8 Ventose, An IV.
. . . . WHEN will the time come, my dear brother, for us to meet? and will it ever come? My years increase, and I am a bad traveller, the more so because I am constitutionally weaker than most men. I say nothing of the attacks my fortune has received from the revolution, which have just been aggravated by the death of a nephew of mine, whose mother will now be left on my hands, for her life or mine. If peace returned, and the roads were open, I should have enough for everything; . . . but, I am sorry to see, the horizon clears very slowly, and the spirit of the world will not allow the belligerent powers to be reconciled till it has bled them to the last. I do not the less believe in the issue of our revolution, which springs from grounds unknown to those who have taken part in this great drama, as I have shown in my pamphlet.
Do not send me the works of your friend at Munich, till further advice; I am too much occupied at present, to apply myself to them. . . .
The whole title of 'The Three Principles' is too long; especially because what it contains is repeated a hundred times in the work; but I make it a point to omit nothing in my translation. Durch uns is even in its place, and I think I can account for it; though the public may not.
. . . . I have perfectly understood the passage of Engelbrecht, which you have sent me. Its doctrine is pure. It does not, at first sight, seem very deep, especially for such as desire something sensible, with fixed exterior marks for guides, to dispense with all trouble for them, beyond that of consulting a formula, which has no coherence with their being. But here, it is the opening of our being itself which must serve us for formula; and when we are happy enough to open it sufficiently, we there find formulas and guides far safer than anything that is more sensible, because they are the thing in us, and show it by the act itself, whilst the others merely show it, and then leave all still to be done.
I have also been well pleased with the extract from Bourignon; only I should have wished she had substituted the word natural for that of material, which she applies to things after regeneration; it would have been less repulsive to a tender understanding, and more true. But I can excuse her in this, because I know it was only a fault of expression, and she rectifies it herself, in saying that it will all be done, not by the hand of man, but by the power of God. Besides, flesh and blood cannot possess the kingdom of God. I should much like to have the work of this interesting maiden, who was uneducated and unlearned. I sought, last winter, in Paris; in vain. . . .
I have not told you that, in my native district, I find, occasionally, opportunities for following my trade of religious philosopher. There are some little chickens which come, from time to time, for their crumb, which I do not think I ought to refuse, according to my means. These are fresh souls, in comparison with the gangrened ones in the great world, and the great cities; and, in this respect, I find a double advantage, that of having less to pull down, and more to hope for at the harvest.
. . . . Adieu, my dear brother in God. Let us ever unite in Him, in heart and mind, and peace will be with us. Amen.
Berne, 5th April, 1796.
I AM very sorry, my dear brother, that I have been obliged to put off, from one post to another, the pleasure of writing to you; but, besides my ordinary occupations, which you know of, I have been put upon another committee, which, as it is for a special object, will not, I hope, be permanent. I expect soon to return to Morat, to enjoy the country air and my studies.
. . . . I am very glad you liked the extract from Engelbrecht; and the distinction you make between his doctrine and that derived from the use of numbers (without disparagement to their value) appears to me very correct. But, finally, the grand questions always resolve themselves into which is the shortest way, or rather what are the means for pursuing that way, which leads to the opening or development of our being.
I am impatient to shake off all ties which connect me with temporal affairs, that I may apply myself to the one thing needful. I have lately acquired new territories of this kind; and all I have to do is to cultivate them, and make them profitable. I hope, with all due submission and resignation, that the time will come when I shall be rich not only in land, but also in income.
Antoinette is certainly an interesting person. In reading her writings, you will be surprised at her profound knowledge of man, her firmness, and elevation of character; she pursued her way with a rare precision and inflexibility. She thought highly of friend B., also of Engelbrecht, of whom, no doubt, she must have heard her friends speak, for I cannot find any sign of her reading anything. Her friends had a real veneration for her, but she was, all her life, above all carnal or earthly attachments, and the moment she read, in the souls of those who came near her, any movement of that sort, she broke with them irrevocably. The celebrated Poiret ended his days in Holland, solely to be within reach of her, that he might see and hear her. You will be more likely to find her works at Lyons than at Paris. . . .
I agree with you that the passage in question is a fault of expression only. . . . instead of material, she meant to say corporeal; which would be in conformity with the idea I have formed, that there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, spiritual bodies and material. 1 Cor. xv. 40, 44.
. . . . P. S. I annex a little sample of Eckartshausen's numbers, which came at the foot of his last letter. He told me that if, according to the doctrine of numbers, I added to the ciphers of the present year the number 9, the symbol of sensuality, I should obtain the following: —
.. .. .. 15 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 6
.. .. .. 18 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 9
.. .. .. 16 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 7
.. .. .. 10 .. .. .. .. .. .. . .. .. 1
.. .. .. 59 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 23/5
11/2 . 14/5 - 18/9
I understand how, in this calculation, he gets the No. 5, but I do not see from whence he derives the two figures 11 and 18 on each side of the 14.
