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Chapter 13

  • OF THE PROGRESS OF THE GREAT EXPERIMENT; NOT FORGETTING OU_RIENDS LAST SEEN IN PARIS, ABOUT WHOSE WELFARE MUCH ANXIETY MUST HAVE BEE_ELT
  • EARLY in January Cyril Grey received a letter from Lord Antony Bowling. "M_ood Grey," it began, "may the New Year bring you courage to break you_esolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that _riumph even when I fall!
  • "Morningside is off to America with his New Discovery in Science. It is tha_ll crime is due to breathing. Statistics show (a) that all convicts ar_uilty of this disgusting habit; (b) it is characteristic of all the inmate_f our insane asylums.
  • "On the other hand, neither crime nor insanity has ever been proved agains_ny person who was not an habitual breather. The case, as you see, i_omplete. Morningside has gone even farther, and shown that breathing is aki_o drug-habits; he has made numerous experiments upon addicts, and finds tha_uppression leads to mental and physical distress of an even more acute typ_han that which follows the removal of morphia or cocaine from their slaves.
  • There is little doubt that Congress will take immediate action to penaliz_his filthy vice as it deserves, and Fresh Air will be included among th_rugs to which the Harrison Law applies. Hot Air, as the natural food of th_eople, will of course be permitted.
  • "I saw Sister Cybele the other day. She was [171] passing through London t_isit friends in Scotland. I tried to alleviate that dreadful destiny b_sking her to dinner, and we had an amusing seance with my new toy, a yout_amed Roger Blunt, who is controlled by a spirit called Wooloo, has eigh_econdary personalities, and causes pencils to adhere to walls. It cannot b_hat this is varnish, or surface tension, or a little of both; it would b_oo, too cruel!
  • "The Mahathera Phang has vanished from our gaze; he has probably gone to th_quator to correct the obliquity of the Ecliptic in the interest of the Law o_ighteousness. I'm sorry; I believe in that man; I know he's got somethin_hat I haven't, and I want it. However, Simple Simon has been nice to me; onl_e won't talk Phenomena — says that, like a certain Pope, he has seen too man_iracles to believe in them. Which is my own case, only he is referring t_enuine ones. Hence difficulty in comprehension of his attitude.
  • "I hope you're having a great time with the devil; I envy your blue skies; London is wrapped in fog, and even on fine days I have to go to the Wa_ffice. But isn't it a pity those wicked bad naughty men know where you are? _ave my doubts about magick; but I know Balloch, and he's the rottenest egg i_ondon. I gather he's at the back of it. Some blackmailing articles on you, again; but as Morningside would say, you should worry. Come along and see m_efore, in a moment of madness and despair, you plunge into Vesuvius in th_ope of exciting a future Mathew Arnold to immortalize you.
  • "Well, here's the best to you!
  • "ANTONY BOWLING."
  • There was a brief note, too, from Simon Iff. "It's to be supposed all's well; rumours of disaster to enemy offensive current in Paris. You had better [172] worry along on your own now; there's other fish frying in this kitchen. An ol_an may possibly drop in on you early in August; you may recognize him — wit_ strong pair of glasses — as your old friend, — SIMON IFF."
  • Simple Simon never spoke of himself as "I" in a letter; he only used th_ronoun in conversation as a concession to custom.
  • The Black Commissioners had also heard from headquarters; Gates was replaced, as quick as rail could carry, by a man of superior advancement in the Blac_odge.
  • This was the celebrated Dr. Victor Vesquit, the most famous necromancer of hi_ge. There was really little harm in the man beyond his extraordinar_erversion in the matter of corpses. His house in Hampden Road was not only _endezvous of spiritualists, but a Home for Lost Mummies. He based all hi_agical operations upon dead bodies, or detached portions of the same, believing that to endow dead matter with life — the essential of nearly al_agick, as he quite rightly saw — it was best to choose matter in which lif_ad recently been manifest. An obvious corollary is that the best bodies ar_hose that have met a violent death, rather than those which have bee_ubjected to illness and decay. Also, it followed that the best corpses of al_ere those of executed murderers, whose vitality may be assumed as very great — though on this last point Cyril Grey, for one, would have disagreed wit_im, saying that the most vital people would have too much respect for th_rinciple of life to commit murder in cold blood.
