Interlocutors: CESARINO. MARICONDO.
CES. It is said that the best and most excellent things are in the world when the whole universe responds from every part, perfectly, to those things; and this it is said takes place as the planets arrive at Aries, being when that one of the eighth sphere again reaches the upper invisible firmament, where is also the other Zodiac; 1 and low and evil things
prevail when the opposite disposition and order supervene, and thus through the power of change comes the continual mutation of like and unlike, from one opposite to another. The revolution then of the great year of the world is that space of time in which, through the most diverse customs and, effects, and. by the most opposite and contrary means, it returns to the same again. As we see in particular years such as that of the sun, where the beginning of an opposite tendency is the end. of one year, and the end of this is the beginning of that. Therefore now that we have been in the dregs of the sciences, which have brought forth the dregs of opinions, which are the cause of the dregs of customs and, of works, we may certainly expect to return to the better condition.
MARICONDO. Know, my brother, that this succession and order of things is most true and most certain; but as regards ourselves in all ordinary conditions whatever, the present afflicts more than the past, nor can these two together console, but only the future, which is always in hope and expectation as you may see designated in this figure which is taken from the ancient Egyptians, who made a certain statue which is a bust, upon which they placed three heads, one of a wolf which looks behind, one
of a lion with the face turned half round, and the third of a dog who looks straight before him; to signify that things of the past afflict by means of thoughts, but not so much as things of the present which actually torment, while the future ever promises something better; therefore behold the wolf that howls, the lion that roars and the dog that barks (applause).
CES. What means that legend that is written above?
MAR. See, that above the wolf is Lam, above the lion Modo, above the dog Praeterea, which are words signifying the three parts of time.
CES. Now read the tablet.
MAR. I will do so.
A wolf, a lion, and a dog appear
At dawn, at midday, and dark night.
That which I spent, retain and for myself procure,
So much was given, is given, and may be given;
For that which I did, I do, and have to do.
In the past, in the present and in the future,
I do repent, torment myself and re-assure,
For the loss, in suffering and in expectation.
With sour, with bitter and with sweet
Experience, the fruits, and hope,
Threatens, afflict, and comforts me.
The age I lived, do live and am to live,
Affrights me, shakes me and upholds p. 4
In absence, presence and in prospect.
Much, too much and sufficient
Of the past, of now, and of to come,
Pat me in fear, in anguish and in hope.
CES. This is precisely the humour of a furious lover, though the same may be said of nearly all mortals who are seriously affected in any way. We cannot say that this accords with all conditions in a general way, but only with those mortals who were, and who are, wretched. So that to him who sought a kingdom and obtained it, belongs the fear of losing the same; and to one who has laboured to secure the fruits of love, such as the special grace of the beloved, belongs the tooth of jealousy and suspicion. Thus, too, with the states of the world; when we find ourselves in darkness and in adversity we may surely prophecy light and prosperity, and when we are in a state of happiness and discipline, doubtless we have to expect the advent of ignorance and distress. As in the case of Hermes Trismegistus, who, seeing Egypt in all the splendour of the sciences and of occultism, so that he considered that men were consorting with gods and spirits and were in consequence most pious, he made that prophetic lament to Asclepios, saying that the darkness of new religions and cults must follow, and that of the then present things nothing would
remain but idle tales and matter for condemnation. So the Hebrews, when they were slaves in Egypt, and banished to the deserts, were comforted by their prophets with the hope of liberty and the reacquisition of their country; when they were in authority and tranquillity they were menaced with dispersion and captivity. And as in these days there is no evil nor injury to which we are not subject, so there is no good nor honour that we may not promise ourselves. Thus does it happen to all the other generations and states, the which, if they endure and be not destroyed entirely by the force of vicissitude, it is inevitable that from evil they come to good, from good to evil, from low estate to high, from high to low, out of obscurity into splendour, out of splendour into obscurity, for this is the natural order of things; outside of which order, if another should be found which destroys or corrects it, I should believe it and not dispute it, for I reason with none other than a natural spirit. 1
MAR. We know that you are not a theologian but a philosopher, and that you treat of philosophy and not of theology.
CES. It is so. Bat let us see what follows.
CES. I see a smoking thurible, supported by an arm, and the legend which says: "Illius aram," and then the following:--
Now who shall. say the breath of my desire
Of high and holy worship is demeaned
If decked in divers forms ornate she come
Through vows I offer to the shrine of Fame?
And if another work should call, and lead me on,
Who would aver that more it might beseem
If that, of Heaven so loved and eulogized,
Should hold me not in its captivity.
Leave, oh leave me, every other wish,
Cease, fretting thoughts, and give me peace;
Why draw me forth from looking at the sun,
From looking at the sun that I so love.
You ask in pity, wherefore lookest thou
On that, on which to look is thy undoing?
Wherefore so captivated by that light?
And I will say, because to me this pain
Is dearer than all other pleasures are.
MAR. In reference to this I told you that although one should be attached to corporeal and
external beauty yet he may honourably and worthily be so attached; provided that, through this material beauty, which is a glittering ray of spiritual form and action, of which it is the trace and shadow, he comes to raise himself to the consideration and worship of divine beauty, light and majesty; so that, from these visible things his heart becomes exalted towards those things which are more excellent in themselves and grateful to the purified soul, in so far as they are removed from matter and sense. Ah me! he will say, if beauty so shadowy, so dim, so fugitive, painted on the surface of bodily matter pleases me so much, and moves my affections so much, and stamps upon my spirit I know not what of reverence for majesty, captivates me, softly binds me, and draws me, so that I find nothing that comes within the senses that satisfies me so much,--how will it be with the substantially, originally, primitively beautiful? How will it be with my soul, the divine intellect, and the law of nature? It is right, then, that the contemplation of this vestige of light lead me, through the purification of my soul, to the imitation, and to conformity and participation in that which is more worthy, and higher, into which I am transformed and unto which I unite myself: for I am certain
that nature, which has placed this beauty before my eyes and has gifted me with an interior sense, through which I am able to infer a deeper and incomparably greater beauty, wills that I be promoted to the altitude and eminence of more excellent kinds. Nor do I believe that my true divinity, as she shows herself to me in symbols and vestiges, will worn me if in symbols and vestiges I honour her and sacrifice to her; as my heart and affections are always so ordered as to look higher. For who may he be, that can honour in essence and real substance, if in such manner he cannot understand it?