He adds the following words: "5 is a fearfully cross-number; it is even the number of moral corruption and of the universal ferment of minds, a number of rigoris divini judicis (the severity of God's judgment). He who seeks for himself rest and peace, amid storms, let him oppose to 59 the number 62."
5.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 9
7 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 15/16
6 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2
Why he opposes 62 to 59, I know not. . . .
I CONGRATULATE you, dear brother, on your shortly going to be by yourself in your country house. I should also congratulate you if you could free yourself altogether from this world's concerns, to employ yourself only with your great affair, which is your aim and desire. And how much I should congratulate myself if I might partake your leisure, if it were but for a moment. But the king of this world, with his sceptre of iron, does nothing but smite his subjects, or rather, those who will not be his subjects; and we are continually obliged to take refuge in another kingdom which is not his, to find peace and freedom, even in the midst of all our privations. Our temporal powers, who are nothing but lay-figures of his, seem to be far from coming to an understanding. I suppose they do not think it compatible with their glory to rest from their brigandage till they have been bled to death's door; and peace seems to me out of the question, unless our late successes in Italy induce them to reflect. God's will be done; His goodness has so much favoured me, that I must not complain, whatever price He may make me pay.
I have written to Lyons for the works in question; but whatever our provision may be of this kind, you and I know that the solution of the problem which concerns us, is in the opening and development of our being. Amen.
I at once pass to the numbers of your Munich friend, and I believe I have found the solution of your difficulties.
He says, if, according to the doctrine of numbers, you add 9 to 1796, you will have, &c. I find that this addition of 9 is unnecessary:
1st. He does not add it himself, he merely places 1796 in a column, without adding 9 to it, nor to the addition which he makes of this column; 2ndly, if even he did add it, it would not alter the final result, because this number 9, which he calls the symbol of sensuality, is, in our school, that of appearance; and its property is so completely nothing, that to add it to, or take it from any other numbers whatever, makes no change in them. As you can amuse yourself by proving this, I will just copy his example to answer your two questions: —
.. .. .. 15 .. .. .. .. 6
.. .. .. 18 .. .. .. .. 9
.. .. .. 16 .. .. .. .. 7
.. .. .. 10 .. .. .. .. 1
.. .. .. 59 .. .. .. 23
11 .. 14 — 18 .. 5
.. 2 .. 5 .. 9
You do not know how he arrives at 11 and 18: it is simply by going from 5 to the two rows of figures above it, and then bringing 5 successively into the two additions in this way: —
.. .. 59 .. .. 5 .. 9
.. .. 14 .. .. 1 .. 4
.. .. 5 .. … 5 .. 5
11 18 .. . 11 .. 18
This is my answer to your first question.
He is right in representing 5 as a dreadful and frightful number, and as the number of corruption; but, according to the laws of High Wisdom, good is always extracted from evil, and the remedy is found in the sore itself: thus it was by this same number 5 that our divine Repairer dressed all our wounds, since it was the fiftieth day after His resurrection that His promise was fulfilled, and the refreshing of the Spirit was poured out abundantly on the Apostles. It is true He composed the healing quinary with other elements than those which through crime had composed the first quinary; here the divine industry is seen, and so much to be admired; and I have had the happiness hereupon to receive such grandeurs, that I would gladly make you a partaker of them; but they cannot well be given in the limits of a letter, and perhaps even not by writing at all.
Let us come to your second question. You do not understand why he places 62 and 59 opposite each other, in this way —
5.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 9
7 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 15
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 16
6 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2
The reason of this opposition is, that number 8, which is produced by 62, is the corrective number for every irregularity; in our school, it is the number of the double quaternary power; the abstract of the Denary; the concentration of the universal unity; and, if I must say it, we prove that this octonary is numerically the same as that which opened all to the Apostles; to prove this, an opportunity of verbal intercourse is requisite. Your friend therefore rightly confronts it with 59, which is, at once, abomination and appearance. But observe that, in order to work out this rectification, he combines by an increase, which is the knot of all things, the respective elements of these two numbers: thus, 5, which, in 59, is nothing but abomination, becomes a spiritual number; 7, by its addition with 2, gives 9, which is only the neutral appearance in the active mode of universal operation, which is 5, as he puts it 15/6; by this means everything is moderated, and order born again. This, my dear brother, is what I have to answer to your second question.
Not that 8 has not far better elements than 62; and I would never even use it as your friend has done. I say the same of 7, which is far from having no other origin than the one he gives it, which makes me think that if he has a glimpse of what numbers are, he does not yet take them at the root. But I have conformed myself to his language, and you can, at any rate, make use of the little exposition I have given you. For the rest, my dear brother, all these numerical wonders are merely the bark of things: it is by our inner being that we may and ought to work virtually to establish the substance within us. . . .
