MEDIAEVAL LORE FROM BARTHOLOMEW ANGLICUS
BY ROBERT STEELE
WITH PREFACE BY WILLIAM MORRIS
"WHEN HOLY WERE THE HAUNTED FOREST BOUGHS, HOLY THE AIR, THE WATER, AND THE FIRE." KEATS.
It is not long since the Middle Ages, of the literature of which this book gives us such curious examples, were supposed to be an unaccountable phenomenon accidentally thrust in betwixt the two periods of civilisation, the classical and the modern, and forming a period without growth or meaning—a period which began about the time of the decay of the Roman Empire, and ended suddenly, and more or less unaccountably, at the time of the Reformation. The society of this period was supposed to be lawless and chaotic; its ethics a mere conscious hypocrisy; its art gloomy and barbarous fanaticism only; its literature the formless jargon of savages; and as to its science, that side of human intelligence was supposed to be an invention of the time when the Middle Ages had been dead two hundred years.
The light which the researches of modern historians, archaeologists, bibliographers, and others, have let in on our view of the Middle Ages has dispersed the cloud of ignorance on this subject which was one of the natural defects of the qualities of the learned men and keen critics of the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth centuries. The Middle-class or Whig theory of life is failing us in all branches of human intelligence. Ethics, Politics, Art, and Literature are more than beginning to be regarded from a wider point of view than that from which our fathers and grandfathers could see them.
For many years there has been a growing reaction against the dull "grey" narrowness of the eighteenth century, which looked on Europe during the last thousand years as but a riotous, hopeless, and stupid prison. It is true that it was on the side of Art alone that this enlightenment began, and that even on that side it progressed slowly enough at first—e.g. Sir Walter Scott feels himself obliged, as in the Antiquary, to apologize to pedantry for his instinctive love of Gothic architecture. And no less true is it that follies enough were mingled with the really useful and healthful birth of romanticism in Art and Literature. But at last the study of facts by men who were neither artistic nor sentimental came to the help of that first glimmer of instinct, and gradually something like a true insight into the life of the Middle Ages was gained; and we see that the world of Europe was no more running round in a circle then than now, but was developing, sometimes with stupendous speed, into something as different from itself as the age which succeeds this will be different from that wherein we live. The men of those times are no longer puzzles to us; we can understand their aspirations, and sympathise with their lives, while at the same time we have no wish (not to say hope) to put back the clock, and start from the position which they held. For, indeed, it is characteristic of the times in which we live, that whereas in the beginning of the romantic reaction, its supporters were for the most part mere laudatores temporis acti, at the present time those who take pleasure in studying the life of the Middle Ages are more commonly to be found in the ranks of those who are pledged to the forward movement of modern life; while those who are vainly striving to stem the progress of the world are as careless of the past as they are fearful of the future. In short, history, the new sense of modern times, the great compensation for the losses of the centuries, is now teaching us worthily, and making us feel that the past is not dead, but is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make.
To my mind, therefore, no excuse is needful for the attempt made in the following pages to familiarise the reading public with what was once a famous knowledge-book of the Middle Ages. But the reader, before he can enjoy it, must cast away the exploded theory of the invincible and wilful ignorance of the days when it was written; the people of that time were eagerly desirous for knowledge, and their teachers were mostly single-hearted and intelligent men, of a diligence and laboriousness almost past belief. The "Properties of Things" of Bartholomew the Englishman is but one of the huge encyclopaedias written in the early Middle Age for the instruction of those who wished to learn, and the reputation of it and its fellows shows how much the science of the day was appreciated by the public at large, how many there were who wished to learn. Even apart from its interest as showing the tendency of men's minds in days when Science did actually tell them "fairy tales," the book is a delightful one in its English garb; for the language is as simple as if the author were speaking by word of mouth, and at the same time is pleasant, and not lacking a certain quaint floweriness, which makes it all the easier to retain the subject-matter of the book.
Altogether, this introduction to the study of the Mediaeval Encyclopaedia, and the insight which such works give us into the thought of the past and its desire for knowledge, make a book at once agreeable and useful; and I repeat that it is a hopeful sign of the times when students of science find themselves drawn towards the historical aspect of the world of men, and show that their minds have been enlarged, and not narrowed, by their special studies—a defect which was too apt to mar the qualities of the seekers into natural facts in what must now, I would hope, be called the just-passed epoch of intelligence dominated by Whig politics, and the self-sufficiency of empirical science.
THE PROLOGUE OF THE TRANSLATOR
MEDIAEVAL NATURAL HISTORY—TREES
MEDIAEVAL NATURAL HISTORY—BIRDS AND FISHES
MEDIAEVAL NATURAL HISTORY—ANIMALS
THE SOURCES OF THE BOOK
THE BOOK AND ITS OBJECT.—The book which we offer to the public of to- day is drawn from one of the most widely read books of mediaeval times. Written by an English Franciscan, Bartholomew, in the middle of the thirteenth century, probably before 1260, it speedily travelled over Europe. It was translated into French by order of Charles V. (1364-81) in 1372, into Spanish, into Dutch, and into English in 1397. Its popularity, almost unexampled, is explained by the scope of the work, as stated in the translator's prologue (p. 9). It was written to explain the allusions to natural objects met with in the Scriptures or in the Gloss. It was, in fact, an account of the properties of things in general; an encyclopaedia of similes for the benefit of the village preaching friar, written for men without deep—sometimes without any— learning. Assuming no previous information, and giving a fairly clear statement of the state of the knowledge of the time, the book was readily welcomed by the class for which it was designed, and by the small nucleus of an educated class which was slowly forming. Its popularity remained in full vigour after the invention of printing, no less than ten editions being published in the fifteenth century of the Latin copy alone, with four French translations, a Dutch, a Spanish, and an English one.
The first years of the modern commercial system gave its death-blow to the popularity of this characteristically mediaeval work, and though an effort was made in 1582 to revive it, the attempt was unsuccessful—quite naturally so, since the book was written for men desirous to hear of the wonders of strange lands, and did not give an accurate account of anything. The man who bought cinnamon at Stourbridge Fair in 1380 would have felt poorer if any one had told him that it was not shot from the phoenix' nest with leaden arrows, while the merchant of 1580 wished to know where it was grown, and how much he would pay a pound for it if he bought it at first hand. Any attempt to reconcile these frames of mind was foredoomed to failure.
THE INTEREST OF BARTHOLOMEW'S WORK.—The interest of Bartholomew's work to modern readers is twofold: it has its value as literature pure and simple, and it is one of the most important of the documents by the help of which we rebuild for ourselves the fabric of mediaeval life. The charm of its style lies in its simple forcible language, and its simplicity suits its matter well. On the one hand, we cannot forget it is a translation, but the translation, on the other hand, is from the mediaeval Latin of an Englishman into English.
One of the greatest difficulties in the way of a student is to place himself in the mental attitude of a man of the Middle Ages towards nature; yet only by so doing can he appreciate the solutions that the philosophers of the time offered of the problems of nature. Our author affords perhaps the simplest way of learning what Chaucer and perhaps Shakespeare knew and believed of their surroundings—earth, air, and sea. The plan on which his work was constructed led Bartholomew in order over the universe from God and the angels—through fire, water, air, to earth and all that therein is. We thus obtain a succinct account of the popular mediaeval theories in Astronomy, Physiology, Physics, Chemistry, Geography, and Natural History, all but unattainable otherwise. The aim of our chapter on Science has been to give sufficient extracts to mark the theories on which mediaeval Science was based, the methods of its reasoning, and the results at which it arrived. The chapter on Medicine gives some account of the popular cures and notions of the day, and that on Geography resumes the traditions current on foreign lands, at a time when Ireland was at a greater distance than Rome, and less known than Syria.
In the chapter on Mediaeval Society we have not perhaps the daily life of the Middle Ages, but at least the ideal set before them by their pastors and masters—an ideal in direct relationship with the everyday facts of their life. The lord, the servant, the husband, the wife, and the child, here find their picture. Some information, too, can be obtained about the daily life of the time from the chapter on the Natural History of Plants, which gives incidentally their food-stuffs.
It is in the History of Animals that the student of literature will find the richest mine of allusions. The list of similes in Shakespeare explained by our author would fill a volume like this itself. Other writers, again, simply "lift" the book wholesale. Chester and Du Bartas write page after page of rhyme, all but versified direct from Bartholomew. Jonson and Spenser, Marlowe and Massinger, make ample use of him. Lyly and Drayton owe him a heavy debt. Considerations of space forbid their insertion, but for every extract made here, the Editor has collected several passages from first-class authors with a view to illustrating the immense importance of this book to Elizabethan literature. It was not without reason that Ireland chose justified, when making a selection of passages from the work for modern readers, in altering his text to this extent—and this only: he has modernised the spelling, and in the case of entirely obsolete grammatical forms he has substituted modern ones (e.g. "its" for "his"). In the case of an utterly dead word he has followed the course of substituting a word from the same root, when one exists; and when none could be found, he has left it unchanged in the text. Accordingly a short glossary has been added, which includes, too, many words which we may hope are not dead, but sleeping. In very few cases has a word been inserted, and in those it is marked by italics.
