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Full text of "The follies of science at the court of Rudolph II, 1576-1612"

wholly a quack," "wrote at length on the macrocosm and 
microcosm, and it entered into the philosophies of the mystics 
Jacob Boehme and Emmanuel Swedenborg. 

Allusion is made in the last paragraph of the quotation 
from the " Epistle of Isis" to the twelve signs of the zodiac 
and their supposed influence on the anatomy of man; this 
too is a very ancient feature of astrology and played an im- 
portant role in the practice of Rudolph's fortune-tellers. Its 
foundations were laid by Chaldean astronomers, Hebrew 
sages and Greek philosophers; Christian mystics adopted it 
and mediaeval astrologers magnified it so that it became a 
persistent popular superstition. The first step in the evolution 
of this conception was taken more than four thousand years 
ago, when the star-gazers of Babylon observed the circular 
zone through which the sun appears to pass in the course 
of a year, and divided it into twelve constellations, creating 
what is known as the zodiac. To these twelve divisions 
symbols were given some of which are said to be Babylonian 
ideographs of the months. The astronomers of Egypt adopted 
this system and their lively imaginations peopled the constel- 
lations with genii; thus arose a symbolism in which each 
group of stars is likened to a given animal or human char- 
acter. The twelve constellations and their anatomical associ- 
ations are quaintly set forth in the following lines: 

The Head and Face the Princely Ram doth rule, 

The Neck and Throat falls to the sullen Bull 

The lovely Twins guide Shoulder, Arm and Head, 

The slow pac'd Crab doth Breast and Spleen command. 

The Lion bold governs the Heart of Man. 

The modest Maid doth on the Bowels scan. 

The Reins and Loins are in the Ballancc try'd. 

The Scorpion the Secret Parts doth guide. 

The Shooting Horse lays claim to both the Thighs ; 

The Knees upon the Headstrong Goat relies. 

The Waterman, he both the Legs doth claim, 

The Fishes rule the Feet and meet the Ram again. 

Moore's Vox. Stellarum, 1721. 

90 



The pictorial representation of the influence of the zodiac 
on human anatomy, well-known to every reader of modern 
patent medicine almanacs, was familiar to the astrologers 
and occultists of the Hradschin, having appeared as early as 
1496 in the famous encyclopedia "Margarita Philosophica" 
of Gregor Reisch, and being frequently copied into works on 
medical astrology, and into almanacs. 

Just two years before the death of the Emperor Rudolph, 
William Shakespeare was writing the play of Coriolanus ; in 
this he alludes to the picture of a nude man surrounded by 
signs of the zodiac. Menenius says to Sicinius : "If you see 
this in the map of my microcosm, follow it that I am known 
well enough too?" 

Tycho Brahe was of a singularly superstitious nature, 
producing timidity; if on leaving his house he met an old 
woman he was accustomed to return home at once, regarding 
the encounter as an evil omen ; if he met a hare in the fields 
he thought it a dangerous sign ; more unlucky still were swine, 
and on meeting them he used to spit, in the same way as did 
many superstitious Jews, to ward off evil influences. An in- 
verted slipper, salt spilled at table, or three lighted candles 
on one table, caused him great anxiety, while to sit down 
thirteen at a meal was simply tempting Providence. He used 
to relate to those willing to listen, and this embraced every 
one, that if a twig was broken from a cherry-tree on Saint 
Barbara's day and watered daily, it would bear blossoms on 
the succeeding Christmas; to be lucky in gambling as well 
as in love he carried part of a hangman's halter and a lapis 
alectorius, a stone about the size of a bean sometimes found 
in the stomach of a fowl. 

"For worthless matters some are wondrous sad, 
Whome if I call not vaine I must terme mad. 
If that their noses bleed some certain drops, 
And then again upon the suddaine stops, 

91 



\*RA 
or THE 

( UNIVERSITY ) 
or 



THE FOLLIES OF SCIENCE 



AT THE 



COURT OF RUDOLPH II 

15761612. 



...BY... 

HENRY CARRINGTON BOLTON. 

- 



"QUICUNQUE VULT DECIPI, DECIPIATUR. : 




MILWAUKEE, 

Pharmaceutical Review Publishing Co. 
I9O4. 




Copyrighted, 1904, by 
H. CARRINGTON BOLTON 



7^ 



'- 



"I 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTBR. PAGE. 

I. Two English Adventurers 1 

II. The Solomon of Bohemia 10 

III. Gold Alley, Prague . .. 19 

IV. Rudolph and Doctor Dee ' . , . . . . . 30 
Y. Rudolph and the "Golden Knight" 40 

VI. Rudolph's Art-Treasures 52 

VII. Seeking the Philosophers' Stone . . . . . ' . . 62 

VIII. The Man with a Silver Nose 74 

IX. Astronomical Wisdom and Astrological Folly ... 84 

X. Rudolph's Physicians . 96 

XL The Rudolphine Academy of Medicine 108 

XII. Fortunes and Misfortunes ........ 120 

XIII. The Secret Symbols of Pontanus' Letter 132 

XIV. A Tragedy in the Royal Mews 143 

XV. Rudolph's Dream 156 

XVI. Magic and Sorcery 167 

XVIL Rudolph at Work 182 

XVIIL Rudolph's Sovereignty and Death . . . . . . 195 

XIX. Decline of the Follies of Science 203 



List of Illustrations. 



ATTRACTIVE INITIALS AND TAIL-PIECES THROUGHOUT. 



Frontispiece. Brozik's "Rudolphe chez son alchimiste". 
Title-page. From Musaeum Hermeticum. 

Chapter I. Queen Elizabeth. 

Dr. John Dee. 
II. Bridge of Carl IV, and the Hradschin, Prague. 

The Cathedral of St. Veit. 
" III. Tenier's Alchemist. 

Birth of the Philosophers' Stone (from Der Hermetische 

Triumph) . 

IV. Rudolph II, German Emperor. 
Dr. Dee's Shew Stone. 
A Successful Transmutation. 
V. Edward Kelley, "The Golden Knight." 

Kelley's Horoscope. 
" VI. The Hradschin, Prague. 

German Hall. 

" VII. Augustus of Saxony. 



Leonhard Thurneisser. 
VIII. Uraniborg. 

The Belvedere. 
Monument to Tycho Brahe. 
IX. John Kepler. 



Chapter X. Dr. Michael Maier. 

Preparation of Theriac. 
Paracelsus. 

Preparation of Guaiac Remedies and their Administration 
Rathhaus, Prague. 
" XI. Materia Medica. 

A Pharmacy 'in XVI. Century. 
" XII. Kingly Gold and Queenly Silver. 

Michael Sendivogius. 
" XIII. Distilling Apparatus. 

An Alchemist's Laboratory. 
Key to Symbols. 

XIV. A Pharmacy in XVI. Century. 
" XV. Theosophic Emblem. 

XVI. Henricus Cornelius Agrippa. 

Astrology, Alchemy and Magic. 
XVII. Teyn Kirche. 
XVIII. Rudolph II. 



PREFACE. 



I 



N THE massive granite building that houses the Lenox 
Librar}^ New York City, there hangs an original oil painting 
by the Bohemian artist Vaczlav Brozik entitled: "Rodolphe 
chez son Alchimiste." The central figure in this interesting 
picture is that of the alchemist, portrayed as a tall old man with 
a bald head and a long, white, pointed beard, and wearing a flowing 
robe fastened with a girdle about his waist. He stands with his 
back to an alchemical furnace surmounted by a hood, which is built 
against one of the massive stone walls by the side of a deep-cut 
window, that dimly lights a sombre, grim-looking room. On his left 
is an anvil, on his right an alembic over a small furnace, near by 
stands chemical apparatus of several kinds, and a celestial globe 
while books and manuscripts lie in careless disorder on the floor. 
The alchemist's left arm hangs at his side, his hand holding a pair 
of tongs ; he faces the Emperor and presents to him with his right 
hand a broken crucible containing in the bottom the ingot of gold 
that he has just obtained by transmutation. 

Rudolph, arrayed in imperial garments, seated in an armchair 
with his knees crossed, looks at the crucible with a stolid face 
exhibiting neither curiosity nor astonishment. His Majesty forms 
the fore-centre of a group of ladies and gentlemen of the court ; on 
his left sits a richly attired lady who leans forward with a move- 
ment of surprise ; behind him stands a group of four courtiers and 
one lady; in a far corner are three more persons, one examining 
attentively a natural history specimen. In the rear of the room is 



seen a servant holding a dog. The courtiers are dressed in doublet 
and hose with high-heeled, low-cut shoes, and carry swords; the 
ladies wear the femine apparel of the sixteeneth centurj'. 

In the following pages an attempt has been made to describe 
the circumstances that make this picture historically accurate, and 
to give some account of the character of the scientific atmosphere 
pervading the court of Rudolph IT, Emperor of Germany. 

Descriptions of persons, localities and events are true to history, 
but the author has allowed himself the liberty of the artist in using 
the imagination in a few instances to lighten up the dull back- 
ground of hard facts, such for example as the scene in the cavern 
Chapter XVI. 



Court of IRu&olpb IL 




UNIVERSITY 




CHAPTER I. 
TWO ENGLISH ADVENTURERS. 

"Learning, that cobweb of the brain, 
Profane, erroneous and vain; 
A trade of knowledge as replete, 
As others are with fraud and cheat ; 
An art t'incumber gifts and wit 
And render both for nothing fit." 

Butler. 

N THE reign of Queen Elizabeth there lived at Mort- 
lake, on the banks of the river Thames, a very 
learned man named John Dee, popularly called 
Doctor Dee, who was at the time in which we first 
meet him about fifty-six years of age, and had a great repu- 
tation in England as a scholar, an astrologer, an alchemist 
and a necromancer. In his youth he had been a tremendously 
hard student, first at St. John's College, Cambridge, and 
then as a fellow of Trinity, devoting eighteen hours daily to 
study, four to sleep, and but two to refreshment and recrea- 
tion, application which if not destructive to health could 
hardly fail to lay the foundations of great erudition. When 
twenty years old he visited the Low Countries, pursuing his 
favorite studies, mathematics and astronomy, at the Uni- 
versity of Louvain, and buying newly devised astronomical 
instruments of superior make ; later he read lectures on Euclid 




at the College of Rheims, Paris, to very large audiences with 
great e*clat. 

Returning to Mortlake, Dee applied himself zealously to 
science, organizing in his home an astronomical observatory, 
and a chemical laboratory; collecting a great variety of 
philosophical apparatus as \vell as a museum of curiosities 
in natural history; and forming a library of rare manuscripts 
and bound volumes relating to his pursuits. He made a name 
by an erudite preface to Sir Henry Billingsley's translation 
of Euclid, and proposed a plan for reforming the Gregorian 
Calendar, which later scholars have commended; thereby be- 
coming so eminent in pure mathematics as to be called 
"Nobilis Mathematicus." 

"He had been long t' wards mathematics, 
Optics, philosophy, and statics, 
Magick, horoscopy, astrology, 
And was an old dog at physiology." 

Unfortunately for his reputation with posterity this man 
of undoubted intellectual ability allowed his imagination to 
dominate his scientific knowledge, and he adopted the base- 
less superstitions of the day. He applied his astronomical 
learning to the fallacies of astrological divination ; he worked 
with furnaces, alembics and chemicals in hopes of discovering 
the Universal Solvent and the Philosophers' Stone; his phi- 
losophy was imbued with the mysteries of the kabbala, with 
theosophy and with the iniquities of black magic; even his 
religion was contaminated by the doctrines of spiritualism 
and the practice of theurgy. When not absorbed in writing 
mathematical treatises in his library, or working with sextant 
and astrolabe in his observatory, or blowing the coals under 
cucurbits in his athanor, Dee was busy making amulets and 
talismans, and receiving clients of every station in life from 
peasantry to royalty, who flocked to him to learn their 




QUEEN ELIZABETH. 



fortunes, to have their horoscopes made, and to ascertain by 
magical arts lucky days as well as unlucky ones, for all 
undertakings great and small. In return for these services 
his credulous visitors seldom failed to leave in his hands silver 
and gold coins, of which, however, he saw fewer than his 
household and comfort required. 
He was one of those who : 

"Deal in Destiny's dark counsels, 
And sage opinions of the moon sell; 
To whom all people, far and near, 
On deep importances repair, 
When brass and pewter hap to stray, 
And linen slinks out of the way." 

Like many learned men in the Middle Ages Dr. Dee was 
supposed to be in league with evil spirits, and he was regarded 
by his neighbors and enemies as a dangerous man. His evil 
reputation for sorcery more than once brought him into con- 
flict with the officers of the law ; under Queen Mary he was 
accused of heresy and of attempting to injure the Princess 
Elizabeth by witchcraft; being cast into a dungeon he saw 
with horror his cell-mate dragged forth to perish at the stake, 
but he was leniently treated at his trial and escaped \vith a 
mild sentence. On the accession ot Elizabeth to the throne? 
Dee was consulted by the Earl of Leicester to secure a luck} 
day for her coronation, and the result of his prognostication 
seems to have won her good will : for she afterwards became 
an appreciative client ; she invited him to court for consul 
tations, and even visited Dee's modest dwelling; though 
naturally penurious, her Majesty occasionally gave sub- 
stantial proofs of her confidence, in pieces of gold. The 
Doctor was at this time a very handsome man, tall and 
slender, very fair, \vith a sanguine complexion and a long 
pointed beard, which, as he grew older, acquired a snow-white 



color and a silky texture; perhaps his attractive presence 
contributed to the pleasure that the Maiden Queen found in 
his society. 

On one occasion Elizabeth invited Dee to Greenwich and 
condescended to become his pupil; shortly before, he had 
published a book entitled "Monas Hieroglyphica" (Antwerp, 
1564), which he dedicated to Maximilian II, and he had 
made the long journey to Presburg in Hungary to present a 
copy in person to the Emperor; this extraordinary treatise 
was the subject of his conference, at the Queen's command 
he revealed to her some of its mysteries and hidden secrets 
during a three day's visit at the royal seat. If Elizabeth 
was able to comprehend anything whatever of this enig- 
matical, preposterous jargon, she must be credited with extra- 
ordinary intellectual penetration. At another time the Queen, 
accompanied by lords and ladies in waiting, visited Mort- 
lake, with the intention of examining Dee's famous library, 
but on reaching the house she learned to her dismay that he 
had buried his wife only a few hours before, and she refused 
to enter, but desired Dee to show her his marvellous magic 
glass; this he did, and explained to her Majesty the manner 
of using it to read spirit-communications and to perceive 
apparitions. 

This visit was made on the 10th of March^574/5. Two 
V^ years later the appearance of a brilliant comet in the starry 
heavens created consternation at the English court, and the 
Queen, then at Richmond, sent for Doctor Dee to divine the 
meaning of this portent, which he did to her satisfaction. 
Not long after, a small wax image of the Queen, having pins 
stuck into the breast, was found in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and 
Dee was hurriedly summoned to the palace to ward off by 
counter-spells the mischief that this was believed to work on 
the person of her Majesty. 



"The slie inchanter, when to -work his will 
And secret wrong on some forspoken wight, 
Frames waxe, in form to represent aright 
The poore unwitting wretch he meanes to kill ; 
And prickes the image, fram'd by magick's skill, 
Whereby to vex the partie day and night." 

The learned Doctor's profound studies of the Kabbala, 
divinations and occult sciences seem to have disordered his 
intellect; for one day while engaged in earnest prayer he 
imagined that the angel Uriel appeared to him and promised 
his friendship and his assistance in divining the future; at 
the same time Uriel gave him a highly polished crystal by 
means of which he would be able to hold communications 
with celestial spirits. By gazing intently at this crystal, or 
"shew-stone," as he called it, Dee saw on its surface floating 
visions of unutterable things, and heard angelic voices ad- 
dressing him. These visions were vague, mysterious and 
usually inscrutable; a little maiden eight or nine years old, 
who said her name was Madini, and conversed in Greek as 
well as English, frequently appeared to him talking indescrib- 
able nonsense. Galveh, Murifri, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael 
were on a friendly footing with Dee, who wrote out their 
spiritual messages; these were commonly ridiculous rhap- 
sodies, and sometimes they were fanciful, unmeaning arrange- 
ments of numbers, or arbitrary combinations of letters. 
Besides personages, the crystal revealed scenes and objects of 
enigmatical character; on the 13th November, 1583, Dee re- 
corded the following: "At length appeared a sword, two- 
edged, fiery, or rather bloody, and a bunch of rags hanging 
at the top of it. The sword stood upright, and a voice an- 
nounced: 'So be it O Lord, for Thou art mighty; be it SQ. 
unto them,' and then the sword shook mightily." 

Unable to remember these apparitions and these celestial 
communications, Dee decided to employ the services of a 

5 



secretary to record them, and he secured a young notary, 
Edward Kelley b3' name, who was installed in his "mystical 
study" as "skryer," or clairvoyant, while Dee wrote down 
the "angellical" revelations. 

Crystal-gazing is now a recognized agent of auto-h3 r pno- 
tism, and at first Dee was probabh r self-deceived; but the 
young notary was an unscrupulous knave who found it 
profitable to impose on the credulous Doctor and he soon 
excelled him in "skrying" spirit communications. 

Kelley, whose black skull-cap scarcely concealed his 
J mutilated ears, a souvenir of punishment for forgery, was 
experienced in the tricks of alchemists and the nummeries of 
necromancy, and he obtained a masterful hold on the super- 
stitious Dee, who abandoned his serious studies and spent 
months and 3 r ears over the shew -stone ; the results of this 
misplaced devotion were afterwards published by Dr. Meric 
Casaubon in a folio volume entitled: "A True and Faithful 
Relation of what passed for many years between Dr. John 
Dee and some Spirits," (London, 1659), and it is hard to 
in print a more amazing farrago of nonsense. 

Dr. Dee was a truly devout worshipper of God, and in 
'True and Faithful Relation," he always began his 
! crystal-vision with pious prayers to the Almighty, but as 
Dr. Casaubon remarks, Dee "mistook false lying Spirits for 
Angels of Light, the Divel of Hell for the God of Heaven.'' 
And as Butler has said: 

"Kelley did all his feats upon 
The Devil's looking glass, a stone." 

The fame of Dee and Kelley as magicians spread rapidly, 
and was enhanced by their claims to success in the manu- 
facture of gold from base metals, a claim that ill-accorded 
with the chronic poverty in Dee's household. The Philo- 
sophers' stone used in transmutation had been found by 



Di 
fl liis "- 




DR. JOHN DEE. 



digging in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, together with a 
book explaining the process, written by St. Dunstan, the 

same : 

"who in his cell's repose 
Plucked the devil by the nose." 

Among the visitors to the now celebrated alchemists came 
a Prince from distant Poland, Albert Laski by name, who 
was visiting the Elizabethan Court with great pomp, and 
incidentally seeking for an adept in transmutation by whose 
aid he hoped to retrieve the fortune wasted through extra- 
vagancy and folly. Being introduced to Dr. Dee by the Earl 
of Leicester, to whose care the Pole had been committed by 
her Majesty, he invited himself to dine with the famous 
magician; Dee's poverty was however so great that he was 
about to sell some silver-plate to provide an entertainment 
suitable for so exalted a personage ; but this becoming known 
to the Queen, she sent him a present of forty golden angels. 

At the feast the Polish nobleman was captivated by the 
learning of Dee, and impressed by the impudent claims of 
Kelley ; he admitted his belief in the Elixir Vitae, the Philo- 
sophers' stone, and in other popular chimeras, showing him- 
self so gullible that the English adventurers conceived a plan 
to wrest from him a share of his supposed wealth. They dis- 
coursed in low tones, with mysterious hints, of the magical 
powers of the shew-stone, and the credulous Count besought 
the favor of initiation into its secrets. After delays and 
postponements calculated to stimulate curiosity, a seance was 
arranged; Kelley sitting at a distance from the marvellous 
crystal, gazed intently at it and spasmodically uttered aloud 
the messages he claimed to hear and described the apparitions 
he saw, while Dee, at a lighted table, transcribed the spiritual 
communications, the Count being allowed to sit in a corner 
of the darkened room. Amid an incoherent medley of ab- 

7 



surdities, the spirits revealed in broken sentences a future for 
Laski that delighted and fascinated him ; they prophesied 
that he should become the fortunate possessor of the Elixir 
of Life, and that he would succeed to the throne of Poland, 
becoming rich, illustrious and victorious over the enemies of 
that kingdom : all of which could only be accomplished by 
the cooperation of Dee, the Skryer and the shew-stone. 

This bold scheme of the Englishmen met with great suc- 
cess, and having aroused the impatient ambition of the 
credulous Pole, he invited them to visit him at his estate 
near Cracow. Dee being involved in debt, and threatened 
with civil processes, gladly consented, and in September, 
1583, the Count, accompanied by the Doctor and his family, 
Kelley with his wife and his brother, as well as a whole 
retinue of servants, embarked for the continent. They 
travelled in great style, by the way of Liibeck and Hamburg, 
and after four months reached the princely estate in Poland. 
Meanwhile the "angellical stone" was not allowed to gather 
moss, being brought out at each of the resting places of the 
travellers, and consulted for the enlightenment and mystifi- 
cation of their noble host. 

Arrived at Cracow the Englishmen established themselves 
leisurely in luxurious quarters, and month after month passed 
without their showing any disposition to labor at trans- 
mutation; the Count urged action, but the needed materials 
and apparatus were difficult to procure, the proper con- 
junction of the planets had not taken place, and certain 
operations once begun required seven times seven weeks for 

( their accomplishment. To satisfy the impatient Pole, how- 
ever, Kelley arranged a demonstration, and in the presence 

.'! of their host, with the aid of a double-bottomed crucible, 
lined with wax in which gold-filings were concealed, the adept 
in trickery performed the feat of transmuting quicksilver into 



the precious, coveted, yellow metal, that withstood the tests 
of the Cracow goldsmiths. 

Enormous sums of money were drawn out of the coffers ; 
of the Count, who was obliged to sell a portion of his estates ' 
"to find aliment for the hungry crucibles of Dee and Kelley i 
and the no less hungry stomachs of their wives and families." ; 
When Laski showed signs of discouragement Kelley arranged 
a new imposture, and thus the clever swindlers prolonged : 
their stay in Poland. After many months, however, the 
Count realized that the alchemists consumed far more gold 
than they produced, and he urged them to make a visit to 
Prague, where the wealthy patron of alchemists, astrologers 
and artists, the Emperor Rudolph II, held his. court. Furnished 
with letters of introduction and a safe-conduct, Dee, Kelley, 
his brother, and a servant named Hilton, bid their host fare- 
well and proceeded through Cracow to the Capital of 
Bohemia, which they reached, after an eight da3 r s journey in 
carriages, on August ninth, 1584. 




CHAPTER II. 




THE SOLOMON OF BOHEMIA. 

"He never said a foolish thing 
And never did a wise one." 

IN A BOLD rocky height overhanging a beautiful 
\vooded ravine on the one side, and towering above 
the river Moldau on the other, stands a group of 
ancient edifices comprising a fortress, several 
palaces and churches, which together with minor buildings 
lining steep, narrow and crooked streets, form the quarter of 
Prague known as the Hradschin. On this noble site royal 
castles have stood for more than a thousand years, and one 
of the earliest Christian churches of Bohemia was erected here 
in the year 874. Most imposing in appearance, at the time 
of which we write, was an ancient palace with an ornate 
faade and a dome at each corner, the residence of the ex- 
tremely rich and influential Prince William von Rosenberg, 
Knight of the Golden Fleece, a magnate of such high degree 
that when he was Ambassador to Poland he had been offered 
the throne of that country, and under Rudolph he filled a 
most important imperial office. This palace was connected 
by an underground, secret passage with the royal castle, 
partly for the convenience of the reigning monarch who se- 
cured thereby a private exit in case of siege, and partly on 
account of the imperial bureau of finance which had occupied 
a portion of the building since the destructive fire of 1541. 

10 



vT*A 
or THE 

[ UNIVERSITY ) 

OF 



Near the Rosenberg palace stood two churches; the older 
was All Souls, founded by Ottakar II, enlarged by Carl IV, 
and after the great fire restored by Rudolph's sister Elizabeth, ; 
the widow of Charles IX, of France. The other church was 
dedicated to St. George and was recognizable by its lofty twin 
towers; the interior was richly decorated in Byzantine style, 
and its cloisters connected with the Benedictine Convent 
adjoining. The nuns of this convent were all of noble blood 
and enjoyed great privileges, the Abbess having the right to 
crown the Queens of Bohemia, a right last exercised on the 
wife of Maximilian II, Rudolph's mother. 

The Royal Castle built in 1333 by the Emperor Carl IV 
in imitation of the Louvre at Paris, enlarged and beautified 
by successive monarchs, was almost destroyed in 1541 by 
the conflagration that ravaged the Hradschin; it was, how- 
ever, restored and at the en-d of the sixteenth century consti- 
tuted a magnificent structure. Its massive walls were inter- 
rupted at intervals by projecting towers, the oldest being the 
square Black Tower of hewn stone, a relic of Wenzel's reign 
(1378 1400). The upper floors of this tower served as a 
prison for political offenders, and in the depths below stood 
that horrible instrument of death facetiously called the "Iron 
Maiden." Conspicuous also were the round White Tower 
known as "Mihulka," and the "Daliborka," so named from 
the first prisoner "Dalibor" confined within its walls. Of evil 
repute was the terrible Hunger Tower with the underground 
cells and oubliettes that rarely surrendered their inmates alive. 
Close to the Royal Castle stood the Cathedral of St. Veit 
with its stately steeple. 

Within the fortified enclosure was the princely residence 
of the Kings of Bohemia and Emperors of Germany ; spacious 
apartments for a luxurious Court and for entertainment of 
noble guests on a grand scale. Of these the most magnificent 

11 



were the Spanish Hall, the German Hall, and the Wladislaw 
Hall of such huge dimensions that within it tournaments 
had once been held. The windows of the Castle looked out 
upon the spires of the ancient church of St. George, and 
beyond these over a beautiful, highly cultivated garden on 
one side, and over the picturesque city of Prague on the other. 
A covered passage led from the palace to the gardens situated 
at the bottom of a deep ravine. 

Monarch of this regal residence and living within its 
bounds from choice was one of the most interesting and 
eccentric princes of Europe, Rudolph II, German Emperor. 
Rudolph was born in Vienna, July 18th, 1552, being the 
oldest son of Emperor Maximilian II ; at the age of eleven 
his father sent him to the court of his bigoted, gloomy, man- 
hating uncle, Philip II of Spain, 'who had recently removed 
his royal residence from Toledo to Madrid. Here the young 
Prince remained eight years receiving his education at the 
hands of Spanish Jesuits, and absorbing by contact with his 
surroundings the morose, intolerant nature of his fanatical 
uncle, and laying the foundations of the hypochondria and 
unhappy distrust of mankind that darkened his whole life. 
At the age of nineteen he returned to Vienna ; some authori- 
ties say he was attacked with homesickness, which does not 
seem likely to have seized so young a boy after eight years 
absence; others assert he was recalled owing to amorous 
intrigues with the fair and frail ladies of the dissolute Spanish 
court. One year later he was crowned King of Hungary , 
three years later he became King of Bohemia, and on the 
death of his father in 1576 he succeeded to the throne of 
Germany. Although only twenty-four years of age he despised 
the gay and brilliant life of the Viennese Capital, and retired 
to Prague taking up his residence in the austere Hradschiner 
Castle. Here he soon wearied of the cares of State, and al- 

12 



though the Empire was disturbed by dissensions within and 
attacked by enemies without, he threw upon his Ministers 
and later upon his brothers, the management of imperial 
affairs. Always taciturn and morose, he was attacked by 
hypochondriacal moods at whicli time he refused audience to 
foreign ambassadors and even drove his Ministers from his 
presence. Courtiers wishing to secure favors from this ec- 
centric Emperor sometimes addressed him when he was visit- 
ing the royal stables, as he was then apt to be in a com- 
plaisant mood. Withdrawing more and more from executive 
functions he was nevertheless a very busy man, devoting him- 
self with great zeal to the accumulation of treasures of art 
and to the cultivation of science as he understood the term. 

"Nicht so wie Max war dessen Sohn, 

Der nun be'stieg den Kaiserthron ; 

Das Reich bekiimmert ihn nicht sehr, 

Sterndeuterei bei weitem mehr 

Und ebenso , es ist zum Lachen 

Die Kunst, aus Steinen Gold zu mac hen." 

Rudolph did not pursue science for the purpose of in- 
creasing knowledge, nor did he collect paintings, statuary, 
antiquities and natural curiosities with a view to stimulating 
progress in art and archaeology; astrology, alchemy and 
magic were to his superstitious mind true sciences of pre- 
eminent importance; charlatans claiming knowledge of the 
Philosophers* Stone and the Elixir of Life, of divination by 
celestial signs, and pretending to cure diseases by Potable gold 
or by tincture of pearls, were more cordially welcomed at' 
the Hradschin than genuine scholars in chemistry, astronomy 
and medicine. Rudolph's intellectual bias and peculiar dis- 
position made him the ready prey of swindlers and tricksters 
of every nation who flocked to Prague and with impudent 
assurance obtained entrance to the inner circles of the itn- 

13 



perial court; some by flattery and skill in catering to the 
taste of his Majesty became dignitaries of the palace as well 
as trusted advisors on all matters pertaining to science and 
art. Courtier-like these arrant knaves addressed the Emperor 
as the "Solomon of Bohemia," and as the "Hermes Trisme- 
gistus of Germany." 

A zealous attachment to the pseudo-sciences was not re- 
garded as inconsistent with learning, true piety and exalted 
rank, and Rudolph had many precedents among the crowned 
heads of earlier and contemporary times. Even as early as 
1150 the Sultan Kalid, of Egypt, gathered a number of al- 
chemists at his court, and he himself composed hermetic 
treatises still extant. Alphonso X, King of Castile, Robert 
Bruce of Scotland, and Henry VI, of England, are credited 
with belief in and practice of the mystic art ; the latter being 
greatly in need of money issued four successive decrees com- 
manding all nobles, doctors, professors and priests to conduct 
experiments in transmutation with a view to discharging the 
nation's debt. In a patent dated 15th September, 1449, King 
Henry states that he includes priests in his decree because 
their experience in the miracle of transubstantiation well 
qualified them for success in transmutation. Edward VI of 
England, and more than one Pope delighted in alchemical 
investigations, and Frederick III of Germany, who preceded 
Rudolph by two centuries, anticipated him in the neglect 
of affairs of state for love of the pseudo-science ; he surrendered 
his throne to his son Maximilian and retired to Linz, where 
he devoted himself to astrology, alchemy and botany until 
his death in 1493. Of Augustus, Elector of Saxony, more 
will be told in another place. 

As became the wearer of the crown of Germany, 
Rudolph maintained a royal retinue of knights, noblemen, 
officers of the guard, gentlemen of the privy chamber, stewards, 

14 




THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. VEIT. 



s 

cup-bearers, carvers and servers; there were also physicians, 
almoners, librarians and curators of the Cabinet of curiosi- 
ties and of the Art-gallery. In addition to these functionaries 
he surrounded himself with retainers whose duties and occu- 
pations were in harmony with his personal interests; such 
were the court artists, musicians, poets, mathematicians, 
archaeologists, astronomers and alchemists. These he esteemed 
in proportion to their success in impressing him with exalted 
ideas of their esoteric knowledge ; the librarian held his post 
not only for his book-learning, but because he had discovered 
perpetual motion; those physicians were most successful in 
establishing intimate relations with his Majesty who dis- 
coursed most learnedly on theosophy and magical cures, and 
promised most confidently genuine panaceas for all diseases; 
the eminent astronomer John Kepler was never quite enough 
of an astrologer to please this superstitious Prince. 

Philosophy was not altogether neglected by the encyclo- 
paedic Emperor ; he studied the extravagant tenets of theo- 
sophy with his young Secretary, Dr. Michael Maier, and the | 
mysteries of the Kabbala with the venerable Rabbi Bezalel / 
Loew. This master in Israel was as pious and charitable as * 
he was learned ; he was beloved of the common people for 
his unselfish benevolence and admired by scholars for his 
proficiency in medicine, physics, mathematics, astronomy, as 
well as for his knowledge of the Talmud. Modestly holding 
the position of leader in Jewish circles, he was regarded as 
the oracle of Hebrew savants and a father to the poverty- 
pinched residents of the Ghetto. Although Catholic influence 
was predominant at the court, the pious Rabbi was ever 
welcomed by the Emperor as the great expositor of the 
Kabbala, and it was no fault of his that a family intrigue, f *? 
eventually brought great sorrow to both. 

To enumerate the host of minor dependants in the im- 

15 



perial service would be profitless; they were employed in the 
laboratories, the observatory, the art-gallery, the museum, 
the stables, the menagerie and the botanic gardens ; all these 
found an asylum either in the Hradschin or in the city across 
the Moldau; many received small stipends, while a favored 
few resided within the precints of the royal palace, receiving 
daily bounty from the imperial kitchens and cellars. 

Next to science and art, Rudolph was most attached to 
his stables and to his pleasure-gardens. The stables, situated 
on the ground-floor of one of the wings of the huge palace, 
beneath the workshops of the stone-polishers and the art 
rooms, were filled with noble horses of many races; to some 
of these four-le*gged pets Rudolph gave the names of certain 
two-footed darlings who resided in the Castle. Exhibitions 
of the beauty and intelligence of the horses and of the skill 
of their riders were occasionally given in an immense covered 
riding-hall, fitted up with galleries and a royal box. 

Beyond the mews, in a beautifully planned pleasure- 
garden, flourished a profusion of exquisite flowers of ever}' 
clime, protected in winter by removal to hot-houses ; here the 
first tulips seen in Europe were cultivated, brought by an 
imperial ambassador from the Orient, many individuals cost- 
ing more than the plants of an entire garden. The first tulip 
that bloomed in this lovely spot, the Emperor, in a rare 
poetic mood, christened "Maria," after his much-loved Mother. 
Opposite the grim Black Tower was a conservatory in which 
were planted fig-trees, oranges, lemons, pomegranates and 
peaches, as well as palms and tree-ferns from the tropics. In 
a raised parterre bright colored blossoms in the green grass 
formed the letters of Rudolph's enigmatic device: 

A D S I T 
which is said to signify: 

"A Domino Salus In Tribulatione." 



16 



Several fountains with marble basins and artistic figures 
spouting crystal water, as well as statues, columns and 
antiques ornamented this attractive "Lust-Garten." 

Near the bottom of the natural slope was a group of 
strongly built, low-roofed huts, open on one side and fitted 
with stout iron gratings, in which were confined wild animals 
from Asia, Africa, and even from distant America; lions, tigers, 
leopards, panthers, bears and other savage beasts. The 
custom of keeping a majestic lion in a cage in this locality 
had existed from the fourteenth century, and the live beast 
was regarded as a symbol of the heraldic lion 011 the imperial 
arms, just as bears are seen to-day at Berne, preserved at 
the cost of the Swiss canton. One of the lions born in cap- 
tivity had been tamed and trained when a cub by Rudolph 
himself, and was permitted to prowl around the workshops 
under his master's control to the great alarm of his attendants 
and to the consternation of the visitors ; this baby lion was 
named O-takar. 

In the neighborhood of the animal hotises was a larger 
building with a \vire-net front, filled with parrots and parro- 
quets whose brilliant rainbow plumage was as attractive to 
the eyes as their incessant chatter and shrill screeching was 
offensive to the ears. This menagerie was founded by 
Maximilian II and became under Rudolph the finest in all 
Europe. 

Overlooking this well kept garden, on a height opposite 
the Castle, was the ornate building erected by Ferdinand I, 
known as the Belvedere, a choice gem among the imperial 
edifices. Within its highly decorated walls a grand staircase 
led to a magnificent hall crowded with pictures, statuary, 
reliefs and casts. Rudolph, who had constructed a covered 
passage leading from his private apartments in the palace to 
the pleasure-garden, was accustomed to spend much time in 

17 






the sumptuous Belvedere; here he amused himself painting in 
oil, polishing gems, or studying his favorite science astrononry 
under the guidance of his salaried observers. 

JSuch were the surroundings of the remarkable monarch 
to whom the two English adventurers, John Dee and Edward 
Kelley, addressed themselves in search of favors and fortune. 




18 



CHAPTER III. 



GOLD ALLEY. 

They speken faste of thilke stone, 

But how to make it now wot none, 

After the true experience. 

And nathelcss great diligence 

They setten up thilke dede, 

And spillen more than thei spede. 

For alway thei fynden a lette 

Which bringeth in poverte and dette 

To him that riche were tofore 

The losse is had, the lucre is lore. 

To gette a pound thei spenden fyve 

I know not how such a craft shal thryve. 

Gower, Confessio Amantis. 

ARD by the cloisters of St. George's Church in the 
Hradschin quarter of Prague, ran a narrow steep 
street, no wider than an alley of a modern town 
and not half so clean, lined with small insignificant 
houses, which were occupied largely by the alchemists and 
occultists who were attracted from near and far by the pre- 
dilections and liberality of the marvel-loving Emperor. .JThis 
short street was known as "Gold Alley," a name lhat it 
retained for centuries ; here lived, at the time of Dee's visit, 
Daniel Prandtner, an alchemist of doubtful reputation ; Chris- 
topher von Hirschberg, whose well-filled purse seemed to im- 
ply success in transmutation, or perhaps in swindling an 
opulent patron ; a certain Magister Jeremias, learned in phar- 

19 




macy; the noted Bawor Rodowsky von Hustrian, who had 
wasted a considerable fortune in a vain search for the Philo- 
sophers' Stone ; the mischievous female clairvoyant Salomena 
Scheinpflug, who was responsible for intrigues that disgraced 
more than one aristocratic family in Prague ; and the mystic 
occultist Doctor Leonhard Vychperger von Erbach. More 
eminent than these was the Italian alchemist Claudius Syrrus, 
who was in the employ of the great Prince von Rosenberg 
and with whom he had made a remarkable contract in which 
the Italian bound himself to make efforts to discover the 
secret of transmutation, and expressly stated in a dignified 
and honorable way that he could not promise success as all 
depended on the will of the Almighty. As Thomas Norton, 
of Bristol, wrote in 1477 : 

"Maistryefull, merveylous and Archimastrye 
Is the tincture of holi Alkiray : 
A wonderful Science, -secrete Philosophic, 
A singular grace and gift of th'Almightie: 
Which never was found by labour of Mann, 
But it by Teaching or Revelacion begann." 

Syrrus had previously worked in the laboratory of Wenzel 
Wresowec, who lived in "Little Prague," as a certain quarter 
was called. Wresowec, though devoted to occult studies, was 
accounted so learned and shrewd that his services were in 
demand as Ambassador to foreign courts and as Envoy in 
delicate diplomatic missions. To him Syrrus had dedicated 
his two Latin treatises on the Great Elixir. 

Besides the dwellings of alchemists, fortune-tellers and 
other charlatans, Gold Alley contained the modest workshops 
and unpretentious houses of many of the genuine artists who 
found scope for their talents and a market for their wares 
at Rudolph's court. Here lived the gold and silver smiths, 
engravers of precious stones, cameo-cutters, wood-carvers, 
illuminators of manuscripts, painters and sculptors, occupied 

20 



in manufacturing and repairing art- treasures for the Imperial 
Cabinet and Galleries. 

Living in a palatial mansion situated in a more aristo- 
cratic neighborhood, was the court physician and director 
of alchemical laboratories, Dr. Thaddeus von Hayek, whose 
spacious parlors were the rendezvous not only of the residents 
of Gold Alley, but also of the poor journeymen alchemists who 
wandered through Europe earning a precarious living by 
pretence of transmutation. Dr. von Hayek was educated in 
the sciences and in medicine having taken his degree at the 
University of Bologna, where through friendship with the 
learned Geronimo Cardano he had imbibed fondness for mathe- 
matics and astrology. He is even credited with the discovery 
of a new star in 1572. Being in charge of the Imperial labo- 
ratories, Dr. von Hayek examined alchemists who sought 
positions at this singular court as to their proficiency before 
recommending them to the Emperor. Shortly after his arrival 
at Prague Dr. Dee took pains to make the acquaintance of 
this important functionary. 

The two English adventurers reached Prague in mid- 
summer and found lodgings at the "Golden Ball," a popular 
inn whose landlord Zdenko was one of the greatest gossips 
in Bohemia. Dee at once presented his letters of introduction 
to the Imperial Vice Chancellor, Jacob Curtius, one of the 
most influential persons at the court of Rudolph, although 
but thirty-one years of age. Curtius, being a bigoted adherent 
of the Jesuit party, was not very cordial to the English 
Protestant, but made him acquainted with Dr. yon Ha3'ek, 
of whom Dee rented a small house in Gold Alley. As soon 
as Dee and Kelley were settled in their new home, the Doctor 
resumed his conferences with Uriel by aid of the shew-stone 
and his unscrupulous "skryer." The Spirits informed him 
that he must make a demonstration in proof of spagyric 

21 



power before approaching the Emperor, and plans were made 
for astonishing the residents of Gold Alley and the court 
adepts. 

Meanwhile Edward Kelley, true to his vulgar instincts, 
got into vicious company and spent days in gossip and his 
nights in low carousels; when excited with drink he boasted 
of the powers of his master as a diviner of the future and as 
possessor of the Philosophers' Stone. Moreover money was 
getting scarce in the 'household of the Englishmen, so a bold 
stroke was resolved upon. The curious, the credulous, the 
avaricious and the professional tricksters : 

"Nasty, soaking, greasy fellows, 

Knaves would brain you with their bellows; 

Hapless, sapless, crusty sticks, 

Blind as smoke can make the bricks;" 

assembled by invitation in the laboratory of Dr. von Hayek, 
built in the basement of his house; after a learned, mysti- 
fying discourse by Dr. Dee, Kelley, with a few drops of a 
blood-red oil, converted a few ounces of mercury, heated in a 
crucible, into shining, yellow gold that stood the tests with 
hammer and file and drew forth the plaudits of the astonished 
company. On the surface of the ingot was found a small 
excess of the tincture glistening like a ruby, proving that an 
unnecessary amount of the precious oil had been used. The 
historic verity of this transmutation was confirmed by 
Nicholas Barnaud, a guest of von Hayek, and by von Hayek 
himself, whose heirs long treasured a fragment of this her- 
metic gold. 

