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From Hell to Heaven
Chapter 141 - The Franciscan talks of love, censuring the Count. The count’s aristocratic retort. Miklosch as go-between.
1. Says the Franciscan: “Did you hear what this noble friend said? Love is to be our guide! Immensely much said, with a few words. Yes, love; great and holy love! All secrets of life lie hidden therein.
2. “We too are familiar with a type of love – number one self-love and number two love of the flesh – the flesh of the beautiful sex. We both had our adventures to bear therewith. But yonder divine love which, under the greatest pain of the cross, could still ask full forgiveness for its murderers from the eternal Father. Milord Count, of such love none of us has dreamt yet! Yet within this love alone, everything that conditions life is contained.
3. “To wish all strife over our enemies heads and consign them to hell, for that we are eminently suitable. But to bless those who have cursed us, doing our tormentors good, and receive those who persecute us, of that there is no trace in our hearts yet, because we still brooded revenge for them. It is truly no great thing to condemn one’s brethren when empowered, and easy to hate brethren for their adversarial viewpoints. But to master one’s own vices and allow pure, divine love to reign over blind mankind’s weaknesses, and wholeheartedly wish them grace and forgiveness from on High, showing patience and mercy to all brethren, friend, this is art of a different kind!
4. “And so you se, my most esteemed friend, that is the holy, divine love, the mystery of all life which none of us has yet dreamt of. And if I am not mistaken, then that is what our as yet strange friend meant should guide us. But can this occur? Can this occur whilst we don’t get on better than cats and dogs among ourselves? What annoys me most about you, to be frank, milord Count, is that you don’t want to let go of your title. I took leave of my Pater Franciscan long since, why have you not also done so with your ‘Milord Count’? Believe me, I would never have offended you with one syllable as a human and brother, if your ‘Count’ – that fits into this world of spirits like a fist upon the eye – had not annoyed me. For your own best sake I beg you to give your ‘Mr. Count’ a bump on the nose! Then you shall not hear another offending word, and I would also beg your forgiveness for all the offences I have caused you. Do it for the sake of this most noble friend, from whose mouth so many comforting words have flowed into our dreadfully sad hearts.”
5. Says the count: “My dear Cyprian, the ‘count’ is not sold out that cheaply! This friend, who seems most wise, has not asked it of me yet. And had he done so it would have been questionable whether I would have obliged at once. For the house of Bathianyi is an ancient one, understand?” – Says the Franciscan: “Oh, indeed!” – Says the count: “Remain what you are, and I what I am! What does it bother you whether I am a count or not a count? Have there not been most pious counts, princes and dukes? Or can one not love God equally as a count? I suggest that the love of gentlemen of letters would be more capable of pure love than that of a stablehand! God should not be perfect if He were more pleased with imperfection. Why do they even in heaven call the most perfect angels the archangels? They also are called ‘princes of light’, and ‘heralds of God’s power’. Therefore even God Himself had to already created a certain ranking order among the first created spirits, which He strictly observes even among the planets, mountains, seas, plants and animals, and that in a way of mutual service. Yet the sun nevertheless remains the sun, not being capable of pulling down to a planet, whilst the Chimborasso remains Chimborasso and cannot be compressed into a molehill. I presume there is a slight difference between the Amazon and a creek.
6. “Are you not also going to censure the Deity for not eliminating such rankings within great nature? Why did Jehovah once set only Saul, David and Solomon as kings and lords over the entire Jewish nation? Should He not have ordered the entire nation to be kings, according to their desires? Thus, according to my knowledge, God once promised the going forth of the future Messiah from David’s branch, and that this branch will remain forever. Did not Jesus have to be born from Mary, who was descended from the royal house of David and Joseph, also of the same descent, having to be His guardian? Have you not read how, in the book of Chronicles I think, Jesus’ royal lineage was traced right back to Adam? What should be the good of that? Should not in you opinion people resemble each other like sparrows?
7. “Dear friend, how would you at once abolish a hierarchy that the Deity Itself established? Did not the Deity order my lineage to be taken up into that of Count? If however God has determined something, can men abolish it as they please? I am a Count out of God, and hence cannot be deposed from this precedence by a jealous Franciscan.”
