Chymical Wedding - Sixth Day

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Next morning, after we had awakened one another, we sat together a while to discuss what might yet be the events to occur. For some were of the opinion that they should all be brought back to life again together. Others contradicted this, because the decease of the ancients was not only to restore life, but to increase it too to the young ones. Some imagined that they had not been put to death, but that others had been beheaded in their stead.
We now having talked together a pretty long while, in came the old man, and first saluting us, looked about him to see if all things were ready, and the processes sufficiently completed. We had so conducted ourselves as regards this that he had no fault to find with our diligence, so he placed all the glasses together, and put them into a case. Presently in came certain youths bringing with them some ladders, ropes, and large wings, which they laid down before us.
Then the old man began as follows: "My dear sons, each of you must this day constantly bear one of these three things about with him. Now you are free either to make a choice of one of them, or to cast lots about it."
We replied, "we would choose".
"No," he said, "let it rather go by lot."
Hereupon he made three little schedules. On one he wrote 'Ladder', on the second 'Rope', on the third 'Wings'. These he put in a hat, and each man must draw, and whatever he got, that was to be his. Those who got the ropes imagined themselves to have the best of it, but I chanced to get a ladder, which afflicted me greatly, for it was twelve feet long, and pretty weighty, and I was forced to carry it, whereas the others could handsomely coil their ropes about them. And as for the wings, the old man joined them so closely onto the third group, as if they had grown upon them.
Hereupon he turned the cock, and then the fountain no longer ran, and we had to remove it from the middle out of the way. After all things were carried off, he took leave, taking with him the casket with the glasses, and locked the door fast after him, so that we imagined nothing other but that we had been imprisoned in this Tower.
But it was hardly a quarter of an hour before a round hole at the very top was uncovered, where we saw our Virgin, who called to us, and bade us good morrow, desiring us to come up. Those with the wings were instantly above and through the hole. Only those with the ropes were in an evil plight. For as soon as every one of us was up, he was commanded to draw up the ladder after him. At last each man's rope was hanged on an iron hook, so everyone had to climb up by his rope as well as he could, which indeed was not accomplished without blisters.
Now as soon as we were all up, the hole was covered again, and we were friendlily received by the Virgin. This room was the whole breadth of the Tower itself, having six very stately vestries raised a little above the room, and were entered by an ascent of three steps. In these vestries we were placed, there to pray for the life of the King and Queen. Meanwhile the Virgin went in and out of the little door A, till we were ready.
For as soon as our process was absolved, there was brought in by twelve persons (who were formerly our musicians), through the little door, and placed in the middle, a wonderful thing of longish shape, which my companions took only to be a fountain. But I well observed that the corpses lay in it, for the inner chest was of an oval figure, so large that six persons might well lie in it one by another. After which they again went forth, fetched their instruments, and conducted in our Virgin, together with her female attendants, with a most delicate sound of music. The Virgin carried a little casket, but the rest only branches and small lamps, and some lighted torches too. The torches were immediately given into our hands, and we were to stand about the fountain in this order.
First stood the Virgin A with her attendants in a ring round about with the lamps and branches C. Next stood we with our torches B, then the musicians A in a long rank; last of all the rest of the virgins D in another long rank too. Now where the virgins came from, whether they lived in the castle, or whether they had been brought in by night, I do not know, for all their faces were covered with delicate white linen, so that I could not recognise any of them.
Hereupon the Virgin opened the casket, in which there was a round thing wrapped up in a piece of green double taffeta. This she laid in the uppermost vessel, and then covered it with the lid, which was full of holes, and which had besides a rim through which she poured in some of the water which we had prepared the day before. Then the fountain began immediately to run, and to flow into the little vessel through four small pipes. Beneath the underneath vessel there were many sharp points, on which the virgins stuck their lamps, so that the heat might reach the vessel, and make the water boil. Now the water beginning to simmer, it fell in upon the bodies by many little holes at A, and was so hot that it dissolved them all, and turned them into liquor. But what the above-mentioned round wrapped-up thing was, my companions did not know, but I understood that it was the Moor's head, from which the water drew so great a heat. At A, round about the great vessel, there were again many holes, in which they stuck their branches. Now whether this was done of necessity, or only for ceremony, I do not know. However, these branches were continually besprinkled by the fountain, and from them it afterwards dropped into the vessel something of a deeper yellow. This lasted for nearly two hours, the fountain still constantly running by itself; but the longer it ran, the fainter it was.
