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Excerpt from "Feathertop"

Excerpt from "The Birth-mark"

Despite the appearance of modesty in Aylmer's claim that it would be disruptive to nature to create what he is sure he can produce, the very claim itself exemplifies his intellectual pride, a pride that shines through the remainder of the passage, and the story as a whole.
Soon, however, he forgot these mortifying failures. In the intervals of study and chemical experiment, he came to her, flushed and exhausted, but seemed invigorated by her presence, and spoke in glowing language of the resources of his art. He gave a history of the long dynasty of the Alchemists, who spent so many ages in quest of the universal solvent, by which the Golden Principle might be elicited from all things vile and base. Aylmer appeared to believe, that, by the plainest scientific logic, it was altogether within the limits of possibility to discover this long-sought medium; but, he added, a philosopher who should go deep enough to acquire the power, would attain too lofty a wisdom to stoop to the exercise of it. Not less singular were his opinions in regard to the Elixir Vitae. He more than intimated, that it was at his option to concoct a liquid that should prolong life for years--perhaps interminably--but that it would produce a discord in nature, which all the world, and chiefly the quaffer of the immortal nostrum, would find cause to curse.

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