BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Mellon MS 7
ALCHEMICAL MISCELLANY, in Latin
North Italy, unsigned, about 1440
7.1 Rasis. Liber utilitatis nature secretorum, a variant version
of the text, ascribed in this codex to Frater Helias, O.F.M.
7.2 Roger Bacon. Ars alkymye, De naturis metallorum et
7.3 Hermes. Tabula smaragdina.
7.4 Rasis. Opusculum... in arte alkymie.
7.5 Rasis (or Arnold of Villanova). Flos lilium, or Epistola
7.6 Hermes or Geber. De opere lapidis, ascribed to Rasis in the
7.7 Vididerius. Summa clavium totius alchymiae artis.
Paper codex in Latin, 4to., 208 x 142, a fragment consisting of ff. 34-134
(101 ff.) of a manuscript which contained at least 136 ff. originally (1-33
and all after 134 missing). Foliated 34-134 in an early hand (partly cut
away), repeated in an early seventeenth-century hand; modern pencil
foliation, 1-101 (by Joseph Martini?). Traces of signatures (e, f, k partly
visible) (a-e)^^8-1, f-(q)^^8, (r)^^8-2; catchwords at quire-endings. Written
space 126 x 190, single columns, 25 lines. By one scribe writing a very neat
and regular prehumanistic hand, moderately abbreviated; text in dark brown
ink, book and chapter headings in red, rubrication, capitals stroked yellow,
larger initials painted in red or blue with tracery ornament in the
contrasting color (all decoration probably by the scribe; red headings in the
scribe's hand, all other red decoration with ink of apparently identical
composition); virtually without correction; many marginalia in the hand ofthe
early seventeenth-century foliator, f. 94v written in a sixteenth-century
hand, ff. 125v and 134v in a fifteenth-century hand. Paper much worn,
stained, thumbed, mildewed in margins, and repaired in places, but writing
clear throughout; watermarks in folds and very unclear, one of them perhaps a
gothic, lowercase "a," not identified.
BINDING: Modern binding of parchment, cut from a leaf of a very large
manuscript, probably a lectionary, in two columns, written in a Rotunda
antiquior hand, Italian, twelfth century; writing on outer surface erased,
printed paper label on backstrip.
PROVENANCE: Early ownership unknown; canceled ownership entry, sixteenth
century (?), on f. 66v not read; note on f. 38r, "est dominicus Moroni" (?),
in an eighteenth-century hand; Joseph Martini (bookseller), Lugano, who wrote
pencil notes on the front pastedown and flyleaf; offered by him in Catalogue
XXVIII, no. 4, February 1938, and Catalogue XXIX, no. 5, undated (a cutting
from the latter inserted loosely in the manuscript); Denis Duveen, acquired
from Martini, 1938, with his bookplate and inked number 62; Mellon MS 34,
acquired with the Duveen collection. De Ricci-Bond 11 (34).
f. 34r, 1: Incipit Liber Alkymie Compositum per fratrem | Heliam ordinis
fratrum minorum.: | Liber iste qui merito utilitatis describitur, ex
archanorum phylosophye floribus...
f. 66v, 1:... et siccetur et constituatur ad ignem et semper, durabit.:
[7.1: Helias, Liber alchimiae, attributed to Rasis by TK 822, with the title
Liber utilitatis nature secretorum; TK 822 also cites this manuscript from
Martini's Catalogue XXVIII; DWS 545, etc. However, in other manuscripts the
text is substantially shorter, and the explicit supplied by DWS from Digby
119 in the Bodleian nowhere appears in this codex. The ascription to Elias
(of Cortona?) apparently is not found in any other manuscript.]
f. 67r, 1: Incipit Liber artis alkymye fratris Rogerij bac- | chi gallici
ordinis fratrum predicatorum.:-. [sic] | ARs Alkymie duo principaliter
conside- | rat. Videlicet corpora metallorum...
f. 94r, 13:... thcsaurium eius fide moribus et stu- | dijs liberabilibus
auditi: | [two-line space] Explicit liber fratris Rogerij | bacchi Gallici in
arte alkymie: | [below, brief notes in the seventeenth- century hand.]
[7.2: Roger Bacon, Ars alchimiae, TK 142; this text is more fully treated by
Little, Appendix, pp. 396-397, no. 20, among the genuine works of Roger
Bacon. Different parts of the text, which "seems to consist of two principal
and two subsidiary parts," according to Little, appear in the various
manuscripts. In this copy, the introductory, speculative section is omitted,
but the practical portions are present, here divided into thirty-two
chapters, as in Florence, B.N. Cl. xvi(II), no. 77 (sixteenth century),
according to Little. Bodleian Digby 119, noted above, contains the present
and the preceding text, apparently in a differing version and in different
order. In Mellon MS 7, Roger Bacon's name is misspelled, and he is referred
to both as "Gallicus" and as a member of the Dominican Order.]
f. 94v, 1: Epistola hermetis | Verum sine mendatio...
f. 94v, 22:... complementum est quod diximus | in operatione solis. finis. |
[7.3: Hermes, Tabula smaragdina, TK 1691, DWS 26, etc. Copied in an
irregular sixteenth- century Italian hand, the same which has made notes
elsewhere in the volume.]
f. 95r, 1: Incipit Liber magistri Rasis qui [canceled word] fuit | natione
arabs, et eiusdem provincie oriundus | de Civitate que vocatur nucera.
