And it was quite marvellous to see my good teacher in the most remote part of the shop, his nose closely buried in some little book recently arrived from Holland, suddenly raising his head to discourse, as it might happen, with the same abundant and laughing knowledge, on the plans of an universal monarchy attributed to the late king, or, it may be, to the aventures galantes of a financier with a ballet girl.
Blaizot was never tired of listening to him. Blaizot was a little old man, dry and neat, in flea-coloured coat and breeches and grey woollen stockings. I admired him very much, and could not think of anything more glorious than, like him, to sell books at the Image of St Catherine.
One recollection of mine gave to M. It was there, I was still very young, I saw for the first time the nude figure of a female. I can see her now. It was an Eve in an illustrated Bible. Her stomach was rather big, her legs were rather short, and she held converse with a serpent in a Dutch landscape. The proprietor of this engraving inspired me with a consideration which grew afterwards when I took, thanks to M. Coignard, a great liking for books. At the age of sixteen I knew Latin pretty well, and also a little Greek. My good teacher said to my father:.
He is of an agreeable appearance, has good manners and is well taught. He will do honour to his dress. For a moment my father remained thoughtful and then he asked if it would be quite suitable for a cook to wear a dimity vest. Coignard reminded him that, being suckled by the Muses, I would never become a cook, and that the time was not far off when I should wear a clerical neckband.
My father sighed, thinking that never would I be the banner-bearer of the Guild of Parisian Cooks, and my mother became quite glittering with pleasure and pride at the idea of her son belonging to the Church. The first effect my dimity vest produced was to give me a certain confidence in myself, and to encourage me to get a more complete idea of women than the one I had from the Eve of M. I reasonably thought first on Jeannette the hurdy-gurdy player, and on Catherine the lacemaker, both of whom I saw pass our shop twenty times a day, showing when it rained, a fine ankle and a tiny foot, the toes of which turned from one stone to the other.
Jeannette was not so pretty as Catherine. She was somewhat older and less well dressed. She came from Savoy and did her hair en marmotte , with a checked kerchief covering her head. But her merit was, not to stick to ceremony and to understand what was wanted of her without being spoken to. This character agreed well with my timidity. But I was not so grateful to her as it should have been my duty to be, and thought of nothing else but to bring the science she had taught me to others, prettier ones.
As an excuse for my ingratitude I ought to say that Jeannette the hurdy-gurdy player did not value her lessons any higher than I did myself, and that she willingly gave them to every ragamuffin of the district. Catherine was of more reserved manners. I stood in awe of her and did not dare to tell her how pretty I considered her to be. She made me doubly uncomfortable by making game of me and not losing a single occasion of jeering at me.
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She teased me by reproaching my chin for being hairless. I blushed over it and wished to be swallowed by the earth. On seeing her I affected a sullen mien and chagrin. I pretended to scorn her. But she was really too pretty for my scorn to be true. In his surprise my father elevated the soup ladle up to the smoked beams of the ceiling.
Friar Ange, after his fight with the cutler, had at first disappeared for a lapse of six months, and now two whole years had passed without his giving any sign of life. On a certain day in spring he went off with a donkey laden with relics, and, worse still, he had taken with him Catherine dressed as a nun. Nobody knew what had become of them, but there was a rumour at the Little Bacchus that the little friar and the little sister had had some sort of difference with the authorities between Tours and Orleans.
There is then no more justice in this kingdom. But Friar Ange recited the Benedicite and made the sign of the cross over the soup-tureen. Confess that you have passed in an ecclesiastical prison at least one of the two years that your Beelzebub-face has not been seen in our parish. James Street has been more honest for your absence and the whole quarter of the town more respectable. Look on that fine Olibrius, who goes into the fields with the donkey of someone and the girl of everyone. I have had the happiness to convert her to a better life, so much and so well that she ardently wished to follow me, and the relics I was carrying, and to go with me on some nice pilgrimage, especially to the Black Virgin of Chartres!
I consented under the condition that she clad herself in ecclesiastical dress, which she did without a murmur. You have no respect for your cloth. My father begged of M. Coignard not to speak any more of the breed, the name alone of which burnt his ears. As far as I am concerned I willingly give absolution to knaves, rogues and rascals and all the wretched. And more, I owe no grudge to good people, though in their case there is much insolence. Why did he not call them Champagne, Olive or Frontin as is usual?
There was at the second table of the bishop a very polite canon who kept on ceremony till his last moment. When the news of his bodily decline reached the bishop he went to his room and found him dying. At this moment my mother brought the roast and put it on the table with a movement of homely gravity which caused my father some emotion; with his mouth full he shouted:. She is a godly wife. I wish he would keep his faith to me as I keep mine to him. My mother, who was simple-minded, but not stupid, understood very well what he wanted to say, and replied that if he had known her twenty years ago, he would have found her to be quite another than she had become in this cookshop, where her good looks had vanished with the fire of the spit and the fumes of the dishes.
And as she was touched she mentioned that the baker at Auneau had found her to be so much to his liking that he had offered her cakes every time she passed his shop. He spoke the truth, his wife was very ugly, but high spirited and grateful. At this anecdote my mother broke out and said that such things ought not to be told by a father to his wife and son, if he wanted to have their respect. He addressed himself abruptly to Friar Ange, who, hands in his sleeves, sat humbly at the corner of the fireside:. Was it your small clothes you gave the devotees to kiss, in the manner of some grey friars, of whom Henry Estienne has narrated the adventures?
