing Wilfrid, "is
to notice that you suffer from being near her."

"Near her!" exclaimed the stranger, "she has never so much as let me
touch her hand. When she saw me for the first time her glance
intimidated me; she said: 'You are welcome here, for you were to
come.' I fancied that she knew me. I trembled. It is fear that forces
me to believe in her."

"With me it is love," said Minna, without a blush.

"Are you making fun of me?" said Monsieur Becker, laughing
good-humoredly; "you my daughter, in calling yourself a Spirit of Love,
and you, Monsieur Wilfrid, in pretending to be a Spirit of Wisdom?"

He drank a glass of beer and so did not see the singular look which
Wilfrid cast upon Minna.

"Jesting apart," resumed the old gentleman, "I have been much
astonished to hear that these two mad-caps ascended to the summit of
the Falberg; it must be a girlish exaggeration; they probably went to
the crest of a ledge. It is impossible to reach the peaks of the
Falberg."

"If so, father," said Minna, in an agitated voice, "I must have been
under the power of a spirit; for indeed we reached the summit of the
Ice-Cap."

"This is really serious," said Monsieur Becker. "Minna is always
truthful."

"Monsieur Becker," said Wilfrid, "I swear to you that Seraphita
exercises such extraordinary power over me that I know no language in
which I can give you the least idea of it. She has revealed to me
things known to myself alone."

"Somnambulism!" said the old man. "A great many such effects are
related by Jean Wier as phenomena easily explained and formerly
observed in Egypt."

"Lend me Swedenborg's theosophical works," said Wilfrid, "and let me
plunge into those gulfs of light,--you have given me a thirst for
them."

Monsieur Becker took down a volume and gave it to his guest, who
instantly began to read it. It was about nine o'clock in the evening.
The serving-woman brought in the supper. Minna made tea. The repast
over, each turned silently to his or her occupation; the pastor read
the Incantations; Wilfrid pursued the spirit of Swedenborg; and the
young girl continued to sew, her mind absorbed in recollections. It
was a true Norwegian evening--peaceful, studious, and domestic; full
of thoughts, flowers blooming beneath the snow. Wilfrid, as he
devoured the pages of the prophet, lived by his inner senses only; the
pastor, looking up at times from his book, called Minna's attention to
the absorption of their guest with an air that was half-serious,
half-jesting. To Minna's thoughts the face of Seraphitus smiled upon her
as it hovered above the clouds of smoke which enveloped them. The clock
struck twelve. Suddenly the outer door was opened violently. Heavy but
hurried steps, the steps of a terrified old man, were heard in the
narrow vestibule between the two doors; then David burst into the
parlor.

"Danger, danger!" he cried. "Come! come, all! The evil spirits are
unchained! Fiery mitres are on their heads! Demons, Vertumni, Sirens!
they tempt her as Jesus was tempted on the mountain! Come, come! and
drive them away."

"Do you not recognize the language of Swedenborg?" said the pastor,
laughing, to Wilfrid. "Here it is; pure from the source."

But Wilfrid and Minna were gazing in terror at old David, who, with
hair erect, and eyes distraught, his legs trembling and covered with
snow, for he had come without snow-shoes, stood swaying from side to
side, as if some boisterous wind were shaking him.

"Is he harmed?" cried Minna.

"The devils hope and try to conquer her," replied the old man.

The words made Wilfrid's pulses throb.

"For the last five hours she has stood erect, her eyes raised to
heaven and her arms extended; she suffers, she cries to God. I cannot
cross the barrier; Hell has posted the Vertumni as sentinels. They
have set up an iron wall between her and her old David. She wants me,
but what can I do? Oh, help me! help me! Come and pray!"

The old man's despair was terrible to see.

"The Light of God is defending her," he went on, with infectious
faith, "but oh! she might yield to violence."

"Silence, David! you are raving. This is a matter to be verified. We
will go with you," said the pastor, "and you shall see that there are
no Vertumni, nor Satans, nor Sirens, in that house."

"Your father is blind," whispered David to Minna.

Wilfrid, on whom the reading of Swedenborg's first treatise, which he
had rapidly gone through, had produced a powerful effect, was already
in the corridor putting on his skees; Minna was ready in a few
moments, and both left the old men far behind as they darted forward
to the Swedish castle.

"Do you hear that cracking sound?" said Wilfrid.

"The ice of the fiord stirs," answered Minna; "the spring is coming."

Wilfrid was silent. When the two reached the courtyard they were
conscious that they had neither the faculty nor the strength to enter
the house.

"What think you of her?" asked Wilfrid.

"See that radiance!" cried Minna, going towards the window of the
salon. "He is there! How beautiful! O my Seraphitus, take me!"

The exclamation was uttered inwardly. She saw Seraphitus standing
erect, lightly swathed in an opal-tinted mist that disappeared at a
little distance from the body, which seemed almost phosphorescent.

"How beautiful she is!" cried Wilfrid, mentally.

Just then Monsieur Becker arrived, followed by David; he saw his
daughter and guest standing before the window; going up to them, he
looked into the salon and said quietly, "Well, my good David, she is
only saying her prayers."

"Ah, but try to enter, Monsieur."

"Why disturb those who pray?" answered the pastor.

At this instant the moon, rising above the Falberg, cast its rays upon
the window. All three turned round, attracted by this natural effect
which made them quiver; when they turned back to again look at
Seraphita she had disappeared.

"How strange!" exclaimed Wilfrid.

"I hear delightful sounds," said Minna.

"Well," said the pastor, "it is all plain enough; she is going to
bed."

David had entered the house. The others took their way back in
silence; none of them interpreted the vision in the same manner,
--Monsieur Becker doubted, Minna adored, Wilfrid longed.

Wilfrid was a man about thirty-six years of age. His figure, though
broadly developed, was not wanting in symmetry. Like most men who
distinguish themselves above their fellows, he was of medium height;
his chest and shoulders were broad, and his neck short,--a
characteristic of those whose hearts are near their heads; his hair
was black, thick, and fine; his eyes, of a yellow brown, had, as it
were, a solar brilliancy, which proclaimed with what avidity his
nature aspired to Light. Though these strong and virile features were
defective through the absence of an inward peace,--granted only to a
life without storms or conflicts,--they plainly showed the
inexhaustible resources of impetuous senses and the appetites of
instinct; just as every motion revealed the perfection of the man's
physical apparatus, the flexibility of his senses, and their fidelity
when brought into play. This man might contend with savages, and hear,
as they do, the tread of enemies in distant forests; he could follow a
scent in the air, a trail on the ground, or see on the horizon the
signal of a friend. His sleep was light, like that of all creatures
who will not allow themselves to be surprised. His body came quickly
into harmony with the climate of any country where his tempestuous
life conducted him. Art and science would have admired his
organization in the light of a human model. Everything about him was
symmetrical and well-balanced,--action and heart, intelligence and
will. At first sight he might be classed among purely instinctive
beings, who give themselves blindly up to the material wants of life;
but in the very morning of his days he had flung himself into a higher
social world, with which his feelings harmonized; study had widened
his mind, reflection had sharpened his power of thought, and the
sciences had enlarged his understanding. He had studied human laws,
--the working of self-interests brought into conflict by the passions,
and he seemed to have early familiarized himself with the abstractions
on which societies rest. He had pored over books,--those deeds of dead
humanity; he had spent whole nights of pleasure in every European
capital; he had slept on fields of battle the night before the combat
and the night that followed victory. His stormy youth may have flung
him on the deck of some corsair and sent him among the contrasting
regions of the globe; thus it was that he knew the actions of a living
humanity. He knew the present and the past,--a double history; that of
to-day, that of other days. Many men have been, like Wilfrid, equally
powerful by the Hand, by the Heart, by the Head; like him, the
majority have abused their triple power. But though this man still
held by certain outward liens to the slimy side of humanity, he
belonged also and positively to the sphere where force is intelligent.
In spite of the many veils which enveloped his soul, there were
certain ineffable symptoms of this fact which were visible to pure
spirits, to the eyes of the child whose innocence has known no breath
of evil passions, to the eyes of the old man who has lived to regain
his purity.

These signs revealed a Cain for whom there was still hope,--one who
seemed as though he were seeking absolution from the ends of the
earth. Minna suspected the galley-slave of glory in the man; Seraphita
recognized him. Both admired and both pitied him. Whence came their
prescience? Nothing could be more simple nor yet more extraordinary.
As soon as we seek to penetrate the secrets of Nature, where nothing
is secret, and where it is only necessary to have the eyes to see, we
perceive that the simple produces the marvellous.

"Seraphitus," said Minna one evening a few days after Wilfrid's
arrival in Jarvis, "you read the soul of this stranger while I have
only vague impressions of it. He chills me or else he excites me; but
you seem to know the cause of this cold and of this heat; tell me what
it means, for you know all about him."

"Yes, I have seen the causes," said Seraphitus, lowing his large
eyelids.

"By what power?" asked the curious Minna.

"I have the gift of Specialism," he answered. "Specialism is an inward
sight which can penetrate all things; you will only understand its
full meaning through a comparison. In the great cities of Europe where
works are produced by which the human Hand seeks to represent the
effects of the moral nature was well as those of the physical nature,
there are glorious men who express ideas in marble. The sculptor acts
on the stone; he fashions it; he puts a realm of ideas into it. There
are statues which the hand of man has endowed with the faculty of
representing the noble side of humanity, or the whole evil side; most
men see in such marbles a human figure and nothing more; a few other
men, a little higher in the scale of being, perceive a fraction of the
thoughts expressed in the statue; but the Initiates in the secrets of
art are of the same intellect as the sculptor; they see in his work
the whole universe of his thought. Such persons are in themselves the
principles of art; they bear within them a mirror which reflects
nature in her slightest manifestations. Well! so it is with me; I have
within me a mirror before which the moral nature, with its causes and
effects, appears and is reflected. Entering thus into the
consciousness of others I am able to divine both the future and the
past. How? do you still ask how? Imagine that the marble statue is the
body of a man, a piece of statuary in which we see the emotion,
sentiment, passion, vice or crime, virtue or repentance which the
creating hand has put into it, and you will then comprehend how it is
that I read the soul of this foreigner--though what I have said does
not explain the gift of Specialism; for to conceive the nature of that
gift we must possess it."

Though Wilfrid belonged to the two first divisions of humanity, the
men of force and the men of thought, yet his excesses, his tumultuous
life, and his misdeeds had often turned him towards Faith; for doubt
has two sides; a side to the light and a side to the darkness. Wilfrid
had too closely clasped the world under its forms of Matter and of
Mind not to have acquired that thirst for the unknown, that longing to
_go beyond_ which lay their grasp upon the men who know, and wish, and
will. But neither his knowledge, nor his actions, nor his will, had
found direction. He had fled from social life from necessity; as a
great criminal seeks the cloister. Remorse, that virtue of weak
beings, did not touch him. Remorse is impotence, impotence which sins
again. Repentance alone is powerful; it ends all. But in traversing
the world, which he made his cloister, Wilfrid had found no balm for
his wounds; he saw nothing in nature to which he could attach himself.
In him, despair had dried the sources of desire. He was one of those
beings who, having gone through all passions and come out victorious,
have nothing more to raise in their hot-beds, and who, lacking
opportunity to put themselves at the head of their fellow-men to
trample under iron heel entire populations, buy, at the price of a
horrible martyrdom, the faculty of ruining themselves in some belief,
--rocks sublime, which await the touch of a wand that comes not to
bring the waters gushing from their far-off spring.

Led by a scheme of his restless, inquiring life to the shores of
Norway, the sudden arrival of winter had detained the wanderer at
Jarvis. The day on which, for the first time, he saw Seraphita, the
whole past of his life faded from his mind. The young girl excited
emotions which he had thought could never be revived. The ashes gave
forth a lingering flame at the first murmurings of that voice. Who has
ever felt himself return to youth and purity after growing cold and
numb with age and soiled with impurity? Suddenly, Wilfrid loved as he
had never loved; he loved secretly, with faith, with fear, with inward
madness. His life was stirred to the very source of his being at the
mere thought of seeing Seraphita. As he listened to her he was
transported into unknown worlds; he was mute before her, she
magnetized him. There, beneath the snows, among the glaciers, bloomed
the celestial flower to which his hopes, so long betrayed, aspired;
the sight of which awakened ideas of freshness, purity, and faith
which grouped about his soul and lifted it to higher regions,--as
Angels bear to heaven the Elect in those symbolic pictures inspired by
the guardian spirit of a great master. Celestial perfumes softened the
granite hardness of the rocky scene; light endowed with speech shed
its divine melodies on the path of him who looked to heaven. After
emptying the cup of terrestrial love which his teeth had bitten as he
drank it, he saw before him the chalice of salvation where the limpid
waters sparkled, making thirsty for ineffable delights whoever dare
apply his lips burning with a faith so strong that the crystal shall
not be shattered.

But Wilfrid now encountered the wall of brass for which he had been
seeking up and down the earth. He went impetuously to Seraphita,
meaning to express the whole force and bearing of a passion under
which he bounded like the fabled horse beneath the iron horseman, firm
in his saddle, whom nothing moves while the efforts of the fiery
animal only made the rider heavier and more solid. He sought her to
relate his life,--to prove the grandeur of his soul by the grandeur of
his faults, to show the ruins of his desert. But no sooner had he
crossed her threshold, and found himself within the zone of those eyes
of scintillating azure, that met no limits forward and left none
behind, than he grew calm and submissive, as a lion, springing on his
prey in the plains of Africa, receives from the wings of the wind a
message of love, and stops his bound. A gulf opened before him, into
which his frenzied words fell and disappeared, and from which uprose a
voice which changed his being; he became as a child, a child of
sixteen, timid and frightened before this maiden with serene brow,
this white figure whose inalterable calm was like the cruel
impassibility of human justice. The combat between them had never
ceased until this evening, when with a glance she brought him down, as
a falcon making his dizzy spirals in the air around his prey causes it
to fall stupefied to earth, before carrying it to his eyrie.

We may note within ourselves many a long struggle the end of which is
one of our own actions,--struggles which are, as it were, the reverse
side of humanity. This reverse side belongs to God; the obverse side
to men. More than once Seraphita had proved to Wilfrid that she knew
this hidden and ever varied side, which is to the majority of men a
second being. Often she said to him in her dove-like voice: "Why all
this vehemence?" when on his way to her he had sworn she should be
his. Wilfrid was, however, strong enough to raise the cry of revolt to
which he had given utterance in Monsieur Becker's study. The narrative
of the old pastor had calmed him. Sceptical and derisive as he was, he
saw belief like a sidereal brilliance dawning on his life. He asked
himself if Seraphita were not an exile from the higher spheres seeking
the homeward way. The fanciful deifications of all ordinary lovers he
could not give to this lily of Norway in whose divinity he believed.
Why lived she here beside this fiord? What did she? Questions that
received no answer filled his mind. Above all, what was about to
happen between them? What fate had brought him there? To him,
Seraphita was the motionless marble, light nevertheless as a vapor,
which Minna had seen that day poised above the precipices of the
Falberg. Could she thus stand on the edge of all gulfs without danger,
without a tremor of the arching eyebrows, or a quiver of the light of
the eye? If his love was to be without hope, it was not without
curiosity.

From the moment when Wilfrid suspected the ethereal nature of the
enchantress who had told him the secrets of his life in melodious
utterance, he had longed to try to subject her, to keep her to
himself, to tear her from the heaven where, perhaps, she was awaited.
Earth and Humanity seized their prey; he would imitate them. His
pride, the only sentiment through which man can long be exalted, would
make him happy in this triumph for the rest of his life. The idea sent
the blood boiling through his veins, and his heart swelled. If he did
not succeed, he would destroy her,--it is so natural to destroy that
which we cannot possess, to deny what we cannot comprehend, to insult
that which we envy.

On the morrow, Wilfrid, laden with ideas which the extraordinary
events of the previous night naturally awakened in his mind, resolved
to question David, and went to find him on the pretext of asking after
Seraphita's health. Though Monsieur Becker spoke of the old servant as
falling into dotage, Wilfrid relied on his own perspicacity to
discover scraps of truth in the torrent of the old man's rambling
talk.