Meantime the musicians went their way, and we walked up and down in the room, and truly the room was made in such a way that we had opportunity enough to pass away our time. There were, for images, paintings, clockworks, organs, springing fountains, and the like, nothing forgotten.
Now it was near the time when the fountain ceased, and would run no longer, when the Virgin commanded a round golden globe to be brought. But at the bottom of the fountain there was a tap, by which she let out all the matter that was dissolved by those hot drops (of which certain parts were then very red) into the globe. The rest of the water which remained above in the kettle was poured out. And so this fountain (which had now become much lighter) was again carried forth. Now whether it was opened elsewhere, or whether anything of the bodies that was further useful yet remained, I dare not say for certain. But this I know, that the water that was emptied into the globe was much heavier than six, or even more of us, were well able to bear, although going by its bulk it should have seemed not too heavy for one man. Now this globe having been got out of doors with much ado, we again sat alone, but I perceiving a trampling overhead, had an eye to my ladder.
Here one might take notice of the strange opinions my companions had concerning this fountain, for they, imagining that the bodies lay in the garden of the castle, did not know what to make of this kind of working, but I thanked God that I had awakened at so opportune a time, and that I had seen that which helped me the better in all the Virgin's business.
After one quarter of an hour the cover above was again lifted off, and we were commanded to come up, which was done as before with wings, ladders and ropes. And it vexed me not a little that whereas the virgins could go up another way, we had to take so much toil; yet I could well judge that there must be some special reason for it, and we must leave something for the old man to do too. For even those with wings had no advantage by them other than when they had to climb through the hole.
Now we having got up there, and the hole having been shut again, I saw the globe hanging by a strong chain in the middle of the room. In this room was nothing but windows, and between two windows there was a door, which was covered with nothing other than a great polished looking-glass. And these windows and these looking-glasses were optically opposed to one another, so that although the sun (which was now shining exceedingly brightly) beat only upon one door, yet (after the windows towards the sun were opened, and the doors before the looking-glasses drawn aside) in all quarters of the room there were nothing but suns, which by artificial refractions beat upon the whole golden globe standing in the midst; and because (besides all this brightness) it was polished, it gave such a lustre, that none of us could open our eyes, but were forced to look out of the windows till the globe was well heated, and brought to the desired effect. Here I may well avow that in these mirrors I have seen the most wonderful spectacle that ever Nature brought to light, for there were suns in all places, and the globe in the middle shined still brighter, so that we could no more endure it than the sun itself, except for one twinkling of an eye.
At length the Virgin commanded the looking-glasses to be shut up again, and the windows to be made fast, and so to let the globe cool again a little; and this was done about seven o'clock. This we thought good, since we might now have a little leisure to refresh ourselves with breakfast. This treatment was again right philosophical, and we had no need to be afraid of intemperance, yet we had no want. And the hope of the future joy (with which the Virgin continually comforted us) made us so jocund that we took no notice of any pains or inconvenience. And this I can truly say too concerning my companions of high quality, that their minds never ran after their kitchen or table, but their pleasure was only to attend upon this adventurous physick, and hence to contemplate the Creator's wisdom and omnipotency.
After we had taken our meal, we again settled down to work, for the globe, which with toil and labour we were to lift off the chain and set upon the floor, was sufficiently cooled. Now the dispute was how to get the globe in half, for we were commanded to divide it in the middle. The conclusion was that a sharp pointed diamond would best do it. Now when we had thus opened the globe, there was nothing more of redness to be seen, but a lovely great snow-white egg. It made us rejoice most greatly that this had been brought to pass so well. For the Virgin was in perpetual care lest the shell might still be too tender. We stood round about this egg as jocund as if we ourselves had laid it. But the Virgin made it be carried forth, and departed herself, too, from us again, and (as always) locked the door. But what she did outside with the egg, or whether it were in some way privately handled, I do not know, neither do I believe it. Yet we were again to wait together for a quarter of an hour, till the third hole was opened, and we by means of our instruments came to the fourth stone or floor.
In this room we found a great copper vessel filled with yellow sand, which was warmed by a gentle fire. Afterwards the egg was raked up in it, that it might therein come to perfect maturity. This vessel was exactly square; upon one side stood these two verses, written in great letters.