Perhaps we may be allowed to say a word in defence of the principle of modernising our earliest literature. Early English poetry is, in general (with some striking exceptions), incapable of being written in the spelling of our days without losing all of that which makes it verse; but there can be no reason, when dealing with the masterpieces of our Early English prose, for maintaining obsolete forms of spelling and grammar which hamper the passage of thought from mind to mind across the centuries. Editors of Shakespeare and the Bible for general use have long assumed the privilege of altering the spelling, and except on the principle that earlier works are more important, or are only to be read by people who have had the leisure and inclination to familiarise their eyes with the peculiarities of Middle English, there can be no reason for stopping there, or a century earlier. At some point, of course, the number of obsolete words becomes so great that the text cannot be read without a dictionary: then the limit has been reached. But Caxton, Trevisa, and many others are well within it, and it is good to remove all obstacles which prevent the ordinary reader from feeling the continuity of his mother tongue.
THE AUTHOR.—The facts known of our author's life have been summarised by Miss Toulmin Smith in her article in the Dictionary of National Biography. In the sixteenth century he was generally believed to date from about 1360, and to have belonged to the Glanvilles—an honourable Suffolk family in the Middle Ages; but there seems to be no authority whatever for the statement. We first hear of him in a letter from the provincial of the Franciscans of Saxony to the provincial of France, asking that Bartholomew Anglicus and another friar should be sent to assist him in his newly-created province. Next year (1231) a MS. chronicle reports that two were sent, and that Bartholomew Anglicus was appointed teacher of holy theology to the brethren in the province. We learn from Salimbene, who wrote the Chronicles of Parma (1283), that he had been a professor of theology in the University of Paris, where he had lectured on the whole Bible. The subject in treating of which he is referred to was an elephant belonging to the Emperor; and Salimbene quotes a passage on the elephant from his De Proprietatibus Rerum. What may be a quotation from the De Proprietatibus can be found in Roger Bacon's Opus Tertium (1267).
THE DATE OF THE WORK.—The date of the work seems fairly easy to fix. It cannot, as we have above seen, be later than 1267, and Amable Jourdain fixes it before 1260 by the fact that the particular translations of Aristotle from which Bartholomew quotes (Latin through the Arabic), went almost universally out of use by 1260. On the other hand, quotations are made from Albertus Magnus, who was in Paris in 1248. And that it was written near this year is evident from the fact that no quotations are made from Vincent of Beauvais, Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, or Egidius Colonna, all of whom were in Paris during the second half of the thirteenth century. The earliest known MS. is in the Ashmole Collection, and was written in 1296. Two French MSS. are dated 1297 and 1329 respectively.
As we said in the beginning of this chapter, the work had an immediate and lasting success. Bartholomew Anglicus became known as "Magister de Proprietatibus Rerum," and his book was on the list of those which students could borrow from the University chest. It is probable that much of this popularity was due to the fact that he was a teacher for many years of the Grey Friars, and that these, the most popular and the most human preachers of the day, carried his book and his stories with them wherever they went.
SOURCES.—The chief sources of our author's inspiration are notable. He relies on St. Dionysius the Areopagite for heaven and the angels, Aristotle for Physics and Natural History, Pliny's Natural History, Isidore of Seville's Etymology, Albumazar, Al Faragus, and other Arab writers for Astronomy, Constantinus Afer's Pantegna for Medical Science, and Physiologus, the Bestiarium, and the Lapidarium for the properties of gems, animals, etc. Besides these he quotes many other writers (a list of whom is given in an appendix) little known to modern readers.
THE TRANSLATION AND PRINCIPLES OF SELECTION.—The translation from which we quote was made for Sir Thomas lord of Berkeley in 1397 by John Trevisa, his chaplain. We owe this good Englishman something for the works in English prose he called into existence—some not yet printed; may we not see in him another proof of what we owe to Chaucer—a language stamped with the seal of a great poet, henceforth sufficient for the people who speak it, ample for the expression of their thoughts or needs?
In selecting from such a book, the principles which have guided the editor are these: To the general reader he desires to offer a fair representation of the work of Bartholomew Anglicus, preserving the language and style. To be fair, the work must be sometimes dull—in the whole book there are many very dull passages. He has desired to select passages of interest for their quaint language, and their views of things, often for their very misrepresentations of matters of common knowledge to-day, and for their bearing upon the literature of the country. The student of literature and science will find in it the materials in which the history of their growth is read. In conclusion, the editor ventures to hope that the work will not be unwelcome to the numerous and growing class who love English for its own sake as the noblest tongue on earth, and who desire not to forget the rock from which it was hewn, and the pit from which it was digged.
Our first selection will naturally be the translator's prologue in the very shortened form of Berthelet. The present editor's work is, to avoid confusion, printed in small type throughout.
THE PROLOGUE OF THE TRANSLATOR
True it is that after the noble and expert doctrine of wise and well- learned Philosophers, left and remaining with us in writing, we know that the properties of things follow and ensue their substance. Herefore it is that after the order and the distinction of substances, the order and the distinction of the properties of things shall be and ensue. Of the which things this work of all the books ensuing, by the grace, help, and assistance of all mighty God is compiled and made.
Marvel not, ye witty and eloquent readers, that I, thin of wit and void of cunning, have translated this book from Latin into our vulgar language, as a thing profitable to me, and peradventure to many other, which understand not Latin, nor have not the knowledge of the properties of things, which things be approved by the books of great and cunning clerks, and by the experience of most witty and noble Philosophers. All these properties of things be full necessary and of great value to them that will be desirous to understand the obscurities, or darkness of holy scriptures: which be given unto us under figures, under parables and semblance, or likelihoods of things natural and artificial. Saint Denys, that great Philosopher and solemn clerk, in his book named the heavenly hierarchies of angels, testifieth and witnesseth the same, saying in this manner:—What so ever any man will conject, feign, imagine, suppose, or say: it is a thing impossible that the light of the heavenly divine clearness, covered and closed in the deity, or in the godhead, should shine upon us, if it were not by the diversities of holy covertures. Also it is not possible, that our wit or intendment might ascend unto the contemplation of the heavenly hierarchies immaterial, if our wit be not led by some material thing, as a man is led by the hand: so by these forms visible, our wit may be led to the consideration of the greatness or magnitude of the most excellent beauteous clarity, divine and invisible. Reciteth this also the blessed apostle Paul in his epistles, saying that by these things visible, which be made and be visible, man may see and know by his inward sight intellectual, the divine celestial and godly things, which be invisible to this our natural sight. Devout doctors of Theology or divinity, for this consideration prudently and wisely read and use natural philosophy and moral, and poets in their fictions and feigned informations, unto this fine and end, so that by the likelihood or similitude of things visible our wit or our understanding spiritually, by clear and crafty utterance of words, may be so well ordered and uttered: that these things corporeal may be coupled with things spiritual, and that these things visible may be conjoined with things Invisible. Excited by these causes to the edifying of the people contained in our Christian faith of almighty Christ Jesus, whose majesty divine is incomprehensible: and of whom to speak it becometh no man, but with great excellent worship and honour, and with an inward dreadful fear. Loth to offend, I purpose to say somewhat under the correction of excellent learned doctors and wise men: what every creature reasonable ought to believe in this our blessed Christian faith.
ENDETH THE PROLOGUE
The following selections will give an idea of the natural science of the Middle Ages. In introducing them, the Editor will attempt to give some connected account of them to show that though their study seems to involve a few difficulties, their explanation is simple, and will not make too great a demand on the reader's patience.
From the earliest times men have asked themselves two questions about nature: "Why?" and "How?" Mediaeval science concerned itself with the former; modern science thinks it has learnt that no answer to that question can be given it, and concerns itself with the latter. It thus happens that the more one becomes in sympathy with the thought of our time, the less one can interest one's self in the work of the past, distinguished as it is by its disregard of all we think important, and by its striving for an unattainable goal.
It is, however, necessary, if we would enjoy Chaucer, Dante, and Shakespeare, to obtain some notion of that system of the universe from which they drew so many of their analogies. The symbolism of Dante appears to us unnaturally strained until we know that the science of his day saw everything as symbolic.
And how could we appreciate the strength of Chaucer's metaphor:
"O firste moving cruel firmament, With thy diurnal swegh that croudest ay, And hurtlest all from Est til Occident, That naturally wold hold another way,"
without some knowledge of the astronomy of his day?
Our first extracts explain themselves. They deal with the mystery of the constitution of substances, as fascinating to us as to the early Greeks, and begin with definitions of matter and form.
The principal design of early philosophers in physics was to explain how everything was generated, and to trace the different states through which things pass until they become perfect. They observed that as a thing is not generated out of any other indifferently—for example, that marble is not capable of making flesh, all bodies cannot be compounded of principles alone, connected in a simple way, but imagined they could be made up of a few simple compounds. These ultimate compounds, if we may so express it, were their elements. The number of elements was variously estimated, but was generally taken as four—a number arrived at rather from the consideration of the sensations bodies awaken in us, than from the study of bodies themselves. Aristotle gives us the train of thought by which the number is reached. He considers the qualities observed by the senses, classifying them as Heat, Cold, Dryness or Hardness, and Moistness or Capability of becoming liquid. These may partially co-exist, two at a time, in the same substance. There are thus four possible combinations, Cold and dry, Cold and moist, Hot and dry, Hot and moist. He then names these from their prototypes Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, distinguishing these elements from the actual Earth, etc., of everyday life.
