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Parable of the Fountain
British Museum Sloan Ms.3641. Transcribed by Robert Nelson.
When Heaven had so much blessed me to impart
To me ye wondrous Miracle of Art
Command was given me to converse with none
But ye clear co-partners of ye Stone.
For men possessed of Sciences Divine
Should, like ye radiant Galaxy, combine
And mix their Lights to make ye Paths of Heaven shine
So I, obedient to ye great command.
Resolved to search and travel every Land
The Globe had ever shown, At length I came
To golden Ganges in ye Land of fame,
And Appeleia is ye Citys name.
Where dwelt a man, alas that he’s no more
Rendered immortal than he was before.
A man I say whom Fate had chosen forth
To Crown him King of all ye Mysteries, ye Earth.
With all her wise Inhabitants can see
On this side Heaven and Eternity.
This King had made his proclamation, he
Of all the Hermetical Fraternity.
Can best explain that deep philosophy
In disputation, his Reward shall be
This Books, whose leaves are pure and precious gold
And Gold’s ye Cover does ye Leaves enfold.
My courage here began to fail, but I
Soon resumed it and resolved to try
The powers of Fortune, knowing well that they
Can never bear bright Victory away.
That shun ye mighty contest of ye day
So he advised, and his advise I took
Who had proposed ye Premium of ye Book.
And I disputed till I won ye Prize.
The fatal Gold so dazzling martial eyes
Almost as much as he that centers in ye skys
Then I retired endeavoring to find
Some recreation to relieve my mind.
Fatigued with study, walking in ye Fields
To see ye product lovely Nature yields
I chanced upon a Fountain did abound
With limpid Water, T’was environed round.
With curious Stone, and ye on tip I found
T’was covered with an Oaken Trunk for fear
Bests should defile it, or ye Fowls o’th air
Should bath themselves or wash their Feathers there.
Upon ye bank I sat contemplating
The admirable Beauty of ye Spring
And found it closed above when lo there came
A man whom I saluted by the name
Of Venerable Priest --- Pray tell me why
The little Fountain, which I here espy
Is so shut up and strongly fortified
Over and under and on every side.
He answered thus, T’is terrible said he
And strange ye Virtue of ye Spring you see
Of all that burst from underneath ye ground
Its parallel is never found.
So it belongeth to ye King alone
Who knows it well, and’s by ye Fountain known.
In passing by, it always draws the King
Who notwithstanding never draws ye Spring.
Two hundred eighty and two days he hath
To spend in ye inclosure of ye Bath
Which make him young again, and stronger than
The stoutest Hero of ye Race of Man.
Therefore he caused it carefully to be
With a White Stone surrounded, as you see
Wherein ye Water of ye Spring does shine
Like Silver bright, or th’ heaven Crystalline.
And that it might be stronger to defy
The force of an invading Enemy,
Around ye top he placed an aged Oak
Which had been with an artificial stroke
Cleft in ye middle, and thereby he made
Fenced from ye Sun, a most delightful shade
Then as you see it is inclosed all
First with hard Stone and a transparent wall
Then with a hollow Oak, because its nature’s such
When t’is excited and inflamed too much
It is most terrible and penetrates
Even ye hardest Adamantine Gates,
And so would vanish quite away, Alas
We were undone if it should come to pass,
I asked him whether he had seen ye King
Within ye said inclosure of ye Spring,
He answered, he had seen him entering, where
He from his entrance did no more appear
After his keepers had enclosed him there,
Until ye hundredth and ye thirtieth day.
When he arose in a refulgent Ray
He at ye Gate, that is his keeper hath
A solemn charge to daily warm ye Bath
With such a heat and in proportion so
As fire is hidden in ye source below,
And day and night no intermission know.
I asked ye colour of ye King --- Behold,
Said he, at first you’ll see him cloathed in gold.
His second garment is of silk, but black
And a black doublet on his mourning back
The next he wears are White triumphant cloathes
A shirt as White as are ye Mountain Snows.
His blood was red, his flesh, not so before
Was as vermillion or ye crimson gore.
I further asked him whether he had seen
The King have servants when he entered in.
He answering smiled, but answered as a Friend.
No Courtiers here upon the King attend.