O. BLI. TO. BIT. MI. LI.

On the second side were these three words:

SANITAS. NIX. HASTA.

(Health, Snow, Lance.)

The third had only one word:

F.I.A.T.

But on the behind was an entire inscription running thus:
QUOD.
Ignis : Aer : Aqua : Terra :
SANCTIS REGUM ET REGINARUM NOSTR :
Cineribus.
Eripere non potuerunt
Fidelis Chymicorum Turba
IN HANC URNAM
Contulit.
A.




What
Fire:Air:Water:Earth
Were unable to rob
From the holy ashes
OF OUR KINGS AND QUEENS
Was gathered by the faithful flock
Of Alchemists
In this urn
A.D. 1459.

Now whether the the egg were hereby meant, I leave to the learned to dispute; yet I do my part, and omit nothing undeclared. Our egg being now ready was taken out, but it needed no cracking, for the bird that was in it soon freed himself, and showed himself very jocund, yet he looked very bloody and unshapen. We first set him upon the warm sand, so the Virgin commanded that before we gave him anything to eat, we should be sure to make him fast, otherwise he would give us all work enough. This being done too, food was brought him, which surely was nothing else than the blood of the beheaded, diluted again with prepared water; by which the bird grew so fast under our eyes, that we saw well why the Virgin gave us such warning about him. He bit and scratched so devilishly about him, that could he have had his will upon any of us, he would have despatched him. Now he was wholly black, and wild, so other food was brought him, perhaps the blood of another of the Royal Persons; whereupon all his black feathers moulted again, and instead of them there grew out snow-white feathers. He was somewhat tamer too, and more docile. Nevertheless we did not yet trust him. At the third feeding his feathers began to be so curiously coloured that in all my life I never saw such beautiful colours. He was also exceedingly tame, and behaved himself so friendlily with us, that (the Virgin consenting) we released him from his captivity.
Our Virgin began: "Since by your diligence, and our old man's consent, the bird has attained both his life and the highest perfection, this is a good reason that he should also be joyfully consecrated by us."
Herewith she commanded that dinner should be brought, and that we should again refresh ourselves, since the most troublesome part of our work was now over, and it was fitting that we should begin to enjoy our past labours. We began to make ourselves merry together. However, we still had all our mourning clothes on, which seemed somewhat reproachful to our mirth. Now the Virgin was perpetually inquisitive, perhaps to find to which of us her future purpose might prove serviceable. But her discourse was for the most part about Melting; and it pleased her well when one seemed expert in such compendious manuals as do particularly commend an artist. This dinner lasted not more than three quarters of an hour, which we still for the most part spent with our bird, and we had to constantly feed him with his food, but he still remained much the same size. After dinner we were not allowed long to digest our food, before the Virgin, together with the bird, departed from us.
The fifth room was set open to us, where we went as before, and offered our services. In this room a bath was prepared for our bird, which was so coloured with a fine white powder that it had the appearance of milk. Now it was at first cool when the bird was set into it. He was mighty well pleased with it, drinking of it, and pleasantly sporting in it. But after it began to heat because of the lamps that were placed under it, we had enough to do to keep him in the bath. We therefore clapped a cover on the vessel, and allowed him to thrust his head out through a hole, till he had in this way lost all his feathers in the bath, and was as smooth as a new-born child; yet the heat did him no further harm, at which I much marveled, for the feathers were completely consumed in this bath, and the bath was thereby tinged blue. At length we gave the bird air, and he sprang out of the vessel of his own accord, and he was so glitteringly smooth that it was a pleasure to behold. But because he was still somewhat wild, we had to put a collar with a chain about his neck, and so led him up and down the room. Meanwhile a strong fire was made under the vessel, and the bath boiled away till it all came down to a blue stone, which we took out, and having first pounded it, ground it with a stone, and finally with this colour began to paint the bird's skin all over. Now he looked much more strange, for he was all blue, except the head, which remained white.
