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Friday, March 22, 2013

The Human Tragedy, by Anatole France, c1917
Illustrations by Michel Sevier; Translated by Alfred Allinson; printed in Plymouth, England, by William Brindon and Son, Limited; the publisher of this book was known in London as, "John Lane the Bodley Head", and in New York as, "John Lane Company."
"[France] had lost no opportunity of poking fun at the Church." (George Orwell)

"All religions breed crime." (Anatole France, nee Francois-Anatole Thibault)

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." (Le Lys Rouge)

"If 50 million people say a foolish thing, is it still a foolish thing?"

"For every monarchy overthrown the sky becomes less brilliant, because it loses a star. A republic is ugliness set free."

"Stupidity is far more dangerous than evil, for evil takes a break from time to time, stupidity does not."

"I prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom."

"Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom."

"A person is never happy except at the price of some ignorance."

"If the path be beautiful, let us not question where it leads."

Strangely, in the bibliography of his works listed here at the Wikipedia link, there is no mention of The Human Tragedy.
Nor is this book mentioned here, on the Gutenberg Project.
Relevant facts about Michel Sevier, the illustrator.
Other books illustrated by Sevier.

From the rare, out-of-print The Tale of Igor


I love the artistic and printing styles of the Art Nouveau period, prior to and immediately following the turn of the 20th century.  Also, Michel Sevier might be somehow related to our family, since we are in direct lineage to John Sevier.

Anyway, the story contained in The Human Tragedy is also rather interesting; a highly symbolic sort of fairy-tale, parable, or fable, about the Catholic Order of St. Francis of Assissi.  As a reminder, the new Pope (announced on March 13, 2013), Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio; an Italian, Argentine, Jesuit Cardinal), is himself a member the same Order.
The Coat of Arms of the new Jesuit Pope, Francis
Jorge Mario Bergoglio's Coat of Arms, as a Cardinal
Coat of Arms of the "Holy See"
Heraldry obviously plays a very significant role in both the Church and State of Nobility, Royalty... caste.  The colors of these coats of arms appear extremely garish and sort of gypsyish or circusy, in contrast to the soft, muted colors of the following antique prints, which were rendered in more natural, organic inks:
Fra Giovanni ~ Frontispiece
"In those days the holy man, who, though he was of human parents, was veritably a son of God..."

The Lamp
"In those days the truth was revealed to Fra Giovanni that the riches of this world come from God and should be the heritage of the poor, who are the favourite children of Jesus Christ."
(Note:  I do detect just the slightest ironic sarcasm in those words.)

The Seraphic Doctor
"Fra Giovanni was not proficient in the knowledge of letters, and he rejoiced in his ignorance as being an abundant source of humiliations...
"But... he began to doubt whether [the Doctors of Theology] did not possess the love of God more fully than he, by reason of their wider knowledge.  He was afflicted in his soul, and for the first time in his life fell into melancholy.  But sadness was unnatural to one in his estate, for joy is the inheritance of the poor...
"He resolved to carry his difficulty to the General of the Order, to be rid of it as a galling burden...
"Fra Giovanni found him walking in his garden, on the terrace overlooking the city...
"And Fra Giovanni, seeing Brother Bonaventure in the garden, in the midst of the lilies, drew near and said:
"'Brother Bonaventure, free my mind of the doubt that is tormenting me, and tell me:  Can an ignorant man love God with as great love as a learned Doctor of the Church?'
"'I will tell you the truth, Fra Giovanni; a poor old woman may not only equal but surpass all the Doctors of Theology in the world.  And seeing the sole excellence of man lies in loving, I tell you again -- the most ignorant of women shall be exalted in Heaven above the Doctors.'
"Fra Giovanni, on hearing these words, was filled with great joy; and leaning out over the low wall of the garden, looked lovingly at the passers-by.  Then he cried out at the top of his voice:
"'Ho!  you poor women, ignorant and simple-minded, you shall be set in Heaven above Brother Bonaventure.'
"And the Seraphic Doctor, hearing the good Brother's proclamation, smiled sweetly where he stood among the lilies of his garden."
(Lesson:  God will love you more, if you remain ignorant, powerless, and impoverished... and trust the Church to manage such wicked things as knowledge, treasure, and government.)