8. Says the Franciscan: “From your questionable attestations I discern that nothing is harder for man to do than to humble himself and let go of exaltations acquired in the world. I also glean from your ingenious talk that it shall be most difficult for the great of the world to become like children, who surely do not perceive any worldly meritology but whose is the Kingdom of God, exclusively according to His word. And this too I recall, that the Lord and God Jesus once said to the rich young man: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man (high ranking, which is the same) to enter the kingdom of God.
9. “Friend, is the mustard seed with which the Lord Himself compared His Kingdom, perhaps a Chimborasso, or an Amazon River? Indeed not, it is the smallest among the seeds! If however the Lord compares His Kingdom with such a trifling thing, by which He is certain to indicate man’s uttermost humility, then one cannot reason that the Chimborasso and Amazon shall fit into the tine seed. He also says that the birds of heaven shall nest under the branches of the grown mustard tree. Should He then also, for the sake of earthly exultation have specified ‘under its branches, griffins, eagles, vultures and ostriches shall nestle’, to indicate that one must be at least a count, to be taken up into the Kingdom of Heaven?
10. “Oh my dear lord Count, you can come up with a thousand splendid proofs, but I shall always stay with Christ’s sayings: whatever is great before the world is an abomination before God! I would bet that in thee Kingdom of Heaven we shall encounter neither David nor Solomon as kings, no emperor Charlemagne the Great, no holy King Stephen of Hungary and hence neither prince nor count. If they are dwelling in the Kingdom of Heaven, then they are all loving, mutually serving brethren who all have only one God, Lord and Father. But there might still be mutually honouring, cast iron arch-aristocrats in hell! May our noble friend smack me in the face if I spoke falsely. But I wish you to thereby only take note of what I personally took your talk to mean. May our noble friend be our referee, if you don’t object!”
11. Says the count: “Oh, I have no objection. But there is in my view no need of a referee, for you are right on your part and I on mine. I don’t want to place any obstacles in the path of your future happiness, and you let me pursue mine from now on; then we shall easily be quits without a referee.” – Says the Franciscan: “On this fellow, christening and baptism are wasted! Everything can be won – even a Judas Iscariot, but with a Hungarian nobleman, even the most well-meant attempt is in vain. Hence ‘requiescat in pace!’ ”
12. Says Miklosch, who had meanwhile conversed with the stranger: “Friends, I say unto you that your arguing seems like children’s threshing of grain in the barn, with toy threshers upon empty wheat stalks.
13. “I say unto you that our mutual reforming attempts are futile, because we all are evil through and through. Of what use our ever-so-wise mutual instruction, having nothing to show for ourselves by way of deeds? If the instructed can say to the instructor: how would you teach me good order whilst moving within disorder yourself? If I am to find pleasure in your words then sort yourself out first! Wait until I come and say: brother, I like your system. Initiate me into it’s principles and advantages! – We furthermore lack experience in this new world, and we basically know nothing about its conditions. How should we be able to instruct one another?”
14. “Your speech, dear friend Cyprian, surely sounded quite evangelical and could have been effective upon Earth. But what effect did it evoke in my friend Bathianyi? The opposite of what you intended. It resulted in what the Lord once told the Pharisees about the blind leading the blind!
15. “Behold, here in our midst there is an immensely experienced leader, whose sight in this world is sharp. This one we shall with one vice ask to show us the right way! I am convinced that one of his words will effect more than us blind ones threshing hollow straw for half an eternity!”
16. Says the Count: “Well, with this suggestion I can agree! And I shall act accordingly. But the good Cyprianus who is quite a ruffian can kiss me goodbye with his Requiescat. I don’t deny that his latest speech was good and sincere, but who gives him the right to lecture me? Is he better by even a hair’s breadth than I?
17. “A true doctrine has t proceed from a gentle, pure and enlightened heart and without satirical overtones in order to be of decisive effect. But any everso genuine doctrine interspersed with irony spoils more than it makes good. If I am to be reformed, then I must not be offended but only persuaded in a gentle and brotherly manner. But friend Cyprianus’ doctrine stings more than pungent pepper. Your suggestion is quite different, brother Miklosch. One can be informed by it, and I will let it do so!”
18. Says the Franciscan: “Well, if you all do so, as I had hoped for a long while since, then we are nicely sorted out. Hence let us ask this dear friend to show us the best ways, which we shall unhesitatingly follow!”
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