DON'T ASK ALICE - SHE WON'T KNOW PART ONE
DON'T ASK ALICE - SHE WON'T KNOW PART ONE
“ It is important at this stage to mention a book concerning the hollow Earth, the finest that has yet been written. It not only contains more important factual information than any other book, but also goes far beyond them in other respects. This great book probably contains more profound metaphysical and scientific truths than any other book written up to the present. The book is entitled Etidorhpa and was first published in 1895. Some books are written in the form of a novel in order to present certain ideas or truths without inviting undue -attack from various quarters. Etidorhpa is considered by most to be a science fiction book. Any intelligent and discerning reader realizes that it isn't.
"The book concerns a story within a story. In Cincinnati, Ohio, during the 1860's, a young student of science had an unusual visitation from a mysterious stranger of striking appearance. This strange man, whose name was never revealed, extracted a promise from this student to publish a manuscript which the stranger was to read to him. The time of the publication was to be 30 years later. The manuscript was then read aloud over a period of time requiring many sessions. After the last reading the manuscript was presented to him along with sealed instructions to be opened at the prescribed time.
"According to the subject matter of the manuscript, the stranger was taken into the hollow of the earth through a cave in Kentucky during the early part of the nineteenth century. His guide was a cavern dweller who was a member of a secret organization whose objective was the preservation of vital knowledge for the future enlightenment of mankind. The objective of this trip was the inner shell of the earth, where the nameless one was to receive advanced schooling in the mysteries of the universe.
"The book Etidorhpa described this amazing trip through the caverns of the inner earth in detail. It also presented some of the philosophy and scientific truths the guide imparted to this man." - Joseph H. Cater, in his book The Ultimate Reality
"It has been ordained that a select few must from time to time pass over the threshold that divides a mortal's present life from the future. Written well over a century ago, John Uri Lloyd was a visionary who spoke of far distant worlds, dead civilizations, other dimensions and in particular, a world few of us will ever get to visit. A world hidden beneath our feet inside the earth. Inspired by the fantastic -- in particular the art of alchemy -- the author reveals in this long lost manuscript how he joined a secret society and was introduced into the sphere of mysticism. A part of this spiritual journey included the opportunity to establish contact with a super-human, eyeless being, inside a cave in Kentucky. Together they journey to another realm filled with magic and wonderment. Some have placed it in the category of Alice in Wonderland; where does the mind magic start and end? You decide" - goodreads blurb on Edidorhpa
[The following is extracted from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll]
The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
'Who are you?' said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
'What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. 'Explain yourself!'
'I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, 'because I'm not myself, you see.'
'I don't see,' said the Caterpillar.
'I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,' Alice replied very politely, 'for I can't understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.'
'It isn't,' said the Caterpillar.
'Well, perhaps you haven't found it so yet,' said Alice; 'but when you have to turn into a chrysalis — you will some day, you know — and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a little queer, won't you?'
'Not a bit,' said the Caterpillar.
'Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,' said Alice; 'all I know is, it would feel very queer to me.'
'You!' said the Caterpillar contemptuously. 'Who are you?'
Which brought them back again to the beginning of the conversation. Alice felt a little irritated at the Caterpillar's making such very short remarks, and she drew herself up and said, very gravely, 'I think, you out to tell me who you are, first.'
'Why?' said the Caterpillar.
Here was another puzzling question; and as Alice could not think of any good reason, and as the Caterpillar seemed to be in a very unpleasant state of mind, she turned away.
'Come back!' the Caterpillar called after her. 'I've something important to say!'
This sounded promising, certainly: Alice turned and came back again.
'Keep your temper,' said the Caterpillar.
'Is that all?' said Alice, swallowing down her anger as well as she could.
'No,' said the Caterpillar.
Alice thought she might as well wait, as she had nothing else to do, and perhaps after all it might tell her something worth hearing. For some minutes it puffed away without speaking, but at last it unfolded its arms, took the hookah out of its mouth again, and said, 'So you think you're changed, do you?'
A meaningful note on John Uri Lloud from Wikipedia. The HBL connoisseur will note some considerable parallels to the later life of Frontal Chief Peter Davidson:
"John Uri Lloyd (19 April 1849 – 9 April 1936) was an American pharmacist and leader of the eclectic medicine movement who was influential to the development of pharmacognosy, ethnobotany, economic botany, and herbalism.
