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Title: The Bride of Dreams
Author: Eeden, Frederik van
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Bride of Dreams" ***

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THE BRIDE OF DREAMS

BY
FREDERIK VAN EEDEN

AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION BY
MELLIE VON AUW

THE-PLIMPTON-PRESS
NORWOOD-MASS-U-S-A


I

As one approaches my little city from the sea on a summer's day, one
sees only the tall, round clump of trees on the ramparts and,
overtopping it, the old bell-tower with its fantastically shaped and
ornamented stories and dome-top of deep cobalt blue. The land to either
side is barely visible, and the green foliage flooded with pale
sunshine seems to drift in the sun-mist on the grayish yellow waters.
It is a dreamy little town, that once in Holland's prime had a
short-lived illusion of worldly grandeur. Then gaily-rigged vessels
embellished with gilded carvings and flaunting flags entered the little
harbor, fishing boats, merchant vessels and battleships. The
inhabitants built fine houses with crow-stepped gables and sculptured
façades and collected in them exotic treasures, furniture, plate and
china. Cannon stood on the ramparts and the citizens were filled with a
sense of their importance and power as people of some authority in the
world. They bore an escutcheon and were proud of it, they had their
portraits painted in gorgeous attire, they gave the things their terse
and pretty names, and they spoke picturesquely and gallantly as befits
people leading a flourishing elemental life.

Now all this is long past. The little city no longer lives a life of
its own, but quietly follows in the wake of the great world-ship. In
the harbor a few fishing smacks, a market ship, a couple of sailing
yachts and the steamboat are still anchored. The fine houses are
curiosities for the strangers, and the china, the furniture and
paintings may be viewed in the museum for a fee.

There is order, and peace, and prosperity too; the streets and houses
look clean and well kept. But it is no longer a vigorous personal life;
the color and the bloom have faded, the splendor and pageant are gone.
It still lives, but as an unimportant part of a greater life. Its charm
lies only in the memory of former days. It is lovely through its dream
life, through the unreal phantasy of its past. All that constitutes its
charm - the dark shadowy canals reflecting the light drawbridges, the
pretty quaintly-lighted streets with the red brick gables, bluish gray
stoops, chains and palings, the harbor with the little old tar and rope
shops, the tall sombre elm trees on the ramparts - it all possesses
only the accidental beauty of the faded. It can no longer, like a young
and blooming creature, will to be beautiful. It is beautiful
involuntarily, no longer as a piece of human life, but as a piece of
nature. And its loveliness is pathetic through the afterglow of a brief
blazing up of individual vivid splendor of life.

In this quite sphere, where life now flows on but lazily and
reflectively as in a small tributary stream of, the great river, - I
live, an old man, for the accomplishment of my last task.

I live obscurely amid the obscure. I do my best to escape notice, and
have no notoriety whatsoever, not even as an eccentric.

I associate with the doctor and the notary is expected of me, and I
also go to the club. It is known that I have an income and, besides,
earn some money from a small nursery on the outskirts of the town, and
by giving Italian lessons.

The rumors regarding my past have all quieted down, and people have
grown accustomed to my foreign name - Muralto. They see me regularly
taking the same walk along the sea dike to my nursery, and my gray felt
hat and my white coat in summery weather are known as peculiarities of
the town. When you read this, reader, I shall be buried, respectably
and simply, with twelve hired mourners and the coach with black plumes
of the second class, and a wreath from the burgomaster's wife, to whom
I gave lessons; from the notary, who occasionally earned something
through me; and from the orphanage because, as treasurer, I always kept
the accounts in order.

This is as I wish it to be. When you read this my living personality
may no longer stand in your way. My individual being may no longer
engage your attention. I know how this would veil the truth for you.
Never has man accepted new and lucid ideas from a contemporary unless
he were an avowed and venerated prophet, that is to say, a man
corrupted and lost. I will not let myself be corrupted and give myself
up as lost, and yet I know that my thoughts are too great to be
accepted from free conviction without slavishness by my living
fellow-men. Therefore have I peace in this petty world under the heavy
burden of my tremendous life. I did not confer it on myself and I have
no choice. Were I to speak my mind freely and honestly, I should be
either locked up or worshipped. I deserve neither one nor the other;
but such is the nature of the people of this age - they cannot reject
without hatred nor accept without slavishness. Thus I live in
self-restraint and peace among the lowly.

But these pages are the doors of the cap of my suppressed life. Only by
these writings do I keep the peace within and master the tumult.

It is a hard struggle; I am weary from it not from arousing, but from
restraining my thoughts. For what I write must be clear and orderly and
concise. Readers nowadays are impatient and easily bored, and crave
excitement. And they are dulled too, and no longer hear so clearly the
true ring of sincere conviction. Yet I have peace, for this will be
read. It will strike the summits, and the social system of today is
still built so that everything slowly spreads from the summits and
penetrates to the very lowest layers.

Do you disagree, reader? Do you accept nothing on higher authority, but
judge everything independently for yourself?

 Then it is just you I need. Then you are on the summit and all the
rest of mankind in ranged about or beneath you. All the rest of mankind
accepts and believes on authority - but you do not. Then have I also
written this expressly and solely for you. How lucky that at last it
has fallen into your hands. Allow me to embrace you in thought, dear,
precious, freely-judging and independently-thinking reader. You are
such a treasure to me, such a find, that for the world I would not let
you go or lose you.

Listen then, dear reader, with a little patience and some painstaking
on your part. Sweet spoils are not won without exertion! You are
sensible enough not to want to judge without having given faithful
attention.

I write this for you because you do not want to act without
understanding; because you are restless and dissatisfied, a seeker and
lover of the unknown; because at last you have turned on your way to
look for what so long has gently pushed and driven you; because your
eyes are opened wider and are more intent on the prospect toward which
everything seems to lead.

I write this for you, the refractory and rebellious who are tired of
all slavery.

I write this for you, who feel that you have reached maturity and no
longer want to be treated as a child, not even by fate.

I write this for you, the proud and the evil; yes, for the wantonly
wicked who despises the meek and the just. I write this also for you,
the earnestly good who wants to love his enemy, but cannot.

The complaisant and contented, the adjusters and compromisers, the
advocates and flatters of God, those who shun anxiety and stop their
ears against too blatant a truth - they had better read something else;
there are plenty of pleasant and entertaining books for amusement.

And the slaves of reason, who tread in a circle around their stake as
far as the cord of their logic reaches, they too cannot be my readers.

Only he who has overcome the word, who has forsaken the idolatry of the
"true word" - he can read me with profit and understanding.

Listen, then: I am an old man proclaiming the glory of a new era. I am
lonely and forsaken, but nevertheless I have a share in the great human
world and the life of the gods.

I sit here serenely in my sombre, cool, old house, with its musty odor
of old wood and memories of past generations. I look out upon the
harbor and I hear the continuous murmur of the sea-breeze in the tall
elms on the dike, and the screams of the gulls speaking of the vast and
briny life of the sea. And yet, in the solitude of this quiet,
forgotten life, I feel that I am mightier than the mightiest, a match
for fate. I rule life; it shall bow to my wishes. I wrestle with the
gods, even to the Most High. Sometimes I tremble, when a careless
glance, with some semblance of deeper import, from one of the persons
about me makes me think that a spark of this seething life within me
has been discovered. But no one sees it, happily, nor knows me!

Had I told you this, (is it not so, dear reader, though you be ever so
wise?), and I came not in a fiery chariot with a halo of glory and in
dazzling raiment, but in my citizen's clothes, then after all you would
undoubtedly have shrugged your shoulders and taken me for a poor fool.

But now I am a rich sage, because I write and hold my peace.

You are still a person, dear reader, but I have gone a step beyond - I
am dead and no longer a person. Now, now while you are reading this. In
this now, that is also now for me. I am no person, but more than that,
and therefore can say to you what, from any person, would annoy you.

For you there is left only a still, small book, that meekly submits to
being closed up and laid aside - and then again, as patiently as ever,
resumes its tranquil message, when opened.

II

My parents were Italian aristocrats and my childhood days in the
paternal home in Milan and our country estate near Como loom up vaguely
before me in pictures half memories, half dreams. I cannot clearly
distinguish what is purely memory and what a dream, or dream-memory, of
these olden days. Memory is like tradition; one does not remember the
first impression, but only the memory of it, and who knows how much
that was already distorted; and so the picture changes from year to
year, like a vaguely-told tale.

My childhood days fell towards the middle of the nineteenth century. It
was my time of luxury and state. Our home was a palace with a pillared
courtyard, wide stairway of stone with statuary, and a marble dolphin
spouting water. We had carriages and servants and I wore velvet suits
with wide lace collars and colored silk ties. I remember my father at
the time as a tall, dark, proud man, most fastidiously groomed and
dressed. He had shiny black whiskers and long, thick, wavy and glossy
hair that fell over his forehead with an artful curl. He wore tight
trousers with gaiters and patent leather shoes that always creaked
softly. He had a calm but very decided manner, and impressed me
immensely by his gentle way of giving orders and the confidence with
which he could make himself obeyed. Only my mother resisted him with a
power equally unshakable and equally restrained. As a child I saw this
conflict daily and, without appearing to do so or being myself quite
conscious of it, gave it much thought.

My mother was a very fair blonde Northern woman whom I heard praised
for her great beauty - a fact a child is unable to determine for
himself about his own mother. I know that she had large, gray eyes with
dark rings underneath, and that it often seemed as though she had wept.
Her voice, her complexion, her expression, everything vividly suggested
tears to me. And in the silent struggle with my father her resistance
was that of an aggrieved, painful, sensitive nature: his was cool, more
indifferent and gay, but none the less firm. I never heard them
quarrel, but I saw the politely tempered tension in the dignified
house, during the stately meals, even as the servants saw it. Yet my
father would sometimes hum a tune from an opera and joke and laugh
boisterously with his friends; but mother always went about silently
and gravely, gliding over the thick carpets like a spectre and, at her
best, showing but a wan smile.

We were wealthy and prominent people and my parents felt that very
strongly. And when I think about it now, here in my little provincial
town in Holland, where I shine my own boots, then after all I feel
compassion for the two - for my cool, well-bred father, as well as for
my pale, languishing, distinguished mother. For they considered their
high position just and righteous, and complete, and did not see in how
much it was wanting. My mother did not see how tasteless the fashion
was, - her draped and be-ruffled gown in which she thought herself so
elegant and stately, - her own physical beauty and natural grace barely
saving her from becoming an object of absolute ridicule. And my father
did not know how much his traditional power of heredity had already
been undermined by the democratic ideas everywhere astir.

Our luxury too was strangely deficient in many respects. I have
suffered bitter cold in the great chilly palace; at night one might
break one's neck on the dark stone stairway; in some parts an ofttimes
very foul and disgusting stench prevailed; the servants slept in stuffy
hovels; there was a lavatory of which my father was very proud and
which had cost enormous sums of money, but where in broad daylight one
had to light a candle in order to wash ones hands.

I feel compassion for my proud father when I think of how he collected
art treasures and bought paintings by distinguished artists of the
time, which he would contemplate for hours through a monocle, and which
formed the subject of long intricate critical speculations with his
friends - paintings which after all were really only trifling daubs of
no value whatever at the present time.

It was a dream of wholly successful social glory dreamed by my Italian
parents as confidently as that other dream, dreamed by the Dutch
merchants of this little seaport town. And this Italian dream I dreamed
with them in perfect soberness. I can still become wholly absorbed in
the illusion. I see the purple velvet with the white plume and the
large diamond on my mother's hat, - a small, round bonnet, on the
thick, blonde hair gathered into a net. I stand by her side in the
carriage and feel myself the little prince, the little son of the
Contessa - and see the people bowing with profound respect. I breathe
the faint, fine perfume of frankincense and lavender exhaling from my
mother's clothes. And I recollect my sensation of calm and pride at the
meals with the heavy pretentious plate, the great bouquets of roses,
the violet hose of the clergy who were our guests, the fragrance of the
heavy wine.

And I am touched when I think of the self-delusion of so proud,
arbitrary, critical and sceptical a man as my father, who was
prejudiced so completely by this illusion of his greatness. He would
have looked down scornfully upon the civic pomp of these
seventeenth-century Hollanders and yet that was assuredly finer, even
as was the older Italian civilization, which my father thought to
surpass while he was really living in a state of sad decline.

It is quite comprehensible that in this family feud I sided with my
mother, and that my sister, who was older than I, took my father's
part. Also that my father would by no means submit to this, and that I
very soon began to notice that I myself was the main subject of the
strife, which fact did not tend to increase my modesty. It is strange
how, as children, we take part in these conflicts, apparently wholly
absorbed in our books and games and yet quite aware of the significant
glances, the tears and passions hidden before us, the conversations
suddenly arrested at our entrance, the artificial tone employed toward
us children, the peculiar signs of dreary suspense, of momentous events
beyond our ken imminent in the family circle and which we know we must
pass without comment. Little as I was, I knew full well that the
priests were on my mother's side and that my father fought against a
coalition. But with my mother I felt a sense of warmth, gentleness and
tenderness, and had already been won over to her side long before I
knew what the contest was about. Her beauty, which I heard praised; the
deference I saw her met with; her sanctity, which I recognized as a
great power, which my father, otherwise yielding to nothing or no one,
dared only resist with faltering mockery; the sphere of suffering and
tears in which she lived - all this drew my chivalrous heart to her. I
considered my father a great man, a giant who dared anything and could
get whatever he pleased - but for this very reason would I defend my
mother against him. I went to church with her faithfully, and strictly
followed her admonitions to piety, and the frivolous jokes which my
father sometimes made on that score I proudly and heroically met with
profound gravity.

But this chivalrous conflict was speedily ended. The tension became
aggravated so that the banquets ceased and my mother did not appear for
days, and only summoned me to her side for a few moments when she would
weep passionately and pray with me. Strange gentlemen came for long and
secret conferences; and one bleak winter morning, very early, a large
coach appeared in which my father and I departed.

Then there began for us two a restless life of wandering that continued
for years. We travelled through northern Africa, Asia Minor, through
all Europe, through America, and never did we remain in one place so
long a time that I could grow fond of it, or feel myself at home there.
As if by intentional design or driven by a constant unrest, my father
would always break up whenever an abode began to feel homelike to me
and I had found some friends in the vicinity, and it was wonderful with
what strength of mind he persevered in this irksome, arduous and
ofttimes even dangerous life.

We sometimes travelled through half barbarous countries with very
primitive means of conveyance. My father had no permanent servant and
would not suffer any woman to take charge of me. We were together
constantly, night and day, and he did for me all that a mother could
have done. He helped me to wash and dress, and even mended my clothes.
He gave me lessons, taught me drawing, music, various languages,
fencing, swimming and riding; but although I very much desired to, he
never permitted me to attend school anywhere. His attention was never
for a moment diverted from me, his care for me knew no weakening, and
yet we never became really intimate. I felt that the old conflict was
being carried on under conditions that were much harder for me. He had
parted me from my mother and now that I stood alone, would vanquish me.
He surely did not suspect that I would understand it thus and would
consciously carry on the strife. But though I did not reason it out, my
intuition clearly apprehended his tactics, and I held out more
obstinately than ever with all the stubbornness of a child and the
strength of mind which I had from himself inherited.

On three types of humanity my father was not to be approached. Firstly,
the priests, the black ones, as he called them, whom he hated with all
the fierce vehemence of his race; and, in spite of me, he so
successfully inculcated into me his own aversion, that I cannot yet
unexpectedly behold a priestly robe without a sensation of shuddering
as at the sight of a snake. Secondly, the bourgeois, whom he called
philistines, - the humbly living, contented, narrow-minded, timid, -
whom he did not hate as much as he despised them with fervid scorn. And
finally women, whom he neither hated nor despised, but whom he feared
with a scoffing dread.

And now, looking back upon my youth from so great a distance, now I
understand that it was not only healthy, natural tenderness that drove
him to such exaggerated care for me, but bitter, impassioned feelings
of opposition and revenge born of mortifying and painful experience.
Priests, women and philistines had been too mighty or too cunning for
him; now he would at least keep me, his successor in the world, out of
their hands. That was the one great satisfaction he still sought in
life, more from grudge against his enemies than for love of me.

Besides there were inconsistencies in his character that I am now quite
able to explain, but which as a child, seemed very queer and shocking
to me. He posed as a free-thinker and took pleasure in ridiculing my
ingenuous piety. He called God a great joker, who made sport of men and
amused himself at their expense. "But he won't fool me," he would say,
"and I promise you that I'll tell him so straight to his face if I get
the chance of speaking to him hereafter." Only of natural science and
nature did he speak with respect. Nature, according to him, was always
beautiful and good where man did not spoil her. He called natural
science our only security in life, weapon and shield against priestly
lies and religious hypocrisy.

And yet my father frequently went to church, also taking me with him.
Wherever he went he never failed to visit the temples regardless of the
faith they confessed. He was very musical and he would pretend to go
chiefly for the sacred music. But in the Catholic churches I also saw
him crossing himself with the holy water and even kneeling for hours in
prayer before an image of the Blessed Virgin wreathed with flowers and
illumined by candles.

This was incomprehensible to me, having as yet no knowledge of the
illogical workings of an artistically poetic and musical temperament.
But I drew my own conclusions, and it was not surprising that I
considered the devout father the true one, and the unbeliever perverted
through evil influence. Thus, despite her absence, mother's influence
prevailed. My memory had stripped her image of all that was trivial,
commonplace and unlovely, and, little by little, with her suffering,
her tears, her beauty, her tenderness, she began to shine for me in
pure angelic holiness, the subject of my faithful and ardent devotion.

I shall not dwell on my long and arduous wanderings with my father.
Indeed, I do not remember much about them. I must have seen many
strange and beautiful sights, but they meant little to me. When the
soul is young it does not take root in surroundings too vast and does
not absorb the beautiful. I have a clearer recollection of certain
picture books, of little cosy corners in the rooms we inhabited, of a
small pewter can which I had found on the road and from which I would
never be parted - not even when I went to bed than of the countries or
cities we traversed.

True, I must have absorbed some of the wonderful things about me, for
they undoubtedly furnished me with the material of which my dreams,
about which I shall tell you further on, were woven. But as a boy I
took no pleasure whatever in travelling. I longed for my mother, and
for our country house, where I could play with my little sister under
the airy open galleries in the rose garden or build dams in the brook.
Only the journeying by rail, a novelty at that time, interested me the
first few times, and above all the trip across the ocean to America,
when Philadelphia and Chicago were only small places, and crossing the
ocean by steamboat was still considered a perilous and risky
undertaking.

Only of certain moments with lasting significance have I retained a
sharper recollection. Thus I remember a miserable day somewhere in Asia
Minor. We had both been ill from tainted food, my father and I, and had
lain helpless in a most wretched tavern. Meanwhile thieves had stolen
all our belongings, and when we wanted to journey on we could get no
horses, for the inhabitants feared the thieves and their vengeance
should we accuse them. Amidst a troop of dirty, eagerly debating
Syrians in a scorching hot street I stood at my father's side peering
into his wan face, sallow and drawn from the illness, with glistening
streaks of perspiration and an expression of deadly fatigue and
stubborn will.

He had a pistol in each hand and repeated a few words of command over
and over again, while from the brown, gleaming heads about us came, in
sometimes angry, sometimes mournful, sometimes mocking tones, loud, but
to me unintelligible, replies. I saw the fierce, self-interested,
indifferent faces, with the wild eyes, and I realized how narrow was
the boundary separating our life from death.

Still the scorching wild beast odor of the place comes back to me and I
hear the sound of a monotonous tune, with fiddling and beating of drums
in the distance, and the papery rustling of the palm leaves above our
heads. This disagreeable condition must have continued a long while. At
that time all mankind, the whole world, seemed hostile and desolate to
me.

I knew, indeed, that my father would conquer. He did not want to die,
and I had a childlike faith in his tremendous will-power. And so it
actually turned out, and I was neither surprised nor glad. The irksome
life of wandering continued, and I had a bitter feeling that it was my
father who shut me out from the world and made it hostile to me.

We did after all finally procure a guide that day and made a long march
on foot along scorching sandy roads, weak and tired as we were, guided
only by a half-witted boy, humming and chewing wisps of straw. Then I
began to realize what suffering means. My father did not speak, nor
would he endure any complaints from me. I bore up against it bravely,
as bravely as I could, but I began to ponder much at that time. "How
long would I be able to endure this?" I thought. "And why does he do
it? If all this folly and hardship served no purpose, we did not have
to bear it then. What could he purpose thereby? Will something very
pleasant follow? Or will these hardships continue until we die? Is all
this God plaguing us, as he says? Why does God do it, and should we let
ourselves be tormented so?"

Then, after hours of silent wandering, I put a question:

"Is there justice, father?"

By this I meant, whether for all this footsoreness, this thirst and
this exertion, I would be rewarded by proportional pleasure. My father
did not reply. He evidently had need of all his energies to walk on.

But when we had finally reached the seaport and had washed ourselves
with seawater, he said abruptly: "There is only power!"

That answer did not please me. It was pleasure I wanted. Power could
not avail me.

III

Consider well, dear reader, the purpose of these writings. It is not to
occupy ourselves with the recital and attendance of thrilling and
glowing adventures, but to try to what extent my words can clear up and
illumine for you the dark background of these adventures. Illusion is
the all-powerful word of the philosophers, with which they seek to
destroy the things happening about us. But I have already worn out that
word. At times it is in my hands as a foul tattered rag, it has lost
its old use for me. I can also say - there is no illusion - there are
only known and unknown things, truths revealed and unrevealed, very
rapidly moving and very slowly flowing vital realities. And all my life
it has been my constant and passionate desire to penetrate from the
known to the unknown, from the revealed to the unrevealed, from the
fleeting to the lasting, from the swiftly moving to the more slowly
flowing - like a swimmer who from the centre of a wild mountain stream
struggles toward the quiet waters near the shore. And wherefore this
hard struggle? Because the still waters also hold blessings of
consolation, of joy, of happiness. There is the pleasure, the real
pleasure, that I as a boy expected from justice, the fair wages for
trouble and pain, the equivalent reward.

My father did not believe in justice, but he did believe in power. But
thus he did exactly what he wished not to do, he let himself be
deceived and tried also to deceive me. But even when only a small boy,
I would not let myself be cheated by counterfeit coin. "Go along with
your power!" I thought. "I want pleasure. What can power or might avail
me without pleasure?" I wanted wares for my money, for I believed in
justice.

The Dutch merchants, who built my pretty and substantial house, were
not very far-sighted fellows and on their hunt for happiness sailed
straight into the bog. But they demanded wares for their money, and
that was right. Now I, as an old man, live on the beautiful ruins of
their glory overgrown with the immature buds of a newer, grander
splendor of life; but I have continued to believe in justice, so
firmly, that I quite dare to assume the responsibility of expounding
this faith to you, dear reader, with all my might. And this faith
teaches that you must not let yourself be cheated, and must demand
wares for your money. That is - good, righteous, solid wares. We will
not let some inane gaieties, some paltry and miserable pleasures, some
tinsel be passed off on us as the real golden happiness. This one tries
to coax you with tempting food and drink, another with the pleasures of
being rich and mighty, still others with the comfort of a good
conscience or perhaps with the flattery of honors and the satisfaction
of duty fulfilled - or finally with the promise of reward hereafter, a
brief on eternity with the privilege for your ghost of making complaint
to the magistracy in case the ruler of the universe does not honor
them. Nothing in my old age affords me such melancholy amusement as the
foolishness of these persons, who deem themselves so wise, especially
those practical, rational, matter-of-fact and epicurean persons, who go
to such a vast amount of trouble and suffer themselves to be put off
with such hackneyed, transitory, unreal, hollow stuff.

And I know not what is worse, the deception of the priests or that of
the philosophers, who scaling to a height upon a ladder of oratory
write a big word upon a piece of paper, flaunting it before you as the
legal tender for all your pains. With a beaming countenance the good
citizens go home with their strip of paper on which is written, "pure
reason," or "will for might," and are as contented as the so-styled
freed peoples of Europe liberated by the hosts of the French revolution
and honestly paid with worthless assignments.

What my father let me gain for my trouble did not seem to me a fair
return, nor could he hold out to me any reasonable prospect of better
reward. The diversity of life, the beauty of the world which he
obtruded upon me so copiously would, as I approached maturity, have
delighted and comforted me. As a lad it vexed and wearied me.

I was a tall lad, a replica of my proud, dark father, as everyone said.
I remember the sally of an indignant Parisian street arab, who called
after me: "Hey, boy, why so high and mighty?" And in my own country,
where one turns more quickly to measures sharper than words, this
loftiness brought upon me even fiercer attacks. A country lad imitated
my proud bearing and pure Italian, getting for it a slap with a towel
which I carried on my way to bathe in the sea. On my return the answer
came - a stab in my back which for days forced me to assume a lowlier
bearing.

I had early grown accustomed to the attention we attracted wherever we
went. The father - always elegantly dressed, with his old-fashioned
pompousness and melancholy eyes - and the son - nearly as tall and
bearing a striking resemblance to him. Especially for women we were
subjects of interest. But my father never seemed to pay any attention
to this, nor did I ever see him come into closer contact with any woman.

 But to me, long before I could appreciate the beauties of art and of
nature, a glance from the eyes of a woman was the most precious of all
life had to offer. That I primarily accounted as unalloyed gold
outweighing much anguish and trouble.

I will try to be exact and absolutely sincere. I may avail myself of
that privilege - old while I write, and dead when I shall be read. I am
of a very amorous nature and the thought of friend or sweetheart was
always an oasis in the desert of my thoughts. Even amidst the most
important cares and duties such thoughts were ever of unspeakably
greater interest and importance to me. They were never dull or tedious,
never bored me, and were my consolation in times of gloom and
discouragement. The pain they brought was also dear to me, and never
possessed the loathsome hatefulness of other barren vital pangs.

It is difficult for me to recall when the first beams of this great and
chiefest joy of life began to shine more brightly for me, but I cannot
have been much over five or six years old. I played the passive part at
the time, and it was the girl who chose me as her friend and invited
the attention which I right willingly bestowed. But when later I myself
went out to seek the joys of love, I thought only of boy friends. And
it was a boy, a tall pale Hollander and, as it now seems to me,
certainly not a very attractive lad, whom I approached one bright
summers eve wandering together in the starlight, with the proposition
of eternal friendship. The pale lad possessed what is called common
sense and replied that he had too vague a conception of eternity to
dare accept this proposal. Later, among women I have seldom met with
such conscientious scruples.

Our constant travelling made all these attachments very brief and
transitory and, as a child in search of love cares nothing for caste
prejudice, they were also very diverse, but therefore none the less
intense. I loved a nice brown-eyed and barefooted Livornian fisher lad,
because he was so strong and could row so well, and swim like a fish.
And later, when I was bigger, it was a young German travelling salesman
who taught me college songs and impressed me with his show of greater
worldly wisdom, that won my heart. In these relations I was always the
most ardent enthusiast, fervently pining, filled day and night with the
subject of my love. And it can still make the blood rise to my wan
cheeks when I think of the treasures of devotion that I squandered on
these unresponsive beings. But now I know too that I may count myself
lucky that they were so unresponsive. For through this wandering life
at my father's side I had remained green as grass, and how easily one
all too responsive might have turned the young tender instinct, with
which the Genius of Humanity has endowed us, forever from its destined
course to life-long torture. For we are all, man and woman alike, born
with a twofold nature, and the pliant young shoot can so easily be
contorted and its rightful growth permanently warped.

The maiden saw in me the lover long before I began to look on her with
a lover's eyes. I had, indeed, found the unspeakable joy of intimacy
surpassing and atoning for all, but not yet the peculiar higher joy of
an intimacy, with greater disparity, between youth and maid. I thought
all intimacy glorious if it was but very fervent, and even entertained
some vague notion regarding the great joy of an intimacy and cordiality
embracing all, man and woman, young and old. But these moments of
revelation and insight were but very brief and buried forthwith under
commonplaces.

It must have been between the age of ten and twelve, that looking into
the bright eyes of a girl, I first experienced that peculiar and higher
bliss, that boy friendship could not give me. This was an event that so
engrossed me, that I was oblivious of everything else and walked about
like one moving in a dream.

I know not whether it was due to the blood of my fair northern mother,
but never could a southern, dark-eyed and black-haired lass fascinate
and interest me so vehemently and intensely as a blue-eyed blonde.
Especially the English type, the cool, self-possessed, as well as
somewhat haughty and coy blonde maiden, slender and yet strong, with
wavy hair, attracted my attention and interest with an irresistible
power.

Have patience, dear reader, it is a delicate and difficult matter, and
I must deliberate well and speak carefully if we would more deeply
penetrate the meaning of these things.

When these feelings overtake us as a child, we think it is the
personality, that it is Alice or Bertha who interests us so intensely,
and that only Alice or only Bertha can inspire such strange and
powerful emotions of bliss and desire. And above all that it is just
Alice or just Bertha whose more intimate acquaintance is so eminently
desirable.

But how is it possible that we retain this illusion, and even live and
die in it - pleasant and enviable though it may be - when we know that
each feels this same interest in some other and ofttimes even see it
transferred from one to another?

Being in love is the desire to fathom a most interesting secret,
indispensable to us all. The beloved maiden attracts us, as a ray of
light attracts the wanderer in the dark. Yet we know that every
creature of her kind can shed this radiance about her, and that it is
simply our own accidental receptivity that, among so many thousands,
gives to this one creature in particular her attractive power.

Thus I think I can positively say that it was not herself I sought in
my beloved, but the reflection of one common light that also shines
through other windows as well as through the eyes in which I discovered
it. But though my reason must affirm it, my heart comprehends little of
this. When I think of her whom I loved last, longest and most
devotedly, then she herself, her own personality, is a certainty to me
that I would not willingly relinquish for any higher certainty, many
years though I have spent in anxious pondering on this subject.

The list of my boy friends is not worth recording. They were puppets
wondrously decked out by my fertile imagination, worshipped as heroes
for a while with all the ritual of German friendship cult - and later,
when in their personal life they showed no resemblance to my ideal
expectations, rudely dismantled and cast aside and hated. I can still
see a photograph of one of them lying in my washbowl with pierced eyes,
curling and charring under the avenging flame of a match.

The last of the series, the young commercial traveller, longest
retained his glory. I saw him only about a week in a watering place,
and subsequently he was able to maintain his position of hero-friend by
a correspondence in which he answered my fervent ingenuousness
stammered in poor German with fluent plagiarism from the classics of
his romantic fatherland. All went well, until after a few years I met
him again and noticed that it was not even a puppet but a skeleton that
I had arrayed in a hero's armor. I was furious at him as though he had
purposely deceived me - but my anger was unmerited. He had in perfect
good faith tried his best to live up to the national traditions of
friendship and to keep burning the smouldering fire of his own humble
ideal of love.

A friend, who would have paid me in my own coin, who requited what I
desired to give him, - as, faithful, as devoted, as passionate, as
self-sacrificing, as attentive and solicitous as it was my nature to
understand and prove friendship - such a one I never found. And I was
unreasonable enough to retain a bitter and scornful feeling toward
those who, seeming to give promise of such an exalted friendship, had
disappointed me so sorely. I now understand how good it is that at this
age such friendships do not exist. Is it not hard enough to extricate
ourselves from the seemingly hopeless complications of sexual instincts
and relations? Are we not still far from the adjustment of passions,
arising much too early and continuing much too long? physical and
mental desires, affections misplaced, extinguished and transferred to
others? and children who must be fed? Should we desire to add to these
problems the complications of strong friendships which might perhaps
transform and divert our entire nature? Let each, who feels an honest,
strong, profound, budding passion for a being of opposite sex sprouting
within himself be grateful. The more so if he is not confronted by
abysses all too deep, by doors all too closely barred and by deserts
all too barren; if in this other soul he can detect feelings somewhat
akin to his own. To expect, besides, exalted friendships between those
of equal sex is imputing too much power and good will to the Deity in
whose hand we live.

For me, then, it was not Alice or Bertha, - but Emmy, and more
particularly Emmy Tenders, the daughter of an English-Scotch merchant,
who of all human beings seemed to me the most interesting and worth
knowing. I really cannot say whether she was pretty or whether others
considered her so. She interested me in such strong and intense degree
that it never occurred to me to look at her from an æsthetically
critical standpoint. I remember that I was interested and surprised
when, after I had already known her over a year, I heard an old
gentleman referring to her as "that lovely child." It flattered me like
a personal compliment, but it sounded wholly new to me.

I know that she was lithe and yet quite robust, that she had light
grayish-blue eyes and an abundance of thick blonde hair that framed her
face in heavy waves. It is quite impossible for me to say or to give
even an intimation of what it was that so attracted me in her. I saw
her first in her own home in the company of her mother, a pleasant
Scotch lady, and her brothers, sturdy, clever, staid and silent lads.
And from the moment I saw her I was drawn to her by a mysterious
feeling of attraction, which even now, after more than fifty years, is
as inexplicable to me as it then was. She was affectionate toward her
mother, treated her brothers like good comrades, and me in a somewhat
arch and pleasantly ingenious manner. She said nothing particular, nor
did I ever foster the illusion that she had anything very particular to
say. But her nature concealed a secret for me that I felt I must
approach and fathom at all costs, though I staked my greatest treasure,
at the cost of my life would have seemed but a miserably feeble
consideration to me.

And mingled with this, thus making it all the more inexplicable, was a
feeling of mournfulness, of pity. When I said to myself: "how dear she
is!" I pronounced the "dear" with a mingled feeling of tender pain and
fervent pity.

What could be the meaning of this? She seemed entirely well and happy
and led a pleasant life, with good parents, cordial family relations,
luxuries, many outdoor pleasures, ball games, tea-parties, boat
excursions, dances - everything that could make an English girl of our
time happy.

And yet when I thought of her playful ways, her dear, young supple
limbs, her thick, wavy, blonde hair, which she would push back now and
then with both her hands, the tears welled up in my eyes from sheer
compassion.

See, reader, after all it is just as well that for the beginning,
nothing comes of these great friendships. They merely divert us. One
would think that love meant the intellectual communion of spirits. But
that is nonsense. What an intellectual giant one would have had to be
to offer Goethe or Dante a worthy friendship. Yet Gemma Donati and
Christiane Vulpius were their mates, their equals in power, before whom
they willingly bowed and humbled themselves. Every sweet woman conceals
a secret of life that outweighs the wisdom of the greatest man, and for
which he would willingly barter all his treasures and yet count it too
small a price.

Let us be patient, dear reader, and proceed carefully. My time of love
is past and yet the matter is as much of a mystery to me as ever. But
it is the work on which we are all employed, and I hold that first the
love between man and woman must be better regulated and understood
before we can proceed to friendship.

Now I turn the jewel of my love-life a point about and contemplate
another facet as if to discover the hidden form of the crystal.

Emmy Tenders was the first woman who, when I had grown from youth to
manhood, at once, absolutely, and completely won me without effort on
her part. She was the first woman I eagerly sought, though it was with
the deepest reverence and a shrinking fervor. But, as I said before,
probably ten years previous to this girls had sought me, detecting the
prospective man in me before I had myself become aware of him. This had
indeed flattered me and, as I have confessed, I had also found in the
glance from the eyes of some one of them promise of higher joy than my
boy friendships could give me - but with a peculiar obstinacy
inexplicable to myself, I had always repelled these approaches. Without
acting in obedience to boyish tradition, to whose influence I was never
subjected on account of my nomadic life, my own feeling made me see
something childish and unworthy in the association with girls and
women, while on the other hand I exalted my boy friendships as nobler
and manlier.

But oh! the subtle and effective manner in which this avenged itself on
me. When later my time of seeking had come, and I was assailed and
driven by overwhelming passions, it then appeared that I had retained
the memory of these little adventures of childhood days with irritating
exactness, and there mingled with it a bitter feeling of regret for the
lost opportunities. The kiss blown me from a window in Naples, the
extraordinary, more than motherly cares of the hotel chambermaid in
Vienna, the roses pressed into my hands on the street by a young
Spanish girl somewhere in the south of France, the embrace and the kiss
on my cheek which I once suddenly felt in a dark garden where I stood
listening to some music and which I - oh, obstinate simpleton that I
was! - scornfully and indignantly repelled - how often and with what
teasing tenacity have they haunted me in my dreamy days and sleepless
nights, when the icy crust of boyish pride had long been melted, but
the girls had also grown proportionally more chary of their favors. And
even now with half a century intervening, I cannot watch this subtle
game of mutual hide-and-seek without a smile, and I recognize some
truth in my father's opinion that many a time it must indeed also
afford amusement to the Unseen One who secretly directs the figures of
this graceful dance.

Remember, dear reader, that up to the time I met Emmy Tenders, I was
green as grass. It had never occurred to me to seek for any connection
between the wondrously blissful emotions of intimacy that continually
occupied me - and certain physical sensations which only alarmed me
because I thought them unhealthy. And yet I consider this very
connection well-nigh the most mysterious and interesting of all the
enigmas of life. And perhaps, as I, you too have always felt when
reading the writings of the great and distinguished lovers among
mankind, a certain want of exactness, which led me to exclaim: "But how
did you deal with that question?"

My father fared in this matter like the man who dropped his glasses in
a dark room and when, after much hesitation and deliberation he very
carefully set down his foot, stepped precisely on the glass. He had
tried to bring me up with such extraordinary care and wisdom, and now
failed for that very reason. He encouraged my boyish scorn of girls and
courting and did not oppose my partiality for boy friendships. The
terrible risk I thereby ran of warping my sound and natural instinct
and thus making myself unhappy for life, he did not seem to see, and
when the time came to enlighten me in this regard he neglected to do
so. My very sensitive prudishness concerning everything pertaining to
my body he, rightly and to my gratitude, respected as long as possible.

But when it became clear to him that I was seized with a glowing
passion for Emmy Tenders - and he must indeed have been very deaf and
blind not to notice my very apparent confusion and perplexity, my air
of abstraction, my brightening at everything that suggested her, my
pallor, my nocturnal wanderings abroad and my agonies of weeping in bed
- he considered the time for my final enlightenment come.

Between two sensitive, proud and refined natures like my father and
myself, this was a most painful and most difficult task. But he
performed it with his customary undaunted determination. I have never
spent a more uncomfortable hour in my life. My father had brought books
and prints for better demonstration; he dared not look at me and
mumbled a good deal under his breath in a hollow voice. Beads of
perspiration stood on his brow.

When he had left the room, nervous and embarrassed as a child who has
done wrong, my first thought was: a revolver. I was crushed and wanted
to end my life. But the secret, - the secret itself bound me to life.
The strange, attractive, mysterious, repulsive secret fascinated me too
much to leave it.

Insensible with pain and humiliation, I went to my room. And there,
before I could help it, the name "Emmy" rose to my lips. I shivered,
crying out the name once more, now like a despairing shriek of
distress. Then I fell down upon my bed and wept as though I would weep
out my very heart.

IV

The type of men which my father called philistines has this common
characteristic, that for all wonders and mysteries they forthwith find
a convenient explanation. Does the truth not fit it exactly? Then they
do as did the Kaffir, who receiving as a present a much too narrow pair
of shoes, solved the difficulty by undauntedly chopping off his toes
and then, greatly delighted, went out walking in the precious gift.

This time it was my father himself who pretended to see nothing strange
or mysterious in my deeply agitated state of mind. The substance of the
matter he had now explained to me scientifically, biologically,
physiologically and anatomically; to this nothing need be added nor did
it leave anything unexplained.

My disgust, my profound horror and dejection at this simple increase of
knowledge which, as every new acquisition of knowledge, should have
delighted and edified me - Yes! for that there was no room in his
explanation, as little as for his own embarrassment while imparting it.
And therefore, without any sentimentality, these toes must be lopped
off so that the boot would fit.

Reader, do not imagine that I demand of you deep regard and veneration
for the great foolish boy who lay helplessly weeping because of that
strange difference between men and flowers that with the former carries
so much discord into their most important vital function.

I myself now softly laugh at my self of fifty years ago, not
scornfully, but with gentle irony - sympathetically. I pat the boy on
the shoulder and admonish him kindly: "Quiet, laddie, be not so
dismayed. We are a strange mingling of ape and angel. But try, as
quickly as possible, to reconcile yourself to this, then everything
becomes quite bearable. Do you think this same thing would have caused
like consternation to Emmy Tenders, if the knowledge but came to her in
the right way, that is to say the way of reverent love, and deep
devotion? She is indeed wiser. And had you learned it as a poet and
lover and not as a philistine then you too would not have found it so
appalling."

But all this, dear reader, does not alter the mysterious and
distressing truth, and one cannot make disharmony bearable by denying
it. So much is certain that my father's assertion, declaring my horror
wholly unreasonable, affected me like an attempt at lopping off my toes
to make the boot fit. I resisted passionately, maintaining an
inexorable separation between my noble and lofty sentiments for Emmy
and the low and vile things my father had disclosed to me, and thus
wandered hastily and eagerly on the dangerous path whose course
branches out but once - one road leading to fanaticism and the other to
dissolute cynicism.

This was my father's work. But I have never reproached him for it with
feelings of bitter resentment. Why not? Can we pronounce sentence,
reader, in a suit whereof the most important facts still lie in
impenetrable darkness?

From my unimpassioned tribunal here in the dreamy and forgotten little
town, I hold acquittal for all who have strayed and gone to ruin in
Cupid's flowery and thorny labyrinth. For assuredly it is not of human
designing.

That there is guilt I cannot deny. Every ill has a father and a mother,
and for once and all, we are accustomed to calling these parents sin
and guilt. But I follow the genealogical tree of these strange and
tender woes beyond Adam and Eve or the Pithecantropus Erectus, even
should I then have to launch my accusations at Powers which from
generation to generation have imprinted in us the belief in their
inviolability.

And now observe what makes the matter still more strange and illogical.
I am not only of a very amorous but also of a very sensual nature.
Together with my strong susceptibility to the joys of soul communion
there went the mighty overpowering impulse of propagation. Before the
contact of these two currents had been brought about in such a painful
manner the low, dark, physical instinct had filled me with a continual
though not very distressing restlessness and with doubt concerning my
health. The splendid equilibrium of my other functions, that has
maintained itself to this day, always outweighed this doubt.

But when the secret was half explained it became all the more absorbing
and enticing and so occupied my thoughts that, even now an old man, I
wonder again and again that a human brain can ponder over such
comparatively simple facts ad infinitum, without having them lose their
interest, and without really arriving at any conclusion.

Physicians would speak of pathological conditions and of libido
sexualis. But I would point out to you, dear reader, that though there
may be very good and noble men among physicians, every physician of our
day without exception, in so much as he would be called a physician, is
at the same time also a philistine. With their explanations and their
fine words for things that are beyond their comprehension because their
science is still unpoetical and unphilosophical, they do not serve us
in the least.

And how could one of these present-day sages reasonably explain to me
that in a noble and lofty human type such as I, certainly not without
some right, dared call myself, the very strong working of an impulse
common to all animals was coupled with an exaggerated sensitiveness for
its ignoble character? Were this impulse good and beautiful and in no
part ignoble, whence then my aversion? - were it really low and
unworthy, whence its presence, so impertinent and overpowering, in a
refined and highly cultured member of the human race?

And if any would speak here of exceptions and strange freaks of nature,
should we not immediately bar his lips with a series of names all
shining in the history of mankind? Are we not acquainted with
Sophocles' very significant sigh of relief at being delivered from this
plague by his years? Is it without a deeper meaning that Dante on the
summit of the mount of redemption lets his dearest and most honored
poets do penance for this very weakness - Arnaut de Verigord, Guittons
of Arezzo and also Guido Guinicello his father and the father of all
those -

che mai

rime d'amore usar dolci e leggiadre.

Did it stand differently with Dante himself, with Shelley, Byron,
Heine, Goethe?

My father's deed arose from an imagined sense of duty, but had wholly
different consequences than he probably expected. He must surely have
thought that now, knowing what it implied, I would either steer
straight for matrimony or renounce my boyish love. He had
satisfactorily torn to pieces the veil of illusion that something
loftier and more mysterious than common propagation was concerned here
- woman's witchery which he knew and from which he wished to shield me.
He also expected my confidence and my appeal for advice in difficulties
and dangers of a kindred nature.

But behold, I remained as ardently devoted and valiantly true to Emmy
as ever. I felt a desire to shield her with my life against the
baseness of this world and let my body serve her as a bridge across the
earthly pool of mire. And higher than ever, I held her image above
every profaning thought. I considered it a sacrilege to think of her as
one of the thousand females about me and to confound my love with the
wooing and wedding of the rest of the world.

But with that, the passions suddenly awakened by my father, fed by a
vivid imagination and now craving recognition and liberty, were not
stilled. The slumbering hounds were aroused and clamored for food. And
as I had not the slightest intention of granting them what my father
pointed out as their natural and lawful portion, but what, as something
sacred and holy, I was determined to keep from their devouring jaws
cost what it would, they sought other food and threatened to destroy me.

"But what would you do about it, old hermit?" the young reader will
ask; "what do you consider a model solution of the question?"

I would do nothing about it, young reader!

The old Muralto is not called to draw up for you a scheme of life. He
only shoves his little lamp ahead as far as he can reach into the
darkness. For the confusion and the rubbish thus brought to light he is
not responsible and each must see for himself how he finds his way
through.

The hounds want food, that is certain. And, whether intentionally or
not, some day they will be awakened; from that, too, there is no
escaping. Blessed is he who can forthwith offer them their proper prey.
And woe to him who thinks that, without danger to himself, he can let
them starve to death or seek for booty unbridled!

And would you retain the confidence of your children do not threaten to
mutilate the feet of their sensibilities for the sake of a narrow
theory. I myself at least, after what I had experienced, would sooner
have gone to the nearest police agent for intimate advice, than back to
my father.

Emmy's home was situated in London on the Thames. The smooth
emerald-green, well-trimmed lawn with the multi-colored flower-borders,
and the blue porcelain vases, extended to the water, and there on
summer afternoons the family sat on the cane chairs partaking of tea,
feeding the swans swimming by, and watching the gay traffic, - the
multitude of graceful little crafts with fashionably dressed men and
women in softly blending tones of green, violet, pink and white, the
muscular gig-rowers in training, shooting by with a regular swish of
oars and followed by shouting friends on horseback; the competitors in
a swimming match making their way amidst all this tumult cheered on
every side; the luxuriant houseboats floating by, full of flowers and
happy people, from which echoed strains of music and a flood of light
emanated at night.

I lived in the suburbs with my father, and when I mingled with the
bright, merry, fair and innocent human world, then all my father had
told me seemed but an ugly fairy-tale.

But London is a strange and, for a person of my temperament, a most
dangerous city. The glamour of angelic human purity is so successfully
assumed there that it makes itself all the more glaringly and horribly
manifest, and exercises a more exciting influence, when the black demon
suddenly leers at us from behind the veil.

Not only Emmy Tenders, but every woman of her type and race, every
cultured English woman, possessed for me something lofty, something
holy and irreproachable. The women of other countries still bore some
resemblance to the female animal; there I could still conceive and
imagine this fatal humiliation; but an English woman seemed so pure, so
noble, so chaste and yet so candidly innocent that her mere presence
sufficed to drive away all impure thoughts. And of all English women,
Emmy Tenders was indeed the sweetest and purest. When I saw her again
all anxiety and horror vanished. I was completely happy and also
thankful that no revolver had been within my reach in that dark moment
following the revelation. That summer's afternoon by the Thames amid
the merry family group some vague conception dawned in me that Emmy's
wondrous power would have made pure all that appeared ugly and vile to
me, if only the revelation had come to me through her.

But it seems indeed that the English rely too much upon the cleansing
power of innocence in their woman. And it is curious how public opinion
among this prudish nation will permit exhibitions of unabashed
flirtation which would be publicly tolerated in probably no other part
of Europe and certainly not in Asia or Africa. In the light, graceful
little boat I glided over the sparkling river amid the tender summer's
bloom which clothed everything with a charm of fairyland and facing me,
on the silken cushions, sat my beloved, in her white dress, holding the
cords of the rudder. And to the left and right, under the shadowing
branches of the drooping willows, my now wide-opened eyes saw pairs of
lovers, each in their own boat, in affectionate attitudes that greatly
embarrassed and distressed me. Emmy did not seem to see them or
appeared to be wholly undisturbed thereby. Then it occurred to me that
I myself must be to blame here and that a peculiar inborn depravity
made the natural appear so hideous to me and obtrude itself so plainly
on my view. And all the more I honored and admired the pure creature
the bright mirror of whose soul the impure breath of the world could
not dim, and to whom the human love-life seemed as natural, common and
unexciting as to the naturalist or ancient philosopher.

The old hermit and philosopher Muralto would here remark, that the
young poetic lover Muralto was a long distance from the sage. It has
indeed occurred to the old man, though seldom, thank heaven, despite
his many years, that he could regard the human love-life like a
naturalist or an old satiated philosopher without the pleasing
distress, the sweet excitement of former days - yet he did not feel
better and wiser at such times, but deeply mourned a precious loss. I
may err, reader, but consider the words of experience!

And in these same ardent days of first true love the giant city exposed
herself to my now enlightened eyes in all her disharmony. And I, who in
wanton Paris had passed as an innocent child through a hotbed of
sensuality and a hailstorm of seduction, on a single twilight eve in
London had four or five encounters the particulars of which remained in
my memory as barbed arrows remain imbedded in the flesh, smarting and
itching and burning like the thorny fibres of cactus or sweetbriar seed
with which one has come into too close contact.

When the women of my country, of a Latin race, cast away their pride
and, from need or indifference, make the game of love their profession,
they still retain a natural and charming glamour and play the sorry
game with a certain grace and conviction as a poor homage to the lofty
secret which they must needs desecrate.

But the English or German woman who lays aside her chastity - God be
gracious to these bunglers! - casts off her modesty as downrightly as
though she were glad that she need not carry it longer - no! let us say
as though the greater depth of her fall resulted also in a more
absolute hopelessness of ever arising again. Cold, businesslike and
practical, they carry on their profession and regard the human
love-life as unmoved and unexcited as a naturalist or an old
philosopher.