The success of this venture placed Dee and his associate 
on a pinnacle of fame, and the leading residents of Gold Alley 
besought the court Doctor to arrange a more public confer- 
ence on alchemy at which they might meet the Englishmen. 
With great hospitality, von Hayek opened his parlors to a 

22 




TENIER'$ ALCHEMIST. 



large assemblage which embraced the alchemists already 
named, the distinguished physician Christopher Guarinonius, 
three gentlemen of the privy chamber, namely, Martin Rutzke, 
Hans Marquardt, and Johannes Frank, the court poet Mardo- 
chaeus de Delle, and the Vice Chancellor Jacob Curtius, who 
arose to welcome the English guests of the evening and con- 
ducted them to seats of honor. Curtius presided over the 
informal gathering and discussion was opened by Claudius 
Syrrus, who related some of his experience in seeking the 
Philosophers' stone. He said the "red tincture" can be pro- 
cured only by the conjunction of two substances, ordinary 
gold (the male principle), and philosophical mercury (the 
female principle), and to discover the latter was the great 
problem ; he had sought it in common quicksilver, in arsenic, 
tin, common salt, saltpetre, vitriol, and in the juices of many 
plants without success ; he had also examined human bones, 
flesh, blood, hair, saliva and other secretions, and he cautioned 
his hearers against wasting their time and substance on these 
materials. "It is quite evident/' he continued, "that tJie 
substance nearest by nature to gold is quicksilver, which 
needs only to be solidified and to have its color changed to 
yellow. Now since all metals are composed of three primary 
principles, volatility, fixedness and metallicity, all that is 
necessary to be done is to deprive mercury of its volatility 
and to change its color, for its metallicity is quite equal to 
that of gold." 

Christopher von Hirschberg, replying to the speaker, said : 
"The Philosophers' stone in its perfection is permanent in the 
fire, it is not resolvable in any liquor, it has two distinct 
parts, one volatile and one fixed, it contains in potentia gold 
and silver; it is composed of 2, of 3, of 4 and of 5. Of 5, j 
that is to say, of the quintessence; of 4, that is to say, of the 
four elements ; of 3, that is to say, of the three principles of : 

23 



natural bodies ; of 2, that is to say, of twofold mercury ; of 
1, that is to say, of the primary principle of all things which 
was spoken into existence at the creation of the world.'* 
"When about to make use of the miraculous power of the 
stone, it is necessary to pay great attention to the twelve 
steps in the process: calcination, solution, separation, con- 
junction, putrefaction, coagulation, cibation, sublimation, 
fermentation, exaltation, augmentation, and lastly projection. " 
Then in the metaphorical diction characteristic of his kind, 
he continued : "The greater the quantity of the Eagle opposed 
to the Lion the shorter the combat; torment the Lion until 
he is weary and desires death. Make as much of Eagle until 
it weeps, collect the tears and the blood of the Lion and mix 
them in the philosophical vase." 

The learned student of occult philosophy, Dr. Leonhard 
Vychperger von Erbach, then announced that he had just 
discovered the esoteric meaning of the legend of the Argo- 
nautic Expedition, saying: "When ancient Philosophers by 
poetic parables described the laborious navigation of Jason 
to the island Colchos, where resided an huge Dragon vomit- 
ing fire, which with eyes never closed diligently watched the 
Golden Fleece, they added this, viz.: that Jason was taught 
by his wife Medea to cast to this waking Dragon an edible 
medicine to be swallowed whereby he should be killed and 
burst, and that Jason should presently take the Dragon thus 
slain and totally submerge him in the Stygian Lake. Jason, 
in this ingenious fable, hieroglyphically represents the philo- 
sophers ; Medea, accurate meditation ; the laborious and peril- 
ous navigation signifies manifold chemical labors ; the watch- 
ing Dragon vomiting fire denotes saltpetre and sulfur; and 
the Golden Fleece is the Philosophers' stone, by the help of 
which Jason restored health to his aged father and acquired 
for himself immense riches. By the pills of Medea is meant 

24 



the preparation of sulfur and sal mirabile; by the total sub- 
mersion of the Dragon in the Stygian Lake is intimated the 
fixation of sulfur by aqua fortis." 

This spagyric interpretation of the Grecian myth won 
great applause from the assembly, but the learned Dee 
whispered to Dr. von Hayek: "The speaker has stolen his 
idea from Dionysius of Mitylene, who died 50 B. C." 

Daniel Prandtner next addressed the company and stated 
he had lately found in an ancient manuscript a recipe for the 
quintessence composed by the Egyptian " Father of Sciences," 
Hermes Trismegistus, and although he had not essayed its 
merits he would communicate it unselfishly to his friends. 
"Take of moisture one and one-half ounces, of meridional 
redness, that is the soul of the sun, a fourth part, that is 
half an ounce ; of yellow seyr likewise half an ounce ; and of 
auripigmentum a half ounce, making in all three ounces. 
Know that the vine of wisemen is extracted in threes and 
its wine at last is completed in thirty." 

Bawor Rodowsky rose with a melancholy air that agreed 
well with his shabby appearance, and said that for his part 
he found the old saying true that "Alchemy is a coquette 
inviting flirtation, but denying favors; an art without art; 
of which the beginning is avarice, the middle falsehood, and 
the end either a beggar's staff or the gallows." but he hoped 
to escape this tragic end. He was inclined, moreover, to agree 
with that mystical philosopher, Henry Cornelius Agrippa, 
who styled alchemy the "sister of theology," for the latter 
directs man to eternal happiness after death by false paths, 
dreams and myths, while the former promises to the living 
long life, health and immeasurable riches by false speculations 
and useless labor. At this point, von Hustrian was inter- 
rupted by Martin Rutzke, who inquired whether the speaker 
believed the artificial gold made by alchemy to be true gold 

25 



or not. Rodowsky said in reply that it would appear at 
first sight as if the question must be answered negativeh'. 
" Since gold is properly generated in the bowels of the earth, 
it would seem that whatever is not so generated cannot have 
the same essence; moreover, the substantial qualities can be 
introduced into the primordial matter only by the celestial 
sun, which is not the sun or fire used by alchemists. But the 
real question is whether there can be elicited from the sun, 
by an artificial process, any seminal virtue which shall possess 
the power of hardening quicksilver in a moment of time into 
gold. That gold possesses such seminal virtue is certain, for 
St. Augustine says that every substance contains seminal 
possibilities of a specific character, which will always produce 
certain given effects, whenever the requisite, causal, temporal 
and local conditions are fulfilled. Hence gold contains the 
radical virtue sought; this may be developed by digestive 
heat and the impulse of an overruling intelligence. First, 
however, the gold must be reduced to its prima materia by 
calcination in a reverbertory fire, and the seminal virtue thus 
extracted must be sown in sublimed mercurial earth so as 
to impregnate the latter by fixation, the vessel being kept 
closed to prevent escape of the spiritual power." 

When the handsome, dignified foreigner left his seat, at 
the invitation of the Vice Chancellor, the assembly gave utter- 
ance to a low murmur of satisfaction. Dr. Dee saluted the 
Chairman with a low bow and apologizing for his ignorance 
of the colloquial tongue, spoke in Latin. He took a religious 
view of the studies of theosophy, hermetism and crystallo- 
mancy, and referring to the Philosophers' stone said : "Whoso- 
ever attempteth the search for the glorious Elixir ought in 
the first place to implore the assistance of the all-powerful 
Jehovah at the throne of his mercy, who is the true and sole 
author of all mysteries of Nature. See what Scripture saith : 

26 




BIRTH OF THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE. 

From Der Hermetische Triumph, 
Amsterdam. 1689. 



*He stroke the stone and water flowed out, and he brought 
forth oil out of the flinty rock.' Again: 'To him that over- 
cometh will I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him 
a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which 
no one knoweth but him that receiveth it.'" 

Suddenly dropping this line of thought, Dee informed the 
expectant audience that his Associate, Kelley, had reluctantly 
consented to the disclosure of the secret of the projection 
made in Dr. von Hayek's laboratory a short time before, and 
proceeded to give the preparation of the blood-red oil as 
follows: "Take distilled vinegar of the philosophers, dissolve 
therein the green lion, putrify and filter the solution, draw 
off the liquid in balneo to an oiliness. Place this in a retort 
and distil with a gentle fire, then increase the fire until the 
green lion yield his glue; to the caput mortuum pour its 
phlegm, putrify in balneo and distil as before, and there will 
come over a bloody oil." 

A short pause ensued during which many in the audience 
wrote rapidly on tablets their notes of this valuable recipe; 
presently Dee continued, and with twinkling eyes and an 
amused countenance, repeated the following enigma: 

"A Riddle to you I will propose 

Of a common thing which most men knows, 

Which now in the earth very reef doth grow, 

But is of small price, as all men know. 

And that without root, stalke or seede, 

Therewith of his kinde another to breede ; 

Yet of that nature, that it cannot cease, 

If you plant it by peeces itselfe to increase ; 

Right heavy by kinde, yet forced to fly, 

Starke nought in the purse, yet good in the eye. 

This something is nothing, which seemeth full strange, 

Having tasted the fire which maketh the change 

And hath many Collours, yet showeth but one; 

This is the materiall of our STONE." 

27 



Dr. von Hayek thanked the speaker in the name of those 
present for his interesting address, and referred to a passage 
in the writings of his own former master in occult science, 
Cardano: "Alchemy," he wrote, "contains several admirable 
things, several useless, several doubtful, several desirable, but 
none salutary, none efficacious, none of great hope, none of 
peril, none of which to boast." He thereupon stated that in 
his long experience as Director of the laboratories of the 
Imperial court and as examiner of those who claimed to be 
adepts in transmutation, he had detected many kinds of frauds 
and he proposed to give a summary of them to put his friends 
on their guard. Some imposters used double-bottomed 
crucibles, the false bottom being made of powdered crucible- 
earth mixed with wax, gold-filings being concealed in the 
space between. Others devised hollow rods for stirring the 
molten ingredients, the ends being stopped with wax which 
melted easily, and thus gold-powder secreted in the rods was 
introduced into the crucibles. Another adept was detected in 
dropping into the crucible a piece of charcoal in which gold- 
leaf had been hidden ; one well versed in the chemical art had 
steeped a bit of charcoal in a solution of gold and when 
busy about the furnace-fire he slily threw it into the crucible. 
Those who pretended to make gold and silver without fire, 
coals, crucibles and metallurgical accessories, resorted to other 
' ingenious schemes; one used aqua fortis in which silver had 
. been secretly dissolved ; another had a knife-blade made of 
two metals soldered together, the golden half painted black 
with a varnish soluble in alcohol, and the removal of the 
coating from the gold by immersion in spirits of wine effected 
the deception. A more unusual trick was to bleach copper 
with a preparation of arsenic, but the most common of all 
consisted in using a compound of gold and mercury known 
as amalgam; when this amalgam is heated to the third 

28 



degree, the mercury flies away in the smoke leaving the 
precious metal behind. Dr. von Hayek, in conclusion, warned 
his hearers against these deceitful schemes. 

This discussion was very differently received by those 
present ; several winked at their neighbors as if to imply they 
had tried that method themselves, and others made mental 
notes of the processes for future use in case of need ; among 
the latter was the wide-awake, unscrupulous Kelley. 




29 



CHAPTER IV. 




RUDOLPH AND DR. DEE. 

"He will show you the Devill in. a Christal, calculate the na- 
tivity of his gelding, talk of nothing but Gold and Silver, 
Elixir, calcination, augmentation, citrinatibn, cementation; 
and swearing to enrich the world in a month he is not able 
to buy himself a new Cloake in a whole year." 

|N entering the gorgeously decorated and spacious 
hall which was crowded with a rich collection of 
antiquities and art-treasures, Doctor Dee was met 
by the Vice Chancellor Curtius, whose duty it was 
to present invited guests to the Emperor. Passing through 
a corridor, hung with paintings, into a private room, Dee was 
received by Rudolph, who x was seated on a table on which 
lay a copy of "Monas Hieroglyphica," the book that Dee 
had dedicated to Rudolph's imperial father many years before, 
together with the letters Dee had written to his Majesty 
soliciting the privilege of an audience. These were auspicious 
omens and forshadowed the affable manner in which the 
Emperor received the Englishman, who knelt humbly before 
him; he bid Dee not to kneel and soon set him at his ease. 
The personal appearance of the Emperor of the German 
nation was not at all imposing; he was rather below the 
average height and slight in body; his face was pallid and 
his cheeks sunken; his large lips were somewhat irregular, 
being slightly twisted to the right side; his hair was curly 

30 




RUDOLPH II, GERMAN EMPEROR. 




V OF THE 



UNIVERSITY 
or 



but thin and early became streaked with grey, at the age of 
fifty-four it was silvery-white; his eyes, however, were large 
and brilliant, and his countenance though rarely lit up by a 
smile was friendly to those he desired to meet. His manners 
were courtly as became a Prince, and agreeable when he was 
not depressed with melancholia. He did not affect luxury in 
his dress and rarely displayed gorgeous costumes, but on 
ceremonious occasions he exhibited magnificent and imperial 
pomp. Rudolph was an accomplished linguist speaking 
German, Bohemian, Spanish, Italian, French, and Latin, being 
quite fluent in the dead language owing to his early training 
by the Jesuit fathers at Madrid. 

After an exchange of courtly phrases, Rudolph gave Dee 
liberty to speak at length and he delivered a grandiloquent 
speech in Latin telling his Majesty that he had come to Prague 
to communicate a Divine message; Dee explained that for 
two and a half years he had held converse with God's holy 
angels through the medium of a magic crystal and the in- 
strumentality of his "skryer" and that he had been recently 
commanded by the archangel Uriel to give to the Emperor 
the following reproof: 

4 'The Angel of the Lord rebuketh you for your sins ; if you 
will hear me and believe me you shall triumph; if you will 
not hear me the Lord God that made heaven and earth 
putteth His foot against your breast and will throw you 
headlong. Moreover the Lord hath made this covenant with 
me by oath that He will do and perform : if you will forsake 
3'our wickedness and turn to Him your throne shall be the 
greatest on earth, and the Devil shall become your prisoner." 
Dee then immediately added: "I conjecture this Devil to be 
the Great Turk. This is my commission.'* 

Rudolph was at first amazed at Dee's boldness of speech, 
then angry at his attack, but soon perceived that he had to 

31 



deal with a harmless, religious fanatic, and instead of taking 
umbrage quietly replied that he trusted he would not need 
earnest protestations to lead a correct life. He also expressed 
curiosity about the "holy-stone" and Dee soon forgot his 
fervid religious mood in the quiet conversation that followed 
on the mysteries of crystallomanc3\ He told the Emperor 
that the use of crystals in divination was very ancient and 
analogous to the method with mirrors known as catopt- 
romancy. According to Varro, the intimate friend of Cicero, 
these methods originated in Persia ; the Greek mathematician 
Pythagoras constructed a highly polished steel mirror at the 
full of the moon, for divination, as early as 500 B. C. 
Diviners by mirrors were called by the Romans Specularii; 
they were employed by the ill-fated Roman Emperor Didius 
Julianus (born 133 A. D.) who sought to learn the issue of 
the battle about to take place between his general, Severus, 
and TulHus Crispinus, a child being the seer on that occasion. 
Dee remarked that Rudolph was of course acquainted with 
the recently published work describing excellent methods for 
reading the future, by the Italian philosopher Pico della 
Mirandola. The mirrors used by these and others were, how- 
ever, of human manufacture, whereas the "shew-stone" was 
of supernatural origin, having been given him by the angel 
Uriel. Rudolph expressed great interest and curiosity in the 
matter and Dee promised to exhibit its powers on another 
occasion. 

The conversation then drifted into astrology, especially 
on the influence of the zodiacal signs on the human anatomy ; 
Dee criticised the horoscope of the Emperor cast by a Bohe- 
mian expert as barbarous and offered to work out a correct 
one, for which purpose he obtained the necessary data as to 
Rudolph's nativity. The learned Englishman's lofty, mathe- 
matical way of discussing astronomy rather bored his Majesty 

32 



who turned the conversation to chiromancy, a topic in which 
Dee was also proficient. 

At the hint from the Vice Chancellor Dee withdrew, first 
promising the Emperor a second visit, and returned to his 
house in Gold Alley ; soon after he received through the 
Emperor's private almoner a royal gift of coins, representing 
more gold than his crucibles and retorts had ever yielded. 

Though passionately devoted to the sciences, Rudolph was 
not a profound scholar; lie hired skilled men to work in his 
laboratories and observatories and hoped to reap the benefit 
of their success in the creation of gold and in penetration of 
the future. He had no book-learning aside from the ad- 
'vantages gained by linguistic ability, and he had no dis- 
position to work hard at the literature of the past. His 
courtiers and salaried scientists were chiefly parasites, and a 
great contrast to the profound, well-read English philosopher 
who had settled in Prague. Consequently at the next and 
many subsequent visits paid by Dee to the Emperor, the 
Englishman discoursed on the mysteries of spiritualism, and 
the arcana of hermetic philosophy ; they exchanged views on 
the true sources of the prima materia, knowledge of which 
is indispensable to transmutation; they discussed the best 
form of Alcahest, the Azoth of Paracelsus, and methods of 
preparing Aurum Potabile. Then, penetrating more deeply 
into the mysteries of spagyrical secrets, they conferred on the 
doctrine of palingenesis, the operation of reconstructing from 
its ashes a plant or a flower; this phenomenon consists in 
the evocation of the primitive form of the being, its astral 
body, by the will-power of the Spagyrist, under the influence 
of heat and of the spiritum universalem. The marvels of 
homunculi also engaged their attention; Dee maintained that 
these artificial manifestations of the microcosm were merely 
elemental gnomes, sylphs and undines endowed with bodies 

33 



analogous to that of man; and he said he had always re- 
frained from experimenting with homunculi owing to the 
terrible moral responsibility involved . Dee then spoke of the 
fascinating study of gamahes, those natural objects made of 
marble, silex and other minerals which imitate perfectly man's 
artistic work. He pointed out the supreme importance of 
these objects in their relation to transmutation, for the 
Philosophers' stone is a gamahe in the form of gold. 

Discussion ensued on the influence of the Lemures in de- 
veloping hermetism, and of the real significance of the great 
Thelesma of Hermes, when the royal pupil of the erudite 
Englishman found himself getting beyond his depth in a 
philosophical maze; to extricate himself he suggested that 
the goal of transmutation might best be reached by obeying 
the precepts embodied in the ancient saying: 

"Labora, opera, ora et invenies." 

To this, however, Dee, with the skill of a courtier, added 
that due weight should be given to another maxim: 

u Omni ex voluntate Dei," 
which was one of Rudolph's favorite mottoes. 

That famous embodiment of alchemic lore, the Tabula 
Smaragdina of Hermes Trismegistus, aroused a heated dis- 
cussion inasmuch as Dee ventured to oppose Rudolph's inter- 
pretation of it. The 'Father of Alchemy,' Hermes, was identi- 
fied with Canaan, Noah's grandson ; he invented mathematics, 
astronomy and music, taught the Egyptians the art of writing 
and gave them legal institutions and religious rites. More- 
over he was perfectly acquainted with the Philosophers' stone, 
and being desirous that posterity should inherit the wonder- 
ful gift, he had the process for creating gold engraved on an 
emerald tablet which was placed in his sepulchre. Many years 
later it was removed by Sarah, Abraham's wife, and she 
concealed it in a cave near Hebron where it remained until 

34 






discovered by Alexander the Great. The inscription on the 
emerald read as follows : 

"I speak not of fictitious things but of that which is most certain 
and true. Whatsoever is below is like that which is above, and 
that which is above is similar to that which is below to accomp- 
lish the miracles of one thing. And as all things were produced 
by the meditation of one Being, so all things were produced from 
this one thing by adaptation. Its father is Sol, its mother Luna; 
the wind carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse. It is the 
cause of all perfection throughout the whole earth. Its power is 
perfect, if it be changed into earth. Separate the earth from the 
fire the subtile from the gross, acting prudently and with judg- 
ment. Ascend with the greatest sagacity from the earth to heaven, 
and then again descend to the earth, und unite together the 
powers of things superior and things inferior. Thus you will 
possess the glory of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly 
far away from you. This thing has more fortitude than fortitude 
itself, because it will overcome every subtile thing and penetrate 
every solid thing. By it this world was formed. Hence proceed 
wonderful things which in this wise were established. For this 
reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I possess three 
parts of the philosophy of the whole world. What I had to say 
about the operation of Sol is completed." 

In discussing this ancient parable Dee preferred to give a 
theological interpretation to it, whereas the Emperor main- 
tained it was the key to hermetic philosophy. Dr. Dee then 
remarked that it reminded him of another enigma of unknown 
origin : 

''If ye wolle to thys Medycyn aplye, 
Make furst hevy, hard, hotte and drye: 
Nesshe, lyght, cold and wete, 
Put ham togeder and make ham mete, 
Thus may ye spend mor thann the King, 
Yf ye have connyng of suche a thynge." 

Doctor Dee found that Rudolph desired to learn more of 
the famous English and French masters in science, and he 
informed his Majesty of the celebrated Franciscan monk Roger 
Bacon who flourished in the thirteenth century. He told 

35 



him of Bacon's great learning in every branch of knowledge,, 
theology, medicine, mathematics, mechanics, optics and chem- 
istry; and he spoke of his inventions, the magic-lantern, the 
burning glass, the telescope and gunpowder, as well as of his 
wonderful magical powers that enabled him to construct a 
machine to rise in the air, statues having the power of loco- 
motion, and a brazen head that emitted articulate speech. 
Rudolph was of course acquainted with Bacon's Mirror of 
Alchemy published a short time before at Lyons. Dee then 
spoke of the skillful physician, Arnold of Villanova, and of the 
transmutation he accomplished with the aid of Raymund 
Lully at Rome in 1288; also of Sir George Ripley, who gained 
such enormous wealth by the hermetic art that he presented 
the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem with five hundred thou- 
sand pounds of gold, as proved by documents at Malta. 

Passing to France, Dee reminded the Emperor of the 
extraordinary history of the poor Parisian scrivener, Nicholas 
Flamel, who had labored with crucibles, athanors and 
alembics for twenty years before he gained the secret of the 
Philosophers' stone ; and then, with the assistance of his 
faithful wife Perrenelle, on January 17th 1382, about noon, 
he made a successful projection on one pound and a half of 
mercury, transmuting it into good gold, more pliable and 
lustrous than the natural metal. As visible evidence of this 
claim Dee assured Rudolph that he had seen the handsome 
archway in the cemetery of the Holy Innocents erected at 
Flamel's expense, on which were sculptured hieroglyphical 
figures explaining the whole process ; and that when he, Dee, 
fell ill during a visit to Paris in his youth, he had been kindly 
treated in one of the hospitals endowed by the pious Flamel 
with a portion of the wealth secured by spagyric skill. 

The learned Englishman delighted the Emperor with the 
picturesque narrative of another French alchemist, Denis 

36 



Zachaire, who labored vainly for nearly a lifetime and had 
spent a fortune before success had crowned his efforts by a 
projection made on Easter Monday, 1550, when in less than 
an hour common quicksilver was converted into gold. 
Rudolph, who was accustomed to see his alchemists maintain 
fires for seven weeks at a time, only to produce dross, was 
greatly impressed by this report. 

On one occasion the Emperor himself became communi- 
cative and conversed on the progress of alchemy in Bohemia in 
recent years. His Majesty spoke of the chemical laboratory 
founded at Koniggratz in 1476 by Wenzel von Troppau, in 
which the dowager Empress Barbara worked with great zeal. 
Rudolph, though credulous, was aware of the necessity of 
taking precautions against trickery and told Dee with great 
glee, of the simple scheme by which Christopher von Hirsch- 
berg swindled the opulent Lord von Rosenberg. Hirschberg 
informed the Prince that gold properly treated with chemicals 
would increase in quantity if merely buried in the soil and 
watered with certain secret liquids. Rosenberg loaned the 
knave eighty gold ducats for the experiment; they were buried 
in the garden and duly sprinkled with the nasty liquid sup- 
plied, but after a few days Hirschberg disappeared and on 
digging for the ducats it was found that they too had vanished. 

Mardocheus de Delle, who with other courtiers was present 
at the interview, laughed heartily at this narrative and pro- 
mised the Emperor a poem on the adventures of the noble 
lord and the wily alchemist. Dee was about to inquire as 
to the penalty imposed on von Hirschberg, whom he had met 
in Gold Alley, when conversation was interrupted by the 
entrance of Martin de Rutzke, bringing with him a beautifully 
illuminated and rare manuscript rescued at the dispersal of 
the library of Wresowitz, who was reputed to have been a 
successful experimenter. The work was entitled "The True 

37 




Path of Alchemy," and was written by Antonio of Florence 
in the year 1475; being couched in exceedingly obscure and 
mystical language, hinting only at the secrets of the black 
art, it was particularly admired by Rudolph who ordered his 
treasurer to pay the high price demanded for it, and instructed 
his librarian to add it to his valuable collection. 

The promised exhibition of the magic virtue of the "holy 
stone" was not arranged until the 20th of March 1585, and 
the occasion was invested \vith great mystery and solemnity 
by Dr. Dee, and by Kelley, who made his first appearance 

before the Emperor. The 
precious crystal was re- 
moved from its velvet- 
lined, silver - mounted 
|if ebony case and laid with 
due ceremony upon a 

table ; Kelley placed him- 
DR. DEE'S SHEW-STONE, ir , f , ,, 

self before it and after 

Preserved in the British Museum. 

gazing fixedly at the 

glittering bauble went into a sort trance; Dee sat at an- 
other table furnished with writing materials; the Emperor 
for once had to play a subordinate part as onlooker and to 
await the pleasure of the spirits. The only other persons in 
the dimly lighted room were the Vice Chancellor Curtius and 
Martin de Rutzke of the privy chamber. After a devout in- 
vocation to the Almighty in which Dee besought the good 
\vill of the angelic host, Kelley, with halting speech and 
monotonous drawl, began to dictate both the visual and oral 
mysteries revealed by the spirits in the shew-stone. At first 
he recited a chaotic mass of absurd rhapsodies in an in- 
comprehensible jargon well calculated to mystify the credulous 
Emperor; then followed oracular utterances prophesying 
Rudolph's success in war, and a dark allusion to a powerful 

38 



UNIVERSITY 



alliance with a foreign power destined to yield some beneficial 
and some evil results. Finally Kelley announced that the spirit 
Zadkiel wished to communicate directly with his Majesty, 
and the Emperor replacing Dee at the writing table, took 
down the following recipe for the Philosophers' stone: 

"Take common Audcal, purge it and work it by Rlodnr of four 
divers digestions, continuing the last digestion for fourteen days 
in one and a swift proportion, until it be Dlafod fixed, a most 
red and luminous body, the Image of Resurrection. Take also 
Lulo of red Roxtan and work him through the four fiery degrees 
until thou hast his Audcal and there gather him. . . 
So, doth it become Darr, the thing you ask for; a holy, most 
glorious and dignified Dlafod. But watch well and gather him 
so at the highest, for in one hour he descendeth or ascendeth from 
the purpose. Take hold." 

Doctor Dee, who had much experience in the language of 
spirits, explained the obscure words thus : Audcal signifies 
gold, the prima materia in this operation; Dlafod represents 
sulfur, the essential component ; Lulo means tartar and 
Roxtan means wine, so the phrase refers to philosophical 
cream-of-tartar. Darr, in the angelic tongue, is the true name 
of the stone. 

In commemoration of this extraordinary seance, Rudolph 
graciously presented to Dee a fragment of so-called ''immortal 
paper," paper that had been rendered indestructible by im- 
mersion in the water of a mineral spring in Silesia. The 
paper thus acquired properties that protected it from decay 
as well as from attacks of moths and worms. It had been 
given to the Emperor by George Kretschmar, a resident of 
Gold Alley, who was rewarded by a patent of nobility. 

The Emperor, the English savant and his companion in 
charlatanism, probably all felt that: 

.... "The pleasure is as great 
Of being cheated, as to cheat 

39 





CHAPTER V. 
RUDOLPH AND THE "GOLDEN KNIGHT/' 

"By fire 

Of sooty coal th'empiric alchemist 
Can turn, or holds it possible to turn, 
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold." 

Milton. 

OHN DEE'S seance with the "holy stone" in 
Rudolph's private apartment raised his reputation 
to a prodigious height; a further display of philo- 
sophical instruments whose use was little under- 
stood by the Emperor, and of a magic mirror together with 
an exhibition of Catoptromancy, secured for the Englishman 
the fullest confidence of this eccentric patron of science. Dee 
was assigned one of the best equipped laboratories on the 
Hradschin, and with the useful Kelley went to work with 
renewed zeal at the search for the Philosophers' stone. At 
first the costly materials and apparatus were supplied by the 
, Emperor's orders with liberality and promptness, but after 
some time the foreigners had to avail themselves of the con- 
tributions of the gentlemen of the privy chamber, the courtiers 
and the noble attendants, all of whom had blind faith in 
transmutation and a willingness to aid in sustaining the 
labors of such distinguished and skillful adepts. 

Dr. Dee's eldest son, Arthur, already initiated in occult 
lore, became an assistant in the royal laboratory; having 

40 



real skill in the management of fire and in all metallurgical 
operations, Arthur Dee won the highest esteem of the 
Emperor's trained alchemists. John Dee now found himself 
so pleasantly situated and profitably occupied that he 
removed his family, in January, 1585, to a better residence, 
rented of two sisters at seventy dollars per annum; he con- 
ducted his household affairs in a lavish style and began to 
mingle with the aristocratic residents of the Hradschin and 
of Old Prague. His high reputation even reached the Russian 
court; the Czar Feodor invited him to enter his service, 
promising him a stipend of two thousand pounds per annum, 
besides laboratory expenses and apartments for his family 
and household servants. Dee refused this brilliant offer but 
sent his son Arthur to Moscow, where he became court 
physician and a favorite with the powerful Czar. While at 
Moscow Arthur Dee wrote his famous book on alchemy 
entitled "Fasciculus Chemicus" printed at London in 1650, 
after his return to England. 

Had Dee's magic crystal really shown him the future in 
store for him, he would have accepted the offer of the Russian 
potentate, for within two 3^ears he fell into disgrace and was 
Torced to leave Prague; in an evil hour he began to meddle 
in court intrigues of a perilous nature. Fierce controversies 
had long raged in Bohemia between Catholics and Pro- 
testants, and Rudolph, influenced by the wily Jesuits attached 
to the court, promulgated harsh measures against the new 
party, although a constitutional disinclination to exert his 
power as monarch disposed him to be tolerant to his political 
opponents. Theological disputations even penetrated court 
circles and naturaly the staunch Protestant from England 
took sides against the Catholic party, at the head of which 
was the Grand Steward George Popel von Lobkowitz and 
the Papal Legate. Among the courtiers inclined to show 

41 



polite attention to the learned Englishman was the Am- 
bassador of Spain, the crafty Octavius Spinola. He secured 
Dee's confidence by inviting him to dinner, in the course of 
which he claimed to be a descendant of the noted alchemist 
Raymund Lully, one of the reputed possessors of the Philo- 
sophers' stone, who late in life through religious convictions, 
went as a missionary to the Moors of North Africa, where 
he perished at their hands by stoning, a Christian martyr. 
This interested Dee immensely and he besought his good 
friend to use his influence with Rudolph in his favor. Instead 
of so doing, however, the treacherous Spaniard told his 
Majesty that Dee was a bankrupt adventurer, a conjurer of 
infernal demons, who was practising magical arts against 
the Emperor's person, and whose only object at Prague was 
to wheedle him out of silver and gold. Some of this Rudolph 
already knew, some of it was unfortunately true, but the 
slanderous accusation greatly prejudiced Dee's position at 
court. ^A decree of banishment was issued, and Dee and 
Kelley fled with their families to Cracow where they still 
had a few friends. 

The finances of the Englishmen were now very low, and 
they were in sore straits to keep up the appearance of 
opulence so necessarj- to their pretentions as possessors of the 
secrets of Hermes. Fortune favored them, however, when 
they gained the ear of Stephen, King of Poland ; in the royal 
presence Dee again consulted the invaluable "holy stone," 
under Kelley's excellent management as "skryer," and the 
spirits announced that Rudolph would soon be assassinated 
and that Stephen himself would succeed to the imperial 
throne. This flattering prediction pleased the King, and for 
a time he furnished money for experiments in transmutation, 
a large part of which was devoted to the necessary expenses 
of the English families. But the King of Poland soon grew 

42 




EDWARD KELLEY, "THE GOLDEN KNIGHT." 



weary of his costly proteges, and for their part they secured 
a more profitable station with the extremely wealthy William 
von Rosenberg. Their return to Bohemia was conducted 
" secretely, yet Rudolph heard of it and sent envoys to von 
Rosenberg to demand their persons, but the powerful noble 
was bold enough to refuse to surrender them. 

While in Bohemia the artful Doctor deemed it prudent to 
maintain his friendly relations with Queen Elizabeth and to 
remind her of his skill in alchemy ; he sent her accordingly a 
small disc of silver the size of a ducat, which he claimed to 
have made out of brass cut from a warming-pan, and a few 
weeks afterward he dispatched the utensil itself, with a 
circular hole cut the exact size of the silver disc as tangible 
proof of his claim. By such transparent tricks sixteenth 
century imposters kept alive a belief in alchemy among 
persons of real learning and of experience in worldly affairs. 

Meanwhile at von Rosenberg's palatial mansion in Tre- 
bona, Dee met with great success, converting pewter flagons 
and brass platters into silver, as attested by expert silver- 
smiths. At this time Edward Kelley misbehaved shamefully 
and after a quarrel with Dee, which was quite justifiable on 
Dee's part, deserted him. The Doctor was in dispair having 
become dependent on his "skryer" for daily spiritual food; 
he tried to initiate his youngest son in clairvoyance and 
consecrated him with solemn ceremonies, but the boy was 
unable to discern visions, and to hear spirit messages in the 
Shew-stone. Kelley had anticipated this and after a short 
absence returned to Dee who welcomed him gladly and 
granted the profligate his wicked demands. 

After five years absence from England, John Dee received 
an invitation from the Queen to return. He had saved some 
money while with Rosenberg and made the land journey in 
great style, having three coaches for himself and family, 

43 



drawn each by four horses, several baggage wagons and a 
guard of twenty-four armed horsemen. He left Trebona in 
March, 1589, and travelled via Bremen, where he received a 
visit from a famous hermetic philosopher, Dr. Heinrich 
Kunrath, of Hamburg, and conducted amicable correspon- 
dence with the Landgrave of Hesse, to whom Dee presented 
his twelve Hungarian horses. On his arrival in England, in 
November, he found that his residence at Mortlake had been 
pillaged during his absence by a mob who had accused him of 
necromancy ; all his furniture had been broken, his valuable 
library had been burned, and the philosophical instruments 
and the curiosities in his museum had been ruined or stolen. 
Dee endeavored to get compensation from the state, but 
though the Queen received him graciously at Richmond, he 
never recovered the value of his property. Being settled 
again at Mortlake, he was occasionly visited by Elizabeth as 
of old, and at Christmas, 1590, she sent him two hundred 
angels, and other presents. Being in favor at court Dee 
carried on his studies and experiments without molestation, 
but six years passed before he was given substantial emolu- 
ments; in 1595 he was granted the Chancellorship of St. 
Paul's Cathedral, and a few months later he was installed 
Warden of Manchester College, " wherein he had the un- 
happinesse to be often vext with the Turbulent Fellowes of 
that Colledge". These sinecures he held until his death in the 
eighty -first year of his age, " deserving the Commendations 
of all learned and ingenious Schollers, and to be remembered 
for his remarkable Abilities." 

While at the court of Ructolph Dr. Dee had kept Kelley 
in the background, through mistrust and jealousy, but after 
Dee's banishment Kelley secured an intimate footing in 
imperial circles. He was at that time about thirty years of 
age, a few years younger than the Emperor ; he had an 

44 



attractive presence to those that overlooked an expression of 
low cunning, and he acquired a courtly manner which com- 
bined with unbounded assurance helped his subtle schemes; 
he won over the Emperor completely, promising him all sorts 
of impossible things, allowing him to taste an Elixir of Life 
of his secret manufacture, and giving him a powder warranted 
to produce gold, being a portion of that found in an ivory 
ball at the tomb of St. Dunstan. In his experiments before 
the Emperor, Kelley used legerdemain rather than metallurgi- 
cal knowledge, rumor magnified his seeming success and his 
fame became great throughout Prague. Rudolph gave him a 
large salary as court alchemist, and endowed him with 
landed estates ; he even raised the scheming charlatan to the 
dignity of a Knight of the Bohemian Kingdom, the royal 
patent, dated the twenty-third of February, 1590, naming 
Sir Edward a "Golden Knight." (Eques auratus.) 

In devising transmutation schemes to deceive the Emperor 
the golden Knight was obliged to avoid the well-known 
tricks that Dr. von Hayek had exposed at the conference on 
alchemy held in his parlors, and he succeeded in arranging a 
new one that had the merits of safety, simplicity and origin- 
ality. The crafty knave informed his Majesty that he should 
make a projection with his own royal hands, and that he, 
Kelley, would not touch the crucibles, the coals or the in- 
gredients, nor would he permit himself or his assistant to 
approach the furnace during the operation. Kelley had had 
constructed a large wooden box with a strong horizontal 
partition, ostensibly to hold the apparatus employed ; beneath 
the shallow tray he concealed his brother, who was both 
short and slight and capable of curling up into a surprisingly 
small space. When the day arrived for the grand demonstra- 
tion, the heavy box was placed in the imperial laboratory 
tinder Kelley 's orders, and from it Rudolph's trusted alchemists 

45 



drew the crucibles, tongs, bellows, and charcoal, as well as 
the litharge, orpiment, borax and salt required for the 
experiment. Rudolph, who was not without experience in 
manipulation, preceded in the usual fashion, and under his 
direction the fire was pushed to a white heat; then as 
previously agreed, all persons withdrew from the laboratory 
for one hour so that the spirits whom Sir Edward had in- 
voked might work their will undisturbed. No sooner had the 
door been locked and sealed by the Emperor himself, than 
young Kelley crawled out of his hiding-place, stepped quickly 
to the furnace, threw into the crucible a quantity of gold- 
filings and returned to his tool-box, the hinged partition 
closing after him. The instant the hour had elapsed the 
royal party broke the seal, unbolted the door, and reentering 
the apartment found that nothing had been disturbed. The 
fire was replenished with coals and maintained at great 
intensity for some time and then allowed to die down ; the 
crucible was cooled and broken with a heavy hammer, in the 
bottom lay a bright button of gold delighting all beholders. 
The Emperor was confirmed in his belief that in the Golden 
Knight he had a prodigy, and Kelley perceived that his 
brother made an excellent conspirator. As soon as convenient 
the wooden box was removed to Kelley 's private house and 
the prisoner was liberated from his uncomfortable retreat. 

Fully three years Sir Edward lived in imperial favor, 
busy day and night either in the Hradschiner laboratories or 
in gossiping and carousing with boon companions at the 
Golden Ball. He was permitted to make occasional visits to 
Prince von Rosenberg at his estates near Krumau, and 
authorities affirm that the Englishman swindled the Bohemian 
out of the enormous sum of three hundred thousand florins ; 
this is in part sustained by the fact that the foreigner acquired 
valuable landed estates in the kingdom. Kelley lived in lavish 

46 



style and ostentatiously bestowed gifts on persons likely to 
gossip about his wealth; upon the occasion of the marriage 
of one his maid-servants he gave away rings, twisted with 
three gold wires, to the value of four thousand pounds, 
which caused the English author and antiquarian, Elias 
Ashmole, to remark, a century later: "This was highly 
generous, but to say the truth, openly profuse beyond the 
modest limits of a sober philosopher." 

The good fortune of Sir Edward culminated with this 
opportunity of fleecing two wealthy dupes simultaneously, 
and it terminated suddenly through an unforseen event. A 
quarrel with one of the Emperor's retainers led to a duel, 
and unfortunately Kelley slew his antagonist. Rudolph was 
especially severe towards duellists, and made no exception in 
behalf of his favorite alchemist. Threatened with the dis- 
pleasure of a despot, he fled for his life, but was pursued by 
dragoons, captured and confined in the White Tower on the 
Hradschin; a short time afterward he was transported to 
Purglitz and thrust into a horrible dungeon. The miserable 
man fallen from so high a position, was treated with great 
severity like a common malefactor ; his food was passed into 
his cell through a hole in the door, and he was refused the 
consolation of writing materials and books. But even a 
worse fate was in store for him ; the Emperor finding him in 
his power formed the plan of wresting from him the secret of 
the manufacture of the gold producting powder. Sir Edward 
was put to torture and while in bodily agony questioned by 
the Governor of the Castle. A letter dated the eighth of 
February, 1592, written by the Emperor's secretary to the 
Governor, "cltscloses the details to be extorted from the 
wretched prisoner ; the Emperor wished to learn : 

First ; in what way can the four pounds of tincture found 
at Kelley 's house be purified and used in projections? 

47 



Secondly; how is the potable gold prepared that Kelley 
gave Rudolph to taste? 

Thirdly; how is the apparatus called Tritrop used? 

Fourthly; how is white earth, or unripe silver, manu- 
factured ? 

Fifthly; how are certain precious stones made by arti- 
fice? 

Lastly ; what is the signification of the secret characters 
in Kelley's note-book? 

The unhappy victim could not have answered these 
queries under ordinary circumstances and torture was un- 
availing. Failing in this attempt to force Kelley, he was 
treated more leniently for a while and allowed paper, pens 
and books. 

The news of Kelley's pitiable plight reached Dee at Mort- 
[ lake, and he besought Queen Elizabeth to appeal to Emperor 
Rudolph to release the Englishman, but in vain. The prisoner 
hearing of this fruitless attempt at succor, planed an escape; 
friends outside bribed the jailors and gave drugged liquor to 
the sentinels, placed horses at convenient points and made 
all preparations for flight. Kelley got out of his dungeon 
but in attempting to let himself down from the outer wall 
of the castle by a rope, fell, broke his leg and injured himself 
internally ; he was immediately recaptured and again immured 
in the fortress, where he was shortly relieved of his sufferings 
by death. Sir Edward was then about forty-two years of 
age; some authorities say he was an Irishman by birth, and 
that his real name was Talbot, which he dropped after his 
punishment for forgery. 