  • However, Dr Vesquit had obtained an appointment as coroner in the mos_urderous district of London; and uncanny were the rumours that circulate_mong occult sympathizers. [173]
  • His career had nearly been ruined on two occasions by scandal. The notoriou_iana Vaughan, it had been said, was his mistress; and he had become he_ccomplice in the introduction of the frightful sect of the Palladists.
  • The rumour was not widespread, and Vesquit need not have suffered; but he too_larm, and had the unlucky thought of employing Arthwait to write a boo_learing him from all suspicion, by which it naturally was fixed on him fo_ver.
  • The second trouble was his little quarrel with Douglas. Vesquit was Senior i_he Black Lodge, and Douglas overthrew him by "carelessly" leaving, in _ansom cab, some documents belonging to the Lodge, with Vesquit's name an_ddress attached to them, which made some exceedingly grim revelations of th_ecromantic practices carried on in Hampden Road.
  • The honest cabby had turned over the papers to Scotland Yard, as his duty was; and the police had sent them on to those in authority over coroners; an_esquit received, with his documents, an intimation that he must drop tha_ort of thing at once.
  • To be chief in the Lodge seemed less than to be always in a Paradise o_orpses; so he resigned office, and Douglas pushed his advantage by making hi_n abject tool, under the perpetual threat of exposure.
  • No sooner did Douglas learn of the death of Gates than he telegraphed t_rthwait to get the inquest adjourned "so that the relatives of the decease_n England might attend, and take possession of the body," and to Vesquit t_ttend the same. On this occasion the coroner needed no threat — the job wa_fter his own heart.
  • Douglas met him in Paris in high glee, for he was not sorry to be rid o_ates; and, on the other hand, the man had died in full tide of battle, an_hould be the very corpse that Vesquit most needed; as Douglas himself said, with a certain grim humour in which he excelled, he was, morally speaking, a_xecuted criminal; while, being in actual magical contact with Grey and hi_riends, so much so that he had evidently been killed by them, he was an idea_agical link.
  • Vesquit's task was, if possible, to learn from Gates exactly what ha_appened, and so expert a necromancer had no fear of the result. He was als_o create a semi-material ghost of Gates from the remains, and send it to th_erson who had dealt out death to that unlucky wizard.
  • On his arrival at Naples, there was no difficulty in the way of the Blac_odge; the authorities were only too glad to return a formal verdict of deat_y misadventure, and to hand over the corpse to the rejoicing Vesquit.
  • Gates had fortunately left memoranda, a rough diary of the various procedure_itherto adopted; so that Vesquit was not committed to the task of acquirin_nformation from Arthwait, which might easily have occupied a season; and fro_hese notes the old necromancer came to the conclusion that the enemy was t_e respected. Gates had done pretty well in the matter of the pigeons, a_irst; his procedure was not to be compared with his colleague's pedanti_diocies; but the first touch of riposte had been indeed deadly. Gates ha_een the clairvoyant of the party; he had gauged clearly enough the result o_is operation; but naturally he had left no note of the last act, and neithe_rthwait nor Abdul Bey had been able to do anything. Arthwait had been scare_adly until his pompous vanity came to the rescue, and showed him tha_ccidents of that kind must be expected when one is handicapped with a_ssistant of inferior ability.
  • Vesquit decided that the battle should be properly [175] prepared, and n_rouble spared to make it a success. His fondness for corpses had not gone t_he length of desiring to become one.
  • In him there had been the makings of a fairly strong man; and, with Douglas t_ush him on, he was still capable of acting with spirit and determination.
  • Also, he had the habit of authority. He set Arthwait to worrk on the Grimoire; for, in a operation of this importance, one must make all one's instruments.
  • Beginning with a magic knife, which one is allowed to buy, one cuts the magi_and from a hazel, the magic quill from a goose, and so on. The idea is t_onfirm the will to perform the operation by a long series of acts  _ad hoc_.
  • It is even desirable to procure parchment by killing a consecrated animal wit_he magic knife, and making ready the skin with similarly prepared utensils; one might for instance, cut and consecrate even the pegs which stretched th_kin. However, in this case Arthwait had plenty of "Virgin parchment" i_tock, with quills of a black vulture, and ink made by burning human bones, and mixing the carbonized products with the soot of the magic dark-lantern, whose candles were prepared with human fat.
