BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
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Mellon MS 14
ALCHEMICAL AND HUMANISTIC MISCELLANY, in Latin
North Italy (?), unsigned, about 1475
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14.1 John of Rupescissa. De consideratione quinte essentie.
14.2 Arnold of Villanova. Epistola de sanguine humano ad magistrum
Iacobum de Toleto.
14.3 Anonymous. Alchemical procedures.
14.4 Francesco Petrarca. Epistola ad Marcum Tullium Ciceronem.
14.5 Pier Paolo Vergerio. Epistola in nomine Ciceronis ad
14.6 Johannes Obrist. Super confectionem auri potabilis.
14.7 Nicolaus Claudii. Opus super aurum potabile.
Paper codex in Latin, 8vo., 215 x 143, ff. 43 (of at least 49 originally),
lacking at least 5 ff. at beginning and 1 f. at end; foliated in an old hand
with errors, the old foliation beginning with "6" and ending with "44"
altered to "47" not used below. No signatures; catchwords at quire-endings of
the first three quires. Collation: (1-3)^^10, (4)^^10+3 (the relationship of
the last 3 ff. to the fourth quire is uncertain). Single column, 33 lines,
148 x 90; faint, single bordering lines, partly in blind, partly in plumbate.
Written throughout by a single scribe using a clear and regular gothic
bookhand without strong nationalistic traits, moderately abbreviated with
standard forms, headings in red, rubricated, slight correction and deletion
by the scribe; occasional headlines, notes, and marginal additions,
consisting of added recipes, extensive on ff. 39v and 43v, written in one or
more fifteenth-century Italian academic cursive hands, highly abbreviated.
Watermark in folds and trimmed, not read.
BINDING: Modern binding of parchment over pasteboards, parchment pastedowns
and guards, back gilt-lettered: "DE QVINTA ESSENTIA."
PROVENANCE: Early ownership unknown; belonged, twentieth century, to an
Italian owner (a bookseller ?), who made extensive pencil notes in Italian on
the parchment guards and pastedowns; belonged to J. I. Davis of Davis &
Orioli Ltd. (bookseller), London, with characteristic pencil note of price
and shelf number, as well as collation note, "Coll T" (for Tania Jephson, an
associate of J. I. Davis), on front pastedown; Denis Duveen, who acquired the
codex from Davis & Orioli, with his inked number 56 on front pastedown;
Mellon MS 20, acquired with the Duveen collection. De Ricci-Bond 5 (20).
f. 1r, upper and right margin: [Hastily written in a cursive hand:] Intellexi
quod infrascriptus liber fuit compositus per rugerium de | bacona qui
composuit alios libros de [word not read]... | ... nescio si fuit Joanes de
reupacisci [sic]... [Ends f. 1r, 1:] Primus liber de consideratione quinte
essentie omnium rerum trans- | mutabilium ... [f. 1r, 4:] dIxit Salomon
Sapientie capitulo septimo... [f. 36v, 1:] Sit laus per infinita secula Amen
| Explicit liber de consideratione... | [f. 36v, 4:] Tabula. | [f. 38r, 28:]
Explicit tabula primi et secundi libri quinte | essentie secundum ordinem
positorum [sic] |
[14.1: John of Rupescissa, De consideratione quinte essentie, TK 458; DWS
292; T III, pp. 725- 730, etc.]
f. 38v, 1: Epistola magistri Arnaldi de villa nova ad magistrem Jacobum | de
tolleto de maximo secreto medicinae extracte ex sanguine humano. | mAgister
Jacobe amice carissime dudum me rogastis ut | verbum secretissimum...
f. 39v, 10: ... Et omnia ista predicta operantur tria elementa supradicta |
si extracta fuerunt ab herba celidonie et aqua eius si fuerint | potata ter a
languente. | [On the remainder of this and the following, originally blank,
line is inserted a note which refers to the text which has been written in
the blank remainder of f. 39v, by a fifteenth-century Italian cursive hand,
beginning at f. 39v, 16, q.v.] Sequitur de ellemento [sic] terre prout inve-
| ni in altro libro... | [then the explicit of the Epistola of Arnold in the
scribal hand:] Explicit epistola magistri arnaldi de villa | nova de maximo
secreto medicine. |
[14.2: Arnold of Villanova, Epistola de sanguine humano ad magistrem
Iacobum de Toleto, TK 842, DWS 230; also in Gratarolus' edition of
Rupescissa, Basel, 1561.]