But just this class distinction, this sharp and dreadful contrast
between the pure English woman, so nobly represented in my queenly
love, and the creatures who, fifty years ago and probably to the
present day, toward twilight haunted the fine London parks and in the
most unabashed manner reminded me of the recently received fatherly
disclosures - just this stirred the newly aroused passions within me to
an untamable uproar. The tormented hungry dogs raged blindly.

Was the noble creature that filled my heart too good for them - well:
they would then procure for themselves other food. Eat they would,
though it were hideous carrion! The tormented dogs became wolves,
became hyenas.

Let this not arouse your indignation, dear reader. I gladly believe
that your beasties never caused you much trouble, that they were
willingly satisfied with lettuce leaves, or would probably also fast at
will, or submit contentedly to the matrimonial leash. Possibly they
were marmots. But did you yourself rear this tractable race? Then count
not yours the honor nor mine the shame, but accord both to that unknown
Breeder who followed the genealogical tables and selected the mothers
and fathers, uniting them with delicate discernment and hidden design.
The pasturing of docile cattle involves no honor or glory, and I choose
to render account of my pasturage to him alone who knew, better than I,
what he did when he entrusted me with the savage drove.

Neither let it surprise you that my love for Emmy could not drive away
the impure images and destroy their power of attraction. The
reconciliation of ape and angel that our human nature demands had,
thanks to my father's bungling match-making, gone fatally wrong. A
hopeless separation had arisen, the angel seemed inaccessible and the
beast sought his own wild paths. My thoughts would suffer no
desecration of Emmy's sacredness. But the fatherly lesson had startled
up in me a seething swarm of thoughts as difficult to direct or drive
away as a roomful of flies. I could scarcely keep them off the one
white lily in my chamber, what wonder then that the stinking carrion
brought from the nocturnal London parks was black with them?

V

Emmy was nineteen years old when I made her acquaintance, and I was
sixteen, but fully developed at that age, as is not unusual in my
country. For three years I courted her, steadfastly, but in a curiously
capricious and inconsistent way, with all the changes of an all-daring
and naught-fearing devotion, wildly-blazing happiness, sudden shyness
and trembling shrinking, violent dismay, self-reproach, deep
self-contempt - all this being caused by the confusion and the strife
in the intimate household of my soul.

Emmy was, as I can now say without partiality, a good, dear, natural
and simple child, born to make an excellent and loving housewife and
consort.

How often I imagine that I, the patriarch of to-day, with my present
knowledge, would have stepped between the two and easily steered the
two little boats into safe currents on a joint and prosperous journey.
So little would have been needed, a little hint, a loving word of
direction, a gentle stay - and everything would have been well. But
these are idle and tormenting after-thoughts, perhaps quite erroneous
too.

I was not so undesirable a suitor, even though I was three years her
junior. Emmy's parents were liberal-minded, like most English people
not insensible to rank and title, and would surely not have precluded
the young noble Italian from their family, even though he had been
brought up in the Catholic faith.

Thus the amiable child complacently bore with my stormy adoration, less
hidden by me than is customary among the English, schooled in
self-restraint; she waited patiently; gently, almost imperceptibly,
encouraging me the while until I should be old enough to dare press my
suit more urgently. It sometimes seemed to me as though a girl was much
less curious and surprised, and, from out a hidden well, much sooner
and better informed concerning the course of the coming mysteries than
a boy. She does not think about it and would not be able to express it,
and yet she knows everything at the right time, as though the body had
thought for her.

Though our travelling life continued still, my father stopped oftener
and longer in London than in any other place, as though yielding to the
unpronounced pressure of his son. Perhaps this time he purposely wished
to submit me to the flames, my reserve hiding from him the true state
of my heart and my thoughts.

And when, after our first meeting, we were again on our way, it was
Emmy who gave the first timid sign to enter into correspondence. On St.
Valentine's day, the significance of which I knew full well, a colored
scrap-picture arrived, representing a rosy woman's hand with elegantly
curved finger tips offering a bouquet of blue forget-me-nots. The
source from whence it came was evident enough to me, and I, awkward
churl, was rude enough to send her a rapturous letter of thanks for it,
which of course met with a very cool rejection and denial.

At long as I was away from London I had comparative peace. I thought
about my beloved, wrote to her and of her in my diary and studied the
subjects which my father, who wished to make a diplomat of me,
appointed. I spent the winter with him in Berlin, but there I noticed
nothing of the London scandal, though I fully realized that something
of the sort could not well be missing in the big city. All my thoughts
of love, the pure and beautiful as well as its base desecration,
swarmed about the great, gray, smoke-darkened and fog-bound city across
the sea.

Just as the elements of our sensually visible being, the cells of the
body, manifest a peculiar life and independent nature, so the elements
of our invisible being - the desires and passions - seem to be beings
with a peculiar nature. They are like animals and children, hearkening
to the voice that first called them, following the habits first taught
them, curiously stubborn in the errors grown habitual to them in youth,
and with a strange tendency toward the lower, as though falling through
the influence of a gravitation.

I had my "low" and my "lofty" times, as I called them. Sometimes for
weeks and months my thoughts would be pure and tranquil: then they
would be again suddenly aroused by some trifling cause - sometimes
mental: a newspaper article, a conversation overheard - sometimes
physical: a little fête, carrying on their harassing and tormenting
game, constantly repeating and circling around the same facts and
words, throughout entire sleepless nights, gnawing and picking at these
never satiating subjects, so offensive and yet so attractive, as a dog
gnaws at an old whitened bone.

Especially in a time of dejection and gloom, when the world offered me
no flower of outward beauty, the imagination immediately sought comfort
in that which was always exciting, always charming and intriguing, and
never satiated or vexed me. Neither study nor physical exercise had the
power to restrain the arbitrary course of the thoughts; the mind
possessed no weapons against them.

A feverish suspense beset me when it became certain that I was to see
Emmy again. A clear apprehension had already been born in me that only
her presence, her encouragement, her devotion could redeem me. And when
I saw her cordially bowing from the carriage that awaited us at the
suburban station on a bright, sunny May day, and went to meet her
trembling and dizzy with emotion, and seeing nothing of the great world
about me save her hair, golden in the sunlight, the white dress, the
broad-brimmed straw hat and the shining eyes - I really believed that I
was saved, and I no longer wavered in my heart and was positively
determined that I actually wanted her for my wife, no matter what a
saint she might be and how unworthy I.

Thus everything might have come out right, but things do not run so
smoothly in this world. I was seventeen and Emmy twenty. There still
followed weeks, long months - melancholy moods returned again,
discouragements - there were also walks through the dusky parks. And
the hungry dogs continued to whine and to howl and the thought-flies
continued to buzz and to defile themselves. Man may be reasonable and
patient; he has natures to control, apparently for his own good, that
are neither reasonable nor patient; that themselves never rest and
demand guidance from a spirit, that does need rest; that always want to
have their own way, and yet sink fatally downward if the government of
the mind leaves them unguarded. And these are given us by nature, as we
are told, the same nature which according to my father is always good
if man does not spoil her.

So as not to disturb you by exciting your imagination, dear reader,
which might make the driving of your own team more troublesome to you,
I shall mention no particulars of my struggle and my defeat. This
precaution of an old man need not hurt you.

I fell under the joint influence of the following things: the fatally
arisen rupture between corporal and spiritual desires, - the sharp
contrast between English purity and English lewdness that, with its
incomprehensible contradiction, has as exciting an effect as the dog in
the duck-yard, who decoys the inquisitive ducks into the mouth of the
strangler, - and finally the accursed self-contempt that makes one say:
"There's nothing lost with me anyway."

With his attention so steadily fixed upon me, my father could not
remain without suspicion. He came to my room one morning, installed
himself there, and said:

"I hope, Vico mio, that you have remained and will remain a nobleman in
all things."

When we Italians perceive that someone would enter upon a friendly
conversation with us, we look upon it as an invitation to set up
together and complete a small work of art, and we gladly give it an
attentive hearing and zealously assist with careful application, so
that something good and fine be brought forth. When I hear two
Hollanders carrying on a conversation, it sounds more like children of
a village school repeating their penal task, careless, slipshod,
unwilling and embarrassed - if only they get it over with.

"My father," I answered, "I believe I know quite well how you wish a
nobleman to be, but perhaps I do not know how he should comport himself
in everything. Do you refer to any particular circumstance, or are you
speaking generally?"

"If you recognize generally that a nobleman must avoid all intimate
intercourse with ignoble persons, Vico, - the particular instances that
I have in mind are therein included."

"That is plain, father. But yet I have something more to ask. First
this: do you call it intimate intercourse where the spirit on either
side remains at an infinite distance? And then this: can a nobleman
have ignoble desires?"

I saw my father start painfully. Slowly and eyeing me sharply, he said:

"I fear, Vico, that I must speak plainly here, too. To the first I make
this reply: It is certain that we have a body, but of a spirit that can
separate itself from this body we know nothing and have no single
proof. And as concerns the second question: natural desires are never
ignoble as long as they remain in the natural channels."

"Without agreeing to the first," I replied, "I shall let it rest,
because our natures are too different, and we do not understand each
other anyway. But your answer to the second gives me much to ask. If a
desire in me is natural and thus not ignoble, how then can it drive me
to ignoble things? Are all natural desires good in all men? And how do
I distinguish between natural and noble desires and unnatural and
ignoble desires?"

"Have you no power of discrimination for that, Vico?" my father asked.

"If I use my discrimination, father, I call ignoble what my father
calls natural."

My father arrested the conversation a moment to reflect. Then he
realized that in order not to lose more ground, he must turn from the
general to the particular.

"Let us beware, son, lest we become entangled in words. I have happily
established that we both have an aversion from the vile and low. Take
care then, that is all I wished to say, that you do not come into
contact with it."

"But the vile and low in me desires contact with the vile and low in
others," said I, bitterly.

My father grew impatient and said:

"I don't believe in this baseness and vileness in you. The popes surely
talked you into that when you were a child. I understand that you have
to deal with desires and passions that are absolutely not unnatural or
bad, but very common at your age. But do not seek relief from them with
unworthy, licentious persons. Of the great danger I have already warned
you, have I not? Do not forget that in a few moments you can, through
defilement, devastate your entire life."

"I do not forget that, father."

"Very well, but you should also be too proud to trouble yourself about
such low-graded creatures."

"I would gladly have reason to be proud. But what is passing on in me
is well suited to keep me humble. Can you deliver me from all this
lowness and ugliness? You yourself have aroused it in me."

"I?" my father called, frowning angrily.

"By your scientific explanations. Before that time I had comparative
peace. Now I am desperate, like a captive and tormented cat. It will
end badly with me, father, that is certain. I foresee it, and can do
nothing to prevent it. I can put out my eyes and chop off my hands, but
I cannot control my thoughts and drive away these visions. That is
beyond human power. I shall go to the bad, that is certain, and then
the sooner the better. There's not so much lost with me."

With an anxious, painful eagerness my father listened to these first
outspoken words. Then he said with a little laugh, half pitying, half
scornful:

"One thing is plain to me now, my boy, that you must get married soon.
Well, happily you need not seek long or fear a refusal. You can get of
the very finest that wears a petticoat. Don't be bashful, Vico! You
have a noble name, pure blood, a handsome face, and a fine, strong,
healthy body. I shall supply the money. Be calm, my boy, you can have
what you want for the asking."

I got up, deeply indignant. I believe that I laughed a theatrical laugh.

"Most decidedly your meaning is that I should make use of a pure and
holy being, whose name I am not worthy to pronounce, as a safety valve,
a preservative, a drain for my own foul and low passions. I assure you
that, had it not been my father who had spoken such words to me, I
would have challenged the man."

My father attempted a pitying smile, but it was artificial and painful:

"Good heavens, Vico! what exaggerated, impossible, fanatical nonsense!
Then were all mothers who bore children drains for their husbands? Do
be calm and reasonable, lad! You are not unworthy, your passions are
not foul and low, whoever got that into your head? Your mother, surely,
and her black friends. It's terrible how a mother can early poison the
thoughts of her child."

"If one of my parents poisoned my thoughts, then it was not my mother.
I realize my unworthiness through my own consciousness, not through
outside persuasion. But my father cannot understand that, because he is
a stranger to my deepest and most sacred feelings. Even though your
advice had been good, father, your manner of expressing it would
already have repelled me. But, moreover, your advice is idle. An
English girl of twenty does not marry a young man of seventeen, and in
three years from now I'll be lost anyway, hopelessly lost. I foresee
that positively. And oh! what does it matter? It's only I, after all!"
Scornfully shrugging my shoulders, I ran about the room. My father
lifted both hands to his forehead and stared into vacancy with a look
full of gloom, long-nurtured wrath and desperation. I still remember
that look and wonder that I was not more painfully struck by it at the
time. After a while he got up, sighed, and with the words, "We shall
see!" he walked out of the room.

Again the poor man had brought about the contrary of what he wished to
attain. One impression, above all, I retained from the conversation -
it was that my mother would surely understand me and perhaps save me. I
knew that she still lived and I also knew the name of our country seat.
For the first time since our departure from home the thought of writing
to her entered my mind. Amid many tears I composed a long, passionate
letter to her that night, in which I told of all my tortures, my
raptures, my struggles, my wondrous love and my deep self-degradation
and self-contempt. I gave no facts, for young, sensitive, passionate
letter writers seldom do, but prefer keeping to general terms. Nor did
I employ a single religious expression, because I had really completely
forgotten the brief maternal education, and simply translated elemental
feeling of the heart into language most current to me.

"Help me, dearest mother," I wrote. "Help me. I know that you alone can
do it. I have never forgotten you, and every day and night have thought
of you. I still see you as distinctly as though I had left you only
yesterday. I am a strange and terrible riddle to myself, and father,
alas! cannot understand me. He speaks of nature that is always good,
and says that my desires are natural and therefore good. But to me
these desires seem ugly and despicable and the nature that drives me to
them not at all good. He cannot understand this. Nature torments and
tortures me. And no matter how I battle I see no deliverance. And at
the same time, I adore a wondrous being, an angel of purity. And my
father says that I must transfer the desires which I consider
despicable to this sacred beloved. And that is a terrible thought to
me. I love her with a passionate, boundless love, but I tremble to
touch her with my impure lips. I harbor thoughts that would make me die
of shame in her presence. And with my sordid depravities I am fit only
for the low creatures, just as unhappy as I, whom I see running about
here and who address me occasionally. Tell me, dearest mother, is there
still help for me, is there still redemption? What is that nature of
which my father speaks? Is it a thing or a thinking being, and how can
it be good, always good, and bring me into such terrible straits and
make me so unhappy?"

In this strain I wrote many pages and sent them off at a venture
without much hope. And for two weeks I vainly went to the post-office
every day, toward the last without the least hope.

But the answer came after all and I hid myself with it in my room,
securely bolted, and with trembling hands I tore the envelope and
kissed the paper and for a long time could not read for the tears that
streamed from my eyes.

And when the contents, like a warm flood of tender benediction, seemed
to pour itself out over my benumbed and tormented heart, of course I
cried and kissed all the more and with greater fervor. We Italians are
always a little, what here in my small town would be called, theatrical
and affected, even though we be wholly without witnesses.

VI

I am proud of it that so many years ago I already addressed to my
mother the question which, as far as I know, the best philosophers have
never put to themselves with sufficient stress. Even those who by
preference call themselves natural philosophers, thus those who have
offered their lives to the service of Nature, who have sacrificed
everything to understand her, who never speak of her without reverence
and admiration and never cease praising her beauty, her bounty and the
peace she bestows upon her scholars and admirers - even they, with
amazing carelessness, forget to apprise us whether they consider her
dead or living, a being or a thing, a thinking, feeling, clearly
conscious and responsible Deity, or a blind, senseless force; and
finally to teach us how we can persist in our praise and homage in the
face of so much torture, so many monstrous faults, so much relentless
cruelty.

Nature worship is the religion which unobserved makes the most
proselytes nowadays. Even the druggist of my little town, who is a
clever botanist, has gradually renounced his slack Protestantism for an
ardent and devout nature worship. When he accompanies me to my nursery
occasionally, on his search for plants, he can be stirred to truly
southern enthusiasm at the sight of insects, birds, plants, trees,
meadows, - all the wonders of his adored "Nature." His Bible had to
make place for a periodical entitled "Living Nature," but dead nature -
the clouds, the sea and the stars - inspires in him no slighter
enthusiasm. This is all very lovable, but I often find it quite
difficult not to cause the good man embarrassment by asking him where
he considers that his beloved Nature ends and something else begins.
Whether he counts man and their products also as a part of nature, and
if so, why his admiration should make a sudden turn before the slums of
Amsterdam; and if not, or only partly, what peculiar something it then
is that has created so curious a product as man, and yet should be the
opponent and enemy of, and debarred from, the great good and beautiful
unity of all other things.

Yes, yes, dear reader, I know that men do a great deal of thoughtless
babbling, and in a vague and careless way prate of Mother Nature, and
beautiful Nature and human nature, and so on and so forth, without even
knowing or distinguishing with the slightest degree of exactness what
they really say or mean. But yet there have also been those among my
fellows and good friends, like my amiable comrade Spinoza, and my
greatly beloved friend Goethe, who did not care in the least for hollow
phrases and also well-nigh constantly thought about these things, and
who yet never proved with sufficient force men's right to praise Nature
as much as they do, to bring all that is knowable into her domain and
yet to judge of some of her products, as let us say: baboons, tyrants,
grand inquisitors, drunkards, philistines, modern buildings and bad
verses, in an ethically and aesthetically disapproving sense and,
moreover, to call this opinion natural.

See then, the answer I received from my mother was quite as plausible
to a young mind. She really seemed to have a nail for every hole and a
hole for every nail.


"Nature, my dear son," she wrote, "is blind and subject to sin. Through
a Divine decree which we cannot penetrate she has been delivered over
to Satan. But to offset nature there is the miracle. That is the wonder
of Divine grace, through which we can find redemption from sin. The
blood of Christ is the medium of redemption, and nothing more is
required of us than to believe in Christ and in the redeeming power of
his blood. Then the Miracle of Grace shall be performed in us and none
can fall so deeply into sin, but faith in Christ can bring him
salvation, and powerfully as nature works toward corruption, the
miracle has wrought things


'a che natura

non scaldo ferro mai, ne batta incude.'"


The letter whereof this is a fragment made a profound impression on me.
In the first place it came as a tangible, living token of the mother,
so greatly venerated and adored - well-nigh as a departed saint; then,
too, it awakened old, tender, childish feelings by the familiar tones
of piety, which now struck my more experienced ears as something
entirely new. And with the eager enthusiasm natural to me I thankfully
and reverently accepted each of these proffered thoughts, fitting and
arranging them until they seemed exactly to fill the gap which I had
discovered in my spiritual life.

Exactly! Nature's trend is downward through the influence of Satan who
draws us. This was just what I had felt. On the other side is God, who
also draws us - but upward. That, too, I had felt. Thus at times nature
is left to its own desires and Satan free to allure. Why? You must not
ask. Divine decree. To a certain extent this is perhaps transferring
the difficulty, but once thus firmly pronounced, - the door shuts
unhesitatingly - the spirit becomes reconciled to it. Of course,
something impenetrable may remain!

And now the salvation: Christ.

It was the first time this word was brought into the field of my
vision, like a new plant that I saw sprouting in the garden of my life.
Now, after fifty years, it is not yet full grown, but gives promise of
blossom and fruit. Marvellous are the transformations it has undergone.

First I seemed to hear a word devoid of sense, and knew not what to do
with it. A man, a God, a human-God, a Divine Man - all well and good,
but what was that to me? Words, words. Satan who drew me downward I had
felt, God who drew me upward I had felt. Of Christ I felt nothing. The
assurance that he had lived, died and was risen again, did not affect
me as long as he remained imperceptible to me.

Now I had gained the impression that Emmy knew more of him. It was
customary in her family to offer morning prayers, and when I heard her
pronounce the words: "Jesus Christ, our Lord," she did it with such
expressive fervor that I could not doubt but that she positively knew
whereof she spoke. At the time I had not yet learned the creative power
of the suggested word.

So, in the course of a merry morning gallop, I, queer suitor that I
was, began to theologize with the dear girl and asked her squarely:
"Emmy, who is Christ?"

Now in my artlessness I had thought that anyone questioned by an
earnest and not indifferent person, about a good acquaintance and dear
friend, would manifest pleasure and gladly and heartily give the
desired information. But Emmy seemed exceedingly surprised and even
alarmed, as though the question did not at all please her, but more
evidently distressed her.

"Don't you know that?" she said in a somewhat sullen and reserved tone
of voice. "I thought you were religious."

"I surely am, Emmy, but that is why I want to know more of him."

"But aren't you Catholics taught that?" Emmy asked.

"To be sure, Emmy, but that does not satisfy me. It tells me nothing. I
also want to feel that Christ is and what he is."

"Do you wish to turn Protestant?

"That makes no difference to me. I only do not want to use words
without knowing what they mean. When you say, 'Jesus Christ, our Lord,'
it seems as though you really knew what you meant with it."

"Of course I know!" said Emmy, the least bit crossly.

"Can't you make it clear to me, then?"

To my continued astonishment Emmy seemed to think this an unpleasant
topic of conversation. It seemed as though she wanted to get it over
with. She began, as though unwillingly, about God who had been born a
man, had died for our sins, had risen again.

"No, Emmy, all that means nothing to me. It may all be very true, but
what good is that to me now? If he died, well then, he is dead -"

"He is risen again," Emmy said quickly and almost angrily.

"Then he never died either; then it's folly to speak of dying. Is death
still death when you know you will rise again directly? I'm willing to
be killed three times a day then; no one is so much afraid of the bit
of pain. Thus Christ still lives, - very well! then I ask: How do I
become aware of that? By what am I apprised of it? What is he really
then, and whereby should I know him if I saw him?"

"You must believe in him," Emmy said, still more or less crossly.

The verb "to believe" that Emmy used has an auxiliary with less
favorable meaning. In English "to make believe" is in other words to
impose on a person's credulity. It was as though this thought had made
me suspicious and I began to surmise that Emmy's anxiety and anger were
akin to that of the schoolgirl who is praised for a composition which
she has copied from another. But surely it was in perfect good faith
that the dear girl thought to believe what people had made her believe.
As with everyone under suggestive influence, her deceived personality,
without being clearly conscious of it, repelled any critical pressure
that might bring to light the unreality of the imprinted image. How
sorely I tormented the artless maiden at the time with my naive and
inexorably insistent questioning! And how glad she was when at last I
abandoned the Christ question and began to talk of tennis and croquet!

Although unformulated, yet this conversation positively revealed to me
that Emmy in truth knew nothing of Christ, but used the word on her
parents' and society's authority, and as a corresponding reality
possessed nothing but a vague, fleeting phantom of a good and beautiful
man with long hair and pointed beard, who was dead and yet living, - a
man and yet God, existing everywhere and nowhere, and who on account of
all these contradictory qualities is probably most easily known and
addressed in pictures and images, which cannot and need not resemble
him, with words that are pleasantly ingratiating through the familiar
tones of precious associations.

But I had readily adopted from my father his scorn for this kind of
faith in imprinted unrealities and suggested images, and I still retain
it as the greatest treasure he left to me, covering all his sin toward
me.

Surely there is no illusion - there are only grades of reality; and
what we call phantasmagorias are merely very fleeting realities,
created by man, in comparison to the eternal and immutable realities
which we apprehend with our soul and our senses, and which must be of
higher origin. But we will not give to human creations honors alone due
to the Divine, and will not pronounce hollow words nor adore suggested
phantoms.

Thus the Christ idea of the maternal gift had as yet no value for me -
but even so I was rich with the ideas of God and Satan as the causes of
this sad discord and confusion in my soul. Now all that was necessary
was to fight Satan and to call on God for aid. Mother's advice had
been: "Pray and chastise and subdue the flesh." I tried it immediately
with trusting ardor, and behold! 't was true - it really helped. I
hardly dared believe it myself, it seemed almost too good.

I prayed night and morning in my own, original, upright way, to the
power which I felt as an uplifting influence, calling it God.

I imposed penalties upon myself, denying myself wine and delicate food,
bathing a great deal in ice-cold water, clothing myself insufficiently,
making forced marches on foot, and when Satan again seemed to be
getting the upper hand, even sleeping beside my bed on the hard floor.
For that I would rather go up with God than down with Satan - well I of
that I was most positively convinced. It is strange with what blind
arrogance man can consider himself an exception in this regard, as
though anyone on earth would enjoy and prefer descending into the deep
with Satan than ascending with God on high. And it may be called even
stranger that I went to all this trouble, the while the maternal wisdom
deemed salvation possible only through a miracle, which I, certainly,
could not compel, and by faith in Christ which, though I honestly
desired to, I could not awaken in myself.

The little fish did not see that by these evolutions it had even now
entered the encircling meshes of the net which would land it into the
same suggested faith from which it had once before turned away in alarm.

For the evolutions helped, there was no doubt about that. I soon felt
more cheerful, braver, and above all, purer and stronger. Satan, if not
absolutely routed, yet seemed to be considerably intimidated. I rowed,
played cricket and croquet, studied, rode horseback, went walking in
the country, not in the dangerous parks. I did not consider the infamy
of my fall wiped out and maintained a respectful aloofness from my
beloved, as one unworthy of her. But I saw her often and worshipped and
adored her to my heart's content, without thinking far ahead.

This success was not the result of a miracle, nor of faith in Christ,
but probably of the glad shock produced by mother's letter and of a
strong auto-suggestion. But it seemed to confirm her wisdom and thus
prepared the susceptibility to deeper suggestions.

During these exercises of virtue Satan's image through its
countervailing influence became ever clearer to me. The crafty, evil
power, whose existence I had officially recognized by my declaration of
war, was obviously flattered and manifested itself with stronger
reality. At the time I did not yet know that suggestion can engender
reality, and that all actions are also auto-suggestions.

Satan retreated, hid himself, surreptitiously arose again, awaited his
chance, taking advantage of unguarded and weak moments, and in one word
demeaned himself as a very live and sagacious Satan.

His cleverest artifice consisted in finally taking advantage of my
excess of virtue. After a few weeks of self-torture, over-fatigue,
scant food, little sleep and insufficient clothing, I naturally fell
ill, and the kind Tenders family would not hear of it that I should be
tended elsewhere than in their own home.

Behold Satan's splendid chance, which he turned to excellent account.
He kept still as a mouse; no impure thoughts, no visions, no
troublesome dreams annoyed me. The hungry dogs which I had now come to
look upon as Satan's faithful domestic pets were hushed, first by the
auto-suggestion, subsequently by my illness, and finally by the promise
clearly betrayed in my actions, that I would grant them nobler prey.
Indeed, though I did not acknowledge it to myself, to what else could
it lead - these daily more tender and ardent relations between the
desperately enamored and speedily recuperating patient and the dear
nurse, assuredly not insensitive to his adoration? The flame of
martyrdom was swiftly quenched with beef tea, soft-boiled eggs and
sweet malaga wine, and I could not possibly recognize Satan's voice in
these gentle commands to self-indulgence, nor could I think to honor
God by disobedience to such a charming mistress.

What a time! what a time! all the way from my nursery to my house I
have been smiling in anticipation of my afternoon hours of literary
activities, smiling and smiling in sweet remembrance. The children by
the wayside got nickels instead of pennies, and the fisherman who lay
caulking his boat hauled up on shore in the little harbor peered out
from under the scow with an attentive expression as though he would
say: "Well, bless my heart, and if the old gentleman ain't gone and got
a jag on this morning!"

I am indeed blissfully intoxicated with the heady aroma of these long
past days of young love! the sound of her approaching footsteps in the
morning, the rustling of her gown before I beheld her, as she came to
bring me some dainty which she had concocted for my regalement. And the
merry little chats, when she would at first sit on the chair beside my
bed, but later perchance also on the edge of the bed. And once at the
very end, when I was to get up the following day, and thanked her for
all her loving care, she bent over me, and before either of us really
knew what we were about - so it seemed to me at least, perhaps her
consciousness was clearer - we had kissed each other on the lips. And
the blessed tears I shed when she had gone, - for the undeserved grace
of this happiness, which yet never could endure, - these are things,
are they not, dear reader? which we usually look upon as the very
highest summits of our earthly joys, that still shine most radiantly
when our sun is near its setting. But know then too that joy and bliss
are of more imperishable matter than rock and glacier, and that very
sublime beauty is more clearly perceived from a distance. Long ago, I
have observed that most happiness can be valued best when it lies a
certain distance behind us, and one must grow old to taste the full
flavor of beauty at the very moment of perception.

There still followed a few lovely days of glorious summer weather,
which I spent in a hammock stretched above the smooth green turf
between the oaks. I saw the round sun shadows upon the grass, the
sparkling, gently flowing Thames, the white swans, the gaily crowded
boats, the kindly, happy people about me, and in their midst, as the
sunny kernel of joy, the wavy, golden hair of her whom I loved best,
and who only lent the true radiance to all this summer glory. I read
Heine and listened to Schumann, and I breathed the subtle penetrating
fragrance of the linden blossoms, the wonderful fragrance full of
poignant melancholy and sweet longing that does not touch our senses
ere love has deeply nestled in our Heart. I had travelled through so
many lands and yet had never smelled the perfume of the linden
blossoms, so that it was as though the great linden tree had become
fragrant through Emmy's wondrous power just as she made the golden
summer sun truly to shine.

But then I was restored to health and the lovely, lazy life was ended.
And Emmy, mindful of our last rather unsatisfactory conversation on
horseback and perhaps also to offer an antidote for Heine, brought me a
small New Testament as a parting gift, which I gratefully and
reverently pressed to my heart and began to peruse diligently.

VII

Now the crafty devil held me securely in his meshes and could display
himself without having the terrified little fish swim away. My body,
now strong again and refreshed, wanted Emmy for my wife in the
ordinary, human, time-honored way. It made this known with undeniable
distinctness, without concerning itself in the least about my exalted
scruples. Women can still cherish the illusion that kisses and embraces
have no deeper significance; a man is more distinctly warned; and I
really think it not at all kindly of the great and noted lovers that
they so often profess ignorance in that respect, thus misleading the
reader.

Satan could grin perfidiously now at the fix I was in. The shame of my
unworthiness could, perhaps, have been wiped out with the help of
Emmy's magnanimous forgiveness. Such an absolution is not unusual in
the world of romance, and quite the rule in the actual world. But the
body absolutely would not bear of postponement, and though
circumstances were ever so favorable to me, yet modesty and convention,
yes, even practical common sense, demanded a few years more of waiting.

A few years - how lightly these periods are set and written down in the
love stories, from the time of father Jacob's seven years - and how
terribly different is their significance for the man of different
temperament.

The Old Testament shepherd lad may perhaps have borne it in good stead
- but if we try to be frank, dear reader, what then may we suppose that
such periods hide for the man of modern civilization, of wrong, of
corruption, of unworthy transactions between the moral, ideal and
natural reality?

When but recently come to England, I had read the statement in one of
Thackeray's books that possibly there might be pure women, but
certainly no pure man, and with youthful arrogance I had sworn a solemn
oath that I would make him out a liar. This was the first of the fine
set of broken, patched and mended oaths with which the quarrelling
household of my soul was gradually fitted out. And one would think that
the ambition for the collecting of this precious and breakable
bric-à-brac should not be so generally praised and encouraged. I, at
least, have had to pay dearly for this hobby, and with melancholy,
struggles, self-torment, self-reproach and continuous worry it has
embittered the best years and the most beautiful emotions of my life.
And if now, in the end, I, at least, saw the way clear, dear reader! -
but truly! if I should have to begin again, from the very beginning, I
should not know yet bow to act better. I would surely never make
promises again - but what I once pronounced impure and unworthy, I
still call it so. And that I was, nevertheless, drawn into it through
my own nature, like a rebellious cat, I still consider equally
disgraceful and unjust. But how I could have prevented it I do not know
yet, for I fought like a hero, and after all I was not one of the
weakest; - yes! I was stronger even than the greater majority.

But this I know, that with all this worry I would not besides give to
remorse a place in my house, and I advise you, dear reader,
relentlessly to throw this guest out of your door. I would certainly
continue to be as rebellious and unforgiving toward the vile and
unworthy, - but if there is consciousness of sin and sense of guilt to
bear, I know now who is justly ready and willing to bear with us and to
ease this burden for us poor toilers.

The constitution of society and the precepts of convention are moreover
so badly qualified to ease the struggle, because society and moral law
manifest so little comprehension of the true nature of our
difficulties. Where I felt no danger whatsoever, there were strong
walls of strict convention; and where I knew positively that I would
succumb, the world offered no defence.

With one of Emmy's friends or another innocent girl or woman, no matter
how lovely and attractive, one might without danger have sent me off on
a journey and have left us together for days and weeks without
witnesses, and not a shadow of eroticism or impure thought would have
arisen in me. With Emmy herself, her innocence and my own scruples and
respect were a better safeguard than all moral laws. But as soon as I
detected in a woman, totally strange and indifferent to me, ugly even
and repulsive, this peculiar weakness, usually paired with good nature,
which indicated in an almost imperceptible manner that the parting wall
of modesty would fall at my first assault, I already felt myself lost
from the beginning in spite of all conventional restrictions.

I sometimes vainly endeavored to imagine how ugly a woman would have to
be to make me repel her advances with stony coolness. Every woman, the
least attractive even, could make me stumble, simply by humbling
herself. As by an excess of chivalry, I could not refuse a woman's
request nor even await it. It was as though I must prevent her casting
off her modesty at all costs by my own debasement; that is to say, as
long as she desired only my body and not my heart. My heart remained
out of shot range behind the walls of my true love for Emmy.

When physical desires and spiritual sensibilities are once severed one
from the other, they never grow entirely together again and
possibilities of sad confusion remain throughout life. In spite of my
pure and passionate love for Emmy, my bodily desires could be excited
to madness by the first woman that came along seeming inclined to let
the veil of modesty drop before me. And while, with - the exception of
Emmy, the most beautiful, sweetest and noblest women did not exercise
the slightest alluring power over me and Emmy's guileless trust in me
and her absolute want of jealousy in that respect were entirely
justified, a coarse, low-born, sensual and good-natured woman could
seduce me to things that neither Emmy nor any of the persons who knew
me would have deemed possible. Thus you see, dear reader, how highly
necessary it is to regulate the strange connection between ape and
angel in valid and permanent fashion, from childhood up, for the two
have such different conceptions of good and beautiful that it will not
do to leave to each his freedom in one narrow, fragile house.

For all the rest, I was constitutionally strong and well balanced in
soul and body. Of disease I know little, and that breaking down of the
bond between the visible and invisible part of our nature that people
call nervous troubles nowadays was ever strange to me.

And this was the most perplexing and confounding circumstance in my
difficulties, that when the ape had finally had his way, he rewarded me
for it by a feeling of physical refreshment and comfort, by a
consciousness of renewed and invigorated life, a clearing of thought,
an increased activity and capacity for enjoyment.

All this agrees very badly - does it not? with the traditional
punishment that should follow upon the misdeed. Perhaps it even seems
to you in flagrant conflict with the moral world order. I cannot help
it, but it was as I have told you, and you can only save the honor of
tradition, as I did at the time, by declaring it all a most
contemptible artifice of Satan. But conscience is not hushed by this
explanation. On the contrary, who would maintain a real, live devil
must have a conscience for him to gnaw. Pure and elemental it need not
be; he is satisfied - with any cheap group-fabrication, and the
torments remain the same.

My life in these years was one long, secret struggle, the fierceness of
which only my father suspected, without being able to do anything to
help me, poor man - for he really suffered under it with me because his
life task was at stake.

In his helplessness he even seriously considered and covertly proposed
our following the example of certain aristocratic English families
where, as he declared he knew positively, a pretty servant girl was
engaged to keep the son of the house from worse excesses, until the
time for a respectable marriage had arrived and the girl was sent home
with a liberal remuneration.

But the mere allusion roused me to indignant passion, little as I was
entitled to such pride. How shall we account for it, that every
reminder of what man recognizes as degrading in his love life is never
more unbearable, never more painful than between parent and child?

My life and my being in these years was like the struggling of two
powers in deadly dispute, rising and falling between heaven and earth,
between clouds and sea - the eagle of ideal sublimity and the snake of
earthly brutishness.


"Feather and scale inextricably blended."


For me, in an outwardly calm and care-free life, an anxious and
terrible struggle with


"Many a check

And many a change, a dark and wild turmoil."


The distress, the shame, the self-contempt, the despair resulting
therefrom made my behavior toward Emmy so strange, so uneven and
capricious that she often felt hurt by it, and so was careful to draw
back a little more.

Before long I had a rival: a young English officer, equally handsome,
equally good to look at and strongly built as I, but somewhat calmer,
somewhat more measured and somewhat more assured of his own right and
virtue. For these qualities he was hateful to me, but with secret
bitterness I recognized his superior rights, because I took him for a
pure man.

In my country, in Spain, in France, also in Germany, men, even those
calling themselves well bred, are often caddish enough to make coarse
sexual jokes toward comparative strangers and to assume a freer tone
when no women are present. Such behavior could make me furious and I
always answered it with mocking non-comprehension. And at the same time
it tormented me, that anyone knowing my thoughts and habits would call
me a hypocrite for this reason. But my disgust for such coarsenesses
was strong and sincere, and I valued it in my English friends that they
seemed to feel the same as I in this respect.

My rival, Captain Truant, was polite and correct in everything and
toward me he was cordial and pleasant, but he could not quite hide that
he looked upon me as an Italian, that is to say, a man of lower race
and backward civilization. I realized that he would think it very
unsuitable and a great pity to have a sweet, well-bred blonde English
girl like Emmy throw herself away upon a dark foreign type. True, I had
money and a duke's title, but there are also Japanese, Turkish and
Persian noblemen, who are therefore not yet a match for a pretty
cultured English maiden. So without any mental scruples, with the calm
conviction of the Englishman that his actions are perfectly justified,
Harry Truant came between us two with a stanch, even, steady wooing.
And what immediately struck me with distressing clearness was the
greater ease with which Emmy and Harry understood each other. They were
at home in each other's world and immediately understood each other's
ways, each other's tastes, each other's humors. Perhaps in the
beginning my exoticism had been to my advantage through the incentive
of the strange and new. But my incomprehensible caprices, my strange,
sometimes passionate, sometimes utterly reserved behavior had wearied
and frightened Emmy for some time. And I saw that the more familiar and
wonted ways of her thoroughly English countryman did her good and were
more agreeable to her. I saw all this with bitter resignation; I
thought that I was receiving my rightful deserts.

Yet the dear girl would not lightly have cast me off for another. It
had never come to an actual proposal and she might consider herself
free. But she was scrupulous enough to feel herself bound even by an
unconfessed affection, by the intimacy of our conversations and by the
one kiss. I realized this and in grieved and hopeless self-sacrifice,
wished to put a stop to it.

"I know quite well what is going on, Emmy," I said one night as we sat
together at the river's edge. "I only want to tell you that you must
not consider yourself bound to me. You are free?"

She looked at me a while, irresolutely and with a sorrowful expression.
Then she said, gently shaking her head:

"What does ail you, Vico? What is it that is lurking in your mind that
you behave so strangely toward me?"

Her gently compassionate voice, the ardent confidential tone, the dear
expression of her face, were more than I could bear. I felt the tears
coming and clenched my fists. It was no use. I had to get up and went
on a little further, leaning my head and hand against the rough bark of
a tree, by force restraining my sobs, when I felt a gentle hand upon my
shoulder.

"Vico!" she said.

But with a nervous jerk I shook her hand off my shoulder and in a
choking voice said:

"Do not touch me. I am not worthy of you." The hand dropped and I
realized that she became somewhat cooler and more cautious. Of course
she began to suspect something very bad.

"Can't you tell me, Vico?" she asked, not unkindly but much more
severely.

"No, Emmy. Never! - Think that I love you as no one else can ever love
you. . . . But I am not worthy of you, and I want you to be happy. I
shall stand in your way no longer. Do not trouble yourself about what
will become of me."

"Poor boy!" said Emmy earnestly and tenderly. "Is it really something
so insurmountable?"

"Absolutely insurmountable, Emmy. Think of it no more, God bless you!"

"God bless you, Vico!" said Emmy, following me with a look half
sorrowful, half resigned.

More resigned than I liked to see.

Such farewells have taken place before and have also often been
followed by reconciliations, yes, by several farewells and
reconciliations. But here there was not the mutual equality of vehement
passion, and not the singleness of purpose that, overriding all
scruples, wins by perseverance. My rival made swift and prosperous use
of the advantage afforded him.

I avoided Emmy's house, but still occasionally visited the club which
Captain Truant also frequented. And a few weeks later I saw him enter
there one evening and receive the congratulations of his friends. I
realized what this meant and with a paralyzed, icy feeling I remained
seated, staring at the paper which I pretended to read.

But the lucky fellow stepped up to me, he was not noble enough to wish
to spare me.

Among those who noisily greeted and congratulated him there was also an
officer, nicknamed "the gallant capting" by the others, an
insignificant, blustering little fellow with a monocle, for whom I felt
a particular aversion, because he, although ever himself the dupe, when
he had drunk a good measure, would now and then with his brutal
volubility and English jokes successfully turn the laugh on me, the
stranger. Loudly laughing and talking to Harry he came and stood close
beside me.

"And how about Dina, now?" the braggart asked Truant.

"Hush! hush, man!" said Truant. "A little discretion, if you please!"

But the tipsy fop would not be shut up so quickly.

"Will you give me authority to fill the vacant place, Harry? As
lawfully authorized comforter?"

"All right! All right!" said Harry Truant, to get rid of him.

But I had distinctly heard and comprehended everything. Or rather I
only comprehended that by a word of authority I had suddenly obtained
permission to do exactly what my body desired. The tormented body,
desperate from the long struggle of serpent and eagle, now desired
vengeance and destruction. The room, the gas lights, the chairs,
everything in an agreeable, even pleasant fashion began to fade, to
float, to wheel about -- and with the silent murderous resolution that
in like circumstances had characterized my forefathers of the masculine
line, I clutched Harry Truant by the throat.

If these memoirs were to find an English or American publisher, it
would be politic to announce here that the Englishman with his
practised boxing fists with ease doubled up the Italian and knocked him
into a corner, unconscious. Anything short of that the public of
Rudyard Kipling would not stand for, of course. Yet I prefer to state
the truth: that Harry Truant and Vico Muralto dealt each other some
ugly blows that night, but without deadly consequences, and that they
were with difficulty separated by those present. The challenge for a
duel, as conflicting with the laws and morals of his country, was not
accepted by the English officer, which at the time greatly vexed me and
stamped him in my eyes as the very soul of cowardice and dishonor, but
which to-day I not only excuse, but highly respect.

That same year Harry and Emmy went to India as husband and wife. Vico
and his father entered upon their last journey together.

VIII

In my youth people sometimes called me a poet, and though they employed
the term vaguely and at random, yet it was not wholly unjustified. For
I am a destroyer of suggestion, a shatterer of the group, a wanderer
from the herd, an idol-hater, but also a searcher for joy, beauty and
bliss, a lover of reality; and all these are characteristics of a poet.

But making verses did not suit me. Let me call it unwillingness; then
you may speak of the impotence, and perhaps, even so, we are both
saying the same thing. I honor and admire the great singers, but I
myself have always felt a barrier when I wished to metamorphose my
personal and intimate emotions into separate entities and into public
property. I felt as though I must kill them first, before administering
this cure, as Medea did with her father-in-law Æson, - and that I could
not do.

I was equally impotent to create imaginary characters, which in their
own way revealed my sorrows, my weaknesses, my follies and my virtues,
forming new personalities with independent life: as my dear friend
Goethe created Werther, Faust, Egmont and Tasso.

I realize that it must have been a great delight and consolation and
also a strong proof of humility and love, an admirable emulation of the
Divine Creator and enriching of the human world. But I myself could
never attempt it.

My great grief seemed to me too sacred and too intimate to put it into
little verses and send these out into the world as singing birds, to my
own relief and the delight and edification of all.

Moreover I found it humiliating to make my own nature into a mask and
in a well-sustained rôle let it aspire for human applause; as is the
custom of my young friend Nietzsche, who lances such vehement tirades
against actors and comedians, but does not seem to perceive how much he
himself, like all poets, is an histrionic artist.

Here also I decidedly lacked the truly humble love of mankind that must
have moved my surely not less proud friends, Shelley and Goethe. In the
bard and the actor I always seemed to see the courtier.

Ariosto had his Alfonso d'Este and Goethe his Carl August.

And the great bards of freedom of the past century, Shelley, Byron,
Hugo?  Ali!  Were they not courtiers of King Demos?

I am not an enemy of King Demos, and I know that his earthly realm is
at hand. May he replace and rule all kings until King Christ rules
supreme among men. I wish him prosperity and glory, as Diogenes, I
imagine, must have wished to Alexander. But to be his courtier, I
always lacked the necessary self-denial, and to rebel against him, like
friend Nietzsche, there again I had too much realization of his worth
and power. So that, impotent to be a lord and unwilling to be a
courtier, I was driven into this forgotten nook. And here, to keep body
and soul together, I must be something of an actor after all now, and
play the philistine part, though it be vi coactus and not for human
applause; while I, a lowly slave, nevertheless through my quiet mental
activity enjoy the highest freedom in my chains, proclaiming to King
Demos the weakness and instability of his power, because he shall not
himself ascend the throne without the help of tyrants and shall be
driven off by a yet more mighty and righteous Lord. And even for this
Lord I am still a critical and fault-finding subject, but I think these
are the ones he prefers.

In these first days of profound sorrow I strove with even greater
effort to know who this Christ was who had redeemed us or could redeem
us, and I wrote to my mother about it and read diligently in Emmy's
precious gift.

My mother wrote me long prolix letters in reply, which I read
attentively and reverently, unwilling to admit that they really had
nothing more to tell me. They were the same things - the miracle of
grace, the redemption through the blood of Jesus - repeated over and
over again in all sorts of new inversions and combinations, so that it
seemed a miracle already that with so few notes one could make so much
music. My father was well aware of these letters and furtively regarded
me half scornfully, half disturbed, as I sat deciphering them patiently
and with earnest devotion to the last syllable. That it was all over
with Emmy was a relief to him, but all the more anxiously he watched
this animated correspondence and the increase of the maternal
influence; especially as I should shortly attain my majority.

We had gone to Holland on our last trip to the little seaside resort on
the North Sea with its unpronounceable name, and thus I for the first
time tarried in that strange little nook of Europe, that was to become
the seat of my voluntary hermitage, amid that curious little nation,
which of all nations probably displays the most profound mingling of
lovable and detestable qualities. On this first visit with my father I
saw nothing of the people and little of the country. But I saw the
coast of the North Sea and there I learned to love the sea more than
when I sailed her. On that sandy coast we became intimate, the sea and
I, there she took me to her bosom and we communed heart to heart,
whispering the most intimate secrets into each other's ears. There the
sea became for me a being with a soul - as everything is, though we do
not perceive it - and there her aspects and her voice acquired a
meaning, as all that we call lifeless has a meaning.

And on this first visit I went with my father to see the works of
Rembrandt, with some doubt and unbelief and prejudice, as befits
Italian patriots. And then with my newly awakened vision of the life of
all things, I saw that this man did with all the living and the dead
about him what the coast of the North Sea had done for me with the sea:
- he showed the meaning and the mysterious life of everything, be it
living or be it dead so to speak. And he showed how living men aside
from their own personal life lead yet another, vaster world-life
without themselves knowing it. And he pictured this world-life as
something beautiful and grand, even though the people and the things
were in themselves ugly.

And this was such a revelation, such a boon for my early matured soul
that I absolutely would not believe that this man, who could do what
none of my greatest countrymen had been able to do, was a perfectly
commonplace Hollander. But I regarded him like some strange god, by
chance incarnate here, and I revered him above all the saints in the
calendar. Yes, I wished in a vague sort of way that he might prove to
be Christ, for then I, should know what to believe. For it may be very
fine to manifest, as Giotto and Fra Angelico, and Rafael and Titian,
how beautiful human nature is and can be imagined; but yet there is
more comfort and salvation in revealing how in the unlovely, mean and
ugly the divine life dwells, and is beautiful and can be seen as
beautiful even by us poor human beings. Yes, even though it were ever
so imperfect, as in many a canvas that seems to me like an anxious and
desperate struggle to bring out something at least of the everlasting
beauty, - it was there, it was visible, perchance a faint ray in a
dark, dreary cloud of ugliness, and the great task was again
accomplished, the great consolation offered.

And finally I visited with my father the little village where Spinoza
led his quiet philistine's life, and patiently bored the hole through
which the confined thoughts could find an outlet. And when I saw the
little house and the quiet, peaceful landscape and heard of the lonely,
sober, chaste life of this equanimous and devout Jew, I desired for
myself no better lot than to be able to follow his example as soon as
possible.

It has taken a little longer than I thought at the time; stronger and
more continued rubbing with the rough world was necessary to charge my
soul with such high potency that, as his, it would emit bright sparks
in isolation. But now it has come about after all, and I would not
contradict you if you said that it was Rembrandt and Spinoza who drew
me to the regions sanctified by their labors for the fulfilment of my
life's task, had not this meditative dwelling sphere been already dear
to me for other reasons.

On the day I came of age a letter from my mother arrived in which she
reminded me that I was now free to go my own ways, and moreover
informed me that on her journey from the north she would stop in
Holland and hoped that she might at last clasp me in her arms again.

It was a momentous day for me when at last I was to see again my saint,
adored so many years in the holy, dusky light of memory. My heart beat
and my hands trembled as I stood behind the sleek hotel porter in front
of the closed door of the apartment and heard the voice - soft,
languidly cordial - inviting me to enter.

There she stood, tall, straight, the same face with the light gray eyes
with the deep rings under them, but much paler now, and the once blonde
hair showing silvery white beneath the black lace veil. She was dressed
in black and white with a great silver crucifix on a black chain. I
fell upon my knees before her, kissing her hands. She kissed me on the
brow and lifted me up. I trembled with emotion when I felt her cool,
soft lips, and saw her face, with the delicate pale violet and amber
tints and the fine countless little lines crossing one another, so near
my own. And I breathed the old familiar perfume of frankincense and
lavender and felt her pure breath upon my brow. It was a moment of
consecration. Even had she not been my mother, I should have felt awe
and veneration for this stately and distinguished woman with her
expression of long and patiently endured affliction, her fresh,
well-preserved old age, her solemn, dignified garb and the peculiar
sphere of purity and chastity that seemed to surround her. All my shame
and humiliation came to my mind and threatened to relieve itself in a
flood of tears. I longed to confess, to reveal all the ugliness and
foulness in my soul, so that she should purify it through her power.