While in captivity Kelley composed a trea^ e in Latin on 
the "Stone of Philosophers," which he dedicated, ' October, 
1596, "To the most potent Lord of the Holy Roma... ipire, 

48 



Rudolph II., King of Hungary and Bohemia". The opening 
paragraph, addressed to his old patron, exhibits his bold 
arrogance that never forsook him even in distress : 

"Though I have already twice suffered chains and 
imprisonment in Bohemia, an indignity which has been 
offered to me in no other part of the world, yet my mind 
remaining unbound, has all this time exercised itself in 
the study of that philosophy which is despised only by 
the wicked and foolish but is praised and admired by the 
wise. Nay, the saying that none but fools and lawyers 
hate and despise alchemy has passed into a proverb. 
Furthermore, as during the preceding three years I have 
used great labor, expense and care in order to discover 
for your Majesty that which might afford you much 
profit and pleasure, so during my imprissonment a 
calamity which has befallen me through the action of 
your Majesty I am utterly incapable of remaining idle. 
Hence I have written a treatise by means of which your 
imperial mind may be guided into all the truth of the 
ancient philosophy; but if my teaching displease you, 
know that you are still altogether wandering astray 
from the true scope and aim of this matter, and are utterly 
wasting your money, time, labor and hopes . . . Nothing 
is more ancient, excellent, or desirable than truth and 
whosoever neglects it must pass his whole life in the 
shade ... I venture to hope, however, that my life and 
character will so become known to posterity that I may 
be counted among those who have suffered much for the 
sake of truth." 

Shakespeare might have had this arrogant boaster in 
mind when he wrote: 

"The empty vessel makes the greatest sound." 

49 



Elias Ashmole prints in the "Theatrum Chemicum Bri- 
tannicum" (London, 1652) the "scheame of nativity" of 
Kelley and shows that it was impossible for this "Philo- 
sophus Dubius" to escape the hard fate decreed him by the 
stars because of the " Dragon's Tayle" in the Ascendant. 




KELLEY'S HOROSCOPE. 

When the news of Sir Edward's tragic death reached the 
Hradschin, his entire property was confiscated, and the 
Emperor's ridiculous poet Mardocheus de Delle wrote some 
affecting lines which lose their charm if translated : 

"Bin Engellander, Eduard Kellaus zu Prag, 
Von dem ich noch wahrhaftig sag, 
Kam zum alten Herrn von Rosenberg 
Und gab da vor ein grosses Werk, 
Tingirt in lauter Gold ganz hoch. 
50 



Dcr Kaiser Rudolph erfuhr es auch, 

Liess vor sich kommen diesen Held, 

Gab ihn gross Gut und Geld. 

Da der Kaiser mit seinen Augen sah 

Was der Natur Kunst vermag, 

Das that dem Kaiser behagen, 

Liess ihm offentlich zum Ritter schlagen. 

Nach grosser Freud kam Traurigkeit, 

Mit Jiirgen Hunkler kam er in Streit ; 

Kcllaus den Hunkler hat erstochen. 

Das liess der Kaiser nicht ungerochen. 

Kellaus ins Gefangniss kam, 

Dadurch er auch sein Ende nahm; 

Zerbrach in fliehen das eine Bein, 

Musst also sterben ganz allein. 

Ach wo mag seine Tinctur sein? 

Sie ist noch nicht erfunden 

Bis auf die heutiren Stunden." 




51 



CHAPTER VI. 
RUDOLPH'S ART-TREASURES. 

"Wherever power, or pride, or wealth keep court, 

Behold this fulsome race resort: 

A motley group a party-coloured pack, 

Of knave and fool of quidnunck, and of quack, 

* * 

Dabblers in science dealers in virtue, 
And S3 T cophants of every form and hue. 
Low Artists too, a busy babbling fry, 
That frisk and wriggle in a great man's eye." 

Sir Martin Shee. 

]HE M^CENAS of Bohemia, as Rudolph was styled, 
besides devoting his energies to alchemy and the 
occult sciences was a liberal patron of art, and in 
this activity showed the same weakness, extra- 
vagance and caprice as when dealing with the disciples of 
Hermes. He collected at enormous expense, and without 
definite purpose, beautiful examples of the art of the sculptor 
and of the painter^ as well as costly objects of artistic and 
historical interest, and crowded them with no attempt at 
intelligent arrangement into rooms, corridors and great halls 
of the imperial palace. Rudolph's passion for art was not 
without precedent on the part of those who had occupied the 
imperial throne; the stately cathedral of Carl IV., the ex- 
quisite Belvedere of Ferdinand, and the Byzantine, Italian 
and German pictures decorating the same Cathedral and the 

52 




UNIVERSITY 



Castle Karlstein, were noble examples of art well calculated 
to stimulate the beholder to further acquisitions. The 
Emperor was undoubtedly influenced by the success of the 
Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol, for fifteen years Governor of 
Bohemia, in forming the remarkable collection at the Castle 
Ambras, the richness of which can hardly be appreciated by 
the few specimens still preserved in the imperial museum at 
Vienna. 

The nucleus of Rudolph's world -renowned "Kunst- 
Kammer" was formed by the union and removal to the 
Hradschin of two great collections, that of Maximilian II. 
at Vienna, and one gathered by the noted art-connoisseur 
Jacopo di Strada, of Mantua. This learned antiquarian and 
numismatist, author of several works on coins and medals, 
was one of the first to apply knowledge of these objects to 
the elucidation of histor}^ ; as a profound student of antiqui- 
ties he perceived too their historical bearing and did much to 
establish archaeology as a science. While residing in Italy he 
formed acquaintances with prominent artists, sat for his 
portrait to Titian (a painting now preserved in Vienna,) and 
acquired a good knowledge of their masterpieces; under 
Maximilian he became curator of the Viennese Galleries and 
within a year after Rudolph's accession to the throne, he 
was invited to Prague and appointed custodian of the 
imperial collections. Strada and his son Octavius soon 
secured great influence at the court; Rudolph placed the 
utmost confidence in his fidelity and judgment and raised 
him to the dignity of a Knight with the appellation "von 
Rossberg". The intimacy was undoubtedly strengthened by 
Rudolph's passion for Strada's extremely beautiful daughter, 
who bore the Emperor three sons and three daughters. 

Agents in every part of the world sought for the imperial 
museum natural curiosities, antiquities, and art-rarities; not 

53 



only -were Germany and Italy ransacked for treasures, but 
Greece, the Levant, Egypt and even America contributed their 
quota; from the New World notable specimens of Indian 
curiosities were secured. Although often hampered by lack 
of funds to meet national demands of prime importance, the 
Emperor always found money for the purchase of the articles 
collected by Strada and his agents. Frequent and large levies 
were exacted by the crown from the impoverished people, 
nominally to defray expenses of the exhausting war with the 
Turks, and it has been suggested, perhaps unjustly, that a 
portion of this gold was applied to the Emperor's personal 
hobbies. No extravagance was too great provided the ends 
were attained; absurdly high prices were paid the wiry 
emissaries who knew how to profit by the Emperor's weak- 
ness and credulity. 

The cabinet of curiosities and gallery of art grew very 
rapidly, soon overflowing the great Spanish Hall, the German 
Hall, and filling the entire floor of one wing of the huge 
palace. The collections were frequently increased by costly 
presents from Bohemian noblemen, foreign potentates and 
city magnates who desired to secure the good-will of the 
Emperor for personal or political advantage; the Elector of 
the Palatinate contributed an exquisitely carved ivory altar ; 
Count Fugger sent the Emperor a marble sarcophagus found 
near Athens, ornamented with reliefs of the battle of the 
Amazons; Count Khevenhiller, a Spanish Grandee, presented 
to the gallery several paintings by Titian, by Pietro Rosa 
and by Parmigianino ; and the Burgomaster of Nuremberg 
added Holbein's valuable picture "Isaac blessing Jacob" as 
well as Diirer's " Trinity." 

Mingled in dire confusion with superb treasures of art of 
highest rarity and priceless value were worthless objects 
bought in ignorance and preserved through credulity, such 

54 



as monstrous animals having an abnormal number of heads 
or legs, the teeth of a mermaid captured in the Aegean sea, 
the horn of an unicorn, the feathers of a phoenix, the claws 
of a salamander and other natural history specimens of 
doubtful authenticity. Unscrupulous dealers in fraudulent 
antiquities palmed off on the Emperor's curator the cap and 
sandals of Duke Premysl, and two iron nails from Noah's ark! 

The horn of the unicorn was actually the tooth of the 
narwhal; it was valued as a miraculous remedy for certain 
diseases. A specimen at Dresden was supposed to be worth 
seventy-five thousand dollars, and on the rare occasions when 
a piece was sawed off for medicinal purposes two delegates 
of princely rank were required to be present at the ceremony. 
The Duke Premysl, just named, was one of the semi-mythical 
heroes of Bohemia ; a peasant farmer, he became the husband 
of Libusa the first judge of the people, and was called from 
the plough to the throne. Cosmas, writing in the eleventh 
century, says: "PremysPs boots are preserved at Vyschrad in 
the Duke's room to this day." 

One of Rudolph's favorite fads was the collection, cutting 
and polishing of bright-colored stones and precious gems; 
lapidaries and jewelers sent to the Riesengebirge and other 
mining regions brought back agates, jaspers and semi-precious 
stones, which Rudolph had cut and polished so as to bring 
out the variety and brilliancy of their colors. From such he 
had a table-top made, of small pieces ornamented with 
valuable gems, valued at more than one thousand ducats and 
classed by Dr. Guarinonius as one of the wonders of the 
world. The Emperor employed many workmen skilled in the 
arts of the lapidary and these always had free access to his 
Majesty, while Ambassadors from foreign courts, privy 
ministers and officers of state often waited for days together 
to secure an unwilling audience; he preferred to spend long 

55 



hours watching the revolutions of the lathes and the swing 
of the polishing stones, to listening to the appeals of his 
councillors for advice on religious problems and political 
exigencies which were threatening disaster to the Empire. 

Mineralogy as a science had no existence; an empirical 
knowledge of the value of ores and of the methods of extract- 
ing the useful constituents was all that learned men had 
attained; it is hardly surprising therefore that Rudolph set 
a high value on specimens of rocks and minerals having 
accidental markings on their surface that bore fancied 
resemblances to natural objects, such as clouds, marshes, 
rivers, cities, plants, animals, letters of the alphabet, and 
even the features of the Saints. For these and for lodes tones, 
thunder-stones so-called, and stones believed to increase in 
size as they reposed on the shelves of the cabinet, extra- 
ordinary prices were paid, relatively higher than for the 
magnificent emeralds, sapphires, opals, topazes, pearls and 
diamonds that gave real value to the imperial collections. 
Among the highly prized curiosities were a skull carved out 
of yellow agate, an ewer and basin of rock crystal bought 
of Octavio Miseroni for eight hundred thalers, and a bowl 
of the same translucent material, valued at twenty thousand 
thalers, now preserved in the royal museum at Vienna. 

Josef Svatek, the Bohemian historian, whose essay we 
follow, likens the Rudolphine cabinet of curiosities to the 
heterogeneous assemblage in Barnum's museum long time one 
of the sights of New York city; and with some reason, for 
besides the objects above named, might have been seen the 
following: Mummies and other Egyptian antiquities, ethno- 
logical curiosities of American Indians, stuffed birds and bird 
eggs from the four quarters of the globe, ivory carvings of 
exquisite workmanship in great variety, a small altar of 
silver inlaid with gold, artistic and unusual clocks, a superb 

56 



collection of ancient armor and weapons, (now preserved in 
part at Vienna), a huge Venetian mirror of polished steel, 
thousands of coins and medals, engraved cameos, oriental 
porcelains, miniatures, bronze figures, antique vases, alabaster 
statuettes, marble statues and oil paintings. Perhaps the 
most famous of the art treasures was the statue of Ilioneus, \ 
son of ^iob^Jbought by John von Achen of a Jew dealer in I 
Rome for thirty -four thousand ducats ; it has been ascribed \ 
to Scopas; in Rudolph's day it was entire, but through 
shocking carelessness it became a torso, and in the year 
1782, it was pulled out of a dark cellar beneath the Castle 
and sold at auction for fifty-one kreutzers, a sum equal to 
about thirteen cents of the money of the United States. 

The paintings hanging partly in rooms whose floor-space 
was crowded with the objects named, and partly in the 
chambers and salons of the palace, for there was no art- 
gallery properly speaking, numbered no less than seven 
hundred and sixty-four canvasses and comprised works by 
Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Paul Veronese, Leonardo da Vinci, 
Giulio Romano, and Tintoretto, as well as fine examples of 
the Spanish and Flemish schools. A number of these had 
been purchased in 1580 from the Imhoff Gallery at Nurem- 
berg; they comprised a "Saint Bartholomew" by Raphael, 
a "Bacchus, Diana and Venus" by Paris Bordone of Venice, 
a painting on wood by von Pentz representing "Abraham, 
Sarah and Hagar," and Diirer's "Burning of Sodom and 
Gomorrah," together with a collection of Diirer's drawings 
and his sketch-book. The Rudolphine gallery was very rich 
in the works of Albrecht Diirer, no pains being spared to 
secure them; his "Feast of the Rose-Garlands" (Rosenkranz- 
fest), painted in 1505 for the church of St. Bartholomew in 
Venice, was bought by Johann von Achen for a prodigious 
sum and transported across the Alps on the shoulders of 

57 



four stout and trusty men, thus reaching Prague without 
damage. 

These magnificent paintings were not arranged according 
to any system, the names of the artists were seldom attached, 
though some bore the name of the places where they had 
been obtained. They were hung on the walls without 
reference to light, convenience of sight, age or school of 
painting; when one hall or corridor was filled with curio- 
sities and paintings the adjoining one was opened and the 
heterogeneous collections stored therein until it in turn 
became crowded. In justice to Strada, Johann von Achen 
and other artists, it must be said that this lack of system 
was due chiefly to the will of the autocratic Emperor who 
regarded the treasures as his personal property, to be kept 
strictly private and not designed to promote the study of 
art. Rudolph had a large number of artists engaged in 
decorating the palace and in painting easel pictures, but they 
were of mediocre ability ; they profited little by contact with 
the masterpieces with which they became acquainted and 
they left no evidence of superior skill. Indeed some of them 
were guilty of the atrocity of whitewashing over the superb 
ancient frescoes on the walls of the Castle of Karlstein, and 
painting on the new surface crude scenes of Biblical history 
in semi-barbarous style; a life-size figure of the Virgin was 
beautified (?) by one of the court artists by adding a brilliant 
sunbeam which covered a portion of the figure in a ridiculous 
fashion as with a fringed scarf. 

The oldest and one of the most eminent of the royal 
artists was Bartholomew Spranger, born in the Netherlands 
and trained in Italy. Being recommended to Maximilian in 
1575, he executed for his Majesty, and afterwards for Rudolph, 
important decorative works on the palace walls; the latter 
monarch enobled Spranger who took the cognomen "van den 

58 



Schilden." His best known paintings are the " Allegory on 
the virtues of Rudolph" (now in the Vienna gallery), "Mars 
with Venus and Cupid" (also in Vienna), ' 'Diana and Nymphs" 
(in Stockholm), "Venus served by the Graces" (St. Peters- 
burg), "Cupid and Psyche" (Stuttgart), and portraits of 
members of noble families. 

Johann von Achen, already mentioned several times, was 
born in Cologne; while quite young he went to Italy and 
became a pupil of Michelangelo and of Tintoretto, and on his 
return he secured an appointment under Rudolph. He was 
noted chiefly for his portraits and historical scenes, as well 
as for mythological and genre paintings; his canvas entitled 
"Truth victorious under the protection of Justice" is preserved 
in Vienna. 

Much younger than these artists was the Flemish painter 
of landscapes and animals, Roelant Savary, who was sent 
by Rudolph to study for two years in the Tyrolese Alps, an 
act of liberality which should be remembered to the Emperor's 
credit. Savary's best works were not produced until after 
Rudolph's death. 

Besides objects intended to please the eye, the imperial 
museum contained a collection of musical instruments, both 
wind and string, which were regarded by the court musicians 
with ill-disguised contempt as of mere antiquarian interest. 
The most eminent of these musicians, Filippo da Monte and 
Andrea Mosto, were from Italy, but the musical entertain- 
ments of the court were usually intrusted to the Nuremberger, 
Johann Leonhard Haster, who afterwards distinguished him- 
self at the court of Christian II., Elector of Saxony. The 
concerts were sometimes given in the large hall used for state 
balls situated opposite the great "Turnier Haus." In the 
earlier years of his reign, before hypochondria made Rudolph 
withdraw from society, the court balls were brilliant pageants, 

59 



and quite a retinue of persons were assigned the duty of con- 
ducting them under the direction of the imperial dancing- 
master Alfonso Pasetti of Ferrara. 

For thirty years Rudolph guarded his superb collection 
of pictures, statuary, antiquities and curiosities with jealous 
care; its fame attracted many visitors to Prague, but access 
to the treasures was only obtained through personal friend- 
ship with Strada or some of the officers of the court ; as the 
Emperor grew older he protected the collections more closely 
from the gaze of strangers, and the magnificent masterpieces 
of art exerted no educational influence on rising painters and 
sculptors. 

Jacopo di Strada received the title of Court Antiquary ; 
he lived in the Castle and dined from the royal kitchen, and 
received the yearly salary of one hundred gold gulden, a hand- 
some sum at that period. In company with Strada, Rudolph 
spent entire days in the cabinets, devoting his nights to his 
astrologers and alchemists. When Strada died in 1585 he 
was succeeded by his son Octavius, who in turn was followed 
by Dionysius Miseroni, who had entered the imperial service 
as lapidary in 1590. 

In his later years as his disposition to believe in chimerical 
problems increased Rudolph paid more attention to the 
charlatans who imposed on his good nature than he did to 
the legitimate artists; as has been shown the notorious 
trickster Kelley, after a few exhibitions of legerdemain , 
received from him landed estates and a patent of nobility, 
whereas Johann von Achen, the eminent painter of historical 
scenes, drew a monthly salary of only twenty -five florins after 
many years of honorable service ; nevertheless von Achen and 
Spranger were favorites with the Emperor, who often 
required them to place their easels in his private apartments 
for the pleasure of watching their work with palettes and 

60 



wMIYERSITY 




brushes ; sometimes too he received from them instruction in 
their art, for Rudolph himself painted with considerable skill 
and had the rare faculty of catching the likeness when at 
work on portraits. History relates that Rudolph's imperial 
grandfather Charles V., watching Titian at work on a canvas, 
handed the artist a brush that had fallen to the floor; the 
eminent painter remonstrated, but his Majesty replied: "A 
Titian is worthy to be served by an Emperor." 

The riches of the Rudolphine "Kunst-Kammer" were well- 
nigh priceless ; the archaeologist Jules Caesar Boulenger, who 
died in 1628, estimated the gold and silver articles, the 
precious stones and pearls at seventeen millions of gold 
gulden. After its founder's death it was sadly neglected and 
became the prey of the nations at war with Bohemia ; the 
eyes of all Europe were fixed on these treasures, and the final 
blow of the Thirty Years War was struck with the special 
object of despoiling them ; the Swedish army attacked the 
Castle on the Hradschin at the very moment of the con- 
clusion of the Peace of Westphalia. A Bohemian writer says 
the perfidy was undertaken with a view to pillage at the 
suggestion of Oxenstierna ; however this may be, whole ship- 
loads of precious treasures were sent to Stockholm; the 
remainder was transferred to Vienna and the other cities of 
the German Empire, leaving very little in Prague as a 
souvenir of its former grandeur. 

Rudolph's position as an imperial patron of art has been 
compared to that of the Medici family in Italy, who by 
liberal orders encouraged the great creative geniuses of the 
period, but this is giving the German monarch too great 
credit, as the artists in Prague were mainly mere copyists 
and exerted little influence on the progress of art. 



61 



CHAPTER VII. 




SEEKING THE PHILOSOPHERS' STONE. 

"The mischief a secret any of them know, above the con- 
suming of coals and drawing of usquebaugh ! Howsoever they 
may pretend, under the specious names of Geber, Arnold, Lully 
or Bombast von Hohenheim, to commit miracles in art and 
treason against nature! As if the title of Philosopher, that 
creature of glory, were to be fetched out of a furnace." 

Ben Jettison's Masque. 

JLBRECHT YON BOLLSTADT, commonly known as 
Albertus Magnus, the great oracle of savants in the 
Middle Ages, enumerated the conditions to be ob- 
served by persons seeking the Philosophers' stone; 

in the treatise De Alchimia, written in the thirteenth century, 

he says : 

I. The alchemist should be discreet and silent, revealing 

to no one the results of his operations. 
He should reside in a private house, in an isolated 

situation, containing two or three rooms set apart 

for the experiments. 
He should choose his days and hours for labor with 

discretion. 

He should have patience, diligence and perseverance. 
He should perform according to fixed rules tritura- 

tion, sublimation, fixation, calcination, solution, 

distillation and coagulation. 

62 



II. 



III. 

IV. 
V. 



VI. He should use only vessels of glass or glazed earthen- 
ware. 
VII. He should be sufficiently rich to bear the expenses 

of his art. 

VIII. He should avoid having anything to do with Princes 
and Noblemen. 

Much sound advice is contained in these words of wisdom, 
but unfortunately for the students of hermetic lore they seldom 
obeyed the last two injunctions, but plunged into the fasci- 
nating pursuit of wealth without counting the cost, and were 
generally very eager to secure the favor of powerful and 
opulent patrons. A notable exception to this was seen in the 
case of a Westphalian, whose name has not been preserved, 
and whose skill in transmutation aroused the cupidity of 
Rudolph. The Emperor sent a trusty messenger to invite the 
alchemist to his court, but the man resisted every inducement 
oifered, saying: "If I possess the Philosophers' stone I have 
no need of the Emperor, if I do not possess it the Emperor 
has no need of me." The messenger returned to Prague with- 
out this witty coiner of epigrams, and Rudolph had to con- 
tent himself with correspondence with the recalcitrant adept. 

Throughout Rudolph's reign intense activity in alchemical 
research prevailed not only in Bohemia, but in all Europe; 
nor was the German Emperor the only potentate who 
coquetted with the enticing and elusive damsel. Frederick,' 
Duke of Wurtemberg, was devoted to the pseudo-science; 
journeymen alchemists were always welcomed at his palace, 
and he incurred in futile experiments such enormous expenses 
that the Chamber of Deputies passed restrictive resolutions. 
Augustus, Elector of Saxony, not only employed salaried 
adepts, but worked with his own hands in his private labora- 
tory built in Dresden, known to the citizens as the "Gold- 
House." He seems to have attained to the wonder working 

63 



"tincture," for in 1577 he wrote to an Italian alchemist, 
Francesco Forense: "I have now reached such perfection in 
transmutation that I can make daily three ounces of good 
gold from eight ounces of silver." 

One of Augustus' salaried operators named David Beuther 
was trained in the royal laboratory from his youth, having 
been taught assa^'ing and employed in the mint. One day 
when Beuther was working alone in the cloisters that served 
him for sleeping room, salon and workshop, he saw a cord 
jutting out through a break in the wall ; on pulling it hard 
some plaster fell down and disclosed a small square hewn 
stone behind which he found a silver box containing a large 
supply of the Philosophers' stone. Having tested its virtues 
and found it powerful in transmutation of base metals and 
multiplication of precious ones, he neglected his master's work 
and began to lead a careless, spendthrift life, idling with boon 
companions. When in need of gold he used a little of the 
"magistery" in projection;' these operations he kept secret 
for some time, but finally he admitted two of his intimates 
to witness "the great work" under promise of secrecy. These 
young men became envious of their friend's good fortune and 
reported Beuther's discovery to the Elector, who at once 
arrested him and ordered him to make gold for the royal 
treasury and to teach him (Augustus) the secret process for 
manufacturing the tincture. The unfortunate man, being in 
prison, was unable to satisfy the greed of his despotic master 
and attempted to escape, but was caught in the act and sent 
to Leipsic where he was formally indicted and tried. The 
court sentenced the alchemist to suffer question by torture, 
to have the middle finger of each hand cut off and to be re- 
turned to prison lest he should disclose his secret to some 
other crowned head or nobleman. Augustus, however, felt 
sympathy for the young man who had been seven years in 



his employ, and sent him a letter beseeching him to reveal 
the secret process ; for reply Beuther wrote on the walls of 
his prison cell: "Caged rats catch no mice.' ? When this was 
reported to the Prince he gave Beuther his liberty, but set 
him at work in the laboratory under a watchful guard ; seeing 
no hope of pleasing the Elector the unhappy alchemist com- 
mitted suicide in his laboratory during the momentary ab- 
sence of the guard. 

The \vife of Augustus, Anna of Denmark, affectionately 
called "Mother Anna" by the common people on account of 
her piety and benevolence, was also a zealous seeker after 
the Philosophers' stone and constructed on her own estate, 
Annaberg, two splendidly equipped laboratories in which 
great and small furnaces were continually glowing; one was 
devoted to the manufacture of substances used in medicine 
and the other to experiments in alchemy. In the first Paul 
Luther, the son of the founder of Protestantism, is said to 
have worked, in the latter labored David Beuther and Sebald 
Schwertzer, of whom more will be learned presently. 

From this neighboring state of Saxony, as well as from 
Denmark, Italy and the Orient came frequent reports of suc- 
cessful transmutations which became staple topics of dis- 
cussion at the conferences in Gold Alley, in the court assemblies 
and in the private apartments of the Emperor. The courtier 
Martin Rutzke, the poet de Delle, and the physician von Hayek 
retailed to Rudolph the current gossip of the day, and never 
obtained a more interested auditor than when they reported 
the latest success in the hermetic art; thus the Emperor lived 
in an alchemical atmosphere inhaling with every breath new 
intoxicants. He rewarded too his faithful gossips more gener- 
ously than that other great patron of science and art, Pope 
Leo X, of whom the following anecdote is related: Having 
been presented by Aurelius Augurelli with an epic poem in 

65 



three books written in praise of alchemy, the Pope gave the 
poet an empty purse with the remark that he who knew so 
well how to create gold would have no difficulty in keeping 
it full. 

The character of the tidings communicated to Rudolph 
can be conveniently surveyed by a study of the policy and 
craft of contemporaneous alchemists. These wily pretenders 
to occult power and knowledge of processes for creating at 
will precious stones, universal panaceas and silver and gold, 
were usually poverty stricken wanderers who preyed on rich 
men willing to listen to their captivating claims ; they were 
certainly industrious and some had a blind hope of eventually 
attaining the goal that they believed others had reached, but 
the larger number were downright swindlers who resorted to 
stratagems to bolster up their pretensions. They generally 
maintained that the small amount of "tincture" in their 
possession had been given them by a mysterious stranger 
who appeared and disappeared with equal unconcern, or had 
been discovered in some secret hiding-place, the half-ruined 
wall of an abbey or the crypt of an ancient church, where it 
had been concealed for centuries. To give statements an air 
of mystery, those possessing the secrets of alchemy were said 
to have derived their knowledge during sojourn in oriental 
countries, or through the sheer philanthropy of an Eastern 
sage encountered in travel. 

"A Turkish priest happened to enter a copper foundry 
where great kettles were being cast ; in the furnace were three 
hundred pounds of molten copper into which he threw a small 
package containing a powder, and then he immediately with- 
drew. On cooling the metal was found to be prre gold." 
No place, no date, no responsible names are given by the 
writer, and yet this bold assertion is typical of the statements, 
made in support of the art of Hermes. 

66 



Descriptions of the Philosophers' stone are not wanting; 
Paracelsus represented it as a solid of the color of a dark ruby, 
transparent and flexible, yet as brittle as glass; Berigard 
of Pisa attributed to it the color of a wild poppy and the 
odor of melted salt. The power of this protean object to 
accomplish transmutation was variously estimated; some 
alchemists boasted of a "magistery" so perfect as to trans- 
form one hundred times its weight of mercury into gold; 
Roger Bacon claimed for it a multiplying power of one 
hundred thousand, Isaac Hollandus, one million, and the arti- 
ficial gold thus obtained was itself endowed with equal power. 
The life-prolonging properties claimed for the " Elixir" were 
confirmed by the occasional appearance of persons boasting 
extraordinary age; the adept Trautmansdorf reached the age 
of one hundred and forty-seven years, living the life of a hermit 
in the wilderness of St. Michael. Visitors to this secluded 
habitation were sometimes allowed to see and to handle the 
precious elixir that had prolonged the old man's vigor, and 
which he treasured in a golden box ; it was about as large 
as a bean, of a garnet-red color and much heavier than gold, 
but its most notable property was its emission cf light in 
the dark. 

Formulas for the artificial preparation of the Philosophers' 
stone abound in alchemical writings but without an exception 
they are clothed in such obscure language as to be incom- 
prehensible; a single example will suffice. Richard Carpenter 
of Worcester in 1477 wrote thus : "Take the clear light of 
Titan magnesia, and the bright red green which is the sulphur 
vive, or Philosophers' gold ; join them with the water of light, 
let no va$or escape and keep the fire like the sunbeams in 
summer. In three hours you will see marvelous colors, black, 
white, red and citron; let not your vessel be open until you 
have created the blessed stone." 



67 



Secrecy "was an important condition of success, secrecy 
as respects the ingredients and preparation of the "tincture," 
its usage and the very possession of it. Injunctions to silence 
often occur, none are better expressed than the following: 

"Trust not thy friend too much, wheresoever thou goe, 
For he that thow trustest best sometyme may be thy foe." 

Pater Sapientiae. 

Augustus, the Elector of Saxony, died in the month of 
February 1586, leaving a fortune of seventeen million thalers, 
sufficient evidence in RudoTph's eyes of success in transmuta- 
tion. In the last years of his reign, Augustus had been much 
interested in the labors of one of his hired alchemists, Sebalcl 
Schwertzer by name, who appeared at Dresden with a rare 
manuscript as his certificate of learning and an appeal for an 
opportunity of exhibiting his proficiency. On the fifth of May, 
1585, in presence of the Elector and a select company of his 
friends, three marks of quicksilver were converted into gold, 
a portion of which the Elector presented to the Countess 
Hallach. The director of the treasury calculated that the 
tincture had transmuted 1024 times its weight of metal. 
Schwertzer, encouraged by this projection, proposed to manu- 
facture ten marks of gold daily, but the death of Augustus 
interrupted the undertaking ; the alchemist removed to Prague 
where he was cordially welcomed by Rudolph, who appointed 
him Director of the imperial mines at Joachimsthal and raised 
him to the rank of noble. 

During Doctor Dee's sojourn at the court of Rudolph, 
news arrived from Rome of a wonderful feat accomplished by 
Leonhard Thurneisser, son of a Swiss goldsmith and a dis- 
ciple of Paracelsus. This arrant knave began his adventurous 
career in his youth by selling to a Jew dealing in silver and 
gold some gilded bars of lead, a speculation that led to .the 
flight of the "confidence man" from prosecution in the courts 

68 







LEONHARD THURNEISSER. 



AKf 
_ THE 

VNWERSITT 

or 



of justice. He then journeyed through England and France, 
associating with alchemical charlatans from whom he learned 
the tricks of the profession ; returning to Germany as a pro- 
ficient, he had the good fortune to secure the confidence of the 
Archduke Ferdinand, who generously defrayed his expenses 
of travel throughout the Orient in search of the secrets of 
Hermes. Thurneisser did not find the great magistery, but 
acquired some knowledge of medicine which he practiced with 
immense success ; he entered also the service of the Elector 
of Brandenburg, becoming director of the laboratory founded 
by the Elector's wife. His medical practice gained for him 
great wealth which he squandered in luxurious living; he 
became the most popular physician in Berlin, the oracle of 
the rich and the friend of the poor, to the great displeasure 
of the old established practitioners, who combined to expose 
his quackery so successfully that he left the city in haste. 
Resuming a wandering life he reached Rome where he was 
invited to dine with Cardinal Fernando di Medici, who after- 
wards became Archduke of Tuscany. At the dinner table he 
transmuted half an iron nail into gold, delighting and as- 
tounding the distinguished company ; the process was simple, 
he warmed the nail, dipped it into an oily liquid, and on 
withdrawing it one half was found to be of gold. This prob- 
ably means he was provided with a nail made of gold 
cemented to iron, from which the solvent removed a black 
varnish and disclosed the yellow metal. This bi-metallic nail 
was long preserved in the castle accompanied by a certificate 
signed by the Cardinal, and dated Rome, November 20th, 1586. 
Thurneisser afterwards died in poverty in a cloister, scarcely 
meeting with his deserts. 

The events taking place in the laboratories of the palace, 
the failures and successes of the residents of Gold Alley, as 
well as of the journeymen alchemists visiting Prague, were 

69 



made known to the Emperor through the Director of the 
imperial laboratories, Dr. von Hayek, and by the gossiping 
poet laureate, Mardocheus de Delle. (The Italian favorite, 
who was more successful as a jester than as a writer of 
rhymes, reported how Benedict Topfer, commonly known by 
his Latinized name "Benedictus Figulus," had made the im- 
portant discovery that gold could be made out of Jews. He 
had found by experiment that 24 Jews yielded by proper 
treatment one half ounce of gold, so that by repeating the 
process daily with 100 Jews, making due allowance for holy- 
days, 624 ounces of gold could be made in twelve months !. 
Doctor von Hayek gave his Majesty particulars of a crafty 
scheme played on the residents of Gold Alley by an unknown 
Arabian who made a brief sojourn in Prague. He appeared 
unannounced, coming direct from the Orient; after establish- 
ing himself in grand style on the Hradschin and making the 
acquaintance of the better soft of hermetic students, astrol- 
ogers and occultists, the gorgeously apparelled and polished 
Arabian invited four and twenty of them to a sumptuous 
supper at his residence. When the feast and much wine had 
been consumed, the foreigner proposed making an experiment 
of the " multiplication" of gold in the laboratory adjoining 
his apartments ; this being agreed to, he suggested that each 
one present should contribute one hundred marks to the enter- 
prise, a perfectly safe proceeding inasmuch as the process 
would increase the weight of metal ten -fold. Each one present 
eagerly paid in his quota, some sending home for their purses, 
and the richer ones loaning to the poorer the sums necessary 
to equalize the shares ; the Arabian received the golden coins, 
added his own contribution, and apparently put them into 
a large crucible, together with salt, aqua fortis, copperas, 
eggshells, mcrcur\^, lead and dung. The crucible was then 
placed in a furnace already glowing, and the whole company 



watched it with intense excitement and high hopes, the 
practical alchemists pressing the Arabian to let them assist 
in maintaining the fire. Suddenly a frightful explosion took 
place scattering live coals and filling the room with vile- 
smelling, suffocating gases that quickly drove most of the 
experimenters out of doors. Great confusion ensued, one or 
two men had been burned by coals, more had been nearly 
asphyxiated by the poisonous fumes, and those who were un- 
injured sought to relieve the sufferings of their friends ; for a 
short time the experiment was forgotten, as well as the 
Arabian who seemed to have disappeared. Finally lights were 
obtained and the boldest of the company penetrated the 
laboratory still reeking with noisome vapors, only to dis- 
cover that the clever Arabian had indeed fled, and had taken 
with him the twenty-four hundred marks ; a broken crucible 
smothered in coals lay before the half-ruined furnace, and an 
open window leading to a side-alley showed the manner of 
his departure. Needless to say this wearer of a fez was never 
again seen in Prague. 

At the time when Sir Edward Kelley was in high favor 
at Rudolph's court, the Emperor summoned from Vienna a 
Greek alchemist who called himself "Count" Marco Bragadino, 
but whose real name was Mamugna. He had made many 
dupes in Italy by his skill in transmutation-tricks and in 
conjuring evil spirits, as well as in the Austrian capital where 
he created a great sensation. Settling in Gold Alley, he never 
went through the streets without being accompanied by two 
huge and fierce black mastiffs, which the common people re 
garded as his familiar spirits. "His Excellency the Count," 
as he liked to be called, met with no great success, however, 
because he was quite overshadowed by Kelley then in the 
zenith of his fame, and he soon left Prague for Munich where 
he swindled the Duke of Bavaria out of a large sum. Being 

71 



detected, however, he was arrested and condemned to death, 
and his execution was carried out in a peculiar way as a 
warning to all alchemical imposters : the Count was clothed 
in garments decorated with tinsel and hung on gallows 
covered with shining brass by the aid of a yellow rope. His 
two ferocious dogs were shot to death at the foot of the 
gibbet, and their bodies were thrown into the same grave as 
that which formed the resting-place of Bragadino. 

This took place in 1591, and six years later George 
Honauer, a 3 r outh of twenty-four 3^ears, who rejoiced in many 
.high sounding titles, was caught in attempting to cheat the 
Duke of Wurtemberg, and executed in a similar manner. 

In midsummer, 1590, the citizens of Prague were startled 
by the ostentatious appearance of an adventurer known as 
Alessandro Scotta; he paraded the streets in a magnificent 
coach lined with red velvet, followed by three carriages full 
of retainers and servants, besides outriders and an armed 
body-guard ; more than forty richly caparisoned horses were 
required for his suite. He rented a superbly furnished dwelling 
in Old Prague, and gave out that this opulence was a small 
matter to one possessing the Philosophers' stone. Noblemen 
and courtiers hastened to make his acquaintance, and he 
soon got an introduction to Rudolph who gave him the use 
of a chemical workshop. He met with little success, however, 
for two years later he was reduced to exhibiting sleight of 
hand and common jugglery to a gaping crowd in the public 
streets of the city. His subsequent career in Coburg, where 
he duped the young wife of the Duke, and in Italy, the land 
of his birth, brought him no credit and less affluence. Scotta 
seems to have died a natural death, but many of the un- 
principled charlatans paid a terrible price for their treachery ; 
some, after suffering horrible tortures, committed suicide in 
a prison cell; Sebastian Siebenfreund, a contemporary of 

72 



Thurneisser, having indiscretly shown his skill in transmuta- 
tion before "lewd fellows of the baser sort," was murdered 
in a shocking manner and robbed of his treasure ; and Anna 
Maria Ziegler, whose sex did not save her, was executed in 
a horrible way by the cruel Duke Julius of B runs wick- Lune- 
burg, being roasted alive in an iron arm-chair. 

"Sechs Stuck thun aus Alchemy folgen, 

Muh, Rauch, Hunger, Gestanck, Frost und Galgen!" 




73 



CHAPTER VIII. 
THE MAN WITH A SILVER NOSE. 

"Then he his eye erected 

Into the night so far, 

And keen the course inspected 

Of every twinkling star ; 

The stars his fame transported 

Wide over sea and land; 

And Kings his friendship courted. 

And sought his islet's strand." 

Heiberg. 

[ORTLY after sunrise on a brilliantly clear day, a 
distinguished company of philosophers, noblemen 
and princes assembled upon the broad summit of 
a hill that formed the central point of the little 
island of Huen off the coast of Denmark ; it was the fifth of 
August, 1576, just two months before Rudolph II. ascended 
the throne of Germ any after the death of his father Maximilian. 
The immediate surroundings of the Danish party were most 
picturesque; the island, six miles in circumference, was covered 
with a bright green sward "as trim as any garden lawn," 
on which browsed horses, cattle and sheep; under cover of 
the woods sported deer, hares, rabbits and partridges in 
abundance, and the only other inhabitants of the sea-girt 
islet were the forty souls who inhabited a hamlet on the 
water's edge ; from the top of the hill which terminated in a 

74, 




plain, views were had of the coast of Zealand six miles 
away, and of the broken mainland of Sweden only half that 
distance. 

The company had not been drawn to this beautiful spot 
for the purpose of hunting, nor for the enjoyment of the 
beauties of nature, but solely in the interests of science ; they 
stood near the foundations of a great building, only the 
ground plan of which was visible, while nearby lackeys in 
rich liveries arranged a substantial breakfast of which foreign 
wines formed an agreeable part. 

The principal personages in this group were Frederick II. 
King of Denmark and Norwa}-, then in the prime of life, and 
the celebrated astronomer T3'cho Brahe, together with Charles 
Danze, the French Ambassador, and members of the Danish 
court interested in the advancement of science. The occasion 
was the laying of the corner-stone of the magnificent structure 
known as Uraniborg, or "City of the Heavens," destined to 
become under Tycho Brahe the centre of astronomical learning. 
Brahe was then just thirty years of age and had already 
gained an enviable position in the scientific world; a native 
of Knudsdorp, near Helsingborg, he was sent by his uncle 
and guardian to study philosophy and rhetoric at the Uni- 
versity of Copenhagen with a view to entering the profession 
of law, but an event occurred on the 21st of August, 1560, 
after the young student had been sixteen months at College, 
which aroused in him an interest in astronomy that changed 
his whole career. This was the long predicted eclipse of the 
sun, a phenomenon believed at that time to exert direct 
influence on the destiny of nations and the fortunes of indi- 
viduals, and it is thought that Brahe was attracted to the 
study of celestial bodies by the claims of astrology quite as 
much as by the scientific aspects of astronomy. While duti- 
fully reading law all day with a preceptor, at night he secretly 

75 



observed the movements of the planets and stars, and studied 
mathematics with intense ardor. 

On the death of his uncle, Brahe inherited a fortune and 
found himself free to follow his cherished plans. While 
travelling in Germany an unhappy incident nearly cost him 
his life ; a quarrel with one of his own countrymen at Rostock 
led to an appeal to the sword ; they fought the duel in total 
darkness, and Brahe's antagonist cut off the whole front of his 
nose producing a horrid disfigurement which was only partly 
remedied by cementing to his face an imitation nose cleverly 
constructed of gold and silver; youthful folly thus earned 
for him the soubriquet of "The Man with the Silver Nose." 

Two years later Tycho Brahe settled temporarily in Augs- 
burg where he secured the friendship and financial assistance 
of Paul Hainzel, burgomaster of the city and a devotee of 
astronomy ; they constructed a huge quadrant for the purpose 
of determining the altitude of celestial orbs, a sextant for 
measuring their distances, and other instruments superior to 
any then extant, with which many excellent observations 
were made. 