  • But the Grimoire of any great operation must be thought out and composed; according to elaborate rules, indeed, but with the purpose of the wor_onstantly in mind. Even when all this is done, the Grimoire is hardly begun; for it must be copied out in the way above indicated; and it should b_lluminated with every kind of appropriate design. This was an ideal task fo_rthwait; he was able to wallow in dog-latin and corrupt Greek-Coptic; he mad_entences so complicated that the complete works of George Meredith, Thoma_arlyle, and Henry James, tangled together, would have seemed in compariso_ike a word of three letters. [176]
  • His Grimoire was in reality excellent for its purpose; for the inferna_ierarchy delights in unintelligible images, in every kind of confusion an_bscurity. This particular lucubration was calculated to drag the Archdemon o_ad Syntax himself from the most remote corner of his lair.
  • For Arthwait could not speak with becoming unintelligibility; to knot _entence up properly it has to be thought out carefully, and revised. Ne_hrases have to be put in; sudden changes of subject must be introduced; verb_ust be shifted to unsuspected localities; short words must be excised wit_uthless hand; archaisms must be sprinkled like sugar-plums upon th_oncoction; the fatal human tendency to say things straightforwardly must b_etected and defeated by adroit reversals; and, if a glimmer of meaning ye_emain under close scrutiny, it must be removed by replacing all the principa_erbs by paraphrases in some dead language.
  • This is not to be achieved in a moment; it is not enough to write disconnecte_onsense; it must be possible for anyone acquainted with the tortuosities o_he author's mind to resolve the sentence into its elements, and reproduce — not the meaning, for there is none, but the same mental fog from which he wa_riginally suffering. An illustration is appended.
  • PneumaticalsOmnient
  • (spirits)  (all)
  • Tabernacular    Subinfractically
  • (dwelling)  (Below)
  • Homotopic  hermeneutical
  • (this)   (magic)
  • Ru-volvolimperipunct,suprorientalize,
  • (circle) (arise)
  • factote kinematodrastically,
  • (move)(soon)
  • overplus  phenomenize!
  • (and) (appear) [177]
  • Upon this skeleton, a fair example of his earlier manner, for no man attain_he summit of an art in a day, he would build a superstructure by the def_ntroduction of parentheses, amplifying each word until the original coherenc_f the paragraph was diluted to such an extent that the true trail wa_ndiscoverable. The effect upon his public was to impress them with th_niversality of his learning.
  • Arthwait being thus well out of harm's way, Vesquit and Abdul set to work o_he less arduous of the preparations. Four black cats were needed for the fou_oints of the compass, and it was desirable to massacre a goat upon the altar, which would be no less than the corpse itself. Vesquit, declaring that th_ody was to be sent to England, had a dummy shipped off in a coffin, and kep_ates on ice, which may or may not have been a great comfort to him.
  • Abdul had no difficulty in procuring the cats which, much to thei_issatisfaction, were caged in Arthwait's study, and fed on human flesh, whic_esquit easily procured from the dissecting-rooms of the local hospitals.
  • But the goat was a more serious matter. An ordinary goat will not do; it ha_o qualify in certain respects; Abdul succeeded in his quest only after _eries of intrigues with the lowest ruffians in Naples, which brought him int_ore vulgar and unpleasant dangers than he had contemplated "when he first pu_hat uniform on." It was, however, at least temporarily, a very amusin_ituation for the goat. The requisite bat, which must be fed on a woman'_lood, was easily arranged for, a courageous country girl offering t_ccommodate with a toe, for a consideration. The nails from a suicide'_offin, and the skull of the parricide, were of course no trouble; for Vesqui_ever travelled without these household requisites.
  • There were many other details to arrange; the consideration of a proper plac_or the operation gave rise to much mental labour. It is, generally speaking, desirable to choose the locality of a recent battle; and the greater th_umber of slain the better. (There should be some very desirable spots in th_icinity of Verdun for black magicians who happen to flourish after the vulga_ear 1917). But the Grimoires were written in other times with other manners; now-a-days there is risk of disturbance if one sets up one's paraphernalia o_oats and cats at a cross-roads, in the hope of helping oneself out with _ecently-interred suicide, or a ceremonially annihilated vampire; where th_easant of the fourteenth century would have fled shrieking, the motorist o_he twentieth century stops to observe, or, more likely, runs you over; s_hat unless your property includes a private battlefield, it is a point o_alour to choose a more retired site for one's necromancy than the stricke_ield of the Marne. Cross-roads, again, are not so thickly planted wit_uicides and vampires as in happier days. Reflecting solidly and ably upo_hese points of modern degeneracy, Vesquit made up his mind to compromise, an_ccept the most agreeable substitute, a profaned chapel; it was easy to rent _illa with a chapel attached, and, to a man of Vesquit's ability, the work o_ moment to profane it.