Woman in the last period of her life, when maternity slips away from
her, can, if she well understands her new position and with wisdom
sustains it, become a new human creature clothed with a higher dignity.
Man in the fulness of his years still ever remains the male, and the
lover. Woman is directed toward another sexless position and fulfils a
new part not of minor importance. Thus I conceived it, when I saw my
mother, and I comprehended now why some nations so greatly revered the
power of priestesses and sibyls or feared the power of witches. I felt
the influence of an unknown potency, a natural consecration that could
forgive, purify, bless, absolve and prophesy wholly according to
priestly prerogative, but stronger here where God and Nature ordained
it than where human authority officially and formally conferred it.

My impulsive nature would undoubtedly have driven me to make a full
confession even at this first meeting, had I not soon become aware of
another person in the room. For a moment I thought of my sister, but
then I remembered that my sister had taken the veil. This was a pretty
young woman whose beauty, quite differently than with Emmy, I
immediately saw and appreciated. She had large, dark, serious and
gentle eyes, a fresh white complexion and dark glossy hair that was
brought down low over the temples, braided and twisted to a knot in
back. She was also dressed in black with a white lace collar and a gold
breast pin in which were enclosed some brown plaits of hair. She stood
at the window somewhat shy and embarrassed while I greeted my mother,
but I saw her eyes shining with kindly satisfaction that she had been
allowed to witness this scene.

My mother told me that this was Lucia del Bono, her faithful friend and
adopted daughter. And I could notice that Lucia's veneration for my
mother was almost as deep as mine, and also that the two women had
talked about me a great deal and that this meeting was an important
event not for the elder one alone.

In the unbearable grief for my lost love these visits to my mother and
her beautiful, sympathetic companion now became my greatest solace and
it was not long before I saw from my father's dark and suspicious
glances, from his listless and discouraged air, which suddenly made the
still vigorous man appear aged, and from his almost invariably silent
and tightly compressed lips, that he realized what was going on.

He did not ask, and I did not speak. But we both felt that we had been
seized by an irresistible current which was sweeping us toward an
inevitable catastrophe.

IX

Holland may be described as a painting whereof the frame constitutes
the most impressive part. It is a fit dwelling place for the hermit who
from inward meditation amid hazy meadows, dreamy cows, and peaceful
little towns can easily turn to the contemplation of the greatest
revelations of the gods - the vast heavens, the clouds and the sea. But
toward the people he must learn to assume the attitude of the ancient
hermit toward the spiders and rats in his cell. Sometimes they are
annoying and disagreeable; sometimes too, in their revelations of life,
instructive and interesting. I live on good terms with the inhabitants
of this quiet little town because I never let them see how I think of
them, and never show myself as I really am. To this attitude, which,
with sharper insight, they would consider haughty conceit, I owe my
reputation as a modest and respectable man. Were I humble enough to
treat them as my equals by being natural with them, they would then
call me a conceited ass and a cad.

But on one point we understand each other, on the subject of the water,
the sea and the sport of sailing. If I kept a horse and rode to my
nursery in the morning they would consider me a fool and I should
surely never have become treasurer of the orphanage. But the fact that
I have a yacht and frequently show them what storms she can weather,
raises me in their esteem. Only the sea can arouse in these little
shrivelled souls a dim shadow of the old boldness and beauty of life.

True, most of them are too much attached to their miserable little
lives to risk them solely for the sake of stirring emotions without
compelling need, and they prefer to let me go on my reckless
expeditions alone or accompanied by the well-paid fisher lad. But they
do not laugh at my recklessness, and at the club I notice that they
regard the old gentleman with a certain amount of respect when he
returns again from one of these sailing expeditions, which many a young
seaman would refuse to undertake even for the sake of profit, and does
not even brag or boast of it, but only slightly smiles at the
exclamations of respectful amazement. Thus they honor physical courage,
which is nothing more than muscular strength and a craving for the
pleasing excitement of danger, while the moral courage to reveal to
them the true nature of my thoughts and feelings they would punish with
such sharp and malicious ill-will that in order to retain my peace of
mind and pursue my life's task undisturbed, I think I should not
challenge it and prefer to deceive them.

It was my father who made me a slave to the intoxication of the
thrilling suspense of sailing out amidst whistling winds, seething
foam, immense surging waves round about, fallow driving clouds above,
the tugging taut rope in one hand, the straining tiller in the other,
the eye travelling from sail to horizon, from pennant to ocean, the
boat trembling the while from the waves breaking against her bow, and
amid this tumult weighing the chances for a safe homecoming, total
submersion or the breaking of the rigging. It was then he felt
happiest; it deadened his melancholy, as biting on wood deadens a
gnawing toothache. And he found in me a willing pupil, eager as I was
for violent emotions and tortured by self-contempt, wild passions and
all the pangs of lost love-joys.

In Holland, too my father had immediately hired a boat to sail the
ocean, and the Scheveningen seamen had quite some trouble to make him
understand that the North Sea was not an Italian gulf or lake and in
rough weather would not permit of any rash enterprises in small
sailboats. Yet after a few weeks, be managed to attain his object and I
followed him gladly.

One afternoon we had sailed out, dressed in our oilskins, and the
skipper who, submerged to the waist, had pushed us off the shore
through the breakers, had warned us to be back within two hours, for at
that time the ebb-tide set in and, with the fresh north breeze, the
strong current would make it difficult for us to land. My father had
nodded as though he were thinking of something else and had long ago
penetrated and computed the caprices of the gray and formidable North
Sea.

For an hour we sailed on silently, as was frequently our wont, my
father holding the rudder. The coast had dwindled to a faint luminous
line above which like a thin white mist hung the foam of the breakers.
I lay on the deck, glanced toward land and horizon - then at my watch,
and said:

"Come about; father, it's time." He did not seem to hear, and I turned
toward him repeating: "It's time! come about!" Then I saw that be did
not want to hear. He had hauled the mainsail in closely, luffing
sharply, the sheet tightly drawn, and was staring fixedly and straight
ahead under the large yellow sou'-wester. His eyes had the hard grim
expression of old people who after a long life of struggle still fight
for the bit of breath left them, or of indulged and long-tortured
invalids, or of the starved or shipwrecked who no longer have feeling
for anyone or anything but their own distress. Between his
close-cropped gray whiskers and his tightly pressed lips I saw - what
before I had never noticed - two sallow lines deeply furrowing his
cheeks. All at once I felt a pity, such as I had never felt for him
before - as though the realization of all the grief which he had
suffered under my very eyes now suddenly penetrated my consciousness.

"What ails you, father?" I asked. He began talking away regardlessly as
though there were no wind and no waves about him.

"You said three years ago that by this time you would be lost. I think
you are right. You are."

"No, father, I think I was mistaken. I am beginning to see salvation."

"You do not see salvation, Vico, you see ruin. I understand it very
well. Your mother has you again in her clutches. She is a harpy; do you
know the monsters? Part woman, part vulture. They suck away half your
healthy life-blood and replace it with gall. Melancholy and gloom are
her idols. Suffering, pain, grief, trouble, bitterness - these are the
archangels in her heaven. She makes sorrow her object of worship, and
she pictures her God as a hideous corpse hanging on a cross with
pierced bands and feet, covered with blood, wounds, scars, sores,
matter, dirt and spittle, - the more horrible the better. And that
attracts the dull masses exactly as the colored prints of murders and
barbarians depicted in the papers. Was there ever more devilish error?"

"And if salvation can only be bought with pain, father? If all this
suffering was the price of redemption for our sins?"

"Jew!" my father snapped at me with glittering eyes, his mouth drawn
disdainfully in unutterable contempt! "Jew! where did you learn this
bartering morality? Buy! Buy! everything can be bought! If you are but
willing to pay, you can go anywhere, even to heaven. Salvation can be
bought for a slaughtered human being. A fixed price and dirt cheap! -
Salvation for all mankind for the corpse of a single Jew. What a
bargain! and God is Shylock, be holds to his bond! his bond! Blood is
the fixed price, nothing can change that. If not the blood of sinners
then let it be the blood of my son. Thus reads the contract:


'My bond! My bond!

My deeds upon my head! I crave the law!

The penalty and forfeit of my bond!'


"Do you know, Vico, why the Jews are hated so everywhere? It is
instinctive resentment because the world feels that it has been
infected with the Jewish poison. The priesthood, the black vermin, is a
Jewish Germanic bastard brood. They have made a Jew of God himself and
they will make one of you too. And that my son! my child, the heir!"

The suffering on my father's face was terrible to see. Tears began to
flow from his fixed eyes.

I tried to calm him. "Do come about, father! - it's over time!"

"We'll go on a while yet," he said with a ghastly affected airiness,
and I sat there with the blood freezing in my veins, fearing he was
going mad. All at once he burst out again.

"The blood of his son! the blood of his son! to buy off sin with which
he himself had burdened us - his own debts thrust on us and accepted by
us against our will and pleasure, and this acceptance paid for with the
blood of his own child. What a Jew! What a sly, heartless usurer! Did
you make these debts, Vico? - value received? What did you get for it?
What did you get for this hereditary sin? Hereditary sin! Ha! ha! ha!
hereditary sin! what an invention! - Hereditary debt! What a crafty,
bartering Jew one must be to invent such an idea."

Once more I made an attempt, and standing upright at the mast I cried
vigorously:

"Come about, father! - about!"

But he called back with even greater vehemence:

"Go ahead, I tell you!"

And then whilst I looked about over the sea and considered what to do:

"I tell you, Vico, there is life and there is death. And we must live
as long as we can. But it must be real life too. Death is no life. The
life of most men is a slow miserable death. There is no honor and no
merit in maintaining a life that should more truly be called death. A
bloodless, enervated, foul, rotten life. It is a shame that men do not
yet know how to live, and even greater shame that they know still less
how to die. I wanted to have you live. But I did not succeed and now I
shall teach you to die. - Are you afraid?"

Then something began to stir and rise up in my soul, like a snake
goaded forth from her cavern. I, too, began to forget the wind and the
waves about me. True, I felt a tingling down my back to my very finger
tips. Yet I was not a coward and I spoke firmly:

"I am not afraid, father. I believe I shall know quite as well as you
how to die if it should be necessary, even without your teaching me.
But I won't be murdered, not even by my father."

The tears from the fixed, now red-rimmed eyes began to flow more
abundantly.

"Vico!" he cried in a much softer, trembling voice: "Will you be true
to me then? Will you let yourself be saved? Will you save your precious
life and your reason? Will you abjure this accursed harpy? Will you
escape the sinister band?"

But I was irritated and excited and proudly replied: "I shall save
myself, I shall be true to whomever I find worthy. I do not respect the
man that curses my mother."

Then his face changed horribly, he lifted up his trembling right hand,
thereby awkwardly knocking off the canvas cap from his head so that the
damp gray hair fluttered. He made Jesus' sign of doom in Michel
Angelo's last judgment, screaming loudly meanwhile:

"Then I curse you, do you hear! I curse you, Lodovico Muralto. Your
father curses you!"

I had enough of Old Testament sentiments left in me not to be
indifferent to such an imprecation!

I started, but tried my very utmost to see in him only the raving,
irresponsible maniac. At the same time the thought flashed across my
mind that he himself must also have been infected by Jewish ideas, that
he should clutch at these weapons, more sounding than wounding. But I
said nothing, walked up to him and from behind his hand attempted to
grasp the tiller. "About!" I cried.

"Very well! about!" my father cried fiercely, and with that be wrenched
the tiller out of my hand and pulled it violently toward himself, so
that instead of sailing before the wind it struck us directly on the
beam with mainsail closely hauled and sheet fixed.

Even had I desired death as eagerly as he did at the time, yet now I
would instinctively have resisted. Seamanship teaches scorn of death
but still greater scorn for bad man?uvring. "Blockhead!" I cried out,
hastily cutting the taut rope so that the sail fluttered out into the
wind like a half-escaped bird. But the boat had shipped so much water
that I could not right her again and in a moment she was entirely
swamped. I climbed to the high side stretching out my hand to my
father. But he gave me one look of bitter scorn, shook his head and let
himself sink, freeing his hand with a wild jerk from a loop in the
rigging.

After this, I drifted about four hours. We had been missed and the
life-boat had been sent out after us, but for a long time was unable to
find me, as the dusk had begun to fall. Finally I was picked up by a
fisherman who signalled for the life-boat to come and get me. I had
lost consciousness and when I awoke it was night and I found myself in
bed hearkening to the soft voices of two women in the room. I thought I
was in Italy with my mother and my nurse in our house at Milan, so
eloquent of the past were the old familiar sharp sss and rr sounds of
these soft Italian whisperings. But soon I recognized the Dutch hotel
furnishings, Lucia, and beneath the black lace veil the silvery hair of
my venerable mother.


X

When for four hours, wet and benumbed upon a wave-swept piece of wood,
with nothing round about but the sea and falling night, one has fought
for the maintenance of a thing, one begins to consider that thing
important after all, even though before it was ever so indifferent to
us.

I had never valued my life so highly; but after I had once been incited
to a stubborn, desperate but successful resistance against the attempt
of robbing me of it, it had become dearer to me. Now I was determined
to know everything there is to be known concerning the value of this
hard-won treasure.

Why did I make this tremendous effort? What do I gain by it? And all
these others, none of whom, forsooth, praise life as so glorious and
desirable a joy, what induces them to cling to it so frantically at the
cost of so much pain and trouble?

My father had taught me, and no one, not even my mother and the priests
denied it, that we are reasonable beings who ought to act reasonably.
To exert oneself for something undesirable, I consider, and everyone
with me considers, unreasonable. If it is a Jewish idea to do or to
give naught for naught - well, you may label me Jew then. That was also
my idea of justice. And then I felt myself more of a Jew than the Jew,
Spinoza, who says that one should love God without expecting love in
return. My inborn passion for sober truth was stirred to opposition by
these words. I did not believe that this feeling could be true, not
even in Spinoza. He must merely have imagined it because he wished to
be different from the grasping Jews and Hollanders of his age. Right
remains right. Love demands love in return, - and life must be good for
something if we are willing to suffer and struggle for it. I could be
as liberal and generous as the best of Italians, but the highest
striving in all nature is for balance, and he who lets himself be
pushed off his chair disturbs the balance instead of preserving it, and
he who throws his own cabbages to his neighbor's hogs fosters laziness
and injustice.

"Yes! now my life has been saved, dear mother," I said on the first day
of my recovery. "But at the cost of much trouble and distress. Father
and I parted the while he cursed me and I denounced him as a
'blockhead.' I am not superstitious, but these are not comforting
memories. I defied his curse, I resisted him and retained my life. But
for what? Who tells me that he was not right and that it had not been
better for me to die?"

"God has willed it so, my boy. I fear that for your unhappy father
there is no salvation; he died cursing and without repentance. But God
has preserved you so that you should live for him."

"Preserved me to live for him? Does he need me then? The creator of the
sun and the fixed stars, the milky way and the nebulae? Needs me? How
is that, mother?"

"He wished to preserve you through his merciful love. You need him.
Therefore you must live for him."

"If I need him, mother, then he must live for me and not I for him. How
can anyone who needs help himself live for another? God is surely not
in need of help. But I -"

"You must love him with all your heart and all your soul. You must be
ready to offer all to him. You must be willing to bear life and to
suffer for him.  You have received everything from him. Joy and sorrow
- it must all be equally dear to you because it comes from him."

"Dear mother, then I must surely have received my reason and my tastes
from him too. And when my father gave me a watch and a compass I
trusted that these things would point right. And when God gives me
reason and tastes, must I then suppose that these point wrong?
Wherefore did I receive them then? My reason calls it nonsensical to
lead a wretched and miserable life, even for the sake of the Almighty
Creator of Heaven and Earth. How can this be pleasing to a supreme
being? What can it matter to him? And my taste calls happiness
desirable and sorrow reprehensible, whether it come from one or from
another. Sugar is sweet though it come from the devil, and quinine is
bitter though it come from God. I cannot taste it differently."

"And is the bitter not just what you need to heal you, Vico?"

"Is it less bitter, therefore? And should I even thank the Almighty for
first letting me get sick, which is unpleasant enough already, and
moreover giving a bitter taste to the medicine which he made necessary?
He has made me so that I feel glad and thankful for whatever gives
happiness and tastes sweet, but not for affliction and bitterness."

"That is your pride, Vico! Your father instilled that into you. Learn
to love God! Lay away your pride. Learn to love God humbly and through
love thankfully to accept the bitter from him."

"Listen, mother. I might say now: Yes! yes! I can repeat it all after
you exactly and persuade myself that I feel it all too. But then I
would lie. And God has made me so that I would rather not lie if I can
help it. I know no reason why I should be thankful to God for
afflictions or should call the bitter sweet and the ugly beautiful. If
he is my creator then he is also responsible for the desires and
feelings of his creature."

"What I tell you, Vico, is something you cannot understand except
through the light of grace. You must be born again through faith. You
reason now as all who trust to their human understanding. I can only
pray that his grace will be poured out over you. And for the sake of
your mother, who loves you so, you surely do not wish to shut your
heart and blind yourself to the true light? You surely will want to
hear what the church teaches and want to obey and accept what older and
wiser people, through love, tell and advise you."

"My heart is open to every light, mother. I am willing to hear and to
consider everything. But though I would ever so gladly, I cannot obey
and accept unless what I am told and advised seems acceptable to me."

"May God break your self-conceit!" my mother sighed.

What I have written here is an average and collective type of many
hundreds of conversations which I had with my mother during the ten
years following. With the indefatigable zeal of flies incessantly
buzzing up and down and striking against a window pane, we two
tenacious and autocratic persons tried to thrust upon one another our
own peculiar individuality. My mother with a more aggressive love, I
more on the defensive, but in my self-assertion, none the less
militant. Possessed by the universal conceit of the reasonableness of
our feelings and convictions, neither one of us noticed that this was
simply a struggle between two natures whereof one was trying to subject
the other. And accustomed as almost all the human herd to the idolatry
of the true word, we both imagined that by merely talking, talking we
could finally make the word which we ourselves considered true the idol
of our fellow-man too, like two missionaries of different faith holding
up their symbol before one another until one of the two falls on his
knees.

And the mother now said that it was the father's education that made me
refractory, just as the father had thought to oppose the maternal
influence: as though they continued the old feud about me and through
me.

The four hours of anxious suspense on the capsized boat, my father's
curse ringing in my ears, his grim sinking face before my eyes, had
struck such a deep gash into my young and tender soul that at first I
would awaken every morning from a dream, in which the whole thing was
lived through again, crying for help in a voice hoarse from screaming
as I had cried so long across the lonely dusky sea. Only very gradually
did these evil memory dreams cease, and till late in my life they would
recur whenever my power of resistance was weakened.

These dreams acted upon me like warnings, repeating the stern lesson of
the terrible event. "You have repelled your father and chosen your
mother's side. You have rejected his ideas and thereby driven him to
death. And what if he had been right now? Are you sure that your mother
deserved this sacrifice? Are you sure that your life was worth saving?
What have you - really - of that life which you so desperately
defended? By your defiance you have taken a heavy responsibility upon
yourself. You must now seek this assurance: the assurance that your
father was in the wrong and that you are doing right by continuing to
live and adhering to your mother."

These were the warnings that beset me every morning when the morning
light had once more dispelled the fearful vision. In vain I sounded the
depths of my soul - to find whence issued these compelling and
distressing thoughts. A power dwelt within me which seemed to possess a
mighty voice, and a strong coercive force when I did not want to
listen. And I soon observed that this power increased in proportion as
I felt weaker and more discouraged. Was it the voice of the herd, which
my father had taught me to despise, but which he no more than I could
infallibly distinguish from his own voice? Who was this speaker, this
tyrant?

There existed a bridge of heartiness and affection between my mother
and myself which always remained practicable even when the flood of
controversy raged highest. When it seemed as though we would never
understand each other, we would simply stay the structure of our
phrases and without détour approach one another through the ever open
door of our love, without troubling ourselves about logic or
consistency.

And Lucia was much less averse to theology than Emmy. Supplied by my
mother with shining words of authority and bombastic arguments, and no
less anxious than my mother herself to let the son participate in the
joy of her conviction, she eagerly granted any request for engaging in
deep conversation. We did not go walking alone together, as this did
not agree with her principles of education, but when we three were
together the origin and prospect of our life was discussed more, and
with greater fervor, than anywhere probably in all the little seaside
town, perchance in all the little land.

And it is good that people do not act as reasonably as they imagine,
otherwise we should see all mankind engaged in such conversations: they
would forget to reap the harvest, to start the trains, to keep the
fires of the factories going.

For it is strange to see everyone making the greatest efforts and
wearing himself out and hardly anyone trying to render account to
himself of the why and wherefore. Especially the so-called thoughtful
people cut a strange figure, as usually they all disagree, or only
agree about their own ignorance; and yet they go on living complacently
without earnestly persevering in their efforts of reaching a
conclusion. They all pretend to believe in the true word, but they do
not manifest much faith in their idol, because words concerning the
most important truths have but little power to attract them. It is good
so, for otherwise, from sheer uncertainty, the entire machinery would
come to a standstill and the truly free, such as you, dear reader, and
I, would find no opportunity to gather the leading truths for them,
and, wrapped in glowing formula, so dexterously to throw them before
their feet that they perceive them and pick them up as their own
discoveries.

Lucia del Bono was not only a beautiful, but also a bright, clever and,
as my mother assured me, good and noble Italian woman. She had lost her
parents, and my mother who had taken her into her home as her adopted
daughter, was her saint, her oracle. Whatever mother did was good,
whatever mother said was true, what mother wished was the nearest to
God's will of anything we could know. And soon I perceived that, among
other things, mother had long wished Lucia to become my wife. Through
Emmy's loss and through the unchanging persistence of my passions,
Satan's voracious pets, I however considered myself peculiarly fitted
for a monastery, if I could only once reconcile myself to the doctrines
suitable to such a life.

"After all, there is no other way of salvation for me" - I once said to
my mother when I was alone with her on the hotel veranda. "Now I may
indeed have holy resolves again and make solemn promises, but I look
reality too squarely in the face to believe, myself, in these promises.
I can never love a woman more truly and more fervently than Emmy, - and
even this love was not strong enough to shield me from the temptations
of the low and the vile. If I remain in the world, I shall nowhere
escape temptation. I have seen enough to know that there is temptation
everywhere for one like myself. It is bitter and humiliating,
particularly for one with a proud and haughty nature, and who does not
like to turn away from an enemy. I feel myself a match for men and
would be willing to fight an overpowering majority, but God has left me
defenceless in the hands of women."

To this mother replied: "There is no life more splendid and lofty than
that of the monk who denies and suppresses all the lower, worldly and
transitory feelings in order to let the eternal develop the more
freely. But it requires a good deal to consecrate yourself wholly to
Jesus, Vico dear. If only you are strong enough for that!"

"No, mother! I want to do it just because I am not strong enough to
resist the world and my fleshly desires. I must be in an absolutely
pure environment and lead an abstemious life, only then will I remain
good. I have tried it for three weeks. But then I fell ill and was
nursed and petted by kind hands and then Satan again had me in his
power."

"You can fall ill in a monastery too, Vico. And Satan will not leave
you in peace there either. Think of how even the saints were tormented
by demons and temptations."

"Ali, mother, what I have read about that, and seen on paintings,
proves that they do not know my temptations. Did you imagine that I
would succumb to the pretty ladies who troubled Antonius of Padua? They
are much too pretty, too poetic, I should say. With them I would feel
ashamed. And all those monsters and demons, as Teniers paints them,
they would not frighten me in the least. I know them well from my
dreams. They give you a fright, but you can easily drive them away,
much more easily than -"

"Than what, Vico?" my mother asked. But before I could conquer my
strong disinclination to give an idea of the true nature of my
visitants, Lucia came out of her room.

"What do you say to this, little daughter!" my mother said with grave,
almost embarrassed mien, "Vico wants to enter the priesthood."

It was curious to mark the change of expression on Lucia's face. With a
peculiar wide, shining look, her great dark eyes travelled from mother
to me, but she cleverly concealed that it was a painful surprise. She
could not suppress a deep blush, however, and when she felt it and
realized that it could not help betraying an all too deep and painful
interest, the blush of shame became yet deeper.

"That is fine!" she said in a voice solemn with emotion.

"If Christ will only accept me," I said; "according to you two I am
still half a heathen."

"Oh, he will surely accept you! he will be good to you!" said Lucia, in
a tone which betrayed more certainty concerning the being of whom she
spoke than Emmy's "Jesus Christ our Lord."

"How do you know that so surely, Lucia?" I asked, immediately
attentive. "Do you know him so well? Can you explain to me what he is?"

"Do I know him?" she cried out passionately, with a little
comprehensive smile at mother. "What shall I reply, mother? He asks
whether we know the dear Lord Jesus."

"What would you yourself reply, Vico, if she asked you whether you knew
me, your mother?"

I was silent, and thoughtfully regarded the two women, so obviously
convinced. Then Lucia said: "I know him much better, Vico, than you
know your mother, for you have not had her near you for very long, nor
is she with you all the time. But my Jesus never leaves me. I have
always had him near me as long as I can remember day and night."

I said nothing, but looked at her encouragingly, intimating that she
should go on and tell me more of Jesus. And she did it gladly, - far
more eagerly than Emmy, - and though it was not all clearly and
absolutely lucidly expressed, not entirely connected and too long, to
repeat it all to you here, yet it was captivating and instructive and,
to me, implied the existence of a firm and neither weak nor transitory
reality.

Suggestion is a very convenient word with a meaning easily adaptable to
all sorts of explanations; but if there were no bounds and no end to
this explaining by suggestion, we might as well rub out from our
suggested slate of life, with a suggested sponge, the whole beautiful
world of clear and eternal realities. No, the Christ of Lucia and my
mother was no suggested fancy, but a living reality.

But what was he?

Of the Bible the two women knew very little. My mother, despite her
Northern origin, had had an Italian Catholic education as well as
Lucia. In this, for valid reasons, the Bible is forbidden. They did not
speak much of the life of Jesus as an historical person, nor of his
adventures, nor of his teachings. It was his suffering, his martyrdom,
and his death that to them seemed to be above all deserving of
meditation.

And if I had not known it - if the Nazarene of whom the New Testament
narrates had borne another name, it might perhaps never have occurred
to me to identify him with the Deity worshipped by my mother.

But now that I must needs assume that all information regarding the
being, personally wholly unknown to me, that so occupied the lives of
these two women and of millions of human beings besides, was to be
found in these ancient writings, the English translation of which,
contrary to my mother's wishes, I faithfully kept - now I began to read
with renewed and even closer attention.

But I found nothing to give me light. I found a very beautiful and
touching narrative full of dramatic power, written by the hand of a
master, but to its detriment four times retold with embellishments and
obvious falsifications. And the hero of this narrative was a very human
mortal, more delicate, more sensitive and nearer akin to us than Hiob:
just as bold in the flight of his thought, just as fanatic and even
immoderate in his declarations, and certainly less strong, less
resolute, his character less unmoved by the lot threatening him than
the mighty hero of the older drama. I was deeply stirred by the reading
of this wonderful creation, by the thoroughly human truth of his
struggle, his disappointments, waverings and weaknesses, his courage
and self-denial, his alternately proud and discouraged bearing, his
very explainable self-deception, caused by the influence of his
childish followers and worshippers, his fatal and truly tragic ending,
not desired but foreboded, and manfully not evaded, - immutable
necessary result of human weakness in human heroic strength.

But what did all this have to do with the wonderful reality in which my
mother and millions with her found all their joy and their security,
with which, through which, for which, in which they lived as fish live
in the water?

I found nothing but a little outward resemblance, the name, the death
he suffered. But for the rest it seemed to me that they might as well
have named any other hero of tragedy - Prometheus for example - as the
mighty and loving being that, even now, directed all their steps and
shed light upon their path.

And through many careful and attentive conversations with the fair
Lucia, in the presence of my mother, who was for her the living
fountain from which she gratefully drew when her wisdom threatened to
forsake her, I became convinced that had Lucia been taught that the
divine reality she felt in herself was named Spinoza, because Spinoza
was a God, incarnate in human form, who had lived in Rynsburg as a man,
had proclaimed many words of living wisdom and therefore suffered scorn
and contempt and finally, after a life of simplicity and chastity, had
died in loneliness and poverty for our salvation - the pious maiden
would just as readily have accepted it and would have found exactly as
much strength, happiness and contentment in it.

Do not lose patience, my reader, because I tell you such commonplace
things. Of course as an independently thinking and observing person,
you know all this just as well as I. But for the herd it is all new,
absolutely new. And it will still be so when you read this and I am
dead and for many, many years after. Do not forget that we too belong
to the herd, you and I, and that an accurate comprehension of our
relations does not exclude a loving understanding and a wise affection.
There is joy in my pride only because it rests on an immutable
estimation of worth. I know that the herd thinks and feels slavishly
and I do not, and that it is therefore necessarily subject to me; but
my joy would rot and wither in my pride, did I not know the comforting
and refreshing humility, the humility that by patient deeds of love
unites me to the herd, and gives me full measure of comfort in this
faithful, sincere and patient record for the good of all, so that I
have found peace, tranquillity of mind and a foretaste of bliss in the
utmost spiritual loneliness, in this dead life.

There is neither contentment nor happiness in unshared wisdom.
Therefore I make bold once more to speak plainly of such commonplace
things. If we would build our towers higher and higher, we must seek to
broaden the foundations, otherwise we topple over with our individual
wisdom just as we had imagined heaven attained. The herd does not need
our leading more urgently than we its following.

True, it must have been a great and ingenious Jew, who, now more than
eighteen hundred years ago, wisely responding to the cry of anguish
from his enslaved countrymen for a redeemer, as king, as Christ,
pointed out to them the new man, the meek, the "Chrestus," with whom
the whole earth felt herself pregnant.

No one can have known the divine reality, which so many millions have
called Christ, so profoundly, and have felt it more clearly living in
himself than he, when flown from his subdued and desolate country to
Alexandria, be created the mighty and tragic heroic figure and chose
the name that for so many centuries was to be accepted by mankind, as
the personification and epithet of this same reality.

But I charge him gravely that with Jewish fearfulness he withdrew his
own person from the struggle in which he let his hero perish, and
suffered or even wished his noble and true work of art to be changed
into a false piece of history. What might have gladdened and elevated
poor suffering and blinded humanity as a wonderful masterpiece of art,
like the book of Hiob, or the Iliad, or Prometheus Vinctus, or the
Athene of the Parthenon, or the Zeus of Olympus, showing how man in the
creations of the artist rises highest above personal pettiness and
weakness, how the genius in fiction creates the highest perfection,
such as has never been seen in flesh and blood, - has now, as an
invented historical occurrence, driven the whole world to the rudest
falsifications of truth and impossible efforts of imitation.

The glorious shapes of Phidias, more beautiful than any living human
race has ever actually been, have still brought us joy and inspiration
after a miserable barbaric Christian world bad mutilated and neglected
them, - but the beautiful figure of Jesus, which as a work of art might
have been immortal and beneficent, embellished with Pauline metaphysics
and mixed in the Byzantine sorcerer's pot with Egyptian and Chaldean
hodgepodge, has become an evil spirit for wretched human kind.

For eighteen hundred years the world has been the dupe of this
marvellous dramatic genius and his work, changed in a fatal hour from
fiction to history. I know no stronger proof for the existence of a
malicious devil who takes pleasure in our amusing errors.

And many a night, when it is warm and the sea calm and the doves coo in
the softly whispering elms on the city walls, I wander out of my quiet
little city and gaze over the smooth extent of water, musing for hours
on the beauty and the joy that would now reign on earth if,
unprejudiced and unconfounded, men had asked what God it was that so
mightily revealed himself in them and urged them with such perceptible
will and pressure, and spoke in so audible a voice: if they had
earnestly and attentively hearkened to the constant whisperings and
warnings of their deep true nature, if they had borne and learned to
follow the bridle of this faithful warner in their own soul, who
strongly desires and alone has power to give us peace, - instead of
worshipping the true word, and looking for outward signs and miracles,
and through the beautiful creations of a human genius letting
themselves be seduced to human deification, to stupid imitation, to
fanaticism, to falsification of word and reality, to a sickly pursuit
of pain, glorification of poverty, fear of knowledge, scorn of the
world, hatred of beauty, poor stray sheep!

Then the great and good works of Greeks and Romans, of Indians and
Saracens would have been thoughtfully carried on, art preserved,
knowledge esteemed, - and the garden of peace made verdant with clear
springs of beauty from these two pure fountains. While now, alas! again
and again, in thousands of hearts, the true Christ must die the bitter
death upon the cross because the truest word that he inspired one of
his dearest favorites to utter was besmirched by a flat lie, and his
most beautiful poetical image destroyed by a grossly sensuous error.

But be of good cheer, my reader; the devil made a good move, but shall
lose the game nevertheless. The falsehood poison has soon spent itself,
and the powers of the sick increase. No longer do the shepherdless dogs
drive the flock asunder in a hundred different directions. You live, my
reader, and hear the voice of me, the dead, - and as though heralded
forth by trumpets, you learn that the crucified in you and in me is
also victoriously and gloriously risen again.

XI

It was three weeks before the body of my father was found. A stormy
nor-wester had thrown it high up on shore at the foot of the dunes not
far from the mouth of the Rhine, and a clam-digger came to claim the
promised reward. My mother went there with me and prayed a long time by
the side of the body. I did too, in my own way; that is to say, with a
constant reservation, as one might write a letter to someone whose
address one was not sure of. Nevertheless every prayer is a suggestion
in which through words of invocation one creates an image of a Deity
and through forcibly uttered exhortations and protestations changes
one's own soul. Is there in any act greater possibility for
self-deception? As a child and youth, it is still possible to observe
oneself praying and to continue in the belief that one is acting
worthily and honestly. But for a man, self-observation during this act
usually also carries with it shame at the game that he is playing and
the pose that he assumes.

The body lay in a coffin, already closed, in a tiny church of the
fisher village, and it seemed as though my father's surviving spirit
mocked me for the trifling words with which I, foolish boy, thought to
reach and to move the soul of clouds and sea, of sun and stars. How
childish the burning candles and the chanting voice of the priest
seemed, with the roaring of the wind over the reed-covered sand hills,
and the glowing eye with which the setting sun looked upon her earth
from across the sea.

When the funeral was over, we decided to leave Holland for my native
country. There, in Rome, I would, if anywhere, find my way back to the
mother church. Solemn, talking little, full of expectation, and usually
deep in thought, I travelled swiftly across the continent in the
company of the two women. Italy, that I had not seen for many years,
lured me with a thousand sweet memories, with the combined charm of the
wonderland of sun and beauty which it is to all Northerners, and of the
world of dear childish moods, whose deceiving sweetness increases with
distance and length of separation, and can make even the most barren
country gleam as a place of refuge and consolation. With a little more
experience of life I might have considered beforehand that the real
Italy could not fulfil all the blessed promises of the imaginary Italy.
At the beginning they did indeed all seem to be realized. It commenced
with sunshine, and the vintage - golden light upon browning foliage,
merry country folk and song; a gleam of a better world after the dull
and solemn North: a glorious sensation of being at home among people
who like myself dared to say something graceful and to do something
wanton; the beloved flexible and vigorous sounds of my mother tongue,
and the great joy of the people's craving for beauty and elegance down
into the very lowest circles: roughness and wildness not without a
certain dignity, not simply rude and coarse as with the Northern
barbarians: a poor lad in rags who sings something on the street that
penetrates my inmost soul. Ah! how little the rude among this Dutch
people can do or say that penetrates my soul! If my reason did not tell
me, what then could convince my heart that they and I are beings of a
kind?

I cannot dwell here on the charm with which my native land stirred my
emotions when I beheld it again. It has nothing to do with the task and
the duty that I fulfil in these writings. Hundreds of writers can
delight you with subtle sensuous fancies and can comfort you for a
moment with beautiful visions, warming the cold indolent spirit by
colorful, glowing or gracefully woven words. My task is to give lasting
consolation through the unsensual force of unchanging thought, so that
you will know a point of rest in all sorrows and can taste every
pleasure with calmer attention.

In Rome my disillusionment came with the rainy days of winter. Then all
at once it penetrated my consciousness from every side, like a cold
draft through broken window panes - the realization that something was
still wanting here, that in the North had been attained: an established
order of institutions, a general moral integrity. The half-forgotten
shadows of my childhood, hidden behind the beautiful, came to view,
called forth by kindred miseries. We had to live comparatively simply,
and my dignified old mother, as well as I, had to climb the four
chilly, dimly lighted, stony flights to our apartment, where it was
cold and uncomfortable too. To let Lucia go about alone in Rome, like
an English girl in London, was simply out of the question. I myself had
to be very much on my guard against suspicious persons who whisperingly
accosted me with foul proposals. And a stroll through the section San
Lorenzo on a bleak December day, where I saw, how my poor people, kept
in ignorance and filth, manfully battle against suffering and misery,
made me feel that Italy, when her glorious sunlight fades, is still
ever the land of the "sofferenza" and still deserves the cry of
lamentation:

"Ahi, selva Italia! di dolore ostello!"

This sorrowful word never leaves me; often do I sigh it through the
stillness of my gloomily respectable house, the abode of the old Dutch
merchants; and then too perchance I scream it out into the gale on the
open sea-dike where my petty fellow citizens cannot hear it.

In this gray, beclouded, chilly land, where the bleak, restless wind
bends low and razes to the ground everything that standing alone would
lift up its head, less rude anguish is suffered nevertheless than among
the sunny, luxuriant, blue-skied hills of my beautiful native land.

But this does not imply that the Italians should envy this so much more
methodical, cleanly and prosperous nation. For glowing life and
blooming beauty fare still more madly among the Hollanders, and sharp
anguish is more salutary to man, and preferred by the genitive soul of
humanity, than the unfelt evil of ugliness, of dullness and of the
great and beautiful passions stifled by fear. Everywhere in the present
world a minority sensitive to beauty exists among a great horde of
cads. But in no country is the minority nobler, but smaller also, and
the horde more caddish than in Holland - and in imagination I often see
the Neapolitan tramp and loafer stand out as a prince or nobleman among
the inmates of a Dutch village inn, or hall for more respectable
entertainment. But your purse and your life are safer and the average
standard of middle-class respectability higher here below the sea level
than in most countries above.

The first ones that I sought in my native land were the priests, whom
my father had always made me shun. My mother's sentimental wisdom did
not satisfy the wants of my reason, and she herself thought that I
should be easily and swiftly convinced of what, to her, seemed so
evidently true, if I but heard someone versed in the eloquence and the
logical argumentative power which her intuitive knowledge lacked.

But ah me! we were sadly mistaken there, my mother and I.

Her position and rank enabled her to refer me to the very best address;
and none less than one of the most powerful and influential prelates of
the age, an intimate of the Vatican and a political celebrity, was to
guide me, youthful errant, back into the path of salvation. I was much
impressed by his great name, and in the beginning I also could not
withhold myself from the suggestion that goes out from each one into
whose hands the herd has pressed the magic rose of deference and
subjugation. But neither his environment, - a gloomy apartment
tastelessly furnished in bourgeois style, - nor his outward appearance,
a bony, half jovial, half cautiously cunning, more or less boorish face
upon a heavy unwieldy body, was adapted to strengthen my illusion. He
was very genial, talkative, good-natured, and made a little kindly
intended speech to which I sat and listened with the conviction that I
must be making a confused, distressed and foolish appearance.

Subsequently he committed me to the care of one of his younger
disciples, a pale, seemingly timid, but, as was soon manifest, very
strong-willed, ambitious young priest, who scrutinized me with
well-nigh impertinent searchingness, like a doctor his patient.

I did not let my mother notice the tremendous shock that I experienced
at this first visit, as she betrayed her hopeful expectation by a
painful agitation. For her sake, too, I went on and moved in the
circles which I could not really believe quite so bad as my father had
pictured them. But I could not carry it through very long. Even on the
street I would shudder with repulsion when I saw the insignificant,
coarse, often positively unpleasant and villainous faces peering out
from under the rough, black felt hats. It was as though they bore upon
their foreheads the mark of guilt for the misery in which my poor
people were toiling. And no sooner had I gained sufficient knowledge of
the sentiments, the desires, the ideas that peopled the spiritual world
of the young man appointed as my shepherd, then I knew once for all
that his labor would be vain.

He was not an insignificant man, the young priest, nor was he an
ignoble character. At the time I learned, in one moment, to conceive
for him a deadly hatred and contempt. But these are some of our Italian
extravagances. I expected and longed for a hero to help me - and when
anyone came to me with this pretension, but fell considerably below the
mark of a hero, I wished him to the devil and would have liked to kick
him out of my door. Here in my house of meditation by the sea, I have
learned to consider that the young priest possessed many talents, great
learning, a keen knowledge of human nature, a clear, practical mind, an
ambition careful enough not to seek base means for attaining the firmly
desired goal, and a religious conviction which, whether inborn,
acquired, or adopted, needed no further confirmation, and gave him
sufficient tranquillity of mind to set himself with all his might to
acquire the things which, among those his religion allowed, seemed to
him the most desirable.

But oh! the deadly and sterile assurance of these people. Their
confession of faith was not a living, blooming thing that under
continuous distress and delight, daily revealed itself as richer and
more beautiful; not a constantly changing, flowing stream, with its
substance watering and making fruitful the entire world; it was a
heavy, unchanging, tightly shut, square strongbox that stood in a comer
of their lives, safe and well stocked, from which, at stated times
only, and in proportion to their moral needs, they went to cut off the
coupons of tranquillity of mind and spiritual consolation.

He was so astonishingly calm, so tremendously sure of himself, so well
versed in his patriarchs, so practised in all logical disputes, so
thoroughly at home in all the eaves and the alleys, the case-mates and
the bastions of the citadel of his faith, that it seemed as though he
might dare take it up with all the doubters on earth. And yet how poor
he seemed to me, how naked and miserable, locked up in his formulated
system, like a bug in the hollow of a dead piece of wood, helplessly
adrift upon the wild waters of reality. He was not a narrow-minded
fanatic either, and knew the issues of science as well or better than I
- but he had his words, his formulas, his logical snares and ropes, in
which he caught all these troublesome and unmanageable truths and
hitched them to his car of faith: the true word, the correct argument,
the convincing phraseology that is the fine and artfully painted
panorama which the devil employs to separate us from the free true
world.

I was exacting in those days and was not contented with the people, who
were no better than they could be. I did not understand that they felt
it as a duty to submit to the ideas of the group, just as I felt it my
duty to break loose from it. I did not recognize the relative value of
their virtues, because they seemed to me like cyphers, in front of
which the unit of highest virtue, the naught-fearing love of reality,
was missing. And I was still too timid and too modest to give every man
his due cold-bloodedly, to break the bond of absolute sincerity with
him, and to mount the steep path of pride which each truly pious man, -
as you and I, dear reader, - alas! is obliged to take against his will
and pleasure, under penalty of losing time, life and strength, and the
subtle discernment of God's loving signal light, in idle strife and
struggle.

I shall not name the man here at present: he is already a cardinal, and
when you read this he may be pope. Through negative influence he has
exerted a tremendous effect upon my life. My mother admired and honored
him highly, and it was as though with her own hand she thereby took the
shining halo from her head and smashed it upon the pavement. I could
not be mistaken in this priest: the very highest humanity, the fine
tentacles constantly reaching out toward the divine, the continuous
growing and seeking, the true life were wanting in him. When I wanted
to ascend this path, he became blind and lame and refused to follow,
escaping and evading me by all kinds of winding rhetorical paths, with
a perfectly innocent expression of ignorance upon his pale, calm and
self-satisfied countenance. It was as though his eyes congealed - of my
burning desires they knew nothing. He could say every thing that he
believed, felt and desired, and the unutterable that made him feel and
desire thus and so was to him a word, not a vehemently and helplessly
loved and longed-for reality, as it was to me. This I saw, I felt, I
apprehended; there was no possibility of doubt. And thus I learned two
most important truths: first that all talk about the chiefest part of
our being is mere talk, that is to say, prattle and chatter, worth no
more, no less, and just as misleading and inadequate for mutual
communication and conviction, as all speech; secondly, that even the
best men in their most profound and sacred feelings let themselves be
ruled by other men, or groups of men, not necessarily better than they,
and that they do not realize this constraint, but go on thinking that
they themselves conceive and feel and accept with independent judgment
what is thrust on them by other human beings or human groups.

For this priest considered himself more godly, wiser and better than my
mother and I, and all his masterly eloquence only proved the contrary
to me; and yet I saw that my mother was servile to him and adopted from
him what he again had adopted from the large group of his equals and
kindred spirits, and that all this took place without their realizing
it, through personal influence, and never, as they contended, through
the clear sense of the absolute, with the free judgment directed only
by God's subtle guidance. What became now of all the beautiful light of
Grace and Revelation? persuasion! nothing else! impress of personality
on personality! as the teacher impels the child, the market crier his
peasants, the general his loyal soldiers, the judge the timid witness,
and as the ruling idea - public opinion - impels every individual,
wholly beyond all reason or judgment, or absolute sense, no matter how
strongly, we all may imagine the contrary.

These are subtle, cruel truths that deeply and grievously penetrate a
youthful spirit if it be open to them. You, dear reader, as an
all-renouncing lover of truth, know them as well as I. You know how
terribly corrosive, like a sharp acid, is their discovery, leaving
scarcely any of our ideals uncontaminated and sound. And consider
besides that my spirit was broken by the terrible memory of the
struggle which for years I had carried on with my father, and of his
awful death caused by my clinging to ideals that now indeed all seemed
nerveless illusions.

In my artlessness I had thought that the church in which my mother
found peace and consolation would elect none but chosen heroes among
men as her servants and priests. The very best would scarcely be good
enough for such a dignity.

Instead of this I saw how the first youngster that came along, with a
little hard pegging and servility could work his way up to the
priesthood; how the average stood no higher than the common masses; and
how, among my people, they were more looked down upon and derided than
venerated. And even the very best among them, the highest dignitaries,
were not the heroes, the poets and the sages, who by virtue of their
great human gifts were fitted to be the elect and leaders; but merely
the clever and ambitious, who possessed a little more of that
particular proficiency which helps one on in politics, too - but has
nothing to do with the divine.

If ever I stood close to ruin, it was then. I had lost all hold. My
beloved was far away in the arms of one whom I deemed unworthy; my
saint had lost her crown; my father's voice now seemed to ask me with
mocking emphasis whether it had not been better either to continue
living with him or to go with him into death.

Do you know who saved me, dear reader? Not the beautiful Lucia, whom I
pitied with tender compassion because she was, after all, nothing but a
slight feather upon my mother's breath, - but none less than Satan
himself. Satan saved me, Satan, dear reader; hold this well in mind!
Here is the profound explanation of his nature: he saved me because he
manifested himself so clearly and unmistakably that I simply had to
continue believing in him. And whoever believes in evil as evil cannot
be lost. Just as I, even as later the young scapegrace Nietzsche,
wanted to make a bolt over good and evil, I faced Satan, and the evil
one was so kind that he did me a better turn than any kind human being
ever did me.

As if to manifest himself very plainly, Satan, following the custom of
all mighty principles, became incarnate. I came into contact with a
young seminary student, who bore the name of an archangel and with it a
face that resembled that of the prince of fallen angels more closely
than any known to me. He even, as if to emphasize this, twisted his
black locks above his low forehead in such a way that two horns
appeared to be hidden under them. His eyelids hung rather low over his
brown eyes, that peeped out furtively, and narrowing, twinkled kindly,
while the straight thin-lipped mouth, above the long chin, uttered the
most cruel sarcasms in a high, almost feminine voice.

And yet it was just this man who attracted me more than anyone I had
met in clerical circles. In the first place, by reason of his wit; for
he was an Irishman and full of those sharp and delicious jokes to which
I was very susceptible; but also, because he was the only one who
seemed to understand something of my great, dumb, impotent wrath at the
universal unwillingness of mankind - which at the time I had not yet
learned to look upon as impotence - to recognize the contradiction
between their teachings and their life. Once when he had attended a
conversation between my young teacher and myself, in which, as was my
wont, I had made fruitless efforts to make him sensible of what was
lacking in the entire priestly institution and to free myself from the
meshes of his arguments, he said in leaving:

"You come at an opportune moment, dear Count Muralto! The rôle of
ingénue has long been vacant in our company. But you need not assume it
any more toward the directors. They are already aware of it now, and
there is such a thing as laying it on too thick."

This remark aroused in me great astonishment and interest. I
immediately began to question Michael. Above all, I wished to know how
he found it possible, with such thoughts in his head, to wish to become
a priest.

"That's not so difficult," said Michael, "if only you learn to keep
order in your thoughts. It all depends on order and exactness, on a
careful double bookkeeping. Every good business man has a private
bank-account which has nothing to do with the business. In the same way
we must learn to keep our private thoughts out of the business. That is
all."

"I am afraid that I shall never learn to look upon the most sacred
office as a merchant's trade."

"Well played, dear ingénue!" said Michael; "but on the verge of
foolishness. To look down upon merchants and business is no longer
naïve, but foolish. Without merchants the Holy Father himself would
starve in prison. The whole world is a trading concern and there's no
harm in that. Our business we rightly call the sacred business because,
at all events, it is still the most trustworthy firm in existence. I
consider it a great honor that I may be its youngest servant and am
thankful that at the same time it can, if I keep my wits about me, also
become a pleasure. The demand that I keep the private account of my
ideas carefully separate from the ledger of the firm, so as not to
cause confusion, I consider very just and moderate. It is so in all
large and practical affairs. There's nothing like order, said the
farmer as he screwed the lid on the coffin of his grandmother, who lay
in a trance and wanted to get out again. Can you make a uniform that
will fit every soldier? Can you fashion a net in which each little fish
will find a mesh exactly fitting its own dimensions? No doctrine is
true for everyone, and no law is just for all. Each must have a care
that he get through the meshes."

