Imágenes de páginas

hairs of his beard and of the crown of his head; and that, in a word, he was to be regarded as the legitimate monarch of medicine. You shall follow me,' cried he, 'you, Avicenna, Galen, Rhasis, Montagnana, Mesues, you, Gentlemen of Paris, Montpellier, Germany, Cologne, Vienna,* * and whomsoever the Rhine and the Danube nourish; you who inhabit the isles of the sea; you, likewise, Dalmatians, Athenians; thou, Arab; thou, Greek; thou, Jew; all shall follow me, and the monarchy shall be mine.'†

"But at Basil it was speedily perceived that the new Professor was no better than an egregious quack. Scarcely a year elapsed before his lectures had fairly driven away an audience incapable of comprehending their emphatic jargon. That which above all contributed to sully his reputation was the debauched life he led. According to the testimony of Oporinus, who lived two years in his intimacy, Paracelsus scarcely ever ascended the lecture-desk unless half drunk, and only dictated to his secretaries when in a state of intoxication: if summoned to attend the sick, he rarely proceeded thither without previously drenching himself with wine. He was accustomed to retire to bed without changing his clothes; sometimes he spent the night in pot-houses with the peasants, and in the morning knew no longer what he was about; and, nevertheless, up to the age of twentyfive his only drink had been water.(5)

"At length, fearful of being punished for a serious outrage on a magistrate,(6) he fled from Basil towards the end of the year '27, and took refuge in Alsatia, whither he caused Oporinus to follow with his chemical apparatus.

"He then entered once more upon the career of ambulatory theos

* Erastus, who relates this, here oddly remarks, "mirum quod non et Garamantos, Indos et Anglos adjunxit." Not so wonderful neither, if we believe what another adversary "had heard somewhere," that all Paracelsus' system came of his pillaging "Anglum quendam, Rogerium Bacchonem."

† See his works passim. I must give one specimen: Somebody had been styling him "Luther alter; " "and why not?" (he asks, as he well might,) Luther is abundantly learned, therefore you hate him and me; but we are at least a match for you.-Nam et contra vos et vestros universos principes Avicennam, Galenum, Aristotelem, &c. me satis superque munitum esse novi. Et vertex iste meus calvus ac depilis multo plura et sublimiora novit quam vester vel Avicenna vel universæ academiæ. Prodite, et signum date, qui viri sitis, quid roboris habeatis? quid autem sitis? Doctores et magistri, pediculos pectentes et fricantes podicem."-Frag. Med.

ophist. Accordingly we find him at Colmar in 1528; at Nuremburg in 1529; at St. Gall in 1531; at Pfeffers in 1535; and at Augsburg in 1536: he next made some stay in Moravia, where he still further compromised his reputation by the loss of many distinguished patients, which compelled him to betake himself to Vienna; from thence he passed into Hungary; and in 1538 was at Villach, where he dedicated his 'Chronicle' to the States of Carinthia, in gratitude for the many kindnesses with which they had honoured his father. Finally, from Mindelheim, which he visited in 1540, Paracelsus proceeded to Salzburg, where he died in the Hospital of St. Stephen (Sebastian, is meant), Sept. 24, 1541."—(Here follows a criticism on his writings, which I omit.)

[ocr errors]

(1) Paracelsus would seem to be a fantastic version of Von Hohenheim; Einsiedeln is the Latin Eremus, whence Paracelsus is sometimes called, as in the correspondence of Erasmus, Eremita: Bombast, his proper name, originally acquired from the characteristic phraseology of his lectures, that unlucky signification which it has ever since retained.

(2) Then Bishop of Spanheim, and residing at Würzburg in Franconia; a town situated in a grassy fertile country, whence its name, Herbipolis. He was much visited there by learned men, as may be seen by his Epistolæ Familiares. Hag. 1536. Among others, by his stanch friend Cornelius Agrippa, to whom he dates thence, in 1510, a letter in answer to the dedicatory epistle prefixed to the treatise de Occult. Philosoph., which last contains the following ominous allusion to Agrippa's sojourn: "Quum nuper tecum, R. P. in cœnobio tuo apud Herbipolim aliquamdiu conversatus, multa de chymicis, multa de magicis, multa de cabalisticis, cæterisque quæ adhuc in occulto delitescunt, arcanis scientiis atque artibus unà contulissemus," &c. &c.