It is in and through Symbols that man, consciously or unconsciously, lives, works, and has his being. For is not a Symbol ever, to him who has eyes for it, some dimmer or clearer revelation of the Godlike?--("Sartor Resartus.")
CES. Right well do you demonstrate how, to men of heroic, spirit, all things turn to good and how they are able to turn captivity into greater liberty, and the being vanquished into an occasion for greater victory. Well dost thou know that the love of corporeal beauty to those who are well disposed, not only does not keep them back from higher enterprises, but rather does it lend wings to arrive at these, when the necessity for love is converted
into a study of the virtuous, through which the lover is forced into those conditions in which he is worthy of the thing loved and perchance of even a still higher, better and more beautiful thing; so that be comes to be either contented to have gained that which he desires, or so satisfied with its own beauty, that he can despise that of others, which comes to be, by him, vanquished and overcome, so that he either remains tranquil, or else he aspires to things more excellent and grand. And so will the heroic spirit ever go on trying until it becomes raised to the desire of divine beauty itself, without similitude, figure, symbol, or kind, if it be possible, and what is more one knows that he will reach that height.
MAR. You see, Cesarino, how this enthusiast is justified in his anger against those who reproach him with being in captivity to a low beauty, to which he dedicates his vows, and attributes these forms, so that he is deaf to those voices which call him to nobler enterprises: for these low things are derived from those, and are dependent upon them, so that through these you may gain access to those, according to their own degrees. These, if they be not God, are things divine, are living images of Him, in the which, if He sees Himself
adored, He is not offended. For we have a charge from the supernal spirit which says: Adorate sgabellum pedum eius. And in another place a divine messenger says: Adorabimus ubi steterunt pedes eius.
CES. God, the divine beauty, and splendour shines and is in all things; and therefore it does not appear to me an error to admire Him in all things, according to the way in which we have communion with them. Error it would surely be if we should give to another the honour due to Him alone. But what means the enthusiast when he says, "Leave, leave me, every other wish"?
MAR. That he banishes every thought presented to him by different objects, which have not the power to move him and which would rob him of the sight of the sun which comes to him through that window more than through others.
CES. Why, importuned by thoughts, does he continually gaze at that splendour which destroys him, and yet does not satisfy him, as it torments him ever so fiercely?
MAR. Because all our consolations in this state of controversy are not without their discouragements, however vast those consolations may be just as the fear of a king for the loss of his kingdom,
is greater than that of a mendicant who is in peril of losing ten farthings; and more important is the care of a prince over a republic, than that of a rustic over a herd of swine; as perchance the pleasures and delights of the one are greater than the pleasures and delights of the other. Therefore the loving and aspiring higher, brings with it greater glory and majesty, with more care, thought, and pain: I mean in this state, where the one opposite is always joined to the other, finding the greatest contrariety always in the same genus, and consequently about the same subject, although the opposites cannot be together. And thus proportionally in the love of the supernal Eros, as the Epicurean poet declares of vulgar and animal desire when he says:--
Fluctuat incertis erroribus ardor amantum,
Nec constat, quid primum oculis, manibusque fruantur:
Quod petiere, premunt arte, faciuntque dolorem
Corporis, et dentes inlidunt saepe labellis,
Osculaque adfigunt, quia non est pura voluptas,
Et stimuli subsunt, qui instigant laedere id ipsum,
Quodcunque est, rabies, unde illa haec germina surgant.
Sed leviter poenas frangit Venus inter amorem,
Blandaque refraenat morsus admixta voluptas;
Namque in eo spes est, unde est ardoris origo,
Restingui quoque posse ab eodem corpore flammam.
[paragraph continues] Behold, then, with what condiments the skill and
art of nature works, so that one is wasted with the pleasure of that which destroys him, is happy in the midst of torment, and tormented in the midst of all the satisfactions. For nothing is produced absolutely from a homœogeneous (pacifico) principle, but all from opposite principles, through the victory and dominion of one part of the opposites, and there is no pleasure of generation on one side without the pain of corruption on the other: and where these things which are generated and corrupted are joined together and as it were compose the same subject, the feeling of delight and of sadness are found together; so that it comes to be called more easily delight than sadness, if it happens that this predominates, and solicits the senses with greater force.
CES. Now let us take into consideration the following image which is that of a phœnix, which burns in the sun, and the smoke from which almost obscures the brightness of that by which it is set on fire, and here is the motto which says: Neque simile, nec par mar.
This phœnix set on fire by the bright sun,
Which slowly, slowly to extinction goes, p. 13
The while she, girt with splendour burning lies;
Yields to her star antagonistic fief
Through that which towards the sky to Heaven ascends.
Black smoke, and sombre fog of murky hue
Concealing thus his radiance from our eyes,
And veiling that which makes her burn and shine.
And so my soul, illumined. and inflamed.
By radiance divine, would fain display
The brightness of her own effulgent thought;
The lofty concept of her song sends forth.
In words which do but hide the glorious light,
1 While I dissolve and melt and am destroyed
Ah me! this lowering cloud, this smoky fire of words
Abases that which it would elevate.
CES. This fellow then says that as this phœnix act on fire by the sun and accustomed to light and flame comes to send upwards that smoke which obscures him who has rendered her so luminous, so he, the inflamed and illuminated enthusiast, through that which he does in praise of such an illustrious subject which has warmed his heart and which shines in his thought, comes rather to conceal it than to render it light for light, sending forth that
smoke the effect of the flame, in which the substance of himself is resolved.
MAR. I, without weighing and comparing the studies of that fellow, repeat what I said to you the other day, that praise is one of the greatest oblations that human affection can offer to an object. And leaving on one side the proposition of the Divine, tell me, who would have known of Achilles, Ulysses, and all the other Greek and Trojan chiefs? Who would have heard of all those great soldiers, the wise and the heroes of the earth, if they had not been placed amongst the stars and deified by the oblation of praise which has lighted the fire on the altar of the heart of illustrious poets and other singers, so that usually, the sacrificant, the victim and the sanctified deity, all mounted to the skies, through the hand and the vow of a worthy and lawful priest?