David had the immovable, undecided, physiognomy of an octogenarian.
Under his white hair lay a forehead lined with wrinkles like the stone
courses of a ruined wall; and his face was furrowed like the bed of a
dried-up torrent. His life seemed to have retreated wholly to the
eyes, where light still shone, though its gleams were obscured by a
mistiness which seemed to indicate either an active mental alienation
or the stupid stare of drunkenness. His slow and heavy movements
betrayed the glacial weight of age, and communicated an icy influence
to whoever allowed themselves to look long at him,--for he possessed
the magnetic force of torpor. His limited intelligence was only roused
by the sight, the hearing, or the recollection of his mistress. She
was the soul of this wholly material fragment of an existence. Any one
seeing David alone by himself would have thought him a corpse; let
Seraphita enter, let her voice be heard, or a mention of her be made,
and the dead came forth from his grave and recovered speech and
motion. The dry bones were not more truly awakened by the divine
breath in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and never was that apocalyptic
vision better realized than in this Lazarus issuing from the sepulchre
into life at the voice of a young girl. His language, which was always
figurative and often incomprehensible, prevented the inhabitants of
the village from talking with him; but they respected a mind that
deviated so utterly from common ways,--a thing which the masses
instinctively admire.

Wilfrid found him in the antechamber, apparently asleep beside the
stove. Like a dog who recognizes a friend of the family, the old man
raised his eyes, saw the foreigner, and did not stir.

"Where is she?" inquired Wilfrid, sitting down beside him.

David fluttered his fingers in the air as if to express the flight of
a bird.

"Does she still suffer?" asked Wilfrid.

"Beings vowed to Heaven are able so to suffer that suffering does not
lessen their love; this is the mark of the true faith," answered the
old man, solemnly, like an instrument which, on being touched, gives
forth an accidental note.

"Who taught you those words?"

"The Spirit."

"What happened to her last night? Did you force your way past the
Vertumni standing sentinel? did you evade the Mammons?"

"Yes"; answered David, as though awaking from a dream.

The misty gleam of his eyes melted into a ray that came direct from
the soul and made it by degrees brilliant as that of an eagle, as
intelligent as that of a poet.

"What did you see?" asked Wilfrid, astonished at this sudden change.

"I saw Species and Shapes; I heard the Spirit of all things; I beheld
the revolt of the Evil Ones; I listened to the words of the Good.
Seven devils came, and seven archangels descended from on high. The
archangels stood apart and looked on through veils. The devils were
close by; they shone, they acted. Mammon came on his pearly shell in
the shape of a beautiful naked woman; her snowy body dazzled the eye,
no human form ever equalled it; and he said, 'I am Pleasure; thou
shalt possess me!' Lucifer, prince of serpents, was there in sovereign
robes; his Manhood was glorious as the beauty of an angel, and he
said, 'Humanity shall be at thy feet!' The Queen of misers,--she who
gives back naught that she has ever received,--the Sea, came wrapped
in her virent mantle; she opened her bosom, she showed her gems, she
brought forth her treasures and offered them; waves of sapphire and of
emerald came at her bidding; her hidden wonders stirred, they rose to
the surface of her breast, they spoke; the rarest pearl of Ocean
spread its iridescent wings and gave voice to its marine melodies,
saying, 'Twin daughter of suffering, we are sisters! await me; let us
go together; all I need is to become a Woman.' The Bird with the wings
of an eagle and the paws of a lion, the head of a woman and the body
of a horse, the Animal, fell down before her and licked her feet, and
promised seven hundred years of plenty to her best-beloved daughter.
Then came the most formidable of all, the Child, weeping at her knees,
and saying, 'Wilt thou leave me, feeble and suffering as I am? oh, my
mother, stay!' and he played with her, and shed languor on the air,
and the Heavens themselves had pity for his wail. The Virgin of pure
song brought forth her choirs to relax the soul. The Kings of the East
came with their slaves, their armies, and their women; the Wounded
asked her for succor, the Sorrowful stretched forth their hands: 'Do
not leave us! do not leave us!' they cried. I, too, I cried, 'Do not
leave us! we adore thee! stay!' Flowers, bursting from the seed,
bathed her in their fragrance which uttered, 'Stay!' The giant Enakim
came forth from Jupiter, leading Gold and its friends and all the
Spirits of the Astral Regions which are joined with him, and they
said, 'We are thine for seven hundred years.' At last came Death on
his pale horse, crying, 'I will obey thee!' One and all fell prostrate
before her. Could you but have seen them! They covered as it were a
vast plain, and they cried aloud to her, 'We have nurtured thee, thou
art our child; do not abandon us!' At length Life issued from her Ruby
Waters, and said, 'I will not leave thee!' then, finding Seraphita
silent, she flamed upon her as the sun, crying out, 'I am light!' '_The
light_ is there!' cried Seraphita, pointing to the clouds where stood
the archangels; but she was wearied out; Desire had wrung her nerves,
she could only cry, 'My God! my God!' Ah! many an Angelic Spirit,
scaling the mountain and nigh to the summit, has set his foot upon a
rolling stone which plunged him back into the abyss! All these lost
Spirits adored her constancy; they stood around her,--a choir without
a song,--weeping and whispering, 'Courage!' At last she conquered;
Desire--let loose upon her in every Shape and every Species--was
vanquished. She stood in prayer, and when at last her eyes were lifted
she saw the feet of Angels circling in the Heavens."

"She saw the feet of Angels?" repeated Wilfrid.

"Yes," said the old man.

"Was it a dream that she told you?" asked Wilfrid.

"A dream as real as your life," answered David; "I was there."

The calm assurance of the old servant affected Wilfrid powerfully. He
went away asking himself whether these visions were any less
extraordinary than those he had read of in Swedenborg the night
before.

"If Spirits exist, they must act," he was saying to himself as he
entered the parsonage, where he found Monsieur Becker alone.

"Dear pastor," he said, "Seraphita is connected with us in form only,
and even that form is inexplicable. Do not think me a madman or a
lover; a profound conviction cannot be argued with. Convert my belief
into scientific theories, and let us try to enlighten each other.
To-morrow evening we shall both be with her."

"What then?" said Monsieur Becker.

"If her eye ignores space," replied Wilfrid, "if her thought is an
intelligent sight which enables her to perceive all things in their
essence, and to connect them with the general evolution of the
universe, if, in a word, she sees and knows all, let us seat the
Pythoness on her tripod, let us force this pitiless eagle by threats
to spread its wings! Help me! I breathe a fire which burns my vitals;
I must quench it or it will consume me. I have found a prey at last,
and it shall be mine!"

"The conquest will be difficult," said the pastor, "because this girl
is--"

"Is what?" cried Wilfrid.

"Mad," said the old man.

"I will not dispute her madness, but neither must you dispute her
wonderful powers. Dear Monsieur Becker, she has often confounded me
with her learning. Has she travelled?"

"From her house to the fiord, no further."

"Never left this place!" exclaimed Wilfrid. "Then she must have read
immensely."

"Not a page, not one iota! I am the only person who possesses any
books in Jarvis. The works of Swedenborg--the only books that were in
the chateau--you see before you. She has never looked into a single
one of them."

"Have you tried to talk with her?"

"What good would that do?"

"Does no one live with her in that house?"

"She has no friends but you and Minna, nor any servant except old
David."

"It cannot be that she knows nothing of science nor of art."

"Who should teach her?" said the pastor.

"But if she can discuss such matters pertinently, as she has often
done with me, what do you make of it?"

"The girl may have acquired through years of silence the faculties
enjoyed by Apollonius of Tyana and other pretended sorcerers burned
by the Inquisition, which did not choose to admit the fact of
second-sight."

"If she can speak Arabic, what would you say to that?"

"The history of medical science gives many authentic instances of
girls who have spoken languages entirely unknown to them."

"What can I do?" exclaimed Wilfrid. "She knows of secrets in my past
life known only to me."

"I shall be curious if she can tell me thoughts that I have confided
to no living person," said Monsieur Becker.

Minna entered the room.

"Well, my daughter, and how is your familiar spirit?"

"He suffers, father," she answered, bowing to Wilfrid. "Human
passions, clothed in their false riches, surrounded him all night, and
showed him all the glories of the world. But you think these things
mere tales."

"Tales as beautiful to those who read them in their brains as the
'Arabian Nights' to common minds," said the pastor, smiling.

"Did not Satan carry our Savior to the pinnacle of the Temple, and
show him all the kingdoms of the world?" she said.

"The Evangelists," replied her father, "did not correct their copies
very carefully, and several versions are in existence."

"You believe in the reality of these visions?" said Wilfrid to Minna.

"Who can doubt when he relates them."

"He?" demanded Wilfrid. "Who?"

"He who is there," replied Minna, motioning towards the chateau.

"Are you speaking of Seraphita?" he said.

The young girl bent her head, and looked at him with an expression of
gentle mischief.

"You too!" exclaimed Wilfrid, "you take pleasure in confounding me.
Who and what is she? What do you think of her?"

"What I feel is inexplicable," said Minna, blushing.

"You are all crazy!" cried the pastor.

"Farewell, until to-morrow evening," said Wilfrid.



                             CHAPTER IV

                    THE CLOUDS OF THE SANCTUARY

There are pageants in which all the material splendors that man arrays
co-operate. Nations of slaves and divers have searched the sands of
ocean and the bowels of earth for the pearls and diamonds which adorn
the spectators. Transmitted as heirlooms from generation to
generation, these treasures have shone on consecrated brows and could
be the most faithful of historians had they speech. They know the joys
and sorrows of the great and those of the small. Everywhere do they
go; they are worn with pride at festivals, carried in despair to
usurers, borne off in triumph amid blood and pillage, enshrined in
masterpieces conceived by art for their protection. None, except the
pearl of Cleopatra, has been lost. The Great and the Fortunate
assemble to witness the coronation of some king, whose trappings are
the work of men's hands, but the purple of whose raiment is less
glorious than that of the flowers of the field. These festivals,
splendid in light, bathed in music which the hand of man creates, aye,
all the triumphs of that hand are subdued by a thought, crushed by a
sentiment. The Mind can illumine in a man and round a man a light more
vivid, can open his ear to more melodious harmonies, can seat him on
clouds of shining constellations and teach him to question them. The
Heart can do still greater things. Man may come into the presence of
one sole being and find in a single word, a single look, an influence
so weighty to bear, of so luminous a light, so penetrating a sound,
that he succumbs and kneels before it. The most real of all splendors
are not in outward things, they are within us. A single secret of
science is a realm of wonders to the man of learning. Do the trumpets
of Power, the jewels of Wealth, the music of Joy, or a vast concourse
of people attend his mental festival? No, he finds his glory in some
dim retreat where, perchance, a pallid suffering man whispers a single
word into his ear; that word, like a torch lighted in a mine, reveals
to him a Science. All human ideas, arrayed in every attractive form
which Mystery can invent surrounded a blind man seated in a wayside
ditch. Three worlds, the Natural, the Spiritual, the Divine, with all
their spheres, opened their portals to a Florentine exile; he walked
attended by the Happy and the Unhappy; by those who prayed and those
who moaned; by angels and by souls in hell. When the Sent of God, who
knew and could accomplish all things, appeared to three of his
disciples it was at eventide, at the common table of the humblest of
inns; and then and there the Light broke forth, shattering Material
Forms, illuminating the Spiritual Faculties, so that they saw him in
his glory, and the earth lay at their feet like a cast-off sandal.

Monsieur Becker, Wilfrid, and Minna were all under the influence of
fear as they took their way to meet the extraordinary being whom each
desired to question. To them, in their several ways, the Swedish
castle had grown to mean some gigantic representation, some spectacle
like those whose colors and masses are skilfully and harmoniously
marshalled by the poets, and whose personages, imaginary actors to
men, are real to those who begin to penetrate the Spiritual World. On
the tiers of this Coliseum Monsieur Becker seated the gray legions of
Doubt, the stern ideas, the specious formulas of Dispute. He convoked
the various antagonistic worlds of philosophy and religion, and they
all appeared, in the guise of a fleshless shape, like that in which
art embodies Time,--an old man bearing in one hand a scythe, in the
other a broken globe, the human universe.

Wilfrid had bidden to the scene his earliest illusions and his latest
hopes, human destiny and its conflicts, religion and its conquering
powers.

Minna saw heaven confusedly by glimpses; love raised a curtain wrought
with mysterious images, and the melodious sounds which met her ear
redoubled her curiosity.

To all three, therefore, this evening was to be what that other
evening had been for the pilgrims to Emmaus, what a vision was to
Dante, an inspiration to Homer,--to them, three aspects of the world
revealed, veils rent away, doubts dissipated, darkness illumined.
Humanity in all its moods expecting light could not be better
represented than here by this young girl, this man in the vigor of his
age, and these old men, of whom one was learned enough to doubt, the
other ignorant enough to believe. Never was any scene more simple in
appearance, nor more portentous in reality.

When they entered the room, ushered in by old David, they found
Seraphita standing by a table on which were served the various dishes
which compose a "tea"; a form of collation which in the North takes
the place of wine and its pleasures,--reserved more exclusively for
Southern climes. Certainly nothing proclaimed in her, or in him, a
being with the strange power of appearing under two distinct forms;
nothing about her betrayed the manifold powers which she wielded. Like
a careful housewife attending to the comfort of her guests, she
ordered David to put more wood into the stove.

"Good evening, my neighbors," she said. "Dear Monsieur Becker, you do
right to come; you see me living for the last time, perhaps. This
winter has killed me. Will you sit there?" she said to Wilfrid. "And
you, Minna, here?" pointing to a chair beside her. "I see you have
brought your embroidery. Did you invent that stitch? the design is
very pretty. For whom is it,--your father, or monsieur?" she added,
turning to Wilfrid. "Surely we ought to give him, before we part, a
remembrance of the daughters of Norway."

"Did you suffer much yesterday?" asked Wilfrid.

"It was nothing," she answered; "the suffering gladdened me; it was
necessary, to enable me to leave this life."

"Then death does not alarm you?" said Monsieur Becker, smiling, for he
did not think her ill.

"No, dear pastor; there are two ways of dying: to some, death is
victory, to others, defeat."

"Do you think that you have conquered?" asked Minna.

"I do not know," she said, "perhaps I have only taken a step in the
path."

The lustrous splendor of her brow grew dim, her eyes were veiled
beneath slow-dropping lids; a simple movement which affected the
prying guests and kept them silent. Monsieur Becker was the first to
recover courage.

"Dear child," he said, "you are truth itself, and you are ever kind. I
would ask of you to-night something other than the dainties of your
tea-table. If we may believe certain persons, you know amazing things;
if this be true, would it not be charitable in you to solve a few of
our doubts?"

"Ah!" she said smiling, "I walk on the clouds. I visit the depths of
the fiord; the sea is my steed and I bridle it; I know where the
singing flower grows, and the talking light descends, and fragrant
colors shine! I wear the seal of Solomon; I am a fairy; I cast my
orders to the wind which, like an abject slave, fulfils them; my eyes
can pierce the earth and behold its treasures; for lo! am I not the
virgin to whom the pearls dart from their ocean depths and--"

"--who led me safely to the summit of the Falberg?" said Minna,
interrupting her.

"Thou! thou too!" exclaimed the strange being, with a luminous glance
at the young girl which filled her soul with trouble. "Had I not the
faculty of reading through your foreheads the desires which have
brought you here, should I be what you think I am?" she said,
encircling all three with her controlling glance, to David's great
satisfaction. The old man rubbed his hands with pleasure as he left
the room.

"Ah!" she resumed after a pause, "you have come, all of you, with the
curiosity of children. You, my poor Monsieur Becker, have asked
yourself how it was possible that a girl of seventeen should know even
a single one of those secrets which men of science seek with their
noses to the earth,--instead of raising their eyes to heaven. Were I
to tell you how and at what point the plant merges into the animal you
would begin to doubt your doubts. You have plotted to question me; you
will admit that?"

"Yes, dear Seraphita," answered Wilfrid; "but the desire is a natural
one to men, is it not?"

"You will bore this dear child with such topics," she said, passing
her hand lightly over Minna's hair with a caressing gesture.

The young girl raised her eyes and seemed as though she longed to lose
herself in him.