*"So migratory a life could afford Paracelsus but little leisure for application to books, and accordingly he informs us that for the space of ten years he never opened a single volume, and that his whole medical library was not composed of six sheets; in effect, the inventory drawn up after his death states that the only books which he left were the Bible, the New Testament, the Commentaries of St. Jerome on the Gospels, a printed volume on Medicine, and seven manuscripts."

[ocr errors]

(3) "Inexplebilis illa aviditas naturæ perscrutandi secreta et reconditarum supellectile scientiarum animum locupletandi, uno eodemque loco, diu persistere non patiebatur, sed mercurii instar, omnes terras, nationes et urbes perlustrandi igniculos supponebat et cum viris naturæ scrutatoribus, chymicis præsertim, ore tenus conferret, et quæ diuturnis laboribus nocturnisque vigiliis invenerant unâ vel alterâ Communicatione obtineret."-Bitiskius in Præfat. "Patris auxilio primùm, deinae industriâ doctissimos viros in Germaniâ, Italiâ, Galliâ, Hispaniâ, aliisque Europe- gionibus, nactus est præceptores; quorum liberali doctrinâ, et potissimùm propriâ inquisitione ut qui esset ingenio acutissimo ac fere divino, tantùm profecit, ut multi testati sint, in universâ philosophiâ, tam ardua, tam arcana et abdita eruisse mortalium neminem."-Melch. Adam. in Vit. Germ. Medic. "Paracelsus qui in intima naturæ viscera sic penitùs introierit, metallorum stirpiumque vires et facultates tam incredibili ingenii acumine exploraverit ac perviderit; ad morbos omnes vel desperatos et opinione hominum insanabiles percurandum; ut cum Theophrasto nata primùm medicina perfectaque videtur."-Petri Rami Orat. de Basileâ. His passion for wandering is best described in his own words: "Ecce amatorem adolescentem difficillimi itineris haud piget, ut venustam saltem puellam vel fœminam aspiciat: quanto minus nobilissimarum artium amore laboris ac cujuslibet tædii pigebit?" &c.-Defensiones Septem adversus Æmulos suos. 1573. Def. 4ta. "De peregrinationibus et exilio."

(4) The reader may remember that it was in conjunction with Ecolampadius, then Divinity-Professor at Basil, that Zuinglius published, in 1528, an answer to Luther's Confession of Faith; and that both proceeded in company to the subsequent conference with Luther and Melancthon at Marpurg. Their letters fill a large volume.— D. D. Johannis Ecolampadii et Huldrichi Zuinglii Epistolarum lib. quatuor. Bas. 1536. It must be also observed, that Zuinglius began to preach in 1516, and at Zurich in 1519, and that in 1525 the mass was abolished in the cantons. The tenets of Ecolampadius were supposed to be more evangelical than those up to that period maintained by the glorious German, and our brave Bishop Fisher attacked them as the fouler heresy: "About this time arose out of Luther's school one

Ecolampadius, like a mighty and fierce giant; who, as his master had gone beyond the Church, went beyond his master (or else it had been impossible he could have been reputed the better scholar) who denied the real presence: him, this worthy champion (the Bishop) sets upon, and with five books (like so many smooth stones taken out of the river that doth always run with living water) slays the Philistine; which five books were written in the year of our Lord 1526, at which time he had governed the See of Rochester 20 years."-Life of Bp. Fisher. 1655. Now, there is no doubt of the Protestantism of Paracelsus, Erasmus, Agrippa, &c., but the non-conformity of Paracelsus was always scandalous. L. Crasso (Elogj d'Huomini Letterati. Ven. 1666) informs us that his books were excommunicated by the Church. Quensledt (de Patr. Doct.) affirms "nec tantùm novæ medicinæ, verum etiam novæ theologiæ autor est." Delrio in his Disquisit. Magicar. classes him among those "partim atheos, partim hæreticos," (lib. 1. cap. 3.) "Omnino tamen multa theologica in ejusdem scriptis planè atheismum olent, ac duriusculè sonant in auribus vere Christiani."-D. Gabrielis Clauderi Schediasma de Tinct. Univ. Norimb. 1736. I shall only add one more authority-" Oporinus dicit se (Paracelsum) aliquando Lutherum et Papam, non minùs quam nunc Galenum et Hippocratem redacturum in ordinem minabatur, neque enim eorum qui hactenus in scripturam sacram scripsissent, sive veteres, sive recentiores, quenquam scripturæ nucleum rectè eruisse, sed circa corticem et quasi membranam tantùm hærere."-Th. Erastus. Disputat. de Med. Novâ. These and similar notions had their due effect on Oporinus, who, says Zuingerus, in his Theatrum, "longum vale dixit ei (Para. celso) ne ob præceptoris, alioqui amicissimi, horrendas blasphemias ipse quoque aliquando pœnas Deo. Opt. Max. lueret."