The Loaf on the Flat Stone
"Forasmuch as the good St. Francis had bidden his sons to 'Go, beg your bread from door to door,' Fra Giovanni was one day sent to a certain city... to beg his bread from door to door, according to the rule of the Order, for the love of God...
"[But, the townspeople only]... pelted him with mud and stones...
"Meantime he was both hungry and thirsty; and he took delight in thirst and hunger...
"Accordingly Fra Giovanni entered the wood, and fared on by the side of a brook that ran clear and singing on its way...
"Presently he saw a flat stone beside the brook, and at the same moment a young man of a wondrous beauty, clad in a white robe, laid a loaf of bread on the stone, and disappeared...
"'O God, how good art Thou, to send Thy poor man bread by the hand of one of Th[ine] Angels.  O blessed poverty!  O very glorious and most sumptuous poverty!'
"... And an invisible hand wrote on the walls of the city:  'Woe, woe to the rich!'"
(Lesson:  Be obedient to Church doctrines and rejoice in your poverty, surviving not by work but by begging; and although your family and neighbors will hate you, God will rescue you from death with miracles granted by way of his holy angels... which just happen to look like gorgeous young men.)

The Table Under the Fig-Tree
"'My brother, you are Lucido [the patient, perservering Leper], and no precious stone is purer than your heart, in the eyes of God...'
"'Friend Lucido, dear Lamb of the Lord, while the very air they breathe in this place [the Leper's Ward] is pestilence, in the garden of Santa Maria degli Angeli we inhale the sweet scent of the laburnums.  Come you with me to the House of the Poor Brethren, and you will find relief...'
"'Stay outside with the man.  You are a senseless fool to expose your brethren thus to contagion...'
"'Brother!' said [Lucido], 'I am grieved you are made sad because of me.'
"And Fra Giovanni kissed the leper on the cheek...
"Then he said, turning to the Superior:  'Will you suffer me, my Father, to stay outside the Gate with this man, and share my meal with him?' -- to which the Father Superior answered:
"'Even do as you please, seeing you set up yourself above the holy rule of obedience.'
"And with these harsh words he went back again into the Monastery...
"Now in front of the Gate was a stone bench under a fig-tree, and on this bench Fra Giovanni set down his bowl.  But while he was supping with the Leper, the Father Superior had the Gate thrown open, and came and sat under the fig-tree and said:  'Forgive me, Fra Giovanni, for having given you offence.  I am come hither now to share your meal.'" 

