Jean Jullien, artist
[Caldwell, Taylor. Dialogues With The Devil. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1967. pp 46-56.] Please see Taylor Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil (1967) #1 of 22 for an introduction to this serialization.
GREETINGS to my brother, Lucifer . . .
We are excessively pleased that you have informed us that you will send Damon to Pandara, to seduce her six women. . . .
. . . we have taken precautions against Damon and Lilith. Unfortunately, we had to introduce suspicion into that vast paradise. We should have preferred that entire innocence prevail, but one remembers that Our Father set, in the midst of Eden, a Forbidden Tree. Suspicion, entering into Pandara, will awaken the power of free will, and a healthy mistrust.
. . . I appeared to the wives of Pandara, the innocent treasures!–and informed them that they were with child, which pleased them mightily. However, I mourned . . . A beautiful female demon, one Lilith, who destroyed the souls of millions upon millions of other men, would soon enter the azure light of their planet to seduce their husbands and lead their husbands into unspeakable pleasures and lust, thus insuring that for a time, at least, those husbands would forget their wives and abandon their little nestlings. The husbands would romp with Lilith, neglectful of the duties of hearth, home and bed and field, and they would love her with madness and be so smitten of her charms that they would regard their wives with distaste and possibly revulsion. Worse still, the harvests would be neglected, the cattle unfed, the roofs unsealed . . .
A woman may forgive her husband a romp in the shadowy forests, but she will not forgive him the sufferings of her children, nor will she forgive the great insult to her own beauty and desirability. The ladies said to me, “Is this Lilith fairer than I?” And I replied, “Assuredly, she is the fairest of women, for all she is a demon, and are not maddening women demons? Though you are lovely to behold, my little ones, Lilith in contrast will cast a dust of ugliness upon you in your husbands’ eyes. But above all, she will shatter the peace and joy of your planet, and bring age upon your faces, and wrinkles, and dim the green fire of your eyes, and she will bring death upon your children and disease and storms and darkness and furies.”
“What, then, shall we do, to preserve our planet, our homes, our youth, and our life and our children?” the ladies implored me.
“Ah,” I told them, “men are susceptible to ladies of no virtue and no matronly attributes! They are like adorable children, wanton at heart but in need of protection, and the careful supervision of alerted wives. They will stretch forth their hands for the flying hair of a woman of no sturdy consequence, and they will dance with her in the moonlight and garland her head with flowers and press their cheeks against her breast, and drink of wine deeply with her. She will laugh, and sing and play, and a wise matron understands how these things can lure men from their duties. She will becloud the minds of your husbands so that they will think of pleasure and not the granaries, laughter in the sun and not of weak roofs, roses in the glades and not of wool to be sheared. There is a certain weakness in men that inclines them to frivolity and dallying, and Lilith will exploit that weakness and entice your husbands from your sides. . . .
“We will be watchful, O, Lord Michael!” the wives promised me . . . is this not better than death and sin and age and disease and sorrow, not to mention the harsh tongues of betrayed wives? I have observed that men can endure great hardships and adversities with considerable calm, but they cannot endure for long the smite of a woman’s less affectionate remarks, and her acid conversation at midnight when they would prefer to sleep. . . .
I then repaired to the husbands of Pandara, and when they had risen from their knees at my consent, I said to them, “Glorious is your planet, beloved sons of God, my dear brothers, and fair are her skies and rich are her fields and splendid will be your cities. Handsome are your faces and strong are the rosy muscles of your arms, and your wives rejoice in you.”
“It is so, Lord!” they cried in jubilation, and I smiled at the happiness in their eyes and loved them dearly for the male spirit is a little less complicated than the female and somewhat more naive. It has an innocence, even in paradise, beyond the innocence of women who, even in paradise, are given to reflection, and are less trusting.
“But alas,” I said to the boys, “your joy is threatened, for you have free will, as you know, and alas again, so do your wives. . . . Men are often slave to habit, virtuous or unvirtuous, but women have few habits at all and so are easily led astray into novelties. Your wives, though with child, will not always be with child. They will have moments of leisure. While leisure for a man is a quiet resting or an innocent pastime or a running after balls or a climbing of trees for the fruit, or just sleeping, leisure for a woman is the veriest temptation. . . . Have you not already discovered this for yourselves?”
. . .