"Speech is the endowment of us all," resumed the mysterious creature,
gravely. "Woe to him who keeps silence, even in a desert, believing
that no one hears him; all voices speak and all ears listen here
below. Speech moves the universe. Monsieur Becker, I desire to say
nothing unnecessarily. I know the difficulties that beset your mind;
would you not think it a miracle if I were now to lay bare the past
history of your consciousness? Well, the miracle shall be
accomplished. You have never admitted to yourself the full extent of
your doubts. I alone, immovable in my faith, I can show it to you; I
can terrify you with yourself.

"You stand on the darkest side of Doubt. You do not believe in God,
--although you know it not,--and all things here below are secondary
to him who rejects the first principle of things. Let us leave aside
the fruitless discussions of false philosophy. The spiritualist
generations made as many and as vain efforts to deny Matter as the
materialist generations have made to deny Spirit. Why such
discussions? Does not man himself offer irrefragable proof of both
systems? Do we not find in him material things and spiritual things?
None but a madman can refuse to see in the human body a fragment of
Matter; your natural sciences, when they decompose it, find little
difference between its elements and those of other animals. On the
other hand, the idea produced in man by the comparison of many objects
has never seemed to any one to belong to the domain of Matter. As to
this, I offer no opinion. I am now concerned with your doubts, not
with my certainties. To you, as to the majority of thinkers, the
relations between things, the reality of which is proved to you by
your sensations and which you possess the faculty to discover, do not
seem Material. The Natural universe of things and beings ends, in man,
with the Spiritual universe of similarities or differences which he
perceives among the innumerable forms of Nature,--relations so
multiplied as to seem infinite; for if, up to the present time, no one
has been able to enumerate the separate terrestrial creations, who can
reckon their correlations? Is not the fraction which you know, in
relation to their totality, what a single number is to infinity? Here,
then, you fall into a perception of the infinite which undoubtedly
obliges you to conceive of a purely Spiritual world.

"Thus man himself offers sufficient proof of the two orders,--Matter
and Spirit. In him culminates a visible finite universe; in him begins
a universe invisible and infinite,--two worlds unknown to each other.
Have the pebbles of the fiord a perception of their combined being?
have they a consciousness of the colors they present to the eye of
man? do they hear the music of the waves that lap them? Let us
therefore spring over and not attempt to sound the abysmal depths
presented to our minds in the union of a Material universe and a
Spiritual universe,--a creation visible, ponderable, tangible,
terminating in a creation invisible, imponderable, intangible;
completely dissimilar, separated by the void, yet united by
indisputable bonds and meeting in a being who derives equally from the
one and from the other! Let us mingle in one world these two worlds,
absolutely irreconcilable to your philosophies, but conjoined by fact.
However abstract man may suppose the relation which binds two things
together, the line of junction is perceptible. How? Where? We are not
now in search of the vanishing point where Matter subtilizes. If such
were the question, I cannot see why He who has, by physical relations,
studded with stars at immeasurable distances the heavens which veil
Him, may not have created solid substances, nor why you deny Him the
faculty of giving a body to thought.

"Thus your invisible moral universe and your visible physical universe
are one and the same matter. We will not separate properties from
substances, nor objects from effects. All that exists, all that
presses upon us and overwhelms us from above or from below, before us
or in us, all that which our eyes and our minds perceive, all these
named and unnamed things compose--in order to fit the problem of
Creation to the measure of your logic--a block of finite Matter; but
were it infinite, God would still not be its master. Now, reasoning
with your views, dear pastor, no matter in what way God the infinite
is concerned with this block of finite Matter, He cannot exist and
retain the attributes with which man invests Him. Seek Him in facts,
and He is not; spiritually and materially, you have made God
impossible. Listen to the Word of human Reason forced to its ultimate
conclusions.

"In bringing God face to face with the Great Whole, we see that only
two states are possible between them,--either God and Matter are
contemporaneous, or God existed alone before Matter. Were Reason--the
light that has guided the human race from the dawn of its existence
--accumulated in one brain, even that mighty brain could not invent a
third mode of being without suppressing both Matter and God. Let human
philosophies pile mountain upon mountain of words and of ideas, let
religions accumulate images and beliefs, revelations and mysteries,
you must face at last this terrible dilemma and choose between the two
propositions which compose it; you have no option, and one as much as
the other leads human reason to Doubt.

"The problem thus established, what signifies Spirit or Matter? Why
trouble about the march of the worlds in one direction or in  another,
since the Being who guides them is shown to be an absurdity? Why
continue to ask whether man is approaching heaven or receding from it,
whether creation is rising towards Spirit or descending towards
Matter, if the questioned universe gives no reply? What signifies
theogonies and their armies, theologies and their dogmas, since
whichever side of the problem is man's choice, his God exists not? Let
us for a moment take up the first proposition, and suppose God
contemporaneous with Matter. Is subjection to the action or the
co-existence of an alien substance consistent with being God at all?
In such a system, would not God become a secondary agent compelled to
organize Matter? If so, who compelled Him? Between His material gross
companion and Himself, who was the arbiter? Who paid the wages of the
six days' labor imputed to the great Designer? Has any determining
force been found which was neither God nor Matter? God being regarded
as the manufacturer of the machinery of the worlds, is it not as
ridiculous to call Him God as to call the slave who turns the
grindstone a Roman citizen? Besides, another difficulty, as insoluble
to this supreme human reason as it is to God, presents itself.

"If we carry the problem higher, shall we not be like the Hindus, who
put the world upon a tortoise, the tortoise on an elephant, and do not
know on what the feet of their elephant may rest? This supreme will,
issuing from the contest between God and Matter, this God, this more
than God, can He have existed throughout eternity without willing what
He afterwards willed,--admitting that Eternity can be divided into two
eras. No matter where God is, what becomes of His intuitive
intelligence if He did not know His ultimate thought? Which, then, is
the true Eternity,--the created Eternity or the uncreated? But if God
throughout all time did will the world such as it is, this new
necessity, which harmonizes with the idea of sovereign intelligence,
implies the co-eternity of Matter. Whether Matter be co-eternal by a
divine will necessarily accordant with itself from the beginning, or
whether Matter be co-eternal of its own being, the power of God, which
must be absolute, perishes if His will is circumscribed; for in that
case God would find within Him a determining force which would control
Him. Can He be God if He can no more separate Himself from His
creation in a past eternity than in the coming eternity?

"This face of the problem is insoluble in its cause. Let us now
inquire into its effects. If a God compelled to have created the world
from all eternity seems inexplicable, He is quite as unintelligible in
perpetual cohesion with His work. God, constrained to live eternally
united to His creation is held down to His first position as workman.
Can you conceive of a God who shall be neither independent of nor
dependent on His work? Could He destroy that work without challenging
Himself? Ask yourself, and decide! Whether He destroys it some day, or
whether He never destroys it, either way is fatal to the attributes
without which God cannot exist. Is the world an experiment? is it a
perishable form to which destruction must come? If it is, is not God
inconsistent and impotent? inconsistent, because He ought to have seen
the result before the attempt,--moreover why should He delay to
destroy that which He is to destroy?--impotent, for how else could He
have created an imperfect man?

"If an imperfect creation contradicts the faculties which man
attributes to God we are forced back upon the question, Is creation
perfect? The idea is in harmony with that of a God supremely
intelligent who could make no mistakes; but then, what means the
degradation of His work, and its regeneration? Moreover, a perfect
world is, necessarily, indestructible; its forms would not perish, it
could neither advance nor recede, it would revolve in the everlasting
circumference from which it would never issue. In that case God would
be dependent on His work; it would be co-eternal with Him; and so we
fall back into one of the propositions most antagonistic to God. If
the world is imperfect, it can progress; if perfect, it is stationary.
On the other hand, if it be impossible to admit of a progressive God
ignorant through a past eternity of the results of His creative work,
can there be a stationary God? would not that imply the triumph of
Matter? would it not be the greatest of all negations? Under the first
hypothesis God perishes through weakness; under the second through the
Force of his inertia.

"Therefore, to all sincere minds the supposition that Matter, in the
conception and execution of the worlds, is contemporaneous with God,
is to deny God. Forced to choose, in order to govern the nations,
between the two alternatives of the problem, whole generations have
preferred this solution of it. Hence the doctrine of the two
principles of Magianism, brought from Asia and adopted in Europe under
the form of Satan warring with the Eternal Father. But this religious
formula and the innumerable aspects of divinity that have sprung from
it are surely crimes against the Majesty Divine. What other term can
we apply to the belief which sets up as a rival to God a
personification of Evil, striving eternally against the Omnipotent
Mind without the possibility of ultimate triumph? Your statics declare
that two Forces thus pitted against each other are reciprocally
rendered null.

"Do you turn back, therefore, to the other side of the problem, and
say that God pre-existed, original, alone?

"I will not go over the preceding arguments (which here return in full
force) as to the severance of Eternity into two parts; nor the
questions raised by the progression or the immobility of the worlds;
let us look only at the difficulties inherent to this second theory.
If God pre-existed alone, the world must have emanated from Him;
Matter was therefore drawn from His essence; consequently Matter in
itself is non-existent; all forms are veils to cover the Divine
Spirit. If this be so, the World is Eternal, and also it must be God.
Is not this proposition even more fatal than the former to the
attributes conferred on God by human reason? How can the actual
condition of Matter be explained if we suppose it to issue from the
bosom of God and to be ever united with Him? Is it possible to believe
that the All-Powerful, supremely good in His essence and in His
faculties, has engendered things dissimilar to Himself. Must He not in
all things and through all things be like unto Himself? Can there be
in God certain evil parts of which at some future day he may rid
Himself?--a conjecture less offensive and absurd than terrible, for
the reason that it drags back into Him the two principles which the
preceding theory proved to be inadmissible. God must be ONE; He cannot
be divided without renouncing the most important condition of His
existence. It is therefore impossible to admit of a fraction of God
which yet is not God. This hypothesis seemed so criminal to the Roman
Church that she has made the omnipresence of God in the least
particles of the Eucharist an article of faith.

"But how then can we imagine an omnipotent mind which does not
triumph? How associate it unless in triumph with Nature? But Nature is
not triumphant; she seeks, combines, remodels, dies, and is born
again; she is even more convulsed when creating than when all was
fusion; Nature suffers, groans, is ignorant, degenerates, does evil;
deceives herself, annihilates herself, disappears, and begins again.
If God is associated with Nature, how can we explain the inoperative
indifference of the divine principle? Wherefore death? How came it
that Evil, king of the earth, was born of a God supremely good in His
essence and in His faculties, who can produce nothing that is not made
in His own image?

"But if, from this relentless conclusion which leads at once to
absurdity, we pass to details, what end are we to assign to the world?
If all is God, all is reciprocally cause and effect; all is _One_ as God
is _One_, and we can perceive neither points of likeness nor points of
difference. Can the real end be a rotation of Matter which subtilizes
and disappears? In whatever sense it were done, would not this
mechanical trick of Matter issuing from God and returning to God seem
a sort of child's play? Why should God make himself gross with Matter?
Under which form is he most God? Which has the ascendant, Matter or
Spirit, when neither can in any way do wrong? Who can comprehend the
Deity engaged in this perpetual business, by which he divides Himself
into two Natures, one of which knows nothing, while the other knows
all? Can you conceive of God amusing Himself in the form of man,
laughing at His own efforts, dying Friday, to be born again Sunday,
and continuing this play from age to age, knowing the end from all
eternity, and telling nothing to Himself, the Creature, of what He the
Creator, does? The God of the preceding hypothesis, a God so nugatory
by the very power of His inertia, seems the more possible of the two
if we are compelled to choose between the impossibilities with which
this God, so dull a jester, fusillades Himself when two sections of
humanity argue face to face, weapons in hand.

"However absurd this outcome of the second problem may seem, it was
adopted by half the human race in the sunny lands where smiling
mythologies were created. Those amorous nations were consistent; with
them all was God, even Fear and its dastardy, even crime and its
bacchanals. If we accept pantheism,--the religion of many a great
human genius,--who shall say where the greater reason lies? Is it with
the savage, free in the desert, clothed in his nudity, listening to
the sun, talking to the sea, sublime and always true in his deeds
whatever they may be; or shall we find it in civilized man, who
derives his chief enjoyments through lies; who wrings Nature and all
her resources to put a musket on his shoulder; who employs his
intellect to hasten the hour of his death and to create diseases out
of pleasures? When the rake of pestilence and the ploughshare of war
and the demon of desolation have passed over a corner of the globe and
obliterated all things, who will be found to have the greater
reason,--the Nubian savage or the patrician of Thebes? Your doubts
descend the scale, they go from heights to depths, they embrace all,
the end as well as the means.

"But if the physical world seems inexplicable, the moral world
presents still stronger arguments against God. Where, then, is
progress? If all things are indeed moving toward perfection why do we
die young? why do not nations perpetuate themselves? The world having
issued from God and being contained in God can it be stationary? Do we
live once, or do we live always? If we live once, hurried onward by
the march of the Great-Whole, a knowledge of which has not been given
to us, let us act as we please. If we are eternal, let things take
their course. Is the created being guilty if he exists at the instant
of the transitions? If he sins at the moment of a great transformation
will he be punished for it after being its victim? What becomes of the
Divine goodness if we are not transferred to the regions of the blest
--should any such exist? What becomes of God's prescience if He is
ignorant of the results of the trials to which He subjects us? What is
this alternative offered to man by all religions,--either to boil in
some eternal cauldron or to walk in white robes, a palm in his hand
and a halo round his head? Can it be that this pagan invention is the
final word of God? Where is the generous soul who does not feel that
the calculating virtue which seeks the eternity of pleasure offered by
all religions to whoever fulfils at stray moments certain fanciful and
often unnatural conditions, is unworthy of man and of God? Is it not a
mockery to give to man impetuous senses and forbid him to satisfy
them? Besides, what mean these ascetic objections if Good and Evil are
equally abolished? Does Evil exist? If substance in all its forms is
God, then Evil is God. The faculty of reasoning as well as the faculty
of feeling having been given to man to use, nothing can be more
excusable in him than to seek to know the meaning of human suffering
and the prospects of the future.

"If these rigid and rigorous arguments lead to such conclusions
confusion must reign. The world would have no fixedness; nothing would
advance, nothing would pause, all would change, nothing would be
destroyed, all would reappear after self-renovation; for if your mind
does not clearly demonstrate to you an end, it is equally impossible
to demonstrate the destruction of the smallest particle of Matter;
Matter can transform but not annihilate itself.

"Though blind force may provide arguments for the atheist, intelligent
force is inexplicable; for if it emanates from God, why should it meet
with obstacles? ought not its triumph to be immediate? Where is God?
If the living cannot perceive Him, can the dead find Him? Crumble, ye
idolatries and ye religions! Fall, feeble keystones of all social
arches, powerless to retard the decay, the death, the oblivion that
have overtaken all nations however firmly founded! Fall, morality and
justice! our crimes are purely relative; they are divine effects whose
causes we are not allowed to know. All is God. Either we are God or
God is not!--Child of a century whose every year has laid upon your
brow, old man, the ice of its unbelief, here, here is the summing up
of your lifetime of thought, of your science and your reflections!
Dear Monsieur Becker, you have laid your head upon the pillow of
Doubt, because it is the easiest of solutions; acting in this respect
with the majority of mankind, who say in their hearts: 'Let us think
no more of these problems, since God has not vouchsafed to grant us
the algebraic demonstrations that could solve them, while He has given
us so many other ways to get from earth to heaven.'

"Tell me, dear pastor, are not these your secret thoughts? Have I
evaded the point of any? nay, rather, have I not clearly stated all?
First, in the dogma of two principles,--an antagonism in which God
perishes for the reason that being All-Powerful He chose to combat.
Secondly, in the absurd pantheism where, all being God, God exists no
longer. These two sources, from which have flowed all the religions
for whose triumph Earth has toiled and prayed, are equally pernicious.
Behold in them the double-bladed axe with which you decapitate the
white old man whom you enthrone among your painted clouds! And now, to
me the axe, I wield it!"

Monsieur Becker and Wilfrid gazed at the young girl with something
like terror.