The Temptation
"Then Satan sat... down on the brow of a hill, and gazed down at the House of the Poor Brethren.  He was black and beautiful, like a young Egyptian.  And he thought in his heart:
"'Forasmuch as I am the Enemy of Mankind and the Adversary of God, therefore will I tempt these Monks, and I will tell them what is kept hid by Him who is their Friend.  Lo!  I will afflict these men of Religion by telling them the truth, and I will darken their spirit, uttering to them words of verity and reasonableness.  I will plunge reflexion like a sword in their reins [kidneys]; and so soon as they shall know the reality of things, they will be unhappy.  For joy there is none but in illusion, and peace is only to be found in ignorance.  And because I am the Master of such as study the nature of plants and animals, the virtue of stones, the secrets of fire, the courses of the stars and the influence of the planets, for this reason men have named me the Prince of Darkness.  Likewise they call me the Wily one, because by me was constructed the plummet-line whereby Ulpian straightened out the Law.  And my kingdom is of this world.  Well then, I will try these Monks, and I will make them to know their works are evil, and that the tree of their Charity bears bitter fruit.  Yea!  I will tempt them without hate and without love...'
"Thus said Satan in his heart.  Meantime, as the shades of evening were lengthening along the base of the hills and the cottage chimneys were smoking for the evening meal, the holy man Giovanni issued from out of the wood where he was wont to pray, and turned into the road leading to Santa Maria degli Angeli, saying:
"'My house is the house of joy and delight, because it is the house of poverty...'
"And seeing Fra Giovanni wending his way homewards, Satan thought:
"'Lo!  here is one of those men I am come to tempt'; -- and drawing his black cloak over his head, he advanced along the high road, which was bordered with terebinths, to meet the holy man...
"Now Satan had made himself like a widow-woman with a veil, and when he had joined Fra Giovanni, he put on a honeyed voice and asked an alms of him, saying:
"'Give me an alms for the love of Him who is your friend, and whom I am not worthy so much as to name...'
"And Fra Giovanni answered:  'It happens so, I have with me a little silver cup a nobleman of the countryside gave me, to have it melted down and used for the Altar of Santa Maria degli Angeli.  You may take that, lady; and I will go to-morrow and ask the nobleman to let me have another of the same weight for the Blessed Virgin.  Thus will his wishes be accomplished, and over and above, you will have gotten an alms for the love of God...'
"Satan took the cup and said:  'Good brother, suffer a poor widow-woman to kiss your hand.  For verily the hand that gives gifts is soft and fragrant...'
"Fra Giovanni replied:  'Lady, be heedful not to kiss my hand.  On the contrary, begone with all speed.  For, methinks, you are winsome of face, albeit black as the Magian King that bore the frankincense and myrrh; and it is not becoming I should look on you longer, seeing how danger is for ever dogging the lonely man's steps.  Wherefore suffer me now to leave you, commending you to God's care.  And forgive me, if I have failed aught in politeness toward you, lady.  For the good St. Francis was used to say:  "Courtesy shall be the ornament of my sons, as the flowers bedeck the hillsides."'
"... But Satan said again:  'Good Father, inform me at the least of a guest-house, where I may pass the night honestly...'
"Fra Giovanni replied:  'Go, mistress, to the House of St. Damian, where dwell the poor ladies of Our Lord.  She who will welcome you is Clare, and indeed she is a clear mirror of purity; the same is the Duchess of Poverty...'
"And Satan said again:  'My Father, I am an adulterous woman, and I have lain with many men...'
"And Fra Giovanni said:  'Lady, if I really deemed you laden of the sins you tell of, I would crave of you as a high honour to kiss your feet, for I am less worth than you, and your crimes are little compared with mine.  Yet I have received greater favours of Heaven than have been accorded to you.  For in the days when St. Francis and his twelve disciples were still upon earth, I lived with Angels of Heaven...'
"And Satan returned:  'My Father, when I asked you an alms for the love of Him who loves you, I was cherishing in my heart a wicked intent, and I am fain to tell you what this was.  I wander the roads a-begging, in order to collect a sum of money I destine for a man of Perosa who is my paramour, and who has promised me, on handling this money, to kill traitorously a certain knight I hate, because when I offered my body to him, he scorned me.  Well!  the total was yet incomplete; but now the weight of your silver cup has made it up.  So the alms you have given me will be the price of blood.  You have sold a just man to death.  For the Knight I told you of is chaste, temperate and pious, and I hate him for this cause.  'Tis you will have brought about his murder.  You have laid a weight of silver in the scale of crime, so bear it down...'
"Hearing these words, the good Fra Giovanni wept, and drawing aside, he fell on his knees in a thorn-brake, and prayed the Lord, saying:  'O Lord, make this crime to fall neither on this woman's head nor on mine nor on that of any of Thy creatures, but let it be put beneath Thy feet, which were pierced with the nails, and be washed in Thy most precious blood.  Distil on me and on this my sister of the highway a drop of hyssop, and we shall be purified, and shall overpass the snow in whiteness...'
"But the Enemy fled away, thinking:  'This man I have not been able to tempt by reason of his utter simplicity.'"
(Lesson:  Satan is sometimes a crafty, deceitful, woman -- or, more accurately, a man pretending to be a woman.  Also, Satan uses the 'truth' -- which in this case was really only lies being presented as truthfulness -- for a spiritual weapon against those who can't handle it.)