Neither Tillemont nor Fleury speak of that St Eustache to whom a church is consecrated, very wrongly, at Paris, when so many saints recognised by writers well deserving to be believed, are still waiting for a similar honour. But I do not want to attack her too hardly, as he is the patroness of men of letters, and serves as a signboard to the bookshop of that good M. Blaizot, which is the most delectable abode in this world.
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First of all my mother asked if the story was quite true. After she had been assured that the matter had been printed in a book and painted on a stained window in the Church of La Jussienne she believed it. I must say that I should not like to do it. It is a lesson for honest women stubborn in too much pride of their haughty virtue. Thinking well over it there is some sensuality in prizing too highly the flesh and guarding excessively what one ought to despise. There are some matrons to be met with who believe they have a treasure and who visibly exaggerate the interest God and the angels may have in them.
They believe themselves to be a kind of natural Holy Sacrament. St Mary the Egyptian was a better judge. Pretty and divinely shaped as she was, she considered that it would be all too proud of her flesh to stop in the course of a holy pilgrimage for a paltry indifferent reason which is no more than a piece of mortification and far from being a precious jewel.
She humbled herself, madam, and entered by using so admirable a humility the road of penitence, where she accomplished marvellous works. Tenderly touched, my mother passed the soup-tureen to him, behind the back of my teacher. And the holy friar, seated on the cinder board, silently soaked his bread in the savoury liquid. Nothing is more agreeable than to drink a good wine quietly at home secure of unwelcome intruders. Hardly had these words been uttered when the door was opened and a tall man in black entered the shop in a squall of snow and wind exclaiming:. And without taking notice of anyone he bent over the grate, rummaging in the cinders with the end of his walking stick, very much to the detriment of Friar Ange, who coughed fit to give up the ghost, swallowing the ashes and coal-dust thrown into his soup plate.
I see a Salamander! My father was surprised and rather annoyed by the manners of the visitor. But he knew how to restrain himself. And so he rose, his napkin under his arm, and went to the fireplace, bending to the hearth, both his fists on his thighs. When he had sufficiently considered the disordered fireplace, and Friar Ange covered with ashes, he said:.
I have it from hearsay that it is an ugly beast, hairy and horned, with big claws. One has to be a philosopher to see a Salamander, and I do not think philosophers could be found in this kitchen. I have also studied the Greek and Latin moralists, whose maxims have strengthened my soul in the vicissitudes of my life, and I have particularly applied Boethius as an antidote for the evils of existence. And here near me is Jacobus Tournebroche, my disciple, who knows the sentences of Publius Syrus by heart. The stranger turned his yellow eyes on the priest, eyes strangely marked over a nose like the beak of an eagle, and excused himself with more courtesy than his fierce mien led one to expect, for not having at once recognised a person of merit, and further he said:.
I saw it very distinctly in passing along the street before this cookshop. She would appear better if the fire were fiercer; for this reason it is necessary to stir the fire vigorously when you believe A Salamander to be in it. At the first movement the stranger made to rummage again in the fire, Friar Ange anxiously covered the soup-tureen with a flap of his frock and shut his eyes.
At this very moment the smoke rising under the slab of the chimney bent itself with a peculiar gracefulness, and formed rotundities quite likely to be taken for well-arched loins by a rather strangely strained imagination. Therefore I did not tell an absolute lie by saying that, maybe, I saw something. No sooner had I given this reply than the stranger, raising his huge arm, gave me a straight hander on the shoulder so powerful that I thought my collar-bone was broken.
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But at once he said to me, with a very sweet voice and a benevolent look:. Your face also made me surmise favourably of your intelligence. This faculty is not confined to myself alone, it is the common property of all wise men, and it is known that the illustrious Cardan went without food during several years without being incommoded by it. On the contrary his mind became singularly vivacious. And he took a seat at our little table without any ceremony. At once Friar Ange also noiselessly pushed his stool between mine and that of my teacher and sat on it to receive his portion of the partridge pie my mother was dishing up.
The philosopher having thrown his cape over the back of his seat, we could see that he wore diamond buttons on his coat. The shadow of his nose fell on his mouth and his hollow cheeks went deep into his jaws.
His gloomy humour took possession of the whole company. No other noise was audible but the one made by the little friar munching his pie. But, to say the truth, I have rather guessed than seen her, and this first encounter has only awakened my curiosity without giving me full satisfaction. Unable to speak at his ease, my good teacher was suffocating.
Suddenly, breaking out very loud, he said to the philosopher:. Unhappily some Salamanders do exist and a learned Jesuit father, whose name I have forgotten, has discoursed on their apparition. I threw a handful of holy water on the beast, and it at once disappeared in the air, with a frightful noise like sudden frying and I was enveloped in acrid fumes, which very nearly burnt my eyes out.
And what I say is so true that for at least a whole week my beard smelt of burning, which proves better than anything else the maliciousness of the beast. When the Nymphs of the fire meet with a Capuchin they turn their back on him. My mother placed the roast in the middle of the table, and took advantage of it to ask if the Salamanders are good Christians, of which she had her doubts, as she had never heard that the inhabitants of fire praised the Lord. But if you wish for my opinion, they are rather the dirty imaginations of a sneak than the views of a doctor.
