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ALCHEMICA

MRJ number: 
182
College classmark: 
G.14

   Vellum and paper, 8 x 5.5, ff. 221 + 7, 18 lines to a page.  15th cent. (1479), clear hand: drawings.  Red skin over boards.

   Given by W. Beale.                                                                           2 fo. debet dissolui.

   Collation : a4 (vellum), 110 210 – 2110 2212 (wants 10) : 3 flyleaves: outer and middle sheets of most quires vellum.

   List of contents on f. 1b.

   Contents :

         1.   Notabilia Artis Alchemicae.

Verses.  (9) Hec sunt secreta. Quis gaudebit sine meta                        .         f.                1

ending:        Sunt preciosa magis dum rarius inueniuntur.

Hic sequuntur optima notabilia ad hanc artem spectantia.

Lapis noster philosophicus non habet proprium nomen.

Ends : Bonum est in alieno malo fugienda intueri.

         2.    Inc. liber marie sororis moysi     .                .                .                .                6

                Conuenit aros philosophus cum maria prophetissa et fuit

                   accedens ad ipsam et honorificauit eam et dixit ei.  O pro-

                   phetissa audiui multos de te quia cibificas conuiuas de die

                   tuo.  Et dixit maria.  Utique o aros et de parte dei mei.

                Marginal drawing of Miriam in turban-like headdress and wimple.

                Ends 10a : Et ipsi ignorant regimen ueritatis propter eorum

                   ignoranciam unde uersus.

                      Mira maria sonat breuiter que talia donat, etc. ending :

                      Gaudet in assata. sata per tria sociata.

                Expl. hoc secretum.

         3.    At top of page (xiii) :

                Credibile est Circen mutasse potentibus herbis

                                Inque sues monachos in monachosque sues.

                Uisio Johannis Dastin de dono gracie                .                .                .                10b

Cum omnium natura constancium cercius sit effectus.

Drawing of man in doctor’s robes.

Ends : poma collegimus. maria timemus, etc.  Expl. uisio Joh.

   Dastyn de dono gracie.

         4.    Et inc. uisio Edwardi secretarii philosophie                .                .                .                16b

                Ego Edwardus discipulusque philosophie secretarius. 

                Drawing rather like the last : a 16th cent. derisive note above.

                    -qui dat omnibus affluenter et non improperat.  Jacobi primo.

                Expl. hoc secretum.

         5.    Inc. liber qui dicitur lilium alkemie de ordine procedendo                .                26

                Naturam circa solem et lunam ceterosque planetas.

                Drawing of lily in pot ; above (xvi) :

                Is this flowre called monkes weed.  A faire Lilly for so fowle a lowt.

                Drawing of a man in furred gown on f. 61.

                     -coagulat et fugere non permittat.  Expl. lilium alkemie.

         6.    Inc. liber turbe philosophorum de secretis secretorum qui

   dicitur Codex ueritatis inferioris astronomie                .                .                96b

Drawing of a doctor seated teaching eight pupils.  On the

   back of one is written ‘bulchin’ : and a derisive remark is

   written above.

Drawing of Pictagoras on f. 197 and of Aristeus on 198 : of

   Leucippus on 202 : of Democrites as a man in plate-armour

   with halbert, on 206 : of Albemazar on 210 : of Marcos rex

   grecorum as throned king on 213 : of Arthurus as king in

   mantle with sword on 215.

Ends 216b : Qui petis in merdis secreta philosophorum

                      Expensas perdis operam tempusque laborum.

Expl. lib. turbe philos. 10 die decembris a. d. 1479.

A late index of the Philosophers on f. 218.

Supplementary information 

This MS. is referred to in Julius Ruska, 'Turba philosophorum : ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Alchemie', Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Medizin 1 (1931), 81-2.  The MS. used by Ruska has only 72 Turbae, whilst the St John's College Library copy has 80.  Ruska obtained his information from Dorothea Singer, Les Manuscrits des Iles Britanniques (Bruxelles, 1924).  See M. Plessner, 'The Turba Philosophorum.  A Preliminary Report on Three Cambridge Manuscripts', AMBIX, Journal of the Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry 7:3 (October 1959), 159-63.

The drawing on fol. 96v is referred to in W. N. Hargreaves-Mawdsley, A History of Academical Dress in Europe until the End of the Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1963), p. 96.

P. Barthelemy and Didier Kahn, 'Les Voyages d'une allegorie alchemique: de la visio Edwardi a l'oeuvre royalle de Charles VI', Comprendre et maîtriser la nature au moyen âge : mélanges d'histoire des sciences offerts à Guy Beaujouan (Geneva, 1994), pp. 481-530.

P.R. Robinson, Catalogue of dated and datable manuscripts c.737-1600 in Cambridge libraries (Cambridge, 1988) vol. I, pp. 87-8, no. 305; vol. II pl. 319 (fol. 5).

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