"To believe," continued Seraphita, in her Woman's voice, for the Man
had finished speaking, "to believe is a gift. To believe is to feel.
To believe in God we must feel God. This feeling is a possession
slowly acquired by the human being, just as other astonishing powers
which you admire in great men, warriors, artists, scholars, those who
know and those who act, are acquired. Thought, that budget of the
relations which you perceive among created things, is an intellectual
language which can be learned, is it not? Belief, the budget of
celestial truths, is also a language as superior to thought as thought
is to instinct. This language also can be learned. The Believer
answers with a single cry, a single gesture; Faith puts within his
hand a flaming sword with which he pierces and illumines all. The Seer
attains to heaven and descends not. But there are beings who believe
and see, who know and will, who love and pray and wait. Submissive,
yet aspiring to the kingdom of light, they have neither the aloofness
of the Believer nor the silence of the Seer; they listen and reply. To
them the doubt of the twilight ages is not a murderous weapon, but a
divining rod; they accept the contest under every form; they train
their tongues to every language; they are never angered, though they
groan; the acrimony of the aggressor is not in them, but rather the
softness and tenuity of light, which penetrates and warms and
illumines. To their eyes Doubt is neither an impiety, nor a blasphemy,
nor a crime, but a transition through which men return upon their
steps in the Darkness, or advance into the Light. This being so, dear
pastor, let us reason together.

"You do not believe in God? Why? God, to your thinking, is
incomprehensible, inexplicable. Agreed. I will not reply that to
comprehend God in His entirety would be to be God; nor will I tell you
that you deny what seems to you inexplicable so as to give me the
right to affirm that which to me is believable. There is, for you, one
evident fact, which lies within yourself. In you, Matter has ended in
intelligence; can you therefore think that human intelligence will end
in darkness, doubt, and nothingness? God may seem to you
incomprehensible and inexplicable, but you must admit Him to be, in
all things purely physical, a splendid and consistent workman. Why
should His craft stop short at man, His most finished creation?

"If that question is not convincing, at least it compels meditation.
Happily, although you deny God, you are obliged, in order to establish
your doubts, to admit those double-bladed facts, which kill your
arguments as much as your arguments kill God. We have also admitted
that Matter and Spirit are two creations which do not comprehend each
other; that the spiritual world is formed of infinite relations to
which the finite material world has given rise; that if no one on
earth is able to identify himself by the power of his spirit with the
great-whole of terrestrial creations, still less is he able to rise to
the knowledge of the relations which the spirit perceives between
these creations.

"We might end the argument here in one word, by denying you the
faculty of comprehending God, just as you deny to the pebbles of the
fiord the faculties of counting and of seeing each other. How do you
know that the stones themselves do not deny the existence of man,
though man makes use of them to build his houses? There is one fact
that appals you,--the Infinite; if you feel it within, why will you
not admit its consequences? Can the finite have a perfect knowledge of
the infinite? If you cannot perceive those relations which, according
to your own admission, are infinite, how can you grasp a sense of the
far-off end to which they are converging? Order, the revelation of
which is one of your needs, being infinite, can your limited reason
apprehend it? Do not ask why man does not comprehend that which he is
able to perceive, for he is equally able to perceive that which he
does not comprehend. If I prove to you that your mind ignores that
which lies within its compass, will you grant that it is impossible
for it to conceive whatever is beyond it? This being so, am I not
justified in saying to you: 'One of the two propositions under which
God is annihilated before the tribunal of our reason must be true, the
other is false. Inasmuch as creation exists, you feel the necessity of
an end, and that end should be good, should it not? Now, if Matter
terminates in man by intelligence, why are you not satisfied to
believe that the end of human intelligence is the Light of the higher
spheres, where alone an intuition of that God who seems so insoluble a
problem is obtained? The species which are beneath you have no
conception of the universe, and you have; why should there not be
other species above you more intelligent than your own? Man ought to
be better informed than he is about himself before he spends his
strength in measuring God. Before attacking the stars that light us,
and the higher certainties, ought he not to understand the certainties
which are actually about him?'

"But no! to the negations of doubt I ought rather to reply by
negations. Therefore I ask you whether there is anything here below so
evident that I can put faith in it? I will show you in a moment that
you believe firmly in things which act, and yet are not beings; in
things which engender thought, and yet are not spirits; in living
abstractions which the understanding cannot grasp in any shape, which
are in fact nowhere, but which you perceive everywhere; which have,
and can have, on name, but which, nevertheless, you have named; and
which, like the God of flesh upon whom you figure to yourself, remain
inexplicable, incomprehensible, and absurd. I shall also ask you why,
after admitting the existence of these incomprehensible things, you
reserve your doubts for God?

"You believe, for instance, in Number,--a base on which you have built
the edifice of sciences which you call 'exact.' Without Number, what
would become of mathematics? Well, what mysterious being endowed with
the faculty of living forever could utter, and what language would be
compact to word the Number which contains the infinite numbers whose
existence is revealed to you by thought? Ask it of the loftiest human
genius; he might ponder it for a thousand years and what would be his
answer? You know neither where Number begins, nor where it pauses, nor
where it ends. Here you call it Time, there you call it Space. Nothing
exists except by Number. Without it, all would be one and the same
substance; for Number alone differentiates and qualifies substance.
Number is to your Spirit what it is to Matter, an incomprehensible
agent. Will you make a Deity of it? Is it a being? Is it a breath
emanating from God to organize the material universe where nothing
obtains form except by the Divinity which is an effect of Number? The
least as well as the greatest of creations are distinguishable from
each other by quantities, qualities, dimensions, forces,--all
attributes created by Number. The infinitude of Numbers is a fact
proved to your soul, but of which no material proof can be given. The
mathematician himself tells you that the infinite of numbers exists,
but cannot be proved.

"God, dear pastor, is a Number endowed with motion,--felt, but not
seen, the Believer will tell you. Like the Unit, He begins Number,
with which He has nothing in common. The existence of Number depends
on the Unit, which without being a number engenders Number. God, dear
pastor is a glorious Unit who has nothing in common with His creations
but who, nevertheless, engenders them. Will you not therefore agree
with me that you are just as ignorant of where Number begins and ends
as you are of where created Eternity begins and ends?

"Why, then, if you believe in Number, do you deny God? Is not Creation
interposed between the Infinite of unorganized substances and the
Infinite of the divine spheres, just as the Unit stands between the
Cipher of the fractions you have lately named Decimals, and the
Infinite of Numbers which you call Wholes? Man alone on earth
comprehends Number, that first step of the peristyle which leads to
God, and yet his reason stumbles on it! What! you can neither measure
nor grasp the first abstraction which God delivers to you, and yet you
try to subject His ends to your own tape-line! Suppose that I plunge
you into the abyss of Motion, the force that organizes Number. If I
tell you that the Universe is naught else than Number and Motion, you
would see at once that we speak two different languages. I understand
them both; you understand neither.

"Suppose I add that Motion and Number are engendered by the Word,
namely the supreme Reason of Seers and Prophets who in the olden time
heard the Breath of God beneath which Saul fell to the earth. That
Word, you scoff at it, you men, although you well know that all
visible works, societies, monuments, deeds, passions, proceed from the
breath of your own feeble word, and that without that word you would
resemble the African gorilla, the nearest approach to man, the Negro.
You believe firmly in Number and in Motion, a force and a result both
inexplicable, incomprehensible, to the existence of which I may apply
the logical dilemma which, as we have seen, prevents you from
believing in God. Powerful reasoner that you are, you do not need that
I should prove to you that the Infinite must everywhere be like unto
Itself, and that, necessarily, it is One. God alone is Infinite, for
surely there cannot be two Infinities, two Ones. If, to make use of
human terms, anything demonstrated to you here below seems to you
infinite, be sure that within it you will find some one aspect of God.
But to continue.

"You have appropriated to yourself a place in the Infinite of Number;
you have fitted it to your own proportions by creating (if indeed you
did create) arithmetic, the basis on which all things rest, even your
societies. Just as Number--the only thing in which your self-styled
atheists believe--organized physical creations, so arithmetic, in the
employ of Number, organized the moral world. This numeration must be
absolute, like all else that is true in itself; but it is purely
relative, it does not exist absolutely, and no proof can be given of
its reality. In the first place, though Numeration is able to take
account of organized substances, it is powerless in relation to
unorganized forces, the ones being finite and the others infinite. The
man who can conceive the Infinite by his intelligence cannot deal with
it in its entirety; if he could, he would be God. Your Numeration,
applying to things finite and not to the Infinite, is therefore true
in relation to the details which you are able to perceive, and false
in relation to the Whole, which you are unable to perceive. Though
Nature is like unto herself in the organizing force or in her
principles which are infinite, she is not so in her finite effects.
Thus you will never find in Nature two objects identically alike. In
the Natural Order two and two never make four; to do so, four exactly
similar units must be had, and you know how impossible it is to find
two leaves alike on the same tree, or two trees alike of the same
species. This axiom of your numeration, false in visible nature, is
equally false in the invisible universe of your abstractions, where
the same variance takes place in your ideas, which are the things of
the visible world extended by means of their relations; so that the
variations here are even more marked than elsewhere. In fact, all
being relative to the temperament, strength, habits, and customs of
individuals, who never resemble each other, the smallest objects take
the color of personal feelings. For instance, man has been able to
create units and to give an equal weight and value to bits of gold.
Well, take the ducat of the rich man and the ducat of the poor man to
a money-changer and they are rated exactly equal, but to the mind of
the thinker one is of greater importance than the other; one
represents a month of comfort, the other an ephemeral caprice. Two and
two, therefore, only make four through a false conception.

"Again: fraction does not exist in Nature, where what you call a
fragment is a finished whole. Does it not often happen (have you not
many proofs of it?) that the hundredth part of a substance is stronger
than what you term the whole of it? If fraction does not exist in the
Natural Order, still less shall we find it in the Moral Order, where
ideas and sentiments may be as varied as the species of the Vegetable
kingdom and yet be always whole. The theory of fractions is therefore
another signal instance of the servility of your mind.

"Thus Number, with its infinite minuteness and its infinite expansion,
is a power whose weakest side is known to you, but whose real import
escapes your perception. You have built yourself a hut in the Infinite
of numbers, you have adorned it with hieroglyphics scientifically
arranged and painted, and you cry out, 'All is here!'

"Let us pass from pure, unmingled Number to corporate Number. Your
geometry establishes that a straight line is the shortest way from one
point to another, but your astronomy proves that God has proceeded by
curves. Here, then, we find two truths equally proved by the same
science,--one by the testimony of your senses reinforced by the
telescope, the other by the testimony of your mind; and yet the one
contradicts the other. Man, liable to err, affirms one, and the Maker
of the worlds, whom, so far, you have not detected in error,
contradicts it. Who shall decide between rectalinear and curvilinear
geometry? between the theory of the straight line and that of the
curve? If, in His vast work, the mysterious Artificer, who knows how
to reach His ends miraculously fast, never employs a straight line
except to cut off an angle and so obtain a curve, neither does man
himself always rely upon it. The bullet which he aims direct proceeds
by a curve, and when you wish to strike a certain point in space, you
impel your bombshell along its cruel parabola. None of your men of
science have drawn from this fact the simple deduction that the Curve
is the law of the material worlds and the Straight line that of the
Spiritual worlds; one is the theory of finite creations, the other the
theory of the infinite. Man, who alone in the world has a knowledge of
the Infinite, can alone know the straight line; he alone has the sense
of verticality placed in a special organ. A fondness for the creations
of the curve would seem to be in certain men an indication of the
impurity of their nature still conjoined to the material substances
which engender us; and the love of great souls for the straight line
seems to show in them an intuition of heaven. Between these two lines
there is a gulf fixed like that between the finite and the infinite,
between matter and spirit, between man and the idea, between motion
and the object moved, between the creature and God. Ask Love the
Divine to grant you his wings and you can cross that gulf. Beyond it
begins the revelation of the Word.

"No part of those things which you call material is without its own
meaning; lines are the boundaries of solid parts and imply a force of
action which you suppress in your formulas,--thus rendering those
formulas false in relation to substances taken as a whole. Hence the
constant destruction of the monuments of human labor, which you
supply, unknown to yourselves, with acting properties. Nature has
substances; your science combines only their appearances. At every
step Nature gives the lie to all your laws. Can you find a single one
that is not disproved by a fact? Your Static laws are at the mercy of
a thousand accidents; a fluid can overthrow a solid mountain and prove
that the heaviest substances may be lifted by one that is
imponderable.

"Your laws on Acoustics and Optics are defied by the sounds which you
hear within yourselves in sleep, and by the light of an electric sun
whose rays often overcome you. You know no more how light makes itself
seen within you, than you know the simple and natural process which
changes it on the throats of tropic birds to rubies, sapphires,
emeralds, and opals, or keeps it gray and brown on the breasts of the
same birds under the cloudy skies of Europe, or whitens it here in the
bosom of our polar Nature. You know not how to decide whether color is
a faculty with which all substances are endowed, or an effect produced
by an effluence of light. You admit the saltness of the sea without
being able to prove that the water is salt at its greatest depth. You
recognize the existence of various substances which span what you
think to be the void,--substances which are not tangible under any of
the forms assumed by Matter, although they put themselves in harmony
with Matter in spite of every obstacle.

"All this being so, you believe in the results of Chemistry, although
that science still knows no way of gauging the changes produced by the
flux and reflux of substances which come and go across your crystals
and your instruments on the impalpable filaments of heat or light
conducted and projected by the affinities of metal or vitrified flint.
You obtain none but dead substances, from which you have driven the
unknown force that holds in check the decomposition of all things here
below, and of which cohesion, attraction, vibration, and polarity are
but phenomena. Life is the thought of substances; bodies are only the
means of fixing life and holding it to its way. If bodies were beings
living of themselves they would be Cause itself, and could not die.

"When a man discovers the results of the general movement, which is
shared by all creations according to their faculty of absorption, you
proclaim him mighty in science, as though genius consisted in
explaining a thing that is! Genius ought to cast its eyes beyond
effects. Your men of science would laugh if you said to them: 'There
exist such positive relations between two human beings, one of whom
may be here, and the other in Java, that they can at the same instant
feel the same sensation, and be conscious of so doing; they can
question each other and reply without mistake'; and yet there are
mineral substances which exhibit sympathies as far off from each other
as those of which I speak. You believe in the power of the electricity
which you find in the magnet and you deny that which emanates from the
soul! According to you, the moon, whose influence upon the tides you
think fixed, has none whatever upon the winds, nor upon navigation,
nor upon men; she moves the sea, but she must not affect the sick
folk; she has undeniable relations with one half of humanity, and
nothing at all to do with the other half. These are your vaunted
certainties!

"Let us go a step further. You believe in physics. But your physics
begin, like the Catholic religion, with an _act of faith_. Do they not
pre-suppose some external force distinct from substance to which it
communicates motion? You see its effects, but what is it? where is it?
what is the essence of its nature, its life? has it any limits?--and
yet, you deny God!

"Thus, the majority of your scientific axioms, true to their relation
to man, are false in relation to the Great Whole. Science is One, but
you have divided it. To know the real meaning of the laws of phenomena
must we not know the correlations which exist between phenomena and
the law of the Whole? There is, in all things, an appearance which
strikes your senses; under that appearance stirs a soul; a body is
there and a faculty is there. Where do you teach the study of the
relations which bind things to each other? Nowhere. Consequently you
have nothing positive. Your strongest certainties rest upon the
analysis of material forms whose essence you persistently ignore.