The habit of extending analogies beyond their legitimate application was a source of confusion in the early ages of science. Most of the superstitions of primitive religion, of astrology, and of alchemy, arose from this source. A good example is the extension of the metaphor in the words generation and corruption: words in constant use in scientific works until the nineteenth century began. Generation is the production of a substance that before was not, and corruption is the destruction of a substance, by its ceasing to be what it was before. Thus, fire is generated, and wood is corrupted, when the latter is burnt. But the implicit metaphor in the use of the terms likens substances to the human body, their production and destruction implies liability to disease, and thus prepares the way for the notion of the elixir, which is first a potion giving long life, and curing bodily ailments, and only after some time a remedy for diseased metals—the philosopher's stone.
It will be seen that the theory of the mediaeval alchemist was that matter is an entity filling all space, on which in different places different forms were impressed. The elements were a preliminary grouping of these, and might be present—two, three, or four at a time—in any substance. No attempt was ever made to separate these elements by scientific men, just as no attempt is ever made to isolate the ether of the physical speculations of to-day. The theory of modern physicists, with its ether and vortices, answers almost exactly to the matter and form of the ancients, the nature of the vortices conditioning matter.
The extracts from Book XI. bring us to another class of substances. All compound bodies are classified as imperfect or perfect. Imperfect compounds, or meteors, to some extent resemble elements. They are fiery, as the rainbow, or watery, as dew. Our extract on the rainbow is somewhat typical of the faults of ancient science. A note is taken of a rare occurrence—a lunar rainbow; but in describing the common one, an error of the most palpable kind is made. The placing of blue as the middle and green as the lowest colour is obviously wrong, and is inexplicable if we did not know how facts were cut square with theories in old days.
In the next extract Bartholomew's account of the spirits animating man is quoted at length. It gives us the mediaeval theory as to the means by which life, motion, and knowledge were shown in the body. Every reader of Shakespeare or Chaucer becomes familiar with the vital, animal, and natural spirits. They were supposed to communicate with all parts of the body by means of the arteries or wosen, "the nimble spirits in their arteries," and the sinews or nerves. The word sinew, by the way, is exactly equal to our word nerve, and ayenward, as our author would say. Hamlet, when he bursts from his friends, explains his vigour by the rush of the spirit into the arteries, which makes
"Each petty artery of this body As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve."
The natural spirit is generated in the liver, the seat of digestion, "there where our nourishment is administered"; it then passes to the heart, and manifests itself as the spirit of life; from thence it passes to the brain, where it is the animal spirit—"spirit animate" Rossetti calls it—dwelling in the brain.
In the brain there are three ventricles or chambers, the foremost being the "cell fantastike" of the "Knight's Tale," the second the logistic, and the third the chamber of memory, where "memory, the warder of the brain," keeps watch over the passage of the spirit into the "sinews" of moving. Into the foremost cell come all the perceptions of sight, hearing, etc., and thus we have the opportunity for
"Fantasy, That plays upon our eyesight,"
to freak it on us. The pedant, Holofernes, in Love's Labour's Lost, characteristically puts the origin of his good things in the ventricle of memory.
As a specimen of the physical science of the time the Editor gives extracts from the chapter on light.
The introduction of extracts enough to give some idea of the mediaeval astronomy would have made such large demands on the patience of the reader that the Editor has decided with some regret to omit them altogether. The universe is considered to be a sphere, whose centre is the earth and whose circumference revolved about two fixed points. Our author does not decide the nice point in dispute between the philosophers and the theologians, the former holding that there is only one, the latter insisting on seven heavens-the fairy, ethereal, olympian, fiery, firmament, watery, and empyrean.
The firmament, that
"Majestical roof, fretted with golden fire,"
is the part of heaven in which the planets move. It carries them round with it; it governs the tides; it stood with men for the type of irresistible regularity. Each of the planets naturally has a motion of its own, contrary in direction to that of the firmament, which was from east to west. All the fixed stars move in circles whose centre is the centre of the universe, but the courses of the planets (among which the moon is reckoned) depend on other circles, called eccentric, since their centre is elsewhere. Either the centre or the circumference of the circle in which the planet really moves is applied to the circumference of the eccentric circle, and in this way all the movements of the planets are fully explained. Our author is sorely puzzled to account for the existence of the watery heavens above the fiery, they being cold and moist, but is sure from scriptural reasons that they are there, and ventures the hypothesis that their presence may account for the sluggish and evil properties of Saturn, the planet whose circle is nearest them.
Having considered the simpler substances, those composed of pure elemental forms, and those resembling them—the meteors—we turn to the perfect compounds, those which have assumed substantial forms, as metals, stones, etc. Our author retains the Aristotelian classification—earthy, and those of other origin, as beasts, roots, and trees. Earths may be metals or fossils; metals being defined as hard bodies, generated in the earth or in its veins, which can be beaten out by a hammer, and softened or liquefied by heat; while fossils include all other inanimate objects.
A large number of extracts have been made from this part of the subject, because the book gives the position of positive, as distinguished from speculative, Alchemy at the time. It is the Editor's desire to show that at this period there was a system of theory based on the practical knowledge of the day.
Chemistry took its rise as a science about four hundred years before our era. In the fragments of two of the four books of Democritus we have probably the earliest treatise on chemical matters we are ever likely to get hold of. Whether it is the work of Democritus or of a much later writer is uncertain. But merely taking it as a representative work of the early stage of chemistry, we remark that the receipts are practicable, and some of them, little modified, are in use to-day in goldsmith's shops. The fragments remaining to us are on the manufacture of gold and silver, and one receipt for dyeing purple. In this state of the science the collection of facts is the chief point, and no purely chemical theory seems to have been formed. Tradition, confirmed by the latest researches, associates this stage with Egypt.
The second stage in the history of Chemistry—the birth of Alchemy in the Western World—occurred when the Egyptian practical receipts, the neo-Greek philosophies, and the Chinese dreams of an "elixir vitae" were fused into one by the Arab and Syriac writers. Its period of activity ranges from the seventh to the tenth centuries. Little is really known about it, or can be, until the Arabic texts, which are abundant in Europe, are translated and classified both from the scholar's and the chemist's standpoint. Many works were translated into Latin about the end of the tenth century, such as the spurious fourth book of the Meteorics of Aristotle, the treatises of the Turta Philosophorum, Artis Auriferae, etc., which formed the starting-point of European speculation. The theoretical chemistry of our author is derived from them.
The third stage of chemistry begins with the fourteenth and ends with the sixteenth century. It is characterized by an immense growth of theory, a fertile imagination, and untiring industry. It reached its height in England about 1440, and is represented by the reputed works of Lully (vixit circ. 1300), which first appeared about this date. In this period practical alchemy is on its trial.
The fourth stage begins with Boyle, and closes with the eighteenth century. Still under the dominion of theoretical alchemy, practical alchemy was rejected by it, and its interest was concentrated on the collection of facts. It led up to modern chemistry, which begins with Lavoisier, and the introduction of the balance in the study of chemical change.
Chemical theory, then, in our author's time stood somewhat thus. Metals as regarded their elemental composition were considered to partake of the nature of earth, water, and air, in various proportions. Fossils, or those things generated in the earth which were not metals, were again subdivided into two classes—those which liquefy on being heated, as sulphur, nitre, etc., and those which do not. The metals were considered to be composed of sulphur and mercury. These substances are themselves compounds, but they act as elements in the composition of metals. Sulphur represented their combustible aspect, and also that which gave them their solid form; while mercury was that to which their weight and powers of becoming fluid were due.
This theory was due to two main facts. Most ores of metals, especially of copper and lead, contain much sulphur, which can be either obtained pure from them, or be recognised by its smell when burning. This gave rise to the sulphur theory, while the presence of mercury was inferred doubtless from the resemblance of the more commonly molten metals, silver, tin, and lead, to quicksilver. The properties of each metal were then put down to the presence of these substances. The list of seven metals is that of the most ancient times—gold, electrum, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron; but it is clearly recognised that electrum is an alloy of gold and silver.
Most of the facts in this book are derived from Pliny through Isidore, but, that the theory is Arab in origin, one fact alone would convince us. A consideration of the composition of the metals shows us that tin is nearest in properties of all metals to the precious ones, but tin is precisely the metal chosen by Arab alchemists as a starting-point in the Chrysopoeia.
Beside their scientific interest these passages have supplied many analogies. When Troilus is piling up his lover's oaths to Cressida, his final words are:
"As iron to adamant, as earth to centre;"
our chapter on the adamant supplies the origin of this allusion in part, astronomy gives the other. Diamonds are still, unfortunately, the precious stones of reconciliation and of love our author bespeaks them. The editor has not lengthened the chapter by extracts giving the occult properties of gems, and has contented himself by quoting from the chapter on glass a new simile and an old story.