12th May, 1796.
I HASTEN, my dear brother, to answer your letter of 2 inst., before I leave for the country, which, happily, is fixed for the 17th. I am afraid you have too correctly judged the causes of the continuance of this bloody war; still, I entertain some hopes of peace. . . .
Many thanks for your kindness in explaining Monsieur Eckartshausen's numbers. I begin to look upon the science of numbers as a kind of algebra, which has its rules of reckoning, by which we arrive at formulas expressing general truths. If these formulas do not give the thing itself which we desire, they more or less point out the way we must take to procure it. The great point will be to fix the true signification and value of the figures we use, that we may not make a false calculation; and this calculation, when it is correct, has this interesting feature, that it shows a conformity in main points with certain combinations of common figures. As far as I have been able to see, a different meaning is given to each figure, according to the class of objects submitted to the calculation; physical, intellectual, and divine objects forming each a separate class.
No. 1, in the first class, according to my weak conceptions, is the type of the great principle;
2, An emanation from the great principle;
3, The sacred ternary;
4, Man; which coincides with a little discovery I have made without thinking; I have reduced the number 145867 (see 'Tableau Naturel') to its elements, and I obtain 4.
5, Is abomination;
6, The active mode of operation;
7, The spiritual becomes substantial, as friend B. says;
8, The number corrective of all irregularity, the double quaternary power, the concentration of the universal unity, a beneficent number which must comprise great things.
No. 9 is the number of illusion occasioned by the senses, and of appearance.
1+4+5+8+6+7=31 = 3+1 = 4
You tell me that the 8ry. is, numerically, the same as 50: I should be glad to have an explanation of this, so far as it may be done in writing. The number 50 appears to me capable of being made interesting only through the elements of 6 times 8, and the addition of 2; for, taken collectively, it offers only an 0 added to abomination; thus, in this explanation, the principal object would be, according to my supposition, a complete analysis of the number 8.
Excuse my importunity, my dear brother. The attention you have paid to numbers has excited the interest I now feel in them. As I shall have a little more time at Morat, I will try to clear my ideas on this subject, if I can; for, I confess I have hardly looked at Mr. Eck's large work. He has, no doubt, gained much knowledge on this matter; but he cannot have brought it to the needful maturity, for he has maintained applications of his doctrines which are manifestly incorrect. At the same time, he occasionally has very sublime ideas; but this medley stopped me short, and has prevented my undertaking a continuous study of this subject, which, moreover, requires leisure.
If the science of numbers is well founded, as I presume it is, although I have not yet seen a solid basis to it in Eckartshausen's work, it assumes an important aspect: it would show that Providence has allowed certain great truths, concealed from the vulgar, to be deposited in a general language, within the reach of all nations: more than this, they would prove that there exists a language which, by the combinations of its signs, may lead to new discoveries.
The first question, as to the solidity of this science, turns on the authenticity of the meaning of each number: on what does this rest? The second question is about the mode of calculating, and the objects to be submitted to this calculation: Why this way rather than another? What reason authorises us, for instance, to submit the years of the Christian era to this calculation, as Mr. Eck. . . does? The third question is, no doubt, the most important; it looks to the results and formulas obtained: Have results been obtained by the science of numbers, which logic and common reasoning would not have found, or truths of a higher degree which have not been revealed in the Holy Scriptures? Or, have effects been obtained, in the physical and intellectual world, which surpass the ordinary powers of men? Has a pure manifestation ever been produced by following the direction of one of its formulas? These are the reflections which present themselves to me at the first brush, and I communicate them to you with my usual frankness.
Mr. d'Eck . . . says in another letter, that the physical, the spiritual, and the divine have each their 3-4/7; that we may know the two first, and think we know the last, and be mistaken, and that, without the knowledge of the last, the other two are imperfect, because evil may be introduced through the imagination. But when the third 3-4/7 is added, then the height of perfection 7.7.7/21/3 is attained, which can be only through the Repairer: it is only through him we receive the 7 gifts of the purest light or reason; the 7 gifts of love or will; and the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: then it is we receive the true 3-4/7; then it is that seven churches arise within us, seven seals open, seven intelligences manifest themselves, seven horns of plenty pour out oil from above, and seven lamps burn within us. Then the Repairer, clothed in the white garment of purity, walks in his temple, in the midst of these gifts; and this temple is the heart of the regenerate, the true 3-4/7 37/14 14/5; by the separation of evil from good, by the X = 5, by 3-4/7, the great symbol of the cross with its mysteries is born. So far, by the last figure, which he makes equal to and compares with 5, Mr. d'Eck . . . appears to allude to the double Roman figure V which makes X.