CES. Well sayest thou "of a worthy and lawful priest," for the world is at present full of apostate ones, the which, as they are for the most part unworthy themselves, sing the praises of other unworthy ones, so that, asini asinos fricant. But Providence wills that these, instead of rising to the sky should go together to the shades of Orcus, so that naught is the glory of him who extols and of him
who is extolled; for the one has woven a statue of straw, or carved the trunk of a tree, or cast a piece of chalk, and the other, the idol of shame and infamy, knows not that there is no need to wait for the keen tooth of the age and the scythe of Saturn in order to be put down, for through those self-same praises he gets buried alive then and there, while he is being praised, saluted, hailed, and presented. Just as it happened in a contrary way, so that much-praised Mœcenatus, who, if he had had no other glory than a soul inclined to protect and favour the Muses, for this alone merited, that the genius of so many illustrious poets should do him homage, and place him in the number of the most famous heroes who have trod this earth. His own studies and his own brightness made him prominent and grand, and not the being born of a royal race, and not the being grand secretary and councillor of Augustus. That, I say, which made him illustrious was the having made himself worthy to fulfil the promise of that poet who says:--
Fortunati ambo, si quid mea carmina possunt,
Nulla dies nunquam memori vos eximet sevo,
Dum domus Aeneae Capitoli immobile saxum
Accolet, imperiumque pater romanus habebit.
MAR. I remember what Seneca says in certain
letters where he refers to the words of Epicurus to a friend, which are these: "If the love of glory is dear to thy breast, these letters of mine will make thee more famous and known than all those other things which thou honourest, by which thou art honoured, and of which thou mayest boast. The same might Homer have said if Achilles or Ulysses had presented themselves before him, or Eneas and his offspring before Virgil; as that moral philosopher well said; Domenea is more known through the letters of Epicurus, than all the magicians, satraps and royalties upon whom depended his title of Domenea and the memory of whom was lost in the depths of oblivion. Atticus does not survive because he was the son-in-law of Agrippa and ancestor of Tiberius, but through the epistles of Tully; Drusus, the ancestor of Cæsar, would not be found amongst the number of great names if Cicero had not inserted it. Many, many years may pass over our heads, and in all that time not many geniuses will keep their heads raised.
Now to return to the question of this enthusiast, who, seeing a phœnix set on fire by the sun, calls to mind his own cares, and laments that like the phœnix he sends, in exchange for the light and heat received, a sluggish smoke from the holocaust of
his melted substance. Wherefore not only can we never discourse about things divine, but we cannot oven think of them without detracting from, rather than adding to the glory of them; so that the best thing to be done with regard to them is, that man, in the presence of other men, should rather praise himself for his earnestness and courage, than give praise to anything, as complete and perfected action; seeing that no such thing can be expected where there is progress towards the infinite, where unity and infinity are the same thing and cannot be followed by the other number, because there is no unity from another unity, nor is there number from another number and unity, because they are not the same absolute and infinite. Therefore was it well said by a theologian that as the fountain of light far exceeds not only our intellects, but also the divine, it is decorous that one should not discourse with words, but that with silence alone it should be magnified. 1
CES. Not, verily, with such silence as that of the brutes who are in the likeness and image of men, but of those whose silence is more exalted than all. the cries and noise and screams of those who may be heard. 1
MAR. Let us go on and see what the rest means.
CES. Say, if you have seen and considered it, what is the meaning of this fire in the form of a heart with four wings, two of which have eyes and the whole is girt with luminous rays and has round about it this question: Nitimur incassum?
MAR. I remember well, that it signifies the state of the mind, heart and spirit and eyes of the enthusiast, but read the sonnet!
2 Splendour divine, to which this mind aspires,
The intellect alone cannot unveil.
The heart, which those high thoughts would animate,
Makes not itself their lord; nor spirit, which p. 19
Should cease from pleasure for a space,
Can ever from those heights withdraw.
The eyes which should be closed at night in sleep,
Awake remain, open, and full of tears.
Ah me, my lights! where are the zeal and art
With which to tranquillize the afflicted sense?
Tell me my soul; what time and in what place
Shall I thy deep transcendent woo assuage?
And thou my heart, what solace can I bring
As compensation to thy heavy pain?
When, oh unquiet and perturbed mind,
Wilt thou the soul for debt and dole receive
With heart, with spirit and the sorrowing eyes?
The mind which aspires to the divine splendour flees from the society of the crowd and retires from the multitude of subjects, as much as from the community of studies, opinions and sentences; seeing that the peril of contracting vices and illusions is greater, according to the number of persons with whom one is allied. In the public shows, said the moral philosopher, by means of pleasure, vices are more easily engendered. If one aspires to the supreme splendour, let him retire as much as he can, from union and support, into himself (Di sorte che non sia simile a molti, per che son molti; e non sia nemico di molti per che son dissimili), so that he be not like unto many, because they are many; and be not adverse to many, because they are dissimilar; if it be possible, let him retain
the one and the other; otherwise he will incline to that which seems to him best. Let him associate either with those whom he can make better or with those through whom he may be made better, through brightness which he may impart to those or that he may receive from them. Let him he content with one ideal rather than with the inept multitude. Nor will he hold that he has gained little, when he has become such an one who is wise unto himself, remembering what Democritus says: "Unus mihi pro populo est, et populus pro uno; and what Epicurus said to a companion of his studies, writing to him: "Haec tibi, non multis! Satis enim magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus."
The mind, then, which aspires high, leaves, for the first thing, caring about the crowd, considering that that divine light despises striving and is only to be found where there is intelligence, and yet not every intelligence, but that which is amongst the few, the chief. the first among the first, the principal one.
CES. How do you mean that the mind aspires high? For example, by looking at the stars? At the empyreal heaven above the ether?
