LETTER VII -- (From K.)
Saturday, 25th Aug. 1792.
YOUR last kind letter has relieved me from great anxiety. You may be sure, Sir, that I felt all the value of the moments in which you wrote it. I had so pleasantly accustomed myself to look for your news at about the same intervals, that every mail without a letter would have filled me with the greatest anxiety. I need not tell you, Sir, how sincerely I pray for you and yours.
I will begin this letter with my second observation on elementary nature. My first remark was on the law for uniting two separate things; the second seems to me the type for the separation of two things which are united. When we would decompose a substance whose integral parts are intimately united and in a perfect proportion, this union resists all known means of analysis, and seems to form an exception to the laws of affinity. In such a case, the only thing left is to alter the proportions, by first giving a preponderance to one of the constituent parts. This being effected, the affinities may be applied, and the decomposition ensues. For example: glass, as everybody knows, is composed of a fixed alkali and a vitrifiable earth; and although the alkali has a much greater affinity to acids than to the vitrifiable earth, it would be in vain to attempt to decompose the glass by exposing it to the action of acids, because these two integral constituents have, through the action of fire, acquired so exact a proportion, and so intimate an union, that they resist all the ordinary means. To succeed, the proportions must be changed, by pulverizing the glass, then roasting it, and macerating it with cream of tartar. This alkali gradually becomes matted with the glass, the acids are then applied, and decomposition takes place, because the original proportions are altered. The acid takes up, not only the additional alkali, but even that which was before contained in the glass, and so all the saline matters are disengaged from the earth which held them prisoners. . . . I leave it to you to apply this to the intellectual verities, and your explanation will afford me great pleasure.
As for my intended questions on the 'Tableau Naturel,' I begin to see that I am still too ignorant to ask them, and I must reserve your kindness for a future time.
As I have not yet got the 'Three Principles' of our friend B., I have been unable to compare the passages you refer me to, on the light hidden in the elements. But I have found in B.'s xlvi. Letter, 37, 38, an article which strikes me as important: it is like an intellectual eucharist, of which I have found traces elsewhere. It is the hunger and thirst of the soul entering into the grace of the Repairer, and accepted by him, becoming substantial. B. calls this substance Sophia, essential wisdom, the body of the Repairer. Pordage, an English doctor and a disciple of Boehme, whose works I have lately found, when looking for those of B., thinks this Wisdom is the precursor of Jesus Christ in the soul, a virtue separated from the sacred Ternary; which, nevertheless, acts only by the will of this sacred ternary; which, on the other hand, acts only by this Wisdom. He says this Wisdom is not an angel, but an angelic virtue, surpassing all virtues of men or angels. It is she who does away with our impurities, our vanity, our propriete; she who regenerates us; she has her origin immediately from the eternal principle; it is the redeeming spirit spoken of by St. Paul, Rom. viii. 9. Favour me
with your thoughts on this passage in Boehme, Letter xlvi. 37, 38, ed. 1682.
What you kindly tell me of Mons. de Hauterive and of Madame de Lacroix has given me great pleasure: I had, from other sources, conceived the highest esteem for Madame de Lacroix.
Since my last I have been extremely gratified by the acquisition of 'Ecce Homo'; on reading it, I thanked a gracious Providence for having put it into your mind to write it, and I would thank you on behalf of all men, my brethren, for having so well depicted to them their degradation and shame. I take my share to account of all the ill you say of our species in general, and confess that you have spoken the truth and the whole truth. Allow me to ask for explanation on some passages: your facility in saying much in few words, added to our method of referring, whether to your own works, or those of our friend B., will, I hope, make my questions the less indiscreet.
1. In what sense, exactly, do you take the term "Esprit" (spirit, mind, &c.) where you employ it in pp. 54, 68, 78, 79?
2. Who are the "zealous and vehement writers," -- p. 65?
3. Who are the judges, and how can you have knowledge of their judgments, -- p. 129?
4. And, -- the most important of my questions; -- in what does our work, to unite with God, principally consist? Which is the way that leads to the joys we may draw from our own resources, and what is the principal cause, in ourselves, which makes this way so fatiguing? What precautions are required to open in us the direct inward way? How can we read in our sublime original, and give development and activity to the different germs which constitute us? In short, how can we contribute to it, that the day may break, and the morning star arise in the heart of man? pp. 20, 61, 109, 110, 154.
5. As an intimate and perfect knowledge of "spiritual denudation" is of the greatest importance, I beg to ask you, in what sense exactly you use this term. To this, the following question may be added; can we denude ourselves? p. 56.
6. Will a wholesome perception of our lamentable condition suffice for this stripping? May not man have the sense of his defects, without being able to deliver himself from them? May he not perceive himself to be vain and full of his own, and still remain the same? p. 110.
7. Supposing what I heard of M. de Hauterive's proceeding was correct, may not that process which divests him of his corporeal envelope, that he may enjoy, physically, the presence of the active and intelligent Cause, be a work figurative of the necessity of an inward uncovering, that we may attain to the enjoyment of the innate word in our centre?
These, doubtless, are very important questions, with which you will, I am sure, forgive me for troubling you. It is probable some of them are treated of in the 'Nouvel Homme.' Be good enough to let me know what additions or alterations, in reference to these questions, you would have made in that work, after reading Boehme.
I do hope you will never allow the interest you take in my advancement to be extinguished, and that, as long as you live, you will be convinced of my feelings of thankfulness and respect.