I learn from my correspondent at Lausanne that sister Marguerite is at last on the way to me: I am eager to make her acquaintance.
But whatever our stores may be in this way, there still remain the work, and the word which solves the enigma, viz. the opening and development of our being. In my small sphere, I see but two means, which, united, must lead us to this success; on the one hand to detach ourselves, on the other, to attach ourselves: the more or less earnestness we bring into this operation, methinks, will be the measure of our progress in this course.
It is beyond a doubt that the germ, the sublimest principle, is within us; the question is only to destroy, break up, remove the obstacles which hide from us its shining light. But that man may perform this task, must the higher virtues present themselves to him visibly, and come to help him with their influence and counsels? Is it not more apparent that the pure manifestations are, not the precursors, but a result of the development of the light itself? There is a third position possible: it is, that when man has developed his being to a certain degree, he then finds guides who lead him further, and help him to finish his work; but, in this case, who would be able to suppress the desire to know the type, the universal formulary, by which we may communicate with these particular and beneficent agents who are able to help us to finish our work? If all these beneficent virtues are ordained only by the great Principle to co-operate in the restoration of man; if they have been separated only on our account; if they are exposed to nakedness, cold, and hunger only out of love for man; is he not directly called, is it not a duty laid upon him, to clothe those who have stripped themselves for him, to bring in those who are without, to give food and drink to those who are hungry and thirsty? And, as we do nothing without having them for witnesses, without being touched by them, as well as seen and heard, what is it that prevents us from seeing and knowing them as well and intimately as they see and hear us? Can it be only from want of a firm and constant will, or want of knowing the great Name that should tear the veil that covers them? But I stop. I am afraid of going out of the deep humility and resignation which is the state that suits man best. Let us adore the Divine Providence, and may His will be done on earth as it is in heaven; and, provided our hearts love Him, and our first care be to have no other will than His, it will not matter whether we are enlightened on these things or remain blind.
Adieu, my dear brother; do not forget me in your prayers.
7th June, 1796.
NUMBERS are no algebra, my dear brother, but men have sometimes lowered them to it. They are only the sensible expression, whether visible or intellectual, of the different properties of beings, which all proceed from the one only essence. Traditional theoretical teaching may transmit to us a part of this science, but with the risk of our seeing what is false therein, as much as the good, according to the teacher's standing. Regeneration alone shows us the ground, and therein we obtain the pure key, without masters; every one, however, in his own degree.
Look at our friend B. Who taught him the seven forms of universal nature? who taught him the number of the Ternary shown in the cross by means of the will? who told him of the ten mirrors at the end of which the last finds the first, &c. &c.? The fountain itself gave him the knowledge of these things, whether it be that this fountain came to him, or that he ascended into it. He went out of the earthly man, which sees only errors and darkness, notwithstanding his sciences and his reason; and he sought to live only in his divine man, which ought naturally to reflect every light, for these vary not, and he is, by birth and adoption, their mirror. The number of the universal forms of the Spirit being 7, as proved by a thousand reasons, we may follow its course, which I call a vegetative one, because everything in it ought to be living. Now, it is only by carrying the roots to their powers that I get an image of the life of properties, and it is by multiplying this root that we find the fruits, 49, the product of 7 x 7. But, though I thus arrive at this product, the root that engendered it does not, therefore, change its nature; it increases and pullulates without losing its own character. Thus 49 is still 7, for me, but 7 in development; whilst, in its root, it is 7 only in concentration. Nevertheless, development is necessary for it to go to 8, which is the temporal mirror of the invisible incalculable Denary. Now, while it passes from 7 to 8 by means of the great unity with which it unites, it also passes from 49 to 50 by means of the same unity; and it draws the quaternary or human soul into this reunion, by making it traverse and abolish the novenary of appearance, which is our limit, and the cause of our privation. This, my dear brother, is a brief sketch showing how 5 is equal to 8, and 8 equal to 5 in the great wonder which the divine Repairer has wrought for our regeneration. This is a thing which came directly to my intelligence, and which I received from no man. I wish it may give you what it has given me.
You cannot form 50 by 8 + 2, because you would here use as element number 8, which does not yet exist, and must appear only after the operation; and number 6, which is not an active number, but only the organ through which life passes; and, lastly, number 2, which is the number of iniquity, and cannot be found in the constituent numbers of the Repairer, since it is said that He learned everything from man except sin. I do not enter into all your other questions about the meaning of each number, the mode of calculating, the formulas, and results. Not only volumes would be insufficient to accomplish satisfactorily such a task, but I say all in repeating to you, that it is in regeneration, and that alone, we can discover anything certain in this line. There are several degrees in this regeneration; there are also several in the dark ways of human reason; my whole life would not be enough to sound all their limits, and if I undertook it of myself, I should still run the risk of coming to doubtful results. I do not know why your friend takes the year of the Christian era for his calculation; not knowing the ground he goes upon, I cannot say whether he is right or wrong. In this order of things an immeasurable immensity of points of view are given to every one; and we can make sure of the nature of the tree, and its fruits, only by reciprocal explanations and confrontation of principles.