"He also wrote novels set in northern Kentucky. His most popular novel was the science fiction or allegorical Etidorhpa, or, the end of the earth: the strange history of a mysterious being and the account of a remarkable journey (1895). First distributed privately, it was later illustrated and printed in eighteen editions. Translated into seven languages, it was widely read in Europe as well as the United States."
[The following is an exemplar section of ETIDORHPA OR THE END OF EARTH.THE STRANGE HISTORY OF A MYSTERIOUS BEING AND The Account of a Remarkable Journey AS COMMUNICATED IN MANUSCRIPT TO LLEWELLYN DRURY WHO PROMISED TO PRINT THE SAME, BUT FINALLY EVADED THE RESPONSIBILITY WHICH WAS ASSUMED BY JOHN URI LLOYD WITH MANY ILLUSTRATIONS BY J. AUGUSTUS KNAPP 1896. The section rendered here is from Chapter III A SECOND INTERVIEW WITH THE MYSTERIOUS VISITOR. The full book is reprinted online by, among others, the most excellent Project Gutenberg.]
With my latch-key I let myself into the front door of the apartment house wherein I lodged, walked through the hall, up the stair-case, and paused on the threshold of my room, wondering what I would find inside. Opening the door I entered, leaving it open behind me so that the light from the hall-way would shine into the room, which was dark, and there was no transom above the door. The grate fire had caked into a solid mass of charred bituminous coal, which shed no illumination beyond a faint red glow at the bottom, showing that it was barely alive, and no more. I struck a match on the underside of the mantel shelf, and as I lit the gas I heard the click of the door latch. I turned instantly; the door had been gently closed by some unknown[Pg 27] force if not by unseen hands, for there was no breath of air stirring. This preternatural interference was not pleasant, for I had hoped in the event of another visit from my friend, if friend he was, that he would bring no uncanny or ghostly manifestation to disturb me. I looked at the clock; the index pointed to half past nine. I glanced about the room; it was orderly, everything in proper position, even to the arm-chair that I had been wont to place for my nondescript visitor. It was time to be going, so I turned to the dressing case, brushed my hair, put on a clean scarf, and moved towards the wash-stand, which stood in a little alcove on the opposite side of the room. My self-command well-nigh deserted me as I did so, for there, in the arm-chair that a moment before was empty, sat my guest of a year ago, facing me with placid features! The room began to revolve, a faint, sick feeling came over me, and I reeled into the first convenient chair, and covered my face with my hands. This depression lasted but an instant, however, and as I recovered self-possession, I felt or fancied I felt a pair of penetrating eyes fixed upon me with the same mild, searching gaze I remembered so well. I ventured to look up; sure enough, there they were, the beaming eyes, and there was he! Rising from his chair, he towered up to his full height, smiled pleasantly, and with a slight inclination of the head, murmured: "Permit me to wish you good evening; I am profoundly glad to meet you again."
It was full a minute before I could muster courage to answer: "I wish I could say as much for myself."
"And why shouldn't you?" he said, gently and courteously; "you have realized, for the past six months, that I would return; more than that—you have known for some time the very day and almost the exact hour of my coming, have even wished for it, and, in the face of all this, I find you preparing to evade the requirements of common hospitality;—are you doing either me or yourself justice?"
I was nettled at the knowledge he displayed of my movements, and of my very thoughts; my old stubbornness asserted itself, and I was rude enough to say: "Perhaps it is as you say; at all events, I am obligated to keep an engagement, and with your permission will now retire."[Pg 28]
It was curious to mark the effect of this speech upon the intruder. He immediately became grave, reached quietly into an inner pocket of his coat, drew thence the same glittering, horrible, mysterious knife that had so terrified and bewildered me a year before, and looking me steadily in the eye, said coldly, yet with a certain tone of sadness: "Well, I will not grant permission. It is unpleasant to resort to this style of argument, but I do it to save time and controversy."
I stepped back in terror, and reached for the old-fashioned bell-cord, with the heavy tassel at the end, that depended from the ceiling, and was on the point of grasping and giving it a vigorous pull.