"I must admit, brother Michael, that I think your cynicism more
tolerable and more upright than the obstinate hypocrisy of our
prelates. And what you say about the law that cannot be just for all
seems to me worthy of consideration."

"Cynicism! hypocrisy!" brother Michael cried out with a silencing
gesture. "My dear young man, how wildly you throw your rotten apples. A
dog is a good-natured and clever animal, but for that reason it is not
doggish to discriminate correctly. And as long as you artless
blockheads do not understand that proper and successful hypocrisy is
the primal Christian virtue, the practising of which belongs to the
highest religious duties already taught by the Trinity, so long nothing
will come of the Kingdom of God."

After this conversation, about which I said nothing to my mother, I
changed and my attitude became more reserved, cautious and suspicious.
More and more I began with profound amazement to understand the curious
and appalling condition of our social system. But meanwhile the
turbulent passions in me were not calmed and my difficulties remained
the same. As long as I lived in the hopeful suspense of the shipwrecked
who believes that the haven of safety is in sight, the dogs were still.
But when this again ended in disappointment, they grew restive, bold
and troublesome. With every weakening of the spirit and joy in life our
wild beasts get a looser rein, as a ship when its course is blocked
pays less attention to the rudder.

The more I was disappointed in humanity, the more I began to give ear
to the women who in Rome, more vociferous than in London, rioting and
ranting often like unto a band of mænads, go out at night, upon the
hunt for men. And it was not many weeks before just that peculiar
temptation which does not put itself forth with wanton or charming
thoughtlessness, but with good-natured and cold shamelessness debases
itself, had discovered me in my defencelessness and made of me an easy
prey.

The complex feeling of self-contempt, shame, assumed light-heartedness,
fear of undesired encounters, and yet more despicable fear of thieves
and cut-throats, that in the shadow of the dark doorways of Rome's
disreputable houses, luxuriantly flourishes in the soil of a bad
conscience, is not deserving of envy; especially when, as in my case,
there is the aggravating circumstance that, in face of an entire
haughty priesthood, one has dared to consider oneself a better man, and
has shown this more or less.

Thus it was a monstrous shock for me and a most miserable cold douche
of temerity over my proud aristocrat's heart when at such a moment, my
temptress having struck a match on the wall, the brightly flickering
flame suddenly lit up the satanic visage of brother Michael, who, after
first having leered at me cautiously and a bit perplexed, broke out
into a truly devilish burst of laughter.

"Well met! Well met!" he cried out in his mother tongue, and then the
witches' words from Macbeth: "When shall we three meet again?"

I confess, dear reader, that I stood there most miserably confused and
ashamed, absolutely and utterly without self-control. But I stuttered
out something resembling a reproach and a justification:

"I, at least, wear no clerical garb."

"Neither do I," said Michael; "I am incognito on private business."

"Oh!" said I scornfully; "concerning the double book-keeping!"

"Exactly, dear ingénue!" said Michael, with his most sweetish smile.
"Concerning the double book-keeping, you have remembered it well. But
go on, don't let me disturb you! Perhaps I'll be back later."

But in my fright I had already turned about, and ran swiftly up the
street, followed by some not very flattering remarks from the woman who
had been disappointed in her pursuit. Michael overtook me.

"Two negatives constitute one positive," said he. "Two sinners together
arouse virtue. It seems to me we might as well have converted the fair
sinner also."

Like an instinct for self-preservation in the most desperate danger, so
man follows an instinct of self-justification in the most hopeless
disgrace.

"Brutes we both of us are, Michael, but I at least acknowledge it. I
loathe myself. You, tomorrow, must don your saintly garb and hide under
it your rottenness and foulness. I do not envy you."

"It does not befit us, dear Muralto, to loathe one whom God has created
after his own image. We have every one of us been saddled with a
portion of filth and it does not seem enviable to me to work that off
alone, as you. I can go to confession and belong to a large friendly
circle, where they one and all are bitten by the same fleas and must
chop with the same hatchet. We understand one another, and trust one
another and forgive one another and help one another. There are weak
brothers and strong brothers, we all of us know that, and we do not
despise one another for that reason. This seems to me a much more
desirable way of carrying your burden than as you do, who shoulder it
alone. We at least do not dissemble toward one another, but you play
the part of ingénue, not only toward the entire commonalty, but even
toward us who know quite well what to think of your pretension to moral
superiority."

I felt that I should succumb to this struggle. I gave it up. With a
cool bow I parted from him and from that moment avoided all association
with younger or older members of the clergy. Though I was willing to
assume that I had not met the best soldiers of the camp, still the
honor of fighting in their ranks did not entice me. I preferred, after
all, to fight it out alone.

From this moment on my seclusion begins: I felt that Michael was right
- my pretensions were ridiculous, I had nothing by which I could claim
superiority, I was a hypocrite, I played an underhand game as well as
they whom I seemed to look down upon.

And yet - and yet - I felt that I was not understood, that my erring
was different from theirs, and that my piety had a quality lacking in
theirs. And this undestroyable consciousness of a superiority, which I
could not make prevail, of an inner life which I could not find in
anyone and could reveal to none, drove me back into total, absolute
solitude and inner separation from the human world in which I had to
move.

This is an old story that constantly repeats itself. You know it all
too well, do you not, reader? And we are not the only ones to undergo
this process. In thousands and thousands of every generation the new
life attempts to break the old group-ideas. In most of them it is
overcome and subjected to the old. In a very few it breaks loose,
prevails for a moment, and then is annihilated in the tragic
destruction of body and soul by a death of torture, suicide, or
insanity, as an inspiring example for a few, as a disheartening warning
to many. In still others, as in you and me, dear reader, it finds a way
of maintaining itself in the hostile world, protected by a tough hide
of pretext and disguise, as the tiny seed swallowed by the birds
withstands assimilation and, thrown out, finds a way of growth.

Thus for twenty years I have wandered about like a stranger in the
world, apparently wholly subjected and belonging to it, but inwardly
totally estranged, leading an independent life of my own: all this time
inwardly struggling without rest, without peace in a battle apparently
hopeless; until, strengthened and taught by a brief period of bright,
true living, of blithe, vigorous action and nameless, deep sorrow, I
have now entered with wholly different feelings, with trust and
resignation, this last voluntary hermitage, to build with glad delight
and joyous insight upon the mansion of the future.

I told my mother that nothing would probably come of my priesthood. She
listened to it with the passive calmness which had grown customary to
her through continuous practice in forced resignation, but which did
not hide from the subtle observer the undercurrents of very ordinary
human passions and desires. I had gradually come to observe these so
plainly that the lack of self-perception in her grew constantly more
difficult for me to bear without irritation.

This time I saw that she readily abandoned the proud hope of seeing her
son a priest, for the possibility of now achieving the realization of
her favorite marriage scheme. But she intended to show only sorrow and
compassion, and shaking her head, she said:

"So your pride is not overcome, the viper's head not crushed, poor
Vico?"

"I am obedient to that which is most divine in me, mother."

"Your human sense, you mean? Or your human pride?"

"Mother, what other means have we for distinguishing the truth save the
sense that tells us: 'this is true!' exactly as our eye tells us: 'this
is light!' and our skin: 'this is warm!' Would you have me say: 'this
is darkness,' where I see light, or 'this is right,' where I see wrong,
only because you call it right?"

"I cannot argue with you, Vico. Do what seems right to you. I have
learned to be resigned."

"But you desire my happiness, don't you, mother?"

"Ah, dear son, I wish that people would stop seeking for their
happiness. It is all deception and vanity, a bright soap bubble. I have
never known happiness, but have learned to sacrifice all pleasure and
all joy for love of the Saviour."

"Listen a second, mother!" said I, now no longer wholly suppressing my
anger; "if you tell me that there are phantom joys and false happiness
and that we must be careful not to fling ourselves away on these, I'll
admit you are perfectly right. But if you want to make me believe that
the desire for joy and happiness, which was given to all of us, is a
devilish invention that we must not obey - then I call your world a
chaos and your life an offence. The very deepest, all-controlling basis
of our passions is that for happiness and joy, for the true, lasting,
peace-giving happiness, that we sometimes mistakenly seek in idle
pleasures. If God has created us with the intention that we should not
follow the most profound, all-controlling passion he has planted in us,
then God is a foot who has given life to cripples. Profoundly as I have
searched myself, I always find the impulse toward light, toward beauty,
toward happiness - to wish to turn me from it is to wish to destroy me.
Never will I be able to follow another guiding star, for I have none,
nor do I see one in any other person. And to none, to none on earth or
in the heavens, shall I subject myself so slavishly as to deny for him
my true, profoundest nature."

My mother carried her handkerchief to her eyes and shook her head with
a sad shrug of the shoulders, but she did not reply.

Then as a lure I dropped a word, to see whether I understood her
rightly - better than she understood herself.

"Isn't Lucia coming? We were to drive to the Pincio?"

The handkerchief dropped and her eyes sparkled a moment. "Lucia? Of
course she is coming. I did not know that you intended to go with us."

Then I knew that I had guessed right, and it was this that estranged me
from my mother, while I gave in nevertheless to her unconscious desire.

XII

Call Holland a dreamy country because its beauty is as that of a dream.
Sometimes it is black, wildly inhospitable and dispiriting - and
suddenly, in calm, mild weather, the entire country with its trees,
canals, cities and inhabitants sparkles in an indescribable tender
radiance, enhancing everything with a deep mysterious meaning
impossible to explain or describe more fully, and resembling the
peculiar beauty of dreams. One must have seen my little city from the
sea on a still, clear September eve, when the sun goes to bide behind
the bell-tower, flooding the cloudless, luminous blue-green heavens
with orange and gold, when pastures and the shadows of trees merged in
a fairy tinted blue haze unite in wondrous harmony - when the milkers
come home with heavy tread, balancing at their sides the pails of
cobalt blue - when all that sounds is harmonious from the striking of
the clock on the tower to the rattling of a homeward driving cart, and
all that breathes from the coarse Hollanders to the dull cows seems
wrapped in this selfsame peaceful, poetic evening bliss - one must have
seen it thus to understand how much all this resembles the wondrous
illusion of our dreams, when in some inexplicable manner the simplest
object gleams with a glow of heavenly splendor and unspeakable beauty
and for days can fill our memory with the bliss of it.

But the inhabitants of this dreamy little country do not like to be
called dreamy. As I understand the word, it is a compliment better
deserved by my own countrymen; but the Hollanders themselves feel
flattered, though quite erroneously, when I casually remark at the club
that the Italians are a much dreamier people than they. To the
Hollander a dreamer is a blockhead and a dullard, and our broker, a
little fellow with gray beard and little leering cunningly-stupid eyes,
who thinks himself very smart because he knows bow to eke out a profit
everywhere and thus to swell his bank account, always states with much
satisfaction that he never knew what it was to dream. When he sleeps he
sleeps absolutely and is conscious of nothing, thus - of less even than
when he is awake. And the doctor - a fat jovial young fellow of strong
mulatto type and popular for his good-natured cordiality and stale
college jokes - says that all dreams are pathological and the best
medicine for them is a good cigar and a stiff rum punch before retiring.

A Dutch peasant in his blue blouse, on a meadow flooded by the golden
evening sun, amongst the black and white cattle, with a background of
white and pale green dunes in fine undulating outline, is a marvel of
dream beauty. But he himself knows nothing of this, as little or even
less than the cow beside him. And the broker and the doctor only
recognize it when a dreamer such as Rembrandt or Ruysdaal has revealed
it, and the papers record how many thousands of golden gilders their
reverie has yielded. But in my country the humblest peasant lad,
clambering barefooted and singing down the Piedmontese foothills behind
his black goats in the golden evening light, is enough of a dreamer to
have a clear conception of the grand concert of beauty whereof he is a
single tone. In the cities it is of course equally bad everywhere, and
dreamers are as rare among the sleek, smart officers and loungers of
the Toledo in Naples as among the portly, blond-bearded sons of the
merchants and shopkeepers in the Kalverstraat at Amsterdam.

Now it also seems to me that he who dreams is more awake than he who
sleeps, and that he who spends a third part of his life in utter
unconsciousness better deserves to be called a sleepyhead and dullard,
than he for whom the dark nights are also vivid and rich with pulsing
life. To me it has always seemed a shame to lie like a stone for so
many hours, and to arise from sleep no wiser than when we sank into it.
And after having experienced several times in my early youth that sleep
possesses riches of sensations and a wealth of rapture that surpass the
intensest joys of brilliant day, shedding behind them a radiance that
penetrates the brightest daylight as sunshine penetrates an
electrically lighted hall, - I began to pay more attention to my dreams
and, especially in dreary joyless days, to look forward to the nights
in which I had unmistakably felt the shining presence of such great
treasure.

As to the doctors' opinion regarding the morbidness of dreams, I refer
again to my observations on the philistinism prevalent among
physicians, and I know from very positive experience that there are
healthy as well as morbid sensations in sleep, precisely as in the
day-life. I may speak with some authority because in my day-life I
never experienced any serious morbid disorder and no doctor could ever
cast a doubt on the excellence of my health. Yet for me a dreamless
night is a bad night, and I call the man who passes his days in the
following of perverted and inharmonious impulses, in deviations from
the good instincts for refreshment and nourishment, for propagation and
accumulation, for peace and happiness, and his nights in dull
unconsciousness and thoughtlessness, dead as a cork, or at most, a
little mad temporarily from foolish and confused dreams, - such a man
I, with good reason, call sickly and abnormal.

For our highest instinct, that like a stately royal stag, proudly
holding aloft his widely branching antlers, should take the lead of all
the wanton and timid flock of our impulses and passions uniting and
guarding them, is the impulse toward beauty, toward sublimity, and
toward purest blessedness. Even the mighty passion for knowledge, which
impels us so untiringly to seek for the secret of life, is subordinate
to this, though it is the second in rank - the most beautiful hind of
the flock.

And if in our sleep and dreams we perceive, more distinctly than in the
day life, signs of the highest beauty and the purest bliss, - should we
not then give them our closest attention?

And this I would now point out to you, dear reader, as the first new
idea, strange - till now - to the present world, the first
thought-child pulsing with life and future promise, born of the
profound union of my experience and contemplation:

The solution of the secret of our lives lies in our dreams.

You think - do you not? - that this solution is not attainable to man.
Nor indeed is it - at least not to mortal man. And yet all mankind,
through the medium of its naturalists, is patiently and hopefully
seeking it. But, though they have already unearthed much that is
useful, measuring and recording and comparing with ever finer and
sharper instruments, they are still digging in a direction that
inevitably leads into a blind alley.

For the manifestations of day-life, the only ones that attract the
attention of the searchers, do not reach beyond the grave and end with
the withering of the body. But the manifestations of sleep, yet
unexplored and unmeasured, begin where the eyes are shut, the ears do
not hear, the skin does not feel, and extend into the regions
concerning which we want enlightenment as much as - yes, even more than
- concerning the sphere of day.

As long as I can remember, I have always been a great and vivid
dreamer; therefore I know I must count myself among the breakers of
suggestion, among the pathfinders, just as you too, dear reader and
sympathizer, are one of them. And therefore, also, when the ideas of
the group and traditional creed became too narrow for me and neither
the words of my great hero brothers, nor intercourse with my
contemporaries, nor the latest discoveries of science could satisfy me,
I could forthwith see an outlet and discover light on a path which no
one had yet pointed out to me and none, before me, had trod. Thus my
alienation from the world has not made me unruly. Thus alone is it
possible for me to find peace and contentment in this life amid narrow,
sordid souls and barbarians. For aside from my monotonous daily life,
with brief moments of rapture aroused by the beauty of these low lands
and the sea, by work and study, I have the rich nights full of
marvelous mystic realities which I gratefully and attentively observe
and record by day. Thus, despite the loss of all that was dear to me, I
am happy in the consciousness of being a useful laborer in the fields
of the future, ploughing.

"For the promise of a later birth

The wilderness of this Elysian earth."

Before, therefore, speaking to you of my marriage to Lucia del Bono and
the long, outwardly prosperous period following, I must acquaint you
with my nocturnal observations.

The dreams of terror and bliss, that to you too surely are not unknown,
I dreamed with vivid intensity. And it had immediately struck me that
their vehement sensations - the inexplicable, deadly, hopeless terror
and disgust or the wondrous, perfect bliss were quite disproportionate
to, and could not be explained by, the things we saw and experienced in
the dream. I remember a dream of a bare, gray room, without windows or
furniture, and moving about in a corner some indistinct object, whose
terrifying weird impression could make me shudder even by day; another
one of a small, narrow, square courtyard enclosed by high walls
overgrown with ivy, which was also gruesome and appalling beyond
description, - and then again blissful dreams of meetings with a
strange youth or maiden in some unknown garden, or in a rocky valley
with gigantic golden-leaved chestnut trees, whose memory filled me with
sweet delight for days and weeks - yes! that even now in my old age can
make me happy when I vividly recall them.

No one hearing such a dream recounted would be able to comprehend its
impressions of terror or delight. Only this was plain to we - that the
blissful dreams dealt with love. In my earliest youth it was a boy whom
I would meet in my dreams and who by a single word, without much sense,
would make me marvellously happy and the scenery around him glorious;
later it was a girl. The boy and the girl returned several times,
though not very often, and did not resemble any friend or sweetheart of
my day-life.

At first the weird terror seemed much more mysterious, for it was
connected in some unaccountable way with the simplest and most innocent
objects and scenes I dreamed of.

We, indeed, talk of nightmare and usually seek its cause in a poor
digestion and the doctors talk a great deal about improper circulation
and suggest all kinds of remedies. But throughout a long life I have
been a close observer and have come to the conclusion that indigestion
and improper circulation are no more the cause of this nightly terror
than of rain and wind, though a frail condition will make the one as
well as the other harder to endure. Wait, my reader, until you are as
old and experienced a dreamer as I am, and you shall see for yourself
these terror-inspirers and bloodcurdlers, these buffoons and jesters at
work in the shapes in which Breughel and Teniers portrayed them in so
life-like a manner. You shall learn to know their tricks and malicious
inventions, and the queer furnishings of their dwelling sphere. You
shall learn to track them, as it were, - as the dog tracks the game -
by their peculiar scent of gruesomeness. You shall see them unfolding
their loathsome and dark spectacles before you -their battlefields
reeking with blood, their swamps filled with corpses - besmirching your
path with mud, and playing fantastic tricks on you without its causing
you the slightest degree of alarm or fear, or depressing you as it did
before you knew the cause of all these things - because now you
apprehend them in their wretched malignity and dare to face them and,
if need be, duly to chastise them.

These are the creatures that Shelley calls

"The ghastly people of the realm of dreams,"

and of whose miserable existence and restless activity neither he, nor
Goethe, nor any other of the world's sages and seers ever doubted.

Indeed, would not this doubt signify that we are ourselves responsible
for the multitude of horrible, utterly vulgar, heinous and vile or
obscene illusions that menace us at night and yet all bear an
unmistakable imprint of thought and imagination, compiled with reason
and deliberation, and thus betray a thinking mind though a low-thinking
one? Do you not know the dream in which you know yourself to be guilty
of murder, of bloody murder through covetousness, of theft, or of
plotting to kill and inciting the innocent to it -with all the horrid
retinue of fear of discovery and lies upon lies to escape it? And do
you hold your own soul responsible for this? Or do you believe that
chance can beget such artfully contrived complexities?

It was this sort of deception that incited me to indignant defiance.
The war I had to carry on by day against my troublesome passions, also
put me on my guard at night, and I would not absolve myself with the
excuse that sleep renders irresponsible. For I knew that it was I,
myself, I, Lodovico Muralto, an honest, well-meaning fellow, who in the
dream-life of night had done and felt all kinds of malicious wicked and
low-minded things, and I would not have it.

Not only the baseness, but also the absurdities of dreams, exasperated
me. Night after night I was imposed upon and led about by the nose in
the most ridiculous fashion. It often seemed as though my most earnest
resolutions and most sacred feelings were the very ones to draw their
shafts of ridicule. And morning after morning it was not only with
surprise, but also with growing shame and wrath that I discovered on
awakening, how absurdly I had again been fooled. This could not issue
from myself, it must have been thrust on me; it was suggestion,
infusion, that menaced and confounded my mind and judgment, and I was
determined not to endure it. I would not stand it and earnestly sought
a means of defending my healthy soul and free judgment. Thus I may say
that my vehement lifelong struggle for self-purification and advance
toward salvation was doubled, being carried on by night as well as by
day, and indeed to great advantage. For it is the same soul, and they
are the same forces which by night as well as by day act and react upon
one another, and life with the physical senses of day has been made not
a little clearer to me by the nightly senseless life.

I accustomed myself to memorize carefully in the morning what had
occurred to me throughout the night, and in the evening before going to
sleep to form fixed resolutions, auto-suggestions which should continue
working also in my dream life.

And I realized that the first essentials were: observation, attention,
self-consciousness also in dreams. Who would not be cheated must be on
his guard. Thus while dreaming, I wanted above all to realize that I
was dreaming and not to lose the tie of memory connecting me with the
day-life. Every night I stood before the dark cavern of sleep, like
Theseus with Ariadne's thread in his hand, and I knew, as you perhaps
do too, reader, through chance experience - that such retention of
memory is possible. Has it not happened to you often while dreaming
that startled by some dangerous beast, or confronted by a steep
precipice, you have calmed yourself with the vague consciousness: after
all it's nothing but a dream? This consciousness I wished to cultivate
and to strengthen until it should become fixed and lasting. And after a
while, one night while dreaming of a blossoming orchard in Italy, I
succeeded in observing with thorough consciousness. I saw the branches
as they crossed one another, and the festoons of vines stretching from
tree to tree, whilst I soared through, a few yards from the ground,
with a pale blue sky above me. And while observing yet more closely I
pondered how it was possible to reproduce so exactly and minutely in a
vision obviously emanating from myself and which I had myself created,
the apparent motions of these myriad crossing twigs and the confusion
of the young foliage. And in my dream, and realizing that I was
dreaming, I came to the conclusion that this vision must be a reality,
an objective reality as the philosophers of reason would say, because
to me - the observer - it manifested a distinctly personal existence.
As I soared by, the twigs described their apparent motions exactly as I
had observed by day, and how should I, who could not even draw a tree,
be able to create these extraordinarily compiled moving images? And at
the same time, now thoroughly wide awake in the midst of what I
recognized as a deep sound sleep, I pondered upon the visionary
impressions of day-life which have been explained by the effect upon
the wonderfully constructed eye, of infinitely fine, infinitely swift
vibrations of light, which are sent out from objects whose construction
includes a no less complicated combination of billions and trillions of
molecules - and how these identical impressions with exactly the same
results were now attained, as a clearly felt and calmly observed
reality, while my eyes were shut and the world of day-life remote -
thus that there must be something which could reproduce all these
infinite combinations of light vibrations and molecular motions with an
absolutely equivalent effect.

And before having yourself tasted such delight, reader, you cannot
imagine my elation when, on awakening, I found that my attempt had met
with success, that I had gone on observing - attentively observing, and
thinking - thinking deeply and clearly, with full recollection and calm
self-consciousness in that mysterious, senseless sphere of wonder and
deception.

The philistine philosophers will talk of "delusion" and contend that
only the perceptions of day are real and those of sleep a mere
delusion. But I have said it before: there is no delusion, or -
everything is delusion. What realities does the day possess beyond
perception? And because the perceptions of sleep are more fleeting,
more unconnected, more mysterious, does it follow that they do not
exist or that they deserve no attention? Through the very strangeness
of their nature, which has no need of our senses, their study promises
richer revelations than are found in day-life, but what they primarily
demand is steadiness and clearness of the mind that would contemplate
them, with the same purpose and precision with which the realities of
day-life are searched.

My delight at this first success filled me all the day, and the comfort
and joy found in this unexplored domain of study has not forsaken me to
the present day and has helped me to bear a hard life with fortitude.

I now determined, by constant practice, to go further, to observe
longer and with still greater accuracy and also, above all, to try to
what extent I could act voluntarily in this senseless sphere. In my
first elation I hoped that I might sometime reach the point where I
could pass from waking to sleeping without loss of consciousness, and
night after night contemplate the dream-sphere with all the calmness of
day - thus doubling my entire life. Moreover, I hoped to fight the evil
and demonic, to seek the pure and heavenly and perhaps also to dig up
from the unknown world of perception, other precious facts.

Of course my exaggerated expectations met with disappointment. Only
very slowly can we gain ground in a field so wholly unknown. I must
content myself with leaving behind a series of honest and careful
observations which will be repeated and put to test by others. To you,
my reader, if the time be spared me, I will bequeath them in writing
for your perusal, well ordered as a guide for further research. I know
that you can follow the path pointed out by me and penetrate further
than I.

For the present I will only briefly mention that although my
expectations were not fulfilled in the measure hoped for, yet not any
one of them was wholly disappointed.

To retain the clearness of mind night after night throughout the entire
duration of sleep - that I never achieved. The moments of observation
were and ever continued to be of brief duration, and they came at long
intervals. Sometimes there is nothing to observe for weeks; then again
two or three good nights follow in succession. The conditions for
satisfactory observation are: excellent health, perfect equilibrium of
mind and body, and the deep refreshing sleep toward morning, when the
body and the senses are in a state of absolute passiveness and calm.


Nell' ora che comincia, i tristi lai

la rondinella presso la mattina,

-        -        -        -        -        -

e che la mente nostra pellegrina

più dalla, carne e men da' pensier presa,

alle sue vision quasi è divina.


A few times only did I succeed in falling asleep with unbroken
consciousness. This occurred when I was very tired and fell quickly
into a deep sleep. Then all at once I would realize with a wonderful
sensation of joy and relief that the desired sleep had come, and I
thought, enjoyed, observed, determined and acted with calm deliberation
in the glad conviction that my body, whose weariness I no longer felt,
had found its needed refreshment without necessitating a suspension of
the vital activities of my senseless and invisible being. But these
extremely favorable conditions are rare; usually I feel myself gliding
rapidly through the sphere of perception, anxious lest it should pass
before I have made the most of it.

A long series of observations has made clear to me this above all: that
there are various spheres which, on gaining consciousness, one
immediately recognizes by their peculiar atmosphere, impossible more
closely to describe. One knows what depths, what fields of observation
one traverses.

There is a sphere wherein we see again the world of day-life - the
earth we have seen with its landscapes and habitations - all strangely
altered. It is not the same, but we know: this is meant.

Thus over and over again many a night I saw my paternal home in the
city with its old-time luxury - but in its dream image. Moreover Lake
Como and the forest of Gombo, near Pisa, and also England and the North
Sea - but it is always the dream sea, and the dream forest, and the
dream London, differing totally from the realities of day. But they
themselves remain the same and without exception I immediately
recognize them.

Thus there is a sphere of ecstasy and great joy. In this our
consciousness of self is strongest, and it is impossible to give an
idea of the wonderful clearness with which one views and admires
everything, and the undoubted sense of a reality, though wholly unlike
the reality of our waking hours. One sees vast, splendid, more or less
clearly lighted landscapes, fashioned indeed according to earthy
pattern, with mountains, trees, seas and rivers, but more beautiful and
filling us with overwhelming admiration. And one sees them perfectly
distinctly, with sharp intensity and full consciousness.

In this sphere one also possesses a peculiar body with very intense
corporal feeling and definite qualities. One feels one's own eyes
opened wide and sees with them, one feels one's mouth and speaks and
sings at the top of one's voice - wondering meanwhile that the sleeping
body should lie there still as death - one sees one's own hands and
feet and the clothes one wears, resembling the clothes worn by day. It
is all a little different, it is seen fleetingly as through running
water, and it changes also through the influence of pronounced will.
But one recognizes the dream-body exactly as one recognizes the waking
body, when one has again returned to it. And one retains the sense
recollection of both, each independent of the other. One remembers on
awaking that the dream body has been actively stirring, but the waking
body knows that it has been lying calm and still, though not wholly
dead, for an unaccustomed noise would have wakened it. And the
dream-body possesses all the sense perceptions and all the energies of
the waking body and even more, for it can not only see, feel, hear,
taste and smell, but also think very clearly and discern more delicate
subtleties of mood. Yes! this last it does with such unwonted subtlety
and acuteness that one cannot compare it to any sense perception of day
and might with good reason speak of a new sense. And it can soar and
fly. It feels light and free - though the waking body is wrapped in the
deep sleep of weariness, the dream-body in this sphere is always
supple, light and delightful beyond description. This ability to fly is
always the infallible proclaimer of the advent of the joy-sphere. But
this soaring power is not unlimited. The dream-body can safely descend
into the deepest chasm, but it cannot rise to every height. Ascending
requires exertion and often meets with failure despite the greatest
efforts.

The careful observation of the reversion of the one body into the other
on awakening is most remarkable.

One can always wake voluntarily from this joy-sphere. And to me it is
an ever recurring and never waning wonder when the two bodies, each
with its distinct bodily recollection, merge into one another. The
dream-body, let us imagine, assumes an attitude, with arms stretched
out and raised high above the head, and it shouts and sings, but at the
same time it knows the sleeping body, still as death, is lying on its
right side, with arms folded over the breast; this seems impossible,
however, so distinct is the consciousness of speech, of the muscles, of
the open eyes ? and yet there follows a single indescribable moment of
transition and we regain the physical consciousness of the sleeping
body with the memory of having lain silent, immovable, unseeing, in
quite another attitude.

Who once has observed this, as I have hundreds of times observed it, no
longer meets with flat denial the supposition that the decline and
decay of this visible body does not exclude the possibility of
reintegration and of renewed consciousness, will and perception. No
more will he dare to confirm my father's opinion that we possess no
sign or proof of the existence of any part of our being, whether we
call it "soul" or "spectre" or by another name, that can separate
itself from the visible body.

It was this sphere of joy which I always hoped to regain and the
attainment of which made me happy all day. In this sphere I can make
music and sing wonderfully - a talent wherein by day I do not, alas,
excel. In this sphere I can also exert influence on myself and on the
life of day. A strong suggestion uttered by my dream-body acts upon my
waking body and drives away weariness, dejection and some of the slight
disorders that sometimes trouble me.

But what is of greater importance - in the joy-sphere I can pray
without shame or embarrassment. Then I pour out my whole heart - I who
was never a good speaker - in lucid, fervent, flowing language,
thanking, asking, praising.

Auto-suggestion? Yes, surely! Yet of very peculiar kind. For there is
response. Response that has never wholly deceived me. When, in this
wonderful sphere, I pray in transcendent rapture - subtle, silent,
deeply significant signs take place in the wonderful landscape before
my eyes. A soft veil of clouds obscures the light, as a warning of
danger or calamity, - a great glowing brilliance rises behind me or at
my side as an encouraging greeting, - a light layer of clouds gradually
evaporates and a deep, dark, boundless, ravishing azure comes to view,
filling me with unknown comfort. Blue, an incomparably beautiful blue,
is the most characteristic color for this sphere. When I see blue I
know that all is well, that I am going right and safely, that divine
favor and support surround me. Blue is the cosmic color, the color of
sky and ocean, of the vaster universal life, just as green is the
telluric color, the color of the more limited earthly existence.

Very gradually, very slowly, by repeated observation one acquires a
thorough knowledge of all these spheres and impressions. I have tried
to describe this more minutely in other writings. The full meaning can
naturally not be computed solely from my observations. Years of
repeated investigation by following generations are still required. But
an unknown perspective of seeing and knowing opens itself, where before
we could only believe and trust.

If only for the purpose of rightly following the brief history of my
career in life, it will be necessary to know something of this
nocturnal life of observation, for it has greatly influenced my lot. I
record it, undisturbed by the fear that these pages may fall into the
hands of the herd of philistines. For they will look upon it as an idle
phantasy, as curious invention, in the style of some of the wonder
tales by Rudyard Kipling or H. G. Wells, conceived for their amusement.
You, dear reader, and ready sympathizer, will easily recognize the note
of truth. I am anything but phantastic, and am a faithful and devoted
follower of the sober naked truth; but I do not deny her because she
reveals herself by night instead of by day, and to me a revelation
remains a revelation, whether it does or does not come to me through
the senses.

That the dream-spheres adhere to a definite arrangement and situation
as well as the area perceived by day, I consider likely, because they
appear in a fixed order of succession. Once only I was in a most
profound sphere from which I could not voluntarily awaken and in which
I had some very joyous encounters, - creatures resembling men but
without mortal cares and a winged child which, in my dream, I already
compared to Goethe's Euphorion, the child of Faust and Helena. This
sphere lay still deeper - though one must understand the word deep
wholly as a metaphor - than the beautiful joy-sphere with its vast
landscapes.

The joy-sphere, however, is inevitably followed toward waking by the
sphere of the demons with their pranks and spook. This sphere is easily
recognizable. One sees the visionary objects sharply and clearly, but
they have an indescribable yet very distinct spectral character. A
single object, a brush, a horseshoe or anything of the kind may
suddenly come before my eyes and by the horror and ghastliness issuing
from it, I immediately recognize it as an invention of the demons.

A very common pleasantry of this demon pack is to let you awaken
apparently. You imagine it is morning, open your eyes, look around and
recognize your bedroom. When you want to rise, however, you see all at
once that there is something strange, something weird and spectral
about the room - a chair moves by itself, an empty garment stalks
about, the windows, the light - everything is different, unaccustomed,
and all at once you realize that you are not yet awake, that you are
still dreaming and have landed in a world of spectres. The first few
times this occurred to me, I was frightened and nervously made strong
efforts to wake. But after a few experiences of this false awakening it
no longer caused me the slightest alarm. The curious spectre sphere
with its sharp outlines and intense light interested me, and I woke
from it voluntarily as easily and as calmly as from other dream-domains.

This land of demons most dreamers frequent without knowing it, and even
to the present day, when my consciousness and memory are not very
clear, I easily let myself be deceived by it. Then come the mocking
dreams, the vile, offensive, bloody, immoral and obscene dreams.

But when I come from the joy-sphere and thus have clear consciousness
and presence of mind, I see the strange images themselves in action,
while traversing this spectral world. I cannot describe them better
than Teniers and Breughel have portrayed them. This, however, the
artists could not convey to us: that they were constantly changing in
shape and color. And they do this not only of their own accord but also
at my command, and sometimes I amuse myself by letting them grow larger
or smaller, black or blue, and by making them assume curious shapes.
Amid throngs numbering hundreds of them I have moved about, and though
my power over them varies, yet I never feel again the old nameless
dread and when they become too obtrusive I can keep them at a distance
by vigorous words of authority and also by a lash of the whip. This
perhaps sounds strange to you, dear reader, but you must in truth
understand that even in the senseless sphere, thought alone is not
efficacious without a certain plastic expression in shape of a visible,
audible or palpable form. If this spectral company becomes too much for
me I must loudly command them, even shout at them, "begone," and if
that does no good I must wish for a whip - which forthwith appears -
and give them a sound thrashing. And I assure you, and you will
yourself experience it if you test my statements by personal
observation, that one never awakens more refreshed, never does there
follow a happier, serener and freer morning than after such a
successful struggle with the demons. Yet, it was this sort of fighting
that, more than all my efforts by day, has helped me to overcome my low
and vile temptations. Thus, much from the old transmitted tales
regarding evil visitations and struggles with demons has appeared true
to me in the light of new experience.

Here I must warn you against a very strange and important peculiarity
of our dream-body and our dream-nature. In many respects it is superior
to our waking body - in sensitiveness of mood and feeling, in keenness
of vision, in the sense of peace, comfort and happiness, and also in
subtlety of thought. But in one respect it is weaker, namely - in the
control of passion. Once kindled to passion -in grief, in joy, in
rapture, in every soul-stirring emotion - it very speedily grows beyond
control. It then looses itself in countless extravagances, which the
contemplating judgment does not countenance, even deplores, but is
powerless to check or curb. From this I draw the conclusion that we
must learn to regulate and control our passions by day, for though the
senseless life is enriched by everything the day-life conveys to it, it
can only avail itself of well-mastered and disciplined passions.

Therefore abiding in the demon-sphere is never without danger. If, with
a little too much self-confidence, I let myself be induced to assume a
less haughty and reserved manner, if I associated a little more
familiarly with the bold tribe, I soon repented, for I was carried
along by their wantonness and folly, I could no longer subdue the
laughter and extravagances, nor could I, to my own disgrace and sorrow,
restrain myself in my wrath toward them.

And this most especially applies to licentiousness, of which they are
particularly ready to take advantage. They are past masters in
lascivious pranks and practised on my weakness with much success. I
soon noticed that they are sexless and can alternately appear as man or
woman. As long as I clearly realize this I have power over them. But
when the clearness of my consciousness and memory is dimmed they get
the better of me.

Thus you must understand me rightly, dear reader, as regards the
salutary effect resulting from this demon fight. Struggling with demons
is not struggling with passions. Demons are enemies and stand outside
our own individual domain. But passions are our friends, the useful
domestic animals belonging to our own household, to the economy of our
own personal nature. The passions and emotions should be tamed, never
combatted. And this taming is accomplished by day, for at night they
are more difficult to master, and the body invisible to the senses,
that which can remain after the fading and wasting away of our material
body, has no longer the power to tame. It only harvests what is sown by
day.

Yet this nocturnal life of struggle with the demon brood is extremely
stimulating to the soul, above all through the knowledge, the clearer
comprehension, the deeper insight with regard to our own obscure being
and its no less obscure besiegers.

In the better, the higher or deeper dream-spheres impure lust and base
lasciviousness do not occur. Love transports of unknown splendor do,
however. But it is an almost unfailing characteristic of everything
pertaining to the joy-sphere, that it passes over sexual matters with a
curious disregard, and never carries with it any suggestion of that
lust for which we feel shame and humiliation. Yet there are in it
unions and raptures very similar to the love-life of day, though more
beautiful and tranquil. But the peculiar quality that is vile and
leaves behind aversion and disgust, is eliminated with subtle
separation.

XIII

The things I related to you in the preceding chapter are necessary for
the comprehension of my subsequent life. But they are the issues of an
entire lifetime, and in the years previous to my marriage, when I lived
with my mother and her protégée, I was only at the beginning and knew
yet very little of all this. I did not speak of it either, and in all
my later life I mentioned it to only one person.

As my plan of entering the priesthood had come to naught, we were all
three glad to leave the sultry city of Rome. We went to Como, occupying
our villa at the lake. It was an old house with wainscotings of yellow
stucco and a sad air of ruined stateliness, of a splendor that even in
its prime had pretended to more than it really was. It was quite
different than my memory had pictured it. Much humbler, smaller - a
weak and feeble reflection of the solid marble splendor of antique and
renaissance which it affected to imitate. But this very decay now
spread over it an involuntary charm. For the garden with its cypresses,
mimosas, magnolias and roses had grown all the more beautiful in its
neglected wilderness, and we inhabited only a few rooms of the great
still house, making ourselves at home in the nooks and corners as
though we were caretakers instead of owners. And directly in front of
the garden was the lake, with its smooth extent of deep blue, with
satin or moiré sheen according as it was touched by the gentle breeze,
- and behind were the mountains with thousands of primulas, the purple
erica, and the pink and white Christmas rose. The brooklet was still
there - and the old pillared portico, where the stone showed from under
the crumbling stucco and the roses had pushed their way through the
stone paving and entwined the columns.

Into this abode I withdrew, gathering books about me, and by study and
a quiet, temperate life endeavored to attain by myself the consecration
which I could not find in Rome. Lucia with her maid continued to live
with us, and I saw her and my mother at the meals, but aside from that
not often.

They were rigorous, tranquil, secluded years, which may probably be
reckoned among the good years of my life. I quietly went my own way and
studied, following only the guidings of my inner thirst for knowledge.

But the women waited, waited, and I did not see it, or did not heed it.
Bernard Shaw, the Benjamin and the enfant terrible among my brethren,
tries his best to show the world that it is the woman who wins the man
and not the reverse - and surely there is more truth in this than the
common herd suspects. But if one were to believe him, one should
imagine that the woman thereby considers only selfish ends and
primarily cares for, desires and accepts the man, because she finds him
useful to the interest of her deep-seated instincts, of the desired
good and beautiful child. But after all this is not true, and the woman
in her quiet, unnoticed, luring and combining activities does not want
to take only, but to give as well, above all to give, and usually she
values the husband higher than the father.

Lucia was a very gentle woman, yet of firm character. She had the large
firm build and the regular, massive features of Titian's women, but her
eyes were softer, and showed less of that daringly exuberant spirit.

She was also characteristically Latin and un-Germanic in her feelings
and sentiments. Without criticism she subjected herself to the
spiritual teachings of the group to which she belonged. The
conventional was an unalterable mental reality to her, tradition
possessed for her all the power of the living and the sublime. Thus the
conception of "honor" with all its personal and social facets was to
her as fixed, clear, clean-cut and immutable as a diamond. That it
might be variable, that some ages had called honorable what was now
considered dishonorable, and vice versa, on that she never reflected
and she did not seek for the lasting kernel of the changing idea.
Through this she possessed a serenity and peace of mind which, in my
perplexities, often seemed very enviable to me. She had no tendencies
which she despised, but also no ideals which, as I, she must constantly
curtail at life's behest. That a young bachelor like myself sometimes
allowed himself dissipations, was a fact which she passed over with a
light French step. And she bore allusions to it so undisturbed that it
often impressed me painfully. She did not seem to feel the
Englishwoman's need of upholding the illusion of prematrimonial purity
in both husband and wife, and though I recognized that she had a
perfect right to this way of thinking, yet it annoyed me and I
preferred Emmy's ingenuous or assumed blindness.

But I also realized that Lucia's indulgence would be turned into an
equally rigid condemnation as soon as conventional bounds were
overstepped. What a young man did before his marriage had in Latin
countries never yet jeopardized his honor. But her honor as a wife, the
honor of the home, the honor of a family name - these were for her
circumscribed realities, which might be menaced by certain actions, and
which if need be she would sacrifice her life to defend.

She had been reared in luxury, and on reaching her majority had a large
fortune at her disposal. But she never seemed to give it a thought, and
lived in my mother's house with the utmost simplicity. That my mother
cared just as little about it I dare not say, and for me this was
another reason for maintaining my stubborn resistance. It impressed me
most disagreeably to hear my mother forever talking of the
miserableness and worthlessness of the earthly life, and of the
blessedness hereafter as the only thing deserving of our attention, and
at the same time observe how with unconscious motherly matchmaking and
secret strategy she sought to arrange a rich marriage for her son. I
therefore resisted her silent machinations as much as was possible
without endangering the household peace.

It profited me nothing, however. I was bound to lose this game because
I did not have my mind on it. The two women were determined to win it,
not with conscious deliberate intent, but as women want a thing with
all the obstinate strength of their mind, without ever saying a word
about it or admitting it to themselves. And I was absorbed in chemistry
and physics, in physiology and biology, my whole mind was engrossed in
the great endeavor to decipher something of the mysterious writ of the
phenomena of life and Nature, and in some degree to penetrate the dark
recesses of my own nature.

Thus the conflict was unequal - and though it lasted for years I
finally found myself conquered as by surprise. I felt that it was no
longer possible for me to draw back, and moreover that I was alone
responsible. There is no finer diplomacy than the unconscious diplomacy
of women. I had been conquered and withal wholly maintained in the
illusion that I myself was the acting, the attacking and the conquering
party. But all this, mark it well, with the most devoted and unselfish
love.

Actually in love, as with Emmy Tenders, I never was with Lucia del
Bono: and this, despite my amorous nature, her great charm and our many
years' companionship. I admired her for her beauty and for what
everyone must call her stainless character. But she lacked for me just
that certain mysterious, impenetrable something that in Emmy excited me
to so mad a passion. I loved Lucia for the same reason that everyone
must love her, because she really was a very lovable creature. But this
rational sentiment, that to many would seem a more solid basis for a
happy union than most paroxysms of love, never rose to the height of a
passion mightier than all reason. And I believed, as do many sensible
and staid people, and as my mother also believed, that I could make
this well-considered affection suffice for making her happy, and for
giving direction and balance to my own life. I lived in the very common
conceit that I had my own nature entirely in my power and thus, from
out the headquarters of my self-consciousness, could freely dispose of
it, always following the counsels of a reasonable deliberation.

That I should make Lucia happy by marrying her seemed beyond doubt.
That I should ever feel for another woman what I had felt for Emmy, I
could not believe. Then how could I do better than to devote my life to
an excellent woman, to whom I thus accorded what she seemed to desire
and who as my wife would surely never disappoint me? True, to save her
from humiliation, I should have to feign a love which I never expected
to feel. But I no longer faced mankind with the naive brotherly
uprightness, and I saw no wrong in acting such a part with such good
intention. I also considered myself perfectly capable of it, and again
swore to myself an oath - no less sincerely meant and also no less
fragile - that I would be a faithful and exemplary husband to her, and
would at all times make my own happiness subservient to hers.

Now every human person is, according to the primitive meaning of this
word, also a mask, and there is no person living, be he ever so simply
sincere, so wholly uncomplicated, but has wrought for himself such a
mask, has assumed such a rôle, according to his ideals of human worth,
of fitness and breeding. And if he means it honestly, he tries to live
himself into the part so that he can believe himself to be what he
pretends. Thus, following his own or others' form ideals, he moulds and
fashions himself into a personality which will be the more respected
the more pronounced, decided, and unchangeable it manifests itself. But
would he assume a mask, enact a part far removed from his own form
ideals and unattainable to the plasticity of his true nature, he fails
miserably, is called a scoundrel and a knave and is indeed a wretch.

Thus the part I played toward Lucia was not one entirely foreign to my
nature. I simply tried my best to efface the boundaries between, and
merge the emotional degrees of affection and love. This was not
difficult and I honestly hoped that my true nature would some time
really fill the assumed form: that thus I would become for Lucia the
true lover and devoted husband she expected to find in me. I also
related to her the history of my heart and my past, in so far as was
essential to a just estimation; and she accepted it all reverently, as
a pleasing and honoring mark of confidence, and saw no difficulty
whatsoever. She followed the suggestion of her own desire, that
everything would be as she wished it, with the same complacence with
which she had trusted in my mother's wisdom, and she continued to
hearken to the voice of the herd.

The wild, sultry sirocco had suddenly melted the snowy caps of the
mountains to about half their former extent, the mimosas bloomed
profusely, their luxuriant yellow masses standing out vividly against
the deep blue ether, and up on the mountains everywhere beamed the
hepatica with its myriad sweet flower-stare of faint and tender blue -
when Lucia and I were to wed in the white marble cathedral of Como. I
had acceded to her wish that all the ceremonies should be duly
observed. More and more I had learned to divide my life, as the only
means of keeping the peace with mankind and with myself. I realized
that what in brother Michael had seemed to me despicable hypocrisy was
nothing more than the brutal acceptance and shocking confirmation of a
sad necessity, to which every deeply thinking person must submit. Was
not Socrates far too wise a man to believe that if there really existed
a god of medicine, Asklepias by name, he would please this personage by
beheading and burning a cock? Yet he ordered this to be done in
acknowledgment of the speedy effect of the poison that killed him; this
at a moment when a sensible man does not usually jest or act. This poor
cock of Socrates has often come to my mind; also on the day when I left
my books and microscopes, my sprouting seeds and growing salamander
larvae to array myself for the wedding ceremony. Even the very wisest
man is obliged to offer to the gods of his time.

It was a lovely day and a brilliant scene. Lucia's distinguished family
had arrived in full force and glittering pageant. Not only the violet
but the crimson clergy were represented. The street populace of Como
were lined up from the landing place of our boats to the cathedral as
at the arrival of royalty. The street urchins ran before us, and there
was even cheering as though this event signified an additional joy on
earth. The church was fragrant with masses of roses and radiant with -
hundreds of candles, and returning our gondolas formed a long
multi-colored line on the lake, with draperies trailing through the
water, and songs and music, as though we were still in the good days of
the Borgias.

Lucia was serene and beaming with quiet happiness, like a blue hepatica
blossom, a little bashful, but responding archly and merrily, and her
fine clear eyes dimmed by only the slightest suspicion of a tear. She
saw nothing ahead of us but bliss, a welcome happiness, a regular
God-pleasing life. For me it was not hard to sustain my part in this
beautiful scene. It was not so much a rôle or a comedy that I enacted,
as perhaps a lovely dream.

When the sun sank I sat on the terrace meditating and contemplating the
colors of the darkly shimmering well-nigh blackish green foliage of the
magnolias, the snow of the mountains opposite, glittering golden in the
evening light, above it the luminous, pale greenish blue sky, and below
the purplish violet mountain slopes and the soft steel blue lake. The
colors merged and became one with the fragrance of the lemon blossoms
surrounding me, marking this as one of the unforgettable representative
moments, to which we look back repeatedly on our journey of life as the
skipper looks back to a buoy or lighthouse passed.

I thought of my dream-world and compared the sharp brilliant
impressions of the night with those of the day, asking myself when I
was most truly and really myself, and which of the two worlds was the
more real - and why?

XIV

Time is a sphere in the dream-world in which you, dear reader, have
surely been as well as I, but probably without distinguishing it as
such. Without doubt it has happened to you that you dreamt very vividly
of persons who have died. Then you may have observed two peculiarities,
first, that you usually do not remember in your dream that these
persons are dead, and moreover that if you see others with them, or
near them, or shortly after having met them these others are also dead
persons, whose passing away you had forgotten in your dream. Long
before the day of which I told you in the last chapter, I had already
observed the regularity in these visions, and had formed a presumption
from it, concerning the relation of their causes.

A presumption I say - not without value for all that. All that we call
proofs are presumptions of different degrees of certainty. Nietzsche
scornfully says that God is but a presumption. It is so. But it is not
nice of him to fool people for that reason, and to thrust the superman,
whom no one has ever seen and who is even slighter than a presumption,
into their hands as a waggishly contrived idol.

Believe nothing beyond experience, dear reader. But God and Christ are
more experience than the superman, even though they be presumptions.
Your father and your mother, too, are but presumptions, deduced from
experiences, aroused by what their skin and their eyes seem to imply
and to conceal for you.