Returning to Denmark, Brahe established a new observa- 
tory at his uncle's castle and advanced greatly the knowledge 
of astronomers ; his reputation secured for him an invitation 
from the King to give a course of lectures on astronomy, 
which he accepted and he greatly interested his auditors by 
defending the superstitions of astrology. He then visited 
southern Germany, Switzerland and Venice intending to select 
a permanent residence; on his way northward he passed 
through Ratisbon just in time to witness the brilliant cere- 
monies at the coronation of the Emperor Rudolph II, on 
November first, 1575. He made the acquaintance of the 
monarch, was invited to dine with him, and on that occasion 
cast his horoscope, from a study of which he advised the 

76 




or THE 
UNIVERSITY 

IUFORH\- 



Emperor not to marry as his sons would bring him only mis- 
fortune, a prophecy that was destined to be fulfilled. Had 
the astrologer been truly able to foresee his own destiny by 
observation of the stars, he would have known that his at- 
tendance at these festivities in honor of Rudolph formed the 
first link in a chain of events which was to terminate with 
his death at his Majesty's court. 

Soon after his return to Denmark, Frederick II, appreci- 
ating the claims of science, summoned Brahe to Copenhagen 
and offered to give him a grant for life of the Island of Huen, 
and to construct and supply with astronomical instruments 
an observatory on a scale of liberality previously unknown, 
also to furnish a residence for his family and his assistants. 
The next twenty-one years of Brahe's life were passed in the 
study of the heavenly bodies at the superbly equipped and 
palatial Uraniborg; his patron, King Frederick, gave him a 
pension and productive property, which he did not use selfish- 
ly, for he entertained with great hospitality the visitors who 
sought to greet the first astronomer of the age, and he edu- 
cated and supported numbers of young men under his own 
roof, training them to observe, to think and to reason. At 
Uraniborg his skill and assiduity as an observer, his vast 
collection of notes on the planets and his improvements oi the 
lunar theory, won for him a position unsurpassed by any 
astronomer of ancient or of modern times. 

The Danish poet Peter Andreas Heiberg has pictured in 
verse the Uraniborg observatory: 

"A gate in the wall eastward 
Showed like a mighty mouth; 
There was another westward, 
And spires stood north and south. 
The castle dome, high rearing 
Itself, a spirelet bore, 
Where stood, 'for the wind veering, 
A Pegasus, gilt o'er." 



"Towers which the sight astounded 

In north and south were placed, 

Upon strong pillars founded, 

And both with galleries graced. 

And there they caught attention 

Of all who thither strolled. 

Quadrants of large dimensions 

And spheres in flameg that rolled." 

Unhappily Brahe's generous patron, King Frederick, died 
in 1588 and was succeeded by his son Christian IV, a boy 
of eleven years of age; the Danish courtiers, jealous of Brahe's 
pension and privileges, gradually undermined his position in 
the kingdom, poisoning the mind of the youthful sovereign 
against the scientific establishment at Huen and its Director. 
Brahe was deprived of his pension and his estate; and after 
suffering many indignities at the hands of the influential 
noblemen surrounding the infant King, he resolved to forsake 
his ungrateful native land. Accordingly in 1597 he removed 
his instruments, library and chemical apparatus from Huen 
and put them on board a ship hired for the purpose; then, 
with his wife, five children, servants, several assistants and 
pupils, including his future son-in-law Tengnagel and the 
mathematician Longomontanus, he set sail from Copenhagen 
and landed at Rostock, the scene of his early folly that had 
resulted in a silver nose. 

Being thus cast adrift with limited resources and expensive 
responsibilities, he found need of a wealthy patron and sought 
the favor of the Emperor Rudolph whose scientific court was 
the admiration of all Europe. Knowing of Rudolph's fondness 
for machines and for chemical experiments, Brahe dedicated 
to him his newly completed work on the mechanics of as- 
tronomy, and added to it an account of his labors in chem- 
istry ; the date of the dedication is January 1598, but the book 
was first published four years later.* Accompanying this 

* Astronomic instauratae mechanics. Norimbergse, 16O2. 

78 



manuscript was a copy of his catalogue of 1000 stars. These 
proofs of his attainments in science were hardly necessary, 
however, to secure the goodwill of the German monarch who 
had long watched the career of the Danish astronomer. 
Coroducius and Dr. von Hayek had corresponded with Tycho 
Brahe, and the latter influenced the Vice-Chancellor Curtius 
in his favor ; an invitation to the Hradschin was extended to 
Brahe by the Emperor, through his private secretary Barvi- 
tius, promising the Dane every facility for prosecuting his 
astronomical studies, as well as a stipend and a residence for 
his family. 

Rudolph's invitation was the more cordial on account 
of Brahe's reputation as an astrologer and of his predilection 
for alchemical pursuits, which beliefs and practices were not 
inconsistent at that period with learning. The astrological 
studies of the illustrious Dane led him to attribute the great 
plague that devastated Europe in 1566 to the conjunction 
of Jupiter and Saturn in August three years before ; he pro- 
phesied that a lady of high rank would be killed by a horned 
beast, and one year later a Countess was murdered by her 
jealous husband; and when he calculated that Frederick II 
of Denmark would die in the year 1593, and his Majesty 
actually passed away in 1588, Brahe said that the demise 
occurred simply because "death was too previous." This 
astrological gammon did not prevent Brahe from holding a 
pious belief in an over-ruling Divine Providence. 

Tycho Brahe was also a practical alchemist working with 
crucibles, athanors and alembics at what he called " terrestrial 
astronomy," the planets and the metals being closely allied, 
as indeed their present names show. During his brief residence 
at his uncle's castle of Herritzvold he fitted up a laboratory 
and conducted experiments on gold and silver, satellites of 
the earth that promised pecuniary rewards. And afterwards 

79 



at Uraniborg a laboratory was constructed in the crypt 
beneath the building, in which no less than sixteen furnaces 
were disposed for every degree of heat desired. He never 
published the results of his researches in alchemy, giving as 
a reason one frequently alleged by others ; "on consideration," 
he wrote, "and by the advice of most learned men I thought 
it improper to unfold the secrets of the art to the vulgar, 
since few persons are capable of using its mysteries to ad- 
vantage." 

As most physicians were astrologers, astronomers also 
practiced medicine; Copernicus had done so, and it is not 
strange to find that Brahe had invented an Elixir which was 
widely sold as a remedy against the epidemics then ravaging 
Germany. The Emperor Rudolph having heard of this precious 
panacea sought of Brahe the secret of its preparation, where- 
upon the latter addressed a long letter to his Majesty com- 
municating the formula, and begging him to keep the secret 
and to reserve to himself the curative power. The prescrip- 
tion called for Venetian treacle, which was subjected to several 
chemical operations, and to which was added either tincture 
of corals, or of sapphires, or of hyacinths, or a solution of 
pearls, or best of all a solution of potable gold ; but to make 
the nostrum of universal application for all diseases that 
could be cured by perspiration, it was necessary to combine 
it with a preparation of antimony. 

In 1599 soldiers and refugees from the seat of the Turkish 
war on the borders of Hungary, brought back to Bohemia 
the seeds of the dreaded plague, and soon the city on the 
Moldau was a victim of this frightful epidemic ; Rudolph, who 
always had a superstitious fear of death, fled with a small 
part of his court to Pilsen where he remained more than 
nine months. Tycho Brahe, on his way to Prague, received 
alarming reports of the mortality in Bohemia and lingered in 

80 



Germany until the pestilence ceased ; he had left his wife and 
daughters with his hospitable friend Count Henry Rantzau, 
at the Castle of Wandesberg near Hamburg, and he had with 
him his sons, his pupils, together with a selection of the 
more portable astronomical instruments. On arriving at 
Prague he was kindly received by the Emperor who placed 
a handsome residence at his disposal, granted him a yearly 
stipend of three thousand crowns, promised him an estate, 
and gave him the use of the picturesquely situated Belvedere, 
the "Lustschloss" of Ferdinand, for an observatory. It was 
in the spacious halls of this beautiful building that the cabinet 
of curiosities was placed, and Svatek says the ever increasing 
collections crowded Brahe out of the palace; at all events 
the place was found unsuitable for an observatory and the 
Emperor granted the astronomer the choice of several castles, 
and he selected Benatek, situated about seven leagues from 
Prague, built on a hill and commanding an unobstructed 
view of the heavens. 

Before settling in his new surroundings, Brahe sent Teng- 
nagel to fetch his wife and family from Hamburg, ordered 
the rest of his instruments, and wrote to David Fabricius, 
Longomontanus, John Kepler, and some students known to 
be good computers, inviting them to assist him in founding 
a school of astronomy and of chemistry. 

The Castle of Benatek was soon bustling with a number 
of people from afar; Tycho Brahe's large family, a retinue 
of servants, pupils, assistant observers, old friends of the 
astronomer eager to share in his renewed good fortune, as 
well as Professors from Universities desirous of making the 
acquaintance of the first astronomer of Europe; all these 
guests sat at the table with the hospitable master, enjoying the 
bountiful supply of good things to eat and fine wines to drink. 

Work was planned for each one; the youthful George 

81 



Brahe, an earnest student of chemistry, was to supervise the 
construction of a laboratory; Longomontanus was to observe 
the moon and its phases ; Kepler to study Mars ; while Teng- 
nagel, the fiance of Elisabeth Brahe, naturally busied himself 
(as von Hasner wittily remarks) with an earthly Venus. 
Unfortunately Brahe was of a sanguine temperament, quite 
obstinate, and inclined to be irritable; moreover he was in 
his fifty-fourth year, whereas Kepler, his brilliant assistant, 
was but twenty -nine, and the peace of this complex house- 
hold was broken up by a quarrel which led to a withdrawal 
of the younger from the establishment, as it proved, however, 
only temporarily. Another serious blow to the plans at 
Benatek fell when the Emperor commanded the illustrious 
Dane to remove to Prague and to reside nearer his imperial 
person, for consultation on astrological matters as well as 
to obtain greater insight into astronomical labors. After the 
removal of the instruments to the royal gardens on the 
Hradschin, and of his household to the dwelling of his friend 
Curtius, recently deceased, Brahe resumed his observations, 
but notwithstanding the liberality of the Emperor and the 
kindness of his friends, he felt that he was a stranger in a 
foreign land ; ignorant of the language of the people, experi- 
encing many inconveniences and some disappointments, his 
disturbed mind enfeebled his body and he fell a victim to dis- 
ease which terminated fatally on the twenty-fourth of October 
1601. By order of the Emperor the body of the illustrious 
astronomer was buried with great pomp in the principal 
church (Teynkirche) of Prague, where a full length brass is 
still to be seen. 

The great collection of books and instruments left b3 r 
Brahe was bought of his heirs for twenty thousand thalers, 
of which only four thousand were paid down, and twelve 
years later twenty-three hundred more were paid to the now 

82 




MONUMENT TO TYCHO BRAHE. 



impoverished family, who left Bohemia under very different 
circumstances from those attending their entrance. At the 
capture of Prague by the Elector Palatine, eighteen years 
after the death of Tycho Brahe, the astronomical apparatus 
was in part destroyed and in part carried off or devoted to 

other uses. 

,o 

Among the relics of Brahe long treasured with utmost 
care was one of his silver noses ; one of them, I say, because 
an accident obliged him to provide several for emergencies. 
Waking one morning from a sound sleep he found to his con- 
sternation that his only silver nose, which he had laid on a 
table at his bedside, has been broken to pieces by one of his 
pet dogs whose unconscious play caused his master much 
annoyance. After this catastrophe he had a little provision 
of noses manufactured, fourteen in number, which he used 
interchangeably as one does a handkerchief. A Bohemian 
historian relates, more in jest than in earnest perhaps, how 
Brahe bequeathed one of his silver noses to his Majesty 
Christian IV, King of Denmark, who gave it to his favorite 
Christine Munk, from whom after many wanderings it passed 
into the possession of Voltaire, who took it to Potsdam for 
the pleasure of Frederick the Great ; but after Voltaire's death 
it was secured for the museum of art at Vienna, where it was 
treasured with great care, even as Galileo's finger was pre- 
served in alcohol at Florence. 




83 



CHAPTER IX. 

ASTRONOMICAL WISDOM AND ASTROLOGICAL 

FOLLY. 

"Into death's hidden hour ye mortals are prying, 
Searching what is the way ye shall come to your end. 
To interpret the teaching of planets ye' re trying, 
Which star is man's enemy, which is his friend." 




N THE same year in which Rudolph ascended the 
throne of Germany, a poor little five-year old boy 
living with his grandparents in Wurtemberg, was 
attacked with small-pox; his father was with the 
army in the Netherlands, his mother had followed her hus- 
band into the field, and the boy was nursed through the 
horrid disease to convalescence by his grandparents. After 
recovering his strength a year later, John was sent to school, 
but the poverty of his father, who had returned from the 
war, obliged him to leave the school in two years time in 
order to do the work of a servant at home. While so engaged 
he prepared himself for the University and in spite of a frail 
body, weakened by serious illnesses, and notwithstanding 
pinching poverty and family dissensions, John Kepler com- 
pleted his studies at Tubingen. At the University he dis- 
tinguished himself by an essay in favor of the Copernican 
system, which led to an invitation to take the chair of astrono- 

84 



my at Gratz, and although he had no strong predilection for 
this science he applied himself industriously to its study, and 
his genius was soon manifested by brilliant discoveries and 
ingenious speculations. Galileo and Tycho Brahe both praised 
his "Cosmographical Dissertations" published in 1596. 

In the following year he married Barbara Miiller, who 
was a widow for the second time at the age of twenty -three, 
and to whom he had been attached for five years, but whose 
parents had opposed her marriage. She brought him less 
dowry than he had expected and his salary at Gratz was 
very small; moreover disputes with bis wife's relations, and 
attacks made by the Catholics on Protestants, to which party 
Kepler avowed adherence, made his position untenable and 
he withdrew into Hungary. A year later Kepler returned to 
his professorship, but he failed to secure the peace he loved, 
and anxious to consult the eminent astronomer at the court 
of Rudolph II., he accepted the invitation to Benatek, where 
we first encountered him. During his visit to Brahe arrange- 
ments to secure him a salaried position at the court failed, 
but when he returned in 1601 the Emperor appointed him 
imperial mathematician and assistant in the observatory. 

Brahe and Kepler then undertook to compute a new set 
of astronomical tables to be called the "Rudolphine Tables" 
in honor of their liberal patron; after the death of Brahe, 
Kepler succeeded him as chief mathematician and was pro- 
mised a good salary, but the depleted imperial treasury pre- 
vented prompt payments ; during the nine years that Kepler 
remained at the court he struggled with the miseries of 
poverty, and finally after passing through a severe illness, 
losing his favorite son by small-pox and his wife by typhus 
fever, his cup of sorrow overflowed. The death of Rudolph 
in 1612 did not sever Kepler's connection with the court, for 
Matthias, who succeeded his brother, reappointed him imperial 

85 



mathematician, allowing him at the same time to accept the 
professorship of mathematics at Linz. 

Perhaps the greatest service rendered to science by the 
Emperor Rudolph was bringing about the association of the 
two astronomers Tycho Brahe and John Kepler; they were 
unlike in disposition and mental gifts, yet their cooperation 
proved most fruitful. Brahe had clung to the Ptolemaic 
astronomy that made the earth the centre of the celestial 
universe, but Kepler early accepted the theory of Copernicus 
that placed the sun in the centre; Brahe had gathered an 
immense number of careful, systematic observations with a 
view to overthrowing the Copemican system, and Kepler 
used these very facts to establish it. 

While in the service of Rudolph, Kepler wrote some of his 
most valuable works; in the treatise on "Optrics and Di- 
optrics" (1604) he explained the physics of the eye and the 
action of lenses; in his "New Astronomy" (1609) he deter- 
mined the elliptical orbit of the planets, since called Kepler's 
First Law; in the same year he announced his discovery of 
the rate at which the planets move (Kepler's Second Law); 
but the third law, on the relation between the distances of 
the planets from the sun and their periods of revolution about 
it, was not promulgated until 1618, after the death of 
Rudolph. These three laws have remained unchallenged as 
absolute scientific truths and form the foundation of the 
modern system of astronomy. The telescope, in the hands 
of Galileo was marking a new era in astronomy, and Kepler 
greatly improved it by inserting two convex lenses which 
yielded a much larger field of view. The Rudolphine Tables 
were not published until 1628, at the expense of Ferdinand, 
who succeeded Matthias after his brief reign of seven years. 

Pecuniary embarrassments obliged Kepler to cast nativi- 
ties for his friends, but his heart was never in the business 

86 



of fortune-telling; when not fearful of giving offense he declined 
to encourage this delusion. In his "Principles of Astrology" 
(1602), he railed against the vanity and worthlessness of 
astrology as ordinarily practiced and he denied the influence 
of the stars and planets over nations and individuals. The 
appearance of a brilliant comet in 1607 (since known as 
Halley's comet) greatly alarmed the citizens of Prague and 
threw the credulous court of Rudolph into consternation ; the 
Emperor sent for his astronomer, and from the balcony of the 
Belvedere they studied the celestial wonder with the aid of a 
powerful telescope, while the man of science and faith com- 
municated to the man of superstitious fears his own belief 
based on mathematical knowledge. He ventured to say to 
his Majesty that the comet was not called into existence for 
the weal or the woe of the German Emperor, and he re- 
minded him that the same comet had been seen in the year 
44 B. C., on the occasion of the funeral procession of Julius 
Caesar, had appeared at regular intervals of 75 years since 
without witnessing the burial of a new Caesar, and it would 
again appear in 1680. In passing through its path of many 
millions of miles on strictly mathematical lines it did so un- 
concerned about the fate of any individual on the insignificant 
earth, or of the human race, and Kepler urged Rudolph to 
lay aside senseless fears. "Each of the myriad stars," he added, 
"is a shining witness of the incontestible truth that every 
thing in nature is in motion, progress is life, rest is death." 
Kepler regarded as absurd the sentiments soon to be expressed 
in vivid language by the "divine William": 

"Meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven ; 
The pale-fac'd moon looks bloody on the earth, 
And lean look'd prophets whisper fearful change: 
These signs fore-run the death or fall of kings." 

Although Kepler rejected the crude views of his contempo- 
raries, he admitted his belief in a modified form of astrology ; 

87 



he conceived that certain harmonious configurations of suit- 
able planets have the power of exciting the minds of men to 
certain general actions or impulses, so that the only effect 
of these configurations is to operate along with the vital soul 
in producing results which would not otherwise have taken 
place. Kepler regarded his own zeal for study as a result of 
his birth under a triple configuration (Brewster). Though 
holding these notions he felt obliged to apologize in his writ- 
ings for the drawing of horoscopes, saying: "Ye overwise 
philosophers, ye censure this daughter of astronomy beyond 
her deserts ; know ye that she must support her mother by 
her charms. The scanty reward of an astronomer would not 
provide him with bread, if men did not entertain hopes of 
reading the future in the heavens." To support his growing 
family he published what he called "a vile prophesying alma- 
nac, which is scarcely more respectable than beggary," and 
when he sent a copy of his Ephemerides to Professor Gerlach 
he wrote they were nothing but worthless conjectures. 

"Thou damned mock- art, and thou brainsick tale 

Of old astrologie." . . . 

"Some doting gossip 'mongst the Chaldee wives 

Did to the credulous world thce first derive ; 

And superstition nurs'd thee ever since, 

And publish' t in profounder arts pretence; 

That now who paires his nails, or libs his swine, 

But he must first take counsell of the signe." 

Hall, Virgidemarium. 

Although gifted with extraordinary ability in mathemati- 
cal deductions, Kepler indulged in singular vagaries as to the 
tides; in his "System of Harmonics" (1619) he claims that 
the earth is an enormous living animal, and that the tides 
are waves produced by the animal spouting out water through 
its gills; and the effects of the sun and moon on the tides 
result from the alternate sleep and waking of the terrene 
monster. This bizzare conception was allied to the philosophy 

88 



of the macrocosm and the microcosm, found among the Greeks 
as early as the fourth century and current in Rudolph's reign. 
It taught that the physical universe, or macrocosm, is an 
organized being endowed with a soul and analogous to man 
the microcosm, and that an intimate correlation exists be- 
tween them, the former controlling the destiny of the latter 
and the latter having power over the fundamental laws of the 
former. This view of man as the physical and spiritual epi- 
tome of the universe was well set forth in the "Epistle of Isis 
to her son Horus," a writing on the "sacred art" of obscure 
origin: "Hermes calls man the microcosm because the man 
or the small world contains all that which is included in the 
macrocosm or great world; thus the macrocosm has small 
and large animals both terrestrial and aquatic, man on the 
other hand has fleas and lice, these are the terrestrial animals, 
also intestinal worms which are the aquatical animals. The 
macrocosm has rivers, springs and seas ; man has internal 
organs, intestines, veins and channels. The macrocosm has 
aerial animals ; man has gnats and other winged insects. The 
macrocosm has volatile spirits such as winds, thunders and 
lightnings; man has internal gases and pordas of diseases. 
The macrocosm has two luminaries, the sun and moon ; man 
has also two luminaries, the right eye representing the sun, 
and the left eye the moon. The macrocosm has mountains 
and hills, man has a head and ears. The macrocosm has 
twelve signs of the zodiac, man has them also from the lobe 
of tke ear to the feet which are called the fishes." 

These singular and meaningless analogies were accepted 
by all learned men in the sixteenth century; Paracelsus 
founded on them a special science, which he called Astronomia, 
teaching that man is a microcosm in comparison with the 
earth and a macrocosm as compared with an atom of matter. 
The noted English physician Robert Fludd, "who was not 

89 



wholly a quack," wrote at length on the macrocosm and 
microcosm, and it entered into the philosophies of the mystics 
Jacob Boehme and Emmanuel Swedenborg. 

Allusion is made in the last paragraph of the quotation 
from the "Epistle of Isis" to the twelve signs of the zodiac 
and their supposed influence on the anatomy of man ; this 
too is a very ancient feature of astrology and played an im- 
portant role in the practice of Rudolph's fortune-tellers. Its 
foundations were laid by Chaldean astronomers, Hebrew 
sages and Greek philosophers ; Christian mystics adopted it 
and mediaeval astrologers magnified it so that it became a 
persistent popular superstition. The first step in the evolution 
of this conception was taken more than four thousand years 
ago, when the star-gazers of Babylon observed the circular 
zone through which the sun appears to pass in the course 
of a year, and divided it into twelve constellations, creating 
what is known as the zodiac. To these twelve divisions 
symbols were given some of which are said to be Babylonian 
ideographs of the months. The astronomers of Egypt adopted 
this system and their lively imaginations peopled the constel- 
lations with genii; thus arose a symbolism in which each 
group of stars is likened to a given animal or human char- 
acter. The twelve constellations and their anatomical associ- 
ations are quaintly set forth in the following lines: 

The Head and Face the Princely Ram doth rule, 

The Neck and Throat falls to the sullen Bull 

The lovely Twins guide Shoulder, Arm and Head, 

The slow pac'd Crab doth Breast and Spleen command. 

The Lion bold governs the Heart of Man. 

The modest Maid doth on the Bowels scan. 

The Reins and Loins are in the Ballancc try'd. 

The Scorpion the Secret Parts doth guide. 

The Shooting Horse lays claim to both the Thighs ; 

The Knees upon the Headstrong Goat relies. 

The Waterman, he both the Legs doth claim, 

The Fishes rule the Feet and meet the Ram again. 

Moore's Vox Stellarum, 1721. 

90 



The pictorial representation of the influence of the zodiac 
on human anatomy, well-known to every reader of modern 
patent medicine almanacs, was familiar to the astrologers 
and occultists of the Hradschin, having appeared as early as 
1496 in the famous encyclopedia "Margarita Philosophica" 
of Gregor Reisch, and being frequently copied into works on 
medical astrology, and into almanacs. 

Just two years before the death of the Emperor Rudolph, 
William Shakespeare was writing the play of Coriolanus ; in 
this he alludes to the picture of a nude man surrounded by 
signs of the zodiac. Menenius says to Sicinius : "If you see 
this in the map of my microcosm, follow it that I am known 
well enough too?'' 

Tycho Brahe was of a singularly superstitious nature, 
producing timidity; if on leaving his house he met an old 
woman he was accustomed to return home at once, regarding 
the encounter as an evil omen ; if he met a hare in the fields 
he thought it a dangerous sign ; more unlucky still were swine, 
and on meeting them he used to spit, in the same way as did 
many superstitious Jews, to ward off evil influences. An in- 
verted slipper, salt spilled at table, or three lighted candles 
on one table, caused him great anxiety, while to sit down 
thirteen at a meal was simply tempting Providence. He used 
to relate to those willing to listen, and this embraced every 
one, that if a twig was broken from a cherry-tree on Saint 
Barbara's day and watered daily, it would bear blossoms on 
the succeeding Christmas; to be lucky in gambling as well 
as in love he carried part of a hangman's halter and a lapis 
alectorius, a stone about the size of a bean sometimes found 
in the stomach of a fowl. 

"For worthless matters some are wondrous sad, 
Whome if I call not vaine I must terme mad. 
If that their noses bleed some certain drops, 
And then again upon the suddaine stops, 

91 



Or, if the babbling foule we call a jay, 

A squirrel, or a hare, but crosse their way, 

Or, if the salt fall towards them at table, 

Or if any such like superstitious bable ; 

Their mirth is spoiled, because they hold it true 

That some mischance must thereupon ensue." 

According to the Danish astronomer, two and thirty days 
in every year were particularly unlucky, these were: 

January 1, 2, 4, 6, 11, 12, 21. 

February 11, 17, 18. 

March 1, 14, 15. 

April 10, 17, 18. 

May 17, 18. 

June 6. 

July 17, 21. 

August 20, 21. 

September 10, 18. 

October 6. . 

November 6, 18. 

December 6, 11, 18. 

A child born on either of these days would certainly die 
in infancy; a man taken sick on these days would seldom 
recover; a man married on these days would experience 
poverty and misery ; whosoever moves from one house to an- 
other, or changes his service, or travels from one country 
into another on any of these days will have trouble; to buy 
or to sell, to begin any new enterprise on these days is very 
unlucky, and he who goes to court will lose the judgment. 
To these 32 unlucky days must be added the 52 Fridays, 
making 84 black and 281 white days in each year. 

"Beside they give attention to blinde astronomers, 
About th' aspects in every howre of sundrie shining stars ; 
And underneath what planet every man is born and bred, 
What good or evill fortune doth hang over every hed." 

Naogeorgus* 

92 



Tycho Brahe is said to have abandoned belief in judicial 
astrology in the later years of his life, while the younger 
philosopher Kepler died in the position of professional astrol- 
oger to the wealthy and powerful General Wallenstein, Duke 
of Mecklenburg, at his residence in Silesia (1629). 

Rudolph was very well acquainted with the mechanic arts 
and fond of collecting curiosities of mechanism, such as auto- 
mata, peculiar clocks, and novel instruments for measuring 
distances, models of machines for raising water, of windmills, 
and of devices for facilitating the transportation of persons 
and goods ; some of these were made by the celebrated me- 
chanic Christopher Schissler of Augsburg, one of whose 
quadrants is now preserved at Oxford. The Emperor had a 
collection of models that would interest and amuse a modern 
Patent Office examiner; among them were two odometers of 
unusual construction that not only indicated the distance 
travelled but recorded it on paper. One of these is said to 
have been invented by the Emperor himself; they are described 
by De Boot in his "Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia," and 
one of them is figured by Athanasius Kircher in his "Magnes, 
sive de Arte Magnetica," 1643. 

Rudolph was always on the lookout for novel inventions 
that he thought could be turned to practical uses, and when 
he learned that the problem of perpetual motion had been 
solved by a Hollander named Cornelius Drebbel, of Alkmar, 
he conceived that a machine endowed with self-producing 
energy might be useful in the imperial quarries and mines. 
Although Kepler and others tried to convince his Majesty 
of the absurdity of perpetual motion, Rudolph invited Drebbel 
to visit Prague. 

Drebbel was a skilled mechanic and an experimenter in 
optics ; in a letter addressed to James I. of England, written 
during his sojourn in London, he boasted of having determined 

93 



the secrets of the movements of the heavens, of the stars, of 
the planets and of the waters. "I have discovered," he wrote, 
"why the earth floats in the air, why the waters make a 
circle around the earth, and why all things except fire tend 
towards the centre of the earth ; I have discovered the causes 
of thunder, lightning, rain, wind and the tides." And he 
offered to show the King proof of his discovery of "Primi 
mobilis" in the shape of a ball that revolved every twenty- 
four hours, and would continue to do so for a thousand years ; 
and he referred to other instruments "made with weights, 
springs, running waters, wind and fire that would move per- 
petually, without expense, and furnish much power." It was 
| a report of this letter that aroused the interest of Rudolph. 

Drebbel has also been credited with the invention of the 
thermometer, but this is a mistake based upon faulty inter- 
pretation of a simple experiment described by him 'in a treatise 
on the "Elements," published in Dutch in 1608. This ex- 
periment was the heating of an empty retort, the neck of 
which was plunged under water, and observing the bubbles 
rising due to the expansion of the air within the heated vessel ; 
he did not even use the phenomenon as a thermoscope. Drebbel, 
however, is said to have discovered the beautiful carmine- 
lake formed by the action of tin-salts on cochineal. 

After Drebbel's arrival in Prague, Rudolph soon found 
that the perpetuum mobile was useless, though he did not 
believe it fallacious, and in one of his ill-tempered moods he 
ordered the imprisonment of the unlucky inventor. From his 
dungeon Drebbel wrote a pleading letter to the Emperor 
begging for freedom and promising to show him a remark- 
able musical instrument described in these words: 

"As soon as the sun shines the curtains hanging before 
the Clavicymbal will be withdrawn automatically and the 
sweetest of music will be heard ; when the sun sets or goes 

94 



t>ehind a cloud, the curtain will close of themselves. At the 
same time a fountain will spring up in two streams, and when 
the sun shines more than one hundred streams. Neptune, 
with sea-goddesses, and tritons, will emerge from a cavern 
and wash in the fountain; and when the sun ceases to shine 
they will return to their concealment. Phoebus will come out 
of the clouds and seat himself in a chariot drawn by four 
horses who will advance by the aid of their wings." 

Other extraordinary phenomena were promised and so 
aroused the curiosity of the Emperor that he released Drebbel 
from prison; the Hollander continued to reside in Bohemia 
long after Rudolph's death. 




95 



CHAPTER X. 



RUDOLPH'S PHYSICIANS. 

"With us was a doctour of physike ; 
In al the world was ther non hym lyk 
To speke of physik and of surgerye, 
For he was grounded in astronomic. 
He kept his pacient a ful gret del 
In hourys by his magyk naturel; 
Wei couth he fortunen the ascendant 
Of his ymagys for his pacient." 

Chaucer. 




HE PHYSICIANS attached to Rudolph's court, had 
great influence over the hypochondriacal Emperor ; 
several of them were eminent botanists and some 
were astrologers and alchemists who were ad- 



mitted to especial intimacy with their royal patient. 

When Rudolph succeeded his father Maximilian he in- 
herited, as it were, the physicians of the dead Emperor, and 
when he took up his residence in Prague they followed the 
court. One of them, Pietro Andrea Matthioli, a Siennese by 
birth, was skilled in botany and renowned for his commentary 
on Dioscorides' work on materia medica, a book that passed 
through many editions and was translated into several 
languages; Matthioli died, however, within a year and was 
succeeded by Adam Huber von Riesenbach. Another of 
Maximilian's physicians, Dr. Johann Crato von Kraftheim, 
liad an interesting history; he began his literary career as a 

96 







DR. MICHAEL MAIER. 



theological student at Wittenberg, where he became a pupil 
and friend of the reformer Martin Luther as well as of 
Melanchthon. He then dropped theology in favor of medicine 
and studied the latter at Verona and Padua; becoming 
eminent in his profession he received the appointment of 
private physician to the Emperor Ferdinand I., and though 
a staunch Protestant served three successive Roman Catholic 
rulers of Germany. After the short reign of Ferdinand, 
Kraftheim continued with Maximilian, and on the death of 
the latter he was retained by Rudolph whom he served ten 
years. He died in 1587 at the age of sixty-seven. 

Rambert Dodoens, sometimes called the "Theophrastus of 
the Netherlands", was very eminent in ancient literature, 
mathematics and astronomy, but his favorite study was 
botany. He had been one of the physicians at the Viennese 
court for four years, but shortly after his arrival in Prague 
he had a violent quarrel with his colleague Dr. von Kraft- 
heim, and became so disgusted with court life that he with- 
drew from Rudolph's service and returned to his native land, 
where he became Professor of Medicine at the University of 
Ley den. 

Three other physicians were conspicuous at the imperial 
court: Dr. von Hayek, whose acquaintance has already been 
made, Dr. Christopher Guarinonius and Dr. Michael Maier. 
Guatinonius was a Veronese by birth and in his youth filled 
the post of physician to the Duke of Urbino ; at Rudolph's 
court he was Imperial Councillor as well as personal phy- 
sician and received a high salary. The Doctor was an ardent 
student of occult philosoph}' as embodied in the teachings of 
Henry Cornelius Agrippa, of whom many supernatural tales 
are told ; Agrippa had died sixty years before but his writings 
were held in high estimation. In his medical practice Guari- 
nonius was a zealous disciple of Paracelsus, and he had a 

97 



great reputation for elixirs and panaceas that he administered 
with impressive magical ceremonies tinder favorable aspects 
of the heavenly bodies. Never suffering from ill health himself 
he ascribed his vigor to the amulets and powders of sym- 
pathy that he wore on his body at the waxing and waning 
moon, the only remedies, by the way, he was ever known to 
prescribe gratis. He had the good fortune to be entirely 
exempt from headache while his colleague Dr. Maier was 
frequently tortured by this affliction; this circumstance led 
Guarinonius to speak boastingly, whereupon Maier jocosely 
remarked that headache only attacked persons who were not 
quite without brains, a cheap witticism that the proud Doctor 
never forgave. 

Dr. Michael Maier was a younger man and much better 
educated; he held the office of private secretary to Rudolph, 
as well as physician, and rejoiced in the titles Doctor of 
Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, Imperial Palatine Count and 
Knight of the Holy Roman Empire ; he was a philosopher of 
the Rosicrucian stamp although that mystical fraternity had 
not yet disturbed the scientific and literary world by its 
extraordinary assumptions and claims ; he was also a master 
in theosophy and attempted to give a hermetic interpretation 
to the mythologies of ancient' Greece and Rome. Maier was 
especially intimate with the Emperor and remained in his 
service until the death of his Majesty; later in life he 
published a series of incomprehensible theosophical books, 
now highly valued by bibliophiles for their singular engravings 
and rarity. 

Of similar intellectual bias was Dr. Oswald Croll. of 
Hesse, who held the post of physician in ordinary to 
Christian, Prince of Anhalt, before he joined the corps 
attached to the palace on the Hradschin. He too was a dis- 
ciple of Paracelsus and adopted his views on astral virtues, 

98 



signatures, physiognomy, chiromancy, gnomes, sylphs and 
parallels of celestial and terrestrial bodies, all of which in- 
fluenced his medical practice; yet Croll described many chemi- 
cal substances and reactions with comparative accuracy and 
showed admirable knowledge of human nature when he 
wrote: "It is the principal part of a physician that would 
cure the sick first to comfort the heart and afterwards to 
assault the disease". 

Anselm Boethius de Boodt, of Bruges in Flanders, the 
favorite physician of Rudolph in his later }^ears, was especially 
esteemed on account of his great learning in gems and pre- 
cious stones; his "History of Gems and Stones," published in 
1609, is still recognized as an important treatise and very 
creditable for the time. Boethius had another claim to 
Rudolph's appreciation being an advocate of the verity of 
transmutation, a belief acquired in the following manner: 
when still a young student of medicine he accidentH r found 
among his father's books an antique manuscript entitled 
"Cytnbalum aureum," written on parchment and covered 
with two half-broken, thick boards; wishing to re-cover the 
book he removed the boards and discovered in one a cavity 
containing a small piece of paper folded tight; on examining 
this he perceived a few grains of a red powder and some 
hieroglyphical \vords on the inner surface of the paper. By 
hard study the young man deciphered the writing and found 
that it explained the process of using the powder in trans- 
mutation; he made an experiment on mercury heated in a 
crucible and the red powder changed the metal in one quarter 
of an hour into fine gold. Unfortunately he used the whole 
amount of the powder at one operation, but this experience 
served to convince him of the verity of alchemy. . 

Although Boethius de Boodt was really learned in pre- 
cious stones, crystals, corals and shells, he shared the super- 

99 



or THE 
UNIVERSITY 



stition of the day respecting their value as remedies in disease ; 
he regarded the sapphire as efficacious in ague, gout and 
nose-bleeding, the topaz as a cure for lunacy, the cornelian 
as mitigating the "heat of the mind and qualifying malice," 
and doubtless prescribed many a dose of lapis lazuli for the 
melancholia to which Rudolph was subject. Pieces of blood- 
red jasper were highly prized for their power of stopping 
hemorrhages, and Boethius relates how he cured a maid in 
Prague of a hemorrhage of six years standing (for which she 
had often been bled), by merely hanging a jasper around her 
neck. If she neglected to wear the stone the hemorrhage 
would return, and this continued to be the case for many 
months until the disease eventually left her. 

Dr. Christopher Guarinonius died in September 1601, and 
Gottfried Steegius, the physician of Bishop Julius of Wiirz- 
burg, was invited to the imperial court ; he was distinguished 
for being one of the first to write in praise of the mineral 
waters of Kissingen ; Rudolph became much attached to him 
and had his portrait engraved on copper by the court artist 
Gilles Sadeler. 

The physicians connected with the court received large 
salaries at a time when the profession was but poorly re- 
compensed; dressed in their long, velvet-trimmed, silken 
doctor's robes, and in fur pelisses, they commanded great 
respect which was enhanced by their air of mystery and 
pompous assumption of secret learning. Outside of the court 
officials their practice was chiefly among noblemen, rich 
merchants and burgesses of Prague, while the common people 
resorted to vagabond charlatans, priests, barbers, itinerant 
drug-peddlers and hangmen (!), or, from economical motives 
they depended upon appeals to the saints. The prodigious 
army of quack-doctors, and the mischief they wrought, led 
to the adoption of an ordinance in the city of Nuremberg 

100 



forbidding the practice of medicine by ''Empirics, peddlers of 
theriaca, tooth-drawers, alchemists, distillers, ruined trades- 
men, Jews, dealers in the black art and old women ac- 
customed to attend the sick." 

A superficial survey of the condition of the healing art 




PREPARATION OF THERIAC. 

From Brunschwick's "Destillirbuch," Strassburg, 1500. 

in the sixteenth century would fill a volume with a painful 
exhibition of ignorance, superstition and folly. Pliny long 
ago wrote that medicine was born of magic, was fortified by 
astrology and acquired all its splendor and authority from 
religion, associations that exerted malign influence on man- 
kind in civilized countries for centuries and still inflicts misery 

101 



among savage races. It may be that Ashmole was right 
when he wrote: "Incredulity is given to the world as a 
punishment/' but it would seem that credulity has proved a 
still greater cause of unhappiness. 

The association of astrology with medical practice had 
been regarded as essential since the days of Galen and Hippo- 
crates ; the former declared that physicians ignorant of astro- 
logy were no better than murderers ; "So far are they distant 
from the true knowledge of physic which are ignorant of 
astrology, that they ought not rightly to be called physicians 
but deceivers ; for it hath been many times experimented that 
that which many physicians could not cure or remedy with 
the greatest and strongest medicines, the astronomer hath 
brought to pass with one simple herb by observing the 
moving of the signs." Medicinal plants were gathered at the 
appropriate age of the moon, distillations were carried on 
under the proper conjunctions of the planets, and the medicine 
thus concocted was given to the patients only under suitable 
astronomical conditions. Magical healing power was at- 
tributed not only to the greatest variety of objects belonging 
to the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, but to purely 
mental operations as well; physicians prescribed: 

. . . "Divers verses of St. John 
Which, read successively, refreshed the soul, 
But, muttered backwards, cured the gout, the stones, 
The colic and what not." 

Some insight into the character of the healing art as 
practiced in the sixteenth century may be obtained by examin- 
ing the methods of treating a single disease, epilepsy, that 
distressing malady which still baffles the wisdom of modern 
science. Rings composed of diverse substances were worn to 
prevent the attacks; a ring made of three nails or screws 
that had been .used to fasten a coffin, or one made of five 

102 




PARACELSUS. 



OFTHt 

UNIVERSITY 

OF 



silver coins collected from five bachelors and forged by a 
silversmith himself a bachelor, were especially efficacious. An 
elk's hoof was also recommended, but much depended on the 
way the hoof was obtained, for the virtue resided in only 
one of the four legs; the animal was knocked down and 
watched until he lifted a leg to scratch his ear, that leg was 
then lopped off with a scimitar, and in its hoof lay the remedy. 

The elder-bush was another specific against the "falling 
sickness" as epilepsy was appropriately called. In the month 
of October, a little before the full moon, a twig of the elder 
was plucked, cutting a portion between two knots into 
nine pieces, and these pieces were wrapped in a piece- of 
linen and hung by a thread about the neck so as to touch 
the "spoon of the heart or the sword-formed cartilage ;" these 
pieces were held in place by a silken bandage around the 
body until the thread broke of itself, they were then removed 
\vithout touching them with the hands, but with tongs or 
pincers only, and buried in a secret place. 

Another amulet worn on the person as a preventive 
against epilepsy contained the names of the three Magi who 
came from the East to worship the Divine Babe at Bethlehem. 

"Jasper brings myrrh, and Melchior incense brings, 
And gold Balthazar to the King of Kings ; 
Whoso the names of these three monarchs bears 
Is safe, through grace, of Epilepsy's fears." 

As chemical medicines came more into vogue nauseous 
concoctions were administered for this disease of which the 
following is a good example: "Calcine vitriol until it be- 
comes yellow, add mistle-toe, hearts of peonies, elk's hoofs, 
and the pulverized skull of a malefactor; distill all these dry, 
rectify the distillate over castoreum and elephant's lice, then 
mix with salt of peony, spirit of wine, liquor of pearls and 
corals, oil of anisseed and oil of amber, and digest on a 
water-bath one month." 