"Not so fast, if you please," he said, sternly, as he stepped forward, and gave the knife a rapid swish through the air above my head, causing the cord to fall in a tangle about my hand, cut cleanly, high above my reach!
I gazed in dumb stupor at the rope about my hand, and raised my eyes to the remnant above. That was motionless; there was not the slightest perceptible vibration, such as would naturally be expected. I turned to look at my guest; he had resumed his seat, and had also regained his pleasant expression, but he still held the knife in his hand with his arm extended, at rest, upon the table, which stood upon his right.
Let us have an end to this folly," he said; "think a moment, and you will see that you are in fault. Your error we will rectify easily, and then to business. I will first show you the futility of trying to escape this interview, and then we will proceed to work, for time presses, and there is much to do." Having delivered this remark, he detached a single silvery hair from his head, blew it from his fingers, and let it float gently upon the upturned edge of the knife, which was still resting on the table. The hair was divided as readily as had been the bell-cord. I was transfixed with astonishment, for he had evidently aimed to exhibit the quality of the blade, though he made no allusion to the feat, but smilingly went on with his discourse: "It is just a year ago to-night since we first met. Upon that occasion you made an agreement with me which you are in honor bound to keep, and"—here he paused as if to note the effect of his words upon me, then added significantly—"will keep. I have been at some [Pg 31]pains to impress upon your mind the fact that I would be here to-night. You responded, and knew that I was coming, and yet in obedience to a silly whim, deliberately made a meaningless engagement with no other purpose than to violate a solemn obligation. I now insist that you keep your prior engagement with me, but I do not wish that you should be rude to your friend, so you had better write him a polite note excusing yourself, and dispatch it at once."
I saw that he was right, and that there was no shadow of justification for my conduct, or at least I was subdued by his presence, so I wrote the note without delay, and was casting about for some way to send it, when he said: "Fold it, seal it, and address it; you seem to forget what is proper." I did as he directed, mechanically, and, without thinking what I was doing, handed it to him. He took it naturally, glanced at the superscription, went to the door which he opened slightly, and handed the billet as if to some messenger who seemed to be in waiting outside,—then closed and locked the door. Turning toward me with the apparent object of seeing if I was looking, he deftly drew his knife twice across the front of the door-knob, making a deep cross, and then deposited the knife in his pocket, and resumed his seat.
 I noted afterward that the door-knob, which was of solid metal, was cut deeply, as though made of putty.
As soon as he was comfortably seated, he again began the conversation: "Now that we have settled the preliminaries, I will ask if you remember what I required of you a year ago?" I thought that I did. "Please repeat it; I wish to make sure that you do, then we will start fair."
"In the first place, you were to present me with a manuscript"—
"Hardly correct," he interrupted; "I was to acquaint you with a narrative which is already in manuscript, acquaint you with it, read it to you, if you preferred not to read it to me"—
"I beg your pardon," I answered; "that is correct. You were to read the manuscript to me, and during the reading I was to interpose such comments, remarks, or objections, as seemed proper; to embody as interludes, in the manuscript, as my own interpolations, however, and not as part of the original."
"Very good," he replied, "you have the idea exactly; proceed."
"I agreed that when the reading had been completed, I would seal the complete manuscript securely, deposit it in some safe place, there to remain for thirty years, when it must be published."
Just so," he answered; "we understand each other as we should. Before we proceed further, however, can you think of any point on which you need enlightenment? If so, ask such questions as you choose, and I will answer them."
I thought for a moment, but no query occurred to me; after a pause he said: "Well, if you think of nothing now, perhaps hereafter questions will occur to you which you can ask; but as it is late, and you are tired, we will not commence now. I will[Pg 33] see you just one week from to-night, when we will begin. From that time on, we will follow the subject as rapidly as you choose, but see to it that you make no engagements that will interfere with our work, for I shall be more exacting in the future." I promised, and he rose to go. A sudden impulse seized me, and I said: "May I ask one question?"
"What shall I call you?"
"Why call me aught? It is not necessary in addressing each other that any name be used."
"But what are you?" I persisted.
A pained expression for an instant rested upon his face, and he said, sadly, pausing between the words: "I—Am—The—Man Who—Did—It."
"Ask not; the manuscript will tell you. Be content, Llewellyn, and remember this, that I—Am—The—Man."
