The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 13



(Fama fraternitatis Anno 1612, Latine ac Germanice edita.)

And then immediately I hear in the market-place the sound of a trumpet, and looking back, I see one who was riding a horse and calling the philosophers together. And when these crowded round him in herds, he began to speak to them in fine language of the insufficiency of all free arts and of all philosophy; and he told them that some famous men had, impelled by God, already examined these insufficiencies, had remedied them, and had raised the wisdom of man to that degree which it had in Paradise before the fall of man. To make gold, he said, was one of the smallest of their hundred feats, for all Nature was bared and revealed to them; they were able to give to, or take from, each creature whatever shape they chose, according to their pleasure; he further said that they knew the languages of all nations, as well as everything that happened on the whole sphere of the earth, even in the new world, and that they were able to discourse with one another even at a distance of a thousand miles. He said they had the stone,[1] and could by means of it entirely heal all illnesses and confer long life. For Hugo Alverda,[2] their præpositus, was already 562 years old, and his colleagues were not much younger. And though they had hidden themselves for so many hundred years, only working—seven of them—at the amendment of philosophy, yet would they now no longer hide themselves, as they had already brought everything to perfection; and besides this, because they knew that a reformation would shortly befall the whole world; therefore openly showing themselves, they were ready to share their precious secrets with everyone whom they should consider worthy. If, then, one applied to them in whatever language, and be it that he was of whatever nation, each one would obtain everything, and none would be left without a kind answer. But if one was unworthy, and merely from avarice or frowardness wished to secure these gifts, then he should obtain nothing.

(Varia de Fama Judicia.)

2. Having said this, the messenger vanished. I then, looking at these learned men, see that almost all of them were frightened by this news. Meanwhile, they begin slowly to put their heads together and to pass judgment, some in a whisper, some loudly, on this event. And walking, now here, now there, among them, I listen. And behold, some rejoiced exceedingly, not knowing for joy where to go to. They pitied their ancestors, because, during their lifetime, nothing such had happened. They congratulated themselves because perfect philosophy had been fully given unto them. Thus could they, without error, know everything; without want, have sufficient of everything; live for several hundred years without sickness and grey hair, if they only wished it. And they ever repeated: "Happy, verily happy, is our age." Hearing such speech I also began to rejoice, and to feel hopes that, please God, I also should receive somewhat of that for which they were longing. But I saw others who were absorbed in deep thought, and were in doubt as to what to think this. Were it but true what they had heard announced, they would have been glad; but these matters seemed to them obscure, and surpassing the mind of man. Others openly opposed these things, saying that they were fraud and deceit. If these reformers of philosophy had existed for hundreds of years, why, then, had they not appeared before? If they were certain of what they affirmed, why, then, did they not appear boldly in the light, but express their opinions in the dark, and in corners, as if they were whizzing bats. Philosophy, they said, is already well established, and requires no reform. If you allow this philosophy to be torn from your hands, you will have none whatever. Others also reviled and cursed the reformers and declared them to be divinators, sorcerers, and incarnate devils.

(Fraternitatem Ambientes.)

3. Generally there was a noise everywhere in the market-place, and almost everyone burnt with the desire of obtaining these goods. Therefore not a few wrote petitions (some secretly, some openly), and they sent them, rejoicing at the thought that they also would be received into the association.[3] But I saw that to each one his petition, after all parts of it had been briefly scanned, was returned without an answer; and their joyful hope was changed to grief, for the unbelievers laughed at them. Some wrote again, a second, a third time, and oftener; and each man, through the aid of the muses,[4] begged, and even implored, that his mind might not be deprived of that learning which was worthy of being desired. Some, unable to bear the delay, ran from one region of the earth to another, lamenting their misfortune that they could not find these happy men. This one attributed to his own unworthiness; another to the ill-will of these men, and then one man despaired, while another, looking round and seeking new roads to find these men, was again disappointed, till I myself was grieved, seeing no end to this.

(Contumatio Famæ Rosæorum.)

4. Meanwhile, behold the blowing of trumpets again begins; then many, and I also, run in the direction from which the sound came, and I beheld one who was spreading out his wares and calling on the people to view and buy his wondrous secrets; they were, he said, taken from the treasury of the new philosophy, and would content all who were desirous of secret knowledge. And there was joy that the holy Rosicrucian brotherhood would clearly now share its treasures bounteously with them; many approached and bought. Now everything that was sold was wrapped up in boxes that were painted and had various pretty inscriptions, such as: Portæ Sapientiæ; Fortalitium Scientiæ; Gymnasium Universitatis; Bonum Macro-micro-cosmicon; Harmonia utriusque Cosmi; Christiano-Cabalisticum; Antrum Naturæ; Tertrinum Catholicum; Pyramis Triumphalis, and so forth.[5]

Now everyone who purchased was forbidden to open his box; for it was said that the force of this secret wisdom was such that it worked by penetrating through the cover; but if the box was opened it would evaporate and vanish. None the less, some of those who were more forward could not refrain from opening them, and finding them quite empty, showed this to the others; these then also opened theirs, but no one found anything. They then cried "Fraud! fraud!" and spoke furiously to him who sold the wares; but he calmed them, saying that these were the most secret of secret things, and that they were invisible to all but "filiis scientiæ" (that is, the sons of science); therefore if but one out of a thousand obtained anything, this was no fault of his.

(Eventus Famæ.)

5. And they mostly allowed themselves to be appeased by this. Meanwhile, the man took himself off, and the spectators, in very different humours, dispersed in divers directions; whether some of them ascertained something concerning these mysteries or not, I have hitherto been unable to learn. This only I know, that everything, as it were, became quiet. Those whom I had at first most seen running and rushing about, these I afterwards beheld sitting in corners with locked mouths, as it appeared; either they had been admitted to the mysteries (as some believed of them), and were obliged to carry out their oath of silence, or (as it seemed to me, looking without any spectacles), they were ashamed of their hopes and of their uselessly expended labour. Then all this dispersed and became quiet, as after a storm the clouds disperse without rain. And I said to my guide: "Is nothing, then, to come of all this? Alas, my hopes! for I likewise, seeing such expectations, rejoiced that I had found nurture convenient to my mind." The interpreter answered: "Who knows? Someone may yet succeed in this. Perhaps these men know the hour when they should reveal these things to someone." "Am I then to wait for this?" I said. "I who, among so many thousand who are more learned than I, know not a single example of one who succeeded? I do not wish to continue gaping here. Let us proceed hence."

  1. I.e., Lapis philosophicus—the philosopher's stone.
  2. Hugo Alverda was—according to Komensky—the founder of the Rosicrucians.
  3. I.e., of the Rosicrucians.
  4. I.e., through eloquence, poetry, and the liberal arts.
  5. These words of uncouth Latinity form part of the vocabulary particular to the Rosicrucians, and Komensky has formed them partly on Paracelolus Venetus. Komensky was well acquainted with the tenets of the Rosicrucians, as Andreæ, whose pupil he was, and from whom—as noted elsewhere—part of the contents of the "Labyrinth" are derived, was one of the prominent Rosicrucians.