“Your wives will all have dreams very soon,” I told them, “and none of them will be virtuous. None of them will be concerned for the husband who labors in the fields and the forests and who tends cattle and returns dutifully home to his children and sits soberly on his hearth. On the contrary! They will be dreams which I hesitate to speak of, for women’s minds are somewhat less decorous and guileless than men’s, even on Pandara. The indelicacy of a woman’s thoughts would bring a flame to the cheek of even the burliest man. You have observed that nature is not always delicate?”
. . .
“And women are far closer to nature than are you, for all you labor in the fields and the forests. There is a certain earthiness in women which is sometimes an embarrassment to husbands, a certain lustiness of the flesh that is not always easily satisfied. If I am incorrect, I beg your forgiveness.”
“You are correct, Lord,” said the simple ones.
. . . “For unto your wives there will be sent from the very depths of hell an evil but most beautiful male demon, one Damon. I know him well! He has seduced endless millions of women on other planets, as fair and as matronly as your own, and as busy–with dreams. He is full of novelties and enticements, and adores women and finds them overwhelmingly fascinating–which you not always do. Their conversation never wearies him; he is attentive and glorious. As he never labors, except to do mischief, he is not weary at sundown, as you are weary. As he is a demon and not a man, he does not sleep, and women are notable for being active at night. And dreaming. He converses. You have no idea what a menace to husbands is a conversing man! But women find it distracting.
“You love your wives. Soon, they will bear children. However, when Damon comes to seduce them with fair words, with exciting discourse, with flatteries and ardencies, and will shine the beauty of his countenance upon them and jest with them until they are weak with laughter and adoration, they will forget you and your children, and will race with him to flowery dells and into dim lush spots–and will then betray you for his kisses and his lusts. Then will your children cry for a maternal breast, and then will there be no dishes upon the table to appease your hungers, and no arms to sustain you in your beds. You will be veritable orphans, abandoned and alone, left to weep among the wreckages of your households, and the uncleaned pots and the stale bread. Is that not a fate to weep about, and to pray never afflicts you?”
. . .
. . . Damon has a voice that is irresistible, and what woman can resist a musical voice if it is also masculine? Damon is all masculinity; he is never weary. His muscles never ache. His foot never lags. He never frowns, if dinner is a little late. He is also never hungry, as you are hungry, and you know how impatient wives are with the honest hunger of a man. They remark that men’s bellies seem bottomless. Correct me if I am wrong.”
“You are correct, Lord,” they said, with dismalness and alarm.
As Damon does not seek a woman with forthrightness, and with sleep in mind thereafter–as you do–he will dally with a woman after love, until she is ready and eager for his embraces again. Whereas you, my dear little ones, wish to turn on your pillows in preparation for the next day’s work. Damon never asks, “Do you love me?” as your wives ask, until you yawn for very boredom. He constantly assures the creature of his immediate affection that never has he loved a woman so before, and how rapturous are her kisses and perfumed her flesh. Do you say all this to your wives?”
“No, Lord,” they said dolorously.
. . .
. . .
“Be patient. For one comes who will have all the patience in the world and will never weary. Not only will he seduce your wives, so that all the horrors I have described will come upon you, but he will bring old age and death to you, and flagging of strength, and disease and pain. Worse, he will sharpen your women’s tongues, and nothing is more deadly.”
“How can we escape such a dreadful fate?” they cried.
. . . Men are trustful, when it involves women, and that is a momentous mystery which I will not even attempt to explore. I do not advise distrust as a general climate of the mind. That can inspire eventual cynicism and lovelessness. But a reasonable distrust is prudent. And one knows the weaknesses of women. Do we not?”
“Certainly!” they exclaimed, positive that they had always known female weaknesses, though the fact had only just occurred to them, alas.
“Then, be watchful for Damon. Never leave your wives long unguarded, especially in the soft eventides and when the moons are shining. Do not dally in the fields and the forests and the hills and the meadows as the sun begins to go down. Do not let anything draw you aside, even if it appears exciting and wondrous and new–and, probably beautiful, itself. For, if you delay, Damon will appear on your thresholds at home, and you may return to an empty household. A moment’s delight can cost you a whole life’s industry and hope and peace. And, again, it will bring you death and suffering.”
. . .
. . .
It is not sensible, as you know, Lucifer, to describe a handsome man to a woman or a lovely woman to a man, human nature being what it is, even on the Eden which is Pandara.
“We will guard our honor and the honor of our households and the safety of our children and the purity of our wives!” shouted the innocent ones, raising their fists high in a solemn oath. “Ever shall we be watchful of our women, understanding their weaknesses and their frail natures and their susceptibilities to temptation!”