So saying he bade me good night, opened the door, and disappeared down the broad stair-case.
One week thereafter he appeared promptly, seated himself, and producing a roll of manuscript, handed it to me, saying, "I am listening; you may begin to read."
On examination I found each page to be somewhat larger than a sheet of letter paper, with the written matter occupying a much smaller space, so as to leave a wide white border. One hundred pages were in the package. The last sentence ending abruptly indicated that my guest did not expect to complete his task in one evening, and, I may anticipate by saying that with each successive interview he drew about the same amount of writing from his bosom. Upon attempting to read the manuscript I at first found myself puzzled by a style of chirography very peculiar and characteristic, but execrably bad. Vainly did I attempt to read it; even the opening sentence was not deciphered without long inspection and great difficulty.
The old man, whom I had promised that I would fulfill the task, observing my discomfiture, relieved me of the charge, and without a word of introduction, read fluently as follows:[Pg 34]
One day a postal package came to my address, this being the manner in which some of our literature circulated, which, on[Pg 38] examination, I found to be a letter of instruction and advice from some unknown member of our circle. I was already becoming disheartened over the mental confusion into which my studies were leading me, and the contents of the letter, in which I was greatly interested, made a lasting impression upon me. It seemed to have been circulating a long time among our members in Europe and America, for it bore numerous marginal notes of various dates, but each and every one of its readers had for one reason or another declined the task therein suggested. From the substance of the paper, which, written exquisitely, yet partook of the ambiguous alchemistic style, it was evident that the author was well versed in alchemy, and, in order that my position may be clearly understood at this turning point in a life of remarkable adventure, the letter is appended in full:
THE ALCHEMISTIC LETTER.
TO THE BROTHER ADEPT WHO DARES TRY TO DISCOVER ZOROASTER'S CAVE, OR THE PHILOSOPHER'S INTELLECTUAL ECHOES, BY MEANS OF WHICH THEY COMMUNICATE TO ONE ANOTHER FROM THEIR CAVES.
Know thou, that Hermes Trismegistus did not originate, but he gave to our philosophy his name—the Hermetic Art. Evolved in a dim, mystic age, before antiquity began, it endured through the slowly rolling cycles to be bandied about by the ever-ready flippancy of nineteenth century students. It has lived, because it is endowed with that quality which never dies—truth. Modern philosophy, of which chemistry is but a fragment, draws its sustenance from the prime facts which were revealed in ancient Egypt through Hermetic thought, and fixed by the Hermetic stylus.
"The Hermetic allegories," so various in interpretable susceptibility, led subsequent thinkers into speculations and experimentations, which have resulted profitably to the world. It is not strange that some of the followers of Hermes, especially the more mercurial and imaginative, should have evolved nebulous theories, no longer explainable, and involving recondite spiritual considerations. Know thou that the ultimate on psycho-chemical investigation is the proximate of the infinite. Accordingly, a class came to believe that a projection of natural mental faculties into an advanced state of consciousness called the "wisdom faculty" constitutes the final possibility of Alchemy. The attainment of this exalted condition is still believed practicable by many earnest savants. Once on this lofty plane, the individual would not be trammelled by material obstacles, but would abide in that spiritual placidity which is the exquisite realization of mortal perfection. So exalted, he would be in naked parallelism with Omniscience, and through his illuminated understanding, could feast his soul on those exalted pleasures which are only less than deific.