"There is a Higher Knowledge of which, too late, some men obtain a
glimpse, though they dare not avow it. Such men comprehend the
necessity of considering substances not merely in their mathematical
properties but also in their entirety, in their occult relations and
affinities. The greatest man among you divined, in his latter days,
that all was reciprocally cause and effect; that the visible worlds
were co-ordinated among themselves and subject to worlds invisible. He
groaned at the recollection of having tried to establish fixed
precepts. Counting up his worlds, like grape-seeds scattered through
ether, he had explained their coherence by the laws of planetary and
molecular attraction. You bowed before that man of science--well! I
tell you that he died in despair. By supposing that the centrifugal
and centripetal forces, which he had invented to explain to himself
the universe, were equal, he stopped the universe; yet he admitted
motion in an indeterminate sense; but supposing those forces unequal,
then utter confusion of the planetary system ensued. His laws
therefore were not absolute; some higher problem existed than the
principle on which his false glory rested. The connection of the stars
with one another and the centripetal action of their internal motion
did not deter him from seeking the parent stalk on which his clusters
hung. Alas, poor man! the more he widened space the heavier his burden
grew. He told you how there came to be equilibrium among the parts,
but whither went the whole? His mind contemplated the vast extent,
illimitable to human eyes, filled with those groups of worlds a mere
fraction of which is all our telescopes can reach, but whose immensity
is revealed by the rapidity of light. This sublime contemplation
enabled him to perceive myriads of worlds, planted in space like
flowers in a field, which are born like infants, grow like men, die as
the aged die, and live by assimilating from their atmosphere the
substances suitable for their nourishment,--having a centre and a
principal of life, guaranteeing to each other their circuits, absorbed
and absorbing like plants, and forming a vast Whole endowed with life
and possessing a destiny.

"At that sight your man of science trembled! He knew that life is
produced by the union of the thing and its principle, that death or
inertia or gravity is produced by a rupture between a thing and the
movement which appertains to it. Then it was that he foresaw the
crumbling of the worlds and their destruction if God should withdraw
the Breath of His Word. He searched the Apocalypse for the traces of
that Word. You thought him mad. Understand him better! He was seeking
pardon for the work of his genius.

"Wilfrid, you have come here hoping to make me solve equations, or
rise upon a rain-cloud, or plunge into the fiord and reappear a swan.
If science or miracles were the end and object of humanity, Moses
would have bequeathed to you the law of fluxions; Jesus Christ would
have lightened the darkness of your sciences; his apostles would have
told you whence come those vast trains of gas and melted metals,
attached to cores which revolve and solidify as they dart through
ether, or violently enter some system and combine with a star,
jostling and displacing it by the shock, or destroying it by the
infiltration of their deadly gases; Saint Paul, instead of telling you
to live in God, would have explained why food is the secret bond among
all creations and the evident tie between all living Species. In these
days the greatest miracle of all would be the discovery of the
squaring of the circle,--a problem which you hold to be insoluble, but
which is doubtless solved in the march of worlds by the intersection
of some mathematical lines whose course is visible to the eye of
spirits who have reached the higher spheres. Believe me, miracles are
in us, not without us. Here natural facts occur which men call
supernatural. God would have been strangely unjust had he confined the
testimony of his power to certain generations and peoples and denied
them to others. The brazen rod belongs to all. Neither Moses, nor
Jacob, nor Zoroaster, nor Paul, nor Pythagoras, nor Swedenborg, not
the humblest Messenger nor the loftiest Prophet of the Most High are
greater than you are capable of being. Only, there come to nations as
to men certain periods when Faith is theirs.

"If material sciences be the end and object of human effort, tell me,
both of you, would societies,--those great centres where men
congregate,--would they perpetually be dispersed? If civilization were
the object of our Species, would intelligence perish? would it
continue purely individual? The grandeur of all nations that were
truly great was based on exceptions; when the exception ceased their
power died. If such were the End-all, Prophets, Seers, and Messengers
of God would have lent their hand to Science rather than have given it
to Belief. Surely they would have quickened your brains sooner than
have touched your hearts! But no; one and all they came to lead the
nations back to God; they proclaimed the sacred Path in simple words
that showed the way to heaven; all were wrapped in love and faith, all
were inspired by that _word_ which hovers above the inhabitants of
earth, enfolding them, inspiriting them, uplifting them; none were
prompted by any human interest. Your great geniuses, your poets, your
kings, your learned men are engulfed with their cities; while the
names of these good pastors of humanity, ever blessed, have survived
all cataclysms.

"Alas! we cannot understand each other on any point. We are separated
by an abyss. You are on the side of darkness, while I--I live in the
light, the true Light! Is this the word that you ask of me? I say it
with joy; it may change you. Know this: there are sciences of matter
and sciences of spirit. There, where you see substances, I see forces
that stretch one toward another with generating power. To me, the
character of bodies is the indication of their principles and the sign
of their properties. Those principles beget affinities which escape
your knowledge, and which are linked to centres. The different species
among which life is distributed are unfailing streams which correspond
unfailingly among themselves. Each has his own vocation. Man is effect
and cause. He is fed, but he feeds in turn. When you call God a
Creator, you dwarf Him. He did not create, as you think He did, plants
or animals or stars. Could He proceed by a variety of means? Must He
not act by unity of composition? Moreover, He gave forth principles to
be developed, according to His universal law, at the will of the
surroundings in which they were placed. Hence a single substance and
motion, a single plant, a single animal, but correlations everywhere.
In fact, all affinities are linked together by contiguous similitudes;
the life of the worlds is drawn toward the centres by famished
aspiration, as you are drawn by hunger to seek food.

"To give you an example of affinities linked to similitudes (a
secondary law on which the creations of your thought are based),
music, that celestial art, is the working out of this principle; for
is it not a complement of sounds harmonized by number? Is not sound a
modification of air, compressed, dilated, echoed? You know the
composition of air,--oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon. As you cannot
obtain sound from the void, it is plain that music and the human voice
are the result of organized chemical substances, which put themselves
in unison with the same substances prepared within you by your
thought, co-ordinated by means of light, the great nourisher of your
globe. Have you ever meditated on the masses of nitre deposited by the
snow, have you ever observed a thunderstorm and seen the plants
breathing in from the air about them the metal it contains, without
concluding that the sun has fused and distributed the subtle essence
which nourishes all things here below? Swedenborg has said, 'The earth
is a man.'

"Your Science, which makes you great in your own eyes, is paltry
indeed beside the light which bathes a Seer. Cease, cease to question
me; our languages are different. For a moment I have used yours to
cast, if it be possible, a ray of faith into your soul; to give you,
as it were, the hem of my garment and draw you up into the regions of
Prayer. Can God abase Himself to you? Is it not for you to rise to
Him? If human reason finds the ladder of its own strength too weak to
bring God down to it, is it not evident that you must find some other
path to reach Him? That Path is in ourselves. The Seer and the
Believer find eyes within their souls more piercing far than eyes that
probe the things of earth,--they see the Dawn. Hear this truth: Your
science, let it be never so exact, your meditations, however bold,
your noblest lights are Clouds. Above, above is the Sanctuary whence
the true Light flows."

She sat down and remained silent; her calm face bore no sign of the
agitation which orators betray after their least fervid
improvisations.

Wilfrid bent toward Monsieur Becker and said in a low voice, "Who
taught her that?"

"I do not know," he answered.

"He was gentler on the Falberg," Minna whispered to herself.

Seraphita passed her hand across her eyes and then she said,
smiling:--

"You are very thoughtful to-night, gentlemen. You treat Minna and me
as though we were men to whom you must talk politics or commerce;
whereas we are young girls, and you ought to tell us tales while you
drink your tea. That is what we do, Monsieur Wilfrid, in our long
Norwegian evenings. Come, dear pastor, tell me some Saga that I have
not heard,--that of Frithiof, the chronicle that you believe and have
so often promised me. Tell us the story of the peasant lad who owned
the ship that talked and had a soul. Come! I dream of the frigate
Ellida, the fairy with the sails young girls should navigate!"

"Since we have returned to the regions of Jarvis," said Wilfrid, whose
eyes were fastened on Seraphita as those of a robber, lurking in the
darkness, fasten on the spot where he knows the jewels lie, "tell me
why you do not marry?"

"You are all born widows and widowers," she replied; "but my marriage
was arranged at my birth. I am betrothed."

"To whom?" they cried.

"Ask not my secret," she said; "I will promise, if our father permits
it, to invite you to these mysterious nuptials."

"Will they be soon?"

"I think so."

A long silence followed these words.

"The spring has come!" said Seraphita, suddenly. "The noise of the
waters and the breaking of the ice begins. Come, let us welcome the
first spring of the new century."

She rose, followed by Wilfrid, and together they went to a window
which David had opened. After the long silence of winter, the waters
stirred beneath the ice and resounded through the fiord like music,
--for there are sounds which space refines, so that they reach the
ear in waves of light and freshness.

"Wilfrid, cease to nourish evil thoughts whose triumph would be hard
to bear. Your desires are easily read in the fire of your eyes. Be
kind; take one step forward in well-doing. Advance beyond the love of
man and sacrifice yourself completely to the happiness of her you
love. Obey me; I will lead you in a path where you shall obtain the
distinctions which you crave, and where Love is infinite indeed."

She left him thoughtful.

"That soft creature!" he said within himself; "is she indeed the
prophetess whose eyes have just flashed lightnings, whose voice has
rung through worlds, whose hand has wielded the axe of doubt against
our sciences? Have we been dreaming? Am I awake?"

"Minna," said Seraphita, returning to the young girl, "the eagle
swoops where the carrion lies, but the dove seeks the mountain spring
beneath the peaceful greenery of the glades. The eagle soars to
heaven, the dove descends from it. Cease to venture into regions where
thou canst find no spring of waters, no umbrageous shade. If on the
Falberg thou couldst not gaze into the abyss and live, keep all thy
strength for him who will love thee. Go, poor girl; thou knowest, I am
betrothed."

Minna rose and followed Seraphita to the window where Wilfrid stood.
All three listened to the Sieg bounding out the rush of the upper
waters, which brought down trees uprooted by the ice; the fiord had
regained its voice; all illusions were dispelled! They rejoiced in
Nature as she burst her bonds and seemed to answer with sublime accord
to the Spirit whose breath had wakened her.

When the three guests of this mysterious being left the house, they
were filled with the vague sensation which is neither sleep, nor
torpor, nor astonishment, but partakes of the nature of each,--a state
that is neither dusk nor dawn, but which creates a thirst for light.
All three were thinking.

"I begin to believe that she is indeed a Spirit hidden in human form,"
said Monsieur Becker.

Wilfrid, re-entering his own apartments, calm and convinced, was
unable to struggle against that influence so divinely majestic.

Minna said in her heart, "Why will he not let me love him!"



                             CHAPTER V

                             FAREWELL

There is in man an almost hopeless phenomenon for thoughtful minds who
seek a meaning in the march of civilization, and who endeavor to give
laws of progression to the movement of intelligence. However
portentous a fact may be, or even supernatural,--if such facts exist,
--however solemnly a miracle may be done in sight of all, the
lightning of that fact, the thunderbolt of that miracle is quickly
swallowed up in the ocean of life, whose surface, scarcely stirred by
the brief convulsion, returns to the level of its habitual flow.

A Voice is heard from the jaws of an Animal; a Hand writes on the wall
before a feasting Court; an Eye gleams in the slumber of a king, and a
Prophet explains the dream; Death, evoked, rises on the confines of
the luminous sphere were faculties revive; Spirit annihilates Matter
at the foot of that mystic ladder of the Seven Spiritual Worlds, one
resting upon another in space and revealing themselves in shining
waves that break in light upon the steps of the celestial Tabernacle.
But however solemn the inward Revelation, however clear the visible
outward Sign, be sure that on the morrow Balaam doubts both himself
and his ass, Belshazzar and Pharoah call Moses and Daniel to qualify
the Word. The Spirit, descending, bears man above this earth, opens
the seas and lets him see their depths, shows him lost species, wakens
dry bones whose dust is the soil of valleys; the Apostle writes the
Apocalypse, and twenty centuries later human science ratifies his
words and turns his visions into maxims. And what comes of it all? Why
this,--that the peoples live as they have ever lived, as they lived in
the first Olympiad, as they lived on the morrow of Creation, and on
the eve of the great cataclysm. The waves of Doubt have covered all
things. The same floods surge with the same measured motion on the
human granite which serves as a boundary to the ocean of intelligence.
When man has inquired of himself whether he has seen that which he has
seen, whether he has heard the words that entered his ears, whether
the facts were facts and the idea is indeed an idea, then he resumes
his wonted bearing, thinks of his worldly interests, obeys some envoy
of death and of oblivion whose dusky mantle covers like a pall an
ancient Humanity of which the moderns retain no memory. Man never
pauses; he goes his round, he vegetates until the appointed day when
his Axe falls. If this wave force, this pressure of bitter waters
prevents all progress, no doubt it also warns of death. Spirits
prepared by faith among the higher souls of earth can alone perceive
the mystic ladder of Jacob.

After listening to Seraphita's answer in which (being earnestly
questioned) she unrolled before their eyes a Divine Perspective,--as
an organ fills a church with sonorous sound and reveals a musical
universe, its solemn tones rising to the loftiest arches and playing,
like light, upon their foliated capitals,--Wilfrid returned to his own
room, awed by the sight of a world in ruins, and on those ruins the
brilliance of mysterious lights poured forth in torrents by the hand
of a young girl. On the morrow he still thought of these things, but
his awe was gone; he felt he was neither destroyed nor changed; his
passions, his ideas awoke in full force, fresh and vigorous. He went
to breakfast with Monsieur Becker and found the old man absorbed in
the "Treatise on Incantations," which he had searched since early
morning to convince his guest that there was nothing unprecedented in
all that they had seen and heard at the Swedish castle. With the
childlike trustfulness of a true scholar he had folded down the pages
in which Jean Wier related authentic facts which proved the
possibility of the events that had happened the night before,--for to
learned men an idea is a event, just as the greatest events often
present no idea at all to them. By the time they had swallowed their
fifth cup of tea, these philosophers had come to think the mysterious
scene of the preceding evening wholly natural. The celestial truths to
which they had listened were arguments susceptible of examination;
Seraphita was a girl, more or less eloquent; allowance must be made
for the charms of her voice, her seductive beauty, her fascinating
motions, in short, for all those oratorical arts by which an actor
puts a world of sentiment and thought into phrases which are often
commonplace.

"Bah!" said the worthy pastor, making a philosophical grimace as he
spread a layer of salt butter on his slice of bread, "the final word
of all these fine enigmas is six feet under ground."

"But," said Wilfrid, sugaring his tea, "I cannot image how a young
girl of seventeen can know so much; what she said was certainly a
compact argument."

"Read the account of that Italian woman," said Monsieur Becker, "who
at the age of twelve spoke forty-two languages, ancient and modern;
also the history of that monk who could guess thought by smell. I can
give you a thousand such cases from Jean Wier and other writers."

"I admit all that, dear pastor; but to my thinking, Seraphita would
make a perfect wife."

"She is all mind," said Monsieur Becker, dubiously.

Several days went by, during which the snow in the valleys melted
gradually away; the green of the forests and of the grass began to
show; Norwegian Nature made ready her wedding garments for her brief
bridal of a day. During this period, when the softened air invited
every one to leave the house, Seraphita remained at home in solitude.
When at last she admitted Minna the latter saw at once the ravages of
inward fever; Seraphita's voice was hollow, her skin pallid; hitherto
a poet might have compared her lustre to that of diamonds,--now it was
that of a topaz.

"Have you seen her?" asked Wilfrid, who had wandered around the
Swedish dwelling waiting for Minna's return.

"Yes," answered the young girl, weeping; "We must lose him!"

"Mademoiselle," cried Wilfrid, endeavoring to repress the loud tones
of his angry voice, "do not jest with me. You can love Seraphita only
as one young girl can love another, and not with the love which she
inspires in me. You do not know your danger if my jealousy were really
aroused. Why can I not go to her? Is it you who stand in my way?"

"I do not know by what right you probe my heart," said Minna, calm in
appearance, but inwardly terrified. "Yes, I love him," she said,
recovering the courage of her convictions, that she might, for once,
confess the religion of her heart. "But my jealousy, natural as it is
in love, fears no one here below. Alas! I am jealous of a secret
feeling that absorbs him. Between him and me there is a great gulf
fixed which I cannot cross. Would that I knew who loves him best, the
stars or I! which of us would sacrifice our being most eagerly for his
happiness! Why should I not be free to avow my love? In the presence
of death we may declare our feelings,--and Seraphitus is about to
die."

"Minna, you are mistaken; the siren I so love and long for, she, whom
I have seen, feeble and languid, on her couch of furs, is not a young
man."

