BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Mellon MS 21
ALCHEMICAL MISCELLANY, in Latin and Italian
Italy (perhaps Padua), about 1490, with additions, about 1800
21.1 John of Rupescissa. De consideratione quinte essentie.
21.2 Anonymous. Descriptions of various herbs, in Latin.
21.3 Anonymous. Alchemy, in Latin.
21.4 Anonymous. Recipes for making Prussian Blue, in Italian.
Parchment and paper codex in Latin and Italian, 8vo., 156 x 120, 6 paper
flyleaves, 40 parchment ff., 12 paper ff., old ink pagination on parchment
leaves 1-80 partly preserved, incomplete modern pencil foliation; no
signatures, catchwords at quire-endings in the parchment portion only.
Collation: (6 flyleaves)^^4+2; 40 parchment ff. (1-4)^^10; 12 paper ff.
(5)^^12. Single column; written space 112 x 68 in the parchment section,
28-31 lines, outlined in blind rules; the paper section unruled, 24-27 lines