God is less absent, I dare say, from the Dream of Scipio than from those black tractates of demonology the authors of which call themselves Christians and Catholics. Have you ever heard of Hermes Trismegistus and of the Emerald Table? There was no witchcraft used, Sir Philospher, and I only succumbed to natural charms:.
And do not forget that the Salamander is naught but the devil, who assumes, as everyone knows, the most divergent forms, pleasant now and then when he succeeds in disguising his natural ugliness, hideous sometimes when he shows his true constitution.
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You know that this old Adversary, this powerful Contradictor, has kept, in the spiritual world, such a power, that God Almighty Himself reckons with him. Be on your guard, little friar, the two understand one another. In listening to this speech, the poor Capuchin thought he heard and saw the devil himself, whom the stranger resembled, pretty near, by his fiery eyes, his hooked nose, his black complexion and his long and thin body. His soul, already astonished, became engulfed in a kind of holy terror, feeling on him the claws of the Malignant, he began to tremble in all his limbs, hastily put in his wide pockets all the decent eatables he could get hold of, rose gently and reached the door by backward steps, muttering exorcisms all the while.
The philosopher did not take any notice of this. He took from his pocket a little book covered with horny parchment, which he opened and presented to my dear teacher and myself. It contained an old Greek text, full of abbreviations and ligatures which at first gave me the effect of an illegible scrawl. Coignard, having put on his barnacles and placed the book at the necessary distance, began to read the characters easily; they looked more like balls of thread that had been unrolled by a kitten than the simple and quiet letters of my St John Chrysostom, out of which I studied the language of Plato and the New Testament.
Having come to the end of his reading he said:. Those of the Egyptians who are well informed study first the writings called epistolographia, then the hieratic, of which the hierogrammatists make use, and finally the hieroglyphics. Master Philosopher, I am not to be taken as a greenhorn.
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This is an extract of the fifth book of the Stromata , the author of which, Clement of Alexandria, is not mentioned in the martyrology, for different reasons, which His Holiness Benedict XI. It may be supposed that this exclusion was not sensibly felt by him, if one takes into consideration what philosophical estrangement had during his lifetime inspired this martyr. He gave preference to exile and took care to save his persecutors a crime, because he was a very honest man.
His style of writing was not elegant; his genius was lively, his morals were pure, even austere. He had a very pronounced liking for allegories and for lettuces. The philosopher extended his arm, which seemed to me to be remarkably elongated as it reached right over the whole of the table, to take back the little book from the hands of my learned tutor. Should it be too much for your fatherly love to give him entirely to me, I would pay out of my own pocket for a scullion as his substitute in your cookshop.
He has more than one. And there are many more names. I am a native of Auneau, near the town of Chartres, and I was but a child when the lord of our village left this world for another. I remember very well when the herald proclaimed the demise of the late lord, he gave him nearly as many names as you find in the All Saints litany. I willingly believe that God has more names than the Lord of Auneau had, as His condition is a much higher one.
Learned people are very happy to know them all. My good tutor, who was collecting all this while the few thoughts in his brain which were not already desperately mixed up with the fumes of wine, refilled his goblet, rose and said:.
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You are one of the splendid mortals; it is an honour, sir, for me to be yours. If there are two kinds of furniture I hold in high esteem, they are the bed and the table. The table, filled up by turns with erudite books and succulent dishes, serves as support to the nourishment both of body and spirit; the bed propitious for sweet repose as well as for cruel love. He certainly was a divine fellow who gave to the sons of Deucalion bed and table.
On the following day at an early hour we walked, my tutor and I, on the St Germain road. The snow which covered the earth under the russet light of the sky, rendered the atmosphere dull and heavy. The road was deserted. We walked in wide furrows between the walls of orchards, tottering fences and low houses, the windows of which looked suspiciously on us.
And, after having left behind two or three tumbledown huts built of clay and straw, we saw in the middle of a disconsolate heath the Cross of the Sablons. At fifty paces farther commenced a very large park, closed in by a ruined wall, wherein was the little door, and on it the knocker representing a horrible-looking figure with a finger in her mouth.
We recognised it easily as the one the philosopher had described, and used the knocker. After some rather considerable time, an old servant opened it and made us a sign to follow him across the untidy park. Statues of nymphs, who must have seen the boyhood of the late king, secreted under tree ivy their gloominess and mutilations. At the end of an alley, the sloughs of which were covered with snow, stood a castle of stone and brick, as morose as the one of Madrid, which, oddly covered by a high slate roof, looked like the castle of the Sleeping Beauty in the wood.
It shows the ruggedness wherein the customs of Frenchmen were still immured in the time of King Henry IV. How much sweeter it would be to climb the enchanted hillocks of Tusculum with the hope of hearing Cicero discourse of virtue, under the firs and pines of his villa so dear to the philosopher! There is thereabout a hostel of the Red Horse , where, if I remember well, Madame de St Ernest took me once to dinner in the company of her monkey and her lover. The Red Horse is as well known for its morning dinners as for the abundance of horses and carriages which it has on hire.