MAR. Certainly not! but by plunging into the depths of the mind, for which there is no great need to open the eyes to the sky, to raise the hands,
to direct the steps to the temple, nor sing to the ears of statues in order to be the better heard, but to come into the inner self believing that, God is near, present and within, more fully than man himself, 1 being soul of souls, life of lives, essence of essences: for that which you see above or below, or round about, or however you please to say it, of the stars, are bodies, are created things, similar to this globe on which we are, and in which the divinity is present neither more nor less than he is in this globe of ours or in ourselves. This is how, then, one must begin to withdraw oneself from the multitude into oneself. One ought to arrive at such a point to despise and not to overestimate every labour, so that, the more the desires and the vices contend with each other inwardly and the vicious enemies dispute outwardly, so much the more should one breathe and rise, and with spirit, if possible, surmount this steep hill. Here there is no need for other arms and shield than the majesty of an unconquered soul and a tolerant spirit, which maintains the quality and meaning of that life which proceeds from science and is regulated by the art of
considering attentively things low and high, divine and human, in the which consists that highest good, and in reference to this, a moral philosopher wrote to Lucillus that one must not linger between Scylla and Charybdis, penetrate the wilds of Candavia and the Apennines or lose oneself in the sandy plains, because the road is as sure and as blythe as Nature herself could make it. "It is not," says he, "gold and silver that makes one like God, because these are not treasure to Him; nor vestments, for God is naked; nor ostentation and fame, for He shows Himself to few, and perhaps not one knows Him, and certainly many, and more than many, have a bad opinion of Him. Not all the various conditions of things which we usually admire, for not those things of which we desire to have copies, make one rich, but the contempt for those things."
CES. Well. Bat tell me in what manner will this fellow tranquillize the senses, assuage the woes of the spirit, compensate the heart and give its just debts to the mind, so that with this aspiration of his he come not to say: "Nitimur incassum"?
MAR. He will be present in the body in such wise that the best part of himself will be absent from it, and will join himself by an indissoluble sacrament to divine things, in such a way that he will not feel
either love or hatred of things mortal. Considering himself as master, and that he ought not to be servant and slave to his body, which he would regard only as the prison which holds his liberty in confinement, the glue which smears his wings, chains which bind fast his hands, stocks which fix his feet, veil which hides his view. Let him not be servant, captive, ensnared, chained, idle, stolid and blind, for the body which he himself abandons cannot tyrannize over him, so that thus, the spirit in a certain degree comes before him as the corporeal world, and matter is subject to the divinity and to nature. Thus will he become strong against fortune, magnanimous towards injuries, intrepid towards poverty, disease and persecution.
CES. Well is the heroic enthusiast instructed!
CES. Close by is to be seen that which follows. See the wheel of time, which moves round its own centre, and there is the legend. "Manens moveor." What do you mean by that?
MAR. This means that movement is circular where motion concurs with rest, seeing that in orbicular motion upon its own axis and about its own centre is understood rest and stability according to right
movement, or, rest of the whole and movement of the parts; and from the parts which move in a circle is understood two different kinds of motion, inasmuch as some parts rise to the summit and others from the summit descend to the base successively; others reach the medium differences, and others the extremes of high and low. And all this seems to me suitably expressed in the following:
That which keeps my heart both open and, concealed,
Beauty imprints and honesty dispels;
Zeal holds me fast; all other care comes to me
By that same path whence all care to the soul doth come:
Seek I myself from pain to disengage,
Hope sustains me then whose scourges, tires;--(altrui rigor mi lassa)
Love doth exalt and reverence abase me
What time I yearn towards the highest good.
High thoughts, holy desires, and mina intent
Upon the labours and the cunning of the heart
Towards the immense divine immortal object,
So do, that I be joined, united, fed,
That I lament no more; that reason, sense, attend,
Discourse and penetrate to other things.
SO that the continual movement of one part supposes and carries with it the movement of the whole, in such a way that the attraction of the posterior parts is consequent upon the repulsion of the
anterior parts; thus the movement of the superior parts results of necessity from that of the inferior, and from the raising of one opposite power, follows the depression of the other opposite. Therefore the heart, which signifies all the affections generally, comes to be concealed and open, held by zeal, raised by magnificent thoughts, sustained by hope, weakened by fear, and in this state and condition will it ever be seen and found.
CES. That is all well. Let us come to that which follows. I see a ship floating on the waves; its ropes are attached to the shore and there is the legend. Fluctuat in portu. Deliberate about the signification of this, and when you are decided about it, explain.
MAR. Both the legend and the figure have a certain connexion with the present legend and figure, m may be easily understood, if one considers it a little. But let us read the sonnet.
If I by gods, by heroes and by men
Be re-assured, so that I not despair,
Nor fear, pain, nor the impediments
Of death of body, joy and happiness, p. 26
Yet must I learn to suffer and to feel.
And that I may my pathways clearly see,
Let doubts arise, and dolour, and the woe
Of vanished hopes, of joy and all delight.
But if he should behold, should grant, and should attend
My thoughts, my wishes, and my reasoning,
Who makes them so uncertain, hot, and vague,
Such dear conceits, such acts and speech,
Will not be given nor done to him, who stays
From birth, through life, to death in sheltered home.
Non dà, non fa, non ha qualunque stassi
Do l'orto, vita e morte a le magioni.
From what we have considered and said in the preceding discourses one is able to understand these sentiments, especially where it is shown that the sense of low things is diminished and annulled whenever the superior powers are strongly intent upon a more elevated and heroic object. The power of contemplation is so great, as is noted by Jamblichus, that it happens sometimes, not only that the soul ceases from inferior acts, but that it leaves the body entirely. The which I will not understand otherwise than in such various ways as are explained in the book of thirty seals, wherein are produced so many methods of contraction, of which some infamously, others heroically operate, that one learns not to fear death, suffers not pain of body, feels not the hindrances of pleasures:
wherefore the hope, the joy, and the delight of the superior spirit are of so intense a kind that they extinguish all those passions which may have their origin in doubt, in pain and all kinds of sadness.
CES. But what is that, of which he requests that it consider those thoughts which it has rendered so uncertain, fulfil those desires which it has made so ardent, and listen to those discourses which it has rendered so vague?
MAR. He means the Object, which he beholds when it makes itself present; for to see the Divine is to be seen by it, as to see the sun concurs, with the being seen of the sun. Equally, to be heard by the Divine, is precisely to listen to it, and to be favoured by it, is the same as to offer to it; for from the one immoveable and the same, proceed thoughts uncertain and certain, desires ardent and appeased, and reasonings valid and vain, according as the man worthily or unworthily puts them before himself, with the intellect, the affections and actions. As that same pilot may be said to be the cause of the sinking or of the safety of the ship, according as he is present in it or absent from it; with this difference, that the pilot through his defectiveness or his efficiency ruins or saves the ship; but the Divine potency which is all in all does not proffer
or withhold except through assimilation or rejection by oneself. 1
MAR. It seems to me that the following figure is closely connected and linked with the above; there are two stars in the form of two radiant eyes, with the legend: Mors et vita.