You know our true aim, my dear brother, when you say we must, on the one hand, detach ourselves, and, on the other, attach ourselves; and the only office I can exercise towards you is to encourage you; for I am still far from being able to instruct you. Yes, the only thing we want, is, as you say, a firm will to come out of our Sodom, which is capable only of the wrath and of the Sulphur Spirit, to return to the open air and the divine protection. And before the great Name can teach us everything, we must, by our own efforts, faith, and perseverance, begin by approaching this great Name, which, though it acts and speaks incessantly, is, nevertheless, neither perceived nor heard by the beastly creature which encloses us. Read Boehme here; he is the doctor of doctors. . . .
Adieu, my dear brother; I always commend myself to your prayers. . . .
P. S. — I have made further inquiries for Antoinette Bourignon, and can find nothing yet. If you should be able to do anything for me, I beg you will bear me in mind.
Is the time come for you to put your hand to the translations we have spoken of? I have finished the 'Three Principles' and the 'Threefold Life.' There is one, though a bad one, of the 'Signatura Rerum,' and you gave me the 'Way to Christ.' Of what remains, choose which you like. I feel inclined soon to begin the 'Six Points,' and the 'Nine Texts' which follow; and then I might easily go on to the 'Forty Questions.' Forgive me, if I choose so; I have thought these would be the least fatiguing for me, and I am really obliged to consider this. I could hardly undertake the translation of the 'Letters,' because, in my English edition, they are not included, and I fear I should not always be able to get on without that assistance.
Morat, 18th June, 1796.
I ARRIVED here, my dear brother, as I advised you in my last, on the 17th ult.; but I was hardly settled, and beginning to enjoy my quiet, when I was obliged to go off to our salt-works, on the borders of Le Valais. This journey took me twelve days. I profited, however, of every quarter of an hour I could dispose of to attend to our great concern. One might say that the king of this world does not lose sight of those who are escaping out of his kingdom, and that he is fertile in resources to turn them from their project. The very day of my return to Morat I received your valued letter of the 7th instant.
I am quite satisfied with what you tell me about numbers; they denote and express the relations and properties of things. The origin of everything that exists — the origin of their relations and properties — is, without controversy, the Great Principle, the Being of beings, the invisible Unity; everything flows from this spring — everything rests on this basis. But the way these created beings flow from this spring — the way they develop — the way they may perfect themselves or lose themselves — their mutual action and reaction — is established on fixed and unchangeable, and, happily for man, analogous laws; so that, if once they gain a correct knowledge of a few links of the chain, even though its object were limited to parts only of elementary nature, this knowledge would serve them as an image, as guide and rule, for discovering the other links of the chain. Thus science consists, according to my notions, in the knowledge of the laws of the Sublime Legislator, for whom no tongue has a name that can sufficiently express His height, wisdom, and goodness; and when we think of Him, we can only cover our faces and prostrate ourselves before this bright source of light and power.
Now, I imagine that the elect, who have habitually drunk at this fountain, and attracted the rays of this light by their desires and purity, have learned to know these laws, and caught the relations which exist between Wisdom and men, as well as man's relations to those intermediate beings which, in the chain of creation, connect the extremes. To express these relations and laws by visible signs, they probably made use of numbers; they will have expressed the invisible unity, the source of all beings, by the visible unity, the source of all numbers. They will have expressed the other beings, according to their relations to the invisible unity, by numbers which they found had similar relations with the visible unity; they will have chosen some numbers to express beings, others to express properties and relations; they perhaps called the one class active numbers, the others passive; but it results, from this view, that the science of numbers, properly so called, follows the work, rather than introduces it.
Numbers express our acquirements, but do not give them. This science is true and solid only according as we have obtained previous knowledge of the fountain itself. To the initiated and the proprietor, who has acquired intellectual riches by the sweat of his brow, numbers serve as inventory of his fortune; but for a poor man they are but a label on the chest, naming its contents. The poor man may read this list, and understand it to a certain extent, yet still remain poor, as before.
Hence, I conclude that he who would make any progress in our course, should not begin with numbers; and this, for the simple reason, that we cannot make an inventory of riches which we do not possess. More than this, I believe it is even very dangerous to introvert the order of our march, and try to make use of numbers as steps; for we have need of light, and positive and real strength, without which the most admirable formulas, which are only their reflection, would be in danger of leading us astray, because we do not yet possess that strength and light in themselves. I suppose this is the rock on which Mr. d'Eck . . . has struck. He has collected many theoretical and traditional details about numbers, and he wants to apply them to the solution of questions of every description. I saw at once that he was mistaken, and this is what prevented my studying his work. He has not the less excited my astonishment at the magnitude of his labours, and by the flashes of light which here and there penetrate his letters.