I convinced myself of it when I followed to the stables a certain wench who seemed to be rather pretty. But she was not; it would be a truer saying to call her ugly. But I illuminated her with the colours of my longings. Such is the condition of men when left to themselves; they err wretchedly.
We are all abused by empty images; we go in chase of dreams and embrace shadows. In God alone is truth and stability. After having scaled the first flight of large stone stairs, we were introduced into a saloon, where M. And as you have both kindly consented to do me the favour of staying with me, I beg of you to consider this house as your own.
I have no doubt you will do your best to accomplish this task when you know that it is connected with the work I have undertaken, to discover the lost science by which man will be re-established in his original power over the elements. From the defaults of a fidelity, of which I do not doubt; my power, gentlemen, assures me of your silence. Before all it is clear that Jehovah is not God, but a grand Demon, because he has created this world.
The idea of a God both perfect and creative is but a reverie of a barbarity worthy of a Welshman or a Saxon. He does not create, because he ignores time and space, which are conditions indispensable to all constructions. Moses was too good a philosopher to teach that the world was created by God. He took Jehovah for what he really is — for a powerful Demon, or if he is to be called anything, for the Demiurgos.
Those teachings, on which the domination of nature relies, have been consigned to the book of Enoch. The Egyptian priests have kept the tradition which they fixed with mysterious signs on the walls of the temples and the coffins of the dead. Moses, brought up in the sanctuary of Memphis, was one of the initiated.
His books, numbering five, perhaps six, contain like very precious archives the treasures of divine knowledge. I have penetrated to the largest part, as it will appear to you also later on. Meanwhile, the truth, kept like virgins in the temples of Egypt, passed to the wizards of Alexandria, who enriched them still more and crowned them with all the pure gold bequeathed to Greece by Pythagoras and his disciples, with whom the forces of the air conversed familiarly.
Wherefore, gentlemen, it is convenient to explore the books of the Hebrews, the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians and those treatises of the Greeks which are called Gnostic precisely because they possessed knowledge. I reserve for myself, as is quite equitable, the most arduous part of this extensive work. I apply myself to decipher those hieroglyphics which the Egyptians used to inscribe in the temples of their gods and on the graves of their priests. Having brought over from Egypt a great number of those inscriptions, I fathom their sense by means of a key I was able to discover with Clement of Alexandria.
He is an old man very well versed in magic, who has lived seventeen years shut up in the crypt of the Great Pyramid, where he read the books of Toth. Believe me I shall know how to reward your services by making you in some way participators of my power. At the point I have reached in my philosophical labours, money is for me but a trifle. Therefore I should be thankful for the assurance you would kindly give on that subject. Jerome Coignard the wished-for assurance; for myself, curious as I was of all I saw, I did not wish for anything better than to enter into a new life.
Meanwhile I should be very much obliged to you for ascending to the rooms I have had prepared for you, and let me know that there is nothing wanting for your comfort. Criton will conduct you. Having assured himself that we were following him, silent Criton went out and began to ascend the stairs. He went up to the roof timbers, then, having taken some steps down a long passage, he indicated to us two very clean rooms where fires sparkled. I could never have believed that a castle as shattered on the outside, the front of which showed nothing but cracked walls and dark windows, was as habitable in some of its inner parts.
My first care was to know where I was. Eyeing our furniture, I could see, laid out on my bed, a grey coat, breeches to match and a sword. On the carpet were buckle shoes neatly coupled, the heels joined and the points separated just as if they had of themselves the sentiment of a fine deportment. I augured favourably of the liberality of our master, To do him honour, I dressed very carefully and spread abundantly on my hair the powder a box full of which I found on a small table.
And very welcome were the laced shirt and white stockings I discovered in one of the drawers of the chest. Having put on shirt, stockings, breeches, vest and coat, I walked up and down my room with hat under the arm, hand on the guard of my sword, thinking all the time on the looking-glass, and regretting that Catherine, the lace-maker, could not see me in such finery. In this way I was occupied for a little while, when M. Jerome Coignard came into my room with a new neckband and very respectable clerical garb.
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Never forget that you owe these fine clothes to the knowledge I have given you. They fit a humanist like yourself, as who says humanities says also elegance. But look on me and say if I have a good mien. In this dress I consider myself to be a very honest man.
Wise he is in one way, as he calls his valet Criton, which means judge. Lord Verulam said to them: You know, my boy, I pride myself on my delicacy in matters of faith I find it hard to serve a cabalist who turns our Holy Scriptures upside down under the pretext to understand them better that way. However, if he is, as his name and speech indicate, a Gascon nobleman, we have nothing to be afraid of.
A Gascon may make a contract with the devil and you may be sure that the devil will be done. But while descending the stairs, my kind tutor said: Having dined at the third table of the Bishop of Seez, I know how to do it. We found in the dining-room a table laid for three, where M. Criton, who acted as butler, served us with jellies, and thick soup strained a dozen times.
But we could not see any joints. As well as we could, my kind tutor and myself tried to hide our surprise. I shall not persist in it. If the dishes I offer you today are badly prepared, it is less the fault of my cook than that of chemistry, which is still in its infancy. But they will at all events give you an idea of what will be in the future. At present men eat without philosophy. They do not nourish themselves like reasonable beings. They do not think of such. But of what are they thinking? Most of them live in stupidity and actually those who are capable of reflection occupy their minds with silly things like controversies and poetry.