Herewith our work on this storey was performed, and we (after the Virgin with her blue bird was departed from us) were called up through the hole to the sixth storey, where we were greatly troubled. For in the middle was placed a little altar, in every way like that in the King's hall above described. Upon this stood the six aforementioned particulars, and he himself (the bird) made the seventh. First of all the little fountain was set before him, out of which he drunk a good draught. Afterwards he pecked the white serpent until she bled a great deal. This blood we had to receive into a golden cup, and pour it down the bird's throat, who was greatly averse to it. Then we dipped the serpent's head in the fountain, upon which she revived again, and crept into her death's-head, so that I saw her no more for a long time after. Meantime the sphere turned constantly, until it made the desired conjunction. Immediately the watch struck one, upon which another conjunction was set going. Then the watch struck two. Finally, while we were observing the third conjunction, and this was indicated by the watch, the poor bird submissively laid down his neck upon the book of his own accord, and willingly allowed his head to be smitten off (by one of us chosen for this by lot). However, he yielded not a drop of blood until his breast was opened, and then the blood spurted out so fresh and clear as if it had been a fountain of rubies. His death went to our hearts, and yet we could well judge that a naked bird would stand us in little stead. So we let it be, and moved the little altar away and assisted the Virgin to burn the body to ashes (together with the little tablet hanging by) with fire kindled by the little taper; and afterwards to cleanse the same several times, and to lay them in a box of cypress wood.
Here I cannot conceal what a trick was played on myself and three others. After we had thus diligently taken up the ashes, the Virgin began to speak as follows:
"My lords, here we are in the sixth room, and we have only one more before us, in which our trouble will be at an end, and then we shall return home again to our castle, to awaken our most gracious Lords and Ladies. Now I could heartily wish that all of you, as you are here together, had behaved yourselves in such a way that I might have commended to our most renowned King and Queen, and you might have obtained a suitable reward; yet contrary to my desire, I have found amongst you these four lazy and sluggish workers (herewith she pointed at me and three others). Yet, according to my goodwill to each and every one, I am not willing to deliver them up to deserved punishment. However, so that such negligence may not remain wholly unpunished, I am resolved thus concerning them, that they shall only be excluded from the future seventh and most glorious action of all the rest, and so they shall incur no further blame from their Royal Majesties."
In what a state we now were at this speech I leave others to consider. For the Virgin knew so well how to keep her countenance, that the water soon ran over our baskets, and we esteemed ourselves the most unhappy of all men. After this the Virgin caused one of her maids (of whom there were many always at hand) to fetch the musicians, who were to blow us out of doors with cornets, with such scorn and derision that they themselves could hardly blow for laughing. But it afflicted us particularly greatly that the Virgin so vehemently laughed at our weeping, anger and impatience, and that there might well perhaps be some amongst our companions who were glad of this misfortune of ours.
But it proved otherwise, for as soon as we had come out of the door, the musicians told us to be of good cheer and follow them up the winding stairs. They led us up to the seventh floor under the roof, where we found the old man, whom we had not hitherto seen, standing upon a little round furnace. He received us friendlily, and heartily congratulated us that we had been chosen for this by the Virgin; but after he understood the fright we had received, his belly was ready to burst with laughing that we had taken such good fortune so badly.
"Hence," said he, "my dear sons, learn that man never knows how well God intended him."
During this discourse the Virgin also came running in with her little box, and (after she had laughed at us enough) emptied her ashes into another vessel, and filled hers again with other stuff, saying she must now go and cast a mist before the other artists' eyes, and that we in the meantime should obey the old lord in whatsoever he commanded us, and not remit our former diligence. Herewith she departed from us into the seventh room into which she called our companions. Now what she did first with them there, I cannot tell, for not only were they most earnestly forbidden to speak of it, but we also, because of our work, did not dare peep on them through the ceiling.
But this was our work. We had to moisten the ashes with our previously prepared water until they became altogether like a very thin dough, after which we set the matter over the fire, till it was well heated. Then we cast it, hot like this, into two little forms or moulds, and let it cool a little.