Although I suspend this study for the present, the delay nowise lessens my thankfulness to you for what you have lately had the goodness to teach me. As I take great care of all your letters, a time will come, if Providence permit, when I may make a profitable use of them.
. . . . On receipt of your letter, I at once wrote to Lausanne for further search to be made for Antoinette's writings; and I shall spare no pains to procure for you the works of this excellent maiden.
At length I have the pleasure of Soeur Marguerite's acquaintance. She is an angel in human form. I find her life very instructive. . . . What an admirable diversity there is even amongst the elect. Antoinette was not at all like this sister; they are both beautiful flowers in the same garden, but very different from each other.
I also have laid in a provision for the winter. I have obtained an edition of Boehme in 4to., printed in large type, like Gichtel's of 1682.
As for my present leisure, it is very precarious, till peace is concluded. Meanwhile I make sure of every moment of my life that I can, and at the end of the year these stolen moments amount to a respectable sum. I will willingly make a trial at translating the Letters. In one sense, they are the easiest of our author's works; in another, the most difficult, because they suppose a knowledge of B.'s whole system, of which they are an appendix. What preparation, then, is requisite to perform such a task tolerably!
I view our friend's works as in two distinct parts: one ascetic, which is the most essential; the other scientific. The former is the key to the latter, and a sine qua non for the work. The second has its use; it furnishes a reaction of light to the former. The author must have thought it valuable in itself, and not only a simple consequence of the former, following necessarily from regeneration, without human aid; for in this case he would not have written it, but have contented himself by teaching the ascetic part in all its details. This seems to be the general order of Providence itself.
To discover the truths contained in these books, we must study them, and to do this with profit, we should begin with the plainest and easiest. Now for myself, I know no better introduction to the theoretical part of our friend B.'s works than the precepts of your old school. I have just been looking over your book 'Des Erreurs et de la Verite,' and the 'Tableau Naturel,' and I have found in them a number of things which escaped me five or six years ago. Thus to prepare myself for reading our friend, I begin again with those two works.
I find, amongst others, a remarkable precept in the second vol. of the 'Tableau,' p. 109, which says: "One of the grandest secrets a man can know is, not to go to Wisdom all at once, but to engage himself a long while on the way that leads to her." (You will easily understand the true meaning of the words I have underlined.) But before going on with this reading, more carefully than formerly, I must ask you whether the parenthetical passages in the 'Tableau,' Edinburgh edition, 1782, are by a hand which you adopt as your own. I shall also be very glad to know, whether, in the nomenclature of these two works, there is any denomination synonymous with two very essential words in the system of our friend Boehme — I allude to Sophia and the King of this world, or did these two beings entirely escape your school? I have some reason to suspect the latter; for our friend Divonne, whom you introduced to me, and who appeared pretty well up in this matter, did not know a word about Sophia; I cannot say whether he knew anything of the King. It is possible these two names may not have been pronounced in any school in France: this would not prevent those schools enjoying magnificent splendours. You will, no doubt, have known, in your time, a Portuguese theosophist, called Martinez Pasqualis. From what I have heard, he was very profound and very advanced. Yet I have some suspicion that he never knew Sophia, even by name: can he have confounded Sophia with the Active intelligent Cause, and the King with the Bad Principle From all this, you see I am determined to make myself familiar with the precepts of your old school; but as I am in about the same relation to the French language that you are to the German, you will allow me, from time to time, to ask some grammatical questions.
For instance, 'Tableau,' vol. ii. p. 61: "To serve as organe to the higher vertus which ought to descend." I do not understand the meaning of organe in this sense. Do the higher virtues need an organ for them to come down; if so, what is it? Page 108, same vol.: "If elementary Nature is hurtful to us, it is when we allow ourselves to be enslaved by it, not when we penetrate its virtues." I do not know in what sense the word virtue is used here. Does it apply to the properties of elementary nature, or to some intellectual substance different from nature?
Idem, p. 233: "The universal action of life." . . . In what sense is life to be taken here?
Idem, p. 235. Who or what are the sensible agents the writer here speaks of?
An important word also, which I do not understand, is one I find in p. 239: "In proportion as we close our intellectual channels." You will give me much pleasure if you will tell me what you mean by intellectual channels, which may be opened or closed at will.
Adieu, my dear brother: excuse my long letter. . . .
11th July, 1796.