Matter and form are principles of all bodily things; and privation of matter and form is naught else but destruction of all things. And the more subtle and high matter is in kind, the more able it is to receive form and shape. And the more thick and earthly it is, the more feeble is it to receive impression, printing of forms and of shapes. And matter is principle and beginning of distinction, and of diversity, and of multiplying, and of things that are gendered. For the thing that gendereth and the thing that is gendered are not diverse but touching matter. And therefore where a thing is gendered without matter, the thing that gendereth, and the thing that is gendered, are all one in substance and in kind: as it fareth of the persons in the Trinity. Of form is diversity, by the which one thing is diverse from another, and some form is essential, and some accidental. Essential form is that which cometh into matter, and maketh it perfect; and accordeth therewith to the perfection of some thing. And when form is had, then the thing hath its being, and when form is destroyed nothing of the substance of the thing is found. And form accidental is not the perfection of things, nor giveth them being. But each form accidental needeth a form substantial. And each form is more simple and more actual and noble than matter. And so the form asketh that shall be printed in the matter, the matter ought to be disposed and also arrayed. For if fire shall be made of matter of earth, it needeth that the matter of earth be made subtle and pured and more simple. Form maketh matter known. Matter is cause that we see things that are made, and so nothing is more common and general than matter. And natheless nothing is more unknown than is matter; for matter is never seen without form, nor form may not be seen in deed, but joined to matter.
Elements are simple, and the least particles of a body that is compound. And it is called least touching us, for it is not perceived by wits of feeling. For it is the least part and last in undoing of the body, as it is first in composition. And is called simple, not for an element is simple without any composition, but for it hath no parts that compound it, that be diverse in kind and in number as some medlied bodies have: as it fareth in metals of the which some parts be diverse; for some part is air, and some is earth. But each part of fire is fire, and so of others. Elements are four, and so there are four qualities of elements, of the which every body is composed and made as of matter. The four elements are Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, of the which each hath his proper qualities. Four be called the first and principal qualities, that is, hot, cold, dry, and moist: they are called the first qualities because they slide first from the elements into the things that be made of elements. Two of these qualities are called Active—heat and coldness. The others are dry and wetness and are called Passive.
The Rainbow is impression gendered in an hollow cloud and dewy, disposed to rain in endless many gutters, as it were shining in a mirror, and is shapen as a bow, and sheweth divers colours, and is gendered by the beams of the sun or of the moon. And is but seldom gendered by beams of the moon, no more but twice in fifty years, as Aristotle saith. In the rainbow by cause of its clearness be seen divers forms, kinds, and shapes that be contrary. Therefore the bow seemeth coloured, for, as Bede saith, it taketh colour of the four elements. For therein, as it were in any mirror, shineth figures and shapes and kinds of elements. For of fire he taketh red colour in the overmost part, and of earth green in the nethermost, and of the air a manner of brown colour, and of water somedeal blue in the middle. And first is red colour, that cometh out of a light beam, that touches the outer part of the roundness of the cloud: then is a middle colour somedeal blue, as the quality asketh, that hath mastery in the vapour, that is in the middle of the cloud. Then the nethermost seemeth a green colour in the nether part of a cloud; there the vapour is more earthly. And these colours are more principal than others.
As Beda saith, and the master of stories, forty years tofore the doom, the rainbow shall not be seen, and that shall be token of drying, and of default of elements.
And though dew be a manner of airy substance, and most subtle outward, natheless in a wonder manner it is strong in working and virtue. For it besprinkleth the earth, and maketh it plenteous, and maketh flour, pith, and marrow increase in corn and grains: and fatteth and bringeth forth broad oysters and other shell fish in the sea, and namely dew of spring time. For by night in spring time oysters open themselves against dew, and receive dew that cometh in between the two shells, and hold and keep it; and that dew so holden and kept feedeth the flesh, and maketh it fat; and by its incorporation with the inner parts of the fish breedeth a full precious gem, a stone that is called Margarita. Also the birds of ravens, while they are whitish in feathers, ere they are black, dew feedeth and sustaineth them, as Gregory saith.
Fumosities that are drawn out of the waters and off the earth by strength of heat of heaven are drawn to the nethermost part of the middle space of the air, and there by coldness of the place they are made thick, and then by heat dissolving and departing the moisture thereof and not wasting all, these fumosities are resolved and fall and turn into rain and showers.
If rain be temperate in quality and quantity, and agreeable to the time, it is profitable to infinite things. For rain maketh the land to bear fruit, and joineth it together, if there be many chines therein, and assuageth and tempereth strength of heat, and cleareth the air, and ceaseth and stinteth winds, and fatteth fish, and helpeth and comforteth dry complexion. And if rain be evil and distemperate in its qualities, and discording to place and time, it is grievous and noyful to many things. For it maketh deepness and uncleanness and slipperiness in ways and in paths, and bringeth forth much unprofitable herbs and grass, and corrupteth and destroyeth fruit and seeds, and quencheth in seeds the natural heat, and maketh darkness and thickness in the air, and taketh from us the sun beams, and gathereth mist and clouds, and letteth the work of labouring men, and tarrieth and letteth ripening of corn and of fruits, and exciteth rheum and running flux, and increaseth and strengtheneth all moist ills, and is cause of hunger and of famine, and of corruption and murrain of beasts and sheep; for corrupt showers do corrupt the grass and herbs of pasture, whereof cometh needful corruption of beasts.
Of impressions that are gendered in the air of double vapour, the first is thunder, the which impression is gendered in watery substance of a cloud. For moving and shaking hither and thither of hot vapour and dry, that fleeth its contrary, is beset and constrained in every side, and smit into itself, and is thereby set on fire and on flame, and quencheth itself at last in the cloud, as Aristotle saith. When a storm of full strong winds cometh in to the clouds, and the whirling wind and the storm increaseth, and seeketh out passage: it cleaveth and breaketh the cloud, and falleth out with a great rese and strong, and all to breaketh the parts of the cloud, and so it cometh to the ears of men and of beasts with horrible and dreadful breaking and noise. And that is no wonder: for though a bladder be light, yet it maketh great noise and sound, if it be strongly blown, and afterward violently broken. And with the thunder cometh lightning, but lightning is sooner seen, for it is clear and bright; and thunder cometh later to our ears, for the wit of sight is more subtle than the wit of hearing. As a man seeth sooner the stroke of a man that heweth a tree, than he heareth the noise of the stroke.
The lightning which is called Clarum is of a wonderful kind, for it catcheth and draweth up wine out of the tuns, and toucheth not the vessel, and melteth gold and silver in purses, and melteth not the purse.
As wits and virtues are needed to the ruling of kind, so to the perfection thereof needeth needly some spirits, by whose benefit and continual moving, both wits and virtues in beasts are ruled to work and do their deeds. As we speak here of a spirit, a spirit is called a certain substance, subtle and airy, that stirreth and exciteth the virtues of the body to their doings and works. A spirit is a subtle body, by the strength of heat gendered, and in man's body giving life by the veins of the body, and by the veins and pulses giveth to beasts, breath, life, and pulses, and working, wilful moving, and wit by means of sinews and muscles in bodies that have souls. Physicians say that this spirit is gendered in this manner wise. Whiles by heat working in the blood, in the liver is caused strong boiling and seething, and thereof cometh a smoke, the which is pured, and made subtle of the veins of the liver. And turneth into a subtle spiritual substance and airly kind, and that is called the natural spirit. For kindly by the might thereof it maketh the blood subtle. And by lightness thereof it moveth the blood and sendeth it about into all the limbs. And this same spirit turneth to heartward by certain veins. And there by moving and smiting together of the parts of the heart, the spirit is more pured, and turned into a more subtle kind. And then it is called of physicians the vital spirit: because that from the heart, by the wosen, and veins, and small ways, it spreadeth itself into all the limbs of the body, and increaseth the virtues spiritual, and ruleth and keepeth the works thereof. For out of a den of the left side of the heart cometh an artery vein, and in his moving is departed into two branches: the one thereof goeth downward, and spreadeth in many boughs, and sprays, by means of which the vital spirit is brought to give the life to all the nether limbs of the body. The other bough goeth upward, and is again departed in three branches. The right bough thereof goeth to the right arm, and the left bough to the left arm equally, and spreadeth in divers sprays. And so the vital spirit is spread into all the body and worketh in the artery veins the pulses of life. The middle bough extendeth itself to the brain, and other higher parts and giveth life, and spreadeth the vital spirit in all the parts about. The same spirit piercing and passing forth to the dens of the brain, is there more directed and made subtle, and is changed into the animal spirit, which is more subtle than the other. And so this animal spirit is gendered in the foremost den of the brain, and is somewhat spread into the limbs of feeling. But yet nevertheless some part thereof abideth in the aforesaid dens, that common sense, the common wit, and the virtue imaginative may be made perfect. Then he passeth forth into the middle den that is called Logistic, to make the intellect and understanding perfect. And when he hath enformed the intellect, then he passeth forth to the den of memory, and bearing with him the prints of likeness, which are made in those other dens, he layeth them up in the chamber of memory. From the hindermost parts of the brain he pierceth and passeth by the marrow of the ridge bone, and cometh to the sinews of moving, that so wilful moving may be engendered, in all the parts of the nether body. Then one and the same spirit is named by divers names. For by working in the liver it is called the natural spirit, in the heart the vital spirit, and in the head, the animal spirit. We may not believe that this spirit is man's reasonable soul, but more soothly, as saith Austin, the car therof and proper instrument. For by means of such a spirit the soul is joined to the body: and without the service of such a spirit, no act the soul may perfectly exercise in the body. And therefore if these spirits be impaired, or let of their working in any work, the accord of the body and soul is resolved, the reasonable spirit is let of all its works in the body. As it is seen in them that be amazed, and mad men and frantic, and in others that oft lose use of reason.