"Monsieur," answered Minna, distressfully, "the being whose powerful
hand guided me on the Falberg, who led me to the saeter sheltered
beneath the Ice-Cap, there--" she said, pointing to the peak, "is not
a feeble girl. Ah, had you but heard him prophesying! His poem was the
music of thought. A young girl never uttered those solemn tones of a
voice which stirred my soul."

"What certainty have you?" said Wilfrid.

"None but that of the heart," answered Minna.

"And I," cried Wilfrid, casting on his companion the terrible glance
of the earthly desire that kills, "I, too, know how powerful is her
empire over me, and I will undeceive you."

At this moment, while the words were rushing from Wilfrid's lips as
rapidly as the thoughts surged in his brain, they saw Seraphita coming
towards them from the house, followed by David. The apparition calmed
the man's excitement.

"Look," he said, "could any but a woman move with that grace and
langor?"

"He suffers; he comes forth for the last time," said Minna.

David went back at a sign from his mistress, who advanced towards
Wilfrid and Minna.

"Let us go to the falls of the Sieg," she said, expressing one of
those desires which suddenly possess the sick and which the well
hasten to obey.

A thin white mist covered the valleys around the fiord and the sides
of the mountains, whose icy summits, sparkling like stars, pierced the
vapor and gave it the appearance of a moving milky way. The sun was
visible through the haze like a globe of red fire. Though winter still
lingered, puffs of warm air laden with the scent of the birch-trees,
already adorned with their rosy efflorescence, and of the larches,
whose silken tassels were beginning to appear,--breezes tempered by
the incense and the sighs of earth,--gave token of the glorious
Northern spring, the rapid, fleeting joy of that most melancholy of
Natures. The wind was beginning to lift the veil of mist which
half-obscured the gulf. The birds sang. The bark of the trees where the
sun had not yet dried the clinging hoar-frost shone gayly to the eye in
its fantastic wreathings which trickled away in murmuring rivulets as
the warmth reached them. The three friends walked in silence along the
shore. Wilfrid and Minna alone noticed the magic transformation that
was taking place in the monotonous picture of the winter landscape.
Their companion walked in thought, as though a voice were sounding to
her ears in this concert of Nature.

Presently they reached the ledge of rocks through which the Sieg had
forced its way, after escaping from the long avenue cut by its waters
in an undulating line through the forest,--a fluvial pathway flanked
by aged firs and roofed with strong-ribbed arches like those of a
cathedral. Looking back from that vantage-ground, the whole extent of
the fiord could be seen at a glance, with the open sea sparkling on
the horizon beyond it like a burnished blade.

At this moment the mist, rolling away, left the sky blue and clear.
Among the valleys and around the trees flitted the shining fragments,
--a diamond dust swept by the freshening breeze. The torrent rolled on
toward them; along its length a vapor rose, tinted by the sun with
every color of his light; the decomposing rays flashing prismatic
fires along the many-tinted scarf of waters. The rugged ledge on which
they stood was carpeted by several kinds of lichen, forming a noble
mat variegated by moisture and lustrous like the sheen of a silken
fabric. Shrubs, already in bloom, crowned the rocks with garlands.
Their waving foliage, eager for the freshness of the water, drooped
its tresses above the stream; the larches shook their light fringes
and played with the pines, stiff and motionless as aged men. This
luxuriant beauty was foiled by the solemn colonnades of the
forest-trees, rising in terraces upon the mountains, and by the calm
sheet of the fiord, lying below, where the torrent buried its fury and
was still. Beyond, the sea hemmed in this page of Nature, written by
the greatest of poets, Chance; to whom the wild luxuriance of creation
when apparently abandoned to itself is owing.

The village of Jarvis was a lost point in the landscape, in this
immensity of Nature, sublime at this moment like all things else of
ephemeral life which present a fleeting image of perfection; for, by a
law fatal to no eyes but our own, creations which appear complete--the
love of our heart and the desire of our eyes--have but one spring-tide
here below. Standing on this breast-work of rock these three persons
might well suppose themselves alone in the universe.

"What beauty!" cried Wilfrid.

"Nature sings hymns," said Seraphita. "Is not her music exquisite?
Tell me, Wilfrid, could any of the women you once knew create such a
glorious retreat for herself as this? I am conscious here of a feeling
seldom inspired by the sight of cities, a longing to lie down amid
this quickening verdure. Here, with eyes to heaven and an open heart,
lost in the bosom of immensity, I could hear the sighings of the
flower, scarce budded, which longs for wings, or the cry of the eider
grieving that it can only fly, and remember the desires of man who,
issuing from all, is none the less ever longing. But that, Wilfrid, is
only a woman's thought. You find seductive fancies in the wreathing
mists, the light embroidered veils which Nature dons like a coy
maiden, in this atmosphere where she perfumes for her spousals the
greenery of her tresses. You seek the naiad's form amid the gauzy
vapors, and to your thinking my ears should listen only to the virile
voice of the Torrent."

"But Love is there, like the bee in the calyx of the flower," replied
Wilfrid, perceiving for the first time a trace of earthly sentiment in
her words, and fancying the moment favorable for an expression of his
passionate tenderness.

"Always there?" said Seraphita, smiling. Minna had left them for a
moment to gather the blue saxifrages growing on a rock above.

"Always," repeated Wilfrid. "Hear me," he said, with a masterful
glance which was foiled as by a diamond breast-plate. "You know not
what I am, nor what I can be, nor what I will. Do not reject my last
entreaty. Be mine for the good of that world whose happiness you bear
upon your heart. Be mine that my conscience may be pure; that a voice
divine may sound in my ears and infuse Good into the great enterprise
I have undertaken prompted by my hatred to the nations, but which I
swear to accomplish for their benefit if you will walk beside me. What
higher mission can you ask for love? what nobler part can woman aspire
to? I came to Norway to meditate a grand design."

"And you will sacrifice its grandeur," she said, "to an innocent girl
who loves you, and who will lead you in the paths of peace."

"What matters sacrifice," he cried, "if I have you? Hear my secret. I
have gone from end to end of the North,--that great smithy from whose
anvils new races have spread over the earth, like human tides
appointed to refresh the wornout civilizations. I wished to begin my
work at some Northern point, to win the empire which force and
intellect must ever give over a primitive people; to form that people
for battle, to drive them to wars which should ravage Europe like a
conflagration, crying liberty to some, pillage to others, glory here,
pleasure there!--I, myself, remaining an image of Destiny, cruel,
implacable, advancing like the whirlwind, which sucks from the
atmosphere the particles that make the thunderbolt, and falls like a
devouring scourge upon the nations. Europe is at an epoch when she
awaits the new Messiah who shall destroy society and remake it. She
can no longer believe except in him who crushes her under foot. The
day is at hand when poets and historians will justify me, exalt me,
and borrow my ideas, mine! And all the while my triumph will be a
jest, written in blood, the jest of my vengeance! But not here,
Seraphita; what I see in the North disgusts me. Hers is a mere blind
force; I thirst for the Indies! I would rather fight a selfish,
cowardly, mercantile government. Besides, it is easier to stir the
imagination of the peoples at the feet of the Caucasus than to argue
with the intellect of the icy lands which here surround me. Therefore
am I tempted to cross the Russian steps and pour my triumphant human
tide through Asia to the Ganges, and overthrow the British rule. Seven
men have done this thing before me in other epochs of the world. I
will emulate them. I will spread Art like the Saracens, hurled by
Mohammed upon Europe. Mine shall be no paltry sovereignty like those
that govern to-day the ancient provinces of the Roman empire,
disputing with their subjects about a customs right! No, nothing can
bar my way! Like Genghis Khan, my feet shall tread a third of the
globe, my hand shall grasp the throat of Asia like Aurung-Zeb. Be my
companion! Let me seat thee, beautiful and noble being, on a throne! I
do not doubt success, but live within my heart and I am sure of it."

"I have already reigned," said Seraphita, coldly.

The words fell as the axe of a skilful woodman falls at the root of a
young tree and brings it down at a single blow. Men alone can
comprehend the rage that a woman excites in the soul of a man when,
after showing her his strength, his power, his wisdom, his
superiority, the capricious creature bends her head and says, "All
that is nothing"; when, unmoved, she smiles and says, "Such things are
known to me," as though his power were nought.

"What!" cried Wilfrid, in despair, "can the riches of art, the riches
of worlds, the splendors of a court--"

She stopped him by a single inflexion of her lips, and said, "Beings
more powerful than you have offered me far more."

"Thou hast no soul," he cried,--"no soul, if thou art not persuaded by
the thought of comforting a great man, who is willing now to sacrifice
all things to live beside thee in a little house on the shores of a
lake."

"But," she said, "I am loved with a boundless love."

"By whom?" cried Wilfrid, approaching Seraphita with a frenzied
movement, as if to fling her into the foaming basin of the Sieg.

She looked at him and slowly extended her arm, pointing to Minna, who
now sprang towards her, fair and glowing and lovely as the flowers she
held in her hand.

"Child!" said Seraphitus, advancing to meet her.

Wilfrid remained where she left him, motionless as the rock on which
he stood, lost in thought, longing to let himself go into the torrent
of the Sieg, like the fallen trees which hurried past his eyes and
disappeared in the bosom of the gulf.

"I gathered them for you," said Minna, offering the bunch of
saxifrages to the being she adored. "One of them, see, this one," she
added, selecting a flower, "is like that you found on the Falberg."

Seraphitus looked alternately at the flower and at Minna.

"Why question me? Dost thou doubt me?"

"No," said the young girl, "my trust in you is infinite. You are more
beautiful to look upon than this glorious nature, but your mind
surpasses in intellect that of all humanity. When I have been with you
I seem to have prayed to God. I long--"

"For what?" said Seraphitus, with a glance that revealed to the young
girl the vast distance which separated them.

"To suffer in your stead."

"Ah, dangerous being!" cried Seraphitus in his heart. "Is it wrong, oh
my God! to desire to offer her to Thee? Dost thou remember, Minna,
what I said to thee up there?" he added, pointing to the summit of the
Ice-Cap.

"He is terrible again," thought Minna, trembling with fear.

The voice of the Sieg accompanied the thoughts of the three beings
united on this platform of projecting rock, but separated in soul by
the abysses of the Spiritual World.

"Seraphitus! teach me," said Minna in a silvery voice, soft as the
motion of a sensitive plant, "teach me how to cease to love you. Who
could fail to admire you; love is an admiration that never wearies."

"Poor child!" said Seraphitus, turning pale; "there is but one whom
thou canst love in that way."

"Who?" asked Minna.

"Thou shalt know hereafter," he said, in the feeble voice of a man who
lies down to die.

"Help, help! he is dying!" cried Minna.

Wilfrid ran towards them. Seeing Seraphita as she lay on a fragment of
gneiss, where time had cast its velvet mantle of lustrous lichen and
tawny mosses now burnished in the sunlight, he whispered softly, "How
beautiful she is!"

"One other look! the last that I shall ever cast upon this nature in
travail," said Seraphitus, rallying her strength and rising to her
feet.

She advanced to the edge of the rocky platform, whence her eyes took
in the scenery of that grand and glorious landscape, so verdant,
flowery, and animated, yet so lately buried in its winding-sheet of
snow.

"Farewell," she said, "farewell, home of Earth, warmed by the fires of
Love; where all things press with ardent force from the centre to the
extremities; where the extremities are gathered up, like a woman's
hair, to weave the mysterious braid which binds us in that invisible
ether to the Thought Divine!

"Behold the man bending above that furrow moistened with his tears,
who lifts his head for an instant to question Heaven; behold the woman
gathering her children that she may feed them with her milk; see him
who lashes the ropes in the height of the gale; see her who sits in
the hollow of the rocks, awaiting the father! Behold all they who
stretch their hands in want after a lifetime spent in thankless toil.
To all peace and courage, and to all farewell!

"Hear you the cry of the soldier, dying nameless and unknown? the wail
of the man deceived who weeps in the desert? To them peace and
courage; to all farewell!

"Farewell, you who die for the kings of the earth! Farewell, ye people
without a country and ye countries without a people, each, with a
mutual want. Above all, farewell to Thee who knew not where to lay Thy
head, Exile divine! Farewell, mothers beside your dying sons!
Farewell, ye Little Ones, ye Feeble, ye Suffering, you whose sorrows I
have so often borne! Farewell, all ye who have descended into the
sphere of Instinct that you may suffer there for others!

"Farewell, ye mariners who seek the Orient through the thick darkness
of your abstractions, vast as principles! Farewell, martyrs of
thought, led by thought into the presence of the True Light. Farewell,
regions of study where mine ears can hear the plaint of genius
neglected and insulted, the sigh of the patient scholar to whom
enlightenment comes too late!

"I see the angelic choir, the wafting of perfumes, the incense of the
heart of those who go their way consoling, praying, imparting
celestial balm and living light to suffering souls! Courage, ye choir
of Love! you to whom the peoples cry, 'Comfort us, comfort us, defend
us!' To you courage! and farewell!

"Farewell, ye granite rocks that shall bloom a flower; farewell,
flower that becomes a dove; farewell, dove that shalt be woman;
farewell, woman, who art Suffering, man, who art Belief! Farewell, you
who shall be all love, all prayer!"

Broken with fatigue, this inexplicable being leaned for the first time
on Wilfrid and on Minna to be taken home. Wilfrid and Minna felt the
shock of a mysterious contact in and through the being who thus
connected them. They had scarcely advanced a few steps when David met
them, weeping. "She will die," he said, "why have you brought her
hither?"

The old man raised her in his arms with the vigor of youth and bore
her to the gate of the Swedish castle like an eagle bearing a white
lamb to his mountain eyrie.



                             CHAPTER VI

                         THE PATH TO HEAVEN

The day succeeding that on which Seraphita foresaw her death and bade
farewell to Earth, as a prisoner looks round his dungeon before
leaving it forever, she suffered pains which obliged her to remain in
the helpless immobility of those whose pangs are great. Wilfrid and
Minna went to see her, and found her lying on her couch of furs. Still
veiled in flesh, her soul shone through that veil, which grew more and
more transparent day by day. The progress of the Spirit, piercing the
last obstacle between itself and the Infinite, was called an illness,
the hour of Life went by the name of death. David wept as he watched
her sufferings; unreasonable as a child, he would not listen to his
mistress's consolations. Monsieur Becker wished Seraphita to try
remedies; but all were useless.

One morning she sent for the two beings whom she loved, telling them
that this would be the last of her bad days. Wilfrid and Minna came in
terror, knowing well that they were about to lose her. Seraphita
smiled to them as one departing to a better world; her head drooped
like a flower heavy with dew, which opens its calyx for the last time
to waft its fragrance on the breeze. She looked at these friends with
a sadness that was for them, not for herself; she thought no longer of
herself, and they felt this with a grief mingled with gratitude which
they were unable to express. Wilfrid stood silent and motionless, lost
in thoughts excited by events whose vast bearings enabled him to
conceive of some illimitable immensity.

Emboldened by the weakness of the being lately so powerful, or perhaps
by the fear of losing him forever, Minna bent down over the couch and
said, "Seraphitus, let me follow thee!"

"Can I forbid thee?"

"Why will thou not love me enough to stay with me?"

"I can love nothing here."

"What canst thou love?"

"Heaven."

"Is it worthy of heaven to despise the creatures of God?"

"Minna, can we love two beings at once? Would our beloved be indeed
our beloved if he did not fill our hearts? Must he not be the first,
the last, the only one? She who is all love, must she not leave the
world for her beloved? Human ties are but a memory, she has no ties
except to him! Her soul is hers no longer; it is his. If she keeps
within her soul anything that is not his, does she love? No, she loves
not. To love feebly, is that to love at all? The voice of her beloved
makes her joyful; it flows through her veins in a crimson tide more
glowing far than blood; his glance is the light that penetrates her;
her being melts into his being. He is warm to her soul. He is the
light that lightens; near to him there is neither cold nor darkness.
He is never absent, he is always with us; we think in him, to him, by
him! Minna, that is how I love him."

"Love whom?" said Minna, tortured with sudden jealousy.