Notwithstanding the exploitings of a number of these philosophers, in which, by reason of our inability to comprehend, sense seemed lost in a passage[Pg 39] of incohesive dreamery and resonancy of terminology, some of the purest spiritual researches the world has ever known, were made in the dawn of history. The much abused alchemical philosophers existed upon a plane, in some respects above the level of the science of to-day. Many of them lived for the good of the world only, in an atmosphere above the materialistic hordes that people the world, and toiling over their crucibles and alembics, died in their cells "uttering no voice." Take, for example, Eirenæus Philalethes, who, born in 1623, lived contemporaneously with Robert Boyle. A fragment from his writings will illustrate the purpose which impelled the searcher for the true light of alchemy to record his discoveries in allegories, and we have no right to question the honesty of his utterances:
"The Searcher of all hearts knows that I write the truth; nor is there any cause to accuse me of envy. I write with an unterrified quill in an unheard of style, to the honor of God, to the profit of my neighbors, with contempt of the world and its riches, because Elias, the artist, is already born, and now glorious things are declared of the city of God. I dare affirm that I do possess more riches than the whole known world is worth, but I can not make use of it because of the snares of knaves. I disdain, loathe, and detest the idolizing of silver and gold, by which the pomps and vanities of the world are celebrated. Ah! filthy evil! Ah! vain nothingness! Believe ye that I conceal the art out of envy? No, verily, I protest to you; I grieve from the very bottom of my soul that we (alchemists) are driven like vagabonds from the face of the Lord throughout the earth. But what need of many words? The thing that we have seen, taught, and made, which we have, possess, and know, that we do declare; being moved with compassion for the studious, and with indignation of gold, silver, and precious stones. Believe me, the time is at the door, I feel it in spirit, when we, adeptists, shall return from the four corners of the earth, nor shall we fear any snares that are laid against our lives, but we shall give thanks to the Lord our God. I would to God that every ingenious man in the whole earth understood this science; then it would be valued only for its wisdom, and virtue only would be had in honor."
Of course there was a more worldly class, and a large contingent of mercenary impostors (as science is always encumbered), parasites, whose animus was shamefully unlike the purity of true esoteric psychologists. These men devoted their lives to experimentation for selfish advancement. They constructed alchemical outfits, and carried on a ceaseless inquiry into the nature of solvents, and studied their influences on earthly bodies, their ultimate object being the discovery of the Philosopher's Stone, and the alkahest which Bœhaave asserts was never discovered. Their records were often a verbose melange, purposely so written, no doubt, to cover their tracks, and to make themselves conspicuous. Other Hermetic believers occupied a more elevated position, and connected the intellectual with the material, hoping to gain by their philosophy and science not only gold and silver, which were secondary considerations, but the highest literary achievement, the Magnum Opus. Others still sought to draw from Astrology and Magic the secrets that would lead them to their ambitious goal. Thus there were degrees of fineness in a fraternity, which the science of to-day must recognize and admit.
Bœrhaave, the illustrious, respected Geber, of the alchemistic school, and none need feel compromised in admiring the talented alchemists who, like[Pg 40] Geber, wrought in the twilight of morn for the coming world's good. We are now enjoying a fragment of the ultimate results of their genius and industry in the materialistic outcomes of present-day chemistry, to be followed by others more valuable; and at last, when mankind is ripe in the wisdom faculty, by spiritual contentment in the complacent furtherings beyond. Allow me briefly to refer to a few men of the alchemistic type whose records may be considered with advantage.
Rhasis, a conspicuous alchemist, born in 850, first mentioned orpiment, borax, compounds of iron, copper, arsenic, and other similar substances. It is said, too, that he discovered the art of making brandy. About a century later, Alfarabe (killed in 950), a great alchemist, astonished the King of Syria with his profound learning, and excited the admiration of the wise men of the East by his varied accomplishments. Later, Albertus Magnus (born 1205), noted for his talent and skill, believed firmly in the doctrine of transmutation. His beloved pupil, Thomas Aquinas, gave us the word amalgam, and it still serves us. Contemporaneously with these lived Roger Bacon (born 1214), who was a man of most extraordinary ability. There has never been a greater English intellect (not excepting his illustrious namesake, Lord Bacon), and his penetrating mind delved deeper into nature's laws than that of any successor. He told us of facts concerning the sciences, that scientific men can not fully comprehend to-day; he told us of other things that lie beyond the science provings of to-day, that modern philosophers can not grasp. He was an enthusiastic believer in the Hermetic philosophy, and such were his erudition and advanced views, that his brother friars, through jealousy and superstition, had him thrown into prison—a common fate to men who in those days dared to think ahead of their age. Despite (as some would say) of his mighty reasoning power and splendid attainments, he believed the Philosopher's Stone to be a reality; he believed the secret of indefinite prolongation of life abode in alchemy; that the future could be predicted by means of a mirror which he called Almuchese, and that by alchemy an adept could produce pure gold. He asserted that by means of Aristotle's "Secret of Secrets," pure gold can be made; gold even purer and finer than what men now know as gold. In connection with other predictions he made an assertion that may with other seemingly unreasonable predictions be verified in time to come. He said: "It is equally possible to construct cars which may be set in motion with marvelous rapidity, independently of horses or other animals." He declared that the ancients had done this, and he believed the art might be revived.