  • This he accordingly arranged through Abdul Bey.
  • The mind of this youth was very forcibly impressed by the preparations of th_ld coroner. He had been brought up in the modern school, and could laugh a_uperstition with the best of us; but there were traces of hereditary faith i_slam, and he was not sceptical enough to spoil the magic of Vesquit.
  • No man knew better than the necromancer that all this insane ceremonial wa_rrational. But it [179] so happens that everything on this planet is, ultimately, irrational; there is not, and cannot be, any reason for the causa_onnexion of things, if only because our use of the word "reason" alread_mplies the idea of causal connexion. But, even if we avoid this fundamenta_ifficulty, Hume said that causal connexion was not merely unprovable, bu_nthinkable; and, in shallower waters still, one cannot assign a true reaso_hy water should flow down hill, or sugar taste sweet in the mouth. Attempt_o explain these simple matters always progress into a learned lucidity, an_n further analysis retire to a remote stronghold where every thing i_rrational and unthinkable.
  • If you cut off a man's head, he dies. Why? Because it kills him. That i_eally the whole answer. Learned excursions into anatomy and physiology onl_eg the question; it does not explain why the heart is necessary to life t_ay that it is a vital organ. Yet that is exactly what is done, the trick tha_s played on every inquiring mind. Why cannot I see in the dark? Because ligh_s necessary to sight. No confusion of that issue by talk of rods and cones, and optical centres, and foci, and lenses, and vibrations is very different t_dwin Arthwait's treatment of the long-suffering English language.
  • Knowledge is really confined to experience. The laws of Nature are, as Kan_aid, the laws of our minds, and, as Huxley said, the generalization o_bserved facts.
  • It is, therefore, no argument against ceremonial magic to say that it is
  • "absurd" to try to raise a thunderstorm by beating a drum; it is not even fai_o say that you have tried the experiment, found it would not work, and s_erceived it to be "impossible." You might as well claim that, as you ha_aken paint and canvas, and not produced a Rembrandt, it was evident that th_ictures attributed to his painting were really produced in quite a differen_ay.
  • You do not see why the skull of a parricide should help you to raise a dea_an, as you do not see why the mercury in a thermometer should rise and fall, though you elaborately pretend that you do; and you could not raise a dead ma_y the aid of the skull of a parricide, just as you could not play the violi_ike Kreisler; though in the latter case you might modestly add that yo_hought you could learn.
  • This is not the special pleading of a professed magician; it boils down to th_dvice not to judge subjects of which you are perfectly ignorant, and is to b_ound, stated in clearer and lovelier language, in the Essays of Thomas Henr_uxley.
  • Dr. Victor Vesquit, to whom the whole of these ideas was perfectly familiar, proceeded with his quaint preparations unperturbed by the least doubt of thei_fficacy.
  • He had found that they worked; and he cared no more for the opinion of thos_ho, whatever their knowledge in other branches of science might be, were no_xperts in necromancy, than does Harry Vardon when it is proved to him, wit_he utmost scientific precision, that he cannot possibly hit a golf ball s_ong as he swings as he does, and uses that mechanically defective grip.
  • It is also to be remarked that the contrary holds good; no method of doin_nything has yet been found which cannot be bungled by the inept.
  • So, as the Persian poet says: "Who hath the How is careless of the Why."
  • It was early in the course of Dr. Vesquit's preliminaries that (what Arthwai_alled the "antilan-thanetical douleskeiarchy") the secret service which ha_een established reported to him a complete [181] change in the routine of th_eople of the Butterfly net. On the seventh of January Iliel reported that th_irst point of the work was in all probability attained; all that was no_ecessary was to concentrate upon the real crux of the case, the catching o_he Butterfly.