The Subtle Doctor
"And [Satan] said in his heart:  'I will tempt that man [Fra Giovanni, again] yonder...'
"So Satan took on the appearance of a holy Bishop, and came down into the plain.  A mitre was on his head sparkling with precious stones, that flashed like actual fire in the sunlight...
"Thus decked in cope and mitre, and majestic as St. Ambrose, the glory of Milan, Satan pursued his way, leaning on his crozier, over the flowery plain...
"Presently nearing the holy man, he hailed him and said:  'Peace be with you!'
"But he said not of what sort this peace was; and Fra Giovanni supposed it was the peace of the Lord... So saluting Satan with a deep reverence, he said:  'Sir!  you are exceeding gracious to appear to a poor man such as I.  But indeed these meadows are so lovely, 'tis no wonder if the Saints of Paradise come to walk here; they are painted with flowers and broidered with pearls of dew.  The Lord did very kindly when He made them...'
"And Satan said to him:  'It is not the meadows, it is your heart I am fain to look at; I have come down from the Mountain to speak with you.  I have, in bygone Centuries, held many high disputations in the Church.  Amid the assembled Doctors my voice would boom forth like thunder, and my thoughts flash like lightning.  I am very learned, and they name me the Subtle Doctor.  I have disputed with God's Angels.  Now I would hold dispute with you...'
"Fra Giovanni made answer:  'Nay!  but how should the poor little man that I am hold dispute with the Subtle Doctor?  I know nothing, and my simplicity is such I can keep nothing in my head but those songs in the vulgar tongue where they have stuck in rhymes to help the memory... Jesus, mirror of my soul, Cleanse my heart and make it whole... Holy Mary, Maid of Flowers, Lead me to the Heavenly Bowers...'
"And Satan answered:  'Fra Giovanni, the Venetian ladies amuse their leisure and show their adroitness in fitting a multitude of little pieces of ivory into a box of cedarwood, which at the set-off seemed all too small to contain so many.  In the same fashion I will pack ideas into your head that no one would have dreamed it could ever hold; and I will fill you with a new wisdom.  I will show that, thinking to walk in the right way, you are straying abroad all the while like a drunken man, and that you are driving the plough without any heed to draw the furrows straight...'
"Fra Giovanni humbled himself, saying:  'It is most true I am a fool, and do nothing but what is wrong...'
"Then Satan asked him:  'What think you of poverty?' -- and the holy man replied:
"'I think it is a pearl of price...'
"But Satan retorted:  'You pretend poverty is a great good; yet all the while you are robbing the poor of a part of this great good, by giving them alms...'
"Fra Giovanni pondered over this, and said:  'The alms I give, I give to Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose poverty cannot be minished, for it is infinite... In giving to the poor, I am giving not to men, but to God... Now what I give is for paving the City of God.  It is a vain thing to be poor in deed, if we be not poor in spirit... The Poverty I love is spiritual, and I address her as Lady, because she is an idea, and all beauty resides in this same idea...'
"Satan smiled, and replied:  'Your maxims, Fra Giovanni, are the maxims of a wise man of Greece, Diogenes by name, who taught at their Universities in the times when Alexander of Macedon was waging his wars...'
"And Satan said again:  'Is it true you despise the goods of this world?'
"And Fra Giovanni replied:  'I do despise them.'
"And Satan said to him:  'Look you!  in scorning these, you are scorning at the same time the hard-working men who produce them, and so doing, fulfill the order given to your first father, Adam, when he was commanded, "In the sweat of thy face, thou shall eat bread."  Seeing work is good, the fruit of this work is good too.  Yet you work not, neither have any care for the work of others.  But you receive and give alms, in contempt of the law laid on Adam and on his seed through the ages.'
"'Alas!' sighed Brother Giovanni, 'I am laden with crimes, and at once the most wicked and the most foolish man in all the world.  Wherefore never heed me, but read in the Book.  Our Lord said, "Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin."'
"... Then Satan... said:  'Giovanni, Giovanni!  what was written in one sense, you read in another; you are less like a Doctor at his desk than an ass at the manger.  So I must correct you, as a master corrects his scholar.  It is written the lilies of the field have no need to spin -- because they are beautiful, and beauty is a virtue.  Again it is written how Mary is not to do the household tasks, because she is doing lovingly to Him who has come to see her.  But you, who are not beautiful nor yet instructed, like Mary, in the things of love, you drag out a contemptible existence wandering the highways.'
"Giovanni made reply:  'Sir!  just as a Painter will depict on a narrow panel of wood an entire city with its houses and towers and walls, so you have painted in a few words my soul and my similitude with a wondrous exactness.  And I am altogether what you describe.  But if I followed perfectly the rule stablished by St. Francis, that Angel of God, and if I practiced spiritual poverty to the full, I should be the lily of the fields...'
"But Satan interrupted him, and cried:  'You profess to love the poor, yet you prefer the rich man and his riches, and adore Him who possesses treasures to give away.'
"And Fra Giovanni answered:  'He I love possesses not the good things of the body, but those of the spirit.'
"And Satan retorted:  'All good things are of the flesh, and are tasted of through the flesh.  This Epicurus taught, and Horace the Satirist said the same in his verses.'
"At these words the holy man only sighed and said:  'Sir!  I cannot tell what you mean.'
"Satan shrugged his shoulders and said:  'My words are exact and literal, yet the man cannot tell what I mean... Simple and sage alike are the plaything of eternal falsehood.'
"And Satan said again to the holy man Giovanni:  'Have you won happiness?  If you have happiness, I shall not prevail against you.  A man's thoughts are only stirred by sorrow, and their meditations by grief... What use to tempt this man?  He is happy.'
"But Fra Giovanni sighed:  'Sir!  I am less happy since listening to you.  Your words trouble my mind.'
"On hearing this, Satan cast away his [garments]; and stood there naked and unashamed.  He was black and more beautiful than the loveliest of the Angels.  He smiled gently, and said to the holy man:  'Friend, be comforted.  I am the Evil Spirit.'"
( He was... more beautiful than the loveliest of the Angels... not.  Lucifer is indeed so black that he doesn't reflect light at all anymore.  Admittedly, in Heaven, before the Fall, he was most beautiful -- mainly in his own estimation, narcissist that he is; but afterwards, he very quickly degenerated into such false trappings as glamour, mockery, and illusion.
Lesson:  Never engage in discourse with the Devil, nor extend to him any sympathy; it can only result in more mental confusion and eventual ruin.)