103 



The climax of credulity in medical practice seems to have 
been reached in the cure of disease by "transplantation/' a 
system which originated with Paracelsus and found ready 
acceptance in Germany, France and England for more than 
a centur} r . The singular power of the lodestone to attract 
particles of iron was thought to be magical, that is super-- 
natural, and analogous occult power was attributed to arti- 
ficial magnets capable of drawing to themselves diseases and 
of transplanting them into animals, plants and the soil. 
These magnets were prepared in several ways usually with 
most disgusting ingredients, often including some excretion 
of the patient; they were buried in the earth or given to 
some animal and thought to transfer the malady. Other 
simpler methods of magnetic healing were also employed; 
thus toothache was to be cured by rubbing the gums until 
they bled, with the root of a certain plant which then was 
buried again in the earth, thus the blood carried off the cause 
of the pain and transferred it to the earth. A cucumber laid 
by the side of the sleeping infant suffering with fever, \vould 
wither and dry up while the child would recover. 

These cures were said to be accomplished sympathetically 
and one of the most interesting developments of the theory 
was the "sympathetic ointment" for curing flesh wounds; 
this remarkable salve was compounded as follows : 

Take of the moss that had grown 

on the skull of a thief. 2 oz. 

Of man's grease 2 oz. 

Of mummy J /2 oz. 

Of man's blood % oz. 

Of linseed oil 2 dr. 

Of oil of roses 1 dr. 

Of bole-armoniack 1 dr. 

Beat them all together in a mortar until they make 
a pure and subtil ointment and keep it in a box. 
104 



This salve was applied to the weapon, bludgeon, sword 
or axe, with which a wound had been made, and the weapon 
thus anointed was wrapped up in a clean linen cloth and put 
aside in a cool place. A carpenter cut himself with an axe; 
the cutting instrument was sent for, cleansed of the blood, 
besmeared with the weapon-salve, covered with linen and 
hung up in a closet; the workman was immediately relieved, 
and all went well until one day the wound became exceedingly 
painful, when it was found that the axe had fallen from its 
place and become uncovered: the axe was restored to its 
place and the man was restored to health. Nothing was 
done to the patient except to wash the wound and this 
allowed nature to perform the cure; surgeons employ the 
same method to-day barring the care of the weapon. 

"But she has ta'en the broken lance 
And washed it from the clotted gore, 
And salv'd the splinter o'er and o'er." 

Notwithstanding the degradation of medicine by magic, 
astrology and superstitious practices, the sixteenth century 
saw an upward movement towards a rational system ; medi- 
cine began to cast off the shackles of blind authority under 
the influence of free investigation, overthrowing Galen, the 
''Medical Pope of the Middle Ages", and the Arabian school, 
and to replace these tyrannical masters by Hippocratic 
doctrines and independent methods. This advance was made 
in spite of the conservative universities instead of through 
them, for the curriculum of medical students embraced little 
more than discussions and explanations of certain works of 
the Greeks and Arabians, with no opportunity of practical, 
experimental methods. Even anatomy was studied as taught 
in Galen's writings, although the golden age of the great 
anatomists, Yesalius, Pallopius and Eustachius was close at 
hand. 

105 



Failing to find in the universities advanced thought and 
new methods, those who were determined to gain superior 
acquirements substituted for their conservative teachings long 
and distant travels, extending through years and to Oriental 
countries, "whereby the wanderers came in contact with 
learned men of different schools, and became acquainted with 
the newest discoveries and improvements in medicine, phar- 
macy and the natural sciences. There was no periodical press 
in those days, and like the Athenians and strangers of old 
they assembled in the market-places of many cities to tell or 
to hear some new thing. Pierre Belon, a French physician, 
travelled for three j^ears in Asia Minor, Greece, Egypt and 
Arabia, and brought back with him a fund of knowledge 
concerning medicinal plants and useful drugs. 

Paracelsus, that "strange and paradoxical genius," re- 
garded by some as a most unprincipled quack and by others 
as a beneficent reformer of medical art, acquired most of his 
unquestioned knowledge by travelling in many parts of the 
world and consulting monks, conjurers, barber-surgeons and 
empirics reputed to possess secret remedies; becoming aware 
of the virtues of opium and mercury he effected many aston- 
ishing cures, but this vain-glorious, self-styled "monarch of 
physicians," clothed his really original ideas in "fantastic 
boasting and superstitious rhodomontade"; moreover his 
doctrines were imbued with theosophy, kabbalism and neo- 
platonic philosophy, and his disciples failed to separate the 
wheat from the chaff. Nevertheless under their influence the 
pharmacopoeia began to improve, especially by the introduc- 
tion of inorganic chemical preparations; "Chemistry," said 
Paracelsus, "is not designed to make gold but medicines." 
Nevertheless his practices gave Butler occasion to write: 

"Bombastus kept a Devil's Bird 
Shut in the pommel of his sword 
That taught him all the cunning pranks 
Of past and future mountebanks." 

106 



Paracelsus united in his person the functions of physician 
and surgeon, a rare combination at that period; surgery in 
a very crude form was practiced by barbers and was re- 
garded as a disreputable handicraft even in the eyes of the 
law; to raise it to an honorable calling Charles V., seven 
years after the death of Paracelsus, promulgated an edict to 
dignify the standing of surgeons, a law which was renewed 
by. Rudolph in 1577. 

Another important influence was at work in the sixteenth 
century hastening the overthrow of the slavish devotion to 
ancient authorities; physicians educated in the classical 
languages took up the study of the early writers on medicine 
and translated them and edited them with commentaries, 
often proving the current interpretations to be false ; so great 
a role did this play that a recent historian has claimed that 
"Philology is the mother of modern medicine." 

Dr. Pettigrew has summarized the situation in these 
words: "The errors in medicine have usually originated in 
the speculative conceits of men of superior capacities; the 
blunders of the weak are short lived, but a false theory, with 
a semblance of nature, struck in the mint of genius, often 
deceives the learned and passes current through the world.' 1 




107 



CHAPTER XI. 
THE BUDOLPHINE ACADEMY OF MEDICINE. 

"Here dwelleth the physician 
Whose most infallible nostrum was at fault; 
There quaked the astrologer, whose horoscope 
Has promised him interminable years; 
Here a monk fumbled at the sick man's mouth 
With some undoubted relic .... a sudary 

Of the Virgin." 

Browning. 

>CTOR Christopher Guarinonius, though admitted- 
ly a man of great learning, was in the habit of 
prescribing the nauseous remedies characteristic of 
medical practice in all countries at the close of the 
sixteenth century. He was especially fond of an Elixir vitae 
prepared under his directions, and was always boasting of 
the wonderful cures it had accomplished; the fame of this 
panacea extended far beyond the "coasts of Bohemia, " and 
when Pope Clement VIII. was attacked by a dangerous 
malady messengers were sent in haste to summon the eminent 
physician of Prague, who, with the Emperor's consent, ac- 
cepted the call and made the journey to Rome. As the Pope 
lived for many years after Guarinonius' visit, the elixir was 
presumably : 

"A perfect medicine for bodies that be sick 
Of all infirmities to be relieved," 

1O8 




and it becomes of interest to learn its composition, which 
happily has been recorded. 

Elixir Vitae Guarinonii. 

Cinnamon 10 drachms. 

Ginger 5 do. 

Zedoary 4 do. 

Nutmeg 3 do. 

Elder-root 2 do. 

Calamus 1 do. 

Dissolve in a decoction of lemon-juice mixed with strong 

spirits of wine. A half pint before meals, the moon in 
Cancer, Leo or Virgo. 

Guarinonius was delighted at the opportunity of visiting 
Italy as it permitted him to fulfil a vow to thank in person 
the inventor of his Elixir, who was no less than the wooden 
statue of the Madonna di Loretto. This highly-revered image, 
carved by St. Luke and brought by angels from Bethlehem 
with the Casa Santa, is still exhibited to the faithful, 
"and in a curled white wig looks wondrous fine.'* 

The Virgin of Loretto had appeared to the physician in 
a dream and dictated the composition of the all-healing con- 
coction; perhaps the surmise may be hazarded that the "be- 
loved physician" St. Luke, the sculptor of the statue, was 
the original discoverer. The religious fervor of Dr. Guari- 
nonius was also manifested by his repairing at his own ex- 
pense the 'oratory of Saint Notburga which had been con- 
structed in her honor out of her little bedroom in Castle 
Rottenburg, where she had lived nearly 400 years before. 
This pious act was accomplished in 1600; the peasant Saint 
is still highly venerated in the Tirol, her remains being pre- 
served in a little chapel on the borders of the beautiful 
Achensee., 

On his return to Prague, Guarinonius, now called "Doctor 
Elixirabilis," assumed a conspicuous place by founding at 

109 



Academy of Medicine which was appropriately named in 
honor of the Emperor Rudolph. Its membership embraced the 
physicians of the court and of the city, a few of the residents 
of "Gold Alley," the astrologers, magicians and other learned 
men surrounding the Emperor, and the retainers who worked 
in the imperial laboratories. The presiding officer and moving 
spirit of the society was Guarinonius himself, and the secre- 
tary was Chevalier Adam Zaluzansky, the Bohemian natur- 
alist who is said to have anticipated Linnaeus in his discovery 
of the sexual system of plants. Prominent members were 
the physicians Maier, Croll and Boethius; Martin Ruland, 
author of a Lexicon of Alchemy; the Vice Chancellor Jacob 
Curtius ; Hans Hayden ; Johann Marquard Kiirbach ; Hierony- 
mus Makowsky, all Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber; Hip- 
polytus Guarinonius, the young son of the president, who 
afterwards distinguished himself by a huge folio on "The 
Evils that Waste Mankind" (Grauel der Verwiistung mensch- 
lichen Geschlechtes, Ingolstadt, 1610); also the court poet and 
jester Mardochaeus deDelle and the favorite valets of Rudolph, 
Philip Lang von Langenfels and Kaspar Rucky von Rudz. 
Dr. Thaddeus von Hayek had died in 1600, protomedicus of 
Bohemia, a short time before the founding of the Academy. 
Tycho Brahe and John Kepler were occasional attendants 
and their attainments in astronomy made them most wel- 
come; the journeymen alchemists visiting their colleagues in 
"Gold Alley" were often present at meetings as invited guests ; 
Dr. Steegius joined the society later. 

At one of the largely attended meetings of the Rudolphine 
Academy of Medicine the secretary Zaluzansky read a report 
on the wonderful elixir discovered by Antonio Michele, a 
protege* of the wealthy William von Rosenberg. This Italian 
alchemist was first employed as an architect, but soon de- 
veloped latent talent for hermetic labors, and von Rosenberg 

no 




MATERIA MEDICA. 
From Brunschwig's Destillirbuch, Strassburg, 1500. 



built for him a well arranged laboratory in the rear of his 
magnificent castle at Krumau; Michele required for his ex- 
periments large sums of money and promised his lordship 
splendid results. The renowned elixir was compounded as 
follows : 

Elixir Michclii. 

Colcothar 6 oz. 

Fused salt 5 dr. 

Myrrh of Alexandria 4 oz. 

Sugared Aloes purified 4 oz. 

Mastic 3 oz. 

Saffran ^ oz. 

Flour of Sulfur 1 & V a Ib. 

Pulverize well in a mortar, mix finely and heat twelve 

hours in an alembic at a moderate heat. 
One drachm of this elixir administered in syrup of lemons 
or honey-water is most efficacious against the plague, 
fevers, pleurisy, colic, pain in the lungs, and diseases of 
the liver. 

At the close of the report the president of the Academy 
said he hoped the members would test this simple remedy and 
bear witness to its virtues at a future meeting.* 

Doctor Michael Maier then addressed the society on the 
antiquity and nobility of medicine; "it is,'* said he, " a divine 
science, even God's theology, for the Almighty wrote His 



* Chinese physicians of the present day have made little advance beyond those 
of the sixteenth century. A Chinaman who has a large practice in San Francisco 
among highly respectable Americans prescribed the following abominable decoction 
as a panacea for a variety of dissimilar diseases : 

Chinese Panacea. 
Dried lizard 
Saffron 
Rubber bark 
Peppermint 
Lpvage 
Liquorice 

Beans, a peculiar species, 
Dried locusts 
Water bugs 
Silk worms 
Pith of a Chinese tree 
Elm bark 

A pinch of each boiled in one quart of water down to the volume 
of one pint. Dose a teaspoonful as often as required. 

Ill 






Scripture in that language before He made Adam to read it. 
The ten Fathers before the Flood and those that followed, 
together with Moses and Solomon, were the great physicians 
in former ages, who bequeathed their heavenly knowledge of 
naturall helpes to those they judged as well worthy in honesty 
and industry as capable thereof; and from their piercing 
beams all nations lighted their tapers. Abraham brought it 
out of Chaldea and bestowed much thereof on Egypt, and 
thence a refulgent beam glanced into Greece." Continuing to 
sketch the early history of medicine, Dr. Maier introduced an 
original interpretation of the passage in the book of Genesis 
running thus: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face 
of the waters; and God said 'Let there be light' and there 
was light." This he said was a prophetic announcement by 
the Almighty of the light of alchemy, the blessed effulgence 
destined to illumine the world. 

Maier's learned address led to a brief discussion, intro- 
duced by Ruland, as to the best edition of the "Practical 
Chemistry of Miriam," Moses' sister, and not one of the 
Academicians dreamed of questioning the authenticity of the 
mythical writings. Dr. Ruland, having the floor, stated he 
had received a letter from Dr. Jacob Horst, Professor of medi- 
cine in the University of Helmstadt, describing a wonderful 
prodigy, a boy in whose jaw a golden tooth had developed. 
The Professor considered this miracle as a result of the con- 
stellations under which the boy was born, the sun being in 
conjunction with Saturn in the sign Aries. He also regarded 
the golden tooth as prognosticating the expulsion of the 
Turks, those barbarous enemies of Christendom, from Europe, 
and the near approach of the millenium. 

At the mention of the Turks, Dr. Oswald Croll half rose 
to his feet, but a severe look from the president obliged him 
to resume his seat. As soon as Ruland ceased speaking, Dr. 

112 



Croll arose and said that the terrible plague which had been 
introduced into Bohemia by the Turks was a difficult disease 
to combat; he had found, however, that thef Tincture of 
mummy" was of signal service, and he would communicate 
to the Academy its preparation under pledge of secrecy: 
" Select the fresh cadaver of a red-haired, spotless malefactor, 
twenty-four years of age, killed by hanging, or by being im- 




APOTHECARY SHOP OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. 

paled or broken on the wheel, upon which corpse the sun and 
moon had shone but once; cut it in slices, sprinkle it with 
myrrh and aloes, then macerate the pieces in spirit of wine 
for several days. In desperate cases the efficiency of this 
tincture can be strengthened by mixing it with salt of pearls, 
salt of coral, olive and musk, the mixture being digested in 
a water-bath one month, stirring it every day.'^ 

Kaspar von Rudz remarked that his wealthy father-in-law, 
with whom he lived, was very low with periodical fits of ague 
and he had tried many remedies in vain; he had hung three 
spiders about his patient's neck, he had given him a bag to 

113 



wear containing chips of the gallows, and he had tried to 
charm away the fever by writing 

FEBRA FUGE 

on a piece of paper and cutting off one letter each day be- 
ginning with the last one. He, the speaker, would be glad 
for suggestions as none of the remedies had been successful. 

Several Academicians rose together each desirous of mak- 
ing suggestions, but the chairman recognized first Dr. Maier, 
who recommended the following: "Take a new-laid egg one 
hour before the cold fit is expected, paint on the shell three 
crosses, one in red and two in black, bury it at the nearest 
cross-road in strict privacy not letting any one know of the 
procedure." Doctor Guarinonius said the remedy was un- 
scientific and he knew an infallible one, to wit: "Take two 
handfuls of bay-salt, the same quantity of fresh hops and a 
quarter of a pound of blue currants very diligently beaten 
into a brittle mass ; spread this without the addition of any- 
thing moist upon linen and apply it to the wrists of the 
patient. This never fails to expel the fever. " 

Doctor Boethius de Boodt begged permission of his fellow 
members to exhibit an abraxas patterned after that of the 
heresiarch Basilides, being a small figure carved in jasper re- 
presenting the Prince of the Eons, or the angels of the three 
hundred and sixty-five heavens; it was intended for the Em- 
peror's use, being a perfect talisman against evil spirits. 
After this had been examined, Dr. Croll showed his zenexton 
which protected the wearer from the plague, sorcery, poison, 
and malign astral influences, and described its manufacture 
in two steps, the preparation of the magical tablets and the 
construction of the instrument with which they are stamped. 
"Take about eighteen live toads and having closed their 
nostrils dry them in the sun very perfectly and powder them ; 
if not well dried they will have an offensive odor and cannot 

114 



be pulverized; take of this powder two ounces, of white 
arsenic and orpiment each one half ounce, roots of Diptanus 
albus and Tormentilla erecta of each three drachms, small 
pearls one drachm, red corals, pieces of oriental hyacinth and 
emerald each one half drachm, oriental saffron two scruples, 
and to impart fragrance add a few grains of musk and amber. 
Pulverize these ingredients fine and make a paste out of the 
mixture with rose-water and gum tragacanth; this must be 
done when the moon is in the sign of Scorpion. With the 
instrument to be described cut out tablets of this paste and 
dry them, well, then cover them with red silk and hang them 
about your neck by a red string, but do not let them touch 
your bare skin. The instrument referred to consists of two 
steel punches on the inner surface of which are engraved 
respectively a scorpion and a snake, so that the tablets when 
stamped out shall have impressions of these animals. 

Dr. Guarinonius testified to the value of the zenexton and 
described another form, saying it was a favorite amulet of 
the great Swiss physician to whom all looked for inspiration 
Paracelsus. ^He then related the peculiar case of a Viennese 
nobleman on whom a Tagliacotian operation had been per- 
formed. The eminent surgeon Gasparo Tagliacozzi, at Bologna, 
had demonstrated that when either the nose or the ear were 
cut off by a quick stroke of a clean blade, as of a sabre, it 
could be made to adhere to the stump if immediately replaced 
in a perfectly clean condition and bound firmly to remain 
undisturbed ; and it had been found possible to graft the skin 
from one person on to the wound of another ; such operations 
were often performed with entire success. The Venetian noble- 
man, who was also a Colonel in the army, lost the tip of 
his nose in a duel with swords and Tagliacozzi was sent for 
to use his skill; by offering a large reward, a healthy Italian, 
a porter by trade, was persuaded to permit removal from 

115 



his arm of sufficient skin to form a new nose on the nobleman's 
face. The surgical operation succeeded admirably, a new nose 
of creditable appearance soon formed and the Colonel was 
delighted ; the porter also recovered and returned to his home 
in Italy. From time to time the Colonel's nose became very 
red and swollen, giving him the appearance of a drunkard; 
this disfigurement passed away and a few -months later the 
nose would again assume the tell-tale state in spite of the 
owner's abstemious habits. By exchanging letters with 
Tagliacozzi the nobleman found that these unfortunate attacks 
coincided with periodical drunken fits of the porter. Finally, 
after enduring this inconvenience about six years the worst 
came to pass ; the Viennese officer was attending a court ball 
when to his alarm the tip of his nose grew colder and colder 
and very soon dropped off in a shriveled condition. On 
making diligent inquiry he ascertained that the porter had 
died that very evening at Bologna.J 

Tycho Brahe, who had listened with great interest to 
this narrative, smiled broadly as the speaker concluded and 
looked as if he thought his silver nose was preferable to a 
Tagliacotian. Dr. Guarinonius then added that Tagliacozzi 
always claimed that his operation produced a nose having a 
more acute sense of smell than the natural one; and that 
during his recent travels in Italy he had seen at Bologna the 
statue erected by the citizens to Tagliacozzi, in which he was 
represented holding a human nose in his hand. 

The meetings of the Rudolphine Academy of Medicine 
were not always so lively as the one just described, at some 
there was less diversity of topics and prosy speakers con- 
sumed the time without communicating any novelty. Several 
months later an extraordinary meeting was convened in honor 
of the renowned physician Andreas Libau, of Coburg, who 
was passing through Prague on his way to Vienna, and had 

116 



consented to read to the Academy an essay on Aurum Potabile. 
On that occasion the assembly hall was crowded with mem- 
bers and their friends eager to see and to hear the dis- 
tinguished speaker; in introducing him Dr. Guarinonius re- 
minded the Academy that Dr. Libau never allowed his official 
duties as Director of the Gymnasium at Coburg to interfere 
with his scientific pursuits, and that he had recently published 
a folio volume entitled "Alchymia" that was destined to 
immortalize him in the annals of medicine and of chemistry. 
His earlier treatises on the " Testing of Mineral Waters" and 
on "Assaying Ores" are of course well known, and he now 
honors the Academy by an original essay on Potable Gold. 

Doctor Libau, whose Latinized name "Libavius" is more 
familiar, began the address by remarking that gold is not 
capable of being destroyed and possesses inestimable qualities 
that adapt it to restoring health and prolonging life, and 
the problem to which he had given attention was to discover 
the best form in which to administer it. The authority of 
a,ntiquity endorses gold for medicinal use ; one of the earliest 
records being found in the Holy Scriptures : "And Moses took 
the (golden) calf which they had made and burnt it with 
fire, and ground it to powder and strewed it upon the water 
and made the children of Israel drink of it." Pliny in his 
Natural History extols the medicinal virtues of gold, and re- 
commends its outward application as a cure for green wounds 
in form of a liniment ; prepared with honey, it gently loosens 
the belly if the navel be anointed therewith ; if the skin be 
stroked with a gold ring warts will fall off. The Arabian 
physicians also recorded the virtues of gold as a remedy for 
diseases; the eminent chemist Geber wrote 'Gold is a medicine 
rejoycing the heart and conserving the body in youth.' 

The full benefit of this metal as a medicine can, however, 
be realized only when in a potable, innocuous solution, and 

117 



the preparation of this "heavenly viaticum," or "alcho- 
chodon," is of prime importance; it was known as early as 
the thirteenth century to Raymond Lully of Majorca, as set 
forth in the following lines written by Sir George Ripley: 

"An Oyle is drawne owte in colour of Gold, 

Or lyke thereto out of our fire Redlead 

Whych Raymond sayd when he was old, 

Much more than Gold wold stand hym in stede. 

For when he was for age nygh dede, 

He made thereof Aurum Potabile 

Whych hym revyvyd as men myght see." 

In the same century, Friar Bacon, writing to his Holiness 
Pope Nicholas IV., states that an aged peasant found some 
yellow liquid in a golden flask when plowing on his farm in 
Sicily, and supposing it to be dew he drank it off, and was 
immediately transformed into a hale, robust and highly ac- 
complished youth. On examination of the few drops remain- 
ing in the flask the liquid was found to be Aurum Potabile; the 
laborer abandoned his agricultural tasks and being admitted 
to the service of the King of Sicily served him eighty years. 

Passing modern attempts to prepare this panacea, Dr. 
Xabau said that after testing in vain nearly one hundred re- 
cipes for the "food of angels," he had succeeded in devising 
a new process that yielded most advantageous results; it is 
as follows: 

"Put foliated gold into a vessel well-sealed with Hermes' 
seal; put it into our fire till it be calcined to ashes, then 
sublime it into /fores, leaving the caput mortuum, or black 
terra damnata, in the bottom. Then let that which is sublimed 
"be with the same degree of fire united to the same caput 
mortuum, that all may be reduced to an Oyle which is called 
Oleum Solis." 

As thus obtained the dose for an adult is two or three 
grains. With it a diaphoretic powder can be made that is a 

118 



specific for intermittent fever, the dose being eight to twelve 
grains in a glass of wine. 

This condensed report of the addresses of Libavius con- 
veys no idea of the elegant, flowery diction in which it was 
clothed, which, however, becomes evident in his peroration: 

"O mystery of mysteries, most secret of all secret things 
and healing and medicine of all things! Thou hast made 
discovery in earthly natures, last best gift to Patriarchs and 
Sages, greatly desired by the whole world! O desirable 
knowledge, lovely above all things beneath the circle of the 
moon by which Nature is strengthened, heart and limbs are 
renewed, blooming youth is preserved, old age driven away, 
weakness destroyed, beauty in all its perfection preserved, 
and abundance ensured in all things pleasing to men ! O thou 
wondrous power, strengthening all the world, that wakest 
the dead, expellest diseases, restorest the voice of the dying ! 
The Almighty be praised for having revealed this art to 
God-fearing men. Amen!" 





119 



CHAPTER XII. 



FORTUNES AND MISFORTUNES. 

"Que la chimie est admirable 
Dans ses effets prodigieux, 
Elle nous rend e*gaux aux Dieux 
Par 1'elixir et 1'or potable. 

Que 1'art chimique est admirable, 
Que son pouvoir est merveilleux. 
La pauvrete" si mesprisable, 
L' infirmite* la moins curable, 

La veillesse qui nous accable, 
Meme la Parque inexorable, 
Sentent 1'effet miraculeux 
De notre Pierre incomparable." 

Chilliat, Les Souffleurs. 




N 1603, the official alchemists of Rudolph's court 
and the residents of Gold Alley were much excited 
by rumors of successful transmutations at Strass- 
burg, and when the news reached the Emperor, 



who just then was in great need of gold to replenish his 
treasury and was always ready 

"To seek by alkimy greate ryches to winn," 
he sent Johann Franke and two other trustworthy messengers 
to make inquiries, and to fetch to Prague this valuable adept. 
The story they learned was to this effect: An humble citizen 
of Strassburg named Gossenhauer (Giistenhover in low 
German) while engaged in his trade as goldsmith was waited 

120 



upon by a stranger who applied for work as a journey-man 
apprentice. The man, who gave the name of Hirschborgen, 
was employed for a time and on his departure gave Gossen- 
hauer a red powder with instructions for its use in trans- 
mutation; the goldsmith made a successful experiment with 
a portion of the powder and imprudently mentioned his 
treasure to some friends and neighbors, they in turn told 
neighbors and friends that Gossenhauer had secured the 
Philosophers' stone, and soon the news was the gossip of 
the whole city. The municipal authorities ordered an in- 
vestigation, and the goldsmith not only made a projection 
in the presence of three city councillors, but each of them 
with his own hands performed the same feat. 

On hearing this evidence of Gossenhauer's skill the Emper- 
or's ambassadors pursuaded him by the use of handcuffs and 
chains to return to Prague ; on arrival he was brought before 
Rudolph who commanded him to proceed at once with the 
manufacture of gold. Meanwhile the Strassburger had used 
up all the red powder and was at his wits' end to satisfy 
the imperial demands ; he assured the monarch that he had 
no more of the Philosophers' stone and did not know how 
to make it, but this only irritated the Emperor who refused 
to listen to the protestations of the unhappy goldsmith ; the 
wretched man was forthwith imprisoned in the White Tower, 
and never being able to comply with his tyrant's commands, 
he was liberated from his dungeon only by death. 

Rudolph's jester and poet, De Delle, preserved the ad- 
ventures and unhappy fate of Gossenhauer in the following 
immortal verses: 

"Gossenhauer, von Offenburg genannt, 
Dem Keyser Rudolpho wolbekannt, 
Dass er in Alchimia erfahren war, 
Ganz frohlich war den neuen Mahr. 
121 



Sprach: 'Johann Franke, Du musst hin, 
Dass wir der Sachen werden inn 
Und erfahren den rechten Grund. 
Warum saume Dich nicht zur Stund. N 
Ein Gnadenpfennig mit Demant schon 
Sollt Du ihm verehren thun, 
Und sagen ihm dass Wir begehren 
Seine Kunst ganzlich zu lehren. 
Kan aber dass nit geschiehn, 
Muss er Unser Gefangener sin.' 
Er ist in weissen Thurm gebracht, 
Kam aber weg in einer Nacht. 
Ward zu Strassburg wieder gefangen. 
Der Keyser trug gross Yerlangen 
Bis er wieder nach Prage kam. 
Musst im weissen Thurme sitzen 
Und vor grosser Angst schwitzen. 
Und das End wird weisen aus 
Erfahren wir aus des Keyser's Haus." 

The lives and experiences of alchemists are almost always 
shrouded in mystery, everything relating to them is marvelous 
and magnificent; the heroes of hermetic art are the most 
fortunate of men who create gold by the ton, heal all manner 
of diseases supposed to be incurable and attain in some in- 
stances immortal youth. But on a closer examination their 
careers appear by no means so brilliant; they travel from 
country to country, wandering from town to town, and live 
from hand to mouth, and though they may for a season en- 
joy luxurious living at the expense of a credulous patron, 
they are eventually detected in fraud, suifer imprisonment and 
torture, and die miserable deaths. Those who chronicle their 
adventures seldom have a critical spirit and weave into the 
narratives truth and falsehood, the authentic and the fabu- 
lous, making it difficult for a student to distinguish truth 
from fiction. Such obstacles are met with in attempting 
to portray the joint careers of a Scotch alchemist named 
Alexander Seton and of a Moravian named Michael Sensophax, 

122 



'W 



commonly called Sendivogius the Pole, the latter of whom 
made a great stir at the court of Rudolph. 

Seton, \vhose antecedents are not known, appears to have 
had no other object in life than to travel through Europe 
and to make converts to alchemy by his astonishing skill in 
legerdemain, or perhaps by superior knowledge of chemistry ; 
not needing money himself he was generous to those who 
befriended him or who secured his good will, often giving 
them golden souvenirs of his visits.^ Seton first appears as 
a resident of Seton Hall on the coast of Scotland, where he 
treated with kindness a poor shipwrecked mariner, named 
Haussen, from the Netherlands. He then pays a mysterious 
visit to Haussen at the latter's modest dwelling near Amster- 
dam, where the sailor received him with joy and entertained 
him for several weeks; on his departure Seton showed his 
host the secret of transmutation, converting in his presence 
a piece of lead into gold of the same weight, and giving it 
to him as a testimony of the verity of alchemy ; this trans- 
action occured on the 13th March 1602. 

The following summer Seton converted two opponents 
of alchemy into adherents by a clever performance at Basel, 
Switzerland, viz.: Dr. Wolfgang Dienheim, Professor at the 
University of Fribourg, and Dr. Jacob Zwinger. The three 
went to the laboratory of a worker in gold, taking with 
them some sheets of lead, a crucible, and some sulfur bought 
by the way; Seton handled nothing, but built a fire in the 
furnace, melted the lead and sulfur together in the crucible and 
stirred the mixture with iron rods. In a short time Seton 
asked the doctors to throw into the molten metal a heavy 
yellow powder contained in a piece of paper. Dienheim de- 
scribing the affair said: "Though as unbelieving as Saint 
Thomas we did as directed," and after fifteen minutes the 
crucible was removed from the fire; on cooling the lead had 

123 



disappeared and a button of gold remained which the gold- 
smith pronounced superior to that of Hungary or of Arabia. 
It -weighed as much as the lead. The two doctors were 
amazed, and Seton made fun of them saying: "What has 
become of all your pedantic arguments now ? You behold an 
experiment more convincing than your sophism!'* The al- 
chemist then cut off a piece of the gold weighing about four 
ducats and gave it to Zwinger who kept it as a souvenir. 

The next appearance of Seton was at Strassburg where 
he assumed the name of Hirschborgen and took part in the 
events that brought so much misery on Gossenhauer. He 
then took lodgings with a merchant named Koch at Offen- 
bach, near Frankfort, and made a projection in his presence 
in a similar way ; Koch had a shirt stud made from the arti- 
ficial gold. At Cologne he accomplished several amazing feats 
of transmutation ; at Munich where he next appeared, he did 
not work at alchemy, but fell in love with a beautiful Bavarian 
Fraulein and married her. Sometime after the Scotchman, 
who now assumed the name of "The Cosmopolitan," became 
involved with the despotic young Elector of Saxony, 
Christian II., noted for his cruel disposition, and at his com- 
mand gave him a small specimen of the "red tincture"; this 
did not satisfy the Prince who demanded the secret of its 
preparation, which Seton obstinately refused to divulge. 
Coaxing and threats being all in vain Christian (belying his 
name) resorted to terrible tortures, placing his victim on the 
rack, burning him with hot irons and with melted lead; the 
alchemist resisted desperately and the Prince, reflecting that 
it was unwise to kill the goose that laid golden eggs, ceased 
the torture and confined the miserable man in a dark cell 
guarded by brutal jailors. Here he lingered in agony with 
dislocated limbs and in mental distress, until a stranger, 
temporarily in Dresden, became interested in his sad plight 

124 



and by the aid of judiciously placed bribes and of strong 
drink effected his rescue. This stranger was the celebrated 
Michael Sendivogius, who had inherited property near Cracow 
and was in consequence supposed to be of Polish origin; 
being a skillful chemist, who had discovered an improvement 
in dyeing fabrics, he was also an alchemist, and in hopes of 
extorting fromSeton the secrets of his process aided in effecting 




KINGLY GOLD AND QUEENLY SILVER. 

his escape. The two fled to Cracow, but Seton survived only 
a few weeks dying without disclosing his well-guarded secret. 
Throughout his life he had observed the injunction of Chaucer: 

"Make privy to your dealing as few as you maie, 
For three may keepe councell if twain be awaie." 

Not long after these events Sendivogius married Set on 's 
widow, with the object of penetrating the mysteries in which 
she had presumably shared, but she was only able to give 
him the small remainder of the invaluable powder and a 

125 



manuscript essay on alchemy written by her husband, entitled 
"Twelve Treatises of the Cosmopolitan." The wily Pole now 
set out on his travels and by husbanding carefully the powder 
which he knew not to manufacture, he made several trans- 
mutations in public at different cities and acquired great 
renown. All the crowned heads of central Europe were im- 
patient to receive a visit from him, and Rudolph was among 
the first to be honored. Sendivogius presented the monarch 
\vith a small quantity of the powder and he performed the 
miracle of transmutation with his own hands ; delighted with 
his success he caused to be placed on the wall of the room 
in -which the projection was made a marble tablet with the 
inscription : 

"Faciat hoc quispiam alius 
Quod fecit Sendivogius Polonus!" 
"Who'er could do under the rolling sun 
What Sendivogius the Pole hath done!" 

This Tabula marmorea Pragensis was still to be seen in 
position as late as 1740. Sendivogius was given the title of 
Counsellor of State and honored with a gold medal of the 
Emperor, -while the court poet Mardochaeus de Delle cele- 
brated the event in Latin verses; poor Seton, however, got 
no credit for his share in the performance. 

Sendivogius' reputation as a possessor of the Philosophers r 
stone placed him in great danger, but Rudolph treated him 
courteously though he still kept Gossenhauer confined in the 
White Tower; both these men had worked with the same 
powder, but it brought to one misery and to the other honor. 
Being permitted to leave Prague, Sendivogius started for 
Cracow, but on the journey he was seized by a Moravian 
Count and imprisoned, the secret of transmutation being the 
price of his liberty. He secured a file, however, sawed the 
window bars in two and by tearing up his outer clothing 

126 



made a rope with which he escaped. Once in safety the al- 
chemist appealed to the Emperor, who confiscated an estate 
of the Moravian and bestowed it upon the Pole; on this 
property, "Gavarna," near the borders of Silesia, Sendivogius 
resided many years excercising a princely hospitality. In 
memoirs, written by his steward Bodowski, he relates that 
Sendivogius kept his philosophic powder in a little box of 
gold, and when on a journey hung the precious box on his 
neck by a golden chain; but the greater part of the powder 
was concealed in a hole cut in the step of his carriage. 
When travelling through a region infested by robbers Sendi- 
vogius would exchange clothes with his valet and take a seat 
on the box by the driver, putting his valet inside. In Warsaw 
he met with great success in duping Sigismond the King of 
Poland; at Stuttgart, however, he had a misadventure 
brought about through the jealousy of a rival alchemist, 
Johann Heinrich Muller. Miiller began his life as a barber's 
apprentice and learned the secrets and tricks of professional 
alchemists from Daniel Rappolt when acting as his valet. 
Thus equipped he presented himself at the court of Rudolph 
and aroused great admiration by an ingenious stratagem; 
he announced himself as bullet-proof, and allowed others to 
shoot at him with bullets made of a soft lead-amalgam which 
flattened out on striking his coat of mail. In the dwelling 
of Johann Franke he made fine gold, or rather he got it into 
the crucible by sleight of hand ; the Emperor was captivated 
with his amusing ways and gave him the title of " Lord von 
Miillenfels." Being now experienced in duplicity and passing 
for a nobleman, the knave entered the service of Frederick, 
Duke of Wurttemberg ; the arrival of Sendivogius in Stuttgart, 
and the reputation he secured by two successful projections 
filled Miillenfels with envy, and alarm lest he should be dis- 
placed, so he planned to ruin his rival. As soon as Sendi- 

127 



vogius started on his journey northward, Miillenfels pursued 
him with armed horsemen, arrested him in the name of the 
Duke, stripped him of his clothing, bound him naked to a 
tree and robbed him of his golden box containing the Philo- 
sophers' stone as well as of Seton's precious manuscript, a 
diamond-studded cap valued at One hundred thousand rix- 
dollars, and the golden medal given him by the Emperor 
Rudolph. The unfortunate man was released by passing 
travellers and as soon as possible he made a formal complaint 
to the Emperor, who demanded of Frederick the person of 
Miillenfels and his booty. The Duke was alarmed and hanged 
his alchemist on high gallows erected in the court-yard of the 
palace; he also restored the valuable cap, the manuscript 
and the medal, but denied all knowledge of the "tincture." 
These events occurred in 1607. 

Sendi vogius, being now deprived of the material with 
which he had so long duped the wealthy patrons of alchemy, 
became a low, roving charlatan, selling a pretended cure-all 
to the country folk, and imitation silver to the Jews, through- 
out Poland and Germany. He escaped his deserts, however, 
and died a natural death at the good old age of eighty, at 
Cracow in 1646. Several hermetic treatises attributed to the 
Cosmopolitan and edited by Sendivogius were printed early 
in the seventeenth century in Latin, German and French. 

The vanity of alchemy has been strongly pictured in verse 
by Spenser: 

"To lose good days that might be better spent, 
To waste long nights in pensive discontent; 
To spend to-day, to put back to-morrow; 
To feed on hope, to pine with fear and sorrow ; 
To fret his soul with crosses and with cares, 
To eat his heart through comfortless despairs ; 
Unhappy wight! born to disastrous end, 
That did his life in tedious tendance spend." 

128 




MICHAEL SENDIVOGIUS. 



It is evident from the events recorded in this and in pre- 
ceding chapters that in the time of Rudolph's reign belief in 

"The subtill Science of Holy Alkimy" 

was practically universal among all classes of people, and it 
is a fact that in the sixteenth century few persons were 
courageous enough to oppose the highly respectable super- 
stition. At rare intervals enlightened men of advanced views 
made conscientious attacks on the fallacious theories and ex- 
posed the bold impostures by which the promoters sustained 
the claims of the pseudo-science, but they were regarded as 
pessimistic croakers, or were entirely unheeded. Had the 
English poet Chaucer been more widely read, his "Canon 
Yeoman's Tale" might have opened the eyes of thinking men,, 
but he was in advance of his times. 

"'Graunt mercy', quod the preest, and was ful glad, 

And couched coles as the chanoun bad 

And whyle he bisy was, this feendly wrecche, 

This fals chanoun, the foule feend him fecche! 

Out of his bosom took a bechen cole, 

In which ful subtilly was maad an hole, 

And ther-in put was of siluer lymaille 

An ounce, and stopped was, with-outen fayle, 

The hole with wex, to kepe the lymaille in. 

And understondeth that this false gin 

Was nat maad ther, but it was maad bifore." 

* * * * 

"And whyles that the preest wyped his face 
^ This chanoun took his cole with harde grace, 
And leyde it up aboue, on the midward 
Of the crosslet, and blew wel afterward, 
Till that the coles gonne faste brenne." 

* * * 

. . . "He took out of his owen sleue 
A teyne of siluer (yuel moot he cheue!)" 



129 



... "In his honde he bar 
An holwe stikke (tak keep and be war!), 
In thende of which an ounce, and namore 
Was in his cole, and stopped with wex wel 
For to kepe in his lymaille every del. 
And whyl this preest was in his bisinesse, 
This, chanoun with his stikke gan him dresse 
To him anon, and his pouder caste in 
As he did er." 

In the sixteenth century there was a division of opinion 
among the men of learning; Melanchthon, for example, wrote 
of alchemy as a work of imposture and fraud, while Martin 
Luther in his "Canonica" said: "The art of alchemy is a true 
and genuine philosophy of ancient sages, and pleases me very 
well not only on account of its virtue and great usefulness 
shown in the distillation and sublimation of metals, herbs, 
waters, and oils, but also on account of its admirable and 
beautiful analogy to the resurrection of the dead at the day 
of judgement." The only serious attempt made in the six- 
teenth century to break down the structure erected by the 
chemists, was the publication in 1572 of a work by Thomas 
Lieber, better known by his pen-name Erastus, Professor of 
medicine in Basle.* His main attack was on the absurd 
medical doctrines of Paracelsus, but he also exposed the 
worthlessness of the theories of alchemy and the charlatanism 
of its practitioners by citing instances of notorious frauds. 
Neither earnest opposition nor ridicule as expressed in 
facetious epigrams and verses disturbed the status of alchemy ; 
the verses of the Jesuit Grethser of Ingolstadt are good ex- 
amples of one form of attack : 

"Alchemia est scientia sine arte 

Cujus principium est pars cum parte, 

Medium strenue mentiri, 

Finis mendicatum ire 

Vel in cruce corvos nutrire, 

Quod Paracelsicis solet evenire." 

* Explicatio quaestionis famosae illius, ut utrum ex metallis ignobilis aurutn 
verum et naturale arte conflari possit. Basiliae, 1572, 4to. 

130 






Those who ventured to raise their voices and exert their 
influence against alchemy were sometimes converted to its 
support by ingenious stratagems ; how this was accomplished 
in the case of the two learned Professors at Basle has just 
been shown; another Professor, Cornelius Martini, who held 
the chair of Philosophy at Helmstadt, was accustomed in 
lecturing to students to denounce alchemy as a vain specu- 
lation, and he too was won over by a master stroke. As he 
was holding forth on the impossibility of transmutation, a 
stranger entered the class-room and politely begged permission 
to argue the matter by a practical demonstration; he asked 
for a piece of lead, a crucible, and the usual melting furnace ; 
these were obligingly placed at his disposal and he soon pro- 
duced a small ingot of gold in the crucible, and handed it 
over to Professor Martini with these words: "Solve tnihi 
hunc syllogismum!" 