CES. Read the sonnet!
MAR. I will do so:
Writ by the hand of Love may each behold
Upon my face the story of my woes.
But thou, so that thy pride no curb may know,
And I, unhappy one, eternally might rest,
Thou dost torment, by hiding from my view
Those lovely lights beneath the beauteous lids.
Therefore the troubled sky's no more serene,
Nor hostile baleful shadows fall away.
By thine own beauty, by this love of mine
(So great that e'en with this it may compare),
Render thyself, oh Goddess, unto pity!
Prolong no more this all-unmeasured woe,
Ill-timed reward for such a love as this.
Let not such rigour with such splendour mate
If it import thee that I live!
Open, oh lady, the portals of thine eyes,
And look on me if thou wouldst give me death!
[paragraph continues] Here, the face upon which the story of his woes appears is the soul, in so far as it is open to receive those superior gifts, for the which it has a potential aptitude, without the fulness of perfection and act which waits for the dew of heaven. Thus was it well said. Anima mea sicut terra siue aqua tibi; and again: Os meum operui; and again: Spiritum, quia mandata tua desiderabam. Then, "pride which knows no curb" is said in metaphor and similitude, as God is sometimes said to be jealous, angry, or that He sleeps, and that signifies the difficulty with which He grants so much even as to show his shoulders, which is the making himself known by means of posterior things and effects. So the lights are covered with the eyelids, the troubled sky of the human mind does not clear itself by the removal of the metaphors and enigmas. Besides which, because he does not believe that all which is not, could not be, he prays the divine light, that by its beauty, which ought not to be entirely concealed, at least according to the capacity of whoever beholds it, and by his love, which, perchance, is equal to so much beauty (equal, he means, of the beauty, in so far as he can comprehend it) that it surrender itself to pity, that is, that it should do as those who are compassionate, and who from being capricious
and gloomy become gracious and affable and that it prolong not the evil which results from that privation, and not allow that its splendour, for which it is so much desired, should appear greater than that love by means of which it communicates itself, seeing that in it all the perfections are not only equal but are also the same. In fine, he begs that it will no further sadden by privation, for it can kill with the glance of its eyes and can also with those same give him life.
CES. Does he mean that death of lovers, which comes from intense joy, called by the Kabalists, mors osculi, which same is eternal life, which a man may anticipate in this life and enjoy in eternity?
MAR. He does.
MAR. It is time to proceed to the consideration of the following design, similar to those previously brought forward, and with which it has a certain affinity. There is an eagle, which with two wings cleaves the sky; but I do not know how much and in what manner it comes to be retarded by the weight of a stone which is tied to its leg. There is the legend: Scinditur incertum. It is certain that it signifies the multitude, number and character
[paragraph continues] (volgo) of the powers of the soul, to exemplify which, that verse is taken: Scinditur incertum studia in contraria vulgus. The whole of which character (volgo) in general is divided into two factions; although subordinate to these, others are not wanting, of which some appeal to the high intelligence and splendour of rectitude, while others incite and force in a certain manner to the low, to the uncleanness of voluptuousness and compliance with natural desires. Therefore says the sonnet:
I would do well--to me 'tis not allowed.
With me my sun is not, although I be with him,
For being with him, I'm no more with myself:
The farther from myself-the nearer unto him;
The nearer unto him, the farther from myself.
Once to enjoy, doth cost me many tears,
And seeking happiness, I meet with woo.
For that I look aloft, so blind am I.
That I may gain my love, I lose myself.
Through bitter joy, and through sweet pain,
Weighted with lead, I rise towards the sky.
Necessity withholds, goodness conducts me on,
Fate sinks me down, and counsel raises me,
Desire spurs me, fear keeps me in cheek.
Care kindles and the peril backward draws.
Ten me, what power or what subterfuge
Can give me peace and bring me from this strife,
If one repels, the other draws me on.
The ascension goes on in the soul through the
power and appulsion in the wings, which are the intellect, or intellectual will upon which she naturally depends and through which she fixes her gaze toward God, as to the highest good, and primal truth, as to absolute goodness and beauty. Thus everything has an impetus towards its beginning retrogressively, and progressively towards its end and perfection, as Empedocles well said, and from which sentence I think may be inferred that which the Nolan said in this octave:
The sun must turn and reach his starting-point,
Each wandering light must go towards its source,
That which is earth to earth itself reverts,
The rivers from the sea to sea return,
And thither, whence desires have life and grow
Must they aspire as to revered divinity,
So every thought born of my lady fair
Comes back perforce to her, my goddess dear.
[paragraph continues] The intellectual power is never at rest, it is never satisfied with any comprehended truth, but ever proceeds on and on towards that truth which is not comprehended. So also the will which follows the apprehension, we see that it is never satisfied with anything finite. In consequence of this, the essence of the soul is always referred to the source of its substance and entity. Then as to the natural powers, by means of which it is turned to the
protection and government of matter, to which it allies itself, and by appulsion benefits and communicates of its perfection to inferior things, through the likeness which it has to the Divine, which in its benignity communicates itself or produces infinitely, i.e. imparts existence to the universal infinite and to the innumerable worlds in it, or, finitely, produces this universe alone, subject to our eyes and our common reason. Thus then in the one sole essence of the soul are found these two kinds of powers, and as they are used for one's own good and for the good of others, it follows that they are depicted with a pair of wings, by means of which it is potent towards the object of the primal and immaterial potencies, and with a heavy stone, through which it is active and efficacious towards the objects of the secondary and material potencies. Whence it follows that the entire affection of the enthusiast is bifold, divided, harassed, and placed in a position to incline itself more easily downwards than to force itself upwards: seeing that the soul finds itself in a low and hostile country, and reaches the far-off region of its more natural home where its powers are the weakest.
CES. Do you think that this difficulty can be overcome?