The sight is most simple, for it is fiery, and knoweth suddenly things that be full far. The sight is shapen in this manner. In the middle of the eye, that is, the black thereof, is a certain humour most pure and clear. The philosophers call it crystalloid, for it taketh suddenly divers forms and shapes of colours as crystal doth. The sight is a wit of perceiving and knowing of colours, figures, and shapes, and outer properties. Then to make the sight perfect, these things are needful, that is to wit, the cause efficient, the limb of the eye convenient to the thing that shall be seen, the air that bringeth the likeness to the eye, and taking heed, and easy moving. The cause efficient is that virtue that is called animal. The instrument and limb is the humour like crystal in either eye clear and round. It is clear that by the clearness thereof the eye may beshine the spirit, and air; it is round that it be stronger to withstand griefs. The outer thing helping to work, is the air, without which being a means, the sight may not be perfect. It needeth to take heed, for if the soul be occupied about other things than longeth to the sight, the sight is the less perfect. For it deemeth not of the thing that is seen. And easy moving is needful, for if the thing that is seen moveth too swiftly, the sight is cumbered and disparcled with too swift and continual moving: as it is in an oar that seemeth broken in the water, through the swift moving of the water. In three manners the sight is made. One manner by straight lines, upon the which the likeness of the thing that is seen, cometh to the sight. Another manner, upon lines rebounded again: when the likeness of a thing cometh therefrom to a shewer, and is bent, and re-boundeth from the shewer to the sight. The third manner is by lines, the which though they be not bent and rebounded, but stretched between the thing that is seen and the sight: yet they pass not always forthright, but other whiles they blench some whether, aside from the straight way. And that is when divers manners spaces of divers clearness and thickness be put between the sight and the thing that is seen.
Aristotle rehearseth these five mean colours [between white and black] by name, and calleth the first yellow, and the second citrine, and the third red, the fourth purple, and the fifth green.
In the book Meteorics, a little before the end, Aristotle saith that gold, as other metals, hath other matter of subtle brimstone and red, and of quicksilver subtle and white. In the composition thereof is more sadness of brimstone than of air and moisture of quicksilver, and therefore gold is more sad and heavy than silver. In composition of silver is more commonly quicksilver than white brimstone. Then among metals nothing is more sad in substance, or more better compact than gold. And therefore though it be put in fire, it wasteth not by smoking and vapours, nor lesseth not the weight, and so it is not wasted in fire, but if it be melted with strong heat, then if any filth be therein, it is cleansed thereof. And that maketh the gold more pure and shining. No metal stretcheth more with hammer work than gold, for it stretcheth so, that between the anvil and the hammer without breaking and rending in pieces it stretcheth to gold foil. And among metals there is none fairer in sight than gold, and therefore among painters gold is chief and fairest in sight, and so it embellisheth colour and shape, and colour of other metals. Also among metals is nothing so effectual in virtue as gold. Plato describeth the virtue thereof and saith that it is more temperate and pure than other metals. For it hath virtue to comfort and for to cleanse superfluities gathered in bodies. And therefore it helpeth against leprosy and meselry. The filings of gold taken in meat or in drink or in medicine, preserve and let breeding of leperhood, or namely hideth it and maketh it unknown.
Orpiment is a vein of the earth, or a manner of free stone that cleaveth and breaketh, and it is like to gold in colour: and this is called Arsenic by another name, and is double, red and citron. It hath kind of brimstone, of burning and drying. And if it be laid to brass, it maketh the brass white, and burneth and wasteth all bodies of metal, out take gold.
Though silver be white yet it maketh black lines and strakes in the body that is scored therewith. In composition thereof is quicksilver and white brimstone, and therefore it is not so heavy as gold. There are two manner of silvers, simple and compound. The simple is fleeting, and is called quicksilver; the silver compounded is massy and sad, and is compounded of quicksilver pure and clean, and of white brimstone, not burning, as Aristotle saith.
Quicksilver is a watery substance medlied strongly with subtle earthly things, and may not be dissolved: and that is for great dryness of earth that melteth not on a plain thing. Therefore it cleaveth not to thing that it toucheth, as doth the thing that is watery. The substance thereof is white: and that is for clearness of clear water, and for whiteness of subtle earth that is well digested. Also it hath whiteness of medlying of air with the aforesaid things. Also quicksilver hath the property that it curdeth not by itself kindly without brimstone: but with brimstone, and with substance of lead, it is congealed and fastened together. And therefore it is said, that quicksilver and brimstone is the element, that is to wit matter, of which all melting metal is made. Quicksilver is matter of all metal, and therefore in respect of them it is a simple element. Isidore saith it is fleeting, for it runneth and is specially found in silver forges as it were drops of silver molten. And it is oft found in old dirt of sinks, and in slime of pits. And also it is made of minium done in caverns of iron, and a patent or a shell done thereunder; and the vessel that is anointed therewith, shall be be-clipped with burning coals, and then the quicksilver shall drop. Without this silver nor gold nor latten nor copper may be overgilt. And it is of so great virtue and strength, that though thou do a stone of an hundred pound weight upon quicksilver of the weight of two pounds, the quicksilver anon withstandeth the weight. And if thou doest thereon a scruple of gold, it ravisheth unto itself the lightness thereof. And so it appeareth it is not weight, but nature to which it obeyeth. It is best kept in glass vessels, for it pierceth, boreth, and fretteth other matters.
If an adamant be set by iron, it suffereth not the iron to come to the magnet, but it draweth it by a manner of violence from the magnet, so that though the magnet draweth iron to itself, the adamant draweth it away from the magnet. It is called a precious stone of reconciliation and of love. For if a woman be away from her housebond, or trespasseth against him: by virtue of this stone, she is the sooner reconciled to have grace of her husband.
Crystal is a bright stone and clear, with watery colour. Men trowe that it is of snow or ice made hard in space of many years. This stone set in the sun taketh fire, insomuch if dry tow be put thereto, it setteth the tow on fire. That crystal materially is made of water, Gregory on Ezekiel i. saith: water, saith he, is of itself fleeting, but by strength of cold it is turned and made stedfast crystal. And hereof Aristotle telleth the cause in his Meteorics: there he saith that stony things of substance of ore are water in matter. Ricardus Rufus saith: stone ore is of water: but for it hath more of dryness of earth than things that melt, therefore they were not frozen only with coldness of water, but also by dryness of earth that is mingled therewith, when the watery part of the earth and glassy hath mastery on the water, and the aforesaid cold hath the victory and mastery. And so Saint Gregory his reason is true, that saith, that crystal may be gendered of water.
In old time or the use of iron was known, men eared land with brass, and fought therewith in war and battle. That time gold and silver were forsaken, and gold is now in the most worship, so age that passeth and vadeth changeth times of things. Brass and copper are made in this manner as other metals be, of brimstone and quicksilver, and that happeneth when there is more of brimstone than of quicksilver, and the brimstone is earthy and not pure, with red colour and burning, and quicksilver is mean and not subtle. Of such medlying brass is gendered.
Electrum is a metal and hath that name, for in the sunbeam it shineth more clear than gold or silver. And this metal is more noble than other metals. And hereof are three manners of kinds. The third manner is made of three parts of gold, and of the fourth of silver: and kind electrum is of that kind, for in twinkling and in light it shineth more clear than all other metal, and warneth of venom, for if one dip it therein, it maketh a great chinking noise, and changeth oft into divers colours as the rainbow, and that suddenly.
Heliotrope is a precious stone, and is green, and sprinkled with red drops, and veins of the colour of blood. If it be put in water before the sunbeams, it maketh the water seethe in the vessel that it is in, and resolveth it as it were into mist, and soon after it is resolved into rain-drops. Also it seemeth that this same stone may do wonders, for if it be put in a basin with clear water, it changeth the sunbeams by rebounding of the air, and seemeth to shadow them, and breedeth in the air red and sanguine colour, as though the sun were in eclypse and darkened. An herb of the same name, with certain enchantments, doth beguile the sight of men that look thereon, and maketh a man that beareth it not to be seen.
Though iron cometh of the earth, yet it is most hard and sad, and therefore with beating and smiting it suppresseth and dilateth all other metal, and maketh it stretch on length and on breadth. Iron is gendered of quicksilver thick and not clean, full of earthy holes, and of brimstone, great and boisterous and not pure. In composition of iron is more of the aforesaid brimstone than of quicksilver, and so for mastery of cold and dry and of earthy matter, iron is dry and cold and full well hard, and is compact together in its parts. And for iron hath less of airy and watery moisture than other metals: therefore it is hard to resolve and make it again to be nesh in fire. Use of iron is more needful to men in many things than use of gold: though covetous men love more gold than iron. Without iron the commonalty be not sure against enemies, without dread of iron the common right is not governed; with iron innocent men are defended: and fool-hardiness of wicked men is chastised with dread of iron. And well nigh no handiwork is wrought without iron: no field is eared without iron, neither tilling craft used, nor building builded without iron. And therefore Isidore saith that iron hath its name ferrum, for that thereby farra, that is corn and seed, is tilled and sown. For, without iron, bread is not won of the earth, nor bread is not departed when it is ready without iron convenably to man's use.