f.39v,16: Ellementum terre est frigidum et siccum... [The procedure is
written on fifteen lines. In the left margin another procedure of twelve
lines is written in the same or a similar hand, beginning:] Similiter est si
celi- | donia ponitur in aqua | vite... [And in the lower margin a third
procedure is written by the same or a closely similar hand in thirteen lines,
beginning:] Modus separandj ellementa a sanguine humano... [All three of
these additions to the manuscript, as well as that on f. 40r quoted below,
have been washed over with brown wash, perhaps to cancel them.]
[14.3: Anonymous, Alchemical procedures. None of the procedures has been
identified, but the first is possibly related to the verses beginning "Terra
stat et est frigida et sicca," noted by TK 1565, etc.]
f. 40r,1: Franciscus petrarcha Ciceroni suo salutem. Epistulas tuas | diu
f. 40v, 9: ... Apud superos ad dexteram atesis ripam In Co- | lonia Veronensi
Italie transpadane xvj. kalendas quintilis anno | ab ortu eius quem to non
[14.4: Francesco Petrarca, Epistola ad Marcum Tullium Ciceronem. In this
copy the readings are mostly as in V. Rossi's manuscript cited in Le
Familiari, 1942, pp. 225-227, except that the date is correctly given in the
present copy. The reply in Cicero's name follows in the MS.]
f. 40v, 12: Cicero francisco salutem. Sero iam tandem Epistulam | tuam
quisquis es habui...
f. 43v, 6: Ut iam minime opus sit valere me a quocumque: In campis | elesijs
ad latus orientis .kalendis. Sextilis Anno uno de .50. | postquam tu dederas.
[14.5: Pier Paolo Vergerio, Epistola in nomine Ciceronis ad Franciscum
Petrarcham, printed by L. Smith, "Epistolario di Pier Paolo Vergerio," in
Fonti per la storia d'Italia, vol. 74, 1934, pp. 436-445. The letter is
usually found in conjunction with Petrarch's to Cicero, to which this is the
reply, probably written in 1394. The text is close to those of the Ashburnham
MS and Bodleian Library, cod. Canonici misc. lat. 166, both said to be of
late fifteenth-century date by Smith, who does not employ any earlier
f. 43v, 9: [In the left margin, opposite the opening quoted below, this note
in a compressed, cursive, academic hand, perhaps the same which wrote other
extended notes in the volume:] Opus magistri fratris Johannis obrist de |
allemanea [sic] alta ordinis fratrum | [word not read] minorum sancti
augustini super confe- | ctionem aurj potabilis | [to the right, f. 43v, 9:]
Recipe primo Aurum purissimum et bene purgatum... [Ends f. 43v, 34.]
[14.6: Johannes Obrist, Super confectionem auri potabilis; unrecorded in the
f. 43v, 35: [In the same hand, washed with brown wash as if to cancel the
entry, the heading partly in the left margin in two lines:] Opus fratris [the
word "Johannis" crossed out] Nicolaj claudj de venetia | super aurum potabile
prout dixit michj | Recipe aquam vite... [Ends abruptly f. 43v, 42,
apparently due to the loss of one or more leaves.]
[14.7: Nicolaus Claudii of Venice, Super aurum potabile; unrecorded in the
SUMMARY: In addition to the standard Rupescissa text, the present manuscript
contains the letter of Petrarch to Cicero commemorating the former's
discovery of Cicero's Epistolae familiares at Verona in 1345, as well as the
reply written by Vergerio fifty years later, and two unrecorded procedures
for "Drinkable Gold" by alchemists identified in the text, but otherwise
unrecorded. MS 14 is thus a true miscellany combining the most disparate
elements of poetical alchemy, humanism, and practical chemistry. It serves to
illustrate how all of these concepts, so clearly distinguished today, existed
together in men's minds in the manner of the single voices of counterpoint
woven together in the music of the period: always nominally independent, yet