Following came various enthusiasts, such as Raymond, the ephemeral (died 1315), who flared like a meteor into his brief, brilliant career; Arnold de Villanova (1240), a celebrated adept, whose books were burned by the Inquisition on account of the heresy they taught; Nicholas Flamel, of France (1350), loved by the people for his charities, the wonder of his age (our age will not admit the facts) on account of the vast fortune he amassed without visible means or income, outside of alchemical lore; Johannes de Rupecissus, a man of such remarkable daring that he even (1357) reprimanded Pope Innocent VI., for which he was promptly imprisoned; Basil Valentine (1410), the author of many works, and the man who introduced antimony (antimonaches) into medicine; Isaac of Holland who, with his son, skillfully made artificial gems that could not be distinguished from the natural; Bernard Trevison (born[Pg 41] 1406), who spent $30,000 in the study of alchemy, out of much of which he was cheated by cruel alchemic pretenders, for even in that day there were plenty of rogues to counterfeit a good thing. Under stress of his strong alchemic convictions, Thomas Dalton placed his head on the block by order of the virtuous (?) and conservative Thomas Herbert, 'squire to King Edward; Jacob Bohme (born 1575), the sweet, pure spirit of Christian mysticism, "The Voice of Heaven," than whom none stood higher in true alchemy, was a Christian, alchemist, theosophist; Robert Boyle, a conspicuous alchemical philosopher, in 1662 published his "Defense of the Doctrine touching the Spring and Weight of the Air," and illustrated his arguments by a series of ingenious and beautiful experiments, that stand to-day so high in the estimation of scientific men, that his remarks are copied verbatim by our highest authorities, and his apparatus is the best yet devised for the purpose. Boyle's "Law" was evolved and carefully defined fourteen years before Mariotte's "Discours de la Nature de l'Air" appeared, which did not, however, prevent French and German scientific men from giving the credit to Mariotte, and they still follow the false teacher who boldly pirated not only Boyle's ideas, but stole his apparatus.
Then appeared such men as Paracelsus (born 1493), the celebrated physician, who taught that occultism (esoteric philosophy) was superior to experimental chemistry in enlightening us concerning the transmutation of baser metals into gold and silver; and Gueppo Francisco (born 1627), who wrote a beautiful treatise on "Elementary Spirits," which was copied without credit by Compte de Gabalis. It seems incredible that the man (Gueppo Francisco), whose sweet spirit-thoughts are revivified and breathe anew in "Undine" and "The Rape of the Lock," should have been thrown into a prison to perish as a Hermetic follower; and this should teach us not to question the earnestness of those who left us as a legacy the beauty and truth so abundantly found in pure alchemy.
These and many others, cotemporaries, some conspicuous, and others whose names do not shine in written history, contributed incalculably to the grand aggregate of knowledge concerning the divine secret which enriched the world. Compare the benefits of Hermetic philosophy with the result of bloody wars ambitiously waged by self-exacting tyrants—tyrants whom history applauds as heroes, but whom we consider as butchers. Among the workers in alchemy are enumerated nobles, kings, and even popes. Pope John XXII. was an alchemist, which accounts for his bull against impostors, promulgated in order that true students might not be discredited; and King Frederick of Naples sanctioned the art, and protected its devotees.
At last, Count Cagliostro, the chequered "Joseph Balsamo" (born 1743), who combined alchemy, magic, astrology, sleight of hand, mesmerism, Free Masonry, and remarkable personal accomplishments, that altogether have never since been equalled, burst upon the world. Focusing the gaze of the church, kings, and the commons upon himself, in many respects the most audacious pretender that history records, he raised the Hermetic art to a dazzling height, and finally buried it in a blaze of splendor as he passed from existence beneath a mantle of shame. As a meteor streams into view from out the star mists of space, and in corruscating glory sinks into the sea, Cagliostro blazed into the sky of the eighteenth century, from the nebulæ of alchemistic[Pg 42] speculation, and extinguished both himself and his science in the light of the rising sun of materialism. Cagliostro the visionary, the poet, the inspired, the erratic comet in the universe of intellect, perished in prison as a mountebank, and then the plodding chemist of to-day, with his tedious mechanical methods, and cold, unresponsive, materialistic dogmas, arose from the ashes, and sprang into prominence.