Of lead are two manner of kinds, white and black, and the white is the better, and was first found in the islands of the Atlantic Sea in old time, and is now found in many places. For in France and in Portugal is a manner of black earth found full of gravel and of small stones, and is washed and blown, and so of that matter cometh the substance of lead. Also in gold quarries with matter of gold are small stones found, and are gathered with the gold, and blown by themselves, and turn all to lead, and therefore gold is as heavy as lead. But of black lead is double kind. For black lead cometh alone of a vein, or is gendered of silver in medlied veins, and is blown, and in blowing first cometh tin, and then silver, and then what leaveth is blown and turneth into black lead. Aristotle saith that of brimstone that is boisterous and not swiftly pured, but troublous and thick, and of quicksilver, the substance of lead is gendered, and is gendered in mineral places; so of uncleanness of impure brimstone lead hath a manner of neshness, and smircheth his hand that toucheth it. And with wiping and cleansing, this uncleanness of lead may be taken away for a time, but never for always; a man may wipe off the uncleanness but alway it is lead although it seemeth silver. But strange qualities have mastery therein and beguile men, and make them err therein. Some men take Sal Ammoniac (to cleanse it) as Aristotle saith, and assigneth the cause of this uncleanness and saith, that in boisterous lead is evil quicksilver heavy and fenny. Also that brimstone thereof is evil vapour and stinking. Therefore it freezeth not well at full. Hermes saith that lead in boiling undoeth the hardness of all sad and hard bodies, and also of the stone adamant. Aristotle speaketh of lead in the Meteorics and saith that lead without doubt when it is molten is as quicksilver, but it melteth not without heat, and then all that is molten seemeth red. Wonder it is that though lead be pale or brown, yet by burning or by refudation of vinegar oft it gendereth seemly colour and fair, as tewly, red, and such other; therewith women paint themselves for to seem fair of colour.
The sapphire is a precious stone, and is blue in colour, most like to heaven in fair weather, and clear, and is best among precious stones, and most apt and able to fingers of kings. Its virtue is contrary to venom and quencheth it every deal. And if thou put an addercop in a box, and hold a very sapphire of Ind at the mouth of the box any while, by virtue thereof the addercop is overcome and dieth, as it were suddenly. And this same I have seen proved oft in many and divers places.
Tin in fire departeth metals of divers kind, and it departeth lead and brass from gold and silver, and defendeth other metals in hot fire. And though brass and iron be most hard in kind, yet if they be in strong fire without tin, they burn and waste away. If brazen vessels be tinned, the tin abateth the venom of rust, and amendeth the savour. Also mirrors be tempered with tin, and white colour that is called Ceruse is made of tin, as it is made of lead. Aristotle saith that tin is compounded of good quicksilver and of evil brimstone. And these twain be not well medlied but in small parts compounded, therefore tin hath colour of silver but not the sadness thereof. In the book of Alchemy Hermes saith, that tin breaketh all metals and bodies that it is medlied with, and that for the great dryness of tin. And destroyeth in metal the kind that is obedient to hammer work. And if thou medliest quicksilver therewith, it withstandeth the crassing thereof and maketh it white, but afterward it maketh it black and defileth it. Also there it is said that burnt tin gendereth red colour, as lead doth; and if the fire be strong, the first matter of tin cometh soon again. Also though tin be more nesh than silver, and more hard than lead, yet lead may not be soon soldered to lead nor to brass nor to iron without tin. Neither may these be soldered without grease or tallow.
Brimstone is a vein of the earth and hath much air and fire in its composition. Of brimstone there are four kinds. One is called vivum, the which when it is digged, shineth and flourisheth, the which only among all the kinds thereof physicians use. Avicenna means that brimstone is hot and dry in the fourth degree, and is turned into kind of brimstone in part of water, of earth, and of fire, and that brimstone is sometimes great and boisterous and full of drausts, and sometimes pure white, clear and subtle, and sometimes mean between both. And by this diverse disposition, divers metals are gendered of brimstone and of quicksilver.
Glass, as Avicen saith, is among stones as a fool among men, for it taketh all manner of colour and painting. Glass was first found beside Ptolomeida in the cliff beside the river that is called Vellus, that springeth out of the foot of Mount Carmel, at which shipmen arrived. For upon the gravel of that river shipmen made fire of clods medlied with bright gravel, and thereof ran streams of new liquor, that was the beginning of glass. It is so pliant that it taketh anon divers and contrary shapes by blast of the glazier, and is sometimes beaten, and sometimes graven as silver. And no matter is more apt to make mirrors than is glass, or to receive painting; and if it be broken it may not be amended without melting again. But long time past, there was one that made glass pliant, which might be amended and wrought with an hammer, and brought a vial made of such glass tofore Tiberius the Emperor, and threw it down on the ground, and it was not broken but bent and folded. And he made it right and amended it with an hammer. Then the emperor commanded to smite off his head anon, lest that his craft were known. For then gold should be no better than fen, and all other metal should be of little worth, for certain if glass vessels were not brittle, they should be accounted of more value than vessels of gold.
All the planets move by double moving; by their own kind moving out of the west into the east, against the moving of the firmament; and by other moving out of the east into the west, and that by ravishing of the firmament. By violence of the firmament they are ravished every day out of the east into the west. And by their kindly moving, by the which they labour to move against the firmament, some of them fulfil their course in shorter time, and some in longer time. And that is for their courses are some more and some less. For Saturn abideth in every sign xxx months, and full endeth its course in xxx years. Jupiter dwelleth in every sign one year, and full endeth its course in xii years. Mars abideth in every sign xlv days, and full endeth its course in two years. The sun abideth in every sign xxx days and ten hours and a half, and full endeth its course in ccclxv days and vi hours. Mercury abideth in every sign xxviii days and vi hours, and full endeth its course in cccxxxviii days. Venus abideth in every sign 29 days, and full endeth its course in 348 days. The moon abideth in every sign two days and a half, and six hours and one bisse less, and full endeth its course from point to point in 27 days and 8 hours. And by entering and out passing of these 7 stars into the 12 signs and out thereof everything that is bred and corrupt in this nether world is varied and disposed, and therefore in the philosopher's book Mesalath it is read in this manner: "The Highest made the world to the likeness of a sphere, and made the highest circle above it moveable in the earth, pight and stedfast in the middle thereof; not withdrawing toward the left side, nor toward the right side, and set the other elements moveable, and made them move by the moving of 7 planets, and all other stars help the planets in their working and kind." Every creature upon Earth hath a manner inclination by the moving of the planets, and destruction cometh by moving and working of planets. The working of them varieth and is diverse by diversity of climates and countries. For they work one manner of thing about the land of blue men, and another about the land and country of Slavens.... In the signs the planets move and abate with double moving, and move by accidental ravishing of the firmament out of the East into the West; and by kindly moving, the which is double, the first and the second. The first moving is the round moving that a planet maketh in its own circle, and passeth never the marks and bounds of the circle. The second moving is that he maketh under the Zodiac, and passeth alway like great space in a like space of time. And the first moving of a planet is made in its own circle that is called Eccentric, and it is called so for the earth is not the middle thereof, as it is the middle of the circle that is called Zodiac. Epicycle is a little circle that a planet describeth, and goeth about therein by the moving of its body, and the body of the planet goeth about the roundness thereof. And therefore it sheweth, that the sun and other planets move in their own circles; and first alike swift, though they move diversely in divers circles. Also in these circles the manner moving of planets is full wisely found of astronomers, that are called Direct, Stationary, and Retrograde Motion. Forthright moving is in the over part of the circle that is called Epicycle, backward is in the nether part, and stinting and abiding or hoving is in the middle.
The sixth book of our author deals with the conditions of man, passing in review youth and age, male and female, serf and lord. Our extracts from it fall into three groups. The first deals in great measure with the relations of family life. We have an account of the boy and the girl (as they appeared to a friar "of orders grey"), the infant and its nurse. However we may suspect Bartholomew of wishing to provide a text in his account of the bad boy, it is consoling to find that the "enfant terrible" had his counterpart in the thirteenth century, as well as the maiden known to us all, who is "demure and soft of speech, but well ware of what she says."
The second group presents mediaeval society to us under the influence of chivalry. Suitably enough, we have beside each other most lifelike pictures of the base and superstructure of the system. This, the man— free, generous; that, the serf—vile, ungrateful, kept in order by fear alone, but the necessary counterpart of the splendid figure of his master. One of our writers today has regretted the absence of a chapter in praise of the good man to set beside Solomon's picture of the virtuous woman. Bartholomew has certainly endeavoured in the two chapters quoted here, "Of a Man," and "Of a Good Lord," to picture the ideal good man of chivalrous times. It may, however, be permitted those of us who look at the system from underneath, to sympathise with our fellows who struggled to free themselves from bondage under Tyler and John Ball at least as much as with their splendid oppressors, and to recognise that the feudal system, however necessary in the thirteenth century, lost its value when its lords had ceased to be such good lords as our author describes.