Consider mankind, gentlemen, at their meals since the far-away times when they ceased their intercourse with Sylphs and Salamanders. Abandoned by the genii of the air they grew heavy and dull in ignorance and barbarity Without policy and without art they lived, nude and miserable, in caverns, on the border of torrents or in the trees of the forest. The chase was their only industry.
After having surprised or captured by quickness a timid animal, they devoured that prey still palpitating. After long fierce centuries a divine man made his appearance: It cannot be doubted that this sage had intercourse in the homes of the Nymphs with the Salamander folks. He learnt of them and showed to the unhappy mortals the art of producing and conserving fire. Of all the innumerable advantages that men have drawn from this celestial present, one of the happiest was the possibility of cooking food, and by this treatment, to render it lighter and more subtle.
But that was only a first step, and it is grievous to think that so many millions of years had to pass before a second step was made. The brilliant paintings of the hall, the guards, the richly clad officers, the musicians playing the melodies of Lambert and Lulli in the gallery, the golden goblets, the silver plate, the silken tablecloth, the Venetian glass, the chased epergnes full of rare flowers, the heavy candlesticks — they cannot change, cannot lend a dissimulating charm to the true nature of this unclean charnel-house, where men and women assemble over animal bodies, broken bones and torn meats to gloat greedily over them.
Oh, what unphilosophical nourishment! We swallow with stupid gluttony muscle, fat and intestines of beasts without discerning in those substances such parts as are truly adapted to our nourishment and those much more abundant which we ought to reject; and we fill our stomach indiscriminately with good and bad, useful and injurious. Nothing would be used but the quintessence of oxen and pigs, the elixir of partridges and capons, and all that is swallowed could be digested. I do not give up all hope, gentlemen, of obtaining such results by thinking somewhat deeper over chemistry and medicine than I have had leisure to do up till now.
At these words of our host, M. But the day will come when we shall know exactly the nourishing elements contained in animal carcasses, and it will become possible to extract those very same elements from bodies without life, and which will furnish an abundance of them. Those bodies without life contain, as a fact, all that is to be found in living beings, because the animal has been built up by the vegetable, which has itself drawn the substance out of the inert ground.
I have no doubt but that the taste of them will be exquisite and the absorption salutary. Cookery will be done in retorts and stills and alchemists will be our cooks. Are you not impatient, gentlemen, to see such marvels? I promise them to you at a very near time. But you are not able at present to unravel the excellent effects that they will produce.
No more burdened with slow digestions, mankind will become marvellously active, their sight will become singularly piercing, and they will see the ships gliding on the seas of the moon. Their understanding will be clearer, their ways softer. They will greatly advance in their knowledge of God and nature. Even the structure of the human body will be modified. It is an uncontradictable fact that without exercise all organs flatten and end by disappearing altogether. It has been observed that fishes deprived of light become blind. I myself have seen in Valais that shepherds who fed on curdled milk lost their teeth very early; some of them never had any at all, When men feed on the balms I have spoken of, their intestines will be shortened by ells and the volume of the stomach will shrink considerably.
I never considered it to be disagreeable when women get a little corporation, especially if all the remainder of her body is well proportioned. Do not transform it inconsiderately. That will be to give you pleasure, reverend sir, and also in due consideration of the labours of maternity. But to return to our subject. I have to acknowledge that all I have till now predicted is nothing but a preparatory measure for the real nourishment, which is that of the Sylphs and all aerial spirits.
They drink light, which is sufficient to give to their bodies marvellous strength and subtility. It is their only potion, one day it will be ours also. Nothing more is to be done than to render the rays of the sun drinkable. I confess that I do not see with sufficient clearness the means to arrive at it, and I do foresee many encumbrances and great obstacles on the road. But whensoever some sage shall be able to do it, mankind will be the equal of Sylphs and Salamanders in intelligence and beauty.
It is their only potion. My good tutor listened to these words, folded in himself, his head sadly lowered. He seemed to contemplate the changes to himself from the kind of food imagined by our host. It will be better not to mention it. One doubt tormented me. I asked leave of our host to submit it to him, certain that he would enlighten me at once.
He allowed me to speak and I said:. I confess I am rather uneasy about it. The Salamanders have no teeth that we should call such. But their gums are furnished with two ranges of pearls, very white and very brilliant, lending to their smiles an inconceivable gracefulness. You should know that these pearls are light-hardened. Once people are properly fed, their teeth will give way to some ornament similar to the pearls of the Salamander.
After dinner our host conducted us to a vast gallery adjoining his study; it was the library. There were to be seen ranged on oaken shelves an innumerable army, or rather a grand assembly, of books in duodecimo, in octavo, in quarto, in folio, clad in calf, sheep, morocco leather, in parchment and in pigskin. The light fell through six windows on this silent assembly extended from one end of the hall to the other, all along the high walls.
Large tables, alternated with globes and astronomical apparatus, occupied the middle of the gallery. There is no pleasanter abode in my opinion, actually the Elysian Fields as described by Virgil. At first sight I can discover such rare books and precious collections that I have my doubts, sir, if any other private library prevails over this, which is inferior in France only to the Mazarin and the Royal.