Thus I presumed that the dead also have their sphere, and that when the
dream-body of living, sleeping man enters there, he cannot grasp the
difference between this sphere and his own and therefore always retains
the illusion that the dead are still alive.

Now I had very often before this dreamed of my father. First that I was
still sailing with him on our last expedition. But this belonged to the
terror-dream of which I spoke before, which at the beginning regularly
repeated itself.

This dream I consider nothing but the painful echo in the deeper chasms
of my soul, of the violent shock that my waking body had sustained.
Beyond this I attach to it no deeper significance.

But then came a dream of wholly different character, in a perceptibly
different sphere, in which I walked with my father while he put his arm
around my shoulders and cried. It seemed to me as though he was trying
his best to show me the marks of tenderness which he knew I was fond of
and of which he was usually so sparing.

I did not remember that he was dead and I walked by his side somewhat
embarrassed, as the child that unexpectedly gets more than it has asked
for. So as also to do something on my part to please him, I caught a
fine butterfly with curious blue arabesques on his wings, and I
pronounced a Latin word to let him see that I knew the species. The
word I no longer remember and moreover it was only dream Latin, that is
to say: nonsense. But my good intention was apparently evident to him,
and pointing to the wondrous design on the wings he said something
about "plasmodic" or some such word, just as nonsensical as my name for
the species. But in the dream there is a wholly different relation
between word and spirit, and one can construe sensible meanings out of
nonsense and also interchange thoughts without words, - and I knew very
well at the time and also on awaking that my father wanted to make me
think about the way in which this butterfly decoration was formed.

Then I woke and it took me a long time to realize fully that my father
was dead. And this realization suddenly struck me like a cold
whirlwind, making me shiver from head to foot.

The first hours after waking I was sure that it was he who had communed
with me, that he felt remorse for his rage at me in the last moments of
his life, and therefore cried and was unusually tender toward me. I
also thought his pointing to the ornamented wings of the butterfly
important and full of meaning, albeit not yet clear to me.

But the impressions of the day are so different from those of the
night, the two are so hostile, that they alternately seek to supplant
one another as absolutely as possible, as though by turns one had been
in the company of a religious devotee and an atheist, of a poet and a
dull philistine, of a spendthrift and a miser. No man so firm in
character but undergoes this influence. And it still regularly befalls
even me, after so many years, that at the end of day I face the night
with its wonders with critical unbelieving expectancy. Even when
falling asleep I cannot realize the coming transition, and only the
next morning I again know how everything was, and am surprised that I
could ever doubt and forget it, just as we see again the face of one we
love and are surprised that the image in our memory could have faded so
completely.

The mightiest and most prodigious fallacy of men in this age, that
cripples their aspirations, and like a deadly frost bends low and kills
the tender blossoms of their young growing wisdom, erecting cruel steep
walls between heart and heart, between group and group - is the fallacy
that in this struggle between belief and unbelief a verdict can be
reached through something that they call Reason and that bears as its
weapon the True Word. But reason rules only in the realm of
imagination, in the realm of word, of language, of scheme and symbol.
In the realm of actual experience Reason is not what we call Reason,
and only the young person and the childish nation, as that of ancient
Athens, confuse reason and see in the "Logos" the actual, and in the
logical the truth, expecting that patient reasoning must indeed lead to
the truth. But did not father Plato himself get nearest the truth where
his logos is most illogical?


XV

It was really she! It was in a long lane bordered on both sides by dark
spruce and beeches decked out in the golden brown tints of autumn. The
sunbeams, distinctly bluish in the fine mist, slantingly penetrated the
dark spruce, and fell in golden radiance upon the pale green moss, and
the blue ether and the brown and green foliage shone in a brilliance of
hue suggesting the brown and blue lustre of the opal. I had already
seen her approaching from a distance, her white bare feet noiselessly
pressing the soft moss. I gazed intently at her face; at the young
fresh complexion; the softly waved lustrous blonde hair with the
little, fine loose hairs standing out around her head, shimmering in
the sunlight like a halo; at the amber tints in the shadows of her
finely modelled ear.

It was she, and she laid her finger on her lips as though I should
listen. But I heard nothing. I saw distinctly how the round spots of
sunlight glided over her face and her hair and the shadows of the
foliage fell upon her breast and shoulders draped in white.

While I gazed at her, wondering what she would say, my thoughts carried
on their subtle play. The subtle play from which they so seldom rest,
night or day. I thought: "How will the life after death be? Shall we
perceive, see, hear, smell, taste, touch then too? Surely the
perception can never be as positive as now - here. As clearly as I now
see these trees and her dear face - now, now while I am alive and awake
- so clearly I cannot perceive after death, without a body and sense."

While I was thinking this, she had come close up to me and I spoke
calmly:

"Is it you, Emmy?"

Then I looked at her, somewhat doubtfully, as though there were
something unusual about her, and she whisperingly replied:

"Not yet entirely."

These strange words did not surprise me. At the moment I understood
very well what she meant to say with them, and I asked:

"Will you stay?"

Then I wanted to fold her in my arms. But I saw her shake her head and,
with the slender fingers on her mouth, again motion as though I should
listen. Then I heard sounds as of a wildly galloping beast, a trampling
of hoofs that resounded hollowly on the wooded path. And all at once I
remembered a heavy responsibility that rested upon me, and I knew that
this trampling gallop was connected with it. It was to fetch me or to
drive away Emmy, to put an end to this great serene happiness. And I
felt a horrible, choking fear rising in me, while the sounds came
nearer and nearer.

But Emmy smiled - a tender gracious smile and said:

"I shall come again."

Then, at the very end of the straight lane, where the alternating
brownish red beeches and blackish green spruce appeared very small, and
the light green mossy path gleamed up and narrowing met the sky, I saw
the galloping beast approaching. It was black, a horse or a bull - I
could not distinguish which - but it came nearer and nearer and my fear
rose to terror. Then all at once, sideways through the row of trees,
the pale face of my father appeared, and he walked toward Emmy as
though to shield her, saying:

"It is too late!"

After this that strange transition took place, which is like a chaotic
mingling of two spheres of life, a rolling together of space and light,
one moment oppressing, then again relieving, as the sensation of the
diver who, turning around under water, loses the consciousness of up
and down until he regains his balance, air and daylight, the transition
from dreaming to waking.

I had dreamt and only now actually woke. And meanwhile, only a moment
ago, I had thought that there could never be such clear and distinct
perceptions in the life without the body and senses, as those which now
after all turned out to belong to the dream - to the life without body
and senses. I was astonished and perplexed as on so many a morning on
waking.

But then came a yet more dazzling, more overwhelming memory - Emmy! I
had seen her as positively as I had ever seen her, her glance still
lived in my eyes, her voice in my ears. It was Emmy - and we had wanted
to clasp each other in our arms, we had tasted each other's love.

I opened my eyes and looked about the world in which I had awakened. I
saw the cold, soulless luxury of a hotel apartment, mirrored wardrobes,
thick red carpets. Out doors, bells were pealing, carts were rattling,
and whips were cracking. Another bed stood next to mine and in it I saw
dark, glossy hair - spread out dishevelled on the white cushion in the
disarray of morning. It was my wife - Lucia.

A violent agitation seized me. My thoughts and feelings were stirred to
commotion like a bee-hive which someone has knocked against. Vainly I
sought to restore harmony and peace in myself by calm reflection.

My strongest feeling was one of guilt, terrible, inexpiable guilt. Much
graver guilt than had ever oppressed me after my youthful errings.
Guilt toward this gentle, dark-haired woman, who lay sleeping by my
side, and whom I had permitted to become my wife. For after all it was
deceit - Emmy still existed. I had seen her and spoken to her, and we
loved each other, as I should never be able to love this other.

Emmy still existed - but where and how?

Then another memory came back to me which made me shiver with nervous
fright. I had not only seen Emmy, but also my father with her. And I
knew what this meant. Might her appearing to me so distinctly this
night be an instance of the oft-propounded correspondence of death and
the manifestation of the spirit?

In my anxiety I got up quietly, dressed and went out.

The air was keen and sparklingly fresh, the smoke from the houses rose
up in straight columns. We were at Lucerne and the winter, which had
already forsaken Italy, was here bidding a last farewell. A thin layer
of snow covered the roofs and the mountains, and the transparent bright
emerald green of the lake, the light brown of the antique wood work on
the bridges, towers and houses, and the soft tender white of the snow
formed a cool and noble harmony.

I roved about in the woods and mountains and only returned toward
afternoon - my spiritual balance restored, but more than ever estranged
from the human world.

I sent a telegram to Emmy's family in London: "Wire address Mrs. Emmy
Truant." And toward night came the reply: "Mrs. Truant died fever Simla
January."

Not this night, but three months ago she had died. I attached no
significance, as so many do, to the fact that the point of time did not
correspond exactly. I knew that it had been she, and the certainty of
her death made me calm. It was as though she was now really mine, and
would ever remain mine.

I showed Lucia the message, thereby explaining my sad and introspective
mood. She willingly forgave me and did not ask me more than I wished to
tell, just as she had always met me with the utmost discretion in my,
to her inexplainable, humors.

But if perchance she had hoped that my heart would now feel itself
free, that my entire love would now be bestowed on her, she was
miserably deceived. The effect was exactly the reverse. I only now
fully realized what I had done, and only now felt it as a great wrong.
I felt that I had a wife, but it was not the one who slept by my side
and who bore my name. A fervent passionate desire went out toward the
being whose fair image I had seen so clearly, whom I had wished to
embrace with unutterable tenderness, and whose voice and whose presence
had procured for me bliss such as the day had never brought me, and the
clear, cold daylight could not dispel. I longed for the night all day
long, - and with bitter certainty I felt that I should never be able to
offer more to the poor woman, whom I had taken into my arms as my wife,
than a friendly mask, an assumed appearance of loyalty and tenderness.

And the feeling of guilt, which in another might perhaps have been
lulled by the news of her death, began to burn on my conscience with
greater intensity than ever. I abused myself as a coward, a weakling,
an adulterer, for something that no man on earth would ever have
imputed to me as guilt.

But even then, while I writhed with pain, I knew that my free judgment
never would have condemned as guilty one who had acted as I, thus -
that remorse and the distressing consciousness of sin are not the
logical and just consequence of a deed realized as bad and pernicious,
but that it is the sad effect of a law, salutary for humanity as a
whole, but often baneful and unjust for the individual, to which we
must submit with love and patience for the sake of the sacred character
of this law and out of respect to the sublime will of its Maker.

XVI

In order actively to carry out a thing in the dream world, I must
resolve upon it betimes and definitely determine upon the plan. During
the actual dream the time is usually too short, the incidents pass too
fleetingly. Sometimes I soar on in swift flight so that everything
rushes by me without my being able to delay the pace. It is usually
after one of these happy dreams with full consciousness, that I plan
out, that very morning before getting up, what I shall do the next time
in my dream. And then, every evening before falling asleep, it is once
more distinctly formulated and stamped upon the memory, so that like a
ready tool it will be at hand during the moments of observation - just
as astronomical instruments during an eclipse of the sun.

Thus I had determined on calling some one in my dream. And the first
one I selected for this purpose was my father.

I had seen him many times in my dreams, but never with full
consciousness, never with the memory that he was dead, never in the
sphere of light and happiness.

I made up my mind to call him night after night, as soon as I should
awaken in the sphere of observation. For it is an awakening just as
much as our awakening in the morning, but the body sleeps on.

And I succeeded. One night I was dreaming in the usual way in the
demon-sphere and they played one, of their familiar dismal pranks. We
were acting a farce, some friends of my youth and I, and the stage was
a cemetery and all the actors had grinning skulls. Then, firmly
regarding one of these acting apparitions, I said: "There is no death,"
as though to resist this obtruding horror. The head grinned mockingly
and, with a sarcastic expression, pointed to all the skulls and bones
round about. But I repeated, now with fixed determination and in a loud
voice: "There is no death!" and behold! the eyes of the being before me
faded, the whole apparition vanished - and I felt it was by my will.
Then I gained full consciousness, the complete remembrance of my
day-life and waking sensibilities, and blithely and thoroughly
conscious I rose into the sphere of knowledge and joy. Then hastily and
animatedly I spoke to myself, and I felt my mouth, my breath, my whole
body, the animæ corpus; and yet I knew that my day body lay sleeping
and silent and did not stir. Hastily I spoke: "I am there! I am there!
What is it that I wanted? I wanted to see my father. Oh yes! my father!
I wanted to see my father!"

Then I saw a sunny, green landscape spread out before me, a little
house, low and small. "He is inside," said I. "Here I shall find him."
I ran through many rooms and did not see him, but I continued my search
from room to room. And when I saw the last room empty too, I made an
additional room. And behold! I saw him sitting there.

This time he looked exactly like my father as I had known him, only
much younger than when he left me. He wore a dark blue suit, top boots
and a felt hat. The expression on his face was mild, and his eyes shone
clear and bright.

"Father!" said I; "Father!" and with a beseeching gesture I walked
toward him. I heard him say: "Good day, Vico mio!" And it was his
voice, even more than it was his face.

Then I gave him my hand and he took it. He tried to press my hand and
it seemed to cost him physical exertion.

I said, "Have you forgiven me?"

It was a warm, glorious sensation; I saw that he tried his best and he
looked at me mildly.

He murmured something, but I could not understand it or I have
forgotten it. Thereupon, with the utmost effort to express myself
clearly and with sincerest fervor, I asked: "Can you give me advice? I
seek for the best. Tell me what I must do, counsel me!"

But he said nothing.

Then an old question arose in me, unexpectedly and without my having
resolved anything about it:

"Father," I said, "what is Christ?"

Then I heard him say:

"Ask the butterfly."

And I understood that he meant the butterfly in the last dream with the
blue decorated wings. I asked:

"Can you tell me nothing?"

Then he shook his head very gently and everything in my dream vanished;
I saw only his head shaking "no" - and with that I awoke. The day was
dawning, and I lay thinking over everything and impressing it on my
memory.

I felt absolutely certain that I had spoken with him.

I went to sleep again and dreamed, as frequently happens after a dream
of this kind, that I related my dream, but without knowing that I was
sleeping.

That morning I was extraordinarily refreshed and happy. And the whole
day the sound of his voice was in my ears, with the words: "Good day,
Vico mio!" And repeatedly I tried to recall the exact tones.

I had this dream some time before the first appearance of Emmy, and had
asked for advice, because at the time I was still in conflict with
myself whether I should take Lucia for my wife.

XVII

"How is it that they wired you so late that your little friend had
died, so many months after?" Lucia asked me, some days after we had
left Lucerne.

"Because I, myself, had only then wired to inquire about her."

Lucia looked at we silently and thoughtfully for a while, and then said
with a kindly unsuspecting earnestness, full of delicate chastity:

"Oh, then I understand. Then she appeared to you in a vision, didn't
she?"

I nodded and Lucia questioned me no further.

She had remained a strict Catholic and had retained much of the lavish
popular superstition of my country. She attached importance to amulets,
to trinkets blessed by the Pope, to the offering of candies to saints.

Regarding dreams she held a creed, elaborated in every detail, the
accuracy of which she continued to maintain, although I never heard
from her a single striking proof. To dream of flowers, of water, of
money, of blood - it all meant something, but it was always equally
vaguely asserted, equally inaccurately observed, and with equally
little foundation accounted proved. For me it was absolutely worthless
and I carefully guarded against contradicting her in these things and
making her a partner of my own experiences.

But it was strange and remarkable that a certain dream to which she
herself attached no significance and whereof her dream-lore made no
mention, always repeated itself in connection with a certain experience
of mine in my night and day life.

Whenever another woman stepped across my path in life, threatening to
endanger the soundness of my union with Lucia, she would dream of a
large, wild horse that frightened her or bore down upon her. Sometimes
it was white, sometimes brown, sometimes black, - there also would be
two or three of them; they menaced and frightened her, but did her no
harm. She always faithfully and unsuspectingly reported to me when she
had again dreamt of horses, without having the least idea that for me
this was a stern and covert warning.

For it never failed, whenever I had fallen into serious temptation -
which, after the peaceful and secluded years at Como, was quite
inevitable on our numerous journeys - she would very soon come to me
with her innocent story that she had again been worried by the
troublesome horses.

And as I know that not only she, but my mother too sometimes, as well
as other women I have known, have been warned in this strange way, I
would advise you, dear reader, to pay attention to this. It may have
been a strange chance and coincidence; it may also be peculiarly proper
to me and the persons associated with me, - but it may also have a more
universal meaning, and no wonder, if we take into consideration the
presumable slight coöperation of the men, that the women have not yet
ascertained this meaning. But we should make reservations before sowing
suspicion between the innocent!

After my first vision of Emmy I lived in a peculiar state of outward
calm and inward happiness. To Lucia I was kind, tender and solicitous,
but I did not feel myself her husband, nor could I approach her as such
without a sense of guilt. At Como the temptations besetting my life as
a youth had vanished. The close application to study, the simple, rural
life, the absence of temptation, the pure, serene atmosphere of the
little domestic circle - all this had given me support and kept me out
of difficulties.

And when I travelled with Lucia the strange fact revealed itself that,
mindful of Emmy's love and her appearance to me, I charged myself with
sin and baseness for what everyone considered just and lawful. The
temptation against which I fought and to which, bitterly ashamed, I
nevertheless repeatedly yielded, now no longer went out from hapless
prostitutes, but from the beautiful and amiable woman whom I had made
my wife. It would all have sounded very queer to other people, but once
for all it was so, my spirit responded to life in its own original way
and would not be forced. It was of no avail that I told myself how
differently the world judged, and I was just as unhappy when I had
yielded to Lucia's charms as when I had succumbed to the intrigues of a
strange woman. But nevertheless one as well as the other occurred, for
the incongruous relations in my heart and life were not ordered and the
wild lusts remained untamed. While all who knew me accounted me lucky
on account of my marriage, I led for many long years a hard and
tortured life. My love and devotion to my wife and children were forced
and strained, and I grieved bitterly that so much beauty and loveliness
did not attract my natural interest. My task was a giant task that
often seemed too mighty for me, and what I attained was nothing
unusual, nothing but what everyone expected as self-understood. I was
called a good husband and father, but no one knew the enormous effort
it cost me, and how far I still fell short, and no one would have
believed me or showed me sympathetic understanding.

When I had succeeded in summoning my father in the night and thus knew
that I possessed this power, the nights in which I penetrated to the
clear dream-sphere became all the more important to me.

And when I had seen Emmy in the common dream-sphere, in the sphere of
the dead, but without being myself clearly conscious, my first thought
that morning was to call her as soon as the sphere of clear perception
should open before me. And with great suspense I awaited such a night,
and morning after morning was disappointed and vexed that this clarity
had not come. For as I said before, sometimes this perception eludes me
for months and the dreams are on the ordinary confused, insignificant
order. Then all at once some inexplainable cause summons forth the
good, happy and clear moments of perception three or four nights in
succession.

But at last, after all, came the blessed night in which my project was
completely realized.

It was after a most tiring and not very pleasant day. A long mountain
excursion in the rain. I dreamed that I walked in the street among a
crowd of people. Beside me walked a little friend of my youth. Suddenly
it shot through my mind like a ray of light that I would call some one,
I would summon Emmy. Hastily I said to my comrade: "I beg your pardon,
but I must look for some one, Emmy Tenders!" I did indeed think
meanwhile that I was giving publicity to something very intimate, but
the matter was too important, I had to say the name. Then I ran through
the crowd searching and calling: "Emmy! Emmy!" Meanwhile, I thought
that I should be heard calling in my sleep, that Lucia would hear me. I
passed by trees and verdure, observing everything sharply and
distinctly. Busily absorbed in my quest I murmured to myself: "Yes! I
see it distinctly - autumn sun on elm leaves - small green apples. I
can remember their position, but I must have Emmy, - Emmy!"

Then I saw a closed door, and I pointed to it with my finger, saying:
She is there! if I open this door I shall see her!

I opened the door and saw - a slaughter house. Pieces of meat, a floor
streaming with blood, men slaughtering, a disgusting stench - horrible!
a demon trick to hinder me.

Profound disappointment. Well-nigh despair. I sobbed convulsively,
calling "Emmy!" Meanwhile, again the thought: "I shall find the marks
of my tears on waking."

I saw a piece of paper and wrote upon it with my finger dipped in
blood: "I was here in my dream"; with a vague hope that this might
serve as proof, one of the half-considered ideas that one sometimes has
in these dreams.

Then, deeply grieved, I felt myself waking up. But I fell asleep again
directly. And then I thought: "I shall go to her country," and I ran
hurriedly as though I knew the way. I considered meanwhile: "How shall
I get there? She is in India. I don't know the way and yet I am going
there."

Then I felt myself soar and I saw a sea foaming beneath me as in the
wake of a big ship, and I saw the gulls flying around above it, preying
upon the refuse.

After that a luxuriantly wooded mountain and on its slope a house. I
hurriedly flew down and went into the house. I heard knocking and
thought: "There she is."

I saw a door on which it said: "Waiting room," and it opened slowly. A
figure emerged from it.

"Can it be she? She does not resemble her. And it so often happens that
people are quite different in dreams. How can that give me assurance?"
I came up closely. She had wound her thick blonde hair in braids around
her head and upon it rested a wreath of myrtle and orange blossoms. I
saw distinctly the small, shiny dark green leaves and the little
reddish twigs - and I smelled the sweet fragrance of the orange
blossoms. I looked at her and they were her eyes - very serious as
though absorbed in her own deep thoughts.

Then I folded her in my arms and I knew positively that it was she and
I called out passionately: "Are you there? How sweet of you that you
came after all!" It was very happy - happier than any moment of my
waking life has ever been.

I woke up, no longer sad, but very serious, and also, for the first
time after such a dream, a trifle tired.

I did not find any marks of tears and I asked Lucia whether she had
heard me cry or speak or making a noise in my sleep.

"No," she said. "You were lying still and tranquilly sleeping, I
believe. I was awake early. I again had such a disquieting dream about
that white horse. It was a splendid creature with a heavy full mane, a
long white tail and red glittering eyes. I stood close beside him and
he would not let me pass. I was frightened to death, but when I kept
quiet he did not harm me."

XVIII

Very few people, you, dear reader, excepted, will find anything
important or curious in these records. The lay philistine will consider
them an idle play of the imagination for his amusement, and speedily
forget them. The philistine scholar will smilingly utter a few words of
authority, whereby he will consider the matter explained and settled.
There is such a one, his book is lying before me, who pretends to have
solved the entire mystery of dreams. Mind it well - the entire mystery.
And then he pronounces a few hollow phrases, which as an "Open, sesame"
should give admission to all the unspeakable wonders of this untrodden
reality, saying: "the dream is a wish fulfilled." Then upon this the
man is contented and glad, considering that he has said something.

I cannot furnish you with positive proof, dear reader, that it was
surely my beloved who appeared to me at night as my betrothed. Some of
the facts could probably be accounted as proof that my nocturnal
observations are not merely creations of my own imagination, but that
they concern a world with which others also are in communion, and which
has a peculiar nature. There was indeed a correspondence between the
words heard and the things seen by me at night and that which, unknown
to me, had occurred in the waking life. But I had no need of these
proofs. The primal feeling of certainty is a feeling that one gains by
experience. The communication of this feeling along the lines of reason
is an illusion that never subsists, nor has subsisted. We communicate
primal certainties to one another along intuitive and suggestive lines,
not by proofs. Though my proofs were clear as crystal and firm as rock,
the obstinate would easily reason them away; while only those who by
repeated and repeated observation have gained complete assurance can
also value the significance of the observations. For what I observed is
like the tiny spark from the rubbed piece of amber, like the
contraction of the muscles of the dead frog that Galvani observed - a
small phenomenon that the unbelieving ridicules, but in which the wise
sees the germ of new, never-guessed-at conceptions and deeds.

From that night when Emmy appeared to me, at my summons, as my bride, I
led for many years a double life, in which the incidents of the day did
not seem more important to me than the observations of the night. A
successful reunion with Emmy in the joy sphere of the dream was to me
the best and most joyous event, that I desired more and remembered with
more grateful satisfaction, than the most fortunate incident of my
daily life. The few solitary moments in the night, recurring only a
limited number of times during the long year, and perhaps lasting but a
few minutes, in force of impression and deep after-effects outweighed
the many days crowded with events, so that now it seems to me as though
the years had flown by and I can measure and define them better by the
visions of the nights than by the events of the day.

Yet my life was not empty, not barren in deeds and experience; but it
was the ordinary life that thousands lead and that has already left so
many wise and sensitive men unsatisfied, because they could not
penetrate the deeper meaning, and saw death and destruction so
unavoidably threatening them at the end of their career.

In accordance with my father's wishes, which my mother sanctioned, I
became a diplomat and lived and worked in different countries, first as
attaché and later as secretary of the legation. Outwardly my life was
as prosperous as could be and all who knew me envied me, without
therefore showing me ill will or seeking to harm me. I had a sweet,
pretty wife who bore me four fair, healthy children, I had money enough
for a life of luxury and plenty, and did my work with apparent devotion
and success. Transferal was the cause of frequent travel, and I saw a
large part of the civilized human world. We lived in sunny Madrid,
fragrant with acacias and carnations, with its subtle dangerous
atmosphere, its elegantly indolent culture, its desolate surroundings;
- in restless Marseilles, full of crime and rabble, where we never felt
safe; - in orderly, methodical, soberly bourgeois Berlin, where they
strive so sagaciously and diligently for culture; - in blithe and
beautiful Paris, where they still live on happily in the illusion that
they are the leaders of civilization; - in the not less self-satisfied
London, immutably grim in its sombreness, hardened in its dangerous
luxury and misery, full of intellectual life, but without much sign of
improvement, like a strong, prosperous, hardened villain; - in wanton
St. Petersburg, with its extremely polished, yet withal ever equally
barbarous luxury; - in vain, amusing Vienna, where all thought of the
possibility of still higher culture has long ago been given up as
insulting; - in the curiously grave and affected Washington, with its
trim green lawns and white buildings of state in confectioner's style,
with its blasé air of aristocratic calm and state in the midst of the
bustling, bourgeois, informal but intensely living American world; -
finally in the little, neat, doll-like Hague, that is so difficult to
consider as real, where the good Hollanders play at Metropolis and
where even the diplomatic world acquires the well-nigh comic aspect of
a very chic and well-cast amateur stage.

I could not have borne this existence calmly, without the stay of my
nocturnal experiences, without the constant preoccupation with the
miracle that again and again befell me, without the remembrance of how
I had last seen and heard Emmy, without the looking forward to her
return, and the considering of what I would do and say and what I
should observe in her the next time.

I did not therefore neglect my daily work; on the contrary, I performed
it with vigor and perseverance solely on that account. But how others
could cheerfully persevere in it I could not understand - unless they
were insignificant persons, wholly governed by the power of formal
religion and conventional patriotism. And I must admit, too, that the
most advanced and independent of my colleagues did not continue their
task without bitter self-derision and a sort of melancholy
epicureanism. Diplomacy may be carried on with fine forms and on a
grand scale, yet it remains nothing but an exceedingly narrow-minded
bickering for the greatest profit, for the largest morsel. Something
remarkable lies in the fact that the diplomat does not fight directly
for his own profit, but identifies himself with the Government he
represents. But what man fights for a really personal profit and not
for a fancied one? Thus the zeal, the enthusiasm, the satisfaction of
the diplomat is usually the same as that of the player moving wooden
figures about on a board, and finding his pleasure in the making and
the disentangling of confusion. But an earnest man asks after all: what
is the good of it all? Wherefore do I work and let so many others work
for me? My body which I keep in condition with so much care shall
wither, the royal house or the Government for which I fight and exert
myself some day shall fall after all; and though I fought not for
myself, nor even for my Government and people, but for a still higher
ideal - humanity - will it not also die some time when the earth shall
dry up and become uninhabitable?

These questions must be answered, for it is not true that it is man's
nature to go on working with courage and zeal without their being
answered. No; if he now still goes on working without an answer, it is
because he does not reflect. But it is truly man's nature to reflect
and thus he is still making his living by denying his nature. This is a
contradiction doomed to disappear. And I witnessed with pity the
endeavors of the so-called religious people, like my good wife Lucia,
to escape the chill wind of the new knowledge by the fostering of a
worn, patched and half-decayed Church system. Her cheerful acquiescence
and placid contentment in the enervated, marrowless shadow of what was
once, for a more childish generation, a solid joy, seemed pathetic to
me. Faithfully she sought her daily share of consecration, edification
and purification, that every human spirit needs as much as the body
needs a bath. But it was a dead, nerveless consecration through sounds
and impressions from which the living thought, the soul, had long
vanished. How could the poetry of the Hebrews and the thoughts of the
Middle Ages still touch her? Only the hollow tones of the declaiming
priests and the outward magnificence of the churchly edifice brought
something like a fleeting shadow of the true sense of the divine. And
in the poetry or music which she could really and wholly feel, in the
art of her age, in the thought and science of her age - the living,
direct expression of God - in these she did not seek, because round
about her no one realized that only in these consecration is found, and
must be sought for.

But for me, that which had been indicated by the meditative of all the
ages, in vague, and for the most part impotent, expression, began to
acquire a new, wonderful character of reality. I had learned to speak,
to hear, to see, to taste, to smell, to touch, to create things and
beings, and to enter into relations with what seemed to me independent
beings, without having the body - that which is positively doomed to
destruction - take part. What generation after generation had repeated
one after the other as empty sound, idle chimera, or suggestion, the
existence of a world beyond the senses, had for me become actual
experience. I knew now that I had another body, beside the ordinary
one, an animæ corpus, with a proper world of perception; and this
knowledge rested upon equally good foundations as every one's knowledge
concerning the existence of his ordinary body. Time and again I faced
the undeniable wonder of another space, perceived by the selfsame I,
from the same centre of observation, as the space by day.

What some sages had presumed and concluded by speculation - that what
we call room and place is nothing but one of the infinitely numerous
ways of perception of our being that neither taken up room nor occupies
space, the ego that is neither here nor there - had become for me an
ordinary fact, the knowledge of which influenced all my thought. That
I, without stirring from my place, could arrive in a totally different
world, in many worlds, all with a proper space, all with the same
evidence of real existence, all full of life, full of sensations, fall
of beauties and transports - this became for me a matter of simple
experience. And no one only knowing it from hearsay can realize how
different and how much more profound is the effect of actual experience.

In this conjunction the eternal error of the human phantasy in wishing
to fly directly toward the perfect and complete revealed itself. All
the defective work of the human imagination errs in wanting to make its
creations too beautiful, in affording a soulless perfection, such as is
manifested in human art by its decay after every period of bloom.

The insensible world is not full of pure loftiness and unmixed
nobility. I do not constantly wander there in Elysian fields, absorbed
in flowing conversations regarding important questions with spectres of
noble stature and dignified bearing. As all reality, the reality of the
beyond is unexpectedly fantastic, full of surprises and full of
disillusions; but on the whole more stimulating and more beautiful than
anything the imagination has pictured regarding it. And this is of
supreme importance in the practice of our daily life - that the
insensible world is in part our own creation, subject to our will,
built up from the conclusions gathered in our day-life, with the
faculties and powers which by practice and use we have in this same
life made our own. To say for this reason that nothing new awaits us
would be equal to the assertion that Beethoven had given nothing new to
the world, because, after all, he only employed combinations of
familiar sounds and tones. I again repeat - nothing in our actual
day-life can equal the ecstasy of even a single awakening in the new
sphere.

And who would now confront me with the assertion that then probably the
dear being that appeared at my summons as my bride and made me
supremely happy in her arms, was also my own creation - to him I can
only reply as he himself would reply to the agnostic philosopher, if
the latter asked him for proofs that the entire world of the senses,
with his wife and children and the whole family included, were anything
else than a product of his imagination.

Does it make much difference whether we give to one and the same thing,
vehemently and intensely felt, the name of fancy or the name of
reality? - and does anyone know a reliable mark of distinction between
the two? Everything is the product of imagination, the sun and the
stars are also works of God's imagination. But there is weak and
strong, enervated and potently creative imagination; and very subtle is
the boundary line between the idle thought image and the created one,
endowed with personal being and reality.

How absurd, in the light of my experience, now seemed to me the common
idea of the so-called believers - as though the earthly life with all
its joys and its misery would break off all at once with death and
suddenly, without transition, change into a bliss the purer, the more
miserable had been the earthly existence.

All that we can expect is directly connected with what we attained
here. Here on earth, imperceptibly and continuously, we weave our
future, not by a right to reward from on high, as compensation for
sorrow and disaster, accounted and awarded irrespective of any action
on our part, but by personal activity, personal ability, personal
achievement of the joy and ecstasy we deem the most desirable.

Therefore the closer knowledge and study of the immaterial reality does
not lead away from the earthly life and coöperation with all striving
humanity, as the fanatics and ascetics in the misconception of their
idle and defective phantasy have believed and taught.

No, the blessedness that we all desire and can attain at will, must
already be sought for here in our mortal life, in this earthly sphere.
For only from the transient can the less transitory be compiled.

I now knew that my immaterial being with the repose or decease of the
waking body, also lost the heaviness and the aches, the melancholy and
dejection proceeding from the mortal, defective nature of this body:
but I also knew that its joys and transports are dependent upon the
happiness obtained by the day body through an active, wise life brought
into harmony with the development of all mankind.

The more beautiful my days, the more crowded with effective labor my
life, the gladder and serener my soul - the loftier also are the
exaltations and transports of my nights, the more glorious the scenes I
behold, the more beneficent the moods and the influences I undergo.

True, often a dream of most sublime splendor comes to brighten a time
of the very deepest dejection; but only when this earthly affliction in
the necessary consequence of the struggle for a higher and more common
happiness, when I am after all inwardly hopeful and know that I am on
the right road.

But, poverty, want, misery, affliction and loneliness are not good
guides toward a better life, and smothered desires not good travelling
companions.

The will for happiness may indeed burn so brightly in some of us that
its flame shoots up all the higher through all the accumulated sorrow;
but the spark of joy must remain visibly glowing, and to keep the
sacred lamp of gladness burning is the primal duty of every human being.

It is true that man has often shown that he could not stand luxury and,
like a child, broke out into folly when abundance came after a long
period of want. But wealth is the only nurturing ground for the bloom
of beauty, whereto in our striving for a higher life, we feel ourselves
called.

Only in the land of abundance can we play the game of beauty which is
our sole destination and which unites our nature to God's nature. And
if we cannot stand abundance we must learn to accustom ourselves to it.

He who created us leads us by the line of joy, another link between Him
and us does not exist. Though the way lead through dismal gloom, the
luring voice of happiness continues to go before us. That is our will
and God's will, disagreement is but misunderstanding.

Forgive me, dear reader, if I join the conclusions to the facts. I know
that among them there are many confirmations of ancient, long-known
truths. But you shall see that the very simplest and most well-known
facts must be repeated to men over and over again, because they lack
the courage and originality to keep their hold on them.

XIX

If so far you have believed and understood me, dear reader, it cannot
fail but you will demand more of me than I can give. You will not
demand further proofs, but revelations: communications from beings of
another sphere, distinct, well-formulated communications concerning the
beyond, concerning the meaning of our life, concerning the soul,
concerning Christ, concerning God. Everyone desires these, not
considering that for a distinct communication two factors are always
required - namely, a good communicator and a good understander; just as
air and fuel are required to start a flame.

I myself, as everyone would have, also sought for revelation, and many
a time instead of calling Emmy I committed the folly of calling for
Christ, or even worse, for God.

In the clear moments of observation of the night one can only
effectually carry through one thing, there is no time for more; and it
would happen that throughout the entire vision I would pray
passionately, not thinking of Emmy, thanking God for his favors and
beseeching him for enlightenment, and in the same way Christ. I could
never do it by day with so much earnestness, conviction and eloquence.
In the daytime I am not eloquent, but bashful and embarrassed, even
when alone. I cannot pray by day for fear of feeling ridiculous, for
gêne. But at night this gêne is gone and I abandon myself to prayer
with a true passion, sometimes - even as all passions in the immaterial
life - going beyond my control. At times my devout passion during
prayer, even at the very moment, seems exaggerated and affected to me,
but I am unable to restrain it.

But now the remarkable fact about it is that I never, absolutely never,
have perceived anything in my visions that at my passionate and ardent
invocation appeared as a divine image, as an angel or as Christ. Human
beings, dead or living, came almost always when at all strongly urged;
Emmy I saw many times in various shapes and circumstances. But at my
invocations and prayers to these higher beings, whose existence man has
always had to conclude from the signs of the world perceptible to the
senses or from inner consciousness, I have never seen anything but what
we call natural beauties - sunlight; blue heavens; flaming evening
skies; radiant horizons, brightening or clouding with promising or
warning significance.

And this where the history of human civilization is replete with
stories of visions of angels, of Mary, and of Christ. We may explain
this as we like, yet it proves that the simple wish, the invocation,
the self-suggestion is not enough to create a visionary image. The
demons of the Middle Ages I have seen, but not their angels, their
Marys, their Jesus, their God the Father, while yet I often longed for
it as a child and prayed for it as a man, until I was old and wise
enough to understand that I had to be glad of their non-appearance,
because the apparition of an old, bearded king as God, of a
white-robed, long-haired man as Jesus, of a winged man as an angel,
would simply have been nothing but fancied images, spectral deception
or impotent human phantasy.

Does not our simplest reason tell us that all life that is more than
human life, all higher beings, whether superman, or Christ, or God, can
have no form perceptible to man with his five senses? Do not all
endeavors of art and imagination to create something above man, remain
limited to a perfected humanity? Has not the sole conception of a
superhuman being always been the impossible one of a man with wings?
Yet we know that there is a higher being, higher life with more exalted
beauties; but clear reflection must also teach us that its form remains
imperceptible and unimaginable as long as our perceptive faculty and
our knowledge have not, in a manner at present quite inconceivable,
increased in a higher sphere, and that therefore all their awarded
shapes, though formed by Dantesque phantasy, must be erroneous.

Sometimes, indeed, I saw worlds and sad beings that, much as they
resembled the familiar and human, seemed to me to belong to a wholly
different sphere. One night I dreamed of the sea, but it changed to
something else, - a park, a landscape peopled with many creatures. I
remember that the ground was moving like ocean waves, but magnificently
blue and speckled with intensely yellow spots. There were also bushes
and a multitude of happy, festive, richly dressed human beings. They
were not demons, that I felt, but a species of men - happy, luxuriously
living men.

Then I remembered that I was on another planet, and though my
consciousness was not yet quite clear, still I began to pay close
attention. Thus I remember that I gazed at the sky and seeing the blue
color immediately drew the conclusion: "so there is oxygen in this
atmosphere too," because it is oxygen that gives the blue color to our
atmosphere. I went on and on and the landscape changed repeatedly. The
inhabitants were extremely sympathetic and kindly disposed toward me.
Of language or words I have no remembrance, but there was a cordial
understanding. Then I saw trees and hills or something resembling them,
and I fell into raptures. "0 my earth!" I cried, "it resembles my
earth!" and I wept with emotion, because it reminded me of my beloved
earth. Then I noticed that everything differed somewhat from earthly
things and yet resembled them. "Just as America resembles Europe and
yet differs from it," I thought in my dream.

Upon this I came into a barren and uninhabited part and I saw a
perspective of mountains, a mountain chain rising out of the sea,
luminous and steep, but so affecting and terrible to behold that it
oppressed me. The perspective stretched out farther and farther - a
dizzy extent, and all the way my eyes travelled along the ridge of
faint-rose-colored rocks. Below me, at the left, was a mighty abyss,
also, a distant mountain prospect. I saw everything with peculiar
sharpness and distinctness. My mind was clear at the time and I was
fully conscious - the terrific depth made me dizzy.

Thereupon I saw two strange beings in the wilderness. Human beings also
- not demons. One was slate-colored like clay, the other brownish red
like baked earth. They were hard at work - and the thought crossed my
mind whether these were perchance the proletarians, who in this land
supported the luxurious people I had just now seen. They were busy with
a fire and I asked them something, about food or wood I believe.
Laughingly they explained: "That is scarce here." Then I pointed back
toward the land where I had left the people living in affluence:

"Yet it is not scarce there." Thereupon they laughed, feigning
indifference, and intimated, how I no longer remember, that they were
not envious of this, that these things were not essential, that it
should be so. I awoke pondering the meaning of this dream, which I did
not comprehend, and even now would not dare to explain entirely.

All that the perception during sleep teaches us, demands exactly as
much scientific thought and comparison, critical analysis and
selection, and building up into fixed, universal and lasting truth, as
do all our waking perceptions. There can be no other true revelation
than that of creative art and of science, established by all and for
all. What would a personal revelation signify, that depended on the
receptivity of a single individual, and could be affirmed in a few
words and, by suggestion, forced upon the unreceptive? Would it not be
as though the Divinity entrusted to the apostle the work of convincing
thousands, where he himself had found only one - the apostle -
susceptible to persuasion? Can such a revelation, spread by inculcation
and pressure, by authority and servility, be anything else than passing
fancy, and fleeting deception?

Therefore the study of the immaterial did not draw me away from the
world of day, but caused me to work in it with all the more zeal and
satisfaction, because I learned to look upon this world as our real
field of labor, where the riches that shall count on a higher plane of
vision are prepared.

Dreams only give us slight hints; the work must be done in this life.

But my dreams also showed me that solitude and seclusion could never
lead to the highest joy and purest bliss. Unspeakably happy as were the
moments of meeting with my dream bride, they were surpassed by those in
which a universal joy, a great and transcendent enthusiasm
simultaneously filling many beings - human happy beings - carried along
myself and my beloved in a wave of radiant festive bliss.

I have had them often, such dreams, and they were the most beautiful of
all. I know not whether they were the proclaimers of future or the
dawning of already existing reality - but I would see spectacles of
countless enthusiastic multitudes, processions of festive people
streaming together and marching in solemn rhythm, with jubilation and
sound of clarion. And we two, my beloved and I, were a part thereof, we
belonged to it; and a feeling of festiveness and of unlimited
confidence toward all possessed us, lifting us up into a bright and
joyous mood, and yet not detracting from our mutual affection, but
transfiguring and strengthening it.

Thereby - as through repeated experience I learned to understand them -
truths were pointed out to me in a peculiar symbolical way. Thus I once
saw in my dream many people building a large house and laying out a
path, and they did it with marvellous alacrity. And there was no one to
command them, to give directions, or point out anything.

The incredible swiftness with which the work advanced was due to the
fact that each one of the builders, down to the very least, knew and
comprehended the entire work and therefore did not need the slightest
direction.

I understood these hints better and better, and more and more clearly
comprehended what hindered man on his upward path - the dawning rays of
pure universal blessedness shone for me ever more brightly from out the
chaos of our confused personal and social life. But all the more
tormentingly I felt my impotence to bring about an effectual reform.

XX

Ah, what could I do, imprisoned as I was in the cage of my honorable
position, my definitely-prescribed sphere of action, my distinguished
connections, my luxurious domestic establishment, my reputation and my
money? The better I saw what society lacked for leading man toward the
highest development, the more I felt myself paralyzed when I wished to
contribute something toward his deliverance.

I felt as does the sailor on board a ship in distress who sees the safe
waters and rescue close at hand - he alone, of all the others - but he
has no authority, he knows that they would not believe him, discipline
prevents him from speaking. Then it is harder for him to do his duty
than for the others who plod on blindly, obedient to their superiors,
without seeing deliverance.

I saw how men suffered misery through gigantic misunderstandings, which
like great clouds of mist enveloped and confused the nations. I saw
them blundering with their tongue and their words as children who have
their first paint box and get as much color smeared over their dresses,
hands and faces as on the paper. And on this mess-work they build their
treaties, with this mess-work they enact laws, and thus messing,
blundering and squandering they prepare their food, their clothing and
their habitation.

From words wrongly understood and wrongly employed arose the bloody
frenzy of revolutions, the grim party-rage, the useless slaughtering
and disputing and the fatal dissipation of thinking and working powers.
In their blind faith in reason and the True Word men destroyed their
own and each other's joy and happiness, not realizing that they all
wanted one and the same thing, for which they employed many different
terms.

I saw how they all acted from the mighty impulse of the herd-instinct,
the group-sense, the sacred gift of Christ, warrant of their power and
safety - but at the same time how they all thought they acted from
personal, independent judgment and reasonable conviction, to their own
miserable confusion and wretchedness.

I saw the grouping into rich and poor, because the wholesome craving
for luxury and abundance is corrupted and weakened through neglect of
the tie of love, so that the individual thinks that he alone can be
luxurious and happy in a world of wretches, and thus no one attains
blessedness. And this once more: - because there are no two people who
with the same word know that they mean the same thing.

And I saw the demagogues taking advantage of our good instincts, of the
craving for luxury, of the group-sense, to start up fatal currents
through the influence of hollow catchwords and ridiculous
over-estimation of self. As though the poor who had known nothing but
poverty and envy would be better proof against luxury than the rich; as
though self-insight and self-restriction were possible without culture;
as though the perfect maturity of every individual, which demands the
very highest organization and efficiency, and which in name is called
the Christian ideal, could be attained all at once, without practice,
without development, without patient discipline.

All this I saw, and what could I do? My sphere of activity bound me to
fixed duties and to my superiors. I worked in a definite
group-confederacy, the political world of diplomats, and to go beyond
this meant immediate expulsion and ostracism.

Well, yes, in the clubs and "circles" people speak more freely. There
one sometimes hears the entire diplomatic service ridiculed with
cynical sarcasm by those of inferior rank, and the superiors listen
smilingly, as though regretting that their higher dignity forbade them
this freedom of speech. In these circles many a sharp word would
sometimes escape me too, in regard to the structure of national
prosperity, still everywhere based upon the want of the weaker, and
also regarding the mighty ones on earth with whom I associated, and who
were yet so often embarrassed and foolish when obliged to say something
concerning the highest human gifts - wisdom, art and beauty. And from
some vague confusion of thought, characteristic of the chaos of their
ideas, I was known there as "the red duke," or sometimes too as "the
Christian diplomat."

But nothing could weaken my conviction that the chaos is busy arranging
itself, at first blindly, with a cruel indifference to suffering,
driven by an inscrutable impulse - but by degrees with clearer
consciousness, more insight, more skill, in proportion as higher wisdom
gradually pairs itself with wider active power.

It was plain to me that if there ever was a time in human history in
which men were awaiting a hero, a Messiah, a redeemer, it is ours. No
opinion is more foolish than the one that in our age there would be no
room for a prophet. But he must not be a moralist preaching repentance,
not a speculative builder of systems, not a man of lamentations and
warnings, but a poet in very deed.

Riper than was the French revolution for the advent of an organizing
and suggestively powerful general and ruler like Napoleon, is our time
for the advent of the wise and high-minded administrator, who will make
use of the group-confederacy, the herd-spirit, so much stronger and
more consolidated to-day than ever before.

I also knew what the qualities and talents of this hero should be. The
time of the great generals is past; the brute power of force is no
longer needed for establishing, only for preserving. The commercial
alliance covers the entire world course, and tolerates war only as a
secondary aid. The honor of the soldier becomes that of the police, the
peace preserver.

But the qualities of the general, the ability for organizing, for
ruling and for the bearing of responsibility, these remain equally
necessary.

The Messiah of our time must be the hero-organizer who brings order
into the confused operations and the half-conscious action of our
society. And as in the time of the generals, it was only the
poet-generals, the great dreamers of a world-realm, such as Alexander,
Cæsar and Napoleon, who shone out through all the ages as heroes and
geniuses, so in our time, it will be the poet organizer, the dreamer of
a world fellowship, who will attain still greater heroism, and much
more lasting honor.

The time of eloquence is also past. The elusive phrases of oratorical
logic only blind young nations, and even America is outgrowing the
authority of the orator who is solely an orator.

But the time of the drama and of music is not past, and he who knows
how to handle these mighty suggestive expedients can turn the course of
humanity. The herd will follow him though he lead them into the
wilderness or the desert. Wagner and Ibsen have proved it.

But some day, and probably soon, it will come to pass that the hero of
the new times, the poet organizer, will join hands with the one
suggestively mighty through music and drama, or perchance that these
rare powers shall be united in one man.

And only then shall the herd be led into green pastures and shall be
satisfied and shall see the day of maturity dawning.

I say it, I, old hermit among the philistines, and my peace rests upon
this knowledge. I had not the gift for ruling, for organizing, for
leading. I was not eloquent. I had not the power of music or drama. I
could not attempt to be this hero, this "Sotèr" of mankind, for I knew
what was required of him. But I knew and still know that he shall be
born with the infallible certainty with which statistics foretell the
number of geniuses and defectives, the number of those above and below
the normal. His birth is approaching, and speedily moreover, as surely
as the birth of a majority of sons after a man-slaughtering war. For
the race has need of him, Christ requires him.

And if I myself cannot be he, still I can be his John the Baptist,
testifying of him, happy and enthusiastic in my solitude, in this
desert of caddishness and provincialism.

XXI

I had been married seventeen years and my youngest child was eight
years old when I returned to this same Holland, where so many strands
of my rope of destiny are fastened. Little had changed in my life.
Order and peace reigned in my family, prosperity in the sphere of my
activities. Lucia seemed wholly satisfied and ruled her household with
quiet devotion. My children were fair and well brought up. I felt my
growing attachment to them and to their mother, as every creature is
attached to the creatures and the things that have long been its daily
companions - an affection from symbiosis, I might call it. Yet with my
inmost being I remained a stranger to them, and my affection for them
retained its forced quality. An ever-growing discontent was gathering
in me. The older I grew, the nearer I saw the time approaching when age
would make me powerless, the more intense became the strain. I felt as
though I should die without really having lived. I did not fear death,
but to be doomed to die without having revealed my true life, this was
a prospect quite unbearable to me.

I lived on, strengthened only by my dream nights, but it seemed as
though they were driving and spurring me on to something more - to an
act, to an outbreak. They became rarer and I encountered greater
difficulties in attaining the light and in seeing Emmy in my dreams.
Often it was but a desperate struggle to force my way through chambers,
garrets, and corridors. I could no longer see the unobstructed blue
sky, I could no longer attain the ecstasy of joy so greatly desired, I
could no longer pray in earnest, the voice of my dream-body grew husky
and weak, sometimes when I called Emmy, it sounded as though I spoke in
the tones of a dying man.