Read the story backward, and you shall see that in alchemy we behold the beginning of all the sciences of to-day; alchemy is the cradle that rocked them. Fostered with necromancy, astrology, occultism, and all the progeny of mystic dreamery, the infant sciences struggled for existence through the dark ages, in care of the once persecuted and now traduced alchemist. The world owes a monument to-day more to Hermetic heroes, than to all other influences and instrumentalities, religion excepted, combined, for our present civilization is largely a legacy from the alchemist. Begin with Hermes Trismegistus, and close with Joseph Balsamo, and if you are inclined towards science, do not criticise too severely their verbal logorrhea, and their romanticism, for your science is treading backward; it will encroach upon their field again, and you may have to unsay your words of hasty censure. These men fulfilled their mission, and did it well. If they told more than men now think they knew, they also knew more than they told, and more than modern philosophy embraces. They could not live to see all the future they eagerly hoped for, but they started a future for mankind that will far exceed in sweetness and light the most entrancing visions of their most imaginative dreamers. They spoke of the existence of a "red elixir," and while they wrote, the barbarous world about them ran red with blood,—blood of the pure in heart, blood of the saints, blood of a Saviour; and their allegory and wisdom formulæ were recorded in blood of their own sacrifices. They dreamed of a "white elixir" that is yet to bless mankind, and a brighter day for man, a period of peace, happiness, long life, contentment, good will and brotherly love, and in the name of this "white elixir" they directed the world towards a vision of divine light. Even pure gold, as they told the materialistic world who worship gold, was penetrated and whelmed by this subtle, superlatively refined spirit of matter. Is not the day of the allegorical "white elixir" nearly at hand? Would that it were!
I say to you now, brothers of the eighteenth century, as one speaking by authority to you, cease (some of you) to study this entrancing past, look to the future by grasping the present, cast aside (some of you) the alchemical lore of other days, give up your loved allegories; it is a duty, you must relinquish them. There is a richer field. Do not delay. Unlock this mystic door that stands hinged and ready, waiting the touch of men who can interpret the talisman; place before mankind the knowledge that lies behind its rivets. In the secret lodges that have preserved the wisdom of the days of Enoch and Elias of Egypt, who propagated the Egyptian Order, a branch of your ancient brotherhood, is to be found concealed much knowledge that should now be spread before the world, and added to the treasures of our circle of adepts. This cabalistic wisdom is not recorded in books nor in manuscript, but has been purposely preserved from the uninitiated, in the unreadable brains of unresponsive men. Those who are selected to act as carriers thereof, are, as a rule, like dumb water bearers, or the dead sheet of paper that mechanically[Pg 43] preserves an inspiration derived from minds unseen: they serve a purpose as a child mechanically commits to memory a blank verse to repeat to others, who in turn commit to repeat again—neither of them speaking understandingly. Search ye these hidden paths, for the day of mental liberation approaches, and publish to the world all that is locked within the doors of that antiquated organization. The world is nearly ripe for the wisdom faculty, and men are ready to unravel the golden threads that mystic wisdom has inwoven in her web of secret knowledge. Look for knowledge where I have indicated, and to gain it do not hesitate to swear allegiance to this sacred order, for so you must do to gain entrance to the brotherhood, and then you must act what men will call the traitor. You will, however, be doing a sacred duty, for the world will profit, humanity will be the gainer, "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Man," will be closer to mankind, and at last, when the sign appears, the "white elixir" will no longer be allegorical; it will become a reality. In the name of the Great Mystic Vase-Man, go thou into these lodges, learn of their secrets, and spread their treasures before those who can interpret them.
Here this letter ended. It was evident that the writer referred to a secret society into which I could probably enter; and taking the advice, I did not hesitate, but applied at once for membership. I determined, regardless of consequence, to follow the suggestion of the unknown writer, and by so doing, for I accepted their pledges, I invited my destiny.
My guest of the massive forehead paused for a moment, stroked his long, white beard, and then, after casting an inquiring glance on me, asked, "Shall I read on?"