Without flattering myself I may say that I smell truffles and books at a long distance and I consider myself from now, to be the equal of Peiresc, of Grolier and of Canevarius, who are the princes of bibliophiles. I concede that the Benedictines are diligent, but they have no high spirit and their libraries reveal the mediocrity of the souls by whom they have been collected. My gallery, sir, is not on the pattern of others. The works I have got together form a whole which doubtless will procure me knowledge.
My library is gnostic, oecumenic and spiritual. If all the lines traced on those numberless sheets of paper and parchment could enter in good order into your brain, you, sir, would know all, could do all, would be the master of Nature, the plasmator of things, you would hold the whole world between the two fingers of your hand as I now hold these grains of tobacco. There is the meeting place of Oriental MSS.
I see ten or twelve venerable ones under shreds of purple and gold figured silks, their vestments. Like a Byzantine emperor, some of them wear jewelled clasps on their mantles, others are mailed in ivory plates. I owe him much gratitude, and beg of you gentlemen, when you see him, to show him the same regard as I do myself. I confide in your knowledge and in your zeal, and have no doubt that your young disciple cannot but be of great help to you. They are based for a large part on the education you have received. For, you have been brought up, so to say, in the flames, under the mantel of the chimney haunted by Salamanders.
That is a very considerable circumstance. It is a book of Zosimus the Panopolitan, which was thought to be lost and which I found myself in a coffin of a priest of Serapis. Afterwards we will study together the MSS. As soon as M. I asked him if he was not surprised by what he had just heard. This gentleman seems to be demented, less because he really is so, but from his thoughts differing in excess from those of the vulgar. But if one listened to discourses commonly held in this world, there would be found still less sense than in those of that philosopher.
Left to itself, the sublimest human reason builds its castles and temples in the air and, truly, M. Truth is in God alone, never forget it, my boy. What a glory and what a delight to read this unique MS. How I pity, my boy, the ignorant fellows whom idleness drives into debauchery! What a miserable life they lead! What is a woman in comparison with an Alexandrian papyrus?
Compare, if you please, this noble library with the tavern of the Little Bacchus and the entertainment of this precious MS. For me, a companion of the Muses, and admitted to the silent orgies of meditation of which the rhetor of Madama speaks with so much eloquence, I thank God for having made me a respectable man. During all the next month or six weeks, M.
Coignard applied himself, day and night, just as he had promised, to the reading of Zosimus the Panopolitan. During the meals we partook of at the table of M. Being only an ignorant scholar I was of little use to my good master. I did my best by making such researches as he wanted me to make; I took no little pleasure in it.
Truly, we lived happily and quietly. At about the seventh week, M. The shop appeared strangely smaller to me. My mother was there alone and sad. She cried aloud on seeing me fitted out like a prince. And she began to cry. We embraced, then wiping her eyes with a corner of her canvas apron she said:.
Since you left he often goes there; in your absence the house is less pleasant for him. But say, my Jacques, are you satisfied with your new position? I regretted letting you go with that nobleman; I even accused myself in confession to the third vicar of giving preference to your bodily well-being over that of your soul and not having thought of God in establishing you. He did not explain his meaning minutely as it was a Saturday evening and the church was full of penitents.
I reassured my good mother as well as I could and told her that M. You know that Cadette Saint—Avit is elderly, as the waiting-woman of a rector ought to be. He was the youngest. The second was colonel of a regiment, went to war and was killed. It is the same one in whose service you are for your good, at least I hope so. He dressed magnificently in his youth, was liberal in his manners but of a sombre humour. Those were his sayings. I confess it does not seem to me either bad or malicious, rather daring and whimsical.
But in some way they must be blameable, as Cadette Saint—Avit said that the rector of her parish considered them to be contrary to the order established by God in this world and opposed to that part of the Bible where God is given a name which means Lord of Hosts, and that would be a great sin. Hercules had so little sympathy with the court that he refused to travel to Versailles to be presented to his Majesty according to his birthright.
However, Cadette Saint—Avit spoke of it as of a certainty. And so I will tell you that M. Cadette Saint—Avit does not know how he managed it, but she is sure that after a time, in the flagons well corked and heated in water baths, tiny little women took form, charming figures and dressed like theatre princesses.
You laugh, Jacquot; however, one ought not to joke over such things when one can see the consequence. It is a great sin to create in such a way creatures who cannot be baptised and who never could have a part in the eternal blessings. You cannot suppose that M. No godmother could have been found for them.
Unhappily she left Gascony when quite young, came to France and had no more news of M. I sincerely hope, my dear Jacquot, that he renounced his wicked works, which could not be accomplished without the help of the devil. But she heard of them from a churchman of the name of Fulgence, who haunted the castle, and swore he had seen those little creatures step out of their glass prisons and dance a minuet. And she had every reason to believe it.
It is possible to doubt of what one sees, but you cannot doubt the word of an honest man, especially when he belongs to the Church. There is another misfortune with such secret practices, they are extremely costly and it is hard to imagine, as Cadette Saint—Avit said, what money M. Hercules spent to procure all those bottles of different forms, those furnaces and conjuring books wherewith he filled his castle. But after the death of his brothers he became the richest gentleman of his province, and while he dissipated his wealth in follies, his good lands worked for him.