"God," replied Seraphitus, his voice glowing in their souls like fires
of liberty from peak to peak upon the mountains,--"God, who does not
betray us! God, who will never abandon us! who crowns our wishes; who
satisfies His creatures with joy--joy unalloyed and infinite! God, who
never wearies but ever smiles! God, who pours into the soul fresh
treasures day by day; who purifies and leaves no bitterness; who is
all harmony, all flame! God, who has placed Himself within our hearts
to blossom there; who hearkens to our prayers; who does not stand
aloof when we are His, but gives His presence absolutely! He who
revives us, magnifies us, and multiplies us in Himself; _God_! Minna, I
love thee because thou mayst be His! I love thee because if thou come
to Him thou wilt be mine."

"Lead me to Him," cried Minna, kneeling down; "take me by the hand; I
will not leave thee!"

"Lead us, Seraphita!" cried Wilfrid, coming to Minna's side with an
impetuous movement. "Yes, thou hast given me a thirst for Light, a
thirst for the Word. I am parched with the Love thou hast put into my
heart; I desire to keep thy soul in mine; thy will is mine; I will do
whatsoever thou biddest me. Since I cannot obtain thee, I will keep
thy will and all the thoughts that thou hast given me. If I may not
unite myself with thee except by the power of my spirit, I will cling
to thee in soul as the flame to what it laps. Speak!"

"Angel!" exclaimed the mysterious being, enfolding them both in one
glance, as it were with an azure mantle, "Heaven shall by thine
heritage!"

Silence fell among them after these words, which sounded in the souls
of the man and of the woman like the first notes of some celestial
harmony.

"If you would teach your feet to tread the Path to heaven, know that
the way is hard at first," said the weary sufferer; "God wills that
you shall seek Him for Himself. In that sense, He is jealous; He
demands your whole self. But when you have given Him yourself, never,
never will He abandon you. I leave with you the keys of the kingdom of
His Light, where evermore you shall dwell in the bosom of the Father,
in the heart of the Bridegroom. No sentinels guard the approaches, you
may enter where you will; His palaces, His treasures, His sceptre, all
are free. 'Take them!' He says. But--you must _will_ to go there. Like
one preparing for a journey, a man must leave his home, renounce his
projects, bid farewell to friends, to father, mother, sister, even to
the helpless brother who cries after him,--yes, farewell to them
eternally; you will no more return than did the martyrs on their way
to the stake. You must strip yourself of every sentiment, of
everything to which man clings. Unless you do this you are but
half-hearted in your enterprise.

"Do for God what you do for your ambitious projects, what you do in
consecrating yourself to Art, what you have done when you loved a
human creature or sought some secret of human science. Is not God the
whole of science, the all of love, the source of poetry? Surely His
riches are worthy of being coveted! His treasure is inexhaustible, His
poem infinite, His love immutable, His science sure and darkened by no
mysteries. Be anxious for nothing, He will give you all. Yes, in His
heart are treasures with which the petty joys you lose on earth are
not to be compared. What I tell you is true; you shall possess His
power; you may use it as you would use the gifts of lover or mistress.
Alas! men doubt, they lack faith, and will, and persistence. If some
set their feet in the path, they look behind them and presently turn
back. Few decide between the two extremes,--to go or stay, heaven or
the mire. All hesitate. Weakness leads astray, passion allures into
dangerous paths, vice becomes habitual, man flounders in the mud and
makes no progress towards a better state.

"All human beings go through a previous life in the sphere of
Instinct, where they are brought to see the worthlessness of earthly
treasures, to amass which they gave themselves such untold pains! Who
can tell how many times the human being lives in the sphere of
Instinct before he is prepared to enter the sphere of Abstractions,
where thought expends itself on erring science, where mind wearies at
last of human language? for, when Matter is exhausted, Spirit enters.
Who knows how many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he
can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude
whose starry plains are but the vestibule of Spiritual Worlds? He
feels his way amid the void, makes trial of nothingness, and then at
last his eyes revert upon the Path. Then follow other existences,--all
to be lived to reach the place where Light effulgent shines. Death is
the post-house of the journey. A lifetime may be needed merely to gain
the virtues which annul the errors of man's preceding life. First
comes the life of suffering, whose tortures create a thirst for love.
Next the life of love and devotion to the creature, teaching devotion
to the Creator,--a life where the virtues of love, its martyrdoms, its
joys followed by sorrows, its angelic hopes, its patience, its
resignation, excite an appetite for things divine. Then follows the
life which seeks in silence the traces of the Word; in which the soul
grows humble and charitable. Next the life of longing; and lastly, the
life of prayer. In that is the noonday sun; there are the flowers,
there the harvest!

"The virtues we acquire, which develop slowly within us, are the
invisible links that bind each one of our existences to the others,
--existences which the spirit alone remembers, for Matter has no memory
for spiritual things. Thought alone holds the tradition of the bygone
life. The endless legacy of the past to the present is the secret
source of human genius. Some receive the gift of form, some the gift
of numbers, others the gift of harmony. All these gifts are steps of
progress in the Path of Light. Yes, he who possesses a single one of
them touches at that point the Infinite. Earth has divided the Word
--of which I here reveal some syllables--into particles, she has reduced
it to dust and has scattered it through her works, her dogmas, her
poems. If some impalpable grain shines like a diamond in a human work,
men cry: 'How grand! how true! how glorious!' That fragment vibrates
in their souls and wakes a presentiment of heaven: to some, a melody
that weans from earth; to others, the solitude that draws to God. To
all, whatsoever sends us back upon ourselves, whatsoever strikes us
down and crushes us, lifts or abases us,--_that_ is but a syllable of
the Divine Word.

"When a human soul draws its first furrow straight, the rest will
follow surely. One thought borne inward, one prayer uplifted, one
suffering endured, one echo of the Word within us, and our souls are
forever changed. All ends in God; and many are the ways to find Him by
walking straight before us. When the happy day arrives in which you
set your feet upon the Path and begin your pilgrimage, the world will
know nothing of it; earth no longer understands you; you no longer
understand each other. Men who attain a knowledge of these things, who
lisp a few syllables of the Word, often have not where to lay their
head; hunted like beasts they perish on the scaffold, to the joy of
assembled peoples, while Angels open to them the gates of heaven.
Therefore, your destiny is a secret between yourself and God, just as
love is a secret between two hearts. You may be the buried treasure,
trodden under the feet of men thirsting for gold yet all-unknowing
that you are there beneath them.

"Henceforth your existence becomes a thing of ceaseless activity; each
act has a meaning which connects you with God, just as in love your
actions and your thoughts are filled with the loved one. But love and
its joys, love and its pleasures limited by the senses, are but the
imperfect image of the love which unites you to your celestial Spouse.
All earthly joy is mixed with anguish, with discontent. If love ought
not to pall then death should end it while its flame is high, so that
we see no ashes. But in God our wretchedness becomes delight, joy
lives upon itself and multiplies, and grows, and has no limit. In the
Earthly life our fleeting love is ended by tribulation; in the
Spiritual life the tribulations of a day end in joys unending. The
soul is ceaselessly joyful. We feel God with us, in us; He gives a
sacred savor to all things; He shines in the soul; He imparts to us
His sweetness; He stills our interest in the world viewed for
ourselves; He quickens our interest in it viewed for His sake, and
grants us the exercise of His power upon it. In His name we do the
works which He inspires, we act for Him, we have no self except in
Him, we love His creatures with undying love, we dry their tears and
long to bring them unto Him, as a loving woman longs to see the
inhabitants of earth obey her well-beloved.

"The final life, the fruition of all other lives, to which the powers
of the soul have tended, and whose merits open the Sacred Portals to
perfected man, is the life of Prayer. Who can make you comprehend the
grandeur, the majesty, the might of Prayer? May my voice, these words
of mine, ring in your hearts and change them. Be now, here, what you
may be after cruel trial! There are privileged beings, Prophets,
Seers, Messengers, and Martyrs, all those who suffer for the Word and
who proclaim it; such souls spring at a bound across the human sphere
and rise at once to Prayer. So, too, with those whose souls receive
the fire of Faith. Be one of those brave souls! God welcomes boldness.
He loves to be taken by violence; He will never reject those who force
their way to Him. Know this! desire, the torrent of your will, is so
all-powerful that a single emission of it, made with force, can obtain
all; a single cry, uttered under the pressure of Faith, suffices. Be
one of such beings, full of force, of will, of love! Be conquerors on
the earth! Let the hunger and thirst of God possess you. Fly to Him as
the hart panting for the water-brooks. Desire shall lend you its
wings; tears, those blossoms of repentance, shall be the celestial
baptism from which your nature will issue purified. Cast yourself on
the breast of the stream in Prayer! Silence and meditation are the
means of following the Way. God reveals Himself, unfailingly, to the
solitary, thoughtful seeker.

"It is thus that the separation takes place between Matter, which so
long has wrapped its darkness round you, and Spirit, which was in you
from the beginning, the light which lighted you and now brings
noon-day to your soul. Yes, your broken heart shall receive the light;
the light shall bathe it. Then you will no longer feel convictions,
they will have changed to certainties. The Poet utters; the Thinker
meditates; the Righteous acts; but he who stands upon the borders of
the Divine World prays; and his prayer is word, thought, action, in
one! Yes, prayer includes all, contains all; it completes nature, for
it reveals to you the mind within it and its progression. White and
shining virgin of all human virtues, ark of the covenant between earth
and heaven, tender and strong companion partaking of the lion and of
the lamb, Prayer! Prayer will give you the key of heaven! Bold and
pure as innocence, strong, like all that is single and simple, this
glorious, invincible Queen rests, nevertheless, on the material world;
she takes possession of it; like the sun, she clasps it in a circle of
light. The universe belongs to him who wills, who knows, who prays;
but he must will, he must know, he must pray; in a word, he must
possess force, wisdom, and faith.

"Therefore Prayer, issuing from so many trials, is the consummation of
all truths, all powers, all feelings. Fruit of the laborious,
progressive, continued development of natural properties and faculties
vitalized anew by the divine breath of the Word, Prayer has occult
activity; it is the final worship--not the material worship of images,
nor the spiritual worship of formulas, but the worship of the Divine
World. We say no prayers,--prayer forms within us; it is a faculty
which acts of itself; it has attained a way of action which lifts it
outside of forms; it links the soul to God, with whom we unite as the
root of the tree unites with the soil; our veins draw life from the
principle of life, and we live by the life of the universe. Prayer
bestows external conviction by making us penetrate the Material World
through the cohesion of all our faculties with the elementary
substances; it bestows internal conviction by developing our essence
and mingling it with that of the Spiritual Worlds. To be able to pray
thus, you must attain to an utter abandonment of flesh; you must
acquire through the fires of the furnace the purity of the diamond;
for this complete communion with the Divine is obtained only in
absolute repose, where storms and conflicts are at rest.

"Yes, Prayer--the aspiration of the soul freed absolutely from the
body--bears all forces within it, and applies them to the constant and
perseverant union of the Visible and the Invisible. When you possess
the faculty of praying without weariness, with love, with force, with
certainty, with intelligence, your spiritualized nature will presently
be invested with power. Like a rushing wind, like a thunderbolt, it
cuts its way through all things and shares the power of God. The
quickness of the Spirit becomes yours; in an instant you may pass from
region to region; like the Word itself, you are transported from the
ends of the world to other worlds. Harmony exists, and you are part of
it! Light is there and your eyes possess it! Melody is heard and you
echo it! Under such conditions, you feel your perceptions developing,
widening; the eyes of your mind reach to vast distances. There is, in
truth, neither time nor place to the Spirit; space and duration are
proportions created for Matter; spirit and matter have naught in
common.

"Though these things take place in stillness, in silence, without
agitation, without external movement, yet Prayer is all action; but it
is spiritual action, stripped of substantiality, and reduced, like the
motion of the worlds, to an invisible pure force. It penetrates
everywhere like light; it gives vitality to souls that come beneath
its rays, as Nature beneath the sun. It resuscitates virtue, purifies
and sanctifies all actions, peoples solitude, and gives a foretaste of
eternal joys. When you have once felt the delights of the divine
intoxication which comes of this internal travail, then all is yours!
once take the lute on which we sing to God within your hands, and you
will never part with it. Hence the solitude in which Angelic Spirits
live; hence their disdain of human joys. They are withdrawn from those
who must die to live; they hear the language of such beings, but they
no longer understand their ideas; they wonder at their movements, at
what the world terms policies, material laws, societies. For them all
mysteries are over; truth, and truth alone, is theirs. They who have
reached the point where their eyes discern the Sacred Portals, who,
not looking back, not uttering one regret, contemplate worlds and
comprehend their destinies, such as they keep silence, wait, and bear
their final struggles. The worst of all those struggles is the last;
at the zenith of all virtue is Resignation,--to be an exile and not
lament, no longer to delight in earthly things and yet to smile, to
belong to God and yet to stay with men! You hear the voice that cries
to you, 'Advance!' Often celestial visions of descending Angels
compass you about with songs of praise; then, tearless, uncomplaining,
must you watch them as they reascent the skies! To murmur is to
forfeit all. Resignation is a fruit that ripens at the gates of
heaven. How powerful, how glorious the calm smile, the pure brow of
the resigned human creature. Radiant is the light of that brow. They
who live in its atmosphere grow purer. That calm glance penetrates and
softens. More eloquent by silence than the prophet by speech, such
beings triumph by their simple presence. Their ears are quick to hear
as a faithful dog listening for his master. Brighter than hope,
stronger than love, higher than faith, that creature of resignation is
the virgin standing on the earth, who holds for a moment the conquered
palm, then, rising heavenward, leaves behind her the imprint of her
white, pure feet. When she has passed away men flock around and cry,
'See! See!' Sometimes God holds her still in sight,--a figure to whose
feet creep Forms and Species of Animality to be shown their way. She
wafts the light exhaling from her hair, and they see; she speaks, and
they hear. 'A miracle!' they cry. Often she triumphs in the name of
God; frightened men deny her and put her to death; smiling, she lays
down her sword and goes to the stake, having saved the Peoples. How
many a pardoned Angel has passed from martyrdom to heaven! Sinai,
Golgotha are not in this place nor in that; Angels are crucified in
every place, in every sphere. Sighs pierce to God from the whole
universe. This earth on which we live is but a single sheaf of the
great harvest; humanity is but a species in the vast garden where the
flowers of heaven are cultivated. Everywhere God is like unto Himself,
and everywhere, by prayer, it is easy to reach Him."

With these words, which fell from the lips of another Hagar in the
wilderness, burning the souls of the hearers as the live coal of the
word inflamed Isaiah, this mysterious being paused as though to gather
some remaining strength. Wilfrid and Minna dared not speak. Suddenly
HE lifted himself up to die:--

"Soul of all things, oh my God, thou whom I love for Thyself! Thou,
Judge and Father, receive a love which has no limit. Give me of thine
essence and thy faculties that I be wholly thine! Take me, that I no
longer be myself! Am I not purified? then cast me back into the
furnace! If I be not yet proved in the fire, make me some nurturing
ploughshare, or the Sword of victory! Grant me a glorious martyrdom in
which to proclaim thy Word! Rejected, I will bless thy justice. But if
excess of love may win in a moment that which hard and patient labor
cannot attain, then bear me upward in thy chariot of fire! Grant me
triumph, or further trial, still will I bless thee! To suffer for
thee, is not that to triumph? Take me, seize me, bear me away! nay, if
thou wilt, reject me! Thou art He who can do no evil. Ah!" he cried,
after a pause, "the bonds are breaking.

"Spirits of the pure, ye sacred flock, come forth from the hidden
places, come on the surface of the luminous waves! The hour now is;
come, assemble! Let us sing at the gates of the Sanctuary; our songs
shall drive away the final clouds. With one accord let us hail the
Dawn of the Eternal Day. Behold the rising of the one True Light! Ah,
why may I not take with me these my friends! Farewell, poor earth,
Farewell!"



                            CHAPTER VII

                          THE ASSUMPTION

The last psalm was uttered neither by word, look, nor gesture, nor by
any of those signs which men employ to communicate their thoughts, but
as the soul speaks to itself; for at the moment when Seraphita
revealed herself in her true nature, her thoughts were no longer
enslaved by human words. The violence of that last prayer had burst
her bonds. Her soul, like a white dove, remained for an instant poised
above the body whose exhausted substances were about to be
annihilated.