Moreover my temptations became stronger. As soon as the flame of life
burns more dimly, the demons regain their influence and their wanton
tricks are more successful. Lucia's maternal instincts were satisfied,
and her allurement, which had always seemed the same as seduction to
me, lost its power and was most easily evaded. But the old tormenting
life in the big cities began anew, not easier but harder to bear with
the advancing years, for the shame and the self-contempt are greater;
and the contrast between what one appears to be before the world, and
what one knows oneself to be, becomes more painful the older one grows.

And the while I knew that I harbored thoughts and intentions and even
planned deeds for which everyone, and above all, Lucia and my children,
considered me too good, I at the same time felt something like contempt
for their complacence, their content; I felt angry at this careless,
happy household, in this great, imperfect world, full of misery,
ugliness, error and confusion, this open wound from which it behooves
each of us to suffer until it is healed.

The great love that burned in me, the great love for Christ, led me to
what most people would call godless ingratitude. I cursed my prosperity
and only with difficulty bore my apparent wedded happiness. I felt as
does the soldier, who is left behind at the warm, comfortable hearth
while the army to the strains of music marches out to take the field.

The first thing I did in Holland was to buy a little sail yacht. It was
anchored at Amsterdam, as from there I could sail on the Zuiderzee. One
day I had made an engagement with a colleague from the Austrian
legation, a clever, strong, young Hungarian to sail to E------, the
little town, then still unknown to me, where I now write these pages.

In those days I was passing through the gloomiest period of my life, I
was nauseated with all the sweetness around me, the oppressive
semblance of happiness suffocated and palled on me. I saw absolutely no
deliverance, not even an accident that might threaten to change the
course of my life - new abilities I should surely never acquire,
nothing seemed in view that could bring about a change in my unreal
existence. I was indeed willing humbly to submit if I must - but there
was something that incited and disturbed me, as though submission was
the very greatest sin.

Wanton suicide before I was brought to the last extremity filled me
with aversion and disgust. But the perils of my sailing expeditions had
again acquired for me their former attraction, as in the days when I
sailed the North Sea with my father. To die the death of Shelley, my
greatest-bard, is an honor I had desired from boyhood, and I thought:
If after all it must be, then why not now, before I sink still deeper?

The day before our expedition I was deeply depressed. The wind was
blowing strongly, but it was a summer day and my companion thought as
little as I did of postponing our undertaking.

When I fell asleep that night, I knew that I was falling asleep and I
retained perfect consciousness. In wondrous transition I suddenly rose
from the deepest dejection to the light, free, joyous, soaring life of
the dream. "Thank heaven!" I thought; "let the body sleep now, I rest,
and really I am not at all tired now. I can sing and move about, fly
and soar with thorough perceptive enjoyment." Soon after I was out of
doors in a vast wooded landscape under a sunny blue sky. For a long
time the dream world had not been so beautiful. I was enchanted and
grateful and soared upward. I met a bird, and talking aloud to myself
all the time, I said that I not only wanted perceptive enjoyment but a
being to understand me - spiritual and mental communion.

I saw a white bull - the animal which in ordinary dreams most alarmed
me - the most feared dream-animal; but I felt no fear and soared high
above him over a sea; there was no danger.

Then I called my beloved, just as always. But before I myself knew it I
had called not "Emmy," but "Elsie," and this same mistake I repeated,
without noticing my error. From out a dim valley I saw a maiden
approaching, younger and smaller than Emmy, with smooth blonde hair.
But I went to meet her nevertheless as though it were Emmy, and I
walked and talked with her. I talked Dutch, which I had pretty well
mastered by that time.

Then the maiden pointed to a dark, threatening thunder cloud which was
slowly drawing up over the blue sky. This was a symbol of disaster. But
I was proud and happy and not afraid and wanted to fold her in my arms.
But she was gone; the perfect clarity of my thoughts declined, but not
my sense of happiness. The dream then attained a symbolical
significance, as often happens. I saw a long line of human beings in
bondage, like a procession of slaves, and among them many priests. And
I said things that I knew would cost others their life, heresies about
the evil brought about by false religion, and I saw the poor creatures
growing pale with fright and the priests pale with anger, but I soared
out above them, and their hatred was powerless. Then I saw a large
building, a most peculiarly beautiful and impressive temple, with
mighty pillars of gray stone and carpeted with green moss. There none
might enter without permission of the priests. But I soared far out
above them, entering it from above by the windows. And everyone saw me
and was astonished, and there was a sort of silent recognition that I
was the only one that could do this, and the priests tried to deny the
fact and even to seize me. But I laughed at them, and when they wanted
to touch me I paralyzed them with a gesture.

And there was no palsied pride or hatred herein, but a calm
self-consciousness of freedom, personal authority and triumph - a good
and beautiful emotion.

When I awoke I was surprised that I had talked Dutch with Emmy. And I
doubted whether it had indeed been she, although the face was like hers
and I had indeed seen her in such youthful form before.

The following day we sailed with a stiff sou'-wester toward my little
city, which I was then to see for the first time. From time to time
there were rain showers, mist, with a rough and rising sea. My
companion and I had donned our yellow oilskins and we had our hands
full to keep the frail little craft in the right course. The sea was
deserted, the fisherman had taken refuge in the harbors. When we saw
the harbor of E------ before us and the little city veiled in gray
mist, the waves were dashing over the rear of the boat and the little
yacht was sinking her nose deep into the billows. We had to keep up
bailing her busily, and with mute suspense we gazed toward the pier for
which we were directly heading, expecting every minute to see the boat
fill with water or the rigging break. We could distinguish the people
on the stone pier which ran out into the sea. A crowd had gathered and
stood watching us with mute interest, anxious to see whether we should
make the landing safely. I was unusually calm and happy. I would have
drowned with perfect composure, but I knew that this time it was not
yet to be.

The black eyes of the Hungarian sparkled with pleasure and pride when
at last, by dint of skilful man?uvring, with furled sail we ran safely
through the narrow entrance of the port. He shouted in his excited way,
and the sober Hollanders, sent up a little answering cheer.

Then as we glided along past the line of people who stood thronging the
stone quay, amid the stupid indifferent or coolly critical boys' faces
and the faces of the fishermen, rough and weather-beaten as though
carved out of wood, I caught sight of a pair of eyes full of intense
interest and attention, that seemed to light up gladly as with relief,
in a little face still pale from suspense or anxiety. Amid the men
stood a young woman, bareheaded, the wet, blonde hair blowing about her
cheeks. She had thrown a dark gray shawl around her as though she had
run from the house just as she was to watch for us. She looked straight
at me with an expression of concern and gladness.

I nodded to her, as every Italian, seeing a sweet woman manifesting
concern in his danger which has aroused the general attention, would
do. I nodded gaily and waved to her as though to thank her for her
sympathy. She just gave a little smile and nodded back, not blushing,
nor embarrassed or prudish - but grave and confiding as though she had
expected it.

At the exchange of this greeting and these glances I had a curious
sensation. It was as if I had forgotten myself for a moment and did not
recognize myself, and as if everything I saw did not fit in the life of
the day. I thought of my dream and without yet consciously drawing any
inferences or comparisons, I for a moment was entirely gone from the
ordinary waking world and in the land of dreams again.

"Hallo! Muralto - the boat hook!" my Hungarian called out.

With a shock I came back to earth, and it seemed as if I had been off a
great way and as if everything I saw had been familiar to me, as though
I saw it again after a long absence.

Before I came back to my senses sufficiently to hand over the boat
hook, my eyes once more sought those of the young woman. But she had
vanished from the quay. I only just caught sight of the slender figure
in the gray shawl as she crossed the little square of the port. She
hurried along with a glad, light step as though she had come solely for
us and now went home, calm and well satisfied.

"What's the matter? What ails you, Muralto? Do you see anything
particular - or anyone?"

"Did you see the young woman standing on the quay?" I asked.

"No!" said the Hungarian, "I didn't remark her. I knew of course that
there were pretty girls here, but not that you knew them."

"I know no one here. I'm here for the first time," said I curtly,
abstractedly.

We went to the hotel and dried and warmed ourselves and ordered the
dinner. I looked at everything that, despite the rain, was to be seen
of the little town, later so dear to me, - the pretty gables, the
narrow little streets, glistening with water, the sombre elms creaking
and groaning in the storm, the yellow raging sea. I also saw the house,
in which I now live, and thought it a pretty, dignified little
structure with its free-stone gable, and its tall windows.

After that we regaled ourselves with food and drink, and my companion
said that after all I must surely have seen some good acquaintance of
mine, some little friend or other - for I was so quiet, so abstracted
and yet so merry.

That night I slept without dreams of any significance. But sleep itself
had a character of gently elevating joy, and the morning found me
without a semblance of the melancholy that so long had possessed me.

The weather had cleared, the wind gone down, the sky was blue. We
decided to sail back early.

As we were leaving the hotel and stopping a moment in the vestibule,
with the blue and white tiled marble flooring and the brown wooden
ceiling, the young woman, who yesterday had stood upon the quay, came
from the out-building and, running past us, went into the upper
chamber. Again she looked me straight in the eyes and nodded cordially.
I was even more confounded than the day before. But nevertheless I had
time to remark that she was very graceful and that she had fine and
noble features and long, aristocratic hands. Her eyes were bright and
had the clear lustre that I had seen in only one pair of eyes, and an
expression as though, together with me, they knew innumerable,
unutterable secrets.

My Hungarian comrade now again saw my agitation and, moreover, the
cause of it.

"Oh! was it she that you saw yesterday?" he cried out in French when
the girl had passed. "Then I comprehend your dumbfoundedness."

"Do you know her?" I asked.

"Certainly, she is one of the sights of the town. All the strangers
know her."

"Is this her home?"

"Of course! and not to the loss of the hotel-keeper. She's his daughter
or his adopted daughter. But not interesting to me, because notoriously
unapproachable."

"What's her name?"

"Elsie - Elsie van Vianen, or Elsje as they say here."

On our prosperous homeward voyage over the sunny sea I was even more
quiet and even merrier than the night before.

XXII

As soon as I could make myself free for a day I went out sailing again.
I now knew the way and the water and took no one with me this time. At
daybreak I left The Hague and was beyond the locks before eight
o'clock. I had not mentioned my encounter to Lucia, but nevertheless I
felt none of that secret sense of guilt of a married man, who feels
himself charmed by a strange woman.

To-day it was a warm summer's day with a light eastern breeze blowing.
The great yellow sheet of water looked as peaceful and friendly as it
had appeared wild and wicked the time before. The little waves sparkled
in the sun and with sweetly soothing murmurings splashed against the
little boat. The shores with their steeples and windmills lay rosy and
placid round about me in perfect dream splendor. I was six hours on my
way instead of three, as before, and they were hours full of light and
sunny bliss. My little city lay as sweetly pensive in the bright glow
of sunlight as a drifting isle of the blessed. The round, leafy,
blue-gray crowns of the trees with the little belfry peaking out above
them, appeared as if tranquilly floating above the sparkling silvery
sheet of water -


"Du bist Orplid, mein Land!

Das ferne leuchtet -"


I sang. I smiled at the contrast between the meaningless and trivial
life of the people, who presumably lived there, and the wondrous magic
glory it all assumed through the power of my imagination. I meditated
on the land Orplid - the youthful phantasy of Möricke - to which with a
few measured words he was able to lend a deep, mysterious, glowing
splendor, which has filled thousands, like myself, with a yearningly
passionate thrill of beauty, yes, with a real longing. Is not the
dreamed Orplid that for so many shines afar, more real than all the
lands that waking we behold?

When I landed there was hardly anyone on the quay; the fisherman sat
caulking his boat, a few boys were fishing in the dark green waters of
the harbor - everything exactly as I can still see it to-day - my
future dwelling-house already looked at me with familiar friendliness
from out its cool, dark window-eyes; the doves cooed in the softly
rustling elms; it smelled of pitch and tar and of the inevitable Dutch
peat-smoke, which rose from the stove pipes of the fishing smacks lying
in the harbor, where the fishermen's wives were cooking the dinner.

I went straight ahead toward my goal as though I were already a loved
and longingly expected lover, smiling and myself wondering at my
assurance. I went past the little rope shops, where the door-bell
sounded loudly through the empty street when a solitary visitor in
Sunday attire stepped out of the shop, past the barber shop with the
brightly polished brass basins, past the few stately mansions with
ancient stone gables representing "Fortune" or "Love," where the
daughters of the house, from dark side chambers peeped out, from behind
the inevitable Clivia Hower-pot, at the rarely passing stranger, on to
the hotel "de Toelast."

I have, indeed, as I have already with shame confessed to you, been out
a couple of times on gallant adventure, but never with such
point-blank, unabashed directness as on this summer's day in my beloved
little Dutch city. I also felt none, absolutely none, of the shyness,
the conscientious scruples, the nervousness that usually attend the
gallant adventures of a married man. I felt like a schoolboy going to
claim a prize after a successful examination. My heart only beat a
trifle faster with glad expectation - perhaps too with a little fear at
the thought of the type that would present itself before my eyes as the
father.

I asked directly for the hotel keeper. At my first visit he had not
made his appearance. From the out-house, after a long wait, a big lazy
Dutch man came shuffling on in a very slovenly and ill-fitting gray
suit, a black silk cap, a soiled shirt in place of the missing collar
and tie, an open vest full of cigar ashes, a cigar in a paper holder in
his mouth, and worn, flowered, green slippers on his feet. When after
some little conflict with myself I finally looked into his face, I saw
a flushed, full-moon countenance, clean-shaven except for a drooping
moustache under a small crooked nose - and in this face one sleepy eye;
the other had perhaps once been there, but now was lost.

"Are you Mynheer Van Vianen?" I asked in Dutch, which at the time I
still spoke with a pronounced Italian accent.

"No!" said the offensive father, without taking the cigar from his
mouth.

"But you are the hotel-keeper at any rate?" I asked in a disagreeable
state of uncertainty.

"Yes," came the answer just as curtly, as though he wanted to say, "Are
you through soon now? Then we'll go to sleep again."

"But are you not then the father of Juffrouw Van Vianen, who lives in
this house?"

"No!" said the man. "She has no father. She's a foundling."

I could have embraced the unsightly boor. His indelicate communication
seemed to me the happiest compliment and the gladdest tidings that I
could have expected from him. He could not know that his brutal
rudeness, which he in Dutch fashion seemed to take for lusty candor,
something like "I won't be bothered talking around the subject" - that
this rudeness was for me a blessing. The advantage of not being
descended from him he would indeed hardly be able to appreciate. I
breathed more freely; it was one of the loveliest moments of this
lovely day. The word "foundling" was for me like an opening blind in a
dark chamber of boorishness and provincialism, suddenly revealing a
vista of distant, mistily romantic perspectives. To be sure I had
comforted myself with the thought that the race can, at any time and
anywhere, bring forth geniuses through atavism; thus also in the family
of a Dutch provincial hotel-keeper, a womanly genius of noble grace,
charm and distinction; but this was after all much sweeter solace. With
a foundling one could presuppose noble ancestors of any nationality. I
too now found it unnecessary to talk longer around the subject.

"Then would you kindly tell Juffrouw Van Vianen that there is someone
who urgently desires to speak to her?"

The cigar now fell from the gaping mouth and the solitary eye also
opened perceptibly wider like that of a hippopotamus emerging from the
water. I was scrutinized a while.

"Urgently?" he growled, as though such a thing were most improbable and
also improper.

"Yes, urgently."

"Hm!" said the Dutchman. He stuck the paper mouth-piece with the cigar
back into his mouth and shuffled back on his slippers to the out-house,
the while a remarkable stirring seemed to be going on in the brains
underneath the black cap.

A moment later Elsje came. This time she blushed deeply when she saw
me, although there was now really less reason for it than last time.
But I knew it was joy, for I also saw her eyes sparkling.

"Oh, is it you!" she said with restrained surprise. "Did you wish to
speak with me?"

"If it is convenient to you, Juffrouw Van Vianen?"

"Just step into the upper room. Didn't your French friend come with
you?"

"I crossed the sea alone. The other gentleman is a Hungarian, and not a
particular friend of mine either."

"Oh, good!" said Elsje, leaving me in sweet doubts as to what she found
good.

We went into the upper room. I can remember a red table cover, cane
chairs, a crocheted cover over a tea-set, horrible steel engravings on
the walls. Everything lovely and adorable - what would I not give to
see it once more! But "de Toelast" has long since been rebuilt.

I felt somewhat embarrassed, yet not oppressed. I refreshed myself by
gazing quietly into her soft, bright eyes. I could see only the eyes
clearly. Whether the face was pretty or homely I could not judge. It
was too intimate, too beloved, too much a part of me.

"Did I guess rightly that you stood watching on the pier out in the
rain only on our account last Sunday?"

She nodded gravely. "Yes! I was afraid that you would be drowned. It
has indeed happened quite frequently that little yachts were sunk with
that wind blowing. And there was no way of saving them."

"Yes, we came off well. But how did you know that we were coming?"

"Well, I saw the people looking out from the quay and I realized that
there was a boat in peril."

"But would you have done it for any other boat too?"

Then she remained silent and looked at me long. I thought I saw a mist
gathering in her eyes. Her answer sounded timid, as though she dared
not say it or feared to be laughed at.

"I was uneasy all morning. The night before too. I have never felt so
strangely anxious. Only when I saw your face did I become tranquil."

"Then did you know my face? Had you dreamt of me?"

She shook her head. "Not that I know of. But yet I cannot say that your
face is strange to me. I have surely seen it before this." Then as
though to herself she whispered: "Where I do not know."

"You knew the Hungarian, didn't you? He seemed to know you."

Elsie laughed, the short clear laugh that has later so often made me
happy.

"Oh, he! - yes, he has been here before. He surely hadn't much good to
say of me."

"Quite the contrary!" said I. "He paid you a great compliment. He said
that you were unapproachable."

Elsje laughed still louder.

"How conceited these foreigners are. Especially these dark foreigners
who speak French. If you just treat them with ordinary civility they
think they can allow themselves anything. I cannot be careful enough
with these persons."

That was meant for me, I thought. I made a little bow and said:

"I thank you for your warning. I shall try my best not to foster any
illusions and to give you no cause for exercising caution."

She became so embarrassed that I regretted my words.

"Oh, you!" she said with charming emphasis and naive candor: "I really
didn't mean you! - with you I don't have to be careful - I saw that
directly."

"Who knows, Juffrouw Elsie! for I am one of those dark foreigners too,
and my Dutch is not yet quite irreproachable."

"You are no stranger to me," she said again, softly and earnestly.

I believe that we said nothing for a long time then, and gazed at each
other without finding it in the least embarrassing or oppressing.

We both felt as though the responsibility of our situation did not rest
with us, but with One who probably knew best in everything and in whose
keeping we were safe.

At last she got up, saying: "You surely want your room put to rights
again. It has not been used since you were here last and I saved your
bed linen."

"Did you know then that I would come back?"

"I thought you would."

"Did you hope so?"

"Yes!" she said artlessly.

This was so totally different from what other women I had known would
have replied, that it made me feel confused. I had no conception or
experience of woman's love that can dispense with playful dissembling,
and so thought that I was mistaken after all. I began to consider that
I was already quite an old man and she apparently about twenty years
younger. Perhaps I resembled some one she had formerly known; perhaps
she took me for her unknown father or sought in me a substitute for her
unengaging supporter. I prepared myself for all this, firmly determined
not to disappoint her.

"Will you do me the favor of being my guide about the city this
afternoon? It looks like such a pretty and attractive little town to
me."

"I?" she asked with evident pleasure. "I'll be very glad to. But first
you must eat something."

"Will your ... stepfather have no objections?

Elsje smiled surprised and a bit scornfully.

"Who? - Jan Baars? - Why no! that makes no difference to him. He has no
authority over me either."

How thankful these proud words made me. Hastily leaving the room she
said:

"I'll see that you get something to eat quickly. Then while you're
eating I'll get dressed and at three o'clock I'll go out with you."

And I remained behind, blithe as an angel and full of expectancy as a
child on his birthday.

When we went out she had dressed, and it was astonishing to see with
what simple means she achieved an appearance of tasteful distinction. A
round straw hat, a white standing collar, a well-tailored light gray
suit, a lavender silk tie - and she was a lady among the boorish and
bourgeois women of her town. For on the point of dress the artistic
Hollanders, as soon as they discard their quaint old national costume,
are probably the most tasteless people in the world, and of these the
women of a North Dutch provincial town are probably even the very worst
dressed.

As we walked along the hot quiet streets we saw the residents peeping
at us through their wire window screens with amazed, well-nigh angry
glances.

"Do you see how we are being stared at?" said Elsje. "That will give
them something to talk about for a whole week again."

"And don't you mind that, Juffrouw Elsje?"

"Why, no!" said Elsje, with a pretty expression of power and personal
dignity: "I have taught them that I do exactly what I myself think
right. Now there isn't one left who dares accost me about it. It does
them no good, anyway. And what they say to each other I do not hear,
nor am I anxious to find out."

We went to the museum. It was silent, cool and deserted there. The
door-keeper sat nodding in his corner. Amid the relics of that old,
stout, merry people that, a few centuries ago, strove to surround their
earthly life with beauty and comfort here, amid the prints and
paintings of the graceful, gorgeous, flag-bedecked vessels; the
portraits of magistrates, charmingly elegant and autocratic, the
muskets and cuirasses and lances, the medals and placards, the rare
bibelots and the fine porcelain from the East and West brought together
in this little sailor's hamlet, we spent a few hours of profound
intimate happiness.

Elsje knew very little, but she was quick to understand, and she
listened to my explanations with such eager desire for learning, with
such rapt attention, with such unlimited faith in my knowledge, that it
made me feel confused and I begged her not to take me for an oracle -
for though I had indeed read much and seen a good deal of the world,
yet I was by no means a scholar such as is demanded in our days.

"Ah! I live in such a small narrow circle here. To me you are the
great, vast world," said Elsje with a charming deference.

When the daylight faded and it grew cooler, we wandered out through the
old, dark gateway up across the thickly wooded dike into the open green
fields, where we watched the sun setting in flame-colored majesty. We
walked to what is now my nursery, and I drew her attention to the
marvellous flight of the gulls soaring motionless against the wind, to
the colors of the sea and of the heavens, to the brightly-sparkling
Venus glittering greenish white against the rose-colored background of
the sky, and I told her all I knew.

Then I came back to our conversation of the morning.

"Have you often such forebodings as when I was approaching in peril on
the sea?"

"Yes, always when something important is going to happen to me, good or
bad, I know it before. It never fails."

"This time it was good, though, I hope?

"Yes, good," she said, smiling sweetly, "but alarming nevertheless. You
must not sail so recklessly again. Boats like your little yacht should
be in the harbor with such a wind blowing. Even all the fishing smacks
were in and they can stand quite a bit more rough weather."

"I was calm and assured. I knew that I would see you. I had dreamt of
you, of your face and of your name."

"Really?" said Elsje, looking straight at me with her frank, innocent
eyes.

Before this look my heart melted with tenderness. I felt a desire to
kneel down before her and cover her hands with tears and kisses. But I
controlled myself, for I reflected that I was an Italian and that it
was a Dutch girl I had to deal with, and I did not want to risk my
fragile happiness by foolish extravagances. And there was a subtle
relish in this sobriety and this respectful self-control. But I wanted
to be honest too - my happiness must rest on a firm foundation of
uprightness - I wanted to make my position clear.

"Yes, really, Elsje; and yet I had never heard of you, and no one had
spoken of you to me. And now, tell me, had you never heard of me
either? Do you know anything about me? Do you know my name?"

"I saw your name in the hotel register. Otherwise I knew nothing of you
until I saw you."

"Really not? Also not ?"

"What?"

"That I am married and have a good wife and four children?" I burst
out, almost roughly in my brave effort to spare myself nothing and to
risk the worst.

Elsje without starting gazed at me long, attentively and thoughtfully.
What I distinctly discerned in her glance was a questioning doubt and a
tender compassion.

"A good wife and four children," she repeated softly, pensively. "I
thought that you were probably married. But you are not happy after
all, I know it."

"No, I am not happy, Elsje, that is true. Or rather - was not until
to-day."

She asked nothing more after that, as though she thought that I would
probably myself tell her what I deemed necessary for her to know. But I
knew enough, and I also saw that she knew enough and we spoke no more
about ourselves that day. We felt as one does in dreams - one
understands and communicates without words.

I slept very little that night. With me also, well balanced in mind as
I am, sleep grows more elusive with the advancing years. But it is not
care, but happiness, that drives it away. I lay all night silent and
happy in a bright cloud of joy, thinking of her who now lay peacefully
breathing under the same roof. Then toward morning I had a short dream,
which by its dark terror gave me a measure for the brightness of my
joy. I dreamt that I was back in my office at The Hague and, coming
home, I found a letter containing my transference to Japan. My sailing
excursions, my little city, Elsje - it had all been a dream and I was
again deep in my old, gloomy life, worldly and yet estranged from the
world. My anguish was terrible, I cried and sobbed desperately and woke
up in that way, my face and my pillow now really wet with tears. And
then - the relief, the transition, the glorious realization of the
reality of my newly-found happiness, my dawning memory of yesterday's
beautiful day, of Elsje's winsome ways and the frank, fervent look in
her eyes, her ready sympathy and tender compassion. Only then I really
comprehended what had been given me. I was no longer a stranger in the
world - life, the sacred human life had won me back. I would not die
after all without having been entirely human.

At my solitary breakfast in the upper room, into which the sun was
shining, Elsje, amid the pressure of her domestic duties, stopped a
moment to greet me. I said that I had no time to sail back, but would
go home by train, leaving the yacht anchored in the harbor, to call for
it the following Sunday.

"That is well considered," said Elsje, with a roguish little laugh of
comprehension.

And at my departure I saw my peaceful, friendly little city, with its
venerable old church steeple, stretched out calm and sunny in matinal
activity. In front of the ugly, bare little station I turned, and
stretching out my hands I blessed the little city with all my heart,
murmuring in my glowing, passionate mother tongue:


"Benedetto sia 'l giorno e 'l mese e 'l anno

E la stagione e 'l tempo e 'l ora e 'l punto

E 'l bel paese e 'l loco ov' io fu giunto

Da duo begli occhi, che legato m' hanno."

XXIII

"Dear Lucia, will you hear me a moment? I have something to tell you
and would like to have it off my mind before we go to bed."

We had just come home from a court banquet and in our gala dress stood
looking over the letters which had arrived that night. Lucia looked up
interestedly.

"Come to my room with me then," she said, and then regarding me: "It is
surely something good, isn't it? I haven't seen you in such good
spirits for a long time."

I followed her silently. When we were seated quietly I realized what a
vast abyss yawned between our two worlds and what a foolish undertaking
was the endeavor to bridge it. I spoke slowly -

"Yes, it is something good, something very good. But I don't know
whether I shall succeed in convincing you of that."

Lucia harkened attentively, and again and again I paused a moment, so
as to proceed with careful precision in my endeavors to bring about an
understanding.

"So you have noticed that I am in better spirits now, or rather that I
am happier than I was. It is so and it proves to you that something
good has happened. I was not happy because there was something lacking
in my life, something that I can with difficulty explain to you. And
now I have found it, and it opens up for me a glorious prospect of
peace and rest, of the highest content that any human being can expect.
A vast sea, a calm ocean of peace and joy.?"

Lucia waited and listened intently.

"Let me begin by saying that I am profoundly grateful to you for your
faithful love, your care for me, for our children, our home. And also
this - that my affection from the day of our marriage until to-day has
never weakened, but constantly grown deeper. Will you believe me when I
tell you this?"

Lucia nodded mutely. But I saw the shadow passing over her pretty,
placid countenance and the frown contracting the white, still youthful
brow.

"If you have ever loved me and believed in me, I now call upon this
love and this faith. Does not love signify to desire the happiness of
the loved one and faith to believe that he himself can best know and
judge of this happiness??"

"Well?" said Lucia. "Where are you leading to?"

"Would it be possible for you to believe that it detracts nothing from
a great affection, nothing, nothing, to have a still greater love
complement it? Yes, that the power of a very great love even
strengthens and unites in us all other affections. Can you feel
something of the truth of:

'True love in this differs from gold and clay

That to divide is not to take away.'"

Lucia bowed her head and stared fixedly at her hands, which she clasped
together convulsively. The frown was deeper and a bitter expression
settled around her pretty mouth. Then she whispered hoarsely:

"Who is it?"

Now once and for all I saw the hopelessness of my endeavor. But I went
on.

"First contemplate generalities, Lucia, and from those judge the
particular. Do you know the truth which I indicated? Do you disagree
with any one of the general facts that I cited?"

But she followed the train of her thoughts:

"Is it Countess Thorn?"

This was a well-known, mundane beauty who, it was said, had come to
live at The Hague on my account.

"What motive have you, Lucia, for being anxious to know the person that
gives me so much happiness? You care for me, don't you? What feelings
should one cherish toward some one who makes a beloved person happy and
does him good beyond measure?"

Lucia laughed, a short, scornful laugh of contempt. She glanced at me
swiftly and furtively.

"Come, Vico, make an end now with these miserable sophisms. I always
thought that you were better than other men. But I knew that this was
hanging over my head just as it threatens every woman. That you
disappoint me so now, you, that is terrible enough. But don't make it
worse by foolish self-deception of this sort and by childish nonsense,
as though I ought to be thankful to her who has destroyed my domestic
happiness. That only makes you sink still deeper in my esteem."

Only then I really felt the absolute impossibility of what I had
attempted. But I did not regret it and I resolved resolutely to
persist. It was essential to the clearing of my life from falsehood at
which I had so hopefully begun. I did not answer directly, and she went
on.

"I appreciate it, Vico, that you immediately speak to me about it. That
is what I expected of you as a gentleman. But then do speak openly and
loyally too, without these wretched sophistries. Tell me what I have a
right to know. Tell me who it is. Let me know what I have to hope and
to fear. Tell me ? how bad it is. Say it as directly as possible, so
that I may know whether it is but a passing infatuation or ... worse.
That I may know what awaits us - we ... and our children."

At these last words her voice began to tremble and the tears came.

Falteringly, in my anxiety to be well understood, I continued:

"It is wholly unlike a passing infatuation. If you call the reverse of
this 'bad,' then it is as bad as you can possibly imagine, or worse ?"

"0 Lord!" Lucia sobbed into her handkerchief. "Who is it then? Who? ?
Do I know her?

"No! You don't know her at all."

"Not?" she pronounced this with great astonishment. "Does she live at
The Hague? Have you known her long? Is she a person of rank?"

"She does not live at The Hague, Lucia, but in a little provincial town
of Holland. I have known her only a very short time. Her rank is
housekeeper in a hotel - thus no rank."

Lucia looked up, surprise and relief on her tearful countenance.

"0 Vico! is it that? But then ?" She paused, reflected, shook her head.
And then again: "How is it possible? ? What unhappy creatures men are!
Is she young and pretty?" . . .

Drily and coolly I answered:

"I could say neither one nor the other exactly. I don't believe that
you would think her pretty, but I do think she is quite young."

"Haven't I been a good wife to you, then, Vico? Wherein did I fall
short?"

"In nothing, dear Lucia; you have been a good and excellent wife to me.
I appreciate it, and am grateful for it. I tried also to be a good
husband to you."

"That you have been too, Vico. Until now I have had nothing to reproach
you for. And we were just so happy. Vittoria was to make her début this
winter. Guido is entirely well again. Oh! that this should never fail
to happen! How alike all men are in that respect."

"Forgive me, Lucia, I realize that you have much to forgive. But I was
not happy. I feigned happiness for your sake."

"And what was it you missed? Was I not enough for you? Must a man then
have always fresh excitement? Am I growing too old?"

"No, dear Lucia, it is nothing of all that. It isn't that by any means.
But I see no possibility of making you understand it. I was spiritually
unhappy and often longed for death. I wanted something that you could
not give me."

"Poor man, but why didn't you speak sooner? Why didn't you warn me?"

"Because it would have been useless."

"Why? Tell me what you missed. Let me try to give you what you long
for. I will do what I can for you. What is it? What has this ? other
that I should not be able to give? Can I not prevent you from sinking
so deeply? Can I not save you from this sin? It is only two weeks you
say that you have known her - can it be that in so short a time you
should be so irretrievably lost? Let me help you."

Deeply pathetic was the expression of eager helplessness with which she
gazed at me beseechingly. And deeper my hopelessness of making her
understand what had happened.

"I not only have known her but a very short time, Lucia, but have even
only spoken to her twice, and never touched her - except her hand. And
yet ?"

"What!" said Lucia, with vehement and happy amazement. "Is it nothing
more? A spirit friendship?"

"A spirit love, I would rather say."

"With a hotel maid? I believe you, Vico; you do not lie. I know you as
a man of honor. Men have such phantasies. And ? and ?" with whispered
emphasis and wide, searching eyes: "will it remain so?"

"No, Lucia, I don't want to deceive you. It certainly will not remain
so."

Then she rose and walked about the room in violent emotion.

"Oh, but my God, Vico, what possesses you? You are contemplating the
greatest wrong, the deepest offence to me, the disgrace of your family,
the eternal ruin of your soul - you can easily turn back, nothing yet
is lost, and you don't want to! You don't want to! Is this woman a
witch then? An enchantress? Oh, now I know that you have no religion!
Now I see what it is to have no religion."

I did not answer, and in my mind I compared the two spirit-worlds that
here confronted one another, weighing the one against the other. And
there is none who reads this and has read the preceding chapter, not
even you, dear reader of original mind, but shall waver on this subtle
boundary line. And yet in his heart he shall have to choose and range
himself on one side or the other. For we human beings may proudly raise
ourselves above good and evil, saying that no sin may be accounted as
guilt to our frail short-sighted nature - the choice, the terrible
irrevocable choice, with every irrevocable second, is not spared us,
and must be made.

My choice was made. I no longer wavered, but I pondered on the awful
power that forces us to choose where we can yet distinguish so poorly,
that relentlessly pushes us on into the dense fog with its dimly
gleaming lights.

Lucia however interpreted my silence as irresolution, and with the
exertion of all her powers she attempted a desperate attack upon my
heart. She threw herself down on her knees before me, sobbing and
crying and kissing my hands. She begged and implored me to have pity,
if not with her then at least with the children and with myself.

Then I said:

"Dear Lucia, no more than you have the power to change day into night
for me or night into day, no more can you make me call the light that I
see darkness or deter me from following it. I can only leave you this
choice: do you wish me to deceive you, or would you have me be upright?
In the latter case you must control yourself, for the more I see you
suffer, the stronger grows the temptation not to be upright toward you."

It was even more the tone in which I uttered them than perhaps my words
that made her realize that she had nothing more to hope for.

She got up and dried her tears. Then recovering herself, she said:

"I see, Vico, that a Satanic charm has been cast upon you. Of course I
desire your uprightness. I shall endeavor to bear everything and to
make the best of it and I shall pray for you."

"Thank you, Lucia," said I, rising.

But she came and stood in front of me.

"Yes, but . . . what now?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, not entering sufficiently into her
thought-life.

"You now put me into a position which I have known only from hearsay
and never thought myself to experience. Thousands of women live in this
position, that I know. But you will surely have so much consideration
for me, that you will spare me as much as possible. That after all I
may duly claim from you."

"Of course, Lucia, I shall spare you as much as possible."

"I do not ask it for myself, but for our children. You will respect my
good name, won't you? You won't bring public disgrace upon us? You
won't drag the honor of our family, the name of our children into the
streets?"

The intuitive tactics of a woman are like those of a shrewd and careful
general, who saves his best troops until the battle seems almost lost.
I felt that now she had declared herself ready to yield in the main
point, I could refuse her no concession.

"What do you demand of me, Lucia?"

"That all this remains a secret between us. That you avoid all public
scandal. That before the world our household remains as it was."

I could not suppress a slightly disdainful smile.

"So you would withhold my uprightness, which for yourself you so
greatly desire, from the world?"

"Oh, Vico, you will promise me that. You do care for us, don't you?"

"Of course I do."

"And you are sensible of your obligations toward your family. Even the
most corrupt man is sensible of those."

"I too am sensible of them, Lucia."

"And you do recognize that you have wronged me."

"That I have, Lucia - not now, but before this."

"But then you surely want to make some amends, to somewhat mitigate the
blow - when it's so easy to do it. See I shall leave you absolutely
free. I shall not question you, not pry, not even make an allusion. But
do you then spare our family too. That is all I ask. Spare our children
this disgrace."

I was not prepared, and it is not easy when taking a critical step in
life to go just far enough and with neither half-heartedness nor
exaggeration. Therefore my answer was weak.

"Very well, dear friend," said I. "I shall as far as possible take
account of your desires."

Then we wished each other a good night, well knowing that we had
pronounced an idle wish.

XXIV

It was not a strict and definite promise I had given. But still it was
a yielding from tender-heartedness that I deplore, though without
self-reproach. He who chooses the high, unbeaten tracks should have
overcome all tender-heartedness that leads to half measures. What is
counted as virtue in the faithful member of the herd, is vice in the
seceder. But I knew, how immediately beyond the safe confederacy of the
group, skulked the wolf of fanaticism. I knew how difficult it is to
keep one's balance upon the steep, lonely paths of originality, how
easily the pathfinder, overwhelmed by the giddy sense of unbounded
freedom, falls down into gulfs of fanaticism, hysteria, bigotry and
madness.

Who shall always know how to find the exact medium between bold
consistency and reckless extravagance?

The tendency toward self-sacrifice is an instinct, like all others,
beautiful and useful when it remains in harmony with all our other
instincts, and helps along in the common battle for Christ, who has
given them to us. But this instinct can be perverted and run wild into
asceticism and a passion for self-mortification, as hunger into
gluttony and thirst into drunkenness.

I knew that heroic consistency must lead me to unite myself openly with
the being who had re-awakened in me the highest, holiest and most
blessed emotions - and this meant declaring an open feud against
society. For without doubt I should have the whole world against me, my
own children included. I should lose my position, be expelled from my
circle. I should have to brave poverty too. My mother was still living
and I myself had nothing save the high salary which I would lose. And
to live on Lucia or my mother remained absolutely beyond consideration.

I did not fear all this so much for itself, as for the danger of
fanatic self-torture I saw in it. For above all, in the arbitrary
breaking of the bonds between myself and my children there lay a
refined torture, and I also knew that Lucia's suffering would not let
me rest a day, no matter how firm my conviction might be that I had
done right. I should feel remorse just as well then as I should if I
did not do what I deemed right. Two consciences would always be at war
in me, whether I turned to the right or to the left.

And then - what would my conflict with the world signify, powerless as
I was? Should I convince anyone by my action that it is right to break
a mock union, to clear an untrue life, to assert our true sentiments
and feelings, to pursue the things eternal and the pure blessedness,
and to remain true to Christ in the face of the world?

It would merely be said: "There's another fallen into the bog," and I
should disappear like a stone in the mire.

I do not want to excuse; I only want to explain. To make it clear how
it was possible that I, after this first vigorous wrench at my fetters,
nevertheless for many years still led an irresolute double life,
apparently the same happy pater-familias and prosperous man of the
world, hiding my real, true life in the little seaport town and
restricting it to the hours that I spent together with her, who had
awakened it and who kept it alive.

When I went to get my boat and was starting the night before for
E------, my son Guido, a sport-loving youngster of fourteen, asked
whether he might accompany me. In my sense of guiltlessness I would
perhaps have raised no objection, but his mother immediately
interposed, with quick intuition guessing at the object of my journey
and by a clever pretence thwarted his plan.

Elsje was awaiting me at the station and we had a long conversation, in
which I for the first time experienced what a blessing it is to be able
to give oneself freely, to show oneself as one likes best to be, to
hold back nothing for fear of being misunderstood, even though one
expresses oneself as always, with but the same limited means, toward a
human being having the same limited comprehensive faculty as all men.
For here was the infinite love with its magic interpretive power, that
completes the defective, and from a few faltering phrases is able to
erect a lofty structure of sympathy and understanding, because the
beautiful plan in both speaker and listener has from the very beginning
been designed by a higher wisdom, and no intellectual material is made
use of and applied but must be in harmony with this fixed plan.

"I have spoken about us at home, Elsje."

"With whom?"

"With her whom the world calls my wife, the mother of my children."

"What is her name?"

"Lucia."

After I had spoken this, I have nevertheless quite frequently forgotten
myself and spoken of "my wife." But Elsje never, not a single time.

"What did you say about me?"

"May I tell you quite frankly, Elsje? And will you tell me just as
frankly whether what I said was right?"

"Yes," said Elsje, shyly and softly.

"I said that I had met a woman of whom, at first sight and after two
brief encounters, I could say that she would give me the great love
which was still wanting in my life. Was that rightly said, Elsje?"

"Yes," I heard a whisper beside me. Arm in arm we wandered through the
dark lonely streets of the little town which was going to rest. The
confidential pressure of her arm in mine was a never experienced joy.

"It was not quite understood, Elsje. It was taken for self-delusion and
the entire case treated as a common gallant adventure. That's not
surprising and it will appear that way to everyone. We must resign
ourselves to that."

"Of course!" said Elsje.

"But I had a difficult half hour, for Lucia begged me not to see you
again."

"Poor Lucia - does she care for you very much?"

"Certainly - and I told her that nothing was taken away from my
affection for her. But she wouldn't hear of that -"

"Of course!" said Elsje again. "I shouldn't accept that either. Why
should she?"

"Look, look," thought I smilingly; "even the rivals among women yet
ever conspire together."

"I thought it might be a consolation. But I seem to be mistaken in
that. I remained firm, though I told her that nothing would hold me
back from Elsje."

"Oh, if I am only worthy of it! If only I am worthy of it!"

"That is fear of responsibility, Elsje. That we both have. But it is a
weakness."

"And did Lucia yield?"

"She first asked whether it could remain a spirit friendship. I refused
to promise that." Elsie remained silent.

"Do you think that was right, Elsie?"

She nodded.

"Then she yielded, but on one condition."

"What?"

"That before the world I would remain her husband. That everything
would be secret."

"Oh!" cried Elsie vehemently with anger and surprise. "Then she never
really cared for you either. Never!" And then indignantly: "You didn't
promise that though, did you?"

There I stood, poor sinner, and hadn't a word to say. And I felt while
seeking to defend myself that by nature a man always remains a sophist.

"Dear Elsie! remember that this consideration for a proud woman like
Lucia is of much greater import than the sacrifice for us. Consider how
much I have grieved her. Consider how few women would so nobly forgive
this to their husbands. Consider that after all the past makes it my
duty to care for her and my children. Disgrace is a very dreadful thing
for them, something much more dreadful than you can probably
comprehend."

"I consider just that a disgrace," said Elsie, illogically, but to the
point, "to want to keep up a lie before the world."

"Consider then, Elsie, what it would mean for me. I should not see my
children again. They would not want to recognize me. I should bring a
terrible sorrow upon them, and I am very fond of them."

"Would none of them try to understand it, to forgive it?" asked Elsie.

"Not one of them, I fear. Even were it only on account of their mother,
whom they adore. And remember that, beside my children, I should also
lose my position. My wife ? I mean Lucia is wealthy, but I am not ?"

"Would your health suffer if you were poorer?" asked Elsie, with naive
directness and perfect sobriety, though the question almost sounded
ironical to me. In a very impolitic fashion I had again reserved my
weakest argument for the last.

"Not that! Not that! ? but perhaps I am too much spoilt ? I should have
the whole world against me ? and I don't know if all that ?"

I felt that I was going wrong, thus I would end by myself casting a
doubt upon the self-sacrificing power of my love. Elsie helped me out
of it.

"May I now speak quite frankly with you too? Yes? Then listen! I am so
dazed, so overwhelmed by the greatness of that which I receive from
you, so suddenly and so bewilderingly, that you must not expect me at
once to judge rightly. It seems ridiculous to me that I should not be
satisfied with the least that you would offer me, now that I am getting
so infinitely much more than I ever could have hoped for or expected.
Though I never saw you again after this night, yet I should be
eternally grateful to you. But forgive me if in your difficulty I judge
too much according to my own feelings. Your grief for your children -
that I can comprehend. But all the rest I don't understand; it is
strange to me, contrary to my nature. Of the world and of the money I
should not think - I don't know these things and have not experienced
their power. I only know that I should like to be with you always and
should like to confess it openly before all the world. And if I were in
Lucia's place, and really cared for you, I wouldn't want for one moment
to bind you, cost what it would to me. I shouldn't be able to bear it,
that you lived beside me and were looked upon as my husband and
secretly cared for another, I should think that much more terrible than
all the sorrows of a divorce."

"Lucia would never agree to a divorce. That is a matter of religion
with her. A Catholic marriage is indissoluble."

"And are you, yourself, also a Catholic, devoutly Catholic?"

"Lucia says that I have no religion whatever."

Elsje looked at me anxiously.

"Is that so? And I had just hoped to learn so much from you concerning
that. It occupies me all day long. Even now I have a hundred questions
ready, for you. I had put all my trust in you."

"In what faith were you brought up, Elsie?

"Brought up? I wasn't brought up. I must make another confession to you?"

I saw that she hesitated and was troubled. I began to fear some
unpleasant secret or other.

"Speak without fear, Elsie. It is safe with me. Trust me."

"That I would like to, but see, I know you are a distinguished man of
noble birth."

"That signifies nothing, Elsje - I am not so proud of that."

I was joking, but she understood me.

"No, you are not proud, but still you have assurance. That I have not.
Do you know how I got my name?"

"Well?"

"They called me Van Vianen, became I was found near Vianen. I have no
parents."

She said this deeply humiliated and ashamed. And in my heart I laughed,
because now after all she too showed herself apprehensive of the voice
of the herd, and because she felt as a disgrace, the very thing that,
as an aureole of romance, had delighted me.

"Oh, is it only that!" I cried; "that I already knew. All week I have
thought of the poor, dear little one as crying, it was laid down upon
the grass by a desperate mother. Likely it was a royal child, Elsje!"

Elsie laughed, reassured and happy.

"They let me become a Mennonite. Not Jan Baars, but his sister who took
me into her home as a child."

"Ah! Mennonite!" said I. I hadn't the slightest idea what theological,
ethical and ritual peculiarities were attached to this creed. I only
knew that it must be one of the innumerable variations or sects of
Protestantism.

"To be sure it's a good custom of the Mennonites that they don't
baptize you as a child, when you don't yet know whether you would
rather be a Roman Catholic or an Israelite, but later, when you are
confirmed and can yourself choose. But look! when I was eighteen I knew
just as little what to choose. And now I don't know yet."

"And still you let yourself be baptized?"

"Why yes, there was surely no wrong in that. But if they would have you
choose well they would first have to let you serve an apprenticeship
with the Romans, then another with the Protestants, then another with
the Jews and then with the Mohammedans?"

"Not to mention the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Shintoists," said I.

"So that you would need seven lives before you could let yourself be
baptized, isn't it so? And yet it is so necessary, so very, very
necessary that you choose the right thing, isn't it? I never can
understand how all people just live on carelessly, and all believing
something different, and never consider that they might perhaps be
wrong, and how terrible that would be. They simply assume, and only
feign assurance, and you never hear them talk of it, so they probably
do not break their hearts about it. And if you were to believe them,
then everyone who thinks differently than they is a miserable wretch.
But they all think differently, and so one or the other must be wrong,
and yet they are all equally certain and assured. How is that possible
now? Why it's absurd!"

I thought it was already a great deal for Elsie, in her solitude, to
have arrived at the realization of this absurdity. Then I threw out my
sounding-line -

"What do you think of Christ, Elsie?"

"I love best to read of Jesus; I think it wonderful to read -
especially toward Christmas time - how he came on earth as a little
child, and about the star and the shepherds. When I think of Jesus, I
always think of him as a little child with Mary his Mother. I should
like to have a picture or an image of them, but that's considered
Catholic. Do you know more of Jesus and can you tell me all about him?"

"I asked about Christ, Elsie."

"Isn't that the same?"

"They are all only names from which we can choose. I prefer to say
Christ, because I don't believe that there lived a man called Jesus who
was Christ. But I do positively know that there is something that all
men call Christ, and that lives and knows and loves us. And this Christ
they already knew long before Jesus is said to have lived. I have seen
images of the Mother with the child exactly like the one you would like
to have, and it was thousands of years older than Jesus and made by the
Egyptians, and instead of Mary and the Christ Child they spoke of Isis
and the Horus Child, and the Chinese too made such images."

"And what do they mean by it?"

"Ordinary people mean a holy mother with a holy child, a saviour. But
the few wiser ones probably mean the earth mother and the child
humanity. I at least presume it, and when men now speak of Christ, then
I believe, Elsje, that the most and the best, those who really mean
something by the word, something real that they have felt - that they
mean something that is equivalent to humanity."

"Humanity? that means nothing to me. Jesus for me is a living, beloved
and loving being, who helps and supports me, an exalted, holy being.
Humanity - that is nothing to me, an empty word."

"Right, Elsje, I readily believe it. But empty words can be filled with
knowledge. There are learned professors to whom the word Jesus or
Christ is entirely hollow or empty. But the word humanity implies for
them a real and well-known thing, the entire human race which in its
development and growth, in its expression and forms of life they have
studied minutely. These professors again would be able to fill the word
Christ with the exalted and tender feelings which it arouses in Elsje,
if they had learned to feel like Elsje. And now it is my personal
opinion with which, so far as I know, I stand quite alone in the world,
that Elsje and the professors, were they to compare one another's
observations, would come to realize that it is precisely the same real
being that fills the word Christ and the word Humanity: the religious
word Christ and the biological, scientific word Humanity."

"But humanity - that is not a being, not a personality ? that is a lot
of people. People that I don't know. How can I care about them and how
can they care about me?"

"A tree, Elsje, is a lot of roots, branches and leaves. Yet we call it
a tree. A swarm of bees are a lot of bees, and yet one swarm. You
cannot discern humanity because you cannot see all people at the same
time, and not how they are connected. But I don't believe either that
one leaf can see the whole tree or one bee the whole swarm.