I AM quite satisfied, my dear brother, that you should look upon numbers as expressing truths, not giving them. I wish you would add to this, that men did not choose numbers, but that they perceived them, in the natural properties of things. To be sure of their steps, they could not have taken any other guides; for true sciences are those in which man puts nothing of his own. Figures, even, which are but the material expressions of numbers, were not originally so much an arbitrary conventional work of men, as might be supposed, seeing the fantastic use to which they have been brought in the arts and sciences: they have several sources, whether in languages, in which letters were used for figures, or in nature, which has given us the Arab figures. For, in short, it is clear that, since the fall, we have nothing of our own, and consequently everything must have been given to us; then we have abused, and still abuse everything daily, believing ourselves to be great doctors, especially in our benighted academies: our eminent quality is to abuse; and, ever since Adam, we have done nothing else. But this subject is too vast for a letter.
How many notions should we not have exhausted, if we had but been able to see each other for a short time, since our correspondence began? At your place in the country, above all! You will know better than I when circumstances favour in this matter, and I leave it to your wisdom. All I can say at present is, that passports are not now difficult to procure from our government, for your country. En attendant, you do well to suspend this study, since you feel, yourself, whence the knowledge, to be safe, should come.
. . . . There were precious things in our first school. I am even inclined to think that Mr. Pasqualis, whom you name, (and who, since it must be said, was our master), had the active key to all that our dear Boehme exposes in his theories, but that he did not think we were able to bear those high truths. He had some points which our friend B. either did not know, or would not state, such as the resipiscence of the Evil one, for which the first man may have been commissioned to work; an idea which still appears to me worthy of the universal plan, but, on which, I have yet no positive information, except through the understanding. As for Sophia and the King of this world, he revealed nothing about them to us, and left us under the ordinary notions of Mary and the devil. But I will not, therefore, affirm that he had no knowledge of them; and I am persuaded that we should have arrived at them at last, if we had kept him longer; but we were only beginning to march together, when death took him from us. Thus our friend D.'s silence on this head would prove nothing, inasmuch as he never followed our school, and never knew our master; he frequented some of his disciples; he was led by reading books of that way; also by somnambulic and magnetic courses, in which he had some efficacy, and in which he obtained some light, notwithstanding the clouds which surround them: in short, by the goodness of his heart, and the happy gifts of his nature. From all this, it follows, that an excellent match may be made by marrying our first school to friend Boehme. This is what I work at; and I confess to you candidly, that I find the two spouses so well suited to each other, that I know nothing more perfect in its way: so, let us take what we can: I will help you all I can.
The passages, inter-parenthesis, in 'Le Tableau,' are mine. The editor thought he could not see in them a sufficient coherence with the rest of the work, which induced him to prepare the reader about them, in the way he did, and I allowed him to do as he liked.
We cannot deny that, in the rigorous time of the old law, the high truths were subject to localities, formulas, bloody sacrifices, &c., and that every part of the temple and the ceremonies really served them as organs. The law of liberty is assuredly above that; but they had not then reached it: we must not confound the times. This is the answer to your question about the organ, p. 61.
In general, the word Virtues underlined throughout all the work ('Tableau') means Eigenschaften (property, quality). This word Property applies to everything, whether elementary, spiritual, devilish, divine, &c.
The Life, p. 233, means here, as well as everywhere else, the centre and heart of God, the possession of which, in the sweetness of joy, makes the happiness of all creatures, according to our friend B.
The intellectual channels, p. 239, are the gates of our souls, which we open and shut at will, by our desires, our imagination, by inward work, more or less sustained or neglected, by our good or bad conduct, &c.
The sensible agents, p. 235, here mean the elementary agents, which, in fact, are charged with our first purification or initiation; as proved by our baptism, and by the fire, which must at last try and purge all things, without counting also the rights which the earth exercises over us during our life and in the grave. . . . Adieu, my dear brother. . . .
Morat, 27th July, 1796.
MANY thanks, dear brother, for your communication as to the way, in general, in which numbers ought to be viewed. They were guides for men of desire, not chosen by themselves. I have met with traces of them in works written more than 550 years before the Christian era. My Munich friend has lately informed me that he has just finished recasting his large work on numbers: his indefatigability deserves some success.
No one, my dear brother, can feel more than I do, how many matters we should have exhausted, if we could have met since our correspondence began; and I hope the moment is now really come when one of my dearest wishes shall be accomplished. The news that your Government now makes no difficulty about passports to my country, has given me the liveliest satisfaction: do not delay to take advantage of it, my dear brother: come to the call of friendship, to enjoy in peace the pleasure of talking about your favourite thoughts. . . .
On receipt of your letter, I wrote to our Government on the subject . . . the Alien Office has obligingly met all my wishes. . . . It is necessary, in these times, to fix people's thoughts. . . . It would be well for you to get an introduction to the physical societies of Switzerland, &c. . . . all which will be easy for you, and, with these precautions, you may live as quietly at my house at Morat, or Berne, as if you were in perfect solitude. And although my house at Morat is within the walls of that little town, you would be there in the midst of verdure, and enjoy the view of the lake, without going out of doors, just as if you were twenty leagues in the country.