The aspiration of the Soul toward heaven was so contagious that
Wilfrid and Minna, beholding those radiant scintillations of Life,
perceived not Death.

They had fallen on their knees when _he_ had turned toward his Orient,
and they shared his ecstasy.

The fear of the Lord, which creates man a second time, purging away
his dross, mastered their hearts.

Their eyes, veiled to the things of Earth, were opened to the
Brightness of Heaven.

Though, like the Seers of old called Prophets by men, they were filled
with the terror of the Most High, yet like them they continued firm
when they found themselves within the radiance where the Glory of the
_Spirit_ shone.

The veil of flesh, which, until now, had hidden that glory from their
eyes, dissolved imperceptibly away, and left them free to behold the
Divine substance.

They stood in the twilight of the Coming Dawn, whose feeble rays
prepared them to look upon the True Light, to hear the Living Word,
and yet not die.

In this state they began to perceive the immeasurable differences
which separate the things of earth from the things of Heaven.

_Life_, on the borders of which they stood, leaning upon each other,
trembling and illuminated, like two children standing under shelter in
presence of a conflagration, That Life offered no lodgment to the
senses.

The ideas they used to interpret their vision to themselves were to
the things seen what the visible senses of a man are to his soul, the
material covering of a divine essence.

The departing _spirit_ was above them, shedding incense without odor,
melody without sound. About them, where they stood, were neither
surfaces, nor angles, nor atmosphere.

They dared neither question him nor contemplate him; they stood in the
shadow of that Presence as beneath the burning rays of a tropical sun,
fearing to raise their eyes lest the light should blast them.

They knew they were beside him, without being able to perceive how it
was that they stood, as in a dream, on the confines of the Visible and
the Invisible, nor how they had lost sight of the Visible and how they
beheld the Invisible.

To each other they said: "If he touches us, we can die!" But the
_spirit_ was now within the Infinite, and they knew not that neither
time, nor space, nor death, existed there, and that a great gulf lay
between them, although they thought themselves beside him.

Their souls were not prepared to receive in its fulness a knowledge of
the faculties of that Life; they could have only faint and confused
perceptions of it, suited to their weakness.

Were it not so, the thunder of the _Living Word_, whose far-off tones
now reached their ears, and whose meaning entered their souls as life
unites with body,--one echo of that Word would have consumed their
being as a whirlwind of fire laps up a fragile straw.

Therefore they saw only that which their nature, sustained by the
strength of the _spirit_, permitted them to see; they heard that only
which they were able to hear.

And yet, though thus protected, they shuddered when the Voice of the
anguished soul broke forth above them--the prayer of the _Spirit_
awaiting Life and imploring it with a cry.

That cry froze them to the very marrow of their bones.

The _Spirit_ knocked at the _sacred portal_. "What wilt thou?" answered
a _choir_, whose question echoed among the worlds. "To go to God." "Hast
thou conquered?" "I have conquered the flesh through abstinence, I
have conquered false knowledge by humility, I have conquered pride by
charity, I have conquered the earth by love; I have paid my dues by
suffering, I am purified in the fires of faith, I have longed for Life
by prayer: I wait in adoration, and I am resigned."

No answer came.

"God's will be done!" answered the _Spirit_, believing that he was about
to be rejected.

His tears flowed and fell like dew upon the heads of the two kneeling
witnesses, who trembled before the justice of God.

Suddenly the trumpets sounded,--the last trumpets of Victory won by
the _Angel_ in this last trial. The reverberation passed through space
as sound through its echo, filling it, and shaking the universe which
Wilfrid and Minna felt like an atom beneath their feet. They trembled
under an anguish caused by the dread of the mystery about to be
accomplished.

A great movement took place, as though the Eternal Legions, putting
themselves in motion, were passing upward in spiral columns. The
worlds revolved like clouds driven by a furious wind. It was all
rapid.

Suddenly the veils were rent away. They saw on high as it were a star,
incomparably more lustrous than the most luminous of material stars,
which detached itself, and fell like a thunderbolt, dazzling as
lightning. Its passage paled the faces of the pair, who thought it to
be _the Light_ Itself.

It was the Messenger of good tidings, the plume of whose helmet was a
flame of Life.

Behind him lay the swath of his way gleaming with a flood of the
lights through which he passed.

He bore a palm and a sword. He touched the _Spirit_ with the palm, and
the _Spirit_ was transfigured. Its white wings noiselessly unfolded.

This communication of _the Light_, changing the _Spirit_ into a _Seraph_
and clothing it with a glorious form, a celestial armor, poured down
such effulgent rays that the two Seers were paralyzed.

Like the three apostles to whom Jesus showed himself, they felt the
dead weight of their bodies which denied them a complete and cloudless
intuition of _the Word_ and _the True Life_.

They comprehended the nakedness of their souls; they were able to
measure the poverty of their light by comparing it--a humbling task
--with the halo of the _Seraph_.

A passionate desire to plunge back into the mire of earth and suffer
trial took possession of them,--trial through which they might
victoriously utter at the _sacred gates_ the words of that radiant
_Seraph_.

The _Seraph_ knelt before the _Sanctuary_, beholding it, at last, face
to face; and he said, raising his hands thitherward, "Grant that these
two may have further sight; they will love the Lord and proclaim His
word."

At this prayer a veil fell. Whether it were that the hidden force
which held the Seers had momentarily annihilated their physical
bodies, or that it raised their spirits above those bodies, certain it
is that they felt within them a rending of the pure from the impure.

The tears of the _Seraph_ rose about them like a vapor, which hid the
lower worlds from their knowledge, held them in its folds, bore them
upwards, gave them forgetfulness of earthly meanings and the power of
comprehending the meanings of things divine.

The True Light shone; it illumined the Creations, which seemed to them
barren when they saw the source from which all worlds--Terrestrial,
Spiritual, and Divine-derived their Motion.

Each world possessed a centre to which converged all points of its
circumference. These worlds were themselves the points which moved
toward the centre of their system. Each system had its centre in great
celestial regions which communicated with the flaming and quenchless
_motor of all that is_.

Thus, from the greatest to the smallest of the worlds, and from the
smallest of the worlds to the smallest portion of the beings who
compose it, all was individual, and all was, nevertheless, One and
indivisible.

What was the design of the Being, fixed in His essence and in His
faculties, who transmitted that essence and those faculties without
losing them? who manifested them outside of Himself without separating
them from Himself? who rendered his creations outside of Himself fixed
in their essence and mutable in their form? The pair thus called to
the celestial festival could only see the order and arrangement of
created beings and admire the immediate result. The Angels alone see
more. They know the means; they comprehend the final end.

But what the two Elect were granted power to contemplate, what they
were able to bring back as a testimony which enlightened their minds
forever after, was the proof of the action of the Worlds and of
Beings; the consciousness of the effort with which they all converge
to the Result.

They heard the divers parts of the Infinite forming one living melody;
and each time that the accord made itself felt like a mighty
respiration, the Worlds drawn by the concordant movement inclined
themselves toward the Supreme Being who, from His impenetrable centre,
issued all things and recalled all things to Himself.

This ceaseless alternation of voices and silence seemed the rhythm of
the sacred hymn which resounds and prolongs its sound from age to age.

Wilfrid and Minna were enabled to understand some of the mysterious
sayings of Him who had appeared on earth in the form which to each of
them had rendered him comprehensible,--to one Seraphitus, to the other
Seraphita,--for they saw that all was homogeneous in the sphere where
he now was.

Light gave birth to melody, melody gave birth to light; colors were
light and melody; motion was a Number endowed with Utterance; all
things were at once sonorous, diaphanous, and mobile; so that each
interpenetrated the other, the whole vast area was unobstructed and
the Angels could survey it from the depths of the Infinite.

They perceived the puerility of human sciences, of which he had spoken
to them.

The scene was to them a prospect without horizon, a boundless space
into which an all-consuming desire prompted them to plunge. But,
fastened to their miserable bodies, they had the desire without the
power to fulfil it.

The _Seraph_, preparing for his flight, no longer looked towards them;
he had nothing now in common with Earth.

Upward he rose; the shadow of his luminous presence covered the two
Seers like a merciful veil, enabling them to raise their eyes and see
him, rising in his glory to Heaven in company with the glad Archangel.

He rose as the sun from the bosom of the Eastern waves; but, more
majestic than the orb and vowed to higher destinies, he could not be
enchained like inferior creations in the spiral movement of the
worlds; he followed the line of the Infinite, pointing without
deviation to the One Centre, there to enter his eternal life,--to
receive there, in his faculties and in his essence, the power to enjoy
through Love, and the gift of comprehending through Wisdom.

The scene which suddenly unveiled itself to the eyes of the two Seers
crushed them with a sense of its vastness; they felt like atoms, whose
minuteness was not to be compared even to the smallest particle which
the infinite of divisibility enabled the mind of man to imagine,
brought into the presence of the infinite of Numbers, which God alone
can comprehend as He alone can comprehend Himself.

Strength and Love! what heights, what depths in those two entities,
whom the _Seraph's_ first prayer placed like two links, as it were, to
unite the immensities of the lower worlds with the immensity of the
higher universe!

They comprehended the invisible ties by which the material worlds are
bound to the spiritual worlds. Remembering the sublime efforts of
human genius, they were able to perceive the principle of all melody
in the songs of heaven which gave sensations of color, of perfume, of
thought, which recalled the innumerable details of all creations, as
the songs of earth revive the infinite memories of love.

Brought by the exaltation of their faculties to a point that cannot be
described in any language, they were able to cast their eyes for an
instant into the Divine World. There all was Rejoicing.

Myriads of angels were flocking together, without confusion; all alike
yet all dissimilar, simple as the flower of the fields, majestic as
the universe.

Wilfrid and Minna saw neither their coming nor their going; they
appeared suddenly in the Infinite and filled it with their presence,
as the stars shine in the invisible ether.

The scintillations of their united diadems illumined space like the
fires of the sky at dawn upon the mountains. Waves of light flowed
from their hair, and their movements created tremulous undulations in
space like the billows of a phosphorescent sea.

The two Seers beheld the _Seraph_ dimly in the midst of the immortal
legions. Suddenly, as though all the arrows of a quiver had darted
together, the Spirits swept away with a breath the last vestiges of
the human form; as the _Seraph_ rose he became yet purer; soon he
seemed to them but a faint outline of what he had been at the moment
of his transfiguration,--lines of fire without shadow.

Higher he rose, receiving from circle to circle some new gift, while
the sign of his election was transmitted to each sphere into which,
more and more purified, he entered.

No voice was silent; the hymn diffused and multiplied itself in all
its modulations:--

"Hail to him who enters living! Come, flower of the Worlds! diamond
from the fires of suffering! pearl without spot, desire without flesh,
new link of earth and heaven, be Light! Conquering spirit, Queen of
the world, come for thy crown! Victor of earth, receive thy diadem!
Thou art of us!"

The virtues of the _Seraph_ shone forth in all their beauty.

His earliest desire for heaven re-appeared, tender as childhood. The
deeds of his life, like constellations, adorned him with their
brightness. His acts of faith shone like the Jacinth of heaven, the
color of sidereal fires. The pearls of Charity were upon him,--a
chaplet of garnered tears! Love divine surrounded him with roses; and
the whiteness of his Resignation obliterated all earthly trace.

Soon, to the eyes of the Seers, he was but a point of flame, growing
brighter and brighter as its motion was lost in the melodious
acclamations which welcomed his entrance into heaven.

The celestial accents made the two exiles weep.

Suddenly a silence as of death spread like a mourning veil from the
first to the highest sphere, throwing Wilfrid and Minna into a state
of intolerable expectation.

At this moment the _Seraph_ was lost to sight within the _sanctuary_,
receiving there the gift of Life Eternal.

A movement of adoration made by the Host of heaven filled the two
Seers with ecstasy mingled with terror. They felt that all were
prostrate before the Throne, in all the spheres, in the Spheres
Divine, in the Spiritual Spheres, and in the Worlds of Darkness.

The Angels bent the knee to celebrate the _Seraph's_ glory; the Spirits
bent the knee in token of their impatience; others bent the knee in
the dark abysses, shuddering with awe.

A mighty cry of joy gushed forth, as the spring gushes forth to its
millions of flowering herbs sparkling with diamond dew-drops in the
sunlight; at that instant the _Seraph_ reappeared, effulgent, crying,
"_Eternal! Eternal! Eternal_!"

The universe heard the cry and understood it; it penetrated the
spheres as God penetrates them; it took possession of the infinite;
the Seven Divine Worlds heard the Voice and answered.

A mighty movement was perceptible, as though whole planets, purified,
were rising in dazzling light to become Eternal.

Had the _Seraph_ obtained, as a first mission, the work of calling to
God the creations permeated by His Word?

But already the sublime _hallelujah_ was sounding in the ear of the
desolate ones as the distant undulations of an ended melody. Already
the celestial lights were fading like the gold and crimson tints of a
setting sun. Death and Impurity recovered their prey.

As the two mortals re-entered the prison of flesh, from which their
spirit had momentarily been delivered by some priceless sleep, they
felt like those who wake after a night of brilliant dreams, the memory
of which still lingers in their soul, though their body retains no
consciousness of them, and human language is unable to give utterance
to them.

The deep darkness of the sphere that was now about them was that of
the sun of the visible worlds.

"Let us descend to those lower regions," said Wilfrid.

"Let us do what he told us to do," answered Minna. "We have seen the
worlds on their march to God; we know the Path. Our diadem of stars is
There."

Floating downward through the abysses, they re-entered the dust of the
lesser worlds, and saw the Earth, like a subterranean cavern, suddenly
illuminated to their eyes by the light which their souls brought with
them, and which still environed them in a cloud of the paling
harmonies of heaven. The sight was that which of old struck the inner
eyes of Seers and Prophets. Ministers of all religions, Preachers of
all pretended truths, Kings consecrated by Force and Terror, Warriors
and Mighty men apportioning the Peoples among them, the Learned and
the Rich standing above the suffering, noisy crowd, and noisily
grinding them beneath their feet,--all were there, accompanied by
their wives and servants; all were robed in stuffs of gold and silver
and azure studded with pearls and gems torn from the bowels of Earth,
stolen from the depths of Ocean, for which Humanity had toiled
throughout the centuries, sweating and blaspheming. But these
treasures, these splendors, constructed of blood, seemed worn-out rags
to the eyes of the two Exiles. "What do you there, in motionless
ranks?" cried Wilfrid. They answered not. "What do you there,
motionless?" They answered not. Wilfrid waved his hands over them,
crying in a loud voice, "What do you there, in motionless ranks?" All,
with unanimous action, opened their garments and gave to sight their
withered bodies, eaten with worms, putrefied, crumbling to dust,
rotten with horrible diseases.

"You lead the nations to Death," Wilfrid said to them. "You have
depraved the earth, perverted the Word, prostituted justice. After
devouring the grass of the fields you have killed the lambs of the
fold. Do you think yourself justified because of your sores? I will
warn my brethren who have ears to hear the Voice, and they will come
and drink of the spring of Living Waters which you have hidden."

"Let us save our strength for Prayer," said Minna. "Wilfrid, thy
mission is not that of the Prophets or the Avenger or the Messenger;
we are still on the confines of the lowest sphere; let us endeavor to
rise through space on the wings of Prayer."

"Thou shalt be all my love!"

"Thou shalt be all my strength!"

"We have seen the Mysteries; we are, each to the other, the only being
here below to whom Joy and Sadness are comprehensible; let us pray,
therefore: we know the Path, let us walk in it."

"Give me thy hand," said the Young Girl, "if we walk together, the way
will be to me less hard and long."

"With thee, with thee alone," replied the Man, "can I cross the awful
solitude without complaint."

"Together we will go to Heaven," she said.

The clouds gathered and formed a darksome dais. Suddenly the pair
found themselves kneeling beside a body which old David was guarding
from curious eyes, resolved to bury it himself.

Beyond those walls the first summer of the nineteenth century shone
forth in all its glory. The two lovers believed they heard a Voice in
the sun-rays. They breathed a celestial essence from the new-born
flowers. Holding each other by the hand, they said, "That illimitable
ocean which shines below us is but an image of what we saw above."

"Where are you going?" asked Monsieur Becker.

"To God," they answered. "Come with us, father."





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