MAR. Perfectly well; but the beginning is most difficult, and according as we make more and more fruitful progress in contemplation we arrive at a greater and greater facility. As happens to whoever flys up high, the more he rises above the earth the more air he has beneath to uphold him, and consequently the less he is affected by gravitation; he may even rise so high that he cannot, without the labour of cleaving the air, return downwards, although one might imagine it were more easy to cleave the air downwards towards the earth than to rise on high towards the stars.
CES. So that with progress of this kind a greater and greater facility is acquired for mounting on high?
MAR. So it is; therefore well said Tansillo:--
"The more I feel the air beneath my feet
So much the more towards the wind I bend
My swiftest pinions
And spurn the world and up towards Heaven I go."
[paragraph continues] As every part of bodies and of their elements, the nearer they come to their natural place, the greater the impetus and force with which they move, until at last, whether they will or not, they must prevail. That which we see then in the parts of bodies and in the bodies themselves we ought also to allow of
intellectual things towards their proper objects, as their proper places, countries, and ends. Whence you may easily comprehend the entire significance of the figure, the legend, and the verses.
CES. So much so that whatsoever you might add thereto would appear to me superfluous.
CES. Let us see what is here represented by those two radiating arrows upon a target around, which is written: Vicit instans.
MAR. The continual struggle in the soul of the enthusiast, the which, in consequence of the long familiarity which it had with matter was hard and incapable of being penetrated by the rays of the splendour of the Divine intelligence and the species of the Divine goodness; during which time, he says that the heart was enamelled with diamond, that is, the affection was hard and not capable of being heated and penetrated, and it rejected the blows of love which assailed it on innumerable sides. That is, it did not feel itself wounded by those wounds of eternal life of which the Psalmist speaks when he says: Vulnerasti cor meum, o dilecta, vulnerasti cor meum. The which wounds are not from iron or other material through the vigour and strength of
nerves, but are darts of Diana, or of Phœbus, that is, either from the goddess of the deserts--of contemplation of truth, that is, from Diana, who is the order of the second intelligences, which transfer the splendour received from the first and communicate, it to the others. who are deprived of a more open vision; or else from the principal god Apollo, who, with his own, and not a borrowed splendour, sends his darts, that is, his rays, so many and from such innumerable points, which are all the species of things, which are indications of Divine goodness, intelligence, beauty, and wisdom. according to the, various degrees, from the simple comprehension, to the becoming heroic enthusiasts; because the adamantine subject does not reflect from its surface, the impression of the light, but, destroyed and overcome by the heat and light, it becomes in substance luminous--all light--so that it is penetrated within the affection and conception. This is not immediately, at the beginning of generation, when the soul comes forth fresh from the intoxication of Lethe, and drenched with the waves of forgetfulness and confusion, so that the spirit comes into captivity to the body, and is put into the condition of growth; but little by little, it goes on digesting, so as to become fitted for
the action of the sensitive faculty, until, through the rational and discursive faculty, it comes to a purer intellectual one, so that it can present itself to the mind, without feeling itself be. fogged by the exhalations of that humour, which, through the exercise of contemplation, has been saved from putrefaction in the stomach and is duly digested. In this state, the present enthusiast shows himself to have remained thirty years, during which time he had not reached that purity of conception which would make him a suitable habitation for the wandering species, which offering themselves to all, equally, knock, ever at the door of the intelligence. At last, Love, who in various ways and at different times had assaulted him as it were in vain--as the light and heat of the sun are said to be useless to those who are in the opaque depths and bowels of the earth--having located itself in those sacred lights, that is having shown forth the Divine Beauty through two intelligible species the which bound his intellect through the reasoning of Truth and warmed his affections through the reasoning of Goodness; while the material and sensitive desires became superseded, which aforetime used, as it were, to triumph, remaining intact, notwithstanding the excellence of the soul. Because those lights which
made present the illuminating, acting intellect and sun of intelligence found easy ingress through his eyes; that of Truth (the intellect of Truth?) through the door of the intellectual faculty; that of Goodness(intellect of Goodness?) through the door of the appetitive faculty, to the heart, that is, the substance of the general affection. This was that double ray, which came as from the hand of an irate warrior, who showed himself, now, as ready and as bold, as; aforetime he had appeared weak and negligent. 1
Then, when he first felt warmed and illuminated in his conception, was that victorious point and moment of which it is said: Vicit instans.
Thus you can understand the sense of the following figure, legend and sonnet, which says:--
I fought with all my strength 'gainst Love Divine
When he assailed with blows from every side
This cold, enamelled, adamantine heart,
Whence my desires defeated his intent.
At last, one day, 'twas as the heavens had willed.
Encamped I found him in those holy lights
Which, through mine own alone, of all the rest
An easy entrance to my heart could find.
'Twas then upon me fell that double bolt, p. 39
Flung as from hand of irate warrior
Who had for thirty years besieged in vain.
He marked that place and strongly there he held,
Planted the trophy there, and evermore
He holds my fleet wings in restrainment.
Meanwhile since then with more solemnity of preparation
The anger and the ire of my sweet enemy
Cease not to wound my heart.
Rare moment was that; the end of the beginning and perfection of victory; rare were those two species which amongst all others found easy entrance, seeing that they contain in themselves the efficacy and the virtue of all the others; for what higher and more excellent form can present itself than that of the beauty, goodness and truth, which are the source of every other truth, beauty, and goodness? "He marked that place"--that is, took possession of the affections, noted them, and impressed upon them his own character; "and strongly there he held;" he confirmed and established them and sanctified them so that he can never again lose them; for it is not possible that one should turn to love any other thing when once he has conceived in his mind the Divine Beauty, and it is as impossible that he can do other than love it, as it is impossible that his desires should fall otherwise than towards good, or species of good. Therefore his inclination
is in the highest degree towards the primal good. So again, the wings, which used to be so fleet to go downwards with the weight of matter, are kept in restrainment, and the sweet angers which are the efficacious assaults of the gracious enemy, who has been for so long time kept back, and excluded, a stranger and a pilgrim, never cease to wound, soliciting the affections and awakening thought. Bat now, the sole and entire possessor and disposer of the soul, for she neither wills nor wishes to will other, nor is she pleased, nor will she that any other please her, whence he often says:--
Dolci ire, guerra dolce, dolci dardi,
Dolci mie piaghe, miei dolci dolori!