Our friend D. (Divonne), whom I believed to be in Africa, in the suite of an envoy from the country in which he was living, has given me a very agreeable surprise, by marching into my house at Morat, on his way to Lausanne, where he was going to see his parents. My joy was greatly increased, when, after a few minutes' conversation, I found that the seed you sowed, in recommending our friend B.'s works, &c., which passed through my medium, has not only germinated, but also brought forth fruit in this excellent young man. Although he does not know German, he fortunately knows English; and Providence has put into his hands a summary of our friend's system, by Law, of whom he speaks very highly; in short, he has been almost entirely engaged in this study during his absence. He also met with a great disciple of our old master. If, in the hurry of our conversation, I have retained the name, it was Abbe Fournier. You may suppose our friend would make the most of him. They spoke much of us, and D.'s attachment to you has received a new increase. He has some inclination to translate this summary of Law into French, and I encouraged him to undertake it. He promised to see me again in a few weeks; but, a few days after leaving Morat, the proclamation of our Government against French emigres appeared. However, as his family left France before the revolution, I hope to obtain an exemption for him. . . .
I am delighted that you are of the same opinion as myself about the union of the two schools. I have lately obtained further assistance in this direction: I not only possess a very rare and lucid work, by an elect of the 14th century — Rusbrock, Tauler's master — but I have also discovered remarkable tracks in extracts from the works of Schwenkfeld and Weigel, who both preceded our friend B.; thus the truth has had a succession of witnesses from the remotest times. But what has given me great pleasure in reference to your old school, is, that your 'Nouvel Homme' is at length come into my hands; I hope to have a great harvest from this work. You see how rich I am in lands; if Providence permit, I shall some day be so also in income. I should be ingratitude itself if I did not acknowledge all the gifts with which He loads me; the teaching that books can give covers my study walls.
The communication of the secret, No. 2, p. 6 of the 'Nouvel Homme,' is truly consolatory and encouraging. Do you know any passage in Boehme which supports this communication? Was he ignorant of it, or did he transpose the offices of the Spirit to functions of Sophia? A word from you on this will give me pleasure.
Many thanks for your explanations of the 'Tableau Naturel.' The virtues underlined, no doubt, mean properties; but are there no cases in which they mean substances? or, when the virtues manifest themselves, are these manifestations only properties of substances, and not substances themselves which have become sensible to our organs, external or intellectual?
I now come to our dear Boehme: 'Three Principles,' xiii. No. 2, No. 13, and No. 35. The contradiction between these passages is only apparent: it disappears when we look at the gradual progress of the metamorphosis. In No. 2 it is only commenced, although this step was immense, from the spiritual and glorious body, to the material body; but the bones, at the moment of the change, had not yet received the hardness they acquired afterwards; they were not yet entirely solidified, but still contained some of the strength and virtue of the glorious covering which our first father had just lost. Eve was created out of the remains of this strength concentrated, which afterwards formed the ribs; but this material ossification took place only when Eve ate the fruit, and gave it to Adam; it was when the two spouses fell into sin that the materializing process, of which they already contained the germ, was consummated: before then, they were mixed beings, between the glorious state and the state of humiliation in which we now are. Adam, even after his fall, did not altogether lose his corporeal virtuality, since he lived nine hundred and thirty years. You will find this way of viewing it confirmed in No. 13 and the end of No. 35.
I now come to the 'Six Points': Point I. chap. i. No. 50. (One can hardly approach these 'Six Points' without being dazzled with the majesty which dictated them.) The first will, which the author calls father, wants to be delivered from the torments which darkness, with its bitterness or astringency, makes the soul feel; this will wants to be free, it wants to get out of darkness, it wants a revelation to draw it out of its prison; but it cannot find this revelation in itself — it can find it only by help of the virtues, so it desires virtues. If it then change, and chooses the virtues in the circumference, then this lost will turns round like a wheel, from one object to another; it has no increase in its well-being, its life is a life of anxiety and bitterness; the more it drinks of this stagnant water, the more it requires to drink. But the second will made a better choice, and seeks the light in the centre; it possesses the word of life in itself; it is poised and directed towards the centre of nature. . . . I give you my ideas on these Nos. of the 'Six Points,' under correction, if I am mistaken.
I hope, my dear brother, your first letter will bring me your resolution to come to Switzerland. Your shortest way will be, not through Geneva or Neufchatel, but by Pontarlier and Yverdun, to Payerne, which is only four short leagues from Morat. Adieu, dear brother. I wait your next impatiently. . . . A German astronomer maintains that Herschel's planet is no planet, but a fixed star. . . .