131 




CHAPTER XIII. 
THE SECRET SYMBOLS OF PONTANUS' LETTER. 

When fire and water, earth and air 

In love's true bond united are, 

For all diseases then be sure 

You have a safe and certain cure. 

I will affirm it's here alone 

Exists the Philosophic Stone. 

This is fair Nature's virgin root, 

Thrice blest are they who reap the fruit: 

But oh! where one true adept 's found, 

Ten thousand thousand cheats abound. 

[E IMPERIAL laboratory on the Hradschin occu- 
pied two communicating rooms on the ground 
floor of an old stone building only one story in 
height and formerly used for housing the royal 
coaches ; the rudely paved, uneven floor remained as of yore, 
but on one side of the larger rooni had been built several 
flues into which brick furnaces discharged their smoke and 
soot. These furnaces, great and small, were devoted to 
diverse uses ; one was constructed for smelting ores and the 
more refractory metals, another furnished the moderate heat 
required for a huge water-bath, and a third was arranged 
for the distillation of volatile liquids. This fuMaee supported 
a cucurbit capped by five helms, one placed above another, 
their long necks terminating in recipients for collecting the 
distillates, the more volatile going to the uppermost. Shelves 

132 




hanging against the walls held cucurbits, alembics, descen- 
sories, Hippocrates' sleeves, mirrors for reflecting the sun's 
rays in distillations, and a variety of small phials, covered 
gallipots, and porcelain jars containing chemicals, solid and 
liquid. 

The floor was strewn with mortars of many shapes and 
sizes some without their pestles, with fire shovels, tongs and 




pokers, wood for kindling and clumsy axes for chopping the 
same, and in a corner removed from the dust of furnaces, 
near a window, lay several ponderous folios and smaller books 
besides manuscripts of hermetic lore, in some of which the 
crude drawings had been colored to make them more at- 
tractive. On wooden pins, driven into crevices of the stone 
walls at convenient spots, hung utensils identical in shape 



133 



with those used in culinary operations, but the fragments of 
red saffron of Mars, blue vitriol, and verdigris, together 
with patches of brown lutes, gave them. an aspect far from 
appetizing. 

The centre of the smaller room was almost filled with an 
apparatus conspicuous from its great size and eccentric shape; 
it consisted of a hollow, metal pipe nearly nine feet high pierc- 
ed with ten round holes through which passed the lengthened 
glass necks of alembics below and the shorter necks of re- 
ceptacles above, the latter supported on brackets fixed to the 
wall. The necks of the two alembics, connected with cucurbits 
resting on furnaces, were bent into S-shaped curves so that 
they entered the central pipe at each of the five openings; 
water poured in at the top of the pipe was drawn off by a 
spigot near the base. This imposing apparatus for distilling 
brandy had been made after a pattern devised many years 
before by Brunswick, but at the time of which we write 
was no longer in use having been abandoned for simpler 
contrivances. 

Suspended from the smoke begrimed rafters was a stuffed 
crocodile and a rare bird of Asiatic origin, whose brilliant 
plumage was now entirely concealed by the dust and dirt 
of years of neglect. 

In the long corridor leading into these rooms lay piles 
of charcoal, earthenware crucibles, boxes of materials for fire- 
resisting lutes, and coarser chemical substances, together with 
utensils of iron, copper and brass, most of them in sad need 
of scouring. Throughout an air of disorder and carelessness 
prevailed ; the murky atmosphere was scarcely pierced by the 
sunbeams admitted through the windows cut at irregular 
elevations opposite the furnaces. Of furniture properly speak- 
ing there was very little; a few stools, one chair of comfort- 
able aspect in front of a still, and a massive table of rude 

134 



construction, on which lay a sandglass, sieves, knives, scissors, 
and so littered with broken funnels, scraps of paper, fragments 
of alembics and earthen jars, as to prevent a legitimate use 
of the table. 

Near the door of the corridor leading without stood two 
covered barrels of water. Along the side was a series of low 
steps on each of which was a cucurbit, or bowl, arranged 




AN ALCHEMIST'S LABORATORY. 
Tenicrs. 

so as to make a self-filtering battery of ancient style ; a. wad 
of lampwick hung in each vessel like a siphon through which 
the liquid trickled slowly. 

Several alchemists and physicians, assisted in manual 
drudgery by their servants, were at work in this laboratory. 
Dr. Leonhard von Erbach was distilling from glass a quan- 
tity of dew that he had collected at early dawn when the 
Moon was in Sagittarius; after twenty-nine distillations it 
would furnish the physician with a precious panacea for 

135 



divers maladies, and would be prescribed to patients able to 
pay in golden ducats. Two apprentices were occupied in 
chopping bark from a small tree-trunk and in pulverizing the 
elastic woody fibre ; another was preparing a furnace for the 
preparation of Crocus Veneris which required varying degrees 
of heat. Apart from observation von Hirschberg was com- 
pounding a philtre having aphrodisiac powers, destined to 
fetch a golden harvest from a credulous lady of the Emperor's 
household. 

Seated on a stool near a window Dr. Michael Maier was 
intently examining a manuscript containing numerous secret 
symbols, the exact meaning of which he was writing between 
the lines. The few leaves of this modern manuscript consti- 
tuted a short epistle addressed to Emperor Rudolph by Dr. 
Johann Bruckner, Professor of Medicine at Konigsberg, and 
referred by his Majesty to Dr. Maier for interpretation. 
Rudolph lacked esoteric knowledge of the hermetic characters 
and believing it to contain the secret of the Philosophers' 
Stone he had commanded his learned Secretary to decipher it ; 
this Maier finally completed and the document sent to Rudolph 
greatly pleased him. 

The letter from Bruckner, or Pontanus, as he generally 
called himself, was in part as follows; Maier's explanations 
are also given. 

"TO MY most gracious and exalted Master, the most 
Potent Lord of the Holy Roman Empire, King of Hungary 
and Bohemia, RUDOLPHUS II., greeting. I, John Pontanus, 
have travelled through many countries that I might know 
the certainty of the Philosophers' Stone; and passing through 
the universe I found many deceivers, but no true Philosophers, 
which put me on incessant studying, and making many 
doubts, till at length I found out the truth. But when I had 

136 



attained the knowledge of the matter in general yet I erred 
at least two hundred times before I could attain to know 
the singular thing itself, with the work and the practice 
thereof. 

*\T* /"N/v 

First, I began with ., of the QjQ(^ which I con- 

putrefaction matter 

tinued for 9 I I , together and obtained nothing. I then for 

months 

some certain time proved a / /") but in vain. After that 

balneum Marias 

I used a / \ of \j for 3 I I t space and still found 

fire calcination months 



myself out of the way. I essayed all sorts of ^ and 

/V/ distillations 

and / /V> as the ^^ Geber, Archelaus, and all the 

sublimations philosophers 

rest of them have prescribed, and yet found nothing. In sum 
I attempted to perfect the whole work of alchemy by all 



imaginable and likely means, as by 



/Jy 



horse-dung ashes baths 

and other heats of divers kinds all of which are found in the 



books of K yet without any success. I yet continually 

philosophers 

for 3 8 together studied the books of f^ , that 

years philosophers 

chiefly in Hermes whose concise words comprehend the sum 
of the whole matter, viz. the secret of the Philosophers* Stone, 
by an obscure way of speaking, of what is superior, and 
what is inferior, to wit, of heaven and earth. Therefore our 

137 



operation which brings the QjQ, into being in the first, 

matter T >. 

second and third work, is not the heat of a / jj nor of 

* bath 

LJLJ nor of * '** nor of the other y\ which ^""^ 

\ 

horse-dung ashes fire philosophers 

excogitate in their books. Shall I demand then what is it 
that perfects the work, since the wise men have thus con- 
cealed it? Truly, being moved with a generous spirit, I will 
declare it, with the complement of the whole work. 

The Lapis Philosophorunij therefore, is but one though 
'it has many names, which before you conceive them will be 

very difficult. For it is of \/ /\ /\ \/ it is (37 

water, air, fire, earth; salt, 

and phlegm; it is sulfurous, yet is argent vive; 

sulfur, mercury 

it has many superfluities which are turned into the true 
essence by the help of our fire. He which separates anything 
from the subject or matter, thinking it to be necessary, 
wholly errs in his philosophy. That which is superfluous, 
unclean, filthy, feculent, and in a word, the whole substance 
of the subject is transmuted or changed into a perfect, fixed 
and spiritual body, by the help of our fire which the wise 
men never revealed. 



Now the practical part is this : let the ^ be taken 




matter 



and diligently ^ with the contrition of " , put it 

ground philosophers 

upon the /\ with such a n that it only excite or 



fire degree of heat 

138 



stir up the <f/ QjQi^^ an( * * n a snort time that / \ 



without 



fire 



any laying on of hands will \^/ the whole work because 

complete 

it putrefies, corrupts, generates, and perfects, and makes the 
three principal colors, viz., the black, white and red to ap- 
pear. And by the means of this our fire the medicine will be 
multiplied !by addition of the crude matter not only in quan- 
tity but also in quality or virtue. Therefore, seek out this 
fire with all thy industry, for having once found it thou shalt 
accomplish thy desire, because it performs the whole work, 



and is the true key of all the "" which they never yet 

philosophers 

revealed. Consider well of what I have spoken concerning 

the properties of this / \, and thou must know it, other- 

fire 
wise it will be hid from thine eyes. 

Being moved with generosity I have written you these 

things, but that I might speak plainly, this / \is not trans- 

fire 
muted with the Qnn because it is nothing of the matter, 

matter 

as I have before declared. And these things I thought fit to 
speak as a warning to the proudest sons of art that they 
spend not their money unprofitably, but may know what 
they ought to look after; for by this only they may attain 
to the perfection of this secret, and by.no other means. 

Farewell. 

Before transmitting this letter with the interlineations to 
the Emperor, Maier added a note on the general subject of 
secret characters; he stated that "the well known symbols 

139 



for the seven metals were naturally those of the planets 
associated with them; the universal primordial elements, 
earth, water, air and fire, are designated by signs so well 
known that secrecy is no longer a feature of their use. Their 
antiquity is very great for they are found sculptured with 
slight modifications on Hindoo monuments in China of un- 
known age." 

AIR. 

TIRE., 
WATER. 

EARTH. 




" Secrecy is sometimes secured by using entirely dissimilar 
characters for one article, or one operation, as a crucible for 
example ; still more perplexing is the use of a single character 
for several unrelated objects. The arbitrary nature of these 
symbols has necessitated keys explaining them; of those in 
print one of the clearest is appended to Heinrich Eschen- 
reuter's Treatises. These were discovered on the 6th of May 
1403 in the walls of the cloister connected with the Church 
at Schwartzbach by an adept in alchemy who again hid them 
in the Cloister Marienzell, Thuringia. There they were re- 
discovered 10th October 1489. The best modern editions 
contain a key to the numerous characters found therein; the 
key is doubtless in the possession of the imperial Librarian, 
nevertheless, I, Heinrich Maier, transmit a copy, by means 
of which all inscrutable mysteries may be revealed and 
problems solved." 

A portion of this key is here reproduced ; in the original 
the defining words were in Latin and spelled backwards the 
greater to mystify the uninitiated. 

140 



To Distil. Aqua Fortis. Aqua Regalis. A Brick. To Calcine. 





V? >C/) 



Camphire. . Ashes. Cerusse. 






Quicklime. Cinnabar. Wax. Hartshorn. 

655 * CC 



A Crucible. Crystal. A Gum. 







Oil. Steel Filings. Litharge. 



4% B 





To Lute. Sublimated Mercury. Precipitated Mercury. Nitre. 





(D 



Realgar. Sand. Soap. 






KEY TO SYMBOLS. 



CHAPTER XIV. 




A TRAGEDY IN THE ROYAL MEWS. 

"In my shop of drugs are stored 
Many things of sweet accord ; 
Spices with sugar I combine, 
Enemas and purges I divine. 
To strengthen the weak and the sickly, 
Refreshing draughts I furnish quickly; 
All these with utmost care, 
On prescriptions, I prepare." 

Hans Sachs. 

IN A sultry evening in midsummer a group of peas- 
ants were busy weeding the plants and trimming 
the shrubs in the stiffly designed pleasure garden 
of the Emperor, that formed such an agreeable 
feature of the low ground bordering the north side of the 
Hradschin. Directing their labors with taste and skill was 
a fair-haired, comely young man of attractive presence, whose 
intellectual physiognomy stamped him as a man superior to 
those working with spade and pruning-knife. In the admir- 
able disposition of the blooming plants and in the grouping 
of the small trees, the young florist showed the taste of a 
landscape artist ; and his close inspection of the parts of a 
rare blossom that he picked off the ground from beneath a 
foreign-looking plant, showed that he had acquired the scien- 
tific method of looking at flowers characteristic of a botanist. 
He separated the leaf-shaped, brightly colored parts of the 

143 



flower, examined the central axis and the delicate filamentous 
stalks surrounding it, noting the minutest details with the 
aid of a bean-shaped piece of glass ; as he threw down the 
fragments of the flower one by one, he was watched by one 
of the older peasants who sighed and drew his hand across 
his low forehead with a significant gesture to indicate to his 
fellow-workmen that their superintendent was mentally un- 
balanced. 

The sun was getting low and the young man dismissed 
the gardeners, and turned his steps down the hill towards 
the river; passing near the animal cages the savage beasts 
showed by their antics that they regarded the florist as a 
friend, Ottakar, Rudolph's pet lion, uttering a gentle growl 
of greeting. Following the winding path to the riverside, 
Jacob Horcicky, for that was the name of the embryo bot- 
anist, crossed the dwindling Moldau on the old stone bridge 
built by Karl IV; here he was overtaken by a trim young 
army officer, whose costume and decorations proclaimed him 
a lieutenant of cavalry, and who shortened his stride to 
accost Jacob in a cordial, almost affectionate manner that 
met a like response. Together they threaded the ill-paved, 
narrow streets of Old Prague; the Officer talked about the 
splendid horses in the royal stables where he was on duty 
and called them by endearing names; Jacob chatted about 
domestic affairs and both made frequent mention of a certain 
lovely Fraulein Sofie whose capricious ways seemed to dis- 
tress the Lieutenant. 

Skirting the ancient Jew's cemetery, the two friends 
reached Gypsy Street and soon entered the archway of a 
well-kept double house; on the right hand side of the passage 
was a door over which a sign "The City Pharmacy" indi- 
cated the nature of the business conducted within ; alongside 
of the door a window having a sill breast-high and extra 

144 



broad permitted would-be customers to communicate with 
the apothecary without entering the shop. Glancing through 
this window, Jacob pushed to one side the sliding sash, 
greeted filially the elder of the occupants, and then taking 
the Lieutenant's arm the two entered the living rooms on 
the opposite side of the passage. 

Almost at the same moment there emerged from the shop 
one of the apprentices whose dark eyes and regular features 
betrayed his Italian parentage; limping slightly he went 
through the passage towards the laboratory in the court- 
yard, and noticing a silver spur with a broken buckle on the 
pavement, he furtively picked it up and concealed it on his 
person ; as soon as he reached the laboratory he drew forth 
the spur and noted with a grim smile that the letter "S' r 
was engraved on it; looking towards the family apartments 
with a hideous leer of jealous anger that entirely transformed 
his handsome face, he murmured under his breath two 
words "Sofie", and "vendetta" ! 

The pharmacy of Christian Horcicky was the best ap- 
pointed in the Capital of Bohemia and was noted for the 
purity of its medicines as well as for the accuracy with 
which the most complex prescriptions were compounded. 
Persons entering the front shop saw against the walls on 
two sides a double row ,of drawers, some shallow and some 
deeper, above which ran wooden counters and shelving reach- 
ing nearly to the ceiling; on the stone floor stood heavy 
tables, a mortar mounted on a pedestal made of a tree trunk, 
and some stools ; across one end, under the window opening 
into the street, ran a counter on which the work of mixing 
powders, rolling pills, making salves, and compounding the 
simpler prescriptions was performed. Above the counter, 
hanging within convenient reach, were two pair of scales; 
alongside of the window was a hanging shelf carrying meas- 

145 



tiring jars, bottles of many shapes and sizes, horn spoons 
and other paraphernalia required in pharmaceutical opera- 
tions. Fastened against the wall so as to attract the eye of 
a customer entering, were the diploma of the proprietor and 
his license to keep a pharmacy. From the ceiling hung a 
small stuffed crocodile, the carapace of a tortoise and bun- 
dles of dried aromatic herbs. 

The drawers, shelves and cupboards of "The City Phar- 
macy" were well stocked with the substances dispensed for 
external and internal remedies by the apothecaries of the 
period. Alum, salt, sulfur, white arsenic, spermaceti, salt- 
petre, vitriol, sal ammoniac, Armenian bole, coral, mother- 
of-pearl, crocus martis, crocus veneris, amber, antimony, 
turpeth mineral, album Graecum, crab's eyes, wax, were on 
hand, as well as the highly esteemed bezoar stone, ambergris, 
human skull, asses* hoofs, dried toads, and the cast-off skins 
of vipers, so useful in dropsy. In large wooden boxes were 
stored the dried leaves, flowers, seeds, bark and roots of 
many aromatic herbs, including saffron, ginger, elder, worm- 
wood, borage, rhubarb, aloes, jalap, rue, Abyssinian myrrh, 
Solomon's seal, and St. John* wort, gathered on St. John's 
day, and much in demand for expelling evil spirits from sick 
persons. 

Trefoil, vervain, John's wort, dill, 
Hinder witches of their will." 

The little explored New World across the Atlantic had 
begun to contribute its valuable remedies, notably china root, 
cosa, sarsaparilla and tobacco. Spenser enumerates other 
medicinal plants in the following lines : 

"The mournful cypress grew in greatest store; 

And trees of bitter gall, and ebon sad. 

Dead sleeping poppy, and black hellebore, 

Cold coloquintida, and tetra mad ; 

Mortal samnitis, and cicuta bad; 

With which th' unjust Athenians made to die 

Wise Socrates." 

146 



On the shelves stood gallipots of earthenware containing 
lard, marrow, goose-fat and other greasy substances ; in boxes 
of horn, china, zinc and even of silver (for costly materials), 
were ointments, salves, unguents, balsams, confortatives and 
extracts of the more solid kind. Besides these the shelves 
were crowded with boxes of plasters, clysters, ataplasms, lini- 
ments, electuaries, and favorite remedies, such as "oppodel- 
doch" and "panchymagog." 

In glass bottles, grouped on another row of shelves, were 
the strong acids, oil of vitriol, spirit of salt, and aqua fortis; 
spirits of wine, turpentine oil, petroleum, mercury, essential 
oils, besides elixirs and "aquae" without end, of which the 
most popular were "aqua benedicta" and "aqua mirabilis." 
The apothecar} 7 - kept on hand also quantities of tinctures, 
essences, quintessences and ready made pills; of the latter 
the "hiera picra Rhasis," "the pillulae alephanginae Mesuae," 
and "pillulae pestilentiales Ruffi" were in constant demand. 
Among the frequently prescribed remedies were the "diambar," 
the "diamargariton calidum," "thryphera," the expensive 
"collyrium of Danares," and the complex mixtures called 
"theriac" and "mithridat." Theriac was compounded of from 
sixty-five to ninety-seven ingredients belonging to the min- 
eral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, and included such nau- 
seous things as troches- of vipers, and portions of wild ani- 
mals not named in fastidious society. The great expense 
attending the preparation of a medicament embracing so 
many and so rare ingredients caused physicians to devise 
simpler ones for the poor; thus the sixty-three substances of 
the famous "theriac of Andromachus" were reduced in num- 
ber to four and in this form was sometimes called "diates- 
son"; its composition was roots of gentian, of birth wort, 
and of bay-laurel, with myrrh mixed with honey to form an 
electuary. The "mithridat of Damocles" was compounded of 

147 



forty-nine ingredients, some of which were complex in them- 
selves. 

A liniment used in sciatica affords a good example of the 
prescriptions sent in to the City Pharmacy: "Take three 
little new-born dogs and three living moles, one pound of 
earthworms, leaves of laurel, rosemary, mint, sweet mar- 
jorem, lavender, thyme, St. John's wort, of each a handful; 
boil these ingredients in three pounds of oil mixed with com- 
mon wine until the latter is consumed; then pour out and 
express the liquid from the solids, add to the liquid yellow 
wax and goose-fat each ten ounces. Good for rheumatism 
and sciatica; apply it to the skin heated before a fire, and 
repeat as often as required." 

Such nostrums were not peculiar to Central Europe, the 
English poet Chaucer wrote two centuries before Rudolph 
began to reign; 

"A day or two ye shall have digestives 

Of wormes, 'ere ye take your laxatives 

Ot laurel, centaury and fumete're, 

Or else of elderberry that groweth there. 

Of catapuce, or of the gaitre berries, 

Or herb ivy growing in our yard that merry is." 

Some of the prescriptions sent in to Christian Horcicky 
called for ingredients that required time and trouble to 
secure ; as for example the oil of frog's spawn (used for chil- 
blains), and the liver of a mad dog (or of a wolf) washed 
with wine and dried in an oven, a specific for hydrophobia. 
Perhaps the delay in supplying such concoctions permitted 
the patients to gain enough strength to withstand the nau- 
seous doses. 

A full supply of hair-dyes, hair-invigorators, insect- 
powders, eye-washes and cosmetics were constantly on hand ; 
among the substances used to beautify complexions was an 
unguent made of white wax, spermaceti, borax, alum and 

148 




oil of cole seed which was spread upon a cloth worn as a 
masque at night. A favorite face- wash was made by mac- 
erating two young pigeons with bread, almonds, and peach 
kernels in goat's milk and then adding borax, camphor, can- 
died sugar, and powdered alum, the liquid being exposed 
three days to the sun, kept fifteen days in a cellar and 
filtered. The wild cucumber was held in esteem as a pre- 
ventive of wrinkles, and bull's gall for removing freckles. 
The cosmetics formed a lucrative branch of the business of 
the pharmacy, hardly less so was the sale of love philtres ; 
of these the most important constituents were the East 
Indian resin called dragon's blood, mandragora, cantharides, 
vervain and other aphrodisiacal herbs; but the most highly 
esteemed contained the gall of a man, the eyes of a black 
cat, or the blood of a bat. 

"Strait to the 'pothecary's shop I went 

And in love-powder all my money spent; 

Behap what will, next Sunday after prayers, 

When to the ale-house Lubberkin repairs, 

These golden flies into his mug I'll throw 

And soon the swain with fervent love shall glow." 

Philtres were made not only for exciting amorous pas- 
sions, but also for quenching them: 

"If so a toad be laid 

In a sheepskin newly flaid, 

And that ty'd to man, f t will sever 

Him and his affections ever." 

Allied to the philtres were the charms superstitiously 
worn or carried on the person to ward off the evil eye, pes- 
tilence and malignant diseases; moles' feet fastened to one's 
garters and worn continually were a recognized charm to 
ward off gout ; the leaves of shepherd's purse worn in shoes 
next the skin was a specific against toothache. Horcicky's 
shop kept all these innocent charms in stock, but the master 

149 



declined conscientiously to deal in abrunes, or images carved 
out of mandrake roots which were consulted as oracles, in 
order not to countenance such impious superstitions. 

A profitable class of substances commonly sold in phar- 
macies of the sixteenth century remains to be mentioned ; 
these were cane sugar (generally kept in cones and cut off as 
wanted), treacle, honey and varieties of syrups, conserves, 
lohocks, confections and robs, of which the basis was sugar 
or honey. The apothecary also dealt in spices, cordials, dis- 
tilled waters and fumigating pastilles, as well as sealing-wax, 
paper, ink and pens. 

Jacob's knowledge of botany was of great assistance to 
Christian Horcicky in the collection and identification of 
medicinal plants, both indigenous and exotic; together they 
had invented a toilet-water that was in great demand as a 
medicine and perfume in court circles and among the wealthy 
aristocrats of all Bohemia. , This prototype of the modern 
Eau de Cologne was made by distilling essential oils of plants 
cultivated for the purpose, and was sold under the name 
Aqua Smapu, Sinapius being the Latinized form of the Bohe- 
mian name Horcicky, which by the way signifies mustard 
(Sinapis). 

Aqua Sinapii was manufactured at the laboratory in the 
court-yard, where also all operations requiring intense heat, 
such as fusion and sublimation, were carried on; there too, 
distillations were conducted and secret arcana, were prepared 
by the hardworked apprentice Carlo Malombra, a Venetian, 
assisted by Ferdinand Horcicky, Christian's younger son. 
The laboratory was a stone building so placed on sloping 
ground as to have two stories on the front and but one at 
the back; in the lower room, almost as dark as a cellar, 
were several furnaces, some furnished with artificial blasts 
and some built for gentler fires, besides water-baths, filtering 

150 



sleeves, pelicans and mortars ; without the door were piles of 
charcoal. 

"And sundry vessels made of earth and glass, 

Our urinals and our descensories ; 

Phials and crosslets and subllmatories, 

Cucurbits and alembikes eke 

And other such, dear enough a leek." 

In the upper room was kept a large stock of dried herbs, 
also casks of wine and small kegs of oil. In one corner, on 
a table under a window, lay several herbals and a good 
selection of the most valuable pharmacopoeias ; these included 
Otto Brunfels' "Reformation of Pharmacy" (Mayence, 1536), 
Ryffs "Book of Confections" (Strassburg, 1548), and the 
latest edition of the admirable work by Valerius Cordus, 
published at Antwerp in 1580 under the title "Pharmacorum 
conficiendorum ratio, vulgo vocant Dispensatorium." 

All day and late into the night the apprentices labored 
mightily with mortar and pestle, with coals and bellows, 
cucurbits and stillatories, preparing the monstrous remedies 
dispensed in the front shop ; to the upper room repaired also 
Christian himself when he was engaged in uroscopy, another 
regular and lucrative source of income. 

When alone Carlo Malombra brooded over unrequited 
love for his master's lovely daughter, and cursed the day 
that brought Lieutenant Maximilian Swoboda into the family 
circle of the Horcickys ; he, Carlo, was well born, being the 
nephew of the Venetian artist Pietro Malombra, and he felt 
indignant at the menial position he filled. He had been clerk 
to one of the Professors of medicine at the University of 
Padua, but an awkward event, in which the deadly Aqua 
Toffniria had been too freely used and with which his name 
was connected, caused him to bury himself, as he thought, 
in the wilds of unpolished Bohemia. 

On a beautifully, clear, refreshing morning in the month 



of September, after a sleepless night, caused by overfeeding 
and insufficient exercise, the Emperor Rudolph left his private 
rooms, accompanied by a valet, to take a stroll through the 
pleasure garden and to visit the well-stocked stables ; he re- 
membered with a half melancholy smile that he had ordered 
the name of the snow-white Arabian stallion changed from 
"Kelley" to "Sendivogius," but events had proved that the 
latter was no more desirable than the former. As he ap- 
proached the royal mews he saw a group of officers and men 
gesticulating and talking in agitated tones as if of some 
calamity, and on inquiry of the imperial Master of the sta- 
bles, Colonel von Podebrad, he learned the cause of the dis- 
turbance. During the night several of the horses had been 
taken ill, two of them in fact, "Eva" and "Clelia," Rudolph's 
pets, were already dead, "Gilles Sadeler" and "Magdalena" 
\vere in a critical condition, and "Johann von Aachen" was 
convalescent; the obvious cause was poisoned oats intro- 
duced into the mangers by some unknown person ; two clues 
to the criminal had been found, viz: a peasant's basket in 
the shrubbery below the stables, and a silver spur marked 
"S" in one of the stalls. 

The usually impassive Emperor became enraged almost 
beyond the limits of dignity, and summoning the Vice Chan- 
cellor, who came in all haste, he placed in Curtius' hands the 
investigation, urging him to spare no pains to discover the 
guilty miscreant. The men on watch the preceding night 
were arrested at once, and the Colonel was warned of simi- 
lar danger. 

News of the traged} r in the royal mews spread rapidly, 
and when the citizens of Old Prague and the residents of the 
Hradschin heard that Lieutenant Maximilian Swoboda had 
been arrested on good grounds and confined in Daliborka 
Tower, they were moved with indignation, amazement and 

153 



pity. Those who did not know of the tell-tale spur were dis- 
posed to accuse members of a band of gypsies who had en- 
camped on the hills in the outskirts of the City, especially as 




A PHARMACY IN XVI. CENTURY. 



one of their number was known to have failed in his attempt 
to sell to the master of the stables a splendid horse brought 
from Hungary, and had been heard to threaten vengeance; 



153 



the entire band of seventeen persons, representing four gen- 
erations, was arrested and confined in barracks, where they 
were destined to linger many a weary month, forgotten of 
their captors. 

In the Horcicky household consternation raged ; Christian, 
his wife Dorothea, Jacob and Ferdinand were overwhelmed 
with grief, Sofie was prostrated, and Carlo Malombra was 
voluble in sympathetic inquiries and protestations of dis- 
tress. Two days passed and they seemed like so many 
months to the friends of the Lieutenant who was not allowed 
to communicate with a living soul; at length, however, 
Fraulein Sofie recovered her composure and pointed out to 
her brother Jacob the total lack of a motive on the part of 
her fiance, and spoke of his great affection for and devotion 
to the mute animals under his care; Jacob then waited on 
the clerk of the tribunal having charge of the case and made 
a strong impression on him in favor of Swoboda. 

On the morning of the third day Dr. Michael Maier cal- 
led at the City Pharmacy to purchase for his own use a 
bottle of Aqua Sinapii, and expressed surprise at the dejected 
appearance of the Horcickys, father and son; on hearing 
from them the tragedy of the mews and of the arrest of his 
young friend Maximilian, he said that he believed he could 
clear the officer from suspicion. The Doctor and Jacob hast- 
ened to the Vice Chancellor, who admitted them at once to 
his private chamber; there Doctor Maier made the following 
statement : On the night of the equine catastrophe the moon 
was in Aries, which was favorable for gathering human skull 
to be used in a magical potion for which he was gradually 
securing the ingredients; accordingly he started about two 
o'clock in the morning to collect the material in the old Jews' 
cemetery, and as he passed through the royal gardens he 
encountered a man creeping along, screened by the shrubbery 

154 



and trees. Concealing himself, the Doctor watched the man 
who was dressed like a peasant, carried a basket in his hand 
and stealthily approached the stables. After collecting the 
bones in the graveyard he was returning to the Hradschin 
when he met a messenger from Baron von Zelewski sum- 
moning him to the bedside of his wife; he drove to the 
Baron's residence in Wyschehrad, a suburb of Old Prague, 
and there he had been professionally detained two nights; 
thus it happened that he first heard of the sad affair that agi- 
tated the whole City when he called at Horcicky's Pharmacy. 

Questioned by Jacob, who began to see daylight, Dr. 
Maier said the peasant was short and stout and walked 
with a limp as if one leg was shorter than the other. Hor- 
cicky then explained to the Vice Chancellor how the Venetian 
apprentice, jealous of the Lieutenant's betrothal to Fraulein 
Sofie, had probably sought to inculpate him in the dastardly 
deed; the description of the supposed peasant's appearance 
and halting gait tallied exactly with that of Carlo Malombra. 

Then Curtius dismissed the physician and the botanist, 
ordered the Italian put to the question and soon extorted 
from him a full confession. On reporting these facts to the 
Emperor, his Majesty decreed that the wretched man should 
be confined in the uppermost room of the Hunger Tower, 
and that he should be supplied with a plenty of delicate food 
and drink, all impregnated with the poison "aqua Toffnina" 
that had proved fatal to the royal animals. The decree was 
carried out with refined cruelty, and the horrible fate of 
Malombra can be guessed. 

Swoboda was promoted to be Captain of the Royal Dra- 
goons and Jacob Horcicky, now better known as Sinapius, 
was made Director of the Imperial Botanic Gardens. 



155 




CHAPTER XV. 
RUDOLPH'S DREAM. 

"I asked Philosophy how I should 
Have of her the thing I would ; 
She answered me when I was able 
To make the Water malliable; 
Or else the way if I could finde 
To mesure out a yard of Winde ; 
Then shalt thou have thine own desire, 
When thou can'st- weigh an ounce of Fire; 
Unless that thou can'st doe these three, 
Content thyself, thou get'st not me.*' 

ABBI BEZALEL LOEW the erudite philosopher, 
like all his co-religionists, lived in the Ghetto of 
Prague, but his house in "Broad Street" was dis- 
tinguished above those of his neighbors by a lion 
carved in stone placed over the doorway. This symbol of 
his family name commemorated an incident that had caused 
unending wonderment among the inhabitants of the Jew's 
quarter, a visit from the occupant of the imperial throne of 
Germany, who had condescended to penetrate the sombre 
streets of the despised Ghetto and to enter the humble 
dwelling of his Hebrew subject, in order to express in this 
conspicuous way his admiration for the learning and the 
virtue of the tenant. 

156 




The common folk of the Ghetto, as well as of the rest of 
the City, attributed to the benevolent Rabbi supernatural 
powers, but never accused him of using them for evil pur- 
poses ; his learning extended not only to the mysteries of the 
Kabbala but to many branches of natural philosophy as 
well, and his knowledge of the camera obscura, experiments 
with which had been shown to a few privileged friends, 
formed a fairly substantial basis for their belief; he was 
popularly supposed to have transferred to his dwelling in 
the Ghetto by magic spells, the hundred-windowed palace on 
the Hradschin and to have exhibited the marvel to Rudolph 
on the occasion of his memorable visit. Had the modest 
philosopher been known to Gabriel Naude, the Frenchman 
would have included him in the list of honorable men defended 
in his "Apologie pour les grands hommes soup9onnez de 
magie," written a few years later. 

The gifted Rabbi was believed to have surpassed the 
achievement of the English Bare-foot monk of the thirteenth 
century, called by scholastics " Doctor Mirabilis," on account 
of his prodigious learning; according to tradition Roger Bacon 
had made a human head out of brass and had endowed it 
with the power of speech, and rumor reported that Loew, 
by the aid of kabbalistic formulae and supernatural gifts, 
had formed of clay a~ dwarf possessing attributes far more 
marvellous than those of the brazen head. The "Hebrew 
Roger Bacon of Prague" by touching the forehead of the in- 
animate dwarf with his consecrated finger and impressing 
thereon the mystical letters 

GOLEM 

had communicated to it life, willpower and intelligence. This 
automaton long served his master with cheerful obedience; 
on the Sabbath and on Holy days of the Israelites, the dwarf 

157 



\ 



cleansed the sacred candlesticks, prepared the table for meals, 
and did all the house-work necessary to the comfort of the 
orthodox Rabbi and his daughter, but forbidden them by 
authority of the Hebrew fathers. 

Not content with this extravagant tale, rumor noised 
abroad further details of the experience of the Bohemian 
wizard with his home-made servant. The dwarf, though 
requiring no nourishment, grew in size gradually, becoming 
a huge giant bigger than Goliath and stronger than Samson; 
such superhuman strength did he possess that he snapped 
trunks of trees like wheat-straws, and lifted enormous weights 
as easily as a child raises a loaf of bread. One Friday even- 
ing as the pious Rabbi was about to offer thanks for the 
supper spread upon the table, the giant presuming on his 
strength dared to resist the will of his gentle and yet power- 
ful master and refused to obey the order to polish the brass 
candlesticks; he forgot himself so far as to threaten the 
Hebrew sage and proposed to crush him between two of his 
artificial fingers like an unconscious egg, unless he was per- 
mitted to sit at the table and to share in the evening meal. 
Being stoutly refused, the giant then broke into a great rage 
and threatened to destroy every movable thing in the entire 
house; thereupon his master spoke to him as follows : "You 
seem to have forgotten that notwithstanding your immense 
strength of arm you are but a miserable lump of clay which 
shall retain life and power only so long as you obey my 
wishes and serve me faithfully; since in your silly bravado 
you dare to oppose your will to mine, I will show you that 
the weakling Bezalel Loew is nevertheless stronger than an 
unthankful, senseless lump of clay ; kneel and humbly beg my 
pardon!" 

The giant, however, broke into a demoniacal laugh so 

1 boisterous that the windows of the apartment were shattered. 

158 



"You cowardly brute, do you still think to oppose me 
who can destroy you by a thought!" 

The foolish giant replied: "Destroy me if you can," and 
attempted to raise his right arm to crush his master, when 
he felt a numbness creeping throughout his limbs that 
deprived him of strength as well as of vain confidence. 
"What is it?" he cried. 

"Your punishment and annihilation," said the Rabbi, 
who then rose from the table and with a stroke of his finger 
erased from the swelling forehead of the giant the kabbalistic 
letters 

GOLEM, 

and at the same instant the automaton, deprived of vital 
energy, fell to the ground and broke into a thousand pieces. 

"Er war gewesen," quietly remarked the Rabbi, who 
gave thanks to Jehovah for his mercies and proceeded un- 
moved to finish his evening meal. 

The innocent subject of these wild and uncontro verted 
legends sat in an easy chair one stormy winter night, before 
a blazing wood fire that lighted the room more brilliantly 
than the highly ornamental lamp on the table at his side. 
On his knees lay a recently published book entitled "Symbola 
divina et humana," -written by his friend Jacques Typot, a 
Fleming who held the post of librarian to the Emperor ; the 
book was a collection of mottoes and emblems of Popes, 
Emperors and Kings, and was sumptuously illustrated with 
copper plates engraved by Gilles Sadeler. Low, however, 
was not thinking of the volume but of the singular history 
of the author. 

Jacques Typot, after studying jurisprudence in the most 
celebrated schools of the Netherlands, as well as at Padua 
and Bologna, was invited to Stockholm by Sigismund III., 

159 



King of Sweden and Poland, who appointed him royal 
Councillor. He rose rapidly to great eminence and thereby 
excited the envy and hatred of the Swedish Fieldmarshal 
Pontus de la Gardie, and after publication of a history of 
the Kingdom of Sweden that displeased those in power, the 
army officer accused him of treason and secured a judgment 
of death against him; by the intercession of his brother 
Matthias, however, the penalty was reduced to imprisonment 
for ten years and subsequent banishment from Sweden. The 
miserable decade ended in 1595, Typot then went to Germany 
where his works "De fortuna" and "De fato," attracted the 
attention of Rudolph who appointed him royal historian at 
a large salary. In Sweden Typot had been sentenced to be 
beheaded, and Rudolph with a rare humor always called him 
"the headless." 

Loew and Typot had become warm friends and it was 
merely a trifling coincidence that the historian, accompanied 
by Dr. Michael Maier, was announced just as the Rabbi 
awoke from his reveries; the two were cordially received, 
their snow-covered garments were laid aside, and their host 
ordered hot mulled wine to be prepared for their refreshment. 
Dr. Maier, who had Hebrew ancestors on his mother's side, 
was no stranger at the Lion House; he and the Rabbi were 
wont to discuss cosmology, pneumatology and theosophy 
sometimes far into the small hours of the night. The learned 
Doctor was a plain featured man, having high cheek bones, 
a long nose, square jaws, a chin beard and mustache taper- 
ing at each end ; his rotund body with square shoulders was 
supported by slender legs that seemed inadequate for the 
purpose. He affected fashionable and luxurious garments 
and habitually wore a wide linen collar shaped like a yoke; 
from his neck was suspended a decoration. He called on 
Loew with Typotius to have a triangular conference about 

160 



the illustrations to be used in his forth-coming book 
"Atalanta fugiens, or New Emblems of the Secrets of Nature." 

The three philosophers were soon in deep consultation; 
Dr. Maier exhibited a beautifully drawn sketch of the illu- 
minated title-page of his book. On the left side and upper 
part appeared the Garden of the Hesperides, Hercules, clad 
in a lion's skin and carrying a club over his shoulder, was 
plucking the golden apples ; the two sisters Aegle and Are- 
thusa were in friendly conversation, the third sister Hesper- 
tusa looking on ; beneath the trees the many-headed monster 
Ladon was vainly guarding the fruit. On the right hand 
side and below, Venus was handing golden apples to the 
youth Hippomenes, who appeared again below running a 
race with the fair Atalanta, and dropping the precious fruit 
which the damsel stooped to pick up, thereby losing the race; 
in the corner was the sanctuary of Cybele, and near by a 
lion and a lioness promenading, into which animals the 
enraged goddess had transformed the guilty pair. 

Both Loew and Typotius declared the symbolic drawing 
could not be improved and the three turned to another 
emblem depicting "Mother Earth;" a nude woman stood 
erect in a fertile landscape, her neck, shoulders and trunk 
being drawn so as to represent the terrestrial globe furnished 
with feminine paps; slie was giving suck to an infant sup- 
ported on her right arm. Below on her right, Jupiter was 
being suckled by a goat, on her left Romulus and Remus 
were nursed by a wolf; in the background were castles and 
mountain peaks; above was the legend "Nutrix ejus terra 
est," a phrase occurring in the Emerald Tablet. Exa- 
mination of this emblem directed the thoughts of the Rabbi 
to the genesis of the world, and having secured the attention 
of his guests, he lay back in his easy chair, closed his eyes 
and discoursed as follows: 



161 



"Jehovah created all things by his "word, saying: "Be," 
and they were made ; together with the four elements, earth, 
water, air and fire, which He coagulated, and contrary things 
were commingled, for we see that fire is hostile to water, and 
water hostile to fire, and both are hostile to earth and air. 
Yet Jehovah united them peacefully and out of them all things 
are created heaven and the throne thereof; the angels; the 
sun, moon and stars ; earth and sea, with all things that are 
in the sea, which indeed are various, for their natures have 
been made diverse by Jehovah. Now this diversity exists in 
all creatures, because they were made out of different ele- 
ments ; had they been created out of one element, they would 
have been agreeing natures. But diverse elements being here 
mingled, they lose their own natures, because the dry being 
mixed with the humid and the cold combined with the hot 
become neither cold nor hot; so also the humid being mixed 
with the dry becomes neither dry nor humid. When the four 
elements are comingled they agree, and thence proceed crea- 
tures that never reach perfection except they be left by night 
to putrefy and become visibly corrupt; Jehovah further com- 
pleted His work by imparting life and government." 