He leaves his Followers as his servants all,
They must not enter ye diaphanous wall;
And none approach ye Fountain-head but he
Who does ye Heat continual supply
And office that may easily be done,
Even by a simple and most simple one.
Then I demanded of him, if ye King
Had any great affection for ye Spring
And that for him? Again he answered me
They love me and are beloved mutually.
The Fountain does attract ye King, but he
Draws not ye Fountain. Yet he loves no other,
For to ye King ye Fountain’s a Mother.
My question then was; If ye Monarch was
Descended of some Ancient Royal Race?
He said, he was descended of ye Spring,
Which without adding any other thing
Had made him as he was, an honourable King.
Next I enquired, what Nobles did resort
To the other Presence-chambers of ye Court?
He told me there were only six who had
Great expectations if ye King were dead.
When that should happen they would serve no more,
But have ye Kingdom as ye had before.
They now are but assistants of his Throne,
In hopes of the Reversion of ye Crown.
Then I desired to be informed, how old
The Monarch was? And I by him was told
That he was older than ye Spring, and far
Maturer than his other subjects are.
How comes it then to pass, said I, that they
Kill not ye King to bear ye Crown away
Since he’s so much in years? Tho’ he’s so old
Says he, he can endure both Heat and Cold.
And Wind and Rain and labour, None of them’Can violently seize ye Diadem.
Nor could they all should they combine in one
Murder ye Monarch to possess his Throne.
Then what succession can they hope, when he
Cannot be murdered, and shall never die?
But you, my Friend, said he, must know that those
Six of his subjects from ye Fountain rose
And such existence as they have took
Out of ye Emanations of ye Brook,
As did ye King, So they’re attracted all
By it, as things by their original.
The Fountain kills ye Kind and them, but then
The Fountain brings ye King to life again.
He so revived, a distribution makes,
And whosover of ye gift partakes
Tho’ n’ere so little is ye portion, he
Is in possession of ye Royalty
Equal to Kings in power and riches --- then
I asked my kind informant once again,
If there were any time allotted they
Should in ye doubtful expectation stay.
He smiled again, and told me how ye King
Without his train descends into ye Spring
Altho’ it loves them too, but that it must not be,
They have not yet deserved ye dignity.
When ye King enters he is stripped of those
Which he brought in, his coronation cloathes
That were as rich as eyes did ere behold
With golden leaves and wefts of purest gold
This he bestows on his first Chamberlain,
We call him Saturn, which he does retain
Entirely forty days, sometimes two more
Augment ye number of the account before.
The black silk doublet is ye proper fee
Of Jove, ye Second Chamberlain, and he
Keeps ye possession twenty days, which done
He by command resigns it to ye Moon
Lune ye third Person, has ye faires face
Of any daughter of ye heavenly Race,
And she enjoys ye garment twenty days.
Then comes ye King clad in a shirt as white
As is ye Snow, or flour of Salt, and bright
As Ariadne in a frosty night.
The King puts off this shirt which is ye share
Of stern Gradivus, ye fierce God of War
Who after forty days sometimes disdains
A Resignation, and by Force remains
Two other days to sway th’ Imperial Rains
Then Mars retiring, to ye Sun gives place
Who wears a yellow visor on his face,
But is not clear as ye Celestial Lights.
Till after 40 days and 40 nights.
And then ye Sun sanquinous appears
Seizing ye shirt that crimsons all ye spheres
So flaming Hercules on Oeta stood,
Fired with ye shirt dyed in ye Centaurs Blood.
I asked th’ event of all these things, says he,
The fountain Gates you then shall open --- and see
To all of them, and as before they sought
And had his shirt, his doublet and his cloak.
So now his red and bloody Flesh they got
To eat among themselves ye precious Heir
Of all, their Work, and Crown of their desire.
I asked again, must they so long remain
And can no sooner some reward obtain
For service done, unless they all attend
Till ye whole Circle of their Labours end?
The answer to my question was, that when
The Glorious White, ye snowy shirt was seen,
Of ye six Courtiers, four might then possess
Themselves of Powers and Riches numberless.
