A large reception room in Hilary's house. As the curtain rises Hilary and Romanus are in conversation.
I must with grief confess to thee, dear friend,
That this fate's tangle, which is forming here
Within our circle, well-nigh crusheth me.
On what can one rely, when nothing holds?
The friends of Benedictus are by thee
Kept far from our endeavours; Strader, too,
Is torn by bitter agonies of doubt.
A man who, full of shrewdness and of hate,
Hath oft opposed the mystic life and aims,
Hath pointed out grave errors in his plans
And shewn that his invention cannot work,
And is not only stopped by outward checks.
Life bath not brought me any ripened fruit;
I longed for perfect deeds. And yet the thoughts
That bring deeds unto ripeness never came.
My soul was ever plagued by loneliness.
By spirit-sight alone was I upborne.
And yet; — in Strader's case I was deceived.
I often felt as though some gruesome shape
Was pressing painfully upon my soul
Whene'er thy words were in the course of life
Shown to be naught but errors and mistakes
And as the spirit-sight appeared as false,
My mystic master did this shape become
Within me and did set a feeling free
Which now enables me to give thee light.
Too blindly hast thou trusted spirit-sight;
And so as error it appears to thee
When it doth surely lead thee to the truth.
In Strader's case thy sight was true, despite
The things this super-clever man hath shown.
Thy faith still doth not waver, and thou hast
The same opinion now of Strader's work?
The reasons whereon I did build it up
Have naught to do with Strader's friends at all
And still are valid, whether his machine
Prove itself true or faulty in design.
Supposing he hath made an error; well,
A man through error finds the way to truth.
The failure then doth not affect thee — thee
To whom life hath brought nothing but success?
Those who do not fear failure will succeed.
It only needs an understanding eye
To see what bearing mysticism has
Upon our case, and forthwith there appears
The view that we should take of Strader's work.
He will come off victorious in the fight
Which flings the spirit-portals open wide;
Undaunted by the watchman will he stride
Across the threshold of the spirit-land.
My soul hath deeply realized the words
Which that stern Guardian of the threshold spake.
I feel him even now at Strader's side.
Whether he sees him, or toward him goes
Unknowing, this indeed I cannot say;
But I believe that I know Strader well.
He will courageously make up his mind
That self-enlightenment must come through pain;
The Will shall ever bear him company
Who bravely goes to meet what lies before,
And, fortified by Hope's strength-giving stream,
Doth boldly face the pain,which Knowledge brings.
My friend, I thank thee for these mystic words.
Oft have I heard them; now for the first time
I feel the secret meaning they enfold.
The cosmic ways are hard to comprehend —
My portion, my dear friend, it is to wait
Until the spirit points me out the way
Which is appropriate unto my sight.
(Enter Capesius and Felix Balde, shown In by Secretary, on right.)
I think that Benedictus will return
Sometime to-day from off his journey; but
He is not here at present; if thou com'st
Again to-morrow thou shouldst find him here.
Can we then have a talk with Hilary?
I'll go and ask him now to come to you.
A vision of deep import hast thou seen.
Couldst thou not tell it to me o'er again?
One cannot apprehend such things aright
Till they are fully grasped by spirit-sight.
It came this morning, when I thought myself
Wrapt in the stillness of the mystic mood.
My senses slept, and with them memory.
To spirit things alone was I alive.
At first I saw naught but familiar sights.
Then Strader's soul came clearly into view
Before mine inner eye, and for a while
Stood silent, so that I had ample time
To make sure I was awake.
But soon I also heard him clearly say
‘Abandon not the real true mystic mood.’
As if the sound came from his inmost soul.
He then continued, with sharp emphasis:
‘To strive for naught, but just to live in peace:
Expectancy the soul's whole inner life: —
That is the mystic mood. And of itself
It wakes, unsought amid the stream of life,
Whene'er a human soul is rightly strong
And seeks the spirit with all-powerful thought.
This mood comes often in our stillest hours
Yet also in the heat of action; then
It's only will is that the soul should not
By thoughtlessness withdraw and fail to heed
The tender sight of spirit happenings.’
Like to the very echo of my words
This utt'rance sounds, — yet not quite what I meant.
On close consideration one might find
The opposite of thine own words therein, —
And more distinctly doth this fact appear
When we give heed to this his further speech
‘Whoever falsely wakes the mystic mood
It leads his inmost soul but to himself.
And weaves betwixt himself and realms of light
The dark veil of his own soul's enterprise.
If this thou wouldst through mysticism seek
Mystic illusion will destroy thy life.’
This can be nothing else than words of mine
By Strader's spirit-views transformed; in thee
They echo as a grievous mystic fault.
Moreover Strader's final words were these:
‘A man can not attain the spirit-world
By seeking to unlock the gates himself.
Truth doth not sound within the soul of him
Who only seeks a mood for many years.’
(Philia appears, perceptible only to Capesius; Felix Balde shows that he does not comprehend what follows.)
Capesius, if soon thou markest well
What in thy seeking comes to thee unsought,
'Twill strengthen thee with many-coloured light;
In pictured being it will pierce thee through
Since thy soul-forces show it unto thee.
That which thy self's sun-nature rays on thee
By Saturn's ripened wisdom will be dulled;
Then to thy vision will there be disclosed
That which in earth-life thou canst comprehend.
Then I will lead thee to the Guardian
Who on the spirit-threshold keeps his watch.
From circles which I know not issue words.
Their sound awakes no being full of light,
And so they are not fully real to me.
The hint which Philia hath given me
Shall be my guide so that from this time forth
In spirit too may be revealed what I
Already as a man upon the earth,
Can find within the circuit of my life.