The Burning Coal
"And the Angel held in his hand a burning coal..."

The House of Innocence
"'He that receives, if he have gracious charity, is the equal of him that gives.  But he who sells is the enemy of him who buys, and the seller constrains the buyer to be his foe... Now the Money-changer's shop is an ill place, for it is there Bankers and Changers commit the most heinous of sins.  Harlots sin in the brothels; but their sin is not so great as is that of the Bankers, and whosoever grows rich by banking and money-dealing.
"''Verily I say unto you, Bankers and Money-changers shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, nor yet bakers, nor dealers in drugs, nor such as practice the trade of wool, which is the boast of the City of the Lily.  Forasmuch as they give a price to gold, and make a profit out of exchange, they are setting up idols in the face of men.  And when they declare, "Gold has a value," they tell a lie.  For gold is more vile than the dry leaves that flutter and rustle in the Autumn wind under the terebinths.  There is nothing precious save the work of men's hands, when God gives it his countenance.'
"... Then the quarryman rose to his feet, and pointing, 'Master Monk,' said he, 'what see you up yonder on the hill?'
"'Brother, I see the walls of the City.'
"'And above them?'
"'Above them I see the roofs of the houses, which crown the ramparts.'
"'And higher still?'
"'The tops of the pines, the domes of the Churches and the Belltowers.'
"'And higher still?'
"'I see a Tower overstopping all the rest, and crowned with battlements.  It is the Tower of the Podesta.'
"'Monk, what see you above the battlements of that Tower?'
"'I see nothing, brother, above the battlements save the sky.'
"'But I,' cried the quarryman, 'I see upon that Tower a hideous giant brandishing a club, and on the club is inscribed:  OPPRESSION.  Yea!  Oppression is lifted up above the citizens' heads on the Great Tower of the Magistrates and the City's Laws.'
Podesta means 'power', 'authority'.
(Lesson:  The Church is blind to the Oppression which perches upon Towers of governmental 'Authority' and political 'Power'.)