CES. It would seem that we have nothing more to consider upon this proposition. Let us see now, how this quiver and bow of Bros display the sparks around, and the knot of the string, which hangs, down with the legend, which is: Subito, clam.
MAR. Well do I remember having seen it expressed in the sonnet. But let us read it first.
Eager to find the much desired food,
The eagle towards the sky spreads out his wings
And wafts of his approach both bird and beast, p. 41
The third flight bringing him upon the prey.
And the fierce lion roaring from his lair
Spreads horror all around and mortal fear;
And all wild beasts, admonished and forewarned,
Fly to the caves and cheat his cruel jaw.
The whale, ere he the dumb Protean herd
Hungry pursues, sends forth his nuncio,
From caves of Thetys spouts his water forth.
Lions and eagles of the earth and sky,
And whales, lords of the seas, come not with treachery,
But the assaults of Love come stealing secretly.
The animal kingdom is divided into three, and is composed of various elements: the earth, the water, the air, and there are three species--beasts, fishes, and birds. Into three kinds are the principles of nature settled and defined, in the air the eagle, on earth the lion, in the water the whale; of the which, each one, as it displays more strength and. command over the others, makes a show of magnanimous action. or apparently magnanimous. Therefore it is observed, that the lion, before he starts on the hunt trumpets forth his roar, which resounds through the whole forest, like to the poetic description of the fury-hunter.
At saeva e speculis tempus dea nacta, nocendi,
Ardua tecta petit, stabuli et de culmine summo
Pastorale canit signum, cornuque recurvo
Tartaream intendit vocem, qua protinus omne
Contremuit nemus, et silvae intonuere profandae.
The eagle again, before he proceeds to his venery, first rises straight from the nest in a perpendicular line upwards, and generally speaking at the third time he swoops from above with greater impetus and swiftness than if he were flying in a direct line, so that at the time when be is gaining the greatest velocity of flight, he is able also to speculate upon his success with the prey, and after three inspections he knows whether be will succeed or fail.
CES. Can one imagine why, if at the first his prey presents itself before his eyes, he does not instantly pounce upon it?
MAR. No; unless it be to see whether anything better, or more easily taken, comes to sight, At the, same time I do not believe that this is always so, but most often. it is. But to return. Of the whale it is manifest that, being such a huge animal, he cannot divide the waters without making his presence known through the repulsion of the waves, besides which there are several species of this fish, that when they move or breathe, spout forth a windy tempest of water. Thus from these three, principal species of animals, the inferior kinds have warning to enable them to get away, so that they do not conduct themselves as deceivers and traitors. But Love, who is stronger and greater and who has
supreme dominion in heaven, on earth, and in the seas, and who in comparison ought perhaps to show greater magnanimity, as he also has more power, does nothing of the kind, but assaults and wounds suddenly and swiftly.
Labitur totas furor in medullas,
Igne furtivo populante venas,
Nec habet latum data plaga frontem;
Sed vorat tectas penitas medullas,
Virginum ignoto ferit igne pectus.
[paragraph continues] As you perceive, the tragic poet calls him a furtive fire, an unknown flame. Solomon calls it furtive waters. Samuel named it the whisper of a gentle wind. The which three significations show with what sweetness, gentleness, and astuteness, in seas, on earth, in sky, does this fellow come and tyrannize over the whole universe.
CES. There is no vaster empire, no worse tyranny, no better dominion, no more necessary magistracy, nothing more sweet and dear, no food to be found more hard and bitter, no deity more violent, no god more pleasing, no agent more treacherous and false, no author more regal and faithful, and, in fine, it seems to me that Love is all and does all, of him all may be said, and all may refer itself to him.
MAR. You say well. Love then, as he who works
chiefly through the sight, which is the most spiritual of all the senses, and which reaches swiftly the known ends of the earth, and without stretch of time takes in the whole horizon of the visible, comes to be quick, furtive, sudden and instantaneous. Besides which, we must remember what the ancients say, that Love precedes all the other gods, and therefore it is no use to imagine that Saturn shows him the way except by following him. Now must we find out, whether Love appears and makes himself known externally, whether his home is the soul itself, his bed the heart itself, and whether he consists of the same composition as our own substance, the same impulse as our own powers. Finally everything naturally desires the beautiful and the good, and therefore it is useless to argue and discuss, because the affection informs and confirms itself, and in one instant desire joins itself to the desirable, as the sight to the visible.
CES. Let us see here, what is the meaning of that burning arrow, around which is the legend: Cui nova plaga loco? Explain what part does this seek to wound?
MAR. Read the sonnet which says:--
That all the ears of corn that may be reaped
In burning Apuleia, or sunbrowned Lybia,
With all that they unto the winds entrust,
Or that the rays from the great planet sent,
Should number those sad pains of my glad soul,
Which she from those two burning stars receives
With mournful joy in sweetest agony,
Forbid me Sense and Reason to believe.
What would'st thou more, sweet foe?
What wish is that which moves thee still to hurt,
Since this my heart of but one wound is made?
So that there lies no part that now may be
By thee or others printed, stabbed, or pierced,
Turn thee aside, turn otherwhere thy bow,
For thou dost waste thy powers, oh beauteous god!
In slaying him who lies already dead.
[paragraph continues] The meaning of all this is metaphorical, like the rest, and may be understood in the same sense as that. Here the number of darts which have wounded and do wound the heart, signify the innumerable individuals and species of things, in which shine the splendour of Divine Beauty, according to their degrees and whence the affection for the good, well proposed and well apprehended warms us. The which throng the causes of potentiality and actuality, of possibility and of effect, crucify and console, give the sense of sweetness and also make the bitter to be felt. But where the entire affection is all turned toward God that is towards the Idea of Ideas, from the
light of intelligible things, the mind becomes exalted to the super-essential unity, and.. all love, all one, it feels itself no longer solicited by various objects, which distract it, but is one sole wound, in the which the whole affection concurs and which comes to be one and. the same affection. Then there is no love or desire of any particular thing, that can urge, nor even present itself before the will; for there is nothing more straight than the straight, nothing more beautiful than beauty, nothing better than goodness, nothing can be found larger than size, nor anything lighter than that light which with its presence darkens and obliterates all lights.
