Ianthe is sleeping, and when she awakes she will bring further joy to the person who is faithfully watching her. Mab, the fairy queen, descends to Ianthe’s side in a chariot drawn by winged horses. With her translucent form glowing in the moonlight, Mab summons Ianthe’s soul from the living body and invites the purely spiritual Ianthe to ascend with her in the chariot to receive the revelation that Ianthe’s virtue has earned. While dawn nears, Mab and Ianthe rise in the magic chariot far above the earth, which eventually appears as only a tiny light in the starry vastness that forms the temple of the Spirit of Nature.
Ianthe gazes with special vision from the battlement of Mab’s palace overlooking the harmonious universe, and she sees clearly the distant Earth as Mab shows her the ruins of the past and the destiny of human pride: Palmyra; the Pyramids; the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, where, says Mab, a bloodthirsty people worshiped their demon; Athens and Rome, where freedom once flourished; and the jungle-covered stones of Mesoamerican cities.
Ianthe thanks Mab for the insight into the past and says that humans will need no Heaven when they have a power to give joy to others that equals their will to do so. Turning Ianthe’s attention to the present, Mab reveals a king who lives in a guarded palace standing amid the poor. For all his riches, the king is such a slave to vice that he cannot enjoy his meals or sleep peacefully. He and his courtiers have only a brief fame, but a virtuous person’s fame endures because Nature works against monarchs and for citizens.
Mab depicts a calm winter night that turns into a stormy day followed by a night of battle that leaves soldiers dead and a city burned. War, says Mab, comes not from evil in human nature but from monarchs, clergymen, politicians, and commanders who blight even infants with their lies about Heaven, Hell, and God.
Mab portrays selfishness as religion’s blighting twin and the source of a commerce through which the products of nature and artifice are sold instead of being given through the dictates of kindness to fulfill needs. Relying on...
(The entire section is 881 words.)