But they would then but half ye Kingdom gain
Wherefore they are contented to remain
A little longer in suspense to see
The full Event and End of destiny,
Which in like manner should confer on them
Their Kings bright Coronation diadem.
I asked what doctors, or what Medicine
Was sent ye King, while he remained within?
He made me answer --- that they sent him none,
Noman came near him but that only one,
His Keeper mindful to perpetuate
A constant, vaporous, circulating Heat.
I asked him, Is ye Keepers labour great?
More at first than in ye end, for then
The Fountain is inflamed. I asked again
Whether it had been seen by many men.
The World, said he, has seen it, and it lies
Self-evident to every Mortals eyes;
Yet all of them that gaze thereon do know
Nomore than what the outward Husk does show
Then more at large I asked, what may they do?
Those Six, said he, may purge ye King again,
Three days he in ye Fountain shall remain
According to th’ contents it does contain
In circling round ye place. On ye first day
He gives his doublet, next his shirt away,
And on ye third his bloody Flesh. Said I
Tell me ye depth of ye whole Mystery.
To which he made no more than this reply;
I now am tired so long with answering thee.
Which I perceiving had no more to say,
But, waiting on him as he went away.
A thousand thanks I gave, a thousand more
Were ready from my unexhausted store.
He was a reverend man, so wise that even
The Astral Orbs, and wheeling spheres of Heaven
Obeyed him; all things before him shook
And trembling bowed at his Majestic look.
Now I with sudden drowsyness opprest
Beside ye Fountain did intend to rest.
And sitting on it, I could not forbear
But I must open all th’ apartments there
In ye mean time I did so often look
On my reward, ye golden leaved Book,
Its Heaven-born splendour did so much surprise
And overpower ye vigilance of my eyes,
That, as brose, it did my head oppress,
It so augmented now that drowsyness
That my said Book by inadvertence fell
Out of my hands into ye little Well,
Which much afflicted me, because I thought
To keep my Prize my disputation got.
I looked into it, but alas, no more
Could I see ye Book I had enjoyed before.
Believing therefore that my Volume fell
Into ye very bottom of ye Well
I did attempt ye watery source to drain,
So that then parts should with a tenth remain.
And when I went to draw it all I saw
It was so viscous that it scarce could draw.
While I was toiling thus industriously
I spied a Tribe, whose coming hindered me
From draining more, yet ere I left it. I
Shut all ye Fountain round, for fear that they
Like wicked thieves should steal my Nook away,
But Fire was then enkindled round ye Spring
To warm ye Bath wherein to wash ye King.
I for my crime was hurried thence away.
Full forty days I in a Prison lay,
When they expired I was releast, and then
Returned to see my Fountain once again;
Where there appeared thick foggy clouds, as I
Have often seen hung round a Winter sky
Which lasted long. But in ye I found
Without much labour all my wishes crowned.
But t’is no labour, you will surely say,
If choosing right, you never turn astray
In paths erroneous and ye crooked way.
Let your endeavors always be to trace
The steps of Nature in her wonted Race,
Then you ye lovely Queen shall in your arms embrace.
Therefore concluding I pronounce that he
Who in my Book ye secret cannot see
Must never hope to compass his desire
By manifold Experiments of Fire.
My Pity and Compassion move my heart
For those that wander in ye precious Art.
Therefore to them I have revealed it all,
And proved ye Operations natural.
For this my Parable ye whole work contains
In Practice, Colours, Days and Regimens,
Ways, dispositions and continuance
Till Fate and Heaven conclude ye Mystic Dance.
To end then this my Book, I pray that God
Who in ye Heavens has fixed his grand abode
And who alone commanded me to write
Would thence impart an intellectual Light
To searching Tyros, who have hearts upright
And minds sincere, to them there shall remain
Nothing too hard, provided they abstain
From dreaming Fancys and ye subtletys
Of cheating Sophists, who by surprise
Like Montebanks impose on vulgar eyes.
The Way is natural but only one
Which I have in my speculation shown
I bid you all farewell in Christ, and be
Mindful of those that sink in poverty,
While Treasures unexhausted you possess
Whom ye peculiar Hand of Heaven does bless
With riches equally and happiness.
Pray then to God to send you down Ray
Out of ye Fountain of Eternal Day.