Here we had leisure to look a while at our companions through certain crevices made in the floor. They were now very busy at a furnace, and each had to blow up the fire himself with a pipe, and they stood blowing about it like this, as if they were wondrously preferred before us in this. And this blowing lasted until our old man roused us to our work again, so that I cannot say what was done afterwards.
We opened our little forms, and there appeared two beautiful, bright and almost transparent little images, the like of which man's eye never saw, a male and a female, each of them only four inches long, and what surprised us most greatly was that they were not hard, but lithe and fleshy, like other human bodies, yet they had no life; so that I most assuredly believe that the Lady Venus's image was also made after some such manner.
These angelically fair babes we first laid upon two little satin cushions, and looked at them for a good while, till we were almost besotted by such exquisite objects. The old lord warned us to forbear, and continually to instil the blood of the bird (which had been received into a little golden cup) drop after drop into the mouths of the little images, from which they appeared to increase; and whereas they were before very small, they were now (according to proportion) much more beautiful, so that all painters ought to have been here, and would have been ashamed of their art in respect of these productions of nature. Now they began to grow so big that we lifted them from the little cushions, and had to lay them upon a long table, which was covered with white velvet. The old man also commanded us to cover them over up to the breast with a piece of the fine white double taffeta, which, because of their unspeakable beauty, almost went against us. But to be brief, before we had quite used up the blood in this way, they were already in their perfect full growth. They had golden-yellow, curly hair, and the above-mentioned figure of Venus was nothing to them.
But there was not yet any natural warmth or sensibility in them. They were dead figures, yet of a lively and natural colour; and since care was to be taken that they did not grow too big, the old man would not permit anything more to be given to them, but covered their faces too with the silk, and caused the table to be stuck round about with torches. Here I must warn the reader not to imagine these lights to have been put there out of necessity, for the old man's intent hereby was only that we should not observe when the soul entered into them; and indeed we should not have noticed it, had I not twice before seen the flames. However, I permitted the other three to remain with their own belief, neither did the old man know that I had seen anything more. Hereupon he asked us to sit down on a bench over against the table.
Presently the Virgin came in too, with the music and all necessities, and carried two curious white garments, the like of which I had never seen in the castle, nor can I describe them, for I thought that they were nothing other than crystal; but they were soft, and not transparent; so that I cannot describe them. These she laid down on a table, and after she had disposed her virgins upon a bench round about, she and the old man began many slight-of-hand tricks about the table, which was done only to blind us. This (as I told you) was managed under the roof, which was wonderfully formed; for on the inside it was arched into seven hemispheres, of which the middlemost was somewhat the highest, and had at the top a little round hole, which was nevertheless shut, and was observed by no-one else.
After many ceremonies six virgins came in, each of whom carried a large trumpet, around which were rolled a green, glittering and burning material like a wreath. The old man took one of these, and after he had removed some of the lights at the top of the table, and uncovered their faces, he placed one of the trumpets upon the mouth of one of the bodies in such a way that the upper and wider end of it was directed just towards the aforementioned hole. Here my companions always looked at the images, but I had other thoughts, for as soon as the foliage or wreath about the shank of the trumpet was kindled, I saw the hole at the top open, and a bright stream of fire shooting down the tube, and passing into the body; whereupon the hole was covered again, and the trumpet removed. With this device my companions were deluded, so that they imagined that life came into the image by means of the fire of the foliage, for as soon as he received the soul his eyes twinkled, although he hardly stirred. The second time he placed another tube upon its mouth, and kindled it again, and the soul was let down through the tube. This as repeated for each of them three times, after which all the lights were extinguished and carried away. The velvet coverings of the table were cast over them, and immediately a birthing bed was unlocked and made ready, into which, thus wrapped up, they were born. And after the coverings were taken off them, they were neatly laid by each other, and with the curtains drawn before them, they slept a good while.