The Friends of Order
"... [A] Confraternity of... old men... [whose] objects were the accumulation of honours and riches, and the pursuit of virtue.  The Brotherhood included a Gonfalonier of the Republic, Doctors... Judges, Merchants, Money-changers, and one or two old Soldiers of Fortune...
"... [A]nd they were all of one mind to persuade the poor to follow goodness and good order, to the end no changes might be made in the Constitution.
"... [T]he Dean... congratulated any serving-maids that served their masters without receiving wages, and spoke highly of the old men who, having no bread to eat, did not ask for any.
"... And when he finished speaking, the crowd of the general folk that stood under the platform clapped their hands.
"But no sooner had they done applauding than Fra Giovanni lifted up his voice from the midst of the miserable, poverty-stricken band, and asked loudly:  'What is goodness?'
"... [T]he Dean shouted:  'Who was it spoke?'
"And a red-haired man who was standing among the people, answered:  'It was... Giovanni... the disgrace of his cloister...'
"Next a Baker spoke up and said:  'He is a madman or a miscreant!  He begs his bread at the Bakers' doors.'
"... [T]he Dean... said:  'The knowledge of goodness resides in virtuous men; and good citizens carry within them a proper respect for the laws.  They approve what has been done in the city to ensure to each man enjoyment of the riches he may have acquired.  They support the established order of things, and are ready to fly to arms to defend the same.  For the duty of the poor is to defend the good things belonging to the rich; and this is how the union betwixt citizens is maintained.  This is goodness and good order.  Again, the rich man has his serving-man bring out a basket full of bread, which he distributes to the poor; and this is goodness again.'
"...But Fra Giovanni... said:  'Hear the words of comfort!  Goodness resides not in men, for men know not of themselves what is good.  They are ignorant of their own nature and destiny.  What seems good, may be evil all the while; and what is deemed useful, harmful... This is why goodness is to do the will of God.
"'It is false to say, "'Tis I teach goodness, and goodness is to obey the city laws."  For the Laws are not of God; they are of man, and share in man's craft and cunning and imperfection.  They are like the rules children make... when they are playing ball.  Goodness is not in customs nor in laws; it is in God and the accomplishment of God's will upon earth, and it is neither by law-makers nor magistrates that God's will is accomplished upon the earth.
"'For the great men of this world do their own will, and their will is contrary to God's.  But they who have stripped off pride and know there is no goodness in them... receive noble gifts, and God Himself distils His sweetness within them like honey in the hollow of the oaks.  And we must be the oak-tree full of honey and dew.  Humble, ignorant and simple folks... have knowledge of God; and by them shall God's kingdom be stablished on earth.  Salvation is not in the strength of laws nor in the multitude of soldiers; it is in poverty and humbleness of spirit.
"'Say not, "Goodness is in me, and I teach goodness."  Rather say, "Goodness is in God on high."  Over long have men hardened their hearts in their own wisdom.  Over long have they set up the Lion and the She-Wolf above the Gates of their cities.  Their wisdom and their prudence have brought about slavery and wars and the shedding of much innocent blood... [H]as not Reason made you unhappy and wicked?  By Reason have you grown like the man who, having guessed the secrets of the Beast crouching in the cavern, waxed proud of his knowingness, and deeming himself wiser than his fellows, slew his father and wedded his mother.
"'God was not with him; but He is with the humble and simple-minded... Seek not to guess the riddles of the Beast... 'Tis only wise men that are deceived.'
"... [T]he Dean got up and said:  'The miscreant has insulted me... he has spoken against the laws... and it is meet he should be punished.'
"So Fra Giovanni was led before the Judges, who had him loaded with chains and cast him into the city gaol."
(Lesson:  Questioning the 'Status Quo', or 'Establishment', is dangerous.)

The Revolt of Gentleness
"'What matter for Justice being in the Laws, if it is not in men's hearts?  And if men's hearts are unjust, what gain shall it be that Equity reign in the Courts of Law?

"'... Give not the compass and the level to the false measurer; for with true instruments, he will make untrue apportionments... So long as men shall be covetous and cruel, will they make the most merciful laws cruel, and will rob their brethren with words of love on their lips.  This is why it is vain to reveal to them the words of love and the laws of gentleness.

"'... Let us suffer persecution with gentleness, and be those chosen vessels that turn into balm the gall poured into them.'"

(Lesson:  True gentlemen have Justice in their hearts.)
Words of Love
"... [T]he Judges... said:  'You are alongside the guilty because you are not on our side.  For whosoever is not with good citizens is with evil.'
"And the holy man answered them:  'There is no hallowed law save in love.  There is no Justice save in Charity... But be ye strong in love, and love them that hate you.  Hate, when unreturned, is robbed of half its sting; and what is left is weak... and like to die... Because I was on all men's side, each reproached me and said, "You are not on my side."
"'I said, "I am the friend of the wretched."  But you never thought I was your friend, because in your pride, you know not that you are wretched.  Nevertheless the wretchedness of the master is more cruel than that of the slave.  My tender pity for your woes only made you think I was mocking you; and the oppressed deemed me to be of the party of the oppressors... Nay!  but I am on the side of love and not of hate.  This is why you scorn me; and because I preach peace on earth, you hold me for a fool... When I think whither human wisdom leads, I am glad to be a madman and a simpleton; and I thank God that He has given me the harp to handle and not the sword.'"
(Lesson:  Gentlemen are not always popular.)

