Steve Ball Diary
A Memorable Fancy
An Angel came to me and said: 'O pitiable foolish young man! O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art going in such career.'
I said: 'perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal lot and we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your lot or mine is most desirable.'
So he took me thro' a stable and thro' a church and down into the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro' the mill we went, and came to a cave: down the winding cavern we groped our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appear'd beneath us and we held by the roots of trees and hung over this immensity; but I said, 'if you please we will commit ourselves to this void, and see whether providence is here also, if you will not, I will?' but he answer'd: 'do not presume, O young-man, but as we here remain, behold thy lot which will soon appear when the darkness passes away.'
So I remain'd with him, sitting in the twisted root of an oak; he was suspended in a fungus, which hung with the head downward into the deep.
By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance, was the sun, black but shining; round it were fiery tracks on which revolv'd vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew, or rather swum, in the infinite deep, in the most terrific shapes of animals sprung from corruption; and the air was full of them, and seem'd composed of them: these are Devils, and are called Powers of the air. I now asked my companion which was my eternal lot? he said, 'between the black and white spiders.'
But now, from between the black and white spiders, a cloud and fire burst and rolled thro' the deep black'ning all beneath, so that the nether deep grew black as a sea, and rolled with a terrible noise; beneath us was nothing now to be seen but a black tempest, till looking east between the clouds and the waves, we saw a cataract of blood mixed with fire, and not many stones' throw from us appear'd and sunk again the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent; at last, to the east, distant about three degrees appear'd a fiery crest above the waves; slowly it reared like a ridge of golden rocks, till we discover'd two globes of crimson fire, from which the sea fled away in clouds of smoke; and now we saw, it was the head of Leviathan; his forehead was divided into streaks of green and purple like those on a tyger's forehead: soon we saw his mouth and red gills hang just above the raging foam tinging the black deep with beams of blood, advancing toward us with all the fury of a spiritual existence.
My friend the Angel climb'd up from his station into the mill; I remain'd alone,
and then this appearance was no more, but I found myself sitting on a pleasant
bank beside a river by moonlight, hearing a harper who sung to the harp; and his
theme was: 'The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and
breeds reptiles of the mind.'
I answered: ' All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics; for when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you yours?' he laugh'd at my proposal; but I by force suddenly caught him in my arms, and flew westerly thro' the night, till we were elevated above the earth's shadow; then I flung myself with him directly into the body of the sun; here I clothed myself in white, and taking in my hand Swedenborg's, volumes sunk from the glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to Saturn: here I staid to rest and then leapt into the void, between Saturn and the fixed stars.
'Here,' said I, 'is your lot, in this space, if space it may be call'd.' Soon we saw the stable and the church, and I took him to the altar and open'd the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses of brick; one we enter'd; in it were a number of monkeys, baboons, and all of that species, chain'd by the middle, grinning and snatching at one another, but withheld by the shortness of their chains: however, I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then the weak were caught by the strong, and with a grinning aspect, first coupled with, and then devour'd, by plucking off first one limb and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk; this after grinning and kissing it with seeming fondness they devour'd too; and here and there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoyed us both, we went into the mill, and I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body, which in the mill was Aristotle's Analytics.
So the Angel said: 'thy fantasy has imposed upon me, and thou oughtest to be ashamed.'
I answered: 'we impose on one another, and it is but lost time to converse with
you whose works are only Analytics.'