Now it was also time for the Virgin to see how other artists behaved themselves. They were well pleased because, as the Virgin afterwards informed me, they were to work in gold, which is indeed a piece of this art, but not the most principal, most necessary, and best. They had indeed too a part of these ashes, so that they imagined nothing other than that the whole bird was provided for the sake of gold, and that life must thereby be restored to the deceased.
Meantime we sat very still, waiting for our married couple to awake. About half an hour was spent like this. Then the wanton Cupid presented himself again, and after he had saluted us all, flew to them behind the curtain, tormenting them until they awakened. This was a cause of great amazement to them, for they imagined that they had slept from the very hour in which they were beheaded until now. Cupid, after he had awakened them, and renewed their acquaintance with one another, stepped aside a little, and allowed them both to get themselves together a bit better, meantime playing his tricks with us; and at length he wanted to have the music brought in, to be somewhat merrier.
Not long after, the Virgin herself came in, and after she had most humbly saluted the young King and Queen (who found themselves rather faint) and kissed their hands, she brought them the two aforementioned strange garments, which they put on, and so stepped forth. Now there were already prepared two very strange chairs, in which they placed themselves. And they were congratulated with most profound reverence by us, for which the King himself most graciously returned his thanks, and again reassured us of all grace.
It was already about five o'clock, so they could no longer stay, but as soon as the best of their furniture could be laden, we had to attend the young Royal Persons down the winding stairs, through all doors and watches to the ship. In this they embarked, together with certain virgins and Cupid, and sailed so very swiftly that we soon lost sight of them; but they were met (as I was informed) by certain stately ships. Thus in four hours' time they had gone many leagues out to sea. After five o'clock the musicians were charged to carry all things back again to the ships, and to make themselves ready for the voyage. But because this took rather a long time, the old lord commanded a party of his concealed soldiers to come out. They had hitherto been planted in a wall, so that we had not noticed any of them, whereby I observed that this Tower was well provided against opposition. Now these soldiers made quick work with our stuff, so that nothing more remained to be done but to go to supper.
The table being completely furnished, the Virgin brought us again to our companions, where we were to carry ourselves as if we had truly been in a lamentable condition, and forbear laughing. But they were always smiling to one another, although some of them sympathised with us too. At this supper the old lord was also with us, who was a most sharp inspector over us; for no-one could propound anything so discreetly, but he knew either how to confute it, or to amend it, or at least to give some good information on it. I learned a great deal from this lord, and it would be very good if each one would apply themselves to him, and take notice of his procedure, for then things would not miscarry so often and so unfortunately.
After we had taken our nocturnal refreshment, the old lord took us into his closets of rarities, which were dispersed here and there amongst the bulwarks; where we saw such wonderful productions of Nature, and other things too which man's wit, in imitation of Nature, had invented, that we needed another year to survey them sufficiently. Thus we spent a good part of the night by candlelight. At last, because we were more inclined to sleep than to see many rarities, we were lodged in rooms in the wall, where we had not only costly and good beds, but also extraordinarily handsome chambers, which made us wonder all the more why we were forced to undergo so many hardships the day before. In this chamber I had good rest, and being for the most part without care, and weary with continual labour, the gentle rushing of the sea helped me to a sound and sweet sleep, for I continued in one dream from eleven o'clock till eight in the morning.

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