  • The household was reorganized accordingly; Cyril Grey withdrew himsel_ompletely from the company of Iliel, and joined the Church Militant Here O_arth; while Iliel herself came under the direct care of Sister Clara, th_oint within the triangle of women. She took part in their invocations, as th_ocus to which they were directed; while the men were wholly busied i_atching over the safety of the fortress, their faces turned inexorabl_utward, their sole business to assure the security of the three women an_heir treasure.
  • Upon these facts being brought to the notice of Edwin Arthwait, he smiled. H_ad redeemed his earlier failures — due to the incapacity of his assistants — by a sweeping success.
  • For to his magic, evidently, was due the observed change in nature! Shortl_fter the arrival of Vesquit, he had completed his latest operation, th_ewitchment of three nails in such a manner that, if struck into the door of _oom of a house, the occupants would be thereby debarred from the enjoyment o_onjugal felicity. And here was the result, shining before him, beautiful wit_anners. Even the pretence of amity had been abandoned. As a matter of fact, Brother Onofrio had discovered the nails, and taken the proper measures t_eturn the current to its sender; but on this occasion it was as " tae tak'
  • the breeks aff a Hielan' mon"!
  • Arthwait was totally insensible to the malice of his adversary, and remaine_n the enjoyment of his supposed victory. He resolved to steal a match on [182] Vesquit. Why should he share his glory with another? He had the enemy o_he run; he had better pursue them forthwith. Vesquit's slow methods woul_nly give them time to recover.
  • So he resolved upon the chivalrous if perilous course of Cat's Cradle. Thi_agical operation, the relics of which are familiar even to the mos_nspiritually-minded children, is exceedingly widespread, especially amon_ations which live principally by fishing, as, for example, the South Se_slanders. Many most intricate and beautiful patterns have been devised, an_f these the wayfaring man may partake by a perusal of Dr. W. W. R. Ball'_onograph upon th_ubject.[[1]](http://hermetic.com/crowley/moonchild/mc13.html#_ftn1) That abl_athematician, however, neglects unpardonably the magical side of the matter.
  • The theory is apparently based upon the fact that the most elusive objects, birds, butterflies, and fishes, may be taken by means of a net. It is argued, therefore, that anything whatever, no matter how elusive, such as the ghost o_ne's father or the soul of one's enemy, may be caught similarly, though o_ourse the net must be adapted to the special game that one is after.
  • With these things Arthwait was familiar, and it occurred to him that it shoul_e easy to identify string, or, preferably, cat-gut, with the viscera of hi_ictims. There could then be no difficulty in knotting up the cords in such _attern, for example, as the Many Stars, or the Owl, or the Zigzag Lightning; and assuredly the magicians thus assailed would find similar re-arrangement_f the contents of their peritonea.
  • After various preliminary exercises, annoying to the objects of thi_olicitude, Arthwait proposed to proceed to the grand operation of all, tyin_p his gut in the Elusive Yam pattern, which, from the [183] greates_omplexity, dissolves like a dream at a single last twist; the persons thu_ympathetically treated would obviously perish no less miserably than di_glon, King of Moab, or Judas Iscariot.
  • The advantage of this operation is evidently its extreme simplicity an_conomy; while, if it works at all, it surely leaves nothing to be desired i_uch Teutonic qualities as thoroughness and frightfulness.
  • Whether from any difficulty in identification or otherwise, it was some littl_hile before Arthwait began to feel that his plan was working out. The troubl_ith all these operations was in the absence of a direct link with th_rincipals; the currents invariably struck the outer defences, in the perso_f Brother Onofrio, before penetrating. When, therefore, Arthwait's effort_egan to show results, they were first noticed by that sturdy warrior. And he, considering the situation, argued that the observed phenomena were due t_ature or to Magick, and that in either case the remedy lay in opposing n_esistance to the forces, but allowing them to operate in a laudable manner.
  • Accordingly, he took a large dose of a medicine known to the pharmacist a_ydrarg.Subchlor, adding the remark "If this be nature, may it do  _me_  good; and if this be magic, may it do  _him_ good!"
  • This occurred just as Arthwait reached his final operation, the evisceratio_f his enemy.
  • That night both parties were successful in causing things to happen; and th_orning after Arthwait was securely incarcerated in the Quarantine Hospital o_he city, and the newspapers were paragraphing a suspected case of Asiati_holera.
  • However, in five days the symptoms abated; the case was declared non- infectious; and the pallid shadow of the disconcerted sorcerer was restored t_he more congenial atmosphere of his Grimoire. [184]