Rabbi Loew paused long enough to drain a glass of wine 
and preceded : 

"In the disposition of these four elements is a secret ar- 
canum; two of them are perceptible to the sense of touch and 
vision viz: earth and water the virtue of which is well know; 
but the other two are neither visible nor tangible, which 
yield naught, whereof the place is never seen, nor are their 
operations and value known." 

Dr. Maier replying to his friend said: "Your character- 
ization of the genesis and nature of the four elements is 
plausible, but we must remember that our great master 
Paracelsus taught us otherwise." "When creation tools; 

162 



place," he wrote, "the Yliaster divided itself and developed 
out of itself the Ideos or Primordial Essence ; this is of a 
monistic nature and manifests itself not only as a vital activ- 
ity, a spiritual force, an invisible, incomprehensible and inde- 
scribable power, but also as vital matter of which the sub- 




stance of living beings consists. In the Limbus, or Ideos of 
primordial matter, the matrix of all created things, the sub- 
stance of all things is contained. As creation took place and 
the Yliaster dissolved, Ares, the differentiating power of the 
Supreme Cause began to act ; all production took place in con- 
ies 



sequence of separation, and out of the Ideos were born the 
elements of Fire, Earth, Water and Air." These facts by the 
way are represented in my "Atalanta fugiens" by four nude 
men bearing in their hands the substances they symbolize; 
this, and each of the other emblems, fifty in all, is explained 
by Latin verses set to music, which you will all admit is a 
novel feature." 

Having thus cleverly turned the conversation away from 
the philosoph}^ of genesis, the examination of the sketches 
prepared for illustrating Maier's book was resumed and oc- 
cupied the three friends for a long time. 

Jacques Typot, who had listened intently while Loew and 
Maier were talking, then addressed them as follows: "Being 
a historian and not a philosopher I am not learned in the 
things whereof you have been speaking, but I have long held 
an opinion as to the primordial elements that differs from 
any hitherto advanced; you speak of four elements, whereas 
I find the number may well be reduced to two; viz: earth 
and water ; the first is fixed and indestructible and out of it 
comes forth fire; water is volatile and vaporous, and is 
easily changed into air, as every one knows who boils a 
kettle." 

This theory was not favorably received by the con- 
servative Rabbi, and he and Dr. Maier were arguing the pro- 
position of Typotius, when another visitor was announced, 
no less a personage than Dr. Gottfried Steegius. The new- 
comer was made welcome and refreshment was offered; Loew 
perceiving that he had news to communicate urged him to 
speak at once ; the Doctor then stated that he had just been 
consulted by his Majesty, the Emperor, who sought to have 
a singular dream interpreted that had disturbed his slumbers 
on the preceding night; he, Steegius, being unable to explain 
it, had been commissioned by the Emperor to confer with 

164 



the learned Hebrew. The Rabbi, the physician and the his 
torian manifested great curiosity to hear the dream; Dr. 
Steegius said he would relate the dream in the Emperor's 
own words. 

"In the midst of a peaceful sleep I thought I stood in a 
forest of trees, six of which were nobler and taller than the 
rest, and formed a circular grove; they were marked with 
obscure symbols that I could not comprehend. The first tree 
was humid and white like tin, the second was dry and white 
like lead, the third was humid and black like iron, the fourth 
was hot, dry and red like copper, the fifth was dry and black 
like silver, and the sixth was hot and humid like yellow gold. 
In and through the grove moved swiftly a figure like that of 
mercury; as I was watching his eccentric movements the 
vision changed, the trees disappeared and I found myself in 
a splendid palace having fifteen rooms, on a lofty throne sat 
a King of noble mien, his brow encircled with a diadem and 
his hand grasping a sceptre of power. Before the King 
kneeled his son and five servants dressed in robes of different 
colors, and the servants implored the King to bestow on the 
son and on themselves shares of his power, but he did not 
deign to reply. Infuriated at the King's nonchalance, the 
son, incited by the five servants, stabbed the father as he sat 
upon the throne ; he ' then caught his father's blood in his 
robe. Without, the servants dug a grave two handbreadths 
in depth and four inches in width ; into this tomb the son 
endeavored to throw his father, but fell in himself also and 
was prevented from getting out by an Aquastor. The King 
and his son were in the tomb a very long time, and in my 
dream I saw their bones which were divided into nine parts 
by an angel who cast one part of them upon whitened and 
purified earth. Meanwhile the servants prayed to the Al- 
mighty to restore their King, and a second angel was sent 

165 



who cast the other eight parts of the bones on the earth 
where they became white, transparant and firm, while the 
earth became as red as rubies. A shadow passed over the 
scene as if a curtain of gauzy material fell before my eyes, it 
then rolled away and I saw the King risen from his tomb 
in great majesty, splendor and power. I imagined he would 
punish his guilty son and the wicked servants, but to my 
surprise the King placed crowns of gold upon their heads 
and proclaimed them princes in his kingdom.'* 

Just as Dr. Steegius ceased speaking, Typotius pointed 
out of the window, and the others saw with surprise the 
sun rising unobscured by clouds ; Loew instantly exclaimed : 
"Behold the interpretation of the Emperor's dream! The 
regal Sun vanquished by night is liberated from the tomb of 
obscurity by the aid of the angel Dawn, and rises in un- 
diminished splendor to bestow glorious blessings on unworthy 
creatures!" 




166 



CHAPTER XVI. 
MAGIC AND SORCERY. 

"Occult Philosophy relates things which God -would not do, 
which the Devil could not do, which none but a liar would assert 
and none but a fool believe." 




OHEMIA, in the reign of Rudolph II., shared with 
the rest of central Europe an inheritance from 
bygone time of mystical , lore which had attained 
; in the Middle Ages to the dignity of a philoso- 
phical system. An extraordinary "medley of fact and false- 
hood, of enthusiasm and imposture, of profundity and 
absurdity" which was current among the unlettered, inex- 
perienced, common people, had been accepted as truth by men 
of superior intellectuaj attainments and of the highest repu- 
tation for probity, and in their hands this volume of super- 
stitious beliefs exerted immense influence on natural and 
metaphysical philosophy. " Philosophers in the infancy of 
science are as imaginative as poets," and phenomena now 
explained by reference to known physical laws were regarded 
by them as manifestations of supernatural forces, controlled 
by evil demons or by beneficent spirits. . Every branch of 
thought and learning became imbued with the supernatural; 
theology, philosophy, science and medicine were entrapped 
in "superstition's thrice entangled web." 

167 



The belief that a continual communion existed between 
mankind and the spirits of good and of evil, and that man 
could exercise authority over these celestial and infernal 
beings was taught by many ecclesiastics and became a part of 
religion ; and the belief that natural objects had occult pro- 
perties, that such manifestations of physical forces as thunder 
and lightning, earthquakes, hail, and even the light of the 
celestial bodies, were directed by spirits over which man had 
some control, became an integral doctrine of science. After 
several generations of people had accepted these teachings 
and views, the force of antiquity was added to that of 
authority, and "Science, scarcely more than in embryo, was 
unable to resist the giant spirit of Superstition that then 
lorded it over the intellectual world." 

The investigation of the occult properties of matter 
together with the nature, influence, and character of spiritual 
beings, their mode of communication with mortals, and the 
ways by which their aid might be obtained became the object 
of Occult Philosophy. Of this there were three principal 
branches : 

Natural Magic, which concerned itself with the occult 
properties of natural bodies in the animal, vege- 
table and mineral kingdoms. 

Theurgy, or divine magic, which claimed to deal with 
good spirits and the angels of Heaven, and to 
train the soul of man to become fit to receive 
their beneficent gifts, as well as to learn how to 
see and converse with them. And 

Goety, or black magic, which pretended to teach 
methods for securing the powerful assistance of 
infernal demons in earning out evil and criminal 
designs; those practising it were generally supposed 
to have made a compact with Satan involving 
the loss of their souls. 

168 



The influence exerted by man over spiritual beings was 
thought to be consistent with natural laws; Paracelsus 
taught that the will of man had effect on the behavior of 
invisible beings, because the latter were inferior, and the 
lower is always subject to the higher. "The thought of man 
is as potent to impress a spirit as the spoken word is to 
impress the mind of man, for spirits have no physical ears 
to hear physical sounds, and the voice is only needed for 
those who cannot hear with the spirit." Warrant for a 
belief in theurgy and in goety was found in the Holy Scrip- 
tures ; it was pointed out that by the exercise of supernatural 
powers the magicians of Pharaoh, and of Moses the man of 
God, changed rods into serpents, that the Hebrew plagued 
Egypt with bloody waters, frogs, lice, flies, murrain, emerods, 
hail, locusts and pestilence, parted the Red Sea, and caused 
water to flow from a rock in the desert. That by the same 
art Joshua stayed the Sun, that Elijah called down fire from 
Heaven and raised the dead to life, that Daniel muzzled the 
lions, and the three children escaped destruction in a fiery 
furnace. It was confidently claimed that Solomon excelled 
in magical arts and that his power, wealth, and eminence 
were secured by their exercise; moreover the experience of 
King Saul at En-Dor, with the woman that had a familiar 
spirit, and the appearance of the Eastern Magi at Bethlehem, 
were accounted incontestable proofs of the highest activity 
in occult science. 

Many of the extravagant superstitions about the magical 
properties of natural objects that obtained credence in 
Rudolph's reign might have been traced to the famous 
writings of Pliny. For example, Pliny stated that the 
precious diamond placed on an anvil resisted the stoutest 
blows of a hammer, or put in a furnace withstood the 
intensest heat, but that if steeped in the blood of a he-goat 

169 



it is "forced to yield the gauntlet," and may then be readily 
broken into pieces. The mere assertion of such an absurdity 
by so high an authority was sufficient to establish its 
credibility ; the idea of testing the statement by experiment 
was not deemed necessary nor advisable, that step remained 
to be taken by another generation under the Baconian philo- 
sophy. Pliny's "Natural History" was responsible for a mass 
of superstitions tenaciously held by the common people; it 
was gravely maintained that: "There be certain seeds within 
the eyes of cocks which shining and shooting into the eyes 
of lions do so pierce and strike their eyelids, and do inflict 
upon them such pain and grief, that they are constrained to 
fly from them, being not able to abide or to endure the sight 
of a cock." It was also asserted that the "eyes of a dragon 
dried, pulverized and incorporated with honey into a liniment 
caused those who anointed themselves all over with it to 
sleep securely without dread .of night spirits." In these and 
similar instances the rarity of the animals, or the scarcity of 
the ingredients made experimental tests very difficult; this 
was the case also with the following recipe for a wonder- 
working amulet: "Take the tail and head of a dragon, the 
hair growing on the forehead of a lion with a little also of 
his marrow, the froth that a horse foameth at the mouth 
who had won the victory and prize in running a race, and 
the nails besides of a dog's feet, bind all these together with 
a piece of leather made of a red deer-skin with the sinews 
partly of a stag and partly of a fallow deer, one with an- 
other in alternate courses; carry this about you and it will 
give you victory." (Pliny.) 

Forty-three years before Rudolph ascended the throne of 
Germany a work was published that did much to elevate 
magic in the opinions of philosophers, and exerted immense 
influence on popular beliefs for more than two centuries, this 

17O 



was a treatise on "Occult Philosophy" written by Henry 
Cornelius Agrippa. This celebrated 

"Man of Parts 
Who dived into the Secrets of all Arts," 

was Knight of the Empire, Doctor of both Laws, and held 
the office of Secretary to Maximilian I., and of Councillor to 
Charles V. He exercised the callings of physician, lawyer, 
soldier, philosopher, historian, conjurer, astrologer and 
alchemist at Cologne, Dole, Pavia, Metz, Freiburg, Brussels, 
Bonn, Lyons and Grenoble, and in every place he commanded 
the highest esteem of the learned and the influential. He 
wrote that "natural magic is the active part of natural 
philosophy which performs those things that are above 
human reason. Magicians, the most active inquirers into 
nature, oftentimes produce effects before the time ordained 
by Nature, which therefore the Vulgar take for Miracles, 
when they are notwithstanding only natural operations." 

Agrippa combined real erudition with gross superstition; 
he was acquainted with the electrical properties of amber 
and of jet, and with the magnetic power of the lodestone, 
and yet he asserts that the latter power is destroyed by 
onions. In another passage he exhibits his wisdom and 
his folly thus: "It is well known that there is a certain 
virtue in the lodestone by which it attracts iron and that 
the diamond by its presence doth take away that virtue; so 
also the stone asbestus being once fired is never extinguished. 
A carbuncle shines in the dark; the stone aetites put above 
the young fruit of woman or of plants strengthens them, but 
being put under weakeneth. The jasper stauncheth blood, the 
little fish echeneis stops ships; rhubarb expels choler; the 
liver of the chameleon burned raiseth showers and thunders ; 
the stone heliotrope dazzles the sight and makes him that 
wears it invisible; the stone synochitis brings up infernal 

171 



ghosts; and the stone anachitis makes images of the gods 
appear." 

This prince of occult philosophers gave minute details for 
invoking good and evil spirits and ingenuously explained 
why men conjure with demons rather than with angelic 
spirits; he wrote: "Good Angels seldom appear being only 
attendant on the commands of God, and not vouchsafing to 
become known save to upright and holy men ; but evil spirits 
submit themselves more willingly to the invocations of men, 
falsely assuming to themselves and counterfeiting Divinity, 
always ready to deceive, and delighting to be adored and 
worshipped." 

Professional necromancers pretended to possess the power 
of conferring with the spirits of dead persons, and controlling 
the weather, raising storms at will; they sold potions and 
philtres enabling the owner to understand the language of 
birds, to secure love of fair women,. to transform their enemies 
into cattle, (even as Nebuchadnezzar became an ox), and to 
impart the power of the dreaded "evil eye"; to obtain the 
disgusting ingredients of these draughts and pills they were 
accused of strangling infants, of robbing cemeteries of their 
corpses ; they were believed to compound poisonous powders 
for criminal purposes; and they were always thought to 
have entered into suicidal compacts with Satan. 

Popular belief peopled the earth with hobgoblins, the fire 
with salamanders, the air with fiends and the water with 
river and lake spirits. Children were terrified by their nurses 
with stories of "an ugly devil having horns on his head, fire 
in his mouth, and a tail in his breech, eyes like a bason, 
fangs like a dog, claws like a bear, a skin like a nigger, and 
a voyce roaring like a lion." And young children were so 
affrighted with "bul-beggars, spirits, witches, urchins, elves, 
hags, fairies, satyrs, pans, faunes, syrens, Kit-with-the-can- 

172 



stick, tritons, centaures, dwarfes, gyants, imps, calcars, 
Robin Goodfellow, the spoorn, the mare, the man in the oak, 
the hell-wain, the fire drake, the puckle, Tom Thumbe, hob- 
goblin, Tom Tumbler, boneless and such other bugs," that 
they became fearful of their own shadows. 

Superstitions connected with animals and plants were 
innumerable and amazing in their folly. The imaginary 
basilisk was thought to be deadly to all serpents and to 
mankind, killing the former with its breath and the latter 
with a mere glance of its eyes; persons carrying its black 
blood about them obtained gracious favors from princes and 
great potentates, as well as immunity from diseases and from 
witchcraft. The superstition of the mandrake has been nar- 
rated at length by an early writer: "The mandragora, or 
alrun, is a very rare herb that can be hardly found except 
below the gallows where a pure youth has been hanged. He 
who seeks the herb should know that its lower part has the 
shape of a human being, and that its upper part consists of 
broad leaves and yellow flowers. When it is torn from the 
soil it sighs, shrieks and moans so piteously, that he who 
hears it must die. To find it one should go out before sun- 
rise on a Friday morning, after having stopped his ears with 
cotton, wax or pitch,, and take with him a black dog with- 
out a single white hair. The sign of the cross must be made 
three times over the mandrake, and the soil dug up carefully 
all around it so that it be attached only by fine rootlets. 
Then tie it by a string to the tail of the dog and coax him 
forward by, a piece of meat; the dog will pull out the man- 
drake, but he, falls struck dead by the terrible shriek of the 
mandrake. Then 'take it home wash in red wine, wrap it in 
red and white silk, lay it in a shrine, wash it again every 
Friday and dress it in a white frock. It will reveal to its 
owner hidden things and future events, and procure for him 

173 



the friendship of all men. A silver coin deposited with it in 
the evening will be doubled before morning ; still the coin 
must not be too large in size. If you buy the mandrake it 
remains with you, throw it where you will, until you sell it 
again ; if you keep it till your death you must depart with 
it to hell, but it can be sold only for a lower price than it 
was bought, therefore he who has bought it with the smallest 
existing coin is irretrievably lost." 

These and similar gross superstitions wielded a disastrous 
influence on the people, exciting their timidity, and distrust 
of neighbors and friends ; but they were innocent compared 
with the horrible atrocities that flowed from the deeply seated 
belief in witchcraft. Supported by the highest authority of 
the Church, Pope John XXII.; systematized by the diabolical 
ingenuity of Sprenger and his colleagues in the abominable 
"Malleus Maleficarum," or Witches Hammer; prosecutions 
were conducted in every town and village, and tens of 
thousands of wretched persons became victims of indescribable 
cruelty culminating in death at the stake. Women being more 
1 'covetous of the knowledge of secrets" were the especial 
object of the malevolent persecutions. 

Even the members of Rudolph's court were not exempt 
from the inquisitorial methods of witch-finders, two of them 
being accused of sorcery and evil designs against the person 
of his Majesty. In 1611, an imperial chaplain was said to 
have named his dog Matthias, after Rudolph's brother, who 
was at that time scheming to displace him on the throne, 
and that this dog was to be killed in order that a similar 
fate might overtake the reigning monarch. The second to be 
charged with exercising witchcraft was an alchemist named 
Hauser, who had assisted Rudolph in necromantic operations. 
He was accused of stealing a handkerchief from the Emperor's 
linen at the laundry and conjuring evil with it to his Majesty's 

174 



hurt. The trial of these two men lasted several months, 
Hauser was tortured on the rack, and although he established 
his innocence, the judge fined him and banished him from 
Bohemia. 

Early in the first decade of the seventeenth century dis- 
quieting rumors reached Rudolph concerning the attitude of 
his brother Matthias, who began to manifest political aspir- 
ations that treatened to undermine the throne. Matthias 
sought the friendship of Rudolph's bitterest enemies in the 
Empire, and his name began to be mentioned as a possible 
claimant for the crown. Rudolph's privy councillors could 
not, or would not, give the uneasy monarch satisfactory 
advice, and he sought private^ to learn the future from the 
fortune-tellers attached to his court ; the latter warily replied 
to his inquiries with such oracular sayings as : 

"Te digna sequere." 1 

or with the couplet: 

"Si fortuna juvat, caveto tolli ; 
Si fortuna tonat, caveto mergi." 2 

The Emperor cautiously sounded the ecclesiastics, but 
they offered spiritual consolation and moral advice which 
only irritated his hypochondriacal temperament and failed 
to remove the deep-seated anxiety. Ominous reports from 
Eastern provinces of the Empire seemed to confirm the dis- 
loyalty of Matthias, and the superstitious Rudolph intent on 
penetrating the future turned to the unlawful art of black 
magic as a last resort. At that time the master in necro- 
mancy having the highest reputation was the unscrupulous 
Doctor Leonhard Vychperger von Erbach, already known to 
the Emperor as an assistant in his alchemical laboratory. 
After the Emperor had taken him into his confidence, he dis- 

1 "Follow what is worthy of thee." 

2 "If fortune smiles upon you, be not elated; 

And if she frowns, be not cast down." 

175 



cussed with him the advantages of several forms of divi- 
nation; von Erbach explained that astragalomancy or 
divination by inscribed tablets, cephalomancy or divination 
by an ass's head (a method in vogue among the Jews), 
molybdomancy and alectryomancy were too trifling processes 
hardly appropriate for the momentous issue at stake; that 
coscinomancy and clidomancy were designed chiefly to detect 
common thieves; and that a combination of geomancy, sero- 
mancy, pyromancy, and hydromancy, or divination by the 
four elements earth, air, fire and water, might be efficacious ; 
but he recommended that an appeal should be made through 
Demonomancy. Of the latter the magician gave an obscure 
account in mystical language, which aroused the Emperor's 
curiosity, his fears and his hopes. 

On the appointed night, a fortnight after this interview, 
the Emperor accompanied by a trusted and armed valet-de- 
chambre, was driven, as directed by the artful pretender in 
devil's lore, to a secluded spot in the hill country at the far 
side of a forest well known to his Majesty through occa- 
sional hunting expeditions. Having descended a rugged 
ravine bounded by vertical walls that nearly touched over- 
head, they alighted near the mouth of a deep cavern, the 
entrance to which "was curiously concealed by natural ob- 
stacles, and which the Emperor could not remember having 
before seen. Most inopportunely a violent thunderstorm 
broke over their heads, the Emperor took refuge in a dimly 
lighted, rather frail tent, and awaited a signal from Dr. von 
Erbach who had disappeared within the cavern. 

In about half an hour, which seemed much longer to 
Rudolph, the unmusical clang of a Chinese gong, an instru- 
ment then almost unknown in the country, issued from the 
cave, and his Majesty fearlessly entered, leaving his attendant 
in the tent. At the end of a curved gallery, lit by torches 

176 



whose smoke already began to befoul the air, the Emperor 
came suddenly upon a startling scene. The cavern widened 
out and the roof rose aloft ; on its walls hung black banners 
of coarse material on which were painted in divers colors 
kabbalistic figures, symbols of the planets, signs of the zodiac, 
and geometrical designs of goetic power; and in gilt letters 
were the names of the infernal demons who presided over the 
seven days of the week, the twelve hours of the day and the 
twelve hours of the night. Pendant from the roof in front 
of each banner, a sconce of three tapers threw a lurid light ; 
fastened to the walls between the banners were dried snakes 
with glittering scales, weird looking stuffed bats with out- 
spread wings, Persian owls, an Ethiopian salamander and 
an African chimpanzee, as well as skeletons of small rare 
animals painted white to enhance the ghastly effect. 

In one of the foci of the elliptical cave stood upright an 
Egyptian mummy-case through whose eyesockets shone a 
red light, and on the top of which rested a grinning skull 
with cross-bones. In the other focus of the ellipse stood an 
antique bronze tripod, resembling that of the Pythian priestess 
at Delphi, supporting a brasier in which were a few live 
coals. In the space between the mummy-case and the tripod 
were three small triangular-topped tables covered with red 
cloth, on which lay tongs and bellows, several strangely 
shaped knives, a two-edged sword of Oriental manufacture, 
a silver basin, and a number of stringed musical instruments, 
some capsules filled with pyrotechnic powders, besides some 
nondescript little articles whose uncouth appearance did not 
reveal their design ; they were wonder-working talismans and 
amulets. Beneath one of the smaller tables was a covered 
basket. 

On an elevated dais placed against the roughly hewn 
wall facing the middle table was an armchair covered with 

177 



a bear-skin, the bloody edges of which showed that the ani- 
mal had been very recently killed ; on this the Emperor seated 
himself and calmly awaited the appearance of the necroman- 
cer. Soon the cave resounded with weird sounds, unmusical 
yet rythmical, punctuated by the beat of an African tom- 
tom, and the priest of Satan entered from an adjoining pas- 
sage which had been screened from view by one of the ban- 
ners ; he was clothed in a flowing robe of scarlet velvet em- 
broidered in black with pentacles, abracadabra, and geomet- 
rical figures; around his waist was a girdle of yellow silk, 
and on his head he wore a tall pointed cap of the same 
color; he carried in his hand a golden rod around which a 
live green serpent was twined, the head of the hideous ani- 
mal moving restlessly. He was accompanied by two exor- 
cists in sombre black, their faces hidden by white linen masks 
surmounted by black cowls ; one of them swung an incense 
burner from which arose dense vapors emitting a very de- 
ceptive perfume, at first agreeable to the nostrils, but after 
a little time benumbing the senses of those not fortified 
against it by a counterdraught ; the other masque bore before 
him a wooden tablet in a gilt frame, on which was painted 
a mystical diagram; and on the reverse of the tablet were 
inscribed the names: 

PHUL ZAPH NATALON 

being those of the demons governing the week, the day, and 
the hour in which the necromantic ceremonies were taking 
place. 

The three figures advanced silently and slowly towards 
the Emperor, made a profound obeisance and took their sta- 
tions, the leader before the tripod, and the other two before 
the triangular tables. Meanwhile a singular medley of dis- 
cordant sounds in a minor key pervaded the cavern and the 

178 



two exorcists began to chant with shrill voices and rapid 
utterance the following adjuration in ancient Sanscrit : 

Atakan, patakan, bawan, bichawa, 
Khombadi khaw, dir khaw. 
Han mat ghode, tayam tuyam, 
Sut, luk, but, luk. 

To which their leader replied in a deep bass that echoed 
throughout the subterranean vault: 

Ha hoo, ta too! 

Pooska, bramina, padala stoo! 

During this recitative, and others that folio wed, the con- 
jurers threw on to the live coals in the brasier certain secret 
chemical powders which flashed with green and again with 
red flames ; they touched the strings of the musical instru- 
ments eliciting a sort of accompaniment to their chants ; and 
they made many flexions of the body and gestures with the 
arms, swaying themselves sideways with an ever increasing 
rapidity that was terrifying to behold. 

At a sign from the chief, magician, his assistants took 
from the covered basket a live, black cat with no white hairs, 
and held it towards him ; grasping one of the curved knives, 
he dextrously plunged it into the animal's quivering body, 
which he held over the silver basin until it was partly filled 
with the life blood of the sacrifice; the carcass was dropped 
into an ashpit at the foot of the brasier, and the bowl of 
warm blood was placed on the central table. 

Again the cavern resounded with the peculiar chant : 

Up, ilp, ilmeden, 
Selug, silug, silmeden ; 
Yel khos, kepene ; 
Kepen ichini bazar, 
Ichinde ayoo gezer, 
Ayoo beni khookhoode, 
Khoolakheme, sarghade! 
Alaghena akh dedi, 
Chalaghena chekh dedi. 

179 



More coals and chemicals being added to the fire, it blazed 
up afresh, illuminating the gruesome scene which was begin- 
ning to impress the hitherto impassive Emperor as truly 
infernal. Suddenly the red-robed necromancer seized the Oriental 
sword and after making several passes, he stepped quickly to 
the mummy -case and touched with the point of the blade a 
secret spring near the top of the ancient coffin; immediately 
the lid flew open and a diabolical personage sprang forth ; 
his lithe body was covered by a skin-tight suit of mail the 
scales of which were of a brilliant metallic green, reflecting 
the red light from the brasier with dazzling effect; his head 
was encased in a metal helmet of the same greenish lustre; 
his face emitted luminous rays, like an Aurora, over which 
played thin white vapors, an effect produced by having 
anointed his visage with an oil containing phosphorus in 
solution, a secret preparation quite unknown to the now 
trembling Emperor. The green demon moved forward with 
a serpentine, gliding motion, thanks to little wooden rollers 
fastened to his boots, and slipped both his hands in the bowl 
of warm, tmclotted blood ; he then drew near to the shrink- 
ing monarch. At this moment the lights in the sconces 
suddenly became extinguished, the Chinese gong emitted its 
strident, horrible din without ceasing, and the demon held 
in his bloody hands up to Rudolph's gaze an ebony tablet, on 
which he wrote in letters of fire, by the aid of a bit of phos- 
phorus concealed in a hollow wand, these words : 




Rudolph at last succombed to diabolical mummery that 
was well devised to terrify the most stoical ; the noxious va- 

180 




TEYN KIRCHE. 



pors arising from the censer that disturbed the action of the 
lungs and heart, the wierd sounds that distressed the ears, 
and the infernal sights that dazzled the eyes, combined to 
overwhelm the resolute, cold-blooded man of experience ; his 
eyes drooped, his features blanched, and he fell backward in 
a semi-unconscious condition. Instantly the performers 
dropped their robes, tore off their masks, relit a sconce, and 
rolled the dais out of the cavern into the fresh air at its 
mouth, supporting meanwhile the Emperor's head with great 
gentleness. Revived by the cool night air, as well as by a 
stimulating draught given him to swallow, Rudolph soon 
recovered himself and as if ashamed of his weakness, assumed 
imperial dignity, and ordered his valet-de-chambre to drive him 
back to the Hradschin. The storm had passed, the moon 
and stars shone brightly, and the return was accomplished 
without incident, the gate keepers and sentinels prudently 
keeping to themselves their surprise at the small escort with 
which the monarch arrived; as he alighted the clock in the 
steeple of St. George's Church struck two. 

Rudolph never afterward alluded to his adventure. 



181 





CHAPTER XVIL 
RUDOLPH AT WORK. 

"The business that we love, we rise betimes 
And go to it with delight." 

Shakespeare. 

S "Sacred Caesarean Majesty," looking uncommonly 
genial and alert, sat in a wooden, straight-backed 
chair by a table near a window, in a small, plainly 
furnished apartment of the royal palace ; at a desk 
piled high with papers was his private secretary, Doctor 
Michael Maier, preparing to present to the Emperor for his 
consideration reports, petitions, and decrees of national im- 
portance. Rudolph had that morning informed his secretary 
that he felt inclined to dispose of some of the accumulated 
business, and the Doctor was only too happy to take advan- 
tage of so rare a frame of mind. 

The imperial secretary laid on the table before his Majesty 
several papers of minor importance, the contents of which 
he had ' previously approved and which only required the 
official signature of the monarch to become laws, but Rudolph 
brushed them aside and remarked, he was not quite prepared 
to attach his name and seal. The secretary then proposed 
to submit some reports from army officers of high rank sta- 
tioned on the Turkish frontier, and began to read one of the 
papers, when Rudolph quietly said "Enough," and ordered 

182 



the report filed. Appeals from the Burgomasters of several 
cities in the Eastern provinces asking compensation for pro- 
perty destroyed by riotous soldiers, requests for privileges from 
noblemen holding high offices, complaints by Catholic digni- 
taries of encroachments by Protestants, protests from Lu- 
theran bodies against oppression by the Jesuits, decrees pro- 
posed by the Imperial Chamber and requiring the Emperor's 
consent, were successively brought to the attention of Ru- 
dolph, who showed impatience, nonchalance and irritation 
according to the subject involved. He would neither sanction 
nor reject any document; some were too weighty for present 
consideration, others were too trifling, others still were not 
appropriate to the occasion, and the secretary began to feel 
discouraged when he mentioned the receipt of a memorial 
from Hugo Blotius, librarian of the Imperial Library at 
Vienna; Rudolph's features immediately brightened and he 
ordered it read. 

Dr. Blotius, a native of Delft, an eminent lecturer on 
jurisprudence at Strassburg, had been appointed Imperial 
Librarian by Maximilian one year before Rudolph had suc- 
ceeded to the throne, and was the first to have that title; 
the Fleming found the library housed in the Cloisters of the 
Minorites and in a condition showing ignorance and neglect. 
Under his care the collection of manuscripts and books in- 
creased rapidly in number and value, partly through gifts 
from authors and scholars, and partly by purchase; twenty- 
six hundred volumes were acquired from the heirs of Johannes 
Sambucus, the Hungarian physician, historian, archaeologist 
and poet, and the orderly arrangement of this considerable 
addition cost Blotius and his assistants much thought and 
labor. 

The address to his Majesty written by Blotius contained 
suggestions for increasing, beautifying and improving the 

183 



library, grouped tinder three headings. First, means of im- 
proving the library without expense. Under this caption 
Blotius recommended that the law requiring copies of books 
to be deposited in the library by their authors (an old regu- 
lation in Rudolph's day) should be more strictly enforced; 
also that the custom of presenting to private libraries books 
belonging to the royal collection should be discontinued ; and 
thirdly, that the return of books loaned to scholars should 
be insisted upon. The library had lost, he wrote, a great 
many volumes through the carelessness of borrowers, some- 
times the books were retained by the borrowers until death 
and returned by their heirs, if returned at all. II. Proposals 
for increasing and improving the library with small expen- 
diture. Of books printed in foreign countries only the most 
useful and necessary ones by eminent authors should be pur- 
chased ; many new books ought to he bound and some quite 
worn out should be repaired. The library building ought to 
be made attractive by the purchase of canvasses for decorat- 
ing its walls, and of easel pictures by celebrated artists. 
These improvements Blotius hoped to accomplish by an an- 
nual outlay of three hundred gulden. III. The third heading 
in the memorial dealt with the qualifications of a librarian. 
He should hold no other office, he should be skilled in lan- 
guages, upright, faithful, industrious, enterprising, not poor, 
not superstitious, and a friend of science and of nature ; it 
would be well also if the librarian was a nobleman and 
clothed with imperial dignity and authority, so that when 
travelling on business he could have unrestricted admission 
to libraries and institutions in every city, for not only the 
common people, but even the gentry esteem a man in propor- 
tion to the splendor of his attire and the dignity of his honor- 
able titles. The court librarian ought to be a Privy Councillor, 
and if not of a noble family he should be raised to a high rank. 

184 



The memorial filled twenty-four folios and the secretary 
thus condensed its contents with rapidity. Rudolph listened 
attentively and smiled in a satirical manner at the ingenious 
way in which Blotius tried by impersonal statements to get 
himself ennobled; his Majesty, however, ordered that one 
thousand gold gulden be paid annually out of the imperial 
treasury for the increase and embellishment of the library at 
Vienna. 

This item having been disposed of, Dr. Maier took the 
opportunity of making a personal appeal for clemency to- 
wards a prisoner in Daliborka Tower, a certain George Popel 
von Lobkowitz, who had been immured for several years, on 
suspicion of being the author of a scurrilous pamphlet vio- 
lently attacking the Emperor.^ No sooner had Rudolph heard 
the cognomen Lobkowitz, than his face showed anger and 
he sternly forbade the physician to again mention the name 
of his enemy. 

Foiled in this well meant effort to secure justice, Dr. Maier 
next presented the case of the band of gipsies, long time con- 
fined in barracks under the charge of Colonel von Podebrad, 
master of the royal mews. He reminded the Emperor that 
Wenzel Kubrik and sixteen other gipsies had been arrested 
on suspicion of poisoning certain imperial horses, and that 
the real criminal had long ago met his deserts, yet the gipsies 
were still restricted of their liberty and an expense to the 
state. Anticipating the wish of his Majesty to be fully in- 
formed of the character of the prisoners, he had obtained a 
memorandum from the distinguished Oriental traveller Chris- 
topher Harant von Polzitz, which threw much light on the 
question; furthermore he had caused the band to be exam- 
ined and would, if desired, submit a report of the situation. 

Having signified his willingness to consider this case 
Rudolph listened to the memorandum of Harant ; this stated 

185 



in brief that the people known as Zingari, or Zigeuner, call 
themselves Egyptians, and say they are condemned to wander 
up and down the earth because, when the Holy Virgin with the 
Divine Child fled from the cruel Herod into Egypt, the people 
of that land refused them hospitality. In every country they 
are vagrants who occupy themselves in fortune telling, sor- 
cery and mischief of every kind ; those in Bohemia are great 
thieves and are probably Turkish spies. Whatever may have 
been their origin they fraternize in every land with only the 
lowest of the rabble, and as the proverb says : ''Those who run 
with wolves must howl with them." Some of the men know 
how to make superior charcoal and excel in blacksmithing, 
others are good judges of horses and very sharp at a bar- 
gain; the women practice chiromancy, juggling and non- 
sense that has an evil influence on the people with whom 
they come in contract ; as a whole they are good-for-nothing 
vagabonds and dangerous to the state.- The disastrous con- 
flagration that destroyed many imperial buildings on the 
Hradschin in 1541, was thought by the authorities to have 
been started by gipsies at the instigation of the Turks, with 
whom as enemies of Christianity they sympathize. This ca- 
lamity and another terrible fire that nearly destroyed Konig- 
gratz, with other suspicious circumstances, led Ferdinand I. 
to issue a decree forbidding all nobles, knights, cities and 
people to harbor the vile gipsies, and commanding magis- 
trates to send bands of the vagrants from one district to 
another under guard until they crossed the borders of the 
Empire. The latter part of this mandate was not carried 
out, but the Egyptians were hunted like wild beasts, even 
women and children were ruthlessly murdered, so that seven 
years later Ferdinand issued another decree, ordering that 
the gipsies, especially the women and children, should not be 
killed by drowning and by other shameful methods, but they 

186 



ought to be employed on public works and in the necessary 
labor of municipalities. 

So far the memorandum of Harant, and Dr. Maier added 
he thought the time had come for a new imperial edict; a 
stern look from the Emperor reminded the Secretary that 
his Majesty always resented any suggestion of action which 
might forestall the imperial will. However, Rudolph called 
for the testimony secured by questioning the famil}' of Kubrik, 
and Dr. Maier continued. 

Though claiming Egyptian origin this band, which em- 
braced representatives of four generations, had wandered 
long throughout central Europe and spoke German, Bohemian 
and Romany; they said they learnd the Romany from their 
elders and found it better than the Bohemian language; for 
bread they used the word "meno," for God "mrodebl," for 
glass "gevalin," and curiously enough they say they have no 
word for thief! Kubrik said the family was Catholic in re- 
ligion, but this was evidently to please the questioner. Few 
of them could name their birthplace, one boy of fifteen years, 
when asked where he was born, replied that only his mother 
could know that; few could tell their ages, some answered 
quite falsely and others said they were not in the habit of 
counting birthdays : A TDoy who was asked why he was so 
strongly sunburned, replied: ''Because I smear my face with 
butter and expose it to sun in order to be hardened against 
frost." Members of the family gave their occupations as rope 
dancing, gymnastic feats, doctoring cattle and playing come- 
dies; on inquiring about the comedies they said they played 
"The King of Castile," "The Execution of John the Baptist," 
"King Herod," and "Two Brothers." The women told for- 
tunes by examining the lines in the hands, but had to con- 
fess their art had not warned them against their arrest ; one 
old hag said: "God is the best Prophet," and a young 

187 



woman said: "Fortune telling is only a pretense;" all agreed 
that men could not learn the art. 

Doctor Maier ceased speaking and was directed to file 
the documents; not long after the Emperor issued a decree 
banishing all gipsies from his dominions, which, needless to 
say, was not successfully accomplished. 

The Secretary then presented a plea for commutation of 
sentence made by an army officer accused of treason, rather 
singularly the Emperor instantly acceeded and the miserable 
man was spared his life in consideration of perpetual impris- 
onment in a gloomy cell. 

Rudolph had hitherto showed great patience, but now he 
turned uneasily in his chair and gazed through the window 
at the beautiful view of Prague, the closely built houses with 
the numerous Church spires breaking the roof-line, the noble 
bridge across the placid Moldau, the fertile fields and the forest 
preserves beyond; he then arose and walked to the desk be- 
fore which his Secretary sat, and noticing a rather bulky 
document from which a seal was hanging, remarked, he 
would examine that next; during the reading he paced the 
floor, looking down upon the city at every turn near the 
window. The paper thus selected by lot as it were, proved 
to be a report from the magnate Heinrich von Waldstein, 
who had been appointed by Rudolph magistrate in the dis- 
trict of Jungbunzlau with special authority to discover and 
prosecute witches ; his report, divested of the magniloquent 
inscription and stilted language, ran as follows: 

"That terrible curse of Satan, witchcraft, which has 
proved so great an evil in the past, still afflicts many 
districts of Bohemia in spite of the strenuous efforts of the 
servant of your Majesty; although the rack and the fiery 
stake have been always at hand to suppress those holding 
converse with the Devil, many kinds of infernal sorcery 

188 



are practiced by these miserable people, who are of both 
sexes and of all ages ; though old women are the most fre- 
quently obsessed. In undertaking to carry out faithfully the 
commands of your Majesty to exterminate this evil, your 
servant has been hampered by a mischievous book written 
by the Utraquist pastor Johann Stelcar Zeleyawsky (Kniha 
Duchovni, Praha, 1588); in this work the impious author 
denies that human beings have power to raise storms of 
lightning, thunder and hail, to enchant herds of cattle and 
flocks of sheep, or to bewitch their enemies, urging, forsooth, 
that those accused of such diabolic deeds should be treated 
mercifully and not rigorously as the laws of the kingdom 
require. Happily these abominable notions have not pene- 
trated very deeply the minds of the ruling classes, and the 
book is being now suppressed. 

Your servant has had the honor to investigate several 
cases of witchcraft and to bring the guilty principals to trial; 
thanks to the noble invention of the rack, the sacred truth 
has been ascertained generally without resort to other per- 
missible tortures, and in every instance justice has been meted 
out to the devils in human shape. 

Your Majesty's loyal subject, the well-born Johann 
Beschin, who resides on his estate near Swinna, had in his 
service a pretty maid named Marianne ; she fell deeply in love 
with her handsome young master, and as he showed com- 
plete indifference, she undertook to win his love by magical 
arts. She secured a few hairs from his head, burned some of 
them and threw the ashes into his wine jug, and she put the 
rest in her bed, conjuring them also with infernal formulas. 
These facts came out in the preliminary trial, and she was 
then examined on the rack, as is customary with witches; 
confessing her infernal power she was sentenced to the death 
prescribed by law. 

189 



A few months ago the imperial alum-mines at Komotau 
suddenly began to yield scanty returns and the precious 
alum -stone diminished also in quality ; this was evidently the 
work of a malign witch, and suspicion being directed to a 
poor, aged and infirm woman of low estate, she was duly 
examined and properly executed at the stake. It is believed 
that the alum-mines will now be more productive; if how- 
ever they do not improve, your Majesty can rely on his 
servant to discover other witches and to deal legally with 
them. 

At Chrudim another event of interest required the energy 
of your indefatigable servant. Frau Dorothea Wanura, being 
left a widow in her youth, took for a second husband an 
aged nobleman of great wealth, but in wretched health and 
of ungovernable temper. Before long, the gay young wife, 
tired of her nuptial chains, sought release and consulted three 
old wise-women who advised her how to get rid of her old 
husband. She placed a piece of fresh bread in the bolster- 
case of her husband's bed and left it there until it was dry 
and brittle, but it failed to absorb the man's vitality as had 
been promised; having been unsuccessful in this and other 
magical practices, and being urged by a wicked lover to 
hasten, she resorted to active poison, her husband dying after 
a few hours' suffering. The affair soon became known and 
Dorothea was put to the question; confessing all, she was 
buried alive, and her three companions in witchcraft were 
burned at the stake; thus bringing the affair to a most 
satisfactory conclusion. 