The third group would naturally consist of passages illustrating the daily life of our ancestors, but the editor has found some difficulty in getting together passages enough for the purpose without trenching on the confines of other chapters. He has accordingly left them scattered over the book, persuaded that the reader will feel their import better when they are seen in their context. Such a book as this is not open to the objections urged against pictures of mediaeval life drawn from romances, that the situations are invented and the manners suited to the situation. Here all is true, and written with no other aim than that of utilising knowledge common to all. Everywhere through these extracts little statements—a few words in most cases—crop up giving us information of this kind; but it would be impossible to do more than allude to them. Leaving our reader to notice them as they are met with, the description of a mediaeval dinner concludes the chapter. The chapter describing a supper which follows it in the original is too long for quotation, and is vitiated by a desire to draw analogies. But one feature is noteworthy: Among the properties of a good supper, "the ninth is plenty of light of candles, and of prickets, and of torches. For it is shame to sup in darkness, and perillous also for flies and other filth. Therefore candles and prickets are set on candlesticks and chandeliers, lanterns and lamps are necessary to burn." This little touch gives us the reverse of the picture, and reminds us of the Knight of the Tower's caution to his daughters about their behaviour at a feast.
SUCH children be nesh of flesh, lithe and pliant of body, able and light to moving, witty to learn. And lead their lives without thought and care. And set their courages only of mirth and liking, and dread no perils more than beating with a rod: and they love an apple more than gold. When they be praised, or shamed, or blamed, they set little thereby. Through stirring and moving of the heat of the flesh and of humours, they be lightly and soon wroth, and soon pleased, and lightly they forgive. And for tenderness of body they be soon hurt and grieved, and may not well endure hard travail. Since all children be tatched with evil manners, and think only on things that be, and reck not of things that shall be, they love plays, game, and vanity, and forsake winning and profit. And things most worthy they repute least worthy, and least worthy most worthy. They desire things that be to them contrary and grievous, and set more of the image of a child, than of the image of a man, and make more sorrow and woe, and weep more for the loss of an apple, than for the loss of their heritage. And the goodness that is done for them, they let it pass out of mind. They desire all things that they see, and pray and ask with voice and with hand. They love talking and counsel of such children as they be, and void company of old men. They keep no counsel, but they tell all that they hear or see. Suddenly they laugh, and suddenly they weep. Always they cry, jangle, and jape; that unneth they be still while they sleep. When they be washed of filth, anon they defile themselves again. When their mother washeth and combeth them, they kick and sprawl, and put with feet and with hands, and withstand with all their might. They desire to drink always, unneth they are out of bed, when they cry for meat anon.
Men behove to take heed of maidens: for they be tender of complexion; small, pliant and fair of disposition of body: shamefast, fearful, and merry. Touching outward disposition they be well nurtured, demure and soft of speech, and well ware of what they say: and delicate in their apparel. And for a woman is more meeker than a man, she weepeth sooner. And is more envious, and more laughing, and loving, and the malice of the soul is more in a woman than in a man. And she is of feeble kind, and she maketh more lesings, and is more shamefast, and more slow in working and in moving than is a man.
A nurse hath that name of nourishing, for she is ordained to nourish and to feed the child, and therefore like as the mother, the nurse is glad if the child be glad, and heavy, if the child be sorry, and taketh the child up if it fall, and giveth it suck: if it weep she kisseth and lulleth it still, and gathereth the limbs, and bindeth them together, and doth cleanse and wash it when it is defiled. And for it cannot speak, the nurse lispeth and soundeth the same words to teach more easily the child that cannot speak. And she useth medicines to bring the child to convenable estate if it be sick, and lifteth it up now on her shoulders, now on her hands, now on her knees and lap, and lifteth it up if it cry or weep. And she cheweth meat in her mouth, and maketh it ready to the toothless child, that it may the easilier swallow that meat, and so she feedeth the child when it is an hungered, and pleaseth the child with whispering and songs when it shall sleep, and swatheth it in sweet clothes, and righteth and stretcheth out its other. A man hath so great love to his wife that for her sake he adventureth himself to all perils; and setteth her love afore his mother's love; for he dwelleth with his wife, and forsaketh father and mother. Afore wedding, the spouse thinketh to win love of her that he wooeth with gifts, and certifieth of his will with letters and messengers, and with divers presents, and giveth many gifts, and much good and cattle, and promiseth much more. And to please her he putteth him to divers plays and games among gatherings of men, and useth oft deeds of arms, of might, and of mastery. And maketh him gay and seemly in divers clothing and array. And all that he is prayed to give and to do for her love, he giveth and doth anon with all his might. And denieth no petition that is made in her name and for her love. He speaketh to her pleasantly, and beholdeth her cheer in the face with pleasing and glad cheer, and with a sharp eye, and at last assenteth to her, and telleth openly his will in presence of her friends, and spouseth her with a ring, and giveth her gifts in token of contract of wedding, and maketh her charters, and deeds of grants and of gifts. He maketh revels and feasts and spousals, and giveth many good gifts to friends and guests, and comforteth and gladdeth his guests with songs and pipes and other minstrelsy of music. And afterward, when all this is done, he bringeth her to the privities of his chamber, and maketh her fellow at bed and at board. And then he maketh her lady of his money, and of his house, and meinie. And then he is no less diligent and careful for her than he is for himself: and specially lovingly he adviseth her if she do amiss, and taketh good heed to keep her well, and taketh heed of her bearing and going, of her speaking and looking, of her passing and ayencoming, out and home. No man hath more wealth, than he that hath a good woman to his wife, and no man hath more woe, than he that hath an evil wife, crying and jangling, chiding and scolding, drunken, lecherous, and unsteadfast, and contrary to him, costly, stout and gay, envious, noyful, leaping over lands, much suspicious, and wrathful. In a good spouse and wife behoveth these conditions, that she be busy and devout in God's service, meek and serviceable to her husband, and fair- speaking and goodly to her meinie, merciful and good to wretches that be needy, easy and peaceable to her neighbours, ready, wary, and wise in things that should be avoided, mightiful and patient in suffering, busy and diligent in her doing, mannerly in clothing, sober in moving, wary in speaking, chaste in looking, honest in bearing, sad in going, shamefast among the people, merry and glad with her husband, and chaste in privity. Such a wife is worthy to be praised, that entendeth more to please her husband with such womanly dues, than with her braided hairs, and desireth more to please him with virtues than with fair and gay clothes, and useth the goodness of matrimony more because of children than of fleshly liking, and hath more liking to have children of grace than of kind.
A man loveth his child and feedeth and nourisheth it, and setteth it at his own board when it is weaned. And teacheth him in his youth with speech and words, and chasteneth him with beating, and setteth him and putteth him to learn under ward and keeping of wardens and tutors. And the father sheweth him no glad cheer, lest he wax proud, and he loveth most the son that is like to him, and looketh oft on him. And giveth to his children clothing, meat and drink as their age requireth, and purchaseth lands and heritage for his children, and ceaseth not to make it more and more. And entaileth his purchase, and leaveth it to his heirs.... The child cometh of the substance of father and mother, and taketh of them feeding and nourishing, and profiteth not, neither liveth, without help of them. The more the father loveth his child, the more busily he teacheth and chastiseth him and holdeth him the more strait under chastising and lore; and when the child is most loved of the father it seemeth that he loveth him not; for he beateth and grieveth him oft lest he draw to evil manners and tatches, and the more the child is like to the father, the better the father loveth him. The father is ashamed if he hear any foul thing told by his children. The father's heart is sore grieved, if his children rebel against him. In feeding and nourishing of their children stands the most business and charge of the parents.
Some servants be bond and born in bondage, and such have many pains by law. For they may not sell nor give away their own good and cattle, nother make contracts, nother take office of dignity, nother bear witness without leave of their lords. Wherefore though they be not in childhood, they be oft punished with pains of childhood. Other servants there be, the which being taken with strangers and aliens and with enemies be bought and sold, and held low under the yoke of thraldom. The third manner of servants be bound freely by their own good will, and serve for reward and for hire. And these commonly be called Famuli.
The name lord is a name of sovereignty, of power, and of might. For without a lord might not the common profit stand secure, neither the company of men might be peaceable and quiet. For if power and might of rightful lords were withholden and taken away, then were malice free, and goodness and innocence never secure, as saith Isidore. A rightful lord, by way of rightful law, heareth and determineth causes, pleas, and strifes, that be between his subjects, and ordaineth that every man have his own, and draweth his sword against malice, and putteth forth his shield of righteousness, to defend innocents against evil doers, and delivereth small children and such as be fatherless, and motherless, and widows, of them that overset them. And he pursueth robbers and rievers, thieves, and other evil doers. And useth his power not after his own will, but he ordaineth and disposeth it as the law asketh.... By reason of one good king and one good lord, all a country is worshipped, and dreaded, and enhanced also. Also this name lord is a name of peace and surety. For a good lord ceaseth war, battle, and fighting; and accordeth them that be in strife. And so under a good, a strong, and a peaceable lord, men of the country be secure and safe. For there dare no man assail his lordship, ne in no manner break his peace.