"But humanity is yet a great deal more than all men together, just as
the tree is more than all the leaves. And humanity is after all
perceived by Elsje in her own heart - all humanity. That is thus much
more even than the professors can discern of it, and why should it not
be a personal, thinking, loving being? It is that, I think, that Elsje
means when she speaks of her exalted Jesus, and it is that I prefer to
call Christ, because I like that name best."

"I am such a stupid, ignorant creature, and you are so learned. Forgive
me if I still find it somewhat too difficult."

"Of course, dear Elsje, you find it difficult, because you do not know
what the professors have observed concerning man and the human race.
But really, the professors would find what I said equally difficult and
incomprehensible, because they don't know - at least most of them do
not - what Elsje has observed concerning Christ. Only they would not be
as modest as you are; they would not recognize that it is their
ignorance. And I am no professor and no Elsje, but I stand sort of
between the two and know something of the observations of both, and I
know quite positively and see quite plainly that they both mean the
same thing and that they require each other's knowledge."

"So you do know my Jesus, my Christ too, thank God!"

"Yes, though perhaps not as well as Elsje, yet better than the
professors. And I believe that it was this Christ who brought me to
Elsje so that I should learn to know him better, - and perhaps should
better testify of him. And through him too I gained courage and
steadfastness to remain true to Elsje, and not to give up, though the
whole world stand against me."

Here the woman found good opportunity for bringing the man from his
world of speculation back to practical life.

"But does not Jesus, or Christ, want you to do it openly, before all
the world?"

"I don't know ? I don't know, Elsje. His promptings and suggestions as
they proceed clearly from out the original fount are by no means always
equally positive and distinct. But I assure you - I would swear it to
you, had I not vowed once for all never to swear again - that I shall
stop at nothing and spare nothing as soon as his light shall shine
clearly and unmistakably for me."

"We Mennonites may never swear either," said Elsje, with pretty pride
in her creed, confessed with so little conviction.

"That is good, that is indeed one of the best things the Bible Jesus is
said to have taught. Therefore it is surely followed least of all. I
not only swear no more - I even dare not promise you anything, for I
know myself too little to foretell my future actions."

"You do not promise to be true to me?" asked Elsje with mild
disappointment.

"I do better, I assure you of profound love. So profound that I do
surely believe it will be true. But what would my faithfulness be to
you if love grew weaker? It would become a lie, a feint, wouldn't it?"

"I shall be thankful for all that I get," said Elsje, "and never ask
for more than you wish to give me."

I had to laugh when I thought what my acquaintances from the diplomatic
world - friends I do not call them, I never had a friend among them -
what they would say of a gallant adventure with so much theology at the
third meeting.

But you, dear reader, will probably long have comprehended that I draw
from the same reservoir, what others keep separated in water and
air-tight compartments, and that theology, science, poetry and love to
me are not only brothers and sisters, but often merely names and masks
for one and the same inward reality. So that you will no doubt allow me
to tell yet a few more things that in my amorous theologizing with
Elsje, I learned and taught.

You will also probably understand without my remarking it that I did
not speak in quite as fluent and succinct Dutch as I have here written
down. But I could make myself understood just as well as if it had been
thus spoken, because Love served as our interpreter.

XXV

I will not yet decide whether it was prudent discreation or rather,
fearful and narrow-minded timidity, that deterred me from the great
resolve of abandoning my family and my sphere of activity, to alone
remain true to Elsje. It was for many years a hard and fearful
struggle. It was indeed the hardest period of my life, albeit not the
darkest. The gloom and dejection this most feared evil, marked by the
relaxing of the highest vital spirits, dread warning of the powers that
guide and rule us - this evil had vanished. I struggled and suffered,
but was no longer miserable and wretched. Only I did not see my way
clearly and vainly sought for help and guidance.

The wicked charms and temptations also were dispelled. I desired one
woman - without faltering, without shame. I knew what my desire
signified, and all my soul pronounced it right. To be sure the demons
still carried on their nocturnal sport, but I minded them no more than
barking terriers, and the wild passions were now tamed because the hand
of the master had grown firm and he knew what he wanted.

My dreams attained their former sublime splendor, and for the first
time in my life I had some one to whom I could confide them. I still
saw Emmy in my dreams occasionally, but not so often, and it will
surprise no one to hear that it did not excite Elsje's jealousy, and
that she begged me to tell her of her. Elsje also asked me whether I
would call herself once more. And I did it and saw her, and Elsje hoped
devoutly that she would be in some way sensible of it.

But greatly as I should have desired it, and much more impressive and
more convincing as it would have been for her and for you, dear reader,
the truth is that she never noticed anything of it, or rather, to be
exact, that she never remembered anything about it.

I for my part did not require such evidence. I have obtained stronger
evidence through strangers, who let me know without my ever having told
them anything about my dreams, that my summons had been heard - but all
this belongs to the science of the supernatural, which awaits more
general investigation and for which, dear reader, I refer you to some
of my other writings.

I now lived separated from Lucia, although before the world our
relations remained the same. And a most remarkable and peculiar fact is
that Lucia assured me that her dreams were much more tranquil, since I
no longer shared her room. The wild horses that lately had troubled her
in her dreams more than ever, now stayed away. I consider this
remarkable, because it seems to show how corporal proximity also
affects supernatural influences.

One thing I had fully resolved on, and this was - that I would never
abandon Elsje for good. And as often befalls the man in doubting
attitude, I expected relief from destiny. Should fate threaten to tear
her from me, then I would offer resistance and stay with her, no matter
what the price. Should that which everyone in the diplomatic service
may expect, befall me - sudden transference to another country - I
would then deem the moment arrived to free myself entirely and for
good. I know this attitude too was a weakness, but who does not see
clearly must remain weak, and it is of no avail that he feign strength
and act as though he were quite capable of distinguishing. And with our
human tendency to argue that our own conduct is right, I consoled
myself with the consideration that my children were still too young and
still too much in need of my guidance.

Often too I prayed in my dreams, imploring counsel and enlightenment.
But my experience is that sign or counsel is never accorded us before
we ourselves have decided or acted, or before the approaching event has
already been determined without our help and knowledge. We are never
helped in a choice, though we are comforted and encouraged after we
have chosen to the best of our knowledge. Many times this seemed cruel
and unreasonable to me, but I am inclined to believe in the beneficent
and salutary significance of it.

The secrecy toward the world, so much desired by Lucia, soon however
assumed an altogether different, unfavorable and undesirable aspect. My
frequent trips to E------, though explained by my passion for sailing,
could not fail to arouse comment, especially as I usually went alone
and also declined the company of my son Guido, no matter how often he
asked. And E------ is a favorite port for sailing yachts, ten or twelve
of them sometimes landing there at the same time on fine summer days.
Thus my acquaintances from The Hague, the men in the first place, very
soon knew what attracted me to the little seaport. This by no means
aroused any great agitation or indignation in Hague circles, as
everyone acquainted with these and similar circles will readily
understand.

I was looked upon as a very moral and honorable man, simply because I
did not mix up in scandal and never spoke of things of that kind,
whether they concerned myself or others. It now caused many a one
satisfaction that the halo of chastity which, despite a total absence
of display or moralizing toward others, yet by its mutely reproaching
presence is ever in painful evidence, - that this unpleasantly spotless
reputation was now fittingly and modestly obscured. I was almost
congratulated upon it. No one thought of judging hardly of such a thing
or of pitying Lucia on that account. She, herself, heard nothing of
these rumors and lived in the illusion that everything retained its
former aspect. I believe I was praised - behind my back, of course, not
to my face - because I had had the decency to seek my diversion so far
from the vicinity, and not, as more shameless ones, in The Hague or
Amsterdam. As long as I did not arouse publicity or scandal, I could do
what I wished; these were my private affairs. And Lucia and the
gentlemen of my set seemed to agree in this - that it was worse to
bring publicity upon a woman than to deceive her. The herd only resents
any assault upon the unity of the group - for the rest it permits
everything.

For me this was a twofold torture. Instead of one deceit I was now
practising two. I was honoring a mock union and I was permitting a true
union to be suspected and profaned. I felt myself locked in an
intolerable fashion between two falsehoods. What as a tender secret I
had wished to hide from the world to spare Lucia, the world had soon
discovered. And yet it spared Lucia and myself, at the cost of this
same tender secret, which it looked upon as an infamy: an infamy of the
kind from which I had just felt with pride that I had freed myself. It
was all equally unbearable to me, the friendly, sarcastic generosity of
the world that spared me and acted as though forgiving me a sin, where
I felt virtue beyond its comprehension; and the condemnation of Elsje,
to which I was now most painfully sensitive, though it went out from
this same unintelligent herd.

As often as I saw Elsje again, I read in her look of anxious suspense
the question whether I had now at last taken the great resolve. But
only her dear eyes asked, and her pale little face, her lips remained
shut. She did not question me about my family either. She waited until
I should speak. We spoke of our love and of everything that was nearest
our hearts, of the difficulties of life, why we had to toil and
struggle so and bear affliction, of the great world full of men and
what would grow from it, of my dreams, of the best and most beautiful
that we could experience and of the way we could conquer the
difficulties and attain the purest blessedness. And we spoke a great
deal of Christ, groping and seeking in the dawning truths, trying to
help and to understand each other. And at every parting I felt again
that something had remained unspoken, whereof she would yet have heard
so gladly. And never did I leave her without a sense of the blessing
that I had her, and without a heavy heart because I must let her wait
and suffer.

For she suffered, she suffered as only pure, tender womanly natures
made for love can suffer. And by degrees I could not hide from myself
that she suffered more than she could bear. The power of endurance of a
pure, delicate soul like hers is infinite as long as in the kernel of
her being, in her love life, she is satisfied and contented. But the
sorrow that touches the kernel consumes her both body and soul.

Remorse is a bad thing, a weakness, a morbid symptom. I permit no
remorse in myself, for I know that it harms and weakens the best that
is in us. But against the self-reproach which is the punishment for
these years of wavering, I struggle in vain. It is always there, like a
dark demon, silently awaiting its favorable opportunity in the third or
fourth hour of the night, when sleep evades me - then it sits upon my
breast and questions and awaits my answer: - why I let her mutely ask
and ask so long and wait for an answer, till the bright eyes sank
deeper into their darker growing hollows, and the red blood had gone
from the fresh cheeks, and the delicate nose became so thin, and the
soft lips so colorless?

And in my luxurious home everything continued as of old: the children
healthy and happy: Lucia the housewife correct and diligent as ever,
not unfriendly toward me, without sign of spiritual suffering, amiable
and hearty.

Pardon an old man, dear reader, if he spares himself and does not
expatiate on these anxious years. He is not a friend of tears and does
not like to give in to melancholy.

One night the end of the struggle was at last proclaimed to me. I
dreamt I was walking in the park at The Hague and saw an old man
sitting with an opened letter in his hand. I comprehended that the
letter was for me and saw my name and title on the envelope too. But
the old man said, "This is not for you!" and I understood that he meant
that I no longer had a title. Then I saw too that it was a large
official document from Rome, and I knew that the long-expected
transferal had come. Thereupon I dreamt that I was fleeing with Elsje
and that I carried her across a great plain of ice. The ice cracked
under my feet and every crack was a snapping spark of bluish fire like
a flash of lightning. This betokened ill, but Elsje was not afraid.

The letter of which I had dreamed came a few weeks later. But it was
the same. I recognized the envelope. I also knew positively what the
contents would be, and I felt a glorious sense of relief, and a "Thank
God" escaped my lips.

Lucia had also seen the letter and it now appeared that she had awaited
it with equal longing. Her face was bright.

I had never wanted to ask the ambassador for transferal, detained by
the thought that I should be deceiving him by doing so, but I had a
suspicion that Lucia was secretly exerting herself in my behalf. She
too expected relief from it, but in another sense.

"From Rome," she said. "That seems something good to me. Just look,
quickly!"

"It seems something good to me too," I replied; my hand trembled and my
heart beat.

"Where?" asked Lucia, the while I read.

"Stockholm," I replied, "with advancement."

"Thank Heaven!" said Lucia; "then the wretched story here is ended."

I looked at her a while severely and gravely, so that her bright look
darkened and a shadow of anxiety fell upon her face.

"The story here is not ended, Lucia, but has reached a turning point. I
am not going."

"That's impossible," she cried out; "you can't refuse."

"No! but I can hand in my resignation."

"Your resignation - and then??"

"Remain in Holland."

"In Holland? And without a salary? Live on my money? And continue this
liaison? No, Vico, that you can't demand of me, that is too much."

"Lucia, there is something else I want to demand of you."

"And that is?

"That you release me. That you allow me to put an end to this
falsehood. The world takes us for man and wife and we are not?"

"Release you? Don't I grant you as much freedom as I can? And are you
not still the father of my children? The head of the house?"

"I have a wife, Lucia, who is really my wife and whom I want to make my
wife before the world. I ask you whether you will give me the
opportunity to do this by dissolving our marriage."

Then her Italian temperament revealed itself in all its intensity. She
spoke with rage and animosity upon her face, and with vehement and
dramatic gestures, as I had never seen her before.

"Give you opportunity? Opportunity to break what God cannot break? Are
you crazy, Vico? How many women would do what I did - pardon and bear
the deadly offence? Would you now cast me off still further and humble
me yet more? Would you have me give up my rights for an ordinary
bourgeois woman, whom another would long ago have poisoned? Should I
yet abet her and you in the wrong you are doing me and the disgrace you
are bringing upon me and upon my children? - Go, Vico, and don't
provoke me, for I still love you and should be capable of murdering
you. - I have borne this because I pitied you and hoped that you would
soon have enough of it and come back to me. - But now that on top of it
all you do this, now I shall yield nothing more, nothing. A marriage
cannot be dissolved. - Off with you, man, - you are crazy or drunk.
That can be your only excuse."

"I go, Lucia, - but understand me well, I am going for good. You will
not see me again."

"Are you going to her? And what shall you live on?"

"I don't know. Surely not on your money."

"And the children?"

"I shall gladly see the children if they will see me. But they won't,
you will surely see to that."

"I'll see to it. You shan't see them. Poor children!"

"Be good to them, Lucia, and advise them to get entangled in lies as
little as possible. For some people it is distressing. Others are
better able to cope with it. Good-bye! So we need not hope for a
reconciliation or an agreement between us, need we?"

"Never! I swear it by God and by my innocent children."

"I do not swear, but you need not fear that I shall make any further
attempts. I shall demand leave of absence this very day and hand in my
resignation. We shall probably not see each other again. Forgive me if
I have grieved you. I intended no ill."

A sarcastic laugh -

"Oh, come! intended no ill! Say that to Satan when you stand before the
everlasting fire. If you want to go, then, go right off too. - And God
have mercy on your soul."

Then I thought it time to end the torture. I packed up some clothes,
regulated my affairs at the legation and was in E------ that same
afternoon. I had wired: "I am coming for good." And, sobbing and
laughing, Elsje embraced me at the station before the eyes of the
officials. It was the first time in public.

"There is as much reason for crying as for laughing, Elsje!" said I. "I
haven't brought along much money."

"Oh, we need so little and I can manage so well. And you are so good
and so clever, you will surely be able to earn money again."

"And we cannot be lawfully married either. Lucia will never give in to
that."

"That's nothing," said Elsje, "if only the world may know of it. The
ceremony we can well dispense with. Now you shall see how well I shall
grow, and how strong."

XXVI

My mother was still alive and was living in Italy. I wrote her a
letter, earnest and upright, to inform her of what had happened. This
was one of the things I did to establish my position, to make it final,
without myself believing in the success of my action. The answer was
such that I had to hide it from Elsje, and shall also refrain from
repeating it here. There is something awful in seeing persons whom one
has known and loved as tender-hearted human beings grow hard in age.
And for me there was something still more awful in the chief reproach
contained in my mother's letter - that I, her only son, for whom she
would have sacrificed her life, and who should have been the support of
her declining years, now poisoned her life and made her old age lonely
and miserable. Of Elsje she spoke with scornful, malicious contempt, as
of an immoral, shameless monster, a she-devil who had beguiled me with
sensual charms and had wantonly destroyed my domestic happiness. And
this I had to hear from my mother, who so long had been my saint! I
realized that we were lost for one another.

I had taken lodgings in "de Toelast," from there to regulate my
position as far as was practicable, and to effect the rupture with my
superiors and the entire sphere of my activities as correctly as
possible.

I had been an active, helpful worker, and what made me popular
everywhere - harmless, impersonal, without any unpleasantly obtrusive
originality in actions or opinions. In the diplomatic world above all,
a vigorous originality is quite intolerable unless it manifest itself
in a ruling personality. And even then this personality must not raise
his aspirations too far above the average of the masses. That is to
say, the aspirations which he manifests in his actions - his private
thoughts may, if he be but a strong ruler, wander where they would,
upward or downward. Just because I was more original in my private
thoughts than any of my compatriots, there was absolutely no
possibility of turning these into aspirations of practical account, and
thus in practice I remained an efficient aid esteemed by all and feared
by none. My sudden breaking away was looked upon as a lapse, and I was
in fact more pitied than scorned. I was said to have fallen prey to an
ambitious, selfish woman, as indeed sometimes happened to the best of
men.

I received many kindly admonishing and gravely moralizing letters from
my chiefs and from former compatriots. I saw that they did not like to
lose so efficient a power. They even organized noble endeavors for the
saving of the poor drowning man. But I remained obdurate and would not
let myself be saved and even concealed myself from all callers,
faithfully assisted therein by Jan Baars, whose good Dutch qualities
beneath his apparent unpleasantness I learned to respect. Jan Baars was
the touchstone so to speak, the training that taught me to tolerate a
Dutch environment. Without the schooling of Jan Baars I could not have
endured my present life. He was a boor, a dolt, a dirty lout, a
narrow-minded churl, but he did all sorts of kind and generous things.
Once convinced of the fact that my intentions toward Elsje were
honorable, he stood by us through thick and thin, and did not trouble
himself about conventions, nor about gossip, nor about the minister,
nor about the burgomaster, nor about the baker and his customers. And I
have later noticed that a Dutch provincial world is not as dangerous by
far as it is sometimes pictured in novels or comedies. In the beginning
there is a buzz and hum as in a disturbed beehive. But if one goes
ahead quietly and, just as the experienced beekeeper, lays hold with a
firm hand, if one is not afraid and shows that one intends no wrong,
the excitement and asperities subside wondrously quickly and the petty
world tolerates what it contended it could never endure.

But not knowing this, I had feared a wretched life for Elsje and had
made greater plans.

"Elsje!" said I, a day after my arrival, "I have wavered so long, not
only because of all we must brave, but also because I did know how this
rupture with my world should increase my usefulness in life. For I have
perhaps achieved something, but under the direction of others, and my
own will I have restrained and suppressed. For I did not have the
qualities and the capacities for making my originality prevail. And I
asked myself, if I now seek my personal happiness with Elsje shall I
thereby be also doing some good to the world? I know, of course, that
Christ calls us through the light of joy, and that we must follow the
highest happiness, the brightest light; but I also knew that we can
never find this for ourselves alone, for the highest happiness is
universal happiness. If personal joy does not in some manner radiate
over the world, it is not the highest, though it be ever so alluring to
us. And I did not see how our happiness would be anything to the world.
On the contrary, I saw only a dark, foul misapprehension that would
arise from it. Do you understand me, Elsje?"

"I believe I do. But it seems to me it must after all always have a
salutary effect, when people see that some one dares to do what he
considers good and honest, no matter what it costs him."

"Yes, Elsje, but then people must also see and feel that it is for
something better that he abandons the less good and beautiful. And that
they don't see at all in our case. What impelled me they do not know,
and so they cannot consider it good and beautiful either. They say:
Poor Muralto, he has wrecked his life, he has become the victim of a
woman, he could not restrain his passion, now he throws away his
prospects, his happiness - some will add: his eternal blessedness - for
a love caprice, an amourette. That is nothing new for the world. It
happens frequently. And also that the unhappy sinner moreover deceives
himself, pretending that he acts from noble motives and for a fine and
righteous cause. That too is very common, for no one really sins in his
own eyes, every one takes his follies for wisdom, and man understands
no art better than that of deceiving himself."

"Poor, dear man!" said Elsje, now for the first time alarmed by the
true realization of the world's attitude toward my act.

"And the world is usually quite right. It must cast out whoever menaces
the unity of the group. For in this unity is its security, it is
sacred, holy, 'taboo,' as the Polynesians say. And it cannot possibly
investigate each particular case, whether the seceder is perhaps a
faithful follower of Christ, a truly original spirit or simply an
eccentric fool or weakling. That the seceder must himself prove In the
face of the world's condemnation. Do you understand me rightly?"

"No!" said Elsje, "not quite, I believe. I don't know whether you think
it good to secede or not."

"That I shall explain to you. Humanity consists of two principal kinds
- of herd-men and seceders. Both, Christ has need of. The herd-men form
the mighty unity through which he lives; it in his great organic body,
whereof the individuals are the cells. The better they cohere, the
stronger, mightier, more beautiful becomes his unity, his judgment, far
exalted above our comprehension. Therefor the union of the groups in
holy and good and every disturbance is met with vigorous resistance.
But Christ is growing. Humanity has not yet attained its perfect growth
and the union is still incomplete, defective. The tree is constantly
developing new branches, bursting through the old bark, sending forth
new shoots. That is the function of the single cells that burst the old
union, forming the kernel of a new, better organization. Our body too
has two principal kinds of cells, the corporal cells that constitute
our organs, and the germinal cells from which new organisms are
developed. The germinal cells in the body of Christ are the seceders,
the original spirits who will no longer tolerate the union of the group
and are directly called and guided by the Genius of Humanity, by
Christ's own voice. But they must then also be men, with great strength
and patience, designed for stern endurance and constant struggle. The
world must hate them and persecute them and if possible annihilate
them. For only those who can withstand this process of persecution and
annihilation are the real, true seceders, elected by Christ and able to
create a new and better union. Therefore it is good to be a herd-man
and to respect the existing union - the existing order as it is called
- if one has the strength for that and nothing more. But it is good to
break this order if one feels oneself very distinctly impelled to it by
the inward light of Christ, by true knowledge, by the firm
consciousness of truth, and moreover knows, knows with absolute
certainty, that one has the power and the abilities for enduring and
struggling, for resisting the inevitable enmity of the world, for
surviving her hatred and persecution, for proving indeed one's good
right to secede and to be original. It is not just to denounce the
world and to glorify the martyrs. Christ does not want martyrs. He
wants conquering triumphant originals. The patience of the martyrs is a
virtue, which he bestows on the originals, his privileged servants, but
a virtue with which to conquer, not to yield. And a virtue which must
not be sought for its own sake, but for the sake of the victory. The
world punishes according to his deserts him, who breaking from the
union has overestimated his power to persevere and to triumph."

"Thus my dear husband will not be a martyr," said Elsje, as always
practical, and keeping to the point.

"Not if he can help it. If I came before Christ with only a crown of
thorns, might he not ask them: 'Where is your gospel? And what joy for
my world have you bought with your anguish?' We are dealing with his
goods, Elsje, with Christ's goods; our sorrow is his sorrow, our joy is
his joy and we may not squander anything for nothing. Even the Jesus of
the Bible-drama bought his gospel of joy too dearly. The just price for
his crown of thorns has never yet been paid; the gospel is there, but
the joy has yet to come. Though his kingdom is not of this world, the
joy of that kingdom would also brighten this world, as soon as we could
all believe in it. But no heavenly kingdom of joy shall be built of
material as poor as mortal life to-day still is. I did not want to
yield for nothing, nor do I want to sacrifice Elsje for nothing.
Therefore I wavered so long, for I know how weak I am and how little I
can achieve for Christ. Understand me well, Elsje, I do not want this
just account for myself, but for Christ in whom I live. I am quite
ready to pay with personal sorrow whatever is for the benefit of
Christ. For his good is also my good. But naught for nothing."

"But you are so strong and you know so much, and there is so much you
can do for the world," said Elsje, with her charming pride.

"I lack the very things that are most essential to make oneself prevail
as an Original. I have not the qualities of an orator, nor of a poet,
nor of an administrator, nor of an organizer, nor of a composer, nor of
a dramatist. The only things I have are patience, insight and
conviction."

"But then you can communicate this to others who help you."

"See, Elsje, before I tore myself away I doubted of this. But now I see
better how Christ works in me. As soon as you take one step in his
direction, though it be in the pitch dark, then he makes the two
following steps clear for you. The great relief in my heart and my
speaking much and freely with you, dear Elsje, has made so much clearer
to me. I believe that I can do something in the world after all. And I
feel that I must attempt it. And though it does not succeed, yet I am
sure that I shall gain something by it that shall be worth fighting and
bleeding for. Will you support me, will you join me, will you venture
what I venture?"

Then Elsje threw both her arms around me joyfully crying:

"Oh, my Husband! what would I not venture where you are beside me.
Whither leads our journey and when do we go? I am ready, though it were
to-morrow."

"It is not to-morrow, but the day after. And our journey leads us
across the great ocean, to the new country, where the new life is
stirring, and foaming, and seething most intensely."

"To America?"

"Yes, Elsje; are you willing? We shall escape the evil tongues in
Holland. Evade the painful proximity of my old sphere of life. We shall
not bury ourselves in some remote corner of the earth, but shall stand
in the very midst of the most fiercely burning life, in the most
intensively growing human world. There I can best become aware of what
is to be expected of mankind, best divine what Christ intends with us
and what he expects of me. If I can achieve anything indeed - it is
there. I know it, for I know the country and the people, though I am
not yet quite sure how I shall go about it."

Elsje looked grave and thoughtful: not appalled or frightened by the
prospect, but as though in a whirl of new overwhelming images. Then she
asked shyly:

"And in this battle will there still be room and time for a small,
peaceful home? And for a little, tender child?"

"Why not, Elsje? There too are peaceful dwellings and many tender
little children also are born there. The fighting does not go on
constantly."

"I shall see that I am ready," said Elsje. And she was, in good time.

XXVII

We stood upon the deck of the great trans-Atlantic steamer and our
color-thirsty eyes drank in the rich scene of the cliffs and hills of
Ireland, rising above a calm sea under a sky heavy with rain. Dark
grayish-purple, light gray and white rain clouds to one side, above us
a clear limpid blue, a short fragment of a rainbow rising out of the
light emerald-green sea, and stretching straight across the faded brown
and dull green land with the little white houses, on to the
blackish-gray cloud which flowed out into mist and against which the
bright colors shone dazzlingly. Thousands of white gulls round about
the ship, like a whirling, living snow flurry, glittering in the bright
sunlight and contrasting sharply with the dark background of clouds -
screaming and screeching wildly and ceaselessly.

"The sign of the covenant," said I, pointing to the rainbow.

"Do you really believe, Vico, that God gives such signs to men?"

"What do you mean by 'God,' Elsje?"

Elsje looked at me with pensive wonder.

"Do you then only believe in Christ and not in God?"

"When I employ a word I want it to mean something. After many years of
thought and observation I am beginning to mean something more or less
distinct when I say Christ. Why? Because I have obtained so many signs
of Christ, outward and inward, that I could form a fixed idea from them
- not a picture, not an image, but an idea, what the professors call a
hypothesis, and in which one may believe as every scholar may believe
in his hypothesis, without absolute certainty, but with an
ever-increasing degree of probability, so that one can make predictions
and see them confirmed by experience. This is the faith that poets and
scholars and originals and herd-men are all equally in need of."

"And does God not give such signs then?" asked Elsie.

"Patience, child! first come the signs and only then do the conclusions
follow. I behold here a glorious, beneficent and comforting spectacle.
That is a sign. But of what and of whom? Of a higher being than Christ?
Surely. For earth and sun, that made this sign, are more than humanity.
But our inward perceptibility experiences emotions which point to a
supreme Being, the Almighty, who created the sun and the earth and all
the stars, on whom all we know is dependent and to whom all is subject.
No matter what we think we must always arrive at such a Being. It is
impossible not to - whether we call it Nature or God or something else,
or better still give it no name."

"Yes," said Elsie; "but for me again God, just like Christ, is a
living, feeling, loving being. And Nature, sun, earth - all that is not
living and feeling, is it -?"

"Dear Elsie, only in the beginning of this century, before the
professors had yet thought out their impossible hypothesis of a dead
matter and a soulless Nature, there was a poet who in a few words set
forth the wisdom which the professors have forgotten and which they
will have to remember again, before we have gone half a century
further. This poet was named Shelley, and when he was not older than
twenty, he wrote:


'Of all this varied and eternal world

Soul is the only element...

'The moveless pillar of a mountain's weight

Is active, living spirit. Every grain

Is sentient both in unity and part,

And the minutest atom comprehends

A world of loves and hatreds.'


"Remember these words well, Elsie, I will repeat them once more and
translate them for you."

And I did so, for Elsie's knowledge of English consisted only in what
she had learned from me. Then I continued: "These words issued from the
strongest and most magnificent original spirit the world has brought
forth since the poet of the Jesus-Drama, and every child ought to learn
them, more necessarily than the multiplication table or the Lord's
prayer. The world has called their maker an Atheist, just as did
Spinoza. But all modern natural science can be brought back to God,
that is to the truth, only by these words."

"Then is this glorious spectacle a living sign of the earth and the
sun?" Elsje asked.

"Of course!" said I; "but it shall yet be long before we comprehend
such an outward sign. All we understand of it is: splendor, beauty,
sublimity. These are also the characteristics of all that is divine.
But their nearer relations to our inner emotions of love and joy -
these we do not comprehend."

"And God?" asked my wife.

"All the outward signs I have seen point to the operation of limited,
imperfect beings or deities - as humanity, the plants and animals, the
celestial bodies. But these all seem to work in a power that is fixed
and unchangeable. The signs thereof are what the scholars call 'Laws of
Nature,' as the force of gravitation and all chemical and physical
laws. These alone can be signs of life of the Almighty. And still we
are not sure that they issue from the supreme Power.

"Our inner consciousness tells us that the supreme Life cannot be
finite, temporal. But the sensible signs of the supreme Life according
to our faulty perception are temporal and point to an end. The Universe
that we perceive is not a perpetuum mobile. The laws of motion that we
know all come to a standstill. As the scholars put it: there is
increasing entropy and there are irreversible processes. This does not
satisfy our inward consciousness of the supreme Life. It must be a
local, temporally restricted condition. We know irrefutably that the
highest Life is more, and we shall also discover the perceptible signs
of it."

Beside us stood the second-class passengers of a large emigrant
steamer, gazing across the bulwark toward the last land of Europe, and
vainly trying to catch something of our conversation carried on in low
tones and in a language strange to them. Small, dark, Slavonic women,
with gaily-colored scarfs around their heads and children in their
arms; Poles in shabby coats and astrakhan caps; tall blond
Scandinavians, square-jawed, cool-blooded and patient; short, sturdy
Italians with felt hats and gay cravats; a handful of pale-brown
Siamese jugglers or gymnasts with flat gold-embroidered caps on, and
tired, listless faces, melancholy and pallid from cold and seasickness.
And amid this dirty chattering human assemblage, devouring nuts and
oranges, sometimes making music and gaming, all half dulled and
frightened by the usual fierce and anxious battle of life they had gone
through and with the vague expectation of future wealth and pleasure in
their eyes - amid these I saw my sweet, delicate wife with her eyes,
now dark-rimmed but shining with joyous fervor, and her pale, delicate
features - and amid the singing, eating, chattering and gaming our
subtle quiet conversation grew like a strange exotic plant amid rubbish.

But Elsje put to shame my false pride and gladly and helpfully busied
herself with this little troop of humanity blown together from all the
quarters of the globe, making herself understood and loved in all sorts
of ways in the overflowing joy of her new life.

I myself was not very cheerful, but more often profoundly grave and
sad, though with that rich and gentle melancholy that leads to sublime
thought. Above all the memory of my children could make me deeply
dejected and silent for hours. When I imagined that they would fall
ill, or that they cried because of my absence, it was as though my
inmost heart was torn, or strange hands were wringing the entrails of
my soul. I had heard nothing of them before my departure with the
exception of one brief, comforting word from my second daughter, the
third in age of my children, a shrinking, gentle girl of sixteen. She
wrote in Italian:


"My dear father, I don't know why you have gone away, and I dare not
ask mother or the others about it, for they don't quite understand and
take it amiss and won't speak of you. But I will think that it had to
be and say that I am not angry. You had better not answer, for that
would annoy mother.

Your loving little daughter,

Emilia."


This letter also made my grief vent itself in tears; they were not
tears of remorse, however, but of an unavoidable mournfulness. At such
moments Elsje respected my feelings with a sacred veneration for which
I was unutterably grateful to her. She felt that in this she could not
heal or comfort.

The first stormy days in the European waters were the wont. Then I was
painfully sensible of my poverty because it compelled me to let Elsje
live in the midst of these often unclean and unmannerly people, in the
close steamer atmosphere surrounded by sick people, in the sleeping
quarters separated only by curtains, with the primitive washing
accommodations and the lack of everything that I would so gladly have
given her - beauty, cleanliness, comfort. But Elsje did not complain
and adapted herself to the circumstances with bright inventiveness and
good humor.

At last came the warm, dark, transparent, deep violet-blue waters of
the Gulf Stream and the sun began to shine refreshingly and the
light-hearted folk made music and danced on the deck. Then for us too
it became more endurable and we sat for hours hand in hand gazing at
the glorious play of colors on the waves, blue-black, seething
light-blue, and foaming snowy-white. From time to time we spoke of the
great things that always occupied our thoughts. For we felt that in
these great things alone could lie our justification and our peace of
mind.

"Dear man, you have taught me much that is comforting and true," said
Elsje; "but yet it sometimes seems as though you had made God very
distant and inaccessible for me. This beautiful, wicked, awful sea - a
thinking, feeling being is already terrifying in its profound
incomprehensiveness. And then, moreover - the sun and the stars!"

"Still it is good, Elsje, not to wish to hide the truth, even though it
is oppressing. Inwardly God remains just as near. There is no further
or nearer there. And Christ I have really brought nearer to you,
haven't I?"

"Yes, but also robbed him of his perfection."

"True, and therefore made him dearer, more intimate and real. When we
are children we consider our father and mother perfect. Thereby we
wrong them. Later we see that they do indeed stand above us, but that
they have faults too. And then when we can love them, faults and all,
then they are most truly our beloved and trusted confidants. It is a
stupid, childish tendency always to expect and to demand perfection in
all that is above us. The Bible-Jesus spoke truly when he said that
there was but one perfect Goodness. I will add that there is but one I
and one Memory. And only then will man be able to follow Christ to the
pure blessedness, when he learns to feel that there may be
incomprehensible sublimity, loftiness and superiority without
perfection: that there may also be faults in the power that has created
him and in which he lives: that there are yet an infinite number of
higher beings, all above him, and powerful and wise and lofty far
beyond his comprehension, and yet all of them humble and faulty and
weak in the power of a Most-Sublime, who is equally near to all and
penetrates all with equal profoundness."

XXVIII

I do not propose to give you dramatic surprises, dear reader, and you
must not look for thrilling excitement in the story of my life. Elsje's
parentage has always remained unknown to me and the pretty motive for a
romance of the foundling is left unused. For that sort of thing you
have your well-stocked public libraries and Mr. Conan Doyle and his
colleagues.

So I will rather tell you directly that my trip to America resulted in
what everyone, and I myself too at first, considered a complete failure.

But I wish to make you distinctly realize that man may fare as the
soldier, who, ordered to maintain a position without knowing that the
position is untenable, faithfully perseveres in his charge, though
aware that the endeavor is a hopeless failure - later to learn that his
perseverance and his failure were foreseen in the great plan of the
general and have helped to bring about the victory and peace.

It is possible that, even though it seemed otherwise, my efforts were
after all beneficial and fruitful, that I sowed seeds that are still in
a state of germination and only long after I am gone will shoot up as
plants. I do not know this and I need not trouble about it. I have
carried out the order, as I understood it, to the best of my abilities.
But I do know what I have gained in new knowledge and understanding.
And this has made me so rich that I regret none of my sacrifices and
repent none of my actions. And this alone also lets me find peace and
contentment in this quiet lonely life, because here I can write down
what has enchanted and stirred me go strongly, and the assurance never
forsakes me that my words shall find their way and, like a mighty
ferment, work on in the heads of those who as you, dear reader, have
experienced the painful blessing of originality, and know what it is to
live in immediate contact with Christ, the Genitive Spirit of humanity.

Through all the dark confusion of my vain efforts and painful
experiences, through the continued terrible anguish of mankind, ever
increasing and void of beauty and sublimity, one light shone out with
an ever steadier and brighter glow the wonder of the true marriage.

This is so difficult to describe, because every one professes to know
it and to respect it, and insincere eloquence and insincere enthusiasm
have poured themselves out over it in riotous streams. So that one
scruples to employ any word wherewith to indicate the true wonder,
because all words have been polluted and defiled through a horrible
misuse.

The true wonder is so great that the man of original spirit who has
found it would, if he had the power, not hesitate for a moment to
destroy all domestic happiness and domestic peace among the great human
herd, as long as these rest only on a conventional imitation, a
miserable substitute, of the true glory. I have lived in what to all
the world seemed a happy union. I have endured the terrible anguish of
a violent rupture of firmly-knit bonds of attachment and affection -
but how insignificant is all this, how sorry this apparent happiness,
how slight the anguish compared to the mighty and transcendent things
that were gained - the perfect tenderness, the real intimacy of true
conjugal love, the complete melting into one of two cells in the great
body of humanity.

I have good reason to believe that most marriages - oh! by far the most
- are of inferior quality and falser than my own false union. And also
that in this matter with most men - oh! by far the most - the elemental
susceptibility to true conjugal happiness is still inborn, that even
the weakest conventionalist and herd-man would in this respect turn
back to this deep elemental instinct, if he were left free to do so -
that with the majority Christ herein still works directly and
immediately, because it is the most deep seated, most absorbing passion
with which he has equipped us.

And even with a clear vision of the ocean of grief, confusion and
disaster that would arise were the herd to apply itself to follow the
lead of the Originals and in fanatic zeal break all untrue bonds - even
with this appalling knowledge I would not hesitate to lead them on to
such a crusade against the matrimonial lie, since I know the glory and
the riches of the promised land to be regained. Many would perish on
the road and pine away, many would be trampled on and perhaps curse my
name and denounce what they had began; but the prize is worth the
sacrifice.

Marriage is without doubt one of the most sacred human institutions,
but only sacred through inward truth, and no civic formula or churchly
ritual can make it sacred if the inward truth is wanting in it. And
better a thousand dissolved and broken false marriages than one true
marriage prevented or one untrue one with the semblance of sincerity
and sacredness upheld.

But Christ is yet in distress and anguish. He is yet in the throes of
birth, in the pains of growth. Our world is as my brother Hebbel said:
a wound of God. But as I add: a healing wound; therefore not less
painful. And what distinguishes the true marriage from the untrue is
this very quality of pain. Never did I suffer through Lucia what I
suffered through Elsje. In the apparent happiness there is contentment
and complacency, in the real an everlasting gnawing and torturing
longing, a desire for more, more - the desire to express oneself more
fully, the desire to be more closely united, to be bound together more
firmly, more indissolubly, more everlastingly. Elsje and I were
constantly tormented by our powerlessness to express to one another the
depth of our emotion, by our anxiety for each other's welfare and
happiness, by our uncertainty in regard to what life and death would
bring us, by our wish never to be parted and to experience constantly
the blessing of each other's company.

Even when, in the serenest, most peaceful moments, I sat by her side
gazing at her with devout attention so that Moricke's words arose in me:


"Wenn ich von deinem Anschaun tief gestillt

Mich ganz mit deinem heil'gen Werth begnüge?"


even then there was a mysterious, tender quality of pain in my love,
independent of all the considerations and cares concerning present and
future - like a gentle, never wholly dying echo of the great world
sorrow. And through this I knew that our love-life was one with the
great love-life of Christ. By the tang of pain in our cup of life I
recognized the water from the world-stream.

I had worked out no definitely elaborated plan for my campaign in the
new land, amongst the new people. I had a few thousand guilders that
belonged to me and a few hundred from Elsje. We had selected the
cheapest travelling accommodations and would live very simply. I hoped
to have enough for us to live on until I should have found a means of
subsistence and a field for my labors. I had plenty of acquaintances in
the most distinguished circles, but I knew how little I could count on
them. Yet I had to try to find among them the few that were susceptive
to original thoughts and had the ability to turn them into deeds.

I argued thus: that all individuals live in an invincible group-union
of morals, customs, traditions and institutions, which originated
wholly beyond their reasonable will and which are mostly in conflict
with their own deeper convictions. That they live thus is the result of
their nature and character as group-creatures. They cannot do otherwise
and may not do otherwise. No individual can live apart, he must have a
group or grouplet, no matter how small, whose ideas, customs and morals
he shares. It is absolutely vain and useless to wish to draw him from
this union by logical, sensible arguments. Though logically he can find
nothing to say against such arguments, though the system in which he
lives conflicts wholly with his original disposition, he must continue
in it, because otherwise he would run wild, and he will sooner twist
and falsify his ideas and feelings completely than be disobedient to
the voice of the herd in which be finds his conditions of life.

But these group-ideas and these group-formations are continually
changing. Not through the influence of the mass, the herd, which may
not judge independently, because otherwise no union would be possible.
The strength of the group depends on the obedience of the members to
the voice of the herd. Did the members think and act independently,
they could not subsist as a group.

But the group-formation is changed through the influence of some few
individuals, original enough to understand humanity's own voice, the
voice of Christ, and powerful enough to make themselves followed by the
herd. And the influence of these few shall be the stronger, the closer
their original ideas stand to the ideas of the group. All the members
of the group feel something of the Original element, of the Genius of
humanity, they are all still bound to our Genitive Spirit, though not
nearly as closely and as fervently as the few originals. If now the
original individual is all too original, the herd does not follow, but
hates and destroys him. That is the martyr the man who is "in advance
of his age."

But if the originality of the single individual is felt by the herd,
then it follows and respects and reveres him, and later it erects
statues in his honor and eulogizes him. And all the more if the seceder
possesses a personally suggestive power, and impresses people by the
display of some one amazing talent - organizing, dramatic or musical.
Meanwhile this leader and example has done nothing more than bring the
outer organization more in unison with the inner life of humanity,
Christ's own being.

This consideration led me to seek for a man sufficiently intelligent
and independent to absorb my thoughts, and yet in his inclinations and
feelings standing so much nearer than I to the herd, that he could
exert an influence. Moreover, some one with the prestige lent by some
extraordinary quality or other - as learnedness, or still better,
organizing talent - and with the ability, the aplomb, the ruling power
which the herd tolerates and demands. Thus a mediator between me, the
all too original and practically unqualified, for whom an attempt to
make himself prevail would signify a useless martyrdom, and the herd,
that in its unoriginality is yet so greatly in need of the stirring
ferment of my ideas.

Before we neared the American shores I had made my choice from the
persons that had come to my mind as qualified for my purpose. I shall
call the man Judge Elkinson, concealing his real name, as he is still
in the public eye. He had been governor of his state and at my arrival
was a member of the Supreme Court, the highest tribunal in the United
States, sovereign in its judgments and only admitting to membership the
most trusted and esteemed men of this mighty realm.


-       -       -


It was a clear, cold, bright day when we steamed up the Hudson and saw
the white building masses of the giant city rising from the centre of
the wide, grayish-yellow stream. A strong icy wind was blowing from the
blue sky, and the valiant little tug-boats rocking on the turbulent
waters and amid shrill whistles running quickly in and out among the
great ships, like sea-monsters hunting for prey, were covered with a
solid coating of ice from the splashing water.

Upon the elongated island protruding into the wide mouth of the river
stretched the mighty city, a densely packed conglomeration of houses
piled up toward the sea, block upon block, so that the tall masses of
masonry at the point of the island appeared to be heaped up one upon
the other like pack-ice. There where the blocks were the highest and
stood facing each other like giant building-blocks set on end, there
was Wall Street, the centre of activity, where the stony growth seemed
as though spurred on by the restless stir, the yet unregulated and
uncomprehended instinct of accumulation.

As we drew nearer we saw the delicate, fresh colors, the soft reds and
creamy whites of the buildings in the clear, smokeless atmosphere, the
white exhausts of the beating systems, standing out like little white
flags against the light blue sky, and the myriad dark, twinkling eyes
of the houses, row upon row, severe, square, strong, firm and light
with a myriad grave, fixed questioning glances reviewing the new
arrivals from across the sea, who streamed from all the quarters of the
globe to this land of future promise and expectation.

Then followed the confusing and confounding impressions of the landing,
where the great nation, compelled by experience, seems to guard itself
against the instreaming invasion of undesired elements, and
investigates and selects with humiliating, apparently heartless
strictness, as though we were animals to be examined.

Elsje's smile and cheerful endurance alleviated for me the bitterness
of standing in the long line for examination, ordered about by the
gruff officials - I, the proud aristocrat, who had never come here
otherwise than surrounded by luxury, and treated with distinction as an
honored guest.

When we were finally released and found ourselves in the noise and
tumult of that tremendous life, where the selfish seeking of the few is
by a secret and uncomprehended power forced together into a mysterious
and curious order, - as out of the seemingly aimless and orderless
agitation of ants or bees one sees a well-planned structure arise, -
amid the rattling of the trucks, the shuffling of thousands of feet
upon the worn and ill-kept pavement, the ceaseless thunder of the
elevated trains running between the graceless buildings and signs,
designed solely for doing business or attracting attention, in this so
preeminently incomplete, imperfect, half-barbarous and half-polished
world, I saw my dear, delicate wife, overwhelmed and confounded, cling
to me as though she sought everything that still attracted her to the
world with me, powerless to find it in this tumult of life.

I did not remain in the city a day, knowing everything that here preys
upon the inexperienced arrival, but went directly to one of those
vaguely scattered villages in the immediate vicinity of the town, where
spots of nature, still wild or again run wild, can be found in the
midst of the remote, neglected precincts of a quickly and carelessly
growing human colony. There in the woody, rocky territory little,
dingy, wooden houses are to be found, built of unsightly boards,
outwardly no better than sheds or barns, as though put up temporarily
by people who would probably move on further soon - houses that one may
occupy for comparatively little money.

It did not look inviting for a woman accustomed to the choice solidity
of a Dutch house, and the well-sustained intimacy of a Dutch landscape,
where man and nature through long-continued symbiosis have grown
together in a harmonious union.

Everywhere all through the woods were tumbledown houses, heaps of
rubbish, crockery, old iron and dirt, trees chopped down and left to
rot, burnt underbrush, annoying signs of the proximity of a heedless,
careless, prodigal human world. And close by, between long rows of
signboards, monstrously drawn and painted in glaring colors, rushed the
trains, besmirching everything with their smoke.

But after all it was a home, and with all the energy that the long
years of suffering had left in her, Elsje joyously began to turn the
dear illusion of these years of pining and waiting into reality.

And when the humble dwelling had been made somewhat habitable, when
there was a pantry stocked with provisions, an extremely fresh and
spotlessly-kept bedroom, a table with a cover upon which the kerosene
lamp threw its circle of light at night, so that I could sit and read
the paper while Elsje sewed and mended busily, her head full of
tenderly solicitous domestic thoughts, and when to the great
satisfaction of the housewife a young negro girl had been found who
came daily to help a few hours, thereby giving to the household,
according to Dutch ideas, a necessary air of completeness - then I saw
upon Elsje's wan countenance and in her clear, dark-ringed eyes a light
that shone out above all gloomy memories or sad forebodings.

Only then I saw her faithful, loving nature in its perfect radiant
glory, but also, alas! with the distressing realization of its
frailness.

XXIX

The so universally-recognized type of human excellence indicated by the
term "gentleman," cannot go hand in hand with true originality that
makes itself prevail. For one of the chief characteristics of the
gentleman is the respect for group ideas, the obedience to the voice of
the herd; while the characteristic quality of the Original is precisely
his breaking away from the group union, his reversing of ideas, his
making himself obeyed instead of obeying.

The seceder who is not able to change the ideas of the group and to
make the herd follow, is annihilated and deserves annihilation. In the
human economy he is only harmful and his existence is unwarranted.

The gentleman on the contrary has a pre-eminently useful and important
function. He is that member of the group who without separating from
the union retains most of the original element. He combines the highest
possible originality with the strictest subordination to the group
nature, which only very few exceptional natures can defy with impunity.
He changes nothing, but he inclines toward the original, thus making
the entire herd more adaptable to change, while be lacks the
ever-dangerous tendency of the originals to break loose, and keeps
alive in the herd the lofty, indispensable virtue of respecting and
upholding the sacredness of the union.

The more the group ideas diverge from the elemental ideas of human
nature, the rarer the type of "gentleman" becomes in the group. And so
my little brother Shaw's lament that the true English gentleman has
become extinct is comprehensible, as in the entire tremendous herd of
the nations of West-European or Anglo-Saxon civilization, ideas are
current which every original immediately recognizes as conflicting with
the nature of humanity, as hostile to Christ.

The term "un-Christian" is with just consistency applied to them.
Un-Christian means the enriching oneself at the cost of others, the
enriching oneself by means of craft, the enriching oneself without
bound or measure. In many groups of ancient times these things were not
lawful. But the great herd of the nations calling themselves Christian,
include these so unmistakably un-Christian actions among the lawful,
even honorable and generally admitted. And this moreover in the very
worst form. It is one of the group-ideas of the great herd, that
without oneself doing any work, one may enrich oneself unrestrictedly,
by means of craft, at the expense of the very poorest. Only the
unprecedented magnitude of the herd and its unparalleled firm coherence
made so great a deviation from Primal Reason conceivable and possible.

The type of "gentleman" has changed, however, and grown rarer in this
process. It is well-nigh impossible to preserve one's originality
without separating from the union of the group, or without, as the
socialists and anarchists, forming new groups that stand hostile to the
great herd. The respecting of group-ideas and at the same time
preserving one's original human feelings, demands a forcing and
straining of truth that only few sagacious and honest people succeed in.

Judge Elkinson still represented the fast disappearing type of
gentleman, and I knew that for him this was possible through an
extraordinary suppleness of mind, fineness of tact and feeling, and a
philosophic broadness of view.