Cadette Saint—Avit rates him, with all his expenses, as still a very rich man. These last words spoken, my father entered the shop. He embraced me tenderly and confided to me that the house had lost half its pleasantness in consequence of my departure and that of M. He complimented me on my dress and gave me a lesson in deportment, assuring me that trade had accustomed him to easy manners by the continuous obligation he was under to greet his customers like gentlemen, if as a fact they were only vile riff-raff.
We dined together with a good appetite, and we parted shedding floods of tears. I loved them well, both of them, and what principally made me cry was that, after an absence of six weeks only, they had already become somewhat strange to me. And I verily believe that their sadness was caused by the same sentiment. When I came out of the cookshop, the night was black. At the corner of the Rue des Ecrivains I heard a fat and deep voice singing:. And soon I could see on the other side, whence the voice sounded, Friar Ange, with wallet dangling on his shoulder, holding Catherine the lacemaker round the waist, walking in the shadow with a wavering and triumphal step, spouting the gutter water under his sandals in a magnificent spirit of mire which seemed to celebrate his drunken glory, as the basins of Versailles make their fountains play in honour of the king.
I put myself out of the way against the post in the corner of a house door, so as not to be seen by them, which was a needless precaution as they were too much occupied with one another. A moonray trembled on her moist lips and in her eyes, like the water sparkles in a fountain; and I went my way, with my soul irritated and my heart oppressed, thinking on the provoking waist of that fine girl pressed by the arm of a dirty Capuchin. And if Catherine despises me need she render her despisal more cruel by the liking she has for that naughty Friar Ange?
This preference appeared singular to me and I conceived as much surprise as disgust at it. But I was not the disciple of M. This incomparable teacher had formed my mind to meditate. I recalled to myself the satyrs one can see in gardens carrying off nymphs, and reflected that if Catherine was made like a nymph, those satyrs, at least as they are represented to us, are as horrible as yonder Capuchin.
And I concluded that I ought not to be so very much astonished by what I had just seen. My vexation, however, was not dissipated by my reason, doubtless because it had not its source there. These meditations got me along through the shadows of the night and the mud of the thaw to the road of Saint Germain, where I met M. The wine was coarse and the fare but middling, but nectar and ambrosia floated through the discourse.
Then my dear tutor spoke of the Panopolitan with an inconceivable eloquence. I listened badly, thinking of that drop of moonlight which had this very night fallen on the lips of Catherine the lacemaker. At last he came to a stop and I asked on what foundation the Greeks had established the liking of the nymphs for satyrs. My teacher was so widely learned that he was always ready to reply to all questions.
It is lively but not so ardent as the liking of the satyrs for the nymphs, with which it corresponds. The poets have observed this distinction very well. It was I still have it before my eyes a collection in folio, written in a good hand of last century. This is the singular fact reported in it. A Norman gentleman and his wife took part in a public entertainment, disguised, he as a satyr, she as a nymph.
It is not known what became of the father beyond that he had the common end of all creatures, to wit, that he died, and that beside that capriped he left another younger child, a Christian one and of human form. The Parliament of Normandy, sitting at Rouen, gave a verdict in his favour, which was duly recorded. This gentleman had read his Metamorphoses. I asked my teacher if it was possible that a disguise could have such an effect on nature and if the shape of the child could follow that of a garment.
I have never erred about the dogmas of our very holy religion, and I trust to find myself in the same disposition in the article of death. Conversing in this manner we arrived at the castle. The roof seemed in a red glow in the dark. Out of one in dark shadows. We heard the roaring of the fire, like fiery rain under the dense smoke wherewith the sky was veiled. We both believed the flames to be devouring the building. My good tutor tore his hair and moaned:.
Running up the great lane over puddles of water reflecting the glare of the fire, we crossed the park buried in dark shadows. We heard the roaring of the fire, which filled the sombre staircase. Two at a time we ran up the steps, stopping now and again to listen whence came that appalling noise. It appeared to us to come from a corridor on the third floor where we had never been. In that direction we fumbled our way, and seeing through the slits of a door the red brightness, we knocked with all our might on the panel.
It opened at once. His long black figure seemed to be enveloped in flaming air. He asked quietly on what pressing business we were looking for him at so late an hour. There was no conflagration but a terrible fire, burning in a big furnace with reflectors, which as I have since learned are called athanors. The whole of the rather large room was full of glass bottles with long necks twined round glass tubes of a duck-beak shape, retorts, resembling chubby cheeks out of which came noses like trumpets, crucibles, cupels, matrasses, cucurbits and vases of all forms.
Thank God, the library is not burning. But are you practising the spagyric art, sir? At the moment you knocked at the door I was picking up the Spirit of the World, and the Flower of Heaven, which are the veritable Fountains of Youth. Have you some understanding of alchemy, Monsieur Coignard? But I have doubts about the possibility of a transmutation of metals. He opened an old rickety chest standing in the wall and took out of it a copper coin, bearing the effigy of the late king, and called our attention to a round stain crossing the coin from side to side.
He went back to the chest and took out of it a sapphire the size of an egg, an opal of marvellous dimensions and a handful of perfect fine emeralds. At the bottom of the small wooden bowl lay five or six little diamonds, of which M. My tutor asked him if they also were of his make, and, the alchemist having acknowledged it:.
