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    Chapter 19

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    Chapter 19
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    At the British Museum reading-room I often saw a man of thirty-six
    or thirty-seven, in a brown velveteen coat, with a gaunt resolute
    face, and an athletic body, who seemed before I heard his name, or
    knew the nature of his studies, a figure of romance. Presently I
    was introduced, where or by what man or woman I do not remember.
    He was Macgregor Mathers, the author of the 'Kabbalas Unveiled,' &
    his studies were two only--magic and the theory of war, for he
    believed himself a born commander and all but equal in wisdom and
    in power to that old Jew. He had copied many manuscripts on magic
    ceremonial and doctrine in the British Museum, and was to copy
    many more in continental libraries, and it was through him mainly
    that I began certain studies and experiences that were to convince
    me that images well up before the mind's eye from a deeper source
    than conscious or subconscious memory. I believe that his mind in
    those early days did not belie his face and body, though in later
    years it became unhinged, for he kept a proud head amid great
    poverty. One that boxed with him nightly has told me that for many
    weeks he could knock him down, though Macgregor was the stronger
    man, and only knew long after that during those weeks Macgregor
    starved. With him I met an old white-haired Oxfordshire clergyman,
    the most panic-stricken person I have ever known, though
    Macgregor's introduction had been 'He unites us to the great
    adepts of antiquity.' This old man took me aside that he might
    say--'I hope you never invoke spirits--that is a very dangerous
    thing to do. I am told that even the planetary spirits turn upon
    us in the end.' I said, 'Have you ever seen an apparition?' 'O
    yes, once,' he said. 'I have my alchemical laboratory in a cellar
    under my house where the Bishop cannot see it. One day I was
    walking up & down there when I heard another footstep walking up
    and down beside me. I turned and saw a girl I had been in love
    with when I was a young man, but she died long ago. She wanted me
    to kiss her. Oh no, I would not do that.' 'Why not?' I said. 'Oh,
    she might have got power over me.' 'Has your alchemical research
    had any success?' I said. 'Yes, I once made the elixir of life. A
    French alchemist said it had the right smell and the right
    colour,' (The alchemist may have been Elephas Levi, who visited
    England in the sixties, & would have said anything) 'but the first
    effect of the elixir is that your nails fall out and your hair
    falls off. I was afraid that I might have made a mistake and that
    nothing else might happen, so I put it away on a shelf. I meant to
    drink it when I was an old man, but when I got it down the other
    day it had all dried up.'
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