I gave them my blessing and departed. They have been warned. Suspicion has been introduced into the turquoise daylight and the silver and lilac nights. . . . In Heaven we are unequally perfect, in accordance with the ability to be perfect inherent in our natures And that brings me to another subject you discussed in your last letter: Equality, which pervades hell.
In Heaven, there is Equity, which is an entirely different matter.
. . . The same situation prevails in hell–equality of treatment no matter the soul. However, in Heaven, as I have mentioned, there is Equity, based on the Natural Law that some men are superior to others, and some angels less than others, in virtue, in devotion, in piety, in dedication, love and courage and goodness. Equity does not abolish law; it intelligently deals with it, and its inflexibility.
Therefore, spirits in Heaven, angel or man, are rewarded in direct ratio to their accomplishments, which are governed by their will. Man, as we know, cannot earn merit during his lifetime on the grosser material of the planets, unless he has not fallen. But fallen men are incapable of earning merit, for their sin has thrown a wall of human impotence between them and their Creator. Only the Grace of Our Father can give merit to fallen men, and that merit is given by the men’s own acts, through their faith and their desire to receive Grace, through their repentance and their penance, through their acceptance of Grace, itself. You know this; it is a matter which has enraged you through time . . .
The saved among men, who desired to be saved and therefore had placed themselves in a position to receive Grace, differ enormously in the degree of their natures and their virtues, as well as in their wills and their sins. A murderer in hell, and a wanton thief, are treated equally with the pains and the uselessness of existence. But in Heaven a saint is worthier than a man of merely mild virtues, for the saint has labored long and hard in the stony fields of his life and has loved God more than himself, and the lives of his fellow sufferers more than his own. A man who has valiantly struggled with temptation during his lifetime and has contemplated all the worldly delights you have offered him, Lucifer, and has even desperately yearned for them, but who has gloriously resisted you in his soul and in his living, is worthier of more reward in Heaven than a man who has been merely mildly tempted by you or through some accident has not been much tempted at all, or lacked the terrible vitality to sin, or was afraid of the consequences on his own world. The first man is a hero; the second man is one who has had little opportunity to be either a hero or a sinner. Our Father takes note of the human weaknesses of His creatures. He will not permit you to tempt a man beyond his total ability to resist, but He does permit you to tempt His saints more fiercely and more insistently because they are men of greater valor and nobler mind. Our Father, as we have observed before, does not create men equal, but He has established Equity, based on the Natural Law which He ordained Himself. There is no injustice in Him Whom we both love so passionately, and you have never denied your love nor can you destroy it.
Were you the ruler of Heaven the saint and the weaker man would receive equal reward, but that is manifestly unfair. Archangels, who have vaster powers than angels, are more in possession of free will and therefore the temptation to use that will in defiance of God is infinitely higher in degree than in the lesser angels. Archangels are given enormous responsibilities and thrones and crowns throughout the endless universes, because of their nature, and it is they who see the Beatific Vision more frequently than the lesser spirits, and the spirits of men. “To each according to his merits,” is the Law of Heaven, whereas on Terra, and other darkened worlds, there appears to be some mangling of the moral law to the effect that “to each according to his material needs.” And that, we know, is infamy, injustice, cruelty, and a display of malice to the more worthy. Greed is the ugliest of the detestable sins, for it feeds on its own appetite and is never filled, and its rapacity is increased by its rapaciousness. It gives rise to the other sins, envy, theft, sloth, lies, adulteries and murder, and gluttony.
There is happiness in Heaven, as you know, but that happiness is in degree, except for the knowing that God loves completely to the extent of an angel’s or man’s worth. That happiness is compounded by labor, for none are idle in Heaven, and there is a task for all. That, too, is Equity.
While each task is approached with joy and with the hope–but never the absolute surety–that it will be completed, its completion, when accomplished, leads to higher tasks, worthy of a tempered spirit. There is always a progression in the Hierarchy of Heaven. No spirit remains as it was. And, always, there is a possibility, constantly reiterated, that as the spirit retains its free will, it can will to sin. This is something the theologians, in their little darkness on their worlds, have never understood or acknowledged–that there is always the hazard that a spirit may fall to you, even in the golden light of Heaven. For God does not remove free will from His creatures, no matter their degree. If He did so, He would abrogate their individuality, their very existence, both of which are eternally precious to Him, for they are of His own Nature and Essence.
. . . You have asked me if God pursues the lost soul in your hells. That I cannot and will not tell you. Is it possible for the lost to feel repentance? You have said not–but do you know all minds?
. . .
Your brother, Michael