The Truth
"The holy man Giovanni was very straitly confined in gaol... But his soul was unfettered... He promised himself he would never betray the faith that was in him, and was ready to be witness and martyr of the Truth, to the end he might die in God... 'Truth shall go along with me to the scaffold.'
"... And the knight made answer:  '... Know this, I am come to you full of helpfullness and goodwill, and being informed you dearly love the Truth, I bring you a word touching this same Truth that you have taken for lady and companion.'
"... 'Wherefore I say to you, Fra Giovanni, seeing you have chosen peradventure to take the Truth for your Lady and darling, it behoves you greatly to know concerning her all that may be known.  Well then, know that she is white.  And from her appearance, which I will describe you, you shall gather her nature, which will be very useful to you in making up to her and kissing her fair body with all sorts of pretty caresses, after the fashion of a lover fondling his mistress.  Therefore take it as proven, brother mine, that she is white.'
"... Giovanni answered:  'You say that Truth is white to manifest the perfect purity that is in her, and show clearly she is a lady of immaculate virtue...'
"But the visiter shook his head and said:  'Nay!  Fra Giovanni, that is not the meaning of my words... I instructed you that Truth is white, not that she is pure; and it shows little discernment to think that she is pure.'
"... Giovanni replied:  '...[I]ndeed Truth is pure, coming from God, the fountain of all purity.'
"But the Opponent retorted:  'Fra Giovanni, your logic is at fault, or you would know that purity is an unconceivable quality...'
"Then the good Fra Giovanni sighed and said:  'Sir!  your words are dark and wrapped in sadness.  At times in my sleep angels have visited me.  Their words I could not comprehend; but the mystery of their thought was full of joy.'
"... 'Well then,' returned the Subtle Sophist, '...[W]hat is purity?  Oh! you say.  Consciousness is pure.  Consciousness only when it is devoid of everything which may be seen, heard, handled, in one word proved by the senses... Truth will be pure Truth under the same conditions... And I am quite ready to allow that in this state she will escape the delusions that make mock of mankind, and will have no temptations to play the runagate...
"'My friend, these old Sophists knew not what Truth was.  But I, who am a student of physics and a great observer of natural curiosities, you may believe me when I tell you she is white, or, more strictly speaking, whiteness itself.
"'From which we must not conclude, I have told you before, that she is pure.  Consider the Lady Eletta, of Verona, whose thighs were like milk; think you for this they were abstract from the world in general...?  You would be much mistaken if you supposed so.'
"'I do not know this Lady Eletta you speak of,' said the holy man Giovanni.
"'She gave herself and her living body,' said the Opponent, 'to two Popes, sixty Cardinals, fourteen Princes, eighteen merchants, the Queen of Cyprus, three Turks, four Jews, the Lord Bishop of Arezzo's ape, a hermaphrodite, and the Devil.  But we are wandering from our subject, which is to discover the proper character of Truth.
"'... For we have not just seen how the pure has neither life nor consciousness?'
"... 'Doctor,' replied Giovanni, 'your reasons are nothing worth, forasmuch as God, who is all pure, exists.'
"But the Subtle Doctor retorted:  'If you would read your books more carefully, my son, you would see it is said of Him you have just named, not, "He exists," but, "He is."  Now to exist and to be are not one and the same thing, but two opposite things.  You are alive, and do you not say yourself, "I am nothing; I am as if I were not"?  And you do not say, "I am he who is."  Because to live, is each moment to cease to be.  Again you say, "I am full of impurities," forasmuch you are not a single thing, but a blending of things that stir and strive.'
"'Now do you speak wisely,' answered the holy man, 'and I see by your discourse that you are very deep read, Subtle Sir, in the sciences, divine as well as human.  For true indeed it is God is He who is... But it is right to add that He is more particularly in the sacred elements.'
"And the Adversary answered: 'Know then that Truth, your well-beloved mistress, is made up of elements compacted of wet and dry, hard and soft, cold and hot, and that it is with this lady as with women of common humanity...'
"Fra Giovanni doubted in his simplicity whether this discourse was altogether becoming.  The Adversary read the holy man's thoughts, and reassured him, saying:  'Such is the learning we are taught at School.  I am a Theologian, I!'
"So saying, he went away as he had come.  And the holy man Giovanni asked himself:  'Why did this Doctor say, Truth was white, I wonder?'"
"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  John 8:32
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."  John 3:19
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."  John 8:44
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."  John 16:13
"He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light."  John 1:8