Opusculum | edictum ab eo in arte alkymie.:-:-. |
f. 95r, 5: RAsis arabs natione, civitatis que nu- | cera vocatur. Videns et
cognoscens quod | multiloquum et brevitas avicene reddat |...
f. 98v, 4: doctrina. Verborum et secretorum in hoc volumine libri | mei
Rasis. et dicam quomodo allumina et sales pre- | parentur. et modum
preparationis de quolibet per capitula | declarabo. | Capitulum. Quomodo
preparatur alumen iameni.-ad cartam 100.
f. 100r, 2: Capitulum Lij. Item alius modus acque.-ad cartam 122. | [to the
left] Allumen iamenum | preparatur. Accipe de | ipso quantum vis...
f. 109v, 8:... Unde utrumque conver- | tit in optimum aurum Explicit prima
pars li- | bri Incipit secunda pars. Prohemium in quo tractatur | de quatuor
modis preparationum corporum metallorum. | Incipit Tractatus. Secunde partis.
Capitulum. xxvj. | Quoniam in prima parte presentis libri, suffi- | cienter
tractatum est de quatuor principa- | libus spiritibus. scilicet de argento
vivo. sale ar- | moniaco arsenicho et sulphure. nunc restat | tractare de
preparationibus corporum metallorum. et | talis est mea intenctio [sic]...
f. 122v, 5: facias reponendo semper aquam super calces vasis | distillando.
et cetera. | [two-line space] Explicit liber Rasis mauri | quis fuit de
civitate nucera qua est | in partibus saracenie.:- |
[7.4: Rasis, Opusculum in arte alchimiae. This interesting practical
alchemy, so elaborately ascribed to Rasis, has not been identified and is
f. 122v, 10: Idem Rasis in philosophie loquitur.:-:.: | EXemplum scientie
nostre senex supra mon- | tem in eo sunt...
f. 124v, 10: lapis noster quaesitus amultis et inventus apau- | cis. Et istud
expietate detexi per deum gentium. | Amen.:...
[7.5: Arnold of Villanova, or Rasis, Flos lilii, or Flos lilium, or Epistola
Rasis, TK 540, DWS 120, etc.]
f. 124v, 12:... Carmina ipsius Rasis.:- | Est fons in limis, cuius anguis
latet in ymis. | Evolat in primis, nisi clausis undique rimis. |
f. 125r, 10: Transit ad extrema pigementi [sic] summens dyadema. |
[three-line space] Expliciunt dicta nenon [sic] et | carmina ipsius Rasis
physici. | [remainder of page blank.]
[7.6: Hermes or Geber, De opere lapidis, TK 509, DWS 791. In this version
the poem has twenty- two verses. No other manuscript ascribing this text to
Rasis has been noted.]
f. 125v, 1: [A list of twenty-nine chapter-headings for the following work,
added in a fifteenth- century hand.]
f. 126r, 1: INcipit Summa Clavium artis Alchymie edita | amagistro Vdiderio
[sic; followed by flourishes] | CVm modernorum scientia antiquorum phy- |
losophorum ingenio qui [interpolated] in hac arte viguerunt | insipientia sit
f. 134r, 9:... extingue ip- | sum in aceto insquiami colando ipsum inter et
e- | rit bene purgatum.: | [two-line space] Explicit summa artis alkymie edi-
| ta a magistro Vididerio sub compendio, | transmissa Federico serenissimo
Im- | peratori et semper Augusto.: |
[7.7: Vididerius, Summa clavium totius akhymiae artis, TK 318, citing only
this copy from Martini's Catalogue XXVIII and the Vienna copy, where the
author's name is "Vididenus." The name is spelled in two ways in the present
codex, that appearing in the incipit perhaps the result of scribal
f. 134r, 10: [Nine lines in Italian and Latin in the seventeenth-century
hand, including a brief table of alchemical symbols.]
f. 134v: [Ten lines in the fifteenth-century hand which also appears on f.
125v, indicating rubrics for nine experiments which originally followed on
leaves now missing, and two notes in the sixteenth-to-seventeenth-century
SUMMARY: The fragment here catalogued is a consecutive and complete portion
of the original codex. Though the Bacon text and one other are early
practical alchemies, the contents are mainly speculative in character, and
both contents and writing suggest a formal collection of received texts on
the subject of alchemy, suitable for a library. Yet there are strange
features in MS 7, for the text 7.4 is an interesting and extensive practical
alchemy, elaborately ascribed to Rasis, but apparently unrecorded; a well
known text usually ascribed to Rasis is here attributed as nowhere else to a
certain Frater Helias; and Roger Bacon's name, religious order, and
nationality are all garbled in what is otherwise a good copy of an important
text. It does not seem possible to explain these puzzling characteristics of