If you let them look first at the sapphire, opal and the emeralds, you run the risk of a persecution for sorcery, because everyone will say that the devil alone was capable of producing such stones. Just as the devil alone could lead an easy life in the midst of these furnaces, where one has to breathe flames. As far as I am concerned, having stayed a single quarter of an hour, I am already half baked. The devil and the Other are, as it were, characters; one may speak of them just as of Achilles and Thersites.
Be assured, gentlemen, if the devil is like what he is said to be, he does not live in so subtle an element as fire. It is wholly wrong to place so villainous a beast in the sun. But as I had the honour to say, Master Tournebroche, to the Capuchin so dear to your mother, I reckon that the Christians slander Satan and his demons. That in some unknown world there may exist beings still worse than man is possible, but hardly conceivable. Certainly, if such exist, they inhabit regions deprived of light, and if they are burning, it would be in ice, which, as a fact, causes the same smarting pain, and not in illustrious flames among the fiery daughters of the stars.
They suffer because they are wicked, and wickedness is an evil; but they can only suffer from chilblains. With regard to your Satan, gentlemen, who is a horror for your theologians, I do not consider him to be despicable, if I judge him by all you say of him, and, should he peradventure exist, I would think him to be, not a nasty beast, but a little Sylph, or at least a Gnome, and a metallurgist a trifle mocking but very intelligent.
Have you felt all the odium in the maxims of that philosopher? He pushes atheism to a joyous frenzy, which makes me wonder. But this indeed renders him almost innocent, for being apart from all belief, he cannot tear up the Holy Church like those who remain attached to her by some half-severed, still bleeding limb. Such, my son, are the Lutherans and the Calvinists, who mortify the Church till a separation occurs. On the contrary, atheists damn themselves alone, and one may dine with them without committing a sin.
But did you see, Tournebroche, my boy, the handful of little diamonds at the bottom of the wooden bowl? I have my doubts about the opal and the sapphires, but those diamonds looked genuine. Up till springtime my tutor and myself led a regular and secluded life. All the mornings we were at work shut up in the gallery, and came back here after dinner as if to the theatre. In this way the reading and translating of the Panopolitan advanced quickly. I hardly contributed to it. Such kind of work was above my knowledge and I had enough to do to learn the figure that the Greek letters make on papyrus.
Sometimes I assisted my tutor by consulting the authors who could enlighten him in his researches, and foremost Olympiodorus and Plotinus, with whom since then I have remained familiar. The small services I was able to render him increased considerably my self-esteem. After a long sharp winter I was on the way to become a learned person, when the spring broke in suddenly with her gallant equipage of light, tender green and singing birds; the perfume of the lilacs coming into the library windows caused me vague reveries, out of which my tutor called me by saying:.
Since my neckband has become spotted with different sauces I have dropped upon it I feel a less honest man. Now that you are dressed like a marquis, Tournebroche, does not the desire tickle you to assist at the toilet of an opera girl, and to put a roll of spurious gold pieces on a faro-table — in one word, do you not feel yourself to be a man of quality?
Tournebroche, our sentiments are composed of a thousand things we cannot detect for their smallness, and the destiny of our immortal soul depends sometimes on a puff too light to bend a blade of grass. We are the toy of the winds. It was the deepest and most desolate part. Ivy and grass, cropped by the rabbits, covered the paths, now and then obstructed by large trunks of dead trees. The marble statues on both sides of the way smiled, unconscious of their ruin.
A nymph, with her broken hand near her mouth, made a sign to a shepherd to remain silent. A young faun, his head fallen to the ground, still tried to put his flute to his lips. And all these divine beings seemed to teach us to despise the injuries inflicted by time and fortune. We followed the banks of a canal where the rainwater nourished the tree frogs. Round a circus rose sloping basins where pigeons went to drink.
Arrived there we went by a narrow pathway driven through a coppice. They hide in the earth. Take care not to put your feet on them; you will get love sickness or thirst after wealth, and would be lost, because the passions inspired by mandrakes are unhappy. I asked how it was possible to avoid the invisible danger.
It went on in a direct line to a brick pavilion, hidden under ivy, which no doubt had served in time gone by as a guard house. There the park came to an end close to the monotonous marshes of the Seine. He has left Imbonatus and Bartoloni far behind. I wanted to honour myself, gentlemen, by keeping under my roof the greatest cabalist since Enoch, son of Cain. You cannot conceive the violence of hate, of this sage, of everything Christian. I had the greatest difficulty to make him dwell in the pavilion, where he lives alone with his niece, Jahel.
In Bokeh mode, you can shift the focus and adjust the aperture. Cranking it up to maximum can make pictures look blotchy and wrong, but you can get some genuinely impressive results if you hold back and use it sensibly. On the front, meanwhile, is a solitary 8-megapixel camera. Being a small-handed man-child, I can struggle to take pictures with phablets, as one of my straining fingers often ends up accidentally touching an edge of the display.
Mistouch figures out when your little digits are being stupid and ignores your accidental screen taps, letting you snap a picture anyway. During my short hands-on session, it worked every time. Always wanted a slimy fake Facebook or Instagram profile dedicated to trawling for strange? If it works without causing a privacy storm, it sounds good.
Those are big ifs though. There's also a tool for recording everything on your screen, and something called MirrorShare lets you beam whatever's on your screen to a TV that supports Miracast. Inside the Mate 9 is an octa-core 4 x 2.
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