(5) His defenders allow the drunkenness. Take a sample of their excuses: "Gentis hoc, non viri vitiolum est, a Taciti seculo ad nostrum usque non interrupto filo devolutum, sinceritati forte Germanæ coævum, et nescio an aliquo consanguinitatis vinculo junctum."Bitiskius. The other charges were chiefly trumped up by Oporinus: "Domi, quod Oporinus amanuensis ejus sæpè narravit, nunquam nisi potus ad explicanda sua accessit, atque in medio conclavi ad columnam τετυφωμένος adsistens, apprehenso manibus capulo ensis, cujus κοίλωμα

hospitium præbuit ut aiunt spiritui familiari, imaginationes aut concepta sua protulit:-alii illud quod in capulo habuit, ad ipso Azoth appellatum Medicinam fuisse præstantissimam aut lapidem Philosophicum putant.”—Melch. Adam. This famous sword was no laughing matter in those days, and is now a material feature in the popular idea of Paracelsus. I recollect a couple of allusions to it in our own literature, at the moment.

Ne had been known the Danish Gonswart,
Or Paracelsus with his long sword.

Bumbastus kept a Devil's bird
Shut in the pummel of his sword,
That taught him all the cunning pranks,
Of past and future mountebanks.

Volpone. Act ii. sc. 2.

Hudibras. Part ii. Cant. 3.


This Azoth was simply "laudanum suum." But in his time he was commonly believed to possess the double tincture-the power of curing diseases, and transmuting metals. Oporinus often witnessed, as he declares, both these effects, as did also Franciscus, the servant of Paracelsus, who describes in a letter to Neander, a successful projection at which he was present, and the results of which, good golden ingots, were confided to his keeping. For the other quality, let the following notice vouch among many others: Degebat Theophrastus Norimbergæ prociscus à Medentibus illius urbis, et vaniloquus deceptorque proclamatus, qui, ut laboranti famæ subveniat, viros quosdam authoritatis summæ in Republicâ illâ adit, et infamiæ amoliendæ, artique suæ asserendæ, specimen ejus pollicetur editurum, nullo stipendio vel ac cepto pretio, horum faciles præbentium aures jussu elephantiacos aliquot, à communione hominum cæterorum segregatos, et in valetu dinarium detrusos, alieno arbitrio eliguntur, quos virtute singulari remediorum suorum Theophrastus à fœdâ Græcorum leprâ mundat, pristinæque sanitati restituit; conservat illustre harum curationum urbs in archivis suis testimonium."-Bitiskius.* It is to be remarked

*The premature death of Paracelsus casts no manner of doubt on the fact of his having possessed the Elixir Vita: the alchemists have abundant reasons to adduce, from which I select the following, as explanatory of a property of the Tincture not calculated on by its votaries: "Objectionem illam, quod Paracelsus non fuerit longævus, nonnulli quoque solvunt per rationes physicas: vitæ nimirum abbreviationem fortasse talibus accidere posse, ob Tincturam frequentiore ac largiore dosi sumtam, dum a summe efficaci et penetrabili hujus virtute calor innatus quasi suffocatur."- Gabrielis Clauderi Schediasma.

« AnteriorContinuar »