Honest in the strict sense of the word, with naïve uprightness - that
he could not be any more than any other faithful member of the herd,
with some astuteness. But he was at least capable of giving everyone
the impression that he always desired to be honest. He forgave himself
the necessary distortion demanded by the group union, as the humane
physician does not charge himself with the lies he tells for the good
of his patients. He also comprehended the relativeness of words, the
vagueness of conceptions, the faultiness of all communion, but was
nevertheless not so broad-minded that he found extenuating
circumstances everywhere and for everyone. His great power lay in his
demand for fixedness of opinion. Growth and development were thereby
excluded, but he sacrificed these, for the sake of the support so
necessary to the herd, that positiveness and regularity afford.

One could depend on him absolutely; he was called "a man of character"
and thereby exercised the most beneficial influence at the cost of
personal development, actuated as it were by unconscious love, by a
preservative instinct for the masses. His moral code was as broad as
the group-ideas allowed, but beyond that point - immutable. He
maintained it with the same sacred respect which as judge he demanded
for the law, though his philosophic reason told him that neither could
by any means exclude injustice. He called a rogue a rogue, though he
realized that complete comprehension means complete forgiveness; he
considered an anarchist an enemy to mankind, a harmful monster, even
though he had to admit that the anarchistic criticism of society was
well founded.

If the group-ideas and the group-union of those calling themselves
socialists, had not been so wretchedly vague, confused and based on
pseudo-science and hollow rhetoric, he would perhaps have joined that
brotherhood. For he had the full measure of American courage and
resolution. And he would have represented the "gentleman" in that
confederacy just as well as in the old union. But, as every
"gentleman," he had the intuitive dislike of bad company, the natural
and wholesome aristocracy that makes one shun a group if it is
represented by inferior people. And in the socialist herd he saw
nothing much better than uncultured followers driven by fanatic
leaders, a very sorry realization of the Originals who had brought
about the movement. Moreover the union of this group was so weak, so
entirely based upon the negative, so badly formulated, that it was
impossible for him to transfer to it his natural respect for the union.

With this man, then, I considered that I might try my luck. He had
grown very rich by clever, but according to group-ideas perfectly
lawful money transactions, as commissioner of all sorts of large
undertakings, and he had a fine mansion in Washington and in New York.
Toward me he would, as a philosopher, sometimes jokingly excuse his
wealth, referring in this connection to the example of Seneca the sage.

I called on him as soon as I knew he was in New York, and was received
most cordially.

Elkinson had a large, bony head upon a lean, muscular body. He was not
yet sixty, and his clean-shaven face was of a youthfully fresh and
ruddy complexion. His hair was snow-white, but still thick and full,
parted in the middle and trimly cut. His strongly-pronounced jawbones,
large teeth and firm chin, lent him an expression of will-power and
energy; the thin-lipped large mouth and the clear, gray, steady eyes
commanded respect and marked the man who would not let himself be
imposed upon or put out of countenance; his eyes twinkled at the
slightest occasion with an expression of subtle roguishness, evidence
of the general American inclination for jesting and joking.

"It is very kind of you, my dear Count Muralto, very kind indeed to
look me up again. Have you been assigned to the post at Washington
again? And how are the countess and the children?"

"Don't bother about using my title, Mr. Elkinson. It must be
distressing to your democratic spirit."

The mocking eyes twinkled as though they enjoyed my sally.

"On the contrary! on the contrary! - that is atavism! It does us good.
We are above such things, to be sure, but just as eager to do them as a
worthy professor to sing the college songs at a reunion."

"Then I regret that I must deprive you of this pleasure. I am no longer
a count and intend to become a citizen of your republic."

"What is that you tell me? Well, well, well! that is a remarkable
decision."

"Your enthusiasm is not as hearty as one should expect of a true
American. I believe you think that something is lost by this
transaction after all."

"Perhaps I do! - Italian counts are rarer than American citizens. With
these titles it's the same as with sailing vessels and feudal castles.
They are unpractical and out of date. And yet it is a pity to see one
after another disappearing."

"Would you put me into a museum and have the state support me?"

"No! No! - we are glad to make use of such excellent working powers. We
need men like you. And what does madame say to it?"

"Contessa Muralto remains Contessa Muralto. I have broken completely
with her and with my old life. I wish to make my position clear to you.
I have come here as an emigrant, poor, and accompanied by a woman who
is my true wife, but can never be lawfully recognized as such."

"H'm! H'm! - that is grave, very grave," said Judge Elkinson. The
roguish twinkle in his eyes vanished and he assumed the severe,
inexorable expression of the judge.

Then, as simply as possible and with the trusting uprightness that
would make the strongest appeal to his kind heart, I recounted the
vicissitudes of my lot. Mutely he listened to my story, obviously
interested and touched, wondering what to make of this cage.

"And now?" he finally asked. "What do you expect now? I know that a
deep sensibility to what we here call the tender passion is one of your
national characteristics. But after all you are no longer a boy, and
you have enough sense and experience of life to know that your present
position does not offer you much chance of success, not even in this
country."

"I do not expect or desire success in the American sense of the word. A
frugal, existence is all I want. I shall endeavor to obtain that. By
giving lessons, for example."

"And had you hoped to be in any degree supported by me in that
direction?" asked the careful and practical American.

"No! - I did not come to you for that. I have not the slightest
intention of burdening my old acquaintances by presuming on our former
relations."

"Good!" said Elkinson honestly.

"I know them too well for that," said I, perhaps a bit scornfully.

"You know what it would signify for them, don't you? You can easily put
yourself in their position. You defy public opinion for the sake of a
woman, but you can't expect that your former friends should do it for
your sake."

"If I had thought that they were friends, I should perhaps expect it.
But I know that they are not friends, only acquaintances, and I demand
nothing of them."

The judge looked at me a while, not without kindliness. He seemed to
feel a certain respect for my stoicism.

"Good!" he said again. "But what can I do for you then? What is your
object in calling on me?"

"To make you happier than you are."

"That is indeed very generous. For after all I did not get the
impression that I was the unhappier of us two. And if you would have me
continue to believe in your mental balance, you must give me a more
plausible reason."

"Is it so unlikely that I should increase my own happiness by means of
yours?"

"Aha! Of what kind of happiness are we talking?"

"Of the most desirable, that can alone be attained by straining all our
energies to their utmost capacity, their utmost efficiency."

"Ho capito! - accord! - now for the explanation. What slumbering
qualities in me would you rouse to action?"

"Your qualities as a leader of men. The qualities that I lack."

"And which in yourself then?"

"Those of the thinker. Of the original thinker."

Elkinson glanced at me with a look, sharp, cold and penetrating as a
dissecting-knife. He thought he understood what it was that he had to
deal with.

"A system?" he asked gruffly.

"On the contrary - the release from a system. The shattering of
inhuman, un-Christian morals. The breaking through a wall of horrible
institutions."

"Which?"

"First of all, that which everyone condemns and everyone nevertheless
maintains - the remuneration of the rich simply because he is rich,
even though he does nothing to deserve remuneration. The morally and
lawfully tolerated unlimited squandering of the products of common
labor by irresponsible persons. The exploiting of the weaker, approved
and even accounted honorable, without control, by means of craft,
through the agency of countless middle men. The tenant-farmer, the
laborer; the property owner, the tenant-farmer. The manufactory, the
factory hands; the share-holder, the manufacturer. The landlord, the
lessee; the lessee, the sub-lessee; the sub-lessee, the lodger. The
speculator again exploits all the others, while the waster of finance
exploits the speculator, and thus ad infinitum. The system, in one
word, of mutual ruthless exploitation and of irresponsible, no less
ruthless, squandering. A system in which what each holds in view as the
crowning ideal is to do nothing himself, to squander without measure or
care, and to have as many as possible work for his own personal profit,
without asking who they are and how they live. A system that slowly but
surely must demoralize and impoverish every nation to the core, even
the richest and the strongest. A system that gives peace to none and
can bring none to the highest possible grade of development and
happiness. A system by which at least ninety per cent of the national
wealth is lost without a trace. A system under which no art, no
science, no higher element in man can attain to perfect bloom. A system
that is further removed from the original desires and sentiments of
humanity than any other that has ever been maintained by large masses
of men - a system that no one with any consideration can approve or
wish to preserve, that is only maintained because we know or believe in
nothing better, and that is doomed to disappear because of its suicidal
character. A system that can only be declared lasting and necessary by
him who thinks that men are not capable of education and development
and, with open eyes, shall ever seek their own ruin."

Elkinson remained silent a while after I had finished speaking. The
expression in his eyes was serener now.

"As a criticism nothing new," he said, nodding his head. "But what new
remedy do you propose? - Government aid?"

"First morals, then laws," said I; "no Government initiative; perhaps,
if necessary, Government assistance. Begin with the most powerful
public opinion, the group instinct."

"And how? - orations? - pamphlets? - meetings? and addresses? - That
seems to me nothing exactly new either, nor has it proved effectual. Is
one deformity like the social democracy not enough?"

"More than enough. The dead child with two heads has itself made its
own name impossible. Use that name no more, for the mother who has
borne the child is ashamed of it and will hear of it no more. Give the
potion another label and another color if you would make men take it,
or better, give it no color. And talk as little as possible, but do,
act, carry out. Make of the deed your shepherd's staff and of facts
your milestones and your guideposts. Let your shepherd dog not bark,
but bite, and see to it that the flock find something to graze on."

"Clearer! clearer! - no Eastern metaphors, American facts."

"Very well! Judge Elkinson is acquainted with the psychology of the
mass and he knows the individuals of which it is composed. He has
governed a state, organized and conducted commercial undertakings,
instituted laws and seen them carried out. He knows thousands of
individuals, their worth and their abilities. He enjoys the universal
confidence, and possesses great influence. His name alone guarantees
the help of thousands, and of the very best moreover.  Let him form a
group, with better group-ideas, with better group-ethics, better
morals, better customs, and higher standards of right and wrong, good
and evil, than the group in which he now lives and works."

"Clearer still and more concrete if you please. How do you imagine the
beginning?"

"As every group began always. As every business man forms his business,
every general his army. Select a staff of the most capable and tell
them what is essential for them to know. Formulate the plan so that in
the course marked out the chief idea cannot be missed, without
frightening off any one of the great herd by peculiar, unusual or
doubtful terms, theories or visions of the future. And then organize,
practically, systematically, always aiming directly at the concrete
reality without troubling yourself in the least about abstractions. And
see that your herd is fed and sheltered and stabled as quickly as
possible, and that it find gratification of its instincts in the course
once marked out. And on the way - heed it well, on the way, not
beforehand - teach them to comprehend the object of the fight and what
they shall gain. Teach them first to follow and to find gratification
in following, and then they will gradually go of their own accord, if
it agrees with them, and be less and less in need of guidance. Promise
as little as possible, but show and prove by the result, and predict
nothing that you cannot immediately prove."

"Thus a non-political organization? An ethical corporation?"

"A business proposition, judge, a business proposition. But a great and
holy business. A business for making money, for accumulating as much
and as quickly as possible. The herd must eat, must have a good time,
must have abundance and must have its future assured. What kind of
business is indifferent. Every kind that is possible. If the group only
learns that it can obtain enough and much more even than before - much
greater wealth and much more happiness and content - by no longer
pilfering one another and squandering, but by intelligent mutual
agreement and by restriction of personal boundless liberty for the sake
of the whole common welfare."

"And your own part in this affair? How do you imagine that?"

"As the part of a match at a forest fire. For myself full of profound
satisfaction, for the outer world absolutely obscure. I shall come to
talk with you now and then. Judge Elkinson is the man, the benefactor
of his people, the liberator of mankind."

"And for you - nothing? No money, no glory, no honor?"

"This disinterestedness seems incredible to you. But it is a natural
outcome of our different functions. Every different function involves
different passions and desires. Practical work involves a love of glory
and honor. We are so organized that we find enjoyment only in what our
own peculiar endowment can yield. A very sensible organization which
you may take as an example. My work is contemplative, speculative and
affords enjoyment through the satisfaction of correct discoveries and
clear vision. In practical life I am unhappy, with money, honor, glory
and all. But you, Judge Elkinson, have need of me for this very
quality. Humanity must not only act organizedly but also think
organizedly. No greater folly than to imagine that the safe way for the
herd shall be found by its own blind instinct, or that as a mass it can
itself think out what it must do. No greater nonsense than the work of
these sages who sling a few formulas at the masses, and then, with the
aid of these uncomprehended and incorrectly interpreted terms and
abstractions, would let them find the way alone. Humanity would and
must think, and advance by the light of contemplation and reflection,
but it must think organizedly, so that each in this great thinking
process exercises his own peculiar function - the scholar, the
business-man, the statesman, the artist, the poet. And only when this
organization for the good of all is completed, is there a chance that
every member of the herd will participate more and more in the thinking
functions, and thus also in the delights of the others, that we obtain
a world of free men and majors, a truly mature and full-grown humanity,
the flaming ideal in which the poor anarchistic moths now still scorch
their wings."

"My dear Mr. Muralto, in a way I really feel that you are placing me in
the position of Dr. Faustus, to whom every imaginable glory was held
out, all that human ambition could desire, if he would but sign his
name. You will pardon the comparison, I hope."

"Certainly, but you will probably have something more to do than sign
your name. And I will gladly give you every occasion to search your
deepest conscience whether I should be counted among the good or the
bad demons."

"Until now, my friend, I considered myself capable of getting on
without guiding spirits."

"But after all that was only an opinion, as all other opinions very
open to criticism."

"That is possible! - At any rate I am very grateful to you for the most
interesting conference. I hope that we may continue it another time."

"I gave you my address. I shall be at your disposal there at any
moment."

"Much obliged! - I feel myself, honored by your confidence and by the
high opinion you seem to entertain of me. Once more - many thanks."

With these ceremonious courtesies we parted from one another.

Then I went back to my little house where Elsje awaited me. I had the
dissatisfied and well-nigh angry feeling of one who has not been able
to do himself and his ideas justice. The process of realizing our ideas
is always full of surprises and disappointments, like the performing of
a play or the developing of a photograph.

Elsje awaited me, with everything in readiness that the little house
could offer of comfort and of cheer - and best of all, with eager
interest in that which stirred my heart so deeply. She knew that this
was my first stroke in the campaign and she participated in it, with
all her soul, as I gratefully read by her looks and her attitude when I
came home.

"How was it?" she asked.

"So, so! dearest. - I did what I could. But I do not know whether I
said just what I should have to make the most impression. It isn't
enough to say the right thing, but one must say it in such a way and so
often that it makes an impression and takes effect. You can never do
that all at once. But nevertheless I am not dissatisfied with my first
attack."

And I told her how my words had been received.

"You dear, good man! You do your best so faithfully. If only they knew
what I know, how good you are, and how sincere your intentions."

One usually attaches little value to a loving woman's judgment upon the
man she loves. But the perfect faith of a pure spirit is not alone a
wondrous comfort and consolation, but also a mighty creative power for
the good. And it is not confusing and blinding, but calming and
beneficial to see oneself reflected in a clear glass, in a favorable
light.

XXX

I shall never admit that the plan of my campaign was unpracticable or
ill contrived. I remain firmly convinced that the main idea was correct
and will be of service to future combatants. But it had one fault which
I could not be aware of and which could only reveal itself in the
practice. It is not impossible to inoculate men like Elkinson with an
original and to them new idea, and even to impress it. On them in such
a manner that they come to conceive of it as their own idea and are
driven to action by it.

But then this operation must be performed as skilfully and carefully as
a botanical or surgical grafting, so that the idea becomes one with
their own nature, and continues to grow, nourished by their own life.
Now in my case the grafting did not succeed - just as the first
botanical graftings did not succeed - because I was not sufficiently
experienced and practised in it and had not yet found the right method.
Still this does not prove the impossibility of the principle.

One can never remind oneself too often that no one, not even the most
sagacious, broadest mind, is led to assume different fundamental ideas
solely by reasonable arguments. The element of faith is always
indispensable, even in purely scientific questions.

What I said to Judge Elkinson would have been entirely sufficient to
convince him and to stir his powers into action, had it been told him
in the same words but under more favorable circumstances; or if he had
heard it oftener, from different persons and in different words.

The unfavorable, hampering circumstance was that because of my poverty
and my illegitimate marriage I now stood outside the circle of
Elkinson's social intercourse. I had foreseen this to be sure, but
thought nevertheless that he would confer with me in secret and private
interviews often enough to afford me the opportunity of keeping in
contact with him and in the end convincing him. I did indeed see him
now and then too, once also he came to me and evinced as much interest,
kindliness and broad mindedness as could be expected of a man in his
position. But illogical as it may seem, the influence of my words was
much slighter because we no longer stood on an equal footing. Had he,
as formerly, met me everywhere in the distinguished circles, had he
there, in club or salon, parried on the same conversations with me, and
above all, had he not gained the impression that I spoke intentionally
and with the purpose of rousing him to action, he would then, I am
sure, have assimilated these same ideas and seemingly on his own
initiative would have commenced to act upon them.

But the arguments that upon the lips of a man of position and
distinction are convincing lose their persuasive power when spoken by
an erratic or eccentric, even though they may be exactly as logical,
because the element of faith and of trust are wanting.

Thus the release from social convention, which liberated my spirit and
gave me the courage to honestly assert and maintain myself, at the same
time had a crippling effect upon my powers. When the knight had buckled
his coat of mail he could no longer move his arms.

I did not stop at this first attempt, but continued working restlessly,
trying to provide a living for us and seeking a fertile ground for the
seed of my thoughts. I tried to find pupils to take lessons in
languages and strove to gain admission to the editors of magazines and
newspapers. I composed short articles in which I endeavored to make
ideas of great importance and value interesting and readable. Urged by
necessity I even attempted to write short stories, which were complete
failures however, and caused me miserable hours of struggle and inward
shame. For purposely manufactured art is just as insipid, unworthy and
humiliating as true art is sacred and exalting. The last is divine
worship, the first waste of time.

I also tried to engage the interest of other influential persons
besides Judge Elkinson. But I had rightly selected him as the most
available, and with all the others met with less success. I had used up
my best powder at the first onslaught. Now I ran great danger of being
looked upon as one of the many harmless, but troublesome and tiresome
fools, who are called "cranks" over there, and who seem to flourish in
America. People who go about everywhere and pursue everyone with an
infallible system, an ingenious invention, a gigantic scheme. They have
calculated everything and only want a millionaire or an influential
person to realize their idea - to reform the world and make it happy or
to amass fabulous riches.

Once counted in that category and my chance was lost, that I knew.
People would warn one another against me and no one in this
hastily-living world would have even one minute to spare to listen to
me.

Every day of the campaign on which I had so bravely entered, I saw more
distinctly the fatal difficulty I was facing. In order to be able to
carry out anything I should have to "make a name," as it is called. And
making a name, the forming of a centre of suggestive influence working,
not through essential worth but through idle sound, - this is in
conflict with a contemplative nature and a lover of reality as I am.
The man of action will make a name, he will work for it unashamed, he
finds unadulterated pleasure in being honored and celebrated and
renowned. For in his capacity the power of a name, a personality, is
indispensable. Wisely he has been equipped with the suitable instincts
for this.

But I myself had an insurmountable horror of anything that would tend
to bring my own personality, my most transitory, spectral unimportant
being into the limelight. To see my name printed or to hear it
discussed was quite indifferent to me, even very disagreeable. I should
be willing to bear it for Christ's sake, if I realized that I could
only thus serve him and that he demanded it of me. But it was
impossible for me to exert myself to that end. It is harder for the
Original than for anyone else to act contrary to his natural
disposition. To uphold the important truths whereof I knew myself to be
the sole and responsible supporter, I was always ready to make any
sacrifice. But to fight for my person, my career, my name, did not
attract me in the least and thus also rarely met with success.

So for days, weeks, and months I worked without the slightest result. A
pupil, sent to me by Elkinson, stayed away after a few weeks without
paying me - perhaps because he may have heard something about my
illegitimate marriage. Some journalists who had known me in former days
received me with superficial friendliness and promised to do something
for me. But they did nothing - speedily absorbed again in their own
interests. Of Elkinson, I heard that he had been brought into
consideration for the presidential candidacy; sufficient reason for him
to forget hundreds of conversations with a Muralto, shipwrecked through
his own folly.

Just as prosperity again begets prosperity, so also does misery grow
like a snowball rolling down hill. The great, tremendous, busy world
about me rushed restlessly onward in the fog - striving, seeking,
building up and demolishing, urged on by uncomprehended impulses - and
considered we no more than any of the thousand lost creatures that are
crushed under its blind and heavy tread, cruel as the machine that
catches the careless worker in its wheels. And yet I knew that this
tremendous structure was the obedient tool of the same power that had
entrusted me with its most precious gifts, that had urged me on my way,
that was responsible for my strength and for my weakness.

And in proportion as the want that reigned in my little house grew more
and more real and the struggle for existence more and more anxious, in
the same proportion this humble home also began to grow dearer to me. I
was approaching the age when a man, even though not yet tired and worn
out, still, more than ever before, longs for a resting place, a small
intimate sphere of quiet and rest, of cherishing love and peace, a
home. What had formerly been my home had always remained inwardly
strange to me. It afforded me every comfort and physical ease, but my
heart found no happiness there. And now I had more than I had ever
expected to find. I found the true domestic happiness more beautiful,
more sublime and holy than I had imagined - but its beauty was touched
with anguish and its joy with anxious sorrow because it was so
transitory.

We needed so little - a couple of tidy rooms with few ugly things and
one or two objects of beauty, a small garden plot with flowers, some
sunlight by day, some lamplight cheer at night, enough to eat, and
quiet and serenity for study - and all the hours spent together were
completely satisfying in their measure of glory and every minute of
separation became endurable through the prospect of finding each other
again.

Elsje had the child-like power of enjoyment, that in a trifle - an
opening flower, a new piece of furniture, an ornament or decoration, a
song, a few fine lines of poetry - can find gratification and delight
for hours and days. She had the pure taste that, above all, fears
overloading and over-excitement, and takes pleasure only in what is
simple and what is truly enjoyed.

How little I would have needed to make her life a constant joy. But
even that little I was not able to give. The poverty from which I had
wished to teach men to escape, the poverty falsely, proclaimed as
Jesus' friend and the bride of the devout, - in truth Christ's fiercest
enemy and a horror and terror to every truly devout man - this poverty
slunk into my house and with a grim laugh of scorn revenged herself
upon me who had dared assail her sacredness and sublimity. And she
struck the most beautiful and the dearest that life had offered me, she
menaced my greatest treasure, won but so shortly and at such great
sacrifice.

It seemed as though Elsje's dauntless efforts to prepare a comforting
home for me, her unfailing patience and brave cheerfulness consumed her
physical being all the more. I saw the battle that she was waging, and
it tortured me with a thousand variations of pain. Her keeping up when
she was well-nigh powerless with exhaustion. Her increased tenderness
when she saw me yield under the heavy pressure of care, whereby I
noticed that she felt herself responsible for my suffering, as it was
for her sake that I had given up my life of prosperity.

Then at the time of our greatest troubles, came that which Elsje had
expected and longed for as the highest blessing - maternity.

I too had desired the child and had longed for it with fervent
tenderness, picturing to myself how I could now bestow all the interest
and fatherly devotion without self-constraint, from natural instinct,
from overpowering love. How I should love this child and delight in the
sight of its development day by day. Recalling with bitter sorrow how
vaguely and distantly the lovely blossoming of Lucia's children had
passed by me, because I had not participated with my entire being in
their growth and their development, I now hoped after all to be father
in the full sense of the word, and with clear perception and unabating
interest to delight in this lovely miracle. Surely no child before it
had yet breathed the air, has ever been an fervently loved, as tenderly
discussed, as devoutly looked forward to as this.

But a dark foreboding dwelt in me with relentless certainty. I knew
that calamity threatened, my dreams betokened it and it became daily
clearer what form this calamity would take. The glad promise had a
diabolically mocking sound, the subtle perceptive faculty of my
insensible being felt the falseness of the sweet announcement. Toward
Elsje as she tranquilly sat by my side sewing at tiny garments and
absorbed in the sweet prospect of her child, toward Elsje I could feign
hopefulness and enter into her sweet phantasies - but myself I could
not deceive. I knew that a picture of happiness was teasingly held out
to me that my eyes would never behold. I knew that the genuineness of
my conviction, the strength of my faith, would be submitted to the
severest test, to the keenest torture.

Then too, through Elsje's peculiar condition, which makes certain
spiritual longings speak so loudly, it became clear to me what she had
so carefully hidden from me.

She always questioned me about my dreams what and whom I had seen,
where I had been. And once the words escaped her:

"Oh, I wish that I could dream like you!"

"Why, Elsje? What would you do?"

"I should try to go to Holland," she said softly.

Then I understood her. It was homesickness that had taken hold upon her.

"Do you long to be back in Holland?"

She nodded mutely, but immediately added in a livelier tone:

"But I don't want you to mind that, my dear husband, as long as you
consider your work here is not yet accomplished. I am patient and can
very well wait a while. But there is a possibility after all, isn't
there, - when our child is a little bigger - that we go back to live in
Holland?"

"If my endeavors meet with no better success than they have so far,
Elsje, we can just as well live in Holland."

Then no longer restraining herself, she said:

"I should have thought it so lovely if my baby had been born in
Holland, amid the green pastures in a bright pretty little Dutch house,
under the lovely Dutch clouds, near our sea. And then I could already
early have shown him all the beautiful things that we have only in
Holland - our quaint little town, and the paintings in the museum, and
the peasant houses, and the dunes. Here everything is so big, so hard,
and so ugly -"

I promised to remain here no longer than I considered strictly
necessary. But I knew that her wish could not be fulfilled. Even had I
had the money, she would not have had the strength at the time to take
the trip. But her mind was constantly occupied with Holland and her
child in Dutch environment. And her growing aversion to the food in the
strange country, her desire for the diet of the land where she had been
brought up, wrought fatally upon her system.

One day when I had again returned home discouraged after a useless
attempt to induce a learned society to apply and test its sociological
and biological knowledge in a practical direction, she said:

"Dearest husband, is it stupid of me to think that Jesus who has drawn
and led you hither, could now so easily also move others to listen to
you, and to translate your thoughts into deeds?"

"No, Elsje. For if I assume that Christ has influenced me in
particular, for his purpose, then I can also think that he influences
others for that purpose. But yet such a thought seems like
superstition. That is to say like the regarding of things divine in a
human way. Yes, if Christ went to work as a man, then we might be
surprised that he did not act as we should.

"But though he is a thinking, feeling being, that loves us, still he
acts toward us individuals with the exalted greatness and seeming
ruthlessness of a natural force, of a divine power. He can love us and
know us, better than we know the cells of our own body, and yet take no
account of our little worries, because he knows how insignificant they
are. And he always acts through great, universal things, instincts and
impulses, that must serve for all, but under which the individual must
often suffer. His laws are good, good for us all, but not perfect, any
more than human laws. Cannot all impulses degenerate? Are not all our
tendencies full of danger? Is not our body full of defects? Must we not
help and improve continuously? And nevertheless is not everything again
compiled with an ingenuity incomprehensible to us? Think what it means
to heal a slight wound or, a thousand times more wonderful still, to
give birth to a new human being!"

"But new plants and animals are born too, and the construction of a
plant or an animal is just as ingenious. Is that all the work of Jesus?
Let me say Jesus instead of Christ, I love that name better."

"Yes, there is perhaps something more intimate in this name. When in my
dream I asked my father about Christ, he pointed out to me the
beautiful markings on the wings of a butterfly. And with this in mind I
began to suspect what Jesus is. It is really so simple, so perfectly
obvious. One or the other: either this butterfly decoration originated
accidentally, or it was made with intention, feeling and thoughtful
consideration. For centuries God, the Supreme Omnipotence, has been
held responsible for it. And when the scholars finally could no longer
believe in so many contradictions and so many imperfections in an
almighty, perfect Being, then they tried their best to prove that the
beautiful markings of the butterfly had originated quite accidentally;
which is even more foolish than to think that an etching by Rembrandt
or a statue by Phidias is an accidental formation. And absolutely to
prove the contrary is impossible. One can merely speak of extreme
improbability. But I know nothing more improbable than this - that a
butterfly, a flower or a human being should be the accidental product
of blind forces, supposing that one may speak of blind or unconscious
forces. That the sun and the stars revolve around the earth, that the
Egyptian hieroglyphics are accidental scratches on the granite - all
this is even a great deal less improbable. But then they must also be
living, thinking, feeling and reasoning beings that have created
butterfly, flower and man and are still constantly creating and
changing them, with infinite skill, with incomprehensible ingenuity,
but nevertheless with ever-recurring imperfection. And probably beings
who are by no means always in harmony with one another, that fight and
struggle among them, supplanting and replacing one another, whose
desires, endeavors, joys and sorrows are far beyond the comprehension
of insignificant individuals as we - but whose expressions of life we
nevertheless clearly discern as separate entities, as races and species
struggling side by side, sometimes with, sometimes sharply opposite to
one another. The being that has created us, whose spirit, mind, will
and sensibility binds us together, as does our body its cells, into one
great unity, outwardly imperceptible, but perfectly evident to our
inner sensibility, is the Spirit of Humanity, the Primal Reason, the
Genitive Soul of Mankind - Christ."

"Thus every species of animal and plant then must have its Jesus?"

"Certainly, every species must have its genitive Soul, - and every cell
in every individual has its own. How these entities are connected and
how they are separated from one another - that the biologists will
learn gradually. They are scarcely at the beginning of their knowledge."

"But God the Supreme Omnipotence nevertheless just calmly tolerates all
this struggle, this suffering and this imperfection."

"Certainly - for it is."

"Why? Wherefore? Isn't that just as unsatisfactory?"

" Dearest wife, the difficulty is ever merely transferred; this will
continue so, until we possess higher insight. I shall not pretend that
as Milton I can justify God's ways before mankind, nor yet that as
Dante I can say everything there in to be said concerning God and the
Universe, nor even that as Spinoza, Hegel or Schopenhauer I can build
up a complete system. That is unscientific, all true science is
assuming and computing. Of the highest Power we know next to nothing:
but nevertheless enough for our life. We know that his laws obtain
everywhere as far as our perception reaches, and we know that He works
equally in the living and in the apparently not living, in the smallest
and in the greatest, and that our life rests on faith in him, that our
peace lies in His will. But of Jesus we know much more, for,
scientifically, we see his expressions of life and we feel his effect
upon our spirit. And that is over and above sufficient to comfort us in
all our suffering and all our troubles. But future generations will
know much more, will go much more surely, will lead much more beautiful
lives and die much happier."

"Didn't you tell me, dear, that Emmy, your first love, did not seem to
know Jesus, but Lucia did? And yet you loved Emmy so and have seen her
in your dreams and she has brought you to Jesus and to me. But Lucia
has always remained a stranger to you. How is that?"

"Yes, it is so, Elsje. And I see no contradiction in it. Emmy lived in
a dead, false Protestantism, but she was designed for something better.
Lucia lived in the warm, living faith of the Middle Ages, which,
however, we are outgrowing. The Middle Ages knew Jesus and lived in him
fervently, truly and really, as is manifest in their entire nature.
Their inner sensibility of him was much stronger than ours, but their
knowledge, their definite realization of him was much more faulty.
Lucia's piety belongs to an earlier phase - never can it reconcile
itself to ours. She is a perfect blossom on a more ancient branch of
humanity. But she can never be perfectly mated with any who, as we,
belongs to a more modern generation. My love for Emmy was not as deep
and as strong as my love for you, Elsje. Never. It was a much more
superficial, personal sentiment, not encouraged by return, not
sufficiently powerful to stream out further. I never learned to love
mankind through Emmy, as I did through you. And that Emmy in my dreams
as it were reserved me for herself, and then brought me to Elsje, so
that my power of love has attained to perfect, glorious development,
that I shall never be able to regard otherwise than as the greatest
blessing, the greatest privilege that Jesus ever let me experience."

"And do you believe, dearest, even though now your work should remain
entirely useless here, that humanity shall nevertheless be benefitted
by our love?"

"I believe it. But it goes beyond my responsibility and beyond my care.
Our responsibility goes no further than our comprehension. I am simply
obedient to what I recognize as my noblest and highest inclinations. I
act according to the beat of my knowledge. The responsibility I leave
to Him, who gave us our impulses and our faculty of judging, whose
wisdom and sensibility are so far exalted above ours as a human body is
exalted above the most ingenious machine invented by man. But though
now I am powerless to exert a direct influence, I shall not give it up
and shall not rest. I shall write down everything and testify of Him.
And He in His own way and in His own time, will bring it all into
regard and into practice."

"Perhaps through our child," said my poor wife; and my firmness forsook
me.

XXXI

The child of our love lived only one day.

When, a hundred years earlier, it befell my brother Lessing that he
lost his only-born after a single day of life, he bitterly reviled
Christ in his sorrow. With cutting sarcasm be lauded the wisdom of this
child, who would not enter life until he was dragged into it with tongs
of iron, - and the same night departed again.

My brother Lessing was a devout man, but yet not sufficiently devout to
revere the beauty, the majesty and greatness of Human Being amid the
suffering he had to undergo. The true, living Christ had also called
him to testify, and he did not in his testimony spare the Bible-Jesus,
the artificial product of human fancy. But the belief in the future
Glory of Mankind for which the suffering of the individual is not too
high a price, afforded him no solace and did not reconcile him to the
bitterness of life.

I will not laud my strength. I was as weak in my overwhelming sorrow as
one might expect of a poor mortal. As long as my wife survived her
child, my love for her gave me the strength outwardly to show nothing
that might resemble bitterness or despair. When she too was taken from
me, there was nothing or no one to force me to a display of
cheerfulness and resignation, and for a while I was a crushed, beaten
and broken creature, a faded, falling leaf.

But the knowledge, the spiritual, intellectual knowledge, could not
forsake me even though all sensibility had been dulled and stifled by
excess of grief. As long as we contemplate ourselves with the
scientific eye, from the height of our inmost consciousness, so long
too there is something that exists above pain, old age and death. He
who accurately observes himself in suffering and old age, is thereby
exalted above time and sorrow, for that which contemplates is always
more and higher than that which is contemplated. And so in the midst of
ray wretchedness I knew that gladness and eternal youth dwelt within me
through this tiny spark of contemplative power.

I knew and never forgot that the Eternal in which we live does not take
anxious account of a little more or less of suffering and does not
spare his creatures.

It suffers thousands of seeds to perish in order that one of them may
attain perfect growth. I knew that the pain I felt was the after effect
of a craving now grown useless and that I should no longer be sensible
of it as soon as I considered what had been attained, and desisted from
the unessential and unattainable.

And I saw no reason to doubt of the supremacy of blessedness and joy
above all sorrow, because I, insignificant individual, in a few short
years of life had been made to suffer the utmost that I could endure.

I was weak, weak as all human beings, but an inconceivable spark of
knowledge shone out like a bright tiny star above all my dark
infirmities. And it is upon this little twinkling star, dear reader,
that I would fix your attention, and not upon my frailties.

What else is it but weakness, miserable, lamentable weakness, that is
spread out before us in the bitter invective speeches against Life by
those who are called pessimists, by Schopenhauer, Wagner, Ibsen,
dragged along as they were in the ebb of life toward the middle of this
century?

I was born at the shifting of the tide and I know that the rising
waters are bearing me upon them. I know full well that pure blessedness
is not yet in Human Being, but that it must be created and that the
first condition for its advent is the faith and the will, the courage
and the strength of the Originals. Wherever true being obtains there is
pure blessedness, and it is our part to attain this true being - but
the first essential for it is the foreseeing conviction. For willing is
creating and each of us, building in eternity, follows his own plan.

My optimism is truly not the hiding myself from inevitable grief, for
with towering waves the sea of sorrow has pounded against my beacon
towers. The fires were not extinguished and beamed out above it all.

But not a moment longer than I can help it do I allow myself to dwell
on the dark, the gloomy and melancholy side of life. Nor shall I try to
thrill your heart, dear reader, with scenes of melancholy, sad as the
things may be that I have to tell you. The worst of all demoniacal
aberrations is a passion for wallowing in the mire of dreariness, of
melancholy. Guard yourself, guard yourself against the dismal lime rods
that threaten the free flight of your thoughts.

Elsje and I had frequently spoken of dying, but only when a vigorous
mood permitted us to do so without sadness or apprehension. For the
worst thing about death is not the actual dying, but the breath of
horror that it sometimes casts upon our sensibilities.

That our age permits so few to live beautifully is sad, but it is far
worse that it gives to so few the opportunity and the courage to die
worthily. Our generation ill understands how to lives but it knows even
less how to die. Most die, not the quite unappalling death of the hero,
but the horrible Philistine's death, as Goethe called it.

To die beautifully and worthily had been the dearest wish of both of
us, after that of a long life in happy unison. And Elsje attained this
desire as nearly as our wretched circumstances allowed.

"It is good after all now," she said when she felt the certainty of
what was about to take place, "that our darling baby did not live. For
it would have been so hard for you, poor, dear man, to care for the
child alone and at the same time continue with your work."

Eagerly she questioned me every morning about my dreams and it pleased
her exceedingly when I could honestly say that despite my anxieties my
dreams had been of a serene, refreshing splendor. And she always wanted
to know more of this wonderful state, that must be so like what we
shall experience after this body's decay and is so difficult to
describe and to comprehend.

"I think the worst," she said, "is that perhaps we shall never be
certain, when we see each other again, whether it is not a delusive
image, a product of our own imagination, instead of the other's actual
being. For then we no longer, as now, have our senses and thus nothing
to convince us that what we perceive is the same as what we perceived
in life."

"I can't say much in answer to that, dearest, except this - that even
in the brief moments of perception during sleep, I have felt assurance.
Self-deception may indeed be possible, but there is also infinite,
quiet time for consideration, observation, recollection, which in my
sleep is always wanting. And there must also be amalgamation,
dissolution of personality, perception through the medium of still
living beings - a multitude of conditions and faculties now still
wholly incomprehensible to us."

"That sounds sad to me: dissolution of the personality. For it will be
for you, for you as you are now, for your own personal nature, your
dear voice, your gentle eyes that I shall long for ever and ever, and
for that above everything."

"I only know, Elsje, that nothing has been lost or can be lost of all
our impressions, of all the most beautiful and precious things we have
experienced. Nothing perishes, and surely least of all that which is
the constituent element of all that is: feeling. All feeling is
eternal, and the least that we experience is lastingly recorded in the
memory of the Almighty. I can say nothing more nor be more explicit
about it, we must comfort ourselves with this main thought."

"If you are comforted and brave, dearest husband, I am too."

"I am, for even if I must live on ten or twenty solitary years after
our separation, I have my work and my study, and I also have my nights
in which I shall call you. And you'll surely want to come when I call
you?

"Oh, dearest, whether I will want to? If I know that it can comfort
you! Whether I will want to?"

And her dim eyes smiled at the extreme superfluence of my question.

"And when you have your gloomy moments again, dear, will you forgive me
then that I induced you to cause and to experience so much sorrow? - I
know of course that you never think bitterly of me, and that you
forgive me everything in your joyous, vigorous times, when your real,
true nature dominates. But there are periods of dejection too. Will you
not think bitterly of me then?"

"Rather ask me, Elsje, whether I will forgive Christ that he induced me
to cause you so much suffering, that he did not point out my way to me
sooner and more distinctly, and left you to pine and wait so long.
Christ is the Mighty, the Strong, the Wise, who governs us and who
bears the greatest responsibility. We two are poor, blind, little
toilers who have helped one another to the best of our abilities. For
each other we have only gratitude!"

"Yes!" said Elsje, contented; "for each other only gratitude."

And to the last moments of her life she was absorbed and comforted in
the thought that I would still have the nights, in which I would call
her and find strength and encouragement for the lonely day.

"To forgive Jesus," she said another time, "is really absurd, isn't it?
For I would love him at least just as much as you, if only I might
think of him as human."

"Everything we say, Elsje, is absurd. But what we feel is not absurd.
When we have returned to the Source of Life, to the Genitive-soul of
humanity, only then I think shall we realize how absurd were our words,
but how true our feeling."

The last words I heard from her, in her anxious care for me, were a
whispered: "Will you call me!" and once more when her voice had grown
toneless her lips formed the word: "Call!"

Then the blossom withered, and fell. But the mighty stem had grown
richer through the beautiful bloom of her love-breathing life.

XXXII

After Elsje's death I had no more peace in the new country. It seemed
as though her homesickness had passed on to me. My dreams spoke night
after night of Holland, only Holland, and of the place where I had
found my wife. Her supernatural being seemed to drive me toward the
land of her longing.

A long time I resisted this desire, unwilling to give up the work that
I had begun with go much sacrifice and carried through with so much
anguish.

Then I received a strange communication. I heard through a business
agent of my family in Italy, with whom I had remained in touch, that my
mother had died and had left her fortune to my children; and that my
daughter Emilia, having attained her majority, was determined not to
accept the money but to give it to me. My children were all married or
independent, and the whole family was scattered. Lucia was an abbess in
a religious institution.

Then I could no longer resist the secret craving which did not cease
night or day and so distinctly appeared to me like a warning from my
dead wife, and I went back to this little town, where I bought my
present house and the small nursery garden, which still furnishes me
daily occupation.

What I received from my daughter was not much, but sufficient for
maintaining my simple, provincial life here. Gradually I succeeded in
accustoming the petty provincials to my strange ways, and now my life
is as endurable as any that I could still have hoped to find on earth.

Only by this strange communication and Emilia's friendly act was I
aroused from the dark stupor into which Elsje's death had plunged me. I
would not perhaps have had the power to rouse myself to an interest in
life and in my work, would perhaps have fallen ill and died without
once seeing Elsje in my dreams. For my despair and my homesickness had
also dimmed the clarity of my dreamlife. I slept little and badly, the
tortured soul could not separate itself sufficiently from the restless
body to attain to reintegration and transcendental perception.

Emilia's act saved me. And then I made the comforting observation, that
with the recovery from a period of deep affliction the power of
enjoyment is extraordinarily heightened. I saw my daughter again in
Paris, where we had agreed to meet before I should go to Holland, and
the one single day there was marked by a wondrous indescribable joy.

It overcame me quite suddenly - during the journey from America - that
I felt the dark melancholy giving way. And then too came the clear
perception during the night, brief but intense, in which I for the
first time summoned the beloved dead, heard her soft, loving voice, and
saw her eyes.

In Paris the reunion with the only one of my children who had remained
true to me - the gentle devoted girl who wanted to continue to
understand and to help her father - was an exquisite joy.

It is impossible to put into words what takes place in the soul at such
a time, and the effect is so strange that, even while experiencing it,
I was filled with continual devout wonder.

The connection between the spiritual body and waking body must then
suddenly be supplied and firmly restored again, and the weakness of
this spiritual joint that was caused by melancholy all at once relieved.

All that I saw that day was joy, was well-nigh bliss. And above all -
it signified so much! With everything I saw, I felt the existence of
infinite prospects of joy and beauty that were indicated by it, only
just briefly indicated -but unmistakable.

There was a large exposition - one of these banal world fairs which I
had often railed at. But now with my thousand-fold heightened
sensibility of joy and beauty, I saw it all as a distinct dawning and
precursor of untold approaching glory.

The wide, sunny avenues with the gilded statues gleaming in the clear
sunlight, the temples and galleries white and stately, the thousands
and thousands of people assembled from every land, the joyous festive
aspect, the music on all sides, the odor of dust, of linden-blossoms,
of faintly perfumed clothes - ah! how powerless is this summary to
picture the indescribable, the beautiful joy whereof all this seemed to
me to be a fleeting proclaimer. I could look about me where I would -
at an Eastern façade, at a group of musicians, at a leafy row of sunlit
trees, at the sweet, pretty, well-dressed girl who walked by my side
and who was my daughter - everything betokened gladness, strange,
subtle, unknown joy, intense splendor, secret expectation of great,
never-suspected mysteries and wonders.

On this happy day these two truths were firmly rooted in my soul:
First, that humanity is on its upward course, that the wound of God is
healing, that a new common welfare, surpassing all imagination, is in
store, even on this earth, with a glory beyond measure or example. And
secondly, that our power of enjoyment continues to grow under the
weight of our mortal body and that there is nothing improbable in the
expectation of the ancient believers that we shall only then really
know what true blessedness is when we are forever delivered from this
burden.

Even as all faculties, all organs, are developed by opposition,
provided it is not overpowering, so also the power of loving and of
being blessed is developed under the outward opposition of the mortal,
physical life, provided the spirit retains the once acquired knowledge
and is able to endure the tribulations and with prudence to conquer
them.

This advantage I did not lose again in my later solitary life. My old
age, monotonous and inwardly lonely though it may be, is joyous and
happy, full of bright expectation, full of gentle resignation.

A few times I again had the great outward pleasure of having my
daughter visit me and of being able to speak with her openly and
honestly about my life, about her mother, about Elsje, my eternally
beloved, true wife. I could speak to no one else of this. But Emilia
always listened attentively and reverently, and I do not doubt but that
it taught her something and that it broadened and cleared her mind.

Aside from these few eminently happy days, I do not despise the most
trifling daily pleasures - nevertheless I leave my little city but
seldom. I find pleasure in the beauties of my little town and this low
land at all seasons, in the working and cultivating of my little plot
of land, in the freshly plowed earth with its sweet smell, in the eager
interest in the thriving of my plants, and also in the small domestic
joys.

An old faithful servant from "The Toelast" has, after the death of Jan
Baars, gone over into my employ, and she cooks deliciously and cares
for me as for her own child. And the long, solemn, solitary evenings in
my quiet house with my books, papers, memories and a little music are
never too long for me.

What I mind most are the meetings of the board of directors of the
orphanage, but I shall tell of that another time. It is not a heavy
affliction, however.

The nights have, as formerly, continued to be my greatest solace. The
years now pass swiftly and fleetingly, for in age one measures the
flight of time with a larger scale. I now reckon its flight almost
solely by the milestones of my dreams, by the times when I could summon
my beloved and was sensible of her presence.

In this connection I shall recount one more dream - it was in the late
morning hours between seven and eight o'clock. The dream began with a
conversation concerning the life after death, in which I tried to
convince some one that there would be a fusion of units, not a personal
continuation of life, but an absorbing of our individual being into the
universal being with complete retention of our memory and our
experience. This was clearer to me than ever before.

Then all at once came the thought: I have not yet seen my beloved, she
is waiting, I must go quickly to greet her. Thereupon the consciousness
that I was dreaming and was in E------ and that I should find her
there. I went out of doors and saw the blue sky and a magnificent
landscape. Then I passed into the state of ecstasy. Following one upon
the other in rapid succession, the most glorious spectacles unfolded
themselves and I did nothing but utter cries of rapture and fervid
thanks. I saw an entrancing mountain landscape, clearly and sharply
outlined, the crevices in the rocks, the rough stony ledges lit up by
the sun, the mountain pastures o'erspread with golden radiance. And
then all at once there lay before me a fair green valley, with low
shrubs, a clear, gently-flowing, winding stream, quiet houses and a few
tall-stemmed tropical trees. An indescribable, deeply-significant calm
and stillness reigned there. The land was populated and thickly
settled, but enwrapped in a universal breathless consecration of peace
and joy. I saw light-blue peacocks quietly strutting about in the sun,
their images reflected by the water. The colors, the pure atmosphere,
the pretty, quiet house, the solemn silence, the presence, felt but not
seen, of thousands of peaceful, happy human beings, the light horizon
with the mighty sun-lit mountain chain - all this was too beautiful for
words.

I called my beloved that she should come and look too. I did not see
her, but I heard her dear voice saying:

"What a quantity of flowers!"

Then I felt the desire to pray, and facing toward the direction whence
the light came, I for the first time no longer saw the dark cloud which
I had always seen there until Elsje's death and which after that time
only gradually dissolved. And for the first time in the dream-world I
saw the disc of the sun.

Then I spoke to Christ, passionately and eloquently as I had never done
before and surely would never be able to do in the day-time. Gratitude
and love I gave utterance to.

"My father and my mother thou art, and I love thee despite all I have
suffered for thee. I am willing to suffer for thee, and I feel no
bitterness for the grief I have suffered. I forgive thee, I forgive
thee, and I know that thou forgivest me all my follies and my
weaknesses - for between us there shall no longer be any question of
forgiveness, but only of gratitude, even as between myself and my
beloved. For we cannot conceive thee and therefore cannot love thee
sufficiently, and we only love thee in each other, even as we know each
other. But I know that the love for my beloved is love for thee and
that in her I love thee. And I feel no regret and am happy and
thankful, content to have followed thee and served thee, firmly
believing that I shall grow in power till I shall recognize and attain
fitness for eternal blessedness. I ask for nothing, but I long for thee
and for thy Glory, and I shall leave behind a glowing trail of
gratitude so that the others may find thee by it."

As I said this, I saw light mists draw away from the face of the sun,
and it began to shine with blinding radiance. This seemed such a
gracious revelation to me that I could only cry: Ah! Ah! in my
transport. Then I felt that I would weep or faint from joy, but that I
did not want, and I awoke!

That morning I was refreshed and well fortified against trouble.

The only thing I still fear is a weakening of the mind in my declining
years, so that I should have to drift about for years as a hopeless
wreck. I have a theory that one can prevent this by sagacious prudence
and by exertion and exercise of the contemplative power.

But this theory has yet to be proved. And my example alone would not be
sufficient for that.

As long as I retain my clearness of mind, I have plenty of work in
elaborating these ideas and conceptions which so far I have only
briefly indicated.

In the first place?


-       -       -


The E------ Journal in its issue of June 12th, 1908, published the
following account:


"To-day a sad accident occurred outside the harbor within eight of our
town. On the yacht 'Elsje,' belonging to Mr. Muralto, a fire started,
presumably caused by the upsetting of an alcohol lamp. The entire
vessel was speedily ablaze. Mr. Muralto, despite his great age a strong
swimmer, jumped overboard, endeavoring to carry his companion, a
skipper's lad who could not swim, to the haven on some planks. But the
strong current pulled both out to sea. The boy was picked up by a
home-sailing sloop, Mr. Muralto was drowned. As the deemed was
universally respected and loved for his benevolence and unassuming
manner, his death arouses universal sympathy in our town."





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