Instances in which the witches exercise merely malignant 
mischief, such as drying up a neighbor's cows, preventing 
fruit trees from bearing, blasting corn-fields, and afflicting 
cattle with barrenness, are of common occurrence; but the 
vigilance of your servant never fails to bring the guilty to 

190 



justice, in accord with the commands of God and the laws 
of the Empire. At present he is engaged in an important 
investigation at Nimburg, the results of which will in due 
time be communicated to your Sacred Caesarean Majesty." 

During the reading of this long report Rudolph paced the 
floor, and from time to time he quietly said "Good," "Just," 
and at the close he remarked exultingly: "A noble and 
honest magistrate; send to him the thanks of the Emperor 
and promise that his advancement shall not be overlooked." 

Dr. Maier was about to select another document to lay 
before his master, when he was sharply interrupted by Ru- 
dolph who said: "No more business to-day, now for recrea- 
tion," and ordered him to send for Dionysius Miseroni with 
instructions to bring for his inspection the latest treasure 
received for the imperial museum. 

Rudolph greeted the Curator of the Cabinet of Curiosities 
with cordiality and was at once immensely interested in the 
"sepulchral lamp" submitted by him; Miseroni began to 
explain the origin and history of this great novelty when the 
Emperor ordered his Secretary to write down the words of 
the antiquarian, and to place a fair copy in the library. The 
manuscript after revision read as follows : 

"The lamp which I have had the good fortune to secure 
for the Imperial Cabinet was discovered in 1539 at Rome; 
it was found in the subterranean tomb of Tulliola, the 
daughter of Cicero, whose death he laments in his letters to 
Servius Sulpicius. When the tomb was opened the body ot 
the young woman was found uncorrupted ; her flesh was 
firm and the skin of a natural color ; her tresses were bound 
with a small plate of gold curiously chased and enamelled. 
On the wall of the sepulchre was carved the inscription : 

TULLIOLA FILI^B MEJB, 

191 



and above the sarcophagus hung this lamp burning brightly. 
The lamp had been filled with an unquenchable oil and had 
been lit about fifteen hundred years before ; according to some 
it continued to burn for one hour and three quarters after 
opening the tomb, but I am privately informed by one of those 
present at the discovery that it became extinguished the in- 
stant that air was freely admitted; the latter statement is 
more credible because it is evident that the miraculous oil 
had burned only in the absence of air. 

The shrewd dealer in antiquities, who obtained posses- 
sion of this lamp, thinking to impose on your Majesty, re- 
presented to me that this discovery was unique, but my 
extended researches in archaeology have enabled me to prove 
that sepulchral and perpetual lamps were known to the 
ancient Romans. That most illustrious and holy Father of 
the Church, St. Augustine, describes the lamp in the Temple 
of Venus which burned perpetually ; he says, "the flame ad- 
hered so strongly to the combustible matter that neither 
wind, rain nor tempests could extinguish it, though contin- 
ually exposed to the inclemency of the seasons." St. Augustine 
conjectures that "the inexhaustible aliment was the work of 
demons, who wrought the infernal wonder in order to blind 
the pagans completely and to attach them to the worship of 
the infamous goddess worshipped in that Temple." But your 
Majesty has knowledge of the secrets of nature far greater 
then was possessed by the Saint, and is aware that the 
skilled alchemists employed in the imperial laboratories could 
manufacture the wonder-oil used in the sepulchral lamps if 
such were the imperial will. 

My investigations further show that discoveries of per- 
petual lamps are by no means excessively rare ; about 800 A. D. 
the lamp of Pallas, son of Evander, whose brave deeds were 
sung by Vergil, was discovered near Rome where it had 

192 



burned for nearly two thousand years; Cassiodorus wrote 
that he himself made perpetual lamps for the use of the monks 
in his monastery at Viviers; in a tomb opened at Salerno 
the lamp was missing, having been removed by an earlier 
explorer, but this inscription was found on the wall: 

"Adieu, Septima; may the earth lie lightly upon 
you ; may a golden soil cover the ashes of him who 
placed in this tomb an ever- burning lamp." 

Seventy-six years before your Majesty ascended the im- 
perial throne, another notable discovery was made near 
Padua; some peasants digging to a considerable depth 
opened a tomb in which two lamps were burning, one of 
silver and one of gold. An inscription on them explained 
that they had been prepared with magical skill by Maximus 
Olybius. 

In the reign of St. Louis, the good King of France, there 
lived in Paris a certain Rabbi named Jechiel, who was 
regarded by the Jews as a saint and by Christians as a 
sorcerer; he possessed a lamp that gave out light equal to 
daylight in brilliancy, which required no oil and burned 
unceasingly. But its most remarkable property was to in- 
dicate to Jechiel the character of his visitors; when honest 
tradesmen, or people of noble station, came at night to knock 
at his door, the lamp shone brightly as usual, whereas when 
tricksters, or persons of evil intent, sought admission the 
lamp grew perceptibly feeble and thus warned the Jew to 
bolt his door against the intruders. 

The most recent discovery of a sepulchral lamp was made 
in the dominions of your Majesty. Persons digging a well 
near Clumec came upon a stone door that opened into a 
vault; expecting to find hidden treasure the owner of the 
ground forced open the door and was almost blinded by a 
sudden blaze of light. The light issued from a beautifully 

193 



designed bronze lamp that hung before the statue of a man 
in armor sitting by a table and holding a truncheon in his 
right hand. The proprietor had no sooner set his foot within 
the vault than the statue arose from its seat, and on the 
man's taking a single step forward, the statue stood bolt 
upright and raised the truncheon. The man ventured to 
take a third step when the armed figure, with a furious blow, 
broke the lamp into numberless fragments and plunged the 
vault in darkness. The proprietor secured torches and again 
entered the vault ; he found the statue was made of brass and 
its motions were directed by clockwork connected with levers 
and springs concealed beneath the stone floor; on attempt- 
ing to remove the statue the truncheon beat it to pieces. 

Of the many sepulchral and perpetual lamps discovered 
this beautiful specimen, now placed by your faithful curator 
in your Majesty's museum, is the only one that has survived 
destruction." 

While listening to Miseroni Rudolph forgot his fatigue 
and as soon as he ceased speaking the Emperor hastened to 
the alchemical laboratory and gave orders to the chief chemist 
to manufacture without delay a supply of inexhaustible and 
unquenchable lamp-oil. 



194 




CHAPTER XVIII. 
RUDOLPH'S SOVEREIGNTY AND DEATH. 

"In Rudolph's Landen, weit und breit, 
Wuchs drum die Unzufriedenheit. 
Oestreich und Ungarn deshalb gab er 

Mathias, seinem Bruder. 

* * 

* 

Der Tod nur wahrte ihn davor, 
Dass er die Kaiserkron' verlor." 

IHEN RUDOLPH succeeded to the throne of his wise 
and tolerant father Maximilian, he found the king- 
dom of Bohemia in greater civil and religious peace 
than it had enjoyed for a century. From very 
early times the inhabitants of Bohemia had manifested pecu- 
liar aptitude for polemic theology; at first the disputes 
were confined to the ecclesiastics and to the educated nobil- 
ity, but the common people being naturally religious joined 
in the prevailing controversies with savage earnestness ; the 
unhappy Hussite war, championed by the brave patriot 
Ziske, had ceased a whole century before Rudolph's reign be- 
gan, but the country had never been entirely free from intes- 
tine disturbances. Under Maximilian Bohemia enjoyed com- 
parative peace, and had Rudolph understood the claims of 
justice, and had he listened to reason the country might have 
prospered, but he "inherited all the ambition of his house 
without any of the nobleness of his father, any of the vigor 

195 



of his grandfather, nor any of the dynastic shrewdness that 
had elevated his family." 

Rudolph's character contrasted strangely with that of 
his father; "Maximilian was frank, candid and manly; he 
appreciated the dignity of truth, he was fond of society, 
cheerful in conversation, systematic in business as well as 
patient and complacent when troublesome problems required 
his attention." Of him the Bohemians said: ''We are as 
happy under his government as if he were our. father; our 
privileges, our laws, our rights, liberties and usages are 
protected, maintained, defended and confirmed." 

Such modicum of Maximilian's good traits as Rudolph 
inherited were modified by less fortunate ones derived from 
his mother, Mary of Austria, who was Maximilian's first 
cousin, being the daughter of Charles V. She inculcated in 
her son "a machine-like devotion that found religious virtue 
in the scrupulous observance of ceremonies and useless mor- 
tifications." She led him to regard his confessor's counsel as 
an oracle that could neither be questioned nor disobeyed. 
Besides this tutelage the instruction imparted by the Jesuits 
to the youthful prince in Spain was better fitted to produce 
a University professor than a monarch. After her husband's 
death Mary retired to a nunnery in Spain where she remained 
till her life ended in 1603. 

Imbued through these influences with intense bigotry and 
hatred of liberty of conscience, Rudolph had not long been 
seated on his father's throne when he began to frame laws 
against the Protestants, depriving them of legal rights, clos- 
ing their schools and places of worship, expelling their min- 
isters and granting official positions exclusively to Catholics; 
such edicts as these embittered the lives of some of the most 
sturdy inhabitants and caused them to hate the despotic 
ruler of their destinies. 

196 




RUDOLPH II. 



Religious animosities, which had begun to subside, broke 
out afresh, and the Jesuits, growing bolder as they acquired 
more power, induced Rudolph to further curb the liberties of 
the Protestants, thereby exasperating many of his best sub- 
jects and engendering jealousy and hatred among all ranks. 
Moreover, feuds between the Lutherans and Calvinists divided 
the Protestant party into two camps arrayed against each 
other, a situation of which the Catholics were not slow to 
avail themselves. The Order founded by Loyola seized upon 
the revival in art, literature and science to accomplish their 
schemes ; they secured the adhesion of Pontanus, one of the 
Emperor's poets laureate, and he became a most eloquent 
and zealous preacher; they induced the wealthy and power- 
ful William von Rosenberg to establish an institution for the 
education of the poor, and the pupils under Jesuit training 
became active in propagating the policy of their masters. 

The principal Protestant body in the kingdom was known 
as "The Brethren", or "The Brotherhood"; in the religious com- 
munities of this order the individual members were expected to 
earn their livelihood by the work of their hands ; all being on 
an equal footing, even the clergy were expected to follow the 
example of the Apostolic tentmaker. This charming theory 
of equality, fraternity and liberty was however disturbed by 
the admission to the Brotherhood of certain aristocratic and 
opulent magnates whose cooperation in resisting their ag- 
gressive opponents was of worldly advantage ; dissensions 
within the Brotherhood ensued and its members became un- 
popular. Perceiving this the Jesuit party urged the nobles to 
drive out the revolutionary heretics from their estates, a 
scheme which was partly successful; Lutheran schools were 
closed, liberty of conscience was restricted, and the Emperor 
sought to suppress the literature published by the Reformers 
in two decrees : he suspended all printing presses except two 

197 



at Olmiitz, and ordered that all books sold in Moravia should 
first be approved by a certain bigoted censor. 

Nevertheless, Rudolph was a grievous disappointment to 
the intriguing Jesuits, owing to his vacillating conduct, and 
his engrossing devotion to science and art within the pre- 
cincts of the palace on the Hradschin. His unreliability as an 
opponent of Protestantism was shown by his willingness to 
meet persons of that faith in friendly discourse on his favorite 
studies, and notably by his inviting to his court Kepler, who 
had been driven out of Gratz on account of his adherence to 
the reformed faith. Moreover among Rudolph's devoted sup- 
porters were several Protestant princes. 

The death of the influential William von Rosenberg, in 
1592, was a great blow to the Jesuit party, for he was suc- 
ceeded by his nephew whose wife induced him to join the 
Brotherhood. About the same time Rudolph dismissed from 
office another champion of the Catholics, George von Lobko- 
witz, transferring his estates to a man who was supposed to 
be a zealous Catholic, but who proved to be friendly to the 
Lutherans. 

With advancing years Rudolph's weakness as a ruler be- 
came more conspicuous, his innate shy and melancholy dis- 
position assuming a suspiciously morbid phase; he grew 
hypochondriacal, irritable, and sometimes his mental condi- 
tion bordered on insanity. As the poet expresses it: 

"Melancholy is the nurse of frenzy." 

His jester failed to amuse him, the little sense of humor in 
his disposition abandoned him. His condition was aggra- 
vated by increasing aversion to bodily exercise of any kind; 
he had always been phlegmatic and never had taken much 
interest in manly sports other than tennis and the chase, 
and now he disliked to undertake even short journeys from 
Prague, though a visit to the distant provinces of his exten- 

198 



sive Empire would have been politic and might have allayed 
growing discontent among his subjects. He lived in a little 
world of his own, doing nothing to control the public move- 
ments for weal or for woe taking place in his dominions, and 
naturally events marched forward against his interests. He 
had fallen into the habit of postponing for weeks and even 
months decisions on affairs of state that demanded immediate 
action ; he shortened more and more his visits to the Privy 
Council, and in place of manfully grappling with problems 
of public policy, be amused himself in directing the labors of 
alchemists, in studing astrology and botany, as well as in 
.the more active pursuits of carving in wood, painting on 
canvas and polishing precious stones. 

Rudolph lived in terror of apparitions and was a victim 
to superstitious fears of death; these were exaggerated in 
part by a prophecy made by Tycho Brahe. Both, the Em- 
peror and the astronomer were greatly impressed by the as- 
sassination of Henry III of France, in 1589, by a monk 
named Jacques Clement, and a similar fate was thought to 
await Rudolph. 

At the beginning of the seventeenth century the aggres- 
siveness of the war-loving and Christian-hating Turks on the 
borders of Hungary combined with the civil and political dis- 
orders in Bohemia to increase the perplexity of the crown, 
and at the same time did not decrease the indifference of 
Rudolph to his duties as Emperor. Disregarding the fact that 

"The king who delegates 
His pow'r to other hands, but ill deserves 
The crown he wears," 

he entrusted military operations against the Mahommedans 
to his brother Matthias, whereupon the Austrian Archdukes 
conspired to force Rudolph to abdicate and to seat Matthias 

109 



on the throne. Believing that the Protestants were instiga- 
tors of this effort to undermine his power, Rudolph resorted 
to stringent and irritating measures directed against them; 
meanwhile an insurrection broke out in Hungary, and dis- 
asters rapidly succeeded which led to the deposition of the 
Emperor by the Bohemian Assembly in April 1611, Matthias 
being crowned in his stead. Just before his abdication, Ru- 
dolph is said to have looked out of a window of the palace 
on the Hradschin, and to have exclaimed: 

"Prague, O unthankful Prague! Thou who hast been so highly 
elevated by me, now thou spurnest thy benefactor; may the 
curse and vegeance of God fall on thee and on all Bohemia!" 

The deposed monarch, now enfeebled in body and mind,, 
was allowed to reside in Prague and was awarded a pension 
of 400,000 florins together with certain productive estates. 
Early in the year 1612, his pet lion Ottakar fell sick and 
died, an event regarded by .Rudolph as a fatal omen, for 
Tycho Brahe years before had stated that the lion and the 
Emperor were subject to the same celestial influences. Rudolph 
breathed his last on the morning of the 20th of January, 
1612, and the court decided to keep his death a secret until 
his brother Matthias had reached the Capital. Kaspar Rucky 
von Rudz, one of the Emperor's valets and alchemists, whom 
we met at the Rudolphine Academy of Medicine, took advan- 
tage of this opportunity to steal all the powder of projection 
and the alchemistical gold that he could lay his hands on, 
ransacking the royal laboratories and the cabinet of curiosi- 
ties. This bold theft became known to the Prime Minister 
almost immediately, and Rucky, with several other retainers, 
were arrested and imprisoned. 

Being threatened with the horrible torture of the rack, 
Rucky hung himself in his dungeon by the aid of the cord 

200 



that was ordinarily used to hang around his waist the huge 
keys of his office. His body was delivered to the executioner 
who transported it to the usual place of judgment, a public 
square in the Hradschin quarter, where he hacked the body 
to pieces, cut off the hands and feet and gouged out the 
tongue and heart ; the mutilated remains were then buried. 
In spite of this public execution the people living in the pre- 
cincts of the Castle maintained that Rucky's ghost still wan- 
dered about the buildings and had been seen riding a goat, 
accompanied by six cats ; to appease this popular clamor the 
body was afterwards dug up and burned. 

Rudolph's death brought troublous times to several other 
members of the court, many were arrested for political rea- 
sons, including the antiquarians Froschel and Hans Hey den, 
the librarian Hastal, and the artist Johann Kiirbach who 
was a baptized Jew. Besides these the discoverer of perpetual 
motion, Cornelius Drebbel, was temporarily incarcerated. 

Rudolph II. of Germany never married, though he sent 
ambassadors to the royal courts of several nations to make 
inquiries about marriageable Princesses, and he is said to 
have been betrothed at different times to the Infanta Isabella, 
to Maria de Medici, to a Princess of Lothringen, to a 
daughter of the Archduke Carl and to a daughter of the 
Grand Duke of Russia. 

Rudolph's whole reign of thirty-five years was marked by 
persecutions and intolerance on his side and by discontent 
and insurrection on that of his subjects, yet Bohemia is cre- 
dited with attaining under his rule the ' 'golden period" of 
its existence; perhaps this gold was no more genuine than 
that produced in the crucibles of his alchemists. 

Partisan historians, attempting to establish the verity of 
transmutation, narrate that Rudolph II. left twenty-four 
hundred weight of gold and sixty hundred weight of silver 

201 



in the form of bricks, incontestable witnesses of his success 
as a disciple of Hermes. The facts are that after Rudolph's 
death Matthias had an inventory made of the art treasures 
in the palace, and the commission reported finding gold and 
silver articles weighing twenty -four, and sixty hundred weight 
respectively ; this did not include the silver dishes, the precious 
stones and pearls, and other valuable objects, so that the 
value of the entire treasure was set at seventeen millions. 

Augustus, Elector of Saxony, is likewise said to have left 
several millions of thalers in his alchemical laboratory, and 
after the death of Pope John XXII. in 1334, no less than 
two hundred ingots of gold each weighing one hundred 
pounds were found in secret storage; by such specious tales 
were people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
strengthened in their belief in alchemy and in the other Follies 
of Science. 



202 





CHAPTER XIX. 
DECLINE OF THE FOLLIES OF SCIENCE. 

"Ye Rosicrucian schools, 

Ye number-prickers, ye physiognomists, 

Ye dream-expounding, treasure-seeking fools, 

Alchemists, magnetizers, kabbalists! 

Ye 're wrong!" 

Hellgren. 

|HE QUADRATURE of the circle, the multiplication 
of the cube, perpetual motion, judicial astrology, 
alchemy and magic have been characterized as the 
"Six Follies of Science." While a great deal of 
time and energy were wasted by intellectual men in these 
studies and chimerical pursuits, it must be admitted that 
these follies gave great impetus to the progress of true learn- 
ing. The study of abstruse problems in pure mathematics 
even though non-solvable, attempts to construct mechanical 
devices on principles opposed to a fundamental law of nature, 
erroneous conceptions of the relation of celestial phenomena 
to mundane affairs, the vain quest for the Philosophers' 
Stone, the Elixir of Life and the riches and bodily vigor they 
would ensure, even the painful degradations of a false 
philosophy exhibited in magic and sorcery, each contri- 
buted its quota to the advancement of human knowledge 
on rational lines. The period of tutelage has its drawbacks, 

203 



and these sophistries during their sway fostered superstitions 
that inflicted much misery on mankind, which was gradually 
being prepared for the appreciation of a rational philosophy 
and the benefits flowing from its practical applications. 

The decline of the follies which had attached themselves 
to the sciences like barnacles to a ship's bottom, progressed 
in the ratio in which truths were revealed by experimenters 
in the several fields; workers with telescopes, microscopes, 
dissecting knives, ^retorts, balances, thermometers, barometers, 
and somewhat later, with air-pumps and electrical machines, 
strove to interpret the phenomena of nature, instead of blindly 
following dogmatic assertions made in by-gone ages, and 
applied to the accumulating observations the principles of the 
inductive philosophy, thus brushing away the barnacles that 
befouled the ship of science, long anchored in sluggish waters, 
so that with polished sides and favoring breezes she glided 
rapidly through the channels of reason into the harbor of 
truth. To enumerate the superstitions abandoned one by one, 
would be superfluous; the progress towards truth is better 
reviewed by describing the instruments used to free the vessel 
from obstructions, to-wit, the influences that effected the im- 
proved conditions and speeded the boat towards her destina- 
tion. 

The sixteenth century witnessed some of the most moment- 
ous events in the history of the world and gave birth to men 
of superior intellectual endowments ; the discovery of America 
at the close of the preceding century prepared the way for 
its exploration and occupation in the sixteenth, opening up 
new fields of enterprise to the old world; the Reformation 
established the liberty of conscience and revived an evangeli- 
cal spirit of Christianity ; though the invention of printing 
dated from the middle of the fifteenth century, the wonderful 
power of the printing press in the diffusion of knowledge 

204 



made itself felt at the beginning of the epoch of which we 
write, and accomplished marvels in the abatement of super- 
stition. The most pflfcctivp Rffent, however, in exterminating 
the superstitious features of natural science was the intro- 
dulrHoirjntoevery branch of study of the experimental method 
of investigation. 

^TEe doctrines of astrology were being gradually under- 
mined by discoveries of astronomical laws at variance with 
the ancient theories ; although Tycho Brahe and John Kepler, 
to amuse and oblige their eccentric patron Rudolph, practiced 
divination by the stars, they were formulating at the same 
time the fundamental laws of their motions, laws which 
demonstrated the fallacy of a belief in the correlation of pla- 
nets and terrestrial events, either national or personal. When 
Brahe calculated the path of the comet of 1577 he proved 
that the stars, sun and planets could not possibly be carried 
around in huge spheres of impenetrable crystal, revolving, 
orb within orb, every twenty -four hours. When Kepler by 
severe mathematical analysis defended the system of Coper- 
nicus, the 

"Best endow'd and bravest Pole of Poles," 

he had to combat the prevalent notion that each planet is 
directed in its movements and carried around the earth by 
an angel; "in that case," he said, "the orbits would be per- 
fectly circular, but the elliptic form which we find in them 
rather smacks of the lever and material necessity." 

"Kopernik fix'd the Sun, the work began; 
And Kepler raised the time-infolding plan." 

Alchemy, after astrology, probably contributed more di- 
rectly than any other of the six follies of science towards the 
advancement of the genuine science associated with it. The 
zealous searchers for the secrets of transmutation, stimulated 

205 



by golden hopes, laboring with an industry and perseverance 
in difficulties worthy of imitation, acquired great skill in 
manipulation, becoming familiar with solution, crystallization, 
and sublimation, as a means of purifying solids, with distilla- 
tion of liquids, and particularly with all operations involving 
the management of fire. 'By mixing all known chemicals in 
divers ways and treating these mixtures in every conceivable 
manner, though intelligent system was lacking, alchemists ob- 
tained hundreds of substances, many of which became indis- 
pensable agents in medicine, pharmacy, manufactures and 
household economy. 

To enumerate the gifts of alchemy to chemical science 
would necessitate chronicling the history of the latter for 
centuries; before alchemists began their labors only seven 
metals were recognized, and as there were seven days in the 
week and seven planets, this branch of knowledge was thought 
to be complete ; a Benedictine monk, however, working with 
athanors and crucibles added bismuth and antimony, and 
Paracelsus is credited with first recognizing zinc as a distinct 
metal; more important than the recognition of a metallic 
substance was the discovery of the preparation of the mineral 
acids, whose power became known in alchemical days. 

While in search of the Philosophers' stone a poor shoe- 
maker of Bologna, Vincentius Casciorolus by name, discovered 
in 1602 the wonderful substance long known as the Bologna 
stone, having the property of emitting phosphorescent light 
in the dark; about seventy years later another disciple of 
Hermes, a merchant of Hamburg named Brandt, obtained in 
his retort the Phosphorus which possessed the same property 
to a superlative degree; and ten years later Godfrey Hanck- 
witz, a laboratory assistant to the eminent philosopher 
Robert Boyle, himself a dabbler in alchemy, made with this 
miracle-working phosphorus the first friction matches. A 

206 



German alchemist Botticher, imprisoned in the royal castle 
of Konigstein for numerous attempts to swindle his Highness, 
the Elector of Saxony, happily saved himself from severer 
punishment by discovering the process of manufacturing por- 
celain, justly celebrated as Dresden porcelain to this day. 

The Hollander, Cornelius Drebbel, after leaving Prague, 
discovered the superb red dyestuff obtained by the action of 
tinsalts on cochineal; this preparation of tin having been 
itself discovered thirty years before by another alchemist and 
long called by his name the "fuming liquor of Libavius." 

"The search itself rewards the pains ; 

So though the chymist his great secret miss, 

For neither it in art nor nature is, 

Yet things well worth his toil he gains, 

And does his charge and labor pay 

With good unsought experiments by the way." 

The mediaeval alchemists are credited also with being the 
first to seize the grand idea of evolution in its widest extent 
as a "progress from the imperfect to the more perfect, in- 
cluding lifeless as well as living nature in an unceasing pro- 
gression, in which all things take part, towards a higher and 
nobler state. In this slow development nature has no need 
to hasten, she has eternity to work in; it is for us to ascer- 
tain the favoring conditions and by imitating them or 
increasing them to accelerate the work." (Draper.) 

The contributions to chemical science made by the inde- 
fatigable alchemists were not appreciated in their day and 
failed to demolish the belief in transmutation, because the 
isolated discoveries were not correlated by general laws ; it 
is true that the alchemists propounded a theory that three 
principles, designated symbolically as "salt," "sulfur" and 
"mercury," were the basis of all substances, but it remained 
for Becher and Stahl in the seventeenth century to formulate 

207 



the theory of " Phlogiston," which, though weak and false r 
greatly promoted the scientific aspects of chemistry and con- 
tributed to its divorce from the supernatural. 

Technical chemistry received an invaluable gift from 
Bernard Palissy the famous French artist in earthenware, 
who died about the time Rudolph was bestowing favors upon 
the unworthy "Golden Knight.'* After twenty-five years of 
persevering toil, "groping for glazes like a man in the dark," 
Palissy discovered the white glaze which was the basis of all 
the others, and his genius for artistic effects produced the 
superb ware for which he is famous. Being an earnest student 
of natural history, he decorated his vases and dishes with 
imitations of shells, fishes, reptiles, etc., made by taking casts 
of the objects themselves. He also did much to abate the 
superstitions regarding the fossil shells found in the rocks of 
the tertiary near Paris; these were supposed to be either 
proofs of the universal deluge or shells dropped by the Cru- 
saders returning from the Holy Land, but Palissy boldly 
maintained that they were the actual remains of once living 
marine animals. Palissy wrote in French of great vigor, 
simplicity and perspicuity, and his works have been greatly 
admired by posterity; his naturalness in studying the book 
of nature with great modesty, yet with confidence, has set 
an example to all who would promote the separation of 
superstition from science. 

Although pure mathematics was not barnacled with 
superstitious growths, its advances may be briefly noted, for 
it lies at the foundation of all physical science. A Franciscan 
friar of Italian birth, Lucas de Borgo, (also called Pacioli), 
who taught mathematics in Naples, Venice and Milan, pub- 
lished several treatises on arithmetic, algebra and geometry 
about the middle of the sixteenth century, which exerted a 
marked influence; and another Italian, Benedetto, published 

208 



in 1585 at Turin, a work on geometrical analysis. About 
the same time Simon Stevin, of Flanders, enriched arithmetic 
by the invention of decimal fractions. Algebra was improved 
by the genius of Jerome Cardanus, and especially by Viete of 
France, who introduced the use of letters of the alphabet to 
represent known quantities, thus facilitating the expression 
of general truths. The signs plus + and minus were first 
used in a mathematical work published in 1544, and the 
sign equality =, appeared three years later in an English 
algebra by Robert Recorde. The important invention of 
logarithms by the student of astrology, John Napier, Baron 
of Merchiston, of Scotland, was not publicly announced until 
1618 ; while the influence of the genius of Descartes was not 
felt until the middle of the same century. 

The foundations of the science of mechanics were laid by 
Jerome Frascator, Jerome Cardanus and Ubaldo del Monte 
(1577), but this mathematical science as well as physics was 
but in its infancy at Rudolph's time. The treatise on 
Natural Magic written by the precocious youth Giovanni 
Baptista Porta of Naples in 1560, contained evidence that 
the author had successfully experimented in optics, and had 
constructed apparatus on scientific principles, capable of pro- 
ducing such marvellous illusions as to be ascribed to magic. 
The so-called "magic lantern" is often attributed to Porta, 
but he had been anticipated by that wonderful master of 
many arts, Leonardo da Vinci. Porta's treatise which went 
through several editions, deals much with lenses and mirrors 
of various kinds and seems to describe vaguely the telescope; 
in fact, after Galileo had perfected the instrument known as 
Galileo's tube, Porta claimed the invention as his own. Porta 
was indebted to the Venetian ecclesiastic, statesman and 
scientist Fra Paolo, whose real name was Pietro Sarpi, for 
several items of learning, notably those concerning the pro- 

209 



perties of the lodestone. Sarpi was so great a scholar that 
Galileo spoke of him as his "master"; and his contemporaries 
say he was profoundly versed in the "Hebrew and Greek 
languages, mathematics, astronomy, history, the nutrition of 
life in animals, geometry including conic sections, magnetism, 
botany, mineralogy, hydraulics, acoustics, animal statics, 
atmospheric pressure, the rising and falling of objects in air 
and \vater, the reflection of light from curved surfaces, 
mechanics, civil and military architecture, medicine, herbs and 
anatomy." He is credited with anticipating Harvey in the 
discovery of the circulation of the blood, and Kepler in certain 
optical phenomena. Unhappily his valuable manuscripts were 
destroyed by fire in 1766, and the extant extracts are being 
tardily appreciated by historians of science. 

The foolishness of science did not always assume debas- 
ing forms like judicial astrology and sorcery, but was char- 
acterized by fervent beliefs in the false assertions of venerated 
authorities that became veritable superstitions; these dog- 
mas were endorsed by scholars without any attempt to test 
their verity, until some independent genius arose, who broke 
loose from the shackles of a great name and hardily ventured 
to ascertain the facts for himself. In this way the dogma of 
Aristotle, that the heavier of two bodies falling to the ground 
moves faster than the lighter one, was disproved by Galileo 
in experiments made from the top of the Leaning Tower of 
Pisa. So blinded were the Aristotelians, that, when they saw 
the one pound weight and the ten pound weight strike the 
ground simultaneously, they asserted as strenuously as be- 
fore, that the weight of ten pounds would have reached the 
ground ten times as quick as the one pound, had not "the 
natural velocities been interfered with" from some unknown 
cause. 

None of the harmless follies of science were more firmly 

210 



established in the estimation of philosophers than that em- 
bodied in the assertion: "Nature abhors a vacuum;" and 
when in 1590 the well-sinkers of the Grand Duke of Florence 
found their pumps would not lift the water out of a well 
forty feet deep, Galileo was applied to for explanation of the 
difficulty and for a remedy. The great man is said to have 
informed the workmen that nature's abhorrence of a vacuum 
did not extend beyond thirty -three feet ! Galileo himself being 
unable to assign the true reason, which was afterwards 
determined by his famous pupil Torricelli. 

In the last year of the sixteenth century an English phy- 
sician, Dr. William Gilbert, published a book that laid the 
firm foundations of a new branch of physics, electricity. The 
familiar behavior of a magnet in attracting particles of iron, 
and of amber in drawing to itself bits of paper and light 
articles, had been known to the ancients, but Dr. Gilbert made 
a thorough experimental study of these and related pheno- 
mena, discovering that glass, resins and certain precious 
stones had the same property as amber. He also demon- 
strated the laws of magnetic polarity and the uses of arma- 
tures; and while he deduced no general law he announced 
the theory that the earth itself is a great magnet. This 
grand monograph worked prodigies in removing from mag- 
netic phenomena the superstitions clustering around them. 

Pliny's Natural History, written in the first century, 
remained the unquestioned authority on all matters pertain- 
ing to plants, animals and minerals for more than thirteen 
hundred years, and was responsible for a mass of extra- 
ordinary superstitions, many of which lingered as "vulgar 
errors" until very recent times. Pliny transcribed from all 
known writers on natural history the most absurd tales and 
made no effort to examine their authenticity; he peopled the 
water, land and air with fabulous creatures having wonder- 

211 



ful habits and powers, and he described imperfectly well- 
known animals without essaying systematic classification. 
This "was first attempted in a scientific spirit by the "German 
Pliny," Conrad Gesner, Professor of natural history at Zurich, 
whose "History of Animals," published in 1551, is the basis 
of all modern zoology; his younger contemporary, Ulysses 
Aldrovandus, who held the chair of natural history at Bo- 
logna, published six large folio volumes illustrated with 
wood cuts of many of the animals, his descriptions being in 
part taken from the work of Gesner. Aldrovandus founded 
a museum of natural history, and established one of the 
earliest of botanical gardens, in Bologna (1567), in which 
medicinal plants were especially cultivated. And about the 
same time Dr. Pierre Belon in France published a most im- 
portant treatise on birds (1555); Belon resided in a chateau 
near Paris given him by the reigning sovereign and while 
collecting plants in the Bois de Boulogne was murdered by 
highwaymen. Another French physician, Guillaume Rondelet, 
was engaged at this period on a complete history of fishes 
(1558); these two works being early attempts at specializa- 
tion in natural history. 

The labors of scientific men do not become part of popular 
knowledge in their generation, and correct ideas of animals 
were less widely held than .the far more fascinating notions 
of fabulous monsters; credence was given to the phoenix, a 
bird that after many hundred years burned herself in order 
that another might arise from her ashes ; to the salamander 
that lived comfortably in the hottest of fires; and to the 
basilisk, or cockatrice, a monster hatched by a serpent, or 
by a toad, from a cock's egg, and possessing the power of 
killing men at a distance by venom projected from its eye:^ 

"Mischiefs are like the cockatrice's eye; 

If they see first, they kill; if seen they die." 

212 



According to popular belief ostriches eat and digested 
iron ; bears licked their new-born cubs into shape ; moles had 
no eyes and elephants no knees; the swan sings before it 
dies; the chameleon lives only on air; the fish remora swim- 
ming beneath a ship retards the movements of the vessel as 
a lodestone attracts iron; and 

" The toad, ugly and venemous 

Wears yet a precious jewel in its head." 

To these extraordinary fancies may be added the firmly 
grounded belief that barnacles growing on trees fall into 
water and are transformed into geese; lovely mermaids with 
captivating manners entice men to their destruction; water- 
bulls perform terrifying deeds; while preposterous behavior 
was attributed to young vipers, birds of paradise, pelicans, 
tarantulas, scorpions, and to every "living creature after its 
kind, creeping thing and beast of the earth." The temptation 
to enumerate more of the barnacles that were attached to 
zoology is great but must be resisted. 

Pliny in his Natural History included botany, enumerating 
six hundred plants, and commentators in the sixteenth cen- 
tury made efforts to identify the imperfectly described species; 
physicians using botanical remedies felt the need of greater 
accuracy and began to form collections of their own, and to 
study them systematically. The first to suggest the classifi- 
cation by classes, order, genera and species was Conrad 
Gesner just named. During the sixteenth century many treat- 
ises on plants appeared, the most valuable contributions 
being made by Andrea Caesalpinus, Professor of Botany at 
Padua, who proposed a sexual classification, and by the 
brothers John and Gaspard Bauhin of Switzerland, one of 
whom published a systematic index to plants in which syno- 
nyms were grouped together. 

213 



The establishment of botanical gardens in the sixteenth 
century greatly advanced exact knowledge of plants, especially 
those of medicinal value, to which the gardens were at first 
limited. Italy was early in the field, a garden at Pisa under 
the care of Luca Ghini dated from 1544; Bologna, Padua, 
Venice soon followed suit, and the University of Paris began 
one in 1558. Germany at this period had only private bota- 
nical gardens, the best being that of Dr. Joachim Camerarius 
at Nuremburg. Sinapius, already mentioned, founded the 
imperial botanic garden under Rudolph II., which was after- 
wards in charge of Charles de TEcluse, of Flanders. 

The botanical barnacles were nearly as numerous as the 
zoological, but these have been noted in connection with 
medicine, for plants were used as charms against misfortunes 
quite as much as for remedies in sickness. 

In 1534, Andreas Vesalius, a Flemish youth, discrediting 
the anatomical descriptions of the human body by Galen, 
with great boldness stole the corpse of a criminal hanging in 
chains on a gibbet in the outskirts of Louvain, and at immense 
risk dissected it in his own ' bedroom ; he found that Galen 
had based his account on the examination of lower animals, 
and cautiously continued his studies which resulted nine years 
later in a classical treatise on human anatomy, containing 
excellent drawings and minute descriptions of the parts of 
the body. Some of the plates in this magnificent work- 
(De httmani corporis fabrica, 1543.), are said to have been 
designed by Titian ; others were certainly drawn for Yesalius 
by his countryman Johann Calcar, then a pupil of Titian. 
Vesalius' zeal in dissection was indirectly the cause of his 
death; according to a tradition, denied by some authors, he 
was condemned to death for having opened the body of a 
Spaniard before the sick man was quite dead. The sentence 
was commuted at the intervention of Philip II., to a pilgrim- 

214 



age to the Holy Land. On his return from this journey 
Vesalius was shipwrecked on a desert part of the island of 
Zante, and died of hunger and neglect in 1564. 

During Vesalius* occupancy of the chair of anatomy at 
the University of Padua, the Medical School became famous 
and it retained its celebrity two hundred years. Italy being 
the only country in which human bodies could be dissected 
without legal penalties, anatomy and physiology made great 
strides at the Universities of Padua, Pisa, Bologna, and 
Naples. Fallopius, incredible as it now seems, wrote that 
the Duke of Tuscany was obliging enough to send him crim- 
inals, whom he killed and then dissected. To sketch the pro- 
gress of the study of the human body would require a 
volume; Eustachius, Arantius, Verolius, were some of the 
great names; "Piccolomini laid the foundations of general 
anatomy by his descriptions of cellular tissue, Goiter created 
pathological anatomy, Prosper Alpinus diagnosis, Plater the 
classification of disease, and Ambroise Pare modern surgery." 

(Draper.) 

Fabricius ab Acquapendente discovered the valves in the 
bloodvessels; Michael Servetus, of Yillanova in Aragon, was 
one of the first to revive the idea of pulmonary circulation, 
but his talents did not prevent his becoming the victim of 
the fanatical John Calvin, at whose instigation he was "very 
slowly burned" at the stake for heresy in 1553. 

If the medical school at Padua had done nothing else 
than educate the Englishman, William Harvey, its existence 
would be justified; Harvey's prime discovery of the circula- 
tion of the blood dates from about 1616, when he began to 
teach it to his pupils in London. About forty years later 
the microscope was applied to anatomical and physiological 

investigations ., but this superficial survey of progress in 

science must be closed , for two more events of great influence 

215 



demand brief notice, namely, the foundation of scientific 
societies and the introduction of Baconian philosophy. 

The Academia Secretorum Naturae was founded at Naples 
in 1560 by Giovanni Baptista Porta, and the Accademia dei 
Lincei at Rome in 1603 by Prince Frederigo Cesi. The for- 
mer was chiefly made up of a small circle of Porta's friends 
devoted to pursuits like his own and who met to discuss 
new experiments; the society encountered opposition from 
ecclesiastics but cautiously avoided furnishing the Church pre- 
tense for persecution. The Lyncean Academy began as a sort 
of club of only four members, but it afterwards opened its 
doors to "philosophers eager for real knowledge, who will 
give themselves to the study of nature and especially to 
mathematics;" at the same time they were not to neglect 
"the ornaments of elegant literature and philology, which, 
like a graceful garment adorn the whole body of science. ' r 
Galileo became one of the distinguished members of this 
society. 

The renowned Accademia del Cimento was founded at 
Florence nearly fifty years later, but even this preceded the 
British Royal Society by five years and the French Academic 
des Sciences by nine. The influence of these societies in promot- 
ing the advancement of science was immense, but the most 
aggressive foe to superstition, the most efficacious instrument 
in removing the barnacles of folly, was the method of rea- 
soning embodied in the inductive philosophy, which became 
the only recognized system pursued by the members of these 
societies as well as by independent investigators. 

Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England, who was 
very nearly a contemporary of Rudolph II, being however 
nine years younger, is often credited with the invention of 
the "Baconian" philosophy socalled, but the principles of the 
system had been distinctly expressed by Leonardo da Vinci 

216 



and had been applied in their researches by William Gilbert , 
Bernard Palissy, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and other success- 
ful scientists. Lord Bacon, however, was the first to analyse 
the inductive methods of reasoning and to insist that this 
system is the only proper basis on which to build scientific 
truths; moreover, he explained the method in a powerful 
work devoted to the purpose, the "Novum Organum Scien- 
tiarum," published in 1620. The prevailing opinions had 
been ''founded on vague and insufficient observations, and 
often they were nothing better than preconceived ideas and 
assumptions so fantastical that nothing but the prescription 
of authority and the sanction of antiquity could ever have 
secured their acceptance by successive generations of thinking 
men," but the application of Baconian principles effected a 
revolution of lasting benefit to science. 

"From these and all long errors of the way, 

In which our wandering predecessors went, 

And, like the old Hebrews, many years did stray 

In deserts, but of small extent, 

BACON, like Moses, led us forth at last ; 

The barren wilderness he passed; 

Did in the very border stand 

Of the blest promised land. 

And from the mountain's top of his exalted wit 

Saw it himself, and showed us it. 

But life did never to one man allow 

Time to discover worlds, and conquer too: 

Nor can so short a time sufficient be 

To fathom the vast depths of Nature's sea." 



OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

OF 




217 




"The scientific spirit has cast out the demons and 
presented us with Nature, clothed in her right mind and 
living under the reign of law. It has given us for the 
sorceries of the alchemist the beautiful laws of chemistry; 
for the dreams of the astrologer, the sublime truths of 
astronomy; for the wild visions of cosmogony the monu- 
mental records of geology; for the anarchy of diabolism, 
the laws of God/' 

JAMES ABRAM GARFIELD. 





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