Meat and drink be ordained and convenient to dinners and to feasts, for at feasts first meat is prepared and arrayed, guests be called together, forms and stools be set in the hall, and tables, cloths, and towels be ordained, disposed, and made ready. Guests be set with the lord in the chief place of the board, and they sit not down at the board before the guests wash their hands. Children be set in their place, and servants at a table by themselves. First knives, spoons, and salts be set on the board, and then bread and drink, and many divers messes; household servants busily help each other to do everything diligently, and talk merrily together. The guests be gladded with lutes and harps. Now wine and now messes of meat be brought forth and departed. At the last cometh fruit and spices, and when they have eaten, board, cloths, and relief are borne away, and guests wash and wipe their hands again. Then grace is said, and guests thank the lord. Then for gladness and comfort drink is brought yet again. When all this is done at meat, men take their leave, and some go to bed and sleep, and some go home to their own lodgings.
The seventh book of the "De Proprietatibus" treats of the human body and its ailments. At first glance it might seem that such a subject would be repulsive, either in matter or handling, to the general reader of today, but it will, we think, be found that there are many points of interest in it for us, some of which we proceed to indicate. Mankind has always felt a deep interest in certain diseases, to which we are even now subject, and so parts of the chapters on leprosy and hydrophobia have been reproduced. The accounts given of frenzy and madness interest us both as a picture of the change in manners, as an example of the methods of cure proposed, and as throwing light on many passages. Thus Chaucer, speaking of Arcite, describes his passion as compounded of melancholy which deprives him of reason, overflowing into the foremost cell of his brain, the cell fantastic, and causing him to act as if mad.
"Nought oonly lyke the loveres maladye Of Hereos, but rather lyk manye, Engendered of humour malencolyk Byforen in his selle fantastyk." K. T., 515, etc.
Physicians recommend music as a cure in mental troubles, but that it is no new discovery is attested by Shakespeare and our author. Compare what Bartholomew says of the voice, with Richard's speech:
"This music mads me, let it sound no more, For though it have holp madmen to their wits, In me it seems it will make wise men mad."
The origin of the brutality towards madmen warred against by Charles Reade, and described in "Romeo and Juliet"—
"Not mad, but bound more than a madman is, Shut up in prison, kept without my food, Whipp'd and tormented"—
is seen in our extracts, which recall, too, in their insistence on bleeding the "head vein," Juvenal's remark on his friend about to marry: "O medici, mediam pertundite venam."
Some space has already been devoted (p. 28) to the physiology of the human body, but this chapter would not be complete if we did not devote some space to the explanations given of the working of the heart, veins, and arteries, at a time when the circulation of the blood was unknown. It may not be amiss to remind the reader that arteries carry blood from the heart, to which it is returned by the veins, after passing through a fine network of tubes called the capillaries.
Turning to what may be called the popular physiology of the time, we may note the change, since mediaeval times, in the allocation of properties to the organs of the body. In our days, the heart and brain set aside, we find no organ mentioned in connection with the various faculties of the body, while up to Shakespeare's time each organ had its passion. Some of these emotions have much changed their seats. True love, which now reigns over the heart, then took its rise in the liver. The friar in "Much Ado about Nothing" says of Claudio, "If ever love had interest in his liver"; and the Duke in "Twelfth Night," speaking of women's love, says:
"Alas, their love may be call'd appetite, No motion of the liver, but the palate."
The heart, on the other hand, was considered as the seat of wisdom.
The spleen is now almost a synonym for bitterness of spirit, but it used to be regarded as the source of laughter. Isabella in "Measure for Measure," after the well-known quotation about man dressed in a little brief authority who plays such apish tricks as make the angels weep, says they would laugh instead if they had spleens:
"Who, with our spleens, Would all themselves laugh mortal."
The brain in mediaeval times was regarded only as the home of the "wits of feeling"—the senses.
Some other points of interest in mediaeval medicine are the strange remedies prescribed, and the way in which they were hit upon. The Editor has not made many selections to illustrate this, nor has he sought out the most strange. And lastly, in this, as in most of the other chapters, much may be learnt of the customs of the time from the indications of the text.
These be the signs of frenzy, woodness and continual waking, moving and casting about the eyes, raging, stretching, and casting out of hands, moving and wagging of the head, grinding and gnashing together of the teeth; always they will arise out of their bed, now they sing, now they weep, and they bite gladly and rend their keeper and their leech: seldom be they still, but cry much. And these be most perilously sick, and yet they wot not then that they be sick. Then they must be soon holpen lest they perish, and that both in diet and in medicine. The diet shall be full scarce, as crumbs of bread, which must many times be wet in water. The medicine is, that in the beginning the patient's head be shaven, and washed in lukewarm vinegar, and that he be well kept or bound in a dark place. Diverse shapes of faces and semblance of painting shall not be shewed tofore him, lest he be tarred with woodness. All that be about him shall be commanded to be still and in silence; men shall not answer to his nice words. In the beginning of medicine he shall be let blood in a vein of the forehead, and bled as much as will fill an egg-shell. Afore all things (if virtue and age suffereth) he shall bleed in the head vein. Over all things, with ointments and balming men shall labour to bring him asleep. The head that is shaven shall be plastered with lungs of a swine, or of a wether, or of a sheep; the temples and forehead shall be anointed with the juice of lettuce, or of poppy. If after these medicines are laid thus to, the woodness dureth three days without sleep, there is no hope of recovery.
Madness is infection of the foremost cell of the head, with privation of imagination, like as melancholy is the infection of the middle cell of the head, with privation of reason.
Madness cometh sometime of passions of the soul, as of business and of great thoughts, of sorrow and of too great study, and of dread: sometime of the biting of a wood hound, or some other venomous beast: sometime of melancholy meats, and sometime of drink of strong wine. And as the causes be diverse, the tokens and signs be diverse. For some cry and leap and hurt and wound themselves and other men, and darken and hide themselves in privy and secret places. The medicine of them is, that they be bound, that they hurt not themselves and other men. And namely, such shall be refreshed, and comforted, and withdrawn from cause and matter of dread and busy thoughts. And they must be gladded with instruments of music, and somedeal be occupied.
Our Lord set a token in Cain, that was quaking of head, as Strabus saith in the gloss: "Every man (saith Strabus) that findeth me, by quaking of head and moving of wood heart, shall know that I am guilty to die."
Among all the passions and evils of the wits of feeling, blindness is most wretched. For without any bond, blindness is a prison to the blind. And blindness beguileth the virtue imaginative in knowing; for in deeming of white the blind deem it is black, and ayenward. It letteth the virtue of avisement in deeming. For he deemeth and aviseth, and casteth to go eastward, and is beguiled in his doom, and goeth westward. And blindness over-turneth the virtue of affection and desire. For if men proffer the blind a silver penny and a copper to choose the better, he desireth to choose the silver penny, but he chooseth the copper.
The blind man's wretchedness is so much, that it maketh him not only subject to a child, or to a servant, for ruling and leading, but also to an hound. And the blind is oft brought to so great need, that to pass and scape the peril of a bridge or of a ford, he is compelled to trust in a hound more than to himself. Also oft in perils where all men doubt and dread, the blind man, for he seeth no peril, is secure. And in like wise there as is no peril, the blind dreadeth most. He spurneth oft in plain way, and stumbleth oft; there he should heave up his foot, he boweth it downward. And in like wise there as he should set his foot to the ground, he heaveth it upward. He putteth forth the hand all about groping and grasping, he seeketh all about his way with his hand and with his staff. Seldom he doth aught securely, well nigh always he doubteth and dreadeth. Also the blind man when he lieth or sitteth thereout, he weeneth that he is under covert; and ofttimes he thinketh himself hid when everybody seeth him.
Also sometimes the blind beateth and smiteth and grieveth the child that leadeth him, and shall soon repent the beating by doing of the child. For the child hath mind of the beating, and forsaketh him, and leaveth him alone in the middle of a bridge, or in some other peril, and teacheth him not the way to void the peril. Therefore the blind is wretched, for in house he dare nothing trustly do, and in the way he dreadeth lest his fellow will forsake him.
Universally this evil [leprosy] hath much tokens and signs. In them the flesh is notably corrupt, the shape is changed, the eyen become round, the eyelids are revelled, the sight sparkleth, the nostrils are straited and revelled and shrunk. The voice is hoarse, swelling groweth in the body, and many small botches and whelks hard and round, in the legs and in the utter parts; feeling is somedeal taken away. The nails are boystous and bunchy, the fingers shrink and crook, the breath is corrupt, and oft whole men are infected with the stench thereof. The flesh and skin is fatty, insomuch that they may throw water thereon, and it is not the more wet, but the water slides off, as it were off a wet hide. Also in the body be diverse specks, now red, now black, now wan, now pale. The tokens of leprosy be most seen in the utter parts, as in the feet, legs, and face; and namely in wasting and minishing of the brawns of the body.