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which, as we have before seen, he thought were fed and nourished, and of the universal harmony of all things.
In the notes to his wonderful poem, which the public at first received somewhat coldly,* Browning asserts that the Azoth of Paracelsus shut in the pommel of his sword was merely his specific laudanum ; and Brande, in his “ Manual of Chemistry," tells us “that through his discoveries, original discoveries were few and unimportant; his great merit lies in the boldness and assiduity which he displayed in introducing chemical preparations into the Materia Medica,' and in subduing the prejudices of the Galenical physicians against the productions of the laboratory. But, though we can fix upon no particular discovery on which to found his merits as a chemist, and though his writings are deficient in the acumen and knowledge displayed by several of his contemporaries and immediate successors, it is undeniable that he gave a most important turn to pharmaceutical chemistry, and calomel, with a variety of mercurial and antimonial preparations, as likewise opium, came into general use.”
* I have a copy of the first edition, of which probably only a very small number were printed. The preface is dated March, 1835, and the book was published by Effingham Wilson. A list of Mr. Moxon's books, dated 1846, is stitched up with it, and reveals the fact that eleven years had passed away, but that the first edition of one of the most remarkable poems written had not passed out of print. To compare this neglect with the present estimation of Browning will be both instructive and consolatory to unsuccessful poets.
The notices which Mr. Hallam accords to Paracelsus are by no means few, but they are very unfavourable. He regards him in his truest light, that of a poetical quack. “Germany," which Hallam truly says “is the native soil of mysticism in Europe, is fond of the unintelligible dreams of the school of Paracelsus.” The tendency to reflex observation in the German mind was at that time accompanied with a profound sense of the presence of Deity; “yet one which, acting on their thoughtful spirits, became rather an impression than an intellectual judgment, and settled into a mysterious indefinite theopathy, when it did not evaporate in pantheism." The tendency to evaporate in pantheism is shown in the philosophy of Paracelsus, by his account of gnomes, sylphs, sylvesters, montanes, and tonnets, of which I have before spoken, and to the creation of which, long before Pope had used the machinery for his poem, Paracelsus has as much a right to be credited as any
He was followed by a whole school of mystics, in which Jacob Boehm and even Swedenborg may be classed. “ His chemical theories,” Hallam says,
6. descended from Paracelsus through Van Helmont, and were propagated chiefly by Sylvius, a physician of Holland. His leading principle was that a perpetual fermentation goes on in the human body, from the deranged action of which diseases proceed; most of them from an excess of acidity, though few are of alkaline origin." "He degraded the physician," says Sprengel, “ to the level of a distiller or a
brewer.' There are many who will even now question whether this theory be not the true one after all; if so, medicine does indeed owe much to Paracelsus, even in spite of his followers the Rosicrucians. These held that a man who was a true Rosicrucian had only to look at a patient to cure him. This seems to be merely the first faint budding forth of the doctrine of magnetic cure. “ All things,” says Croillus, or Croll, of Hesse, a theosophist after Paracelsus' own heart, “ in the Macrocosm are found also in the Microcosm. The inward and actual man is Gaballis, from which the science is named. This Gaballis or imagination is as a magnet to external objects, which it thus attracts. Medicines act by a magnetic force." of
This Gabalistic force or art which produces by natural imagination and faith,“ per fidem naturalem ingenitam," all magical operations, and indeed all those wonderful changes that man can wish for in health or disease within his Microcosm, is descanted upon continually by Paracelsus. Man has two elements in his body, a sidereal and material element; and this actual or sidereal part of him survives after death, and will explain the apparitions of the dead : but it is useless to again refer to his assertions, and, indeed, I may conclude with our chief literary historian, perhaps too much has been said about paradoxes so absurd and mendacious : but literature is a garden of weeds as well
Hallam, Literature of Europe, vol. iii. p. 599. † Sprengel, iii. 362, quoted also by Hallam.
as of flowers; and Paracelsus forms a link in the history of opinion which should not be overlooked.
Syllvesters, satyres, montans and tonnets, undens and melogens, vulcanals, salamanders, tumdel, and luperi, are now all laid, thank Heaven, to sleep, unless they shall be again brought into fashion by our modern rapparees. It needs this peep into medieval darkness to assure us that we live in an age of progress and of light. We have, like Lear in the storm, thrown off these fantastic lendings—these rags and remnants of the mythology which the Greeks and Romans left us. If Paracelsus believed in them, which we doubt, seeing that he was mystic above all things, he yet believed in mercury and laudanum, two of the most powerful props of modern medical science. He should be honoured, therefore, even whilst we recall, with Coleridge, the old belief in gnomes and spirits :
Oh, never rudely will I blame his faith
This poetical superstition seems just now to be flickering up for the last time, the same in spirit, but corporeally audible in knocks, cracks, and jumping chairs and tables. After all, until this dies out, it were better perhaps to go
back to the unadulterated spirit-world of Paracelsus-to his Lemures, his Azoth, his Catholicon, and his Elixir Vitæ.
Referring to the death of Paracelsus, an author who is more picturesque and startling than his facts warrant him to be, tells us that Paracelsus “ died, after a few hours' illness, with a bottle of his immortal Catholicon in his pocket.” Of this statement nothing is known, save that the illness was not sudden. His will, executed St. Matthew's day, September 21st, 1541, says that the testator is sick in body but sound in mind. It is dated from his chamber in the inn, the “ White Horse," where he then resided. He is described as “ the venerable and most learned Doctor Theophrastus ab Hohenheim.” Ready money, rings, precious stones, plate, books, and clothes, some of the curiosities and antiquities gathered in his travels, made up the chief part of his property, which, with the exception of some legacies to his friends and nearest of kin, he ordered to be expended in charitable purposes; and his executors carried out his wishes by bestowing it on the Hospital of St. Sebastian, in the precincts of which he desired to be buried.
On a mural tablet in the chapel of the Hospital is the following memorial of the once famous doctor :
dira illa vulnera