CES. To the perfect, if it be perfect, there is nothing that can be added; therefore the will is not capable of any other desire, when that which is of the perfect is present with it, highest and best. Therefore I understand the conclusion where be says to Love, "Turn otherwhere thy bow," and wherefore should he try to kill him who is already dead, that is, he, who has no more life nor sense about other things, so that he cannot be stabbed or pierced or become exposed to other species. And this lame proceeds from him, who having tasted of the highest unity, desires to be in all things severed and withdrawn from the multitude.
MAR. You understand quite well.
CES. Now here is a boy in a boat, which little by little is being submerged in the tempestuous waves, and he, languid and tired, has abandoned the oars; around it the legend "Fronti nulla fides." There is no doubt that this signifies that he was induced, by the serene aspect of the waters, to venture on the treacherous sea, which having suddenly become troubled, the boy, in mortal fear, and in his impotence to still the tempest, has lost his head, his hope, and the power of his arm. But let us see the rest:--
Oh, gentle boy, that from the shore didst loose
The baby bark, and to the slender oar
Didst set thy unskilled hand; lured by the sea!
Late hast thou seen the evil of thy plight.
See there the traitor rolls his fatal waves,
The prow of thy frail bark, now sinks, now mounts.
The soul borne down with anxious cares
Prevaileth not against the swollen floods.
Thy oars thou yieldst to thy fierce enemy,
Waiting for death with calm collected thought,
With eyelids closed, lest thou shouldst see him come.
If thee no friendly aid should quickly reach
Thou surely must the full result soon feel,
Of thy inquisitive temerity.
My cruel fate is like unto thine own,
For I too, lured, enticed by Love, must feel,
The rigour keen of this most treacherous one.
In what manner and why Love is a traitor and deceiver we have just seen; but as I see the following without figure or legend, I believe that it must have connection with the above. Therefore let us go on and read it.
Methought to leave the shelter of my port,
And from maturer studies rest awhile:
When, looking round me to enjoy my ease,
Sudden I saw those unrelenting fates.
These have inflamed me with so ardent fires.
Vainly I strive some safer shores to reach,
Vainly from pitying hands invoke some aid,
And swift deliverance from my enemies.
Weary and hoarse I yield me, impotent,
And seek no more to elude my destiny,
Or make endeavour to escape my death:
Let every other life to me be null,
And let not the extremest torment fail,
Which my hard fate for me prescribed.
Type of my own deep ills,
Is that which thou for pastime didst entrust
To hostile breast. Oh, careless boy.
Here I would not pretend to understand or determine all that the enthusiast means. Yet there is well expressed the strange condition of a soul cast down by the knowledge of the difficulty of the operation, the amount of the labour, the vastness of the work on one side, and on the other the ignorance, want of knowledge of the way, weakness of nerves and
peril of death. He has no knowledge suitable to the business, he does not know where and how to turn, no place of flight or refuge presents itself; and he sees that, from every side, the waves threaten, with frightful, fatal impetus. Ignoranti portum, nullus suus ventas est. Behold him, who has committed himself indeed to fortuitous things, and has brought upon himself trouble, prison, rain, and drowning. See how fortune deludes us, and that which we put carefully into her hands, she either breaks or lets it fall from her hands, or causes it to be removed by the violence of another, or suffocates and poisons, or taints with suspicion, fear, and jealousy to the great hurt and ruin of the possessor. Fortunae au ulla putatis dona carcere dolis? For strength which cannot give proof of itself is dissipated; magnanimity, which cannot prevail, is naught, and vain is study without results; he sees the effects of the fear of evil, which is worse than evil itself. Peior est morte timor ipse mortis. He already suffers, through fear, that which he fears to suffer, terror in the limbs, imbecility in the nerves, tremors in the body, anxiety of the spirit, and that which has not yet appeared becomes present to him, and is certainly worse than whatsoever may happen. What can be more stupid than to be in pain about future,
things and absent ones which at present are not felt?
Cu. These considerations are on the surface and belong to the external of the figure. But the proposition of the heroic enthusiast, I think, deals with the imbecility of human nature (ingegno) which, intent on the Divine undertaking, finds itself all at once engulphed in the abyss of incomprehensible excellence, and the sense and the imagination become confused and absorbed, and not knowing how to pass on, nor to go back, nor where to turn, vanishes and loses itself as a drop of water vanishes in the sea, or as a small spirit, becomes attenuated, losing its own substance in the space and immensity of the atmosphere.
MAR. Well. But let us go towards our chamber and. talk as we go, for it is night.
1:1 Astronomers distinguish between a fixed and intellectual zodiac; and the movable and visible zodiac. According to the former, Aries still stands as the first of the signs; that is to say, the first thirty degrees of the zodiacal circle, reckoning from the equinoctial point in spring, are allotted to Aries in the intellectual zodiac. . . . Astronomers generally choose to reckon by the fixed and intellectual zodiac.--(Drummond's "Oedipus Judaicus.")
5:1 As in long-drawn systole and long-drawn diastole, must the period of Faith alternate with the period of Denial; must the vernal growth, the summer luxuriance of all Opinions, Spiritual Representations and Creations, be followed by, and again follow the autumnal decay, the winter dissolution.--("Sartor Resartus.")
13:1 But not till the whole personality of the man is dissolved and melted--not until it is hold by the divine fragment which has created it, as a mere subject for the grave experiment and experience--not until the whole nature has yielded and become subject unto its higher self, can the bloom open.--("Light on the Path.")
17:1 Now, it may be asked, what is the state of a man who followeth the true Light to the utmost of his power? I answer truly, it will never he declared aright, for he who is not such a man, can neither understand nor know it, and he who is, knoweth it indeed; but he cannot utter it, for it is unspeakable.--("Theologia Germanica.")
18:1 Speech is of time, silence is of eternity."--("Sartor Resartus.")
18:2 Let no one suppose that we may attain to this true light and perfect knowledge by hearsay, or by reading and study, nor yet by high skill and great learning.--("Theologia Germanica.")
21:1 For, in this (degree), God cannot be tasted, felt, seen, because he is more ourselves than ourselves, is not distinct from us.--("Spiritual Torrents.")
28:1 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.--("St. Matthew.")
38:1 He takes it by assault, without offering battle: the heart is unable to resist him.--("Spiritual Torrents.")