Giovanni's Dream
"... And in his dreams he beheld a wheel that shone with colours of living fire... It was like those rose windows of flower-like brilliancy that glow over the doors of churches, the masterpieces of Gothic craftsmen, and display in the translucent glass the history of the Virgin Mary and the glory of the Prophets...
"And this wheel was great and dazzling and brighter a thousandfold than the best wrought of all the rose windows that ever were divided by compass and painted with brush in the lands of the North.  The Emperor Charlemagne saw not the like the day he was crowned.
"... The rose was of living light, and seemed alive itself... [I]t was made of a multitude of breathing figures... clad each according to his estate... And from betwixt the lips of each there issued a scroll, bearing a device.  Now each device was of a hue which did not appear in any other, and in all the incalculable multitude of devices, no two could have been discovered of the same appearance.  Some were dyed purple, others painted with the bright colours of the sky and sea, or the shining of the stars, yet others green as grass.  Many were exceeding pale, many again exceeding dark and sombre, the whole so ordered that the eye found in these devices every one of the colours that paint the universe... Such is Truth.
"And the holy man sighed, 'Then I am never to find on the wheel of the universe the pure, white Truth, the immaculate and candid Truth... Truth!  Truth!  for whose sake I am to die, show yourself before your martyr's eyes.'
"And lo!  as he was wailing out the words, the living wheel began to revolve, and the devices, running one into the other, no longer kept distinct, while on the great disk came circles of every hue, circles wider and wider the further they were from the centre.
"Then as the motion grew faster, these circles disappeared one by one; the widest vanished first, because the speed was swiftest near the felloe of the wheel.  But directly the wheel began to spin so fast the eye could not see it move and it seemed to stand motionless, the smallest circles too disappeared, like the morning-star when the sun pales the hills of Assissi.  Then at last the wheel looked all white; and it overpassed in brilliance the translucent orb where the Florentine poet saw Beatrice in the dewdrop.  It seemed as though an Angel, wiping the eternal pearl to cleanse it of all stains, had set it on the Earth, so like was the wheel to the Moon, when she shines high in the heavens lightly veiled under the gauze of filmy clouds.  For at these times no shadow... no mark at all, shows on her opalescent surface.  Even so never a stain was visible on the wheel of light."
 "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."  2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

The Judgment
"'Your tongue has discharged the arrow of your discourse, and its shot was aimed at the Republic...'
"'Nay!  I but spoke for Justice and Truth.  If the laws of the city are agreeable to Justice and Truth, I have not spoken against them... You judge me, not by my acts and my words, which are manifest, but by my motives, which are visible only to God's eye.'
"Then the Judge declared:  'Anon you were talking, and the words you said proved your perfidy.  Now you say nothing, and your silence is the avowel of your crime.  So you have confessed your guilt twice over.'
"... Fra Giovanni was fettered once more and led back to prison."
(Lesson:  A Republic is a "confraternity"; it is in fact a crowd.  "Even the Athenians could easily be turned from civilized beings into turbulent mobs, and in the end it was the behavior of the crowd which brought about the loss of Athenian liberty.  But the ordered life of Athens was civilized"... Liberty, by Everett Dean Martin, c1930, page 27.)

The Prince of this World
"'... Then I knew not the curse of thought; but you set me thinking... [A]gain you came to me, and gave me uncertainty to feed on and doubt to drink like wine... 
"'And lo!  I am a miserable man, because I have followed after you, Prince of men!
"... I have tasted the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, O Satan.
"... I know, I see, I feel, I will, I suffer.  And I love you for all the ill you have done me.  I love you, because you have undone me.'
"And leaning on the Archangel's shoulder, the man wept bitterly."
(Lesson:  Fra Giovanni, a monk of the Order of St. Francis of Assissi, was a very confused masochist, and easily fleeced by Lucifer.)
"For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."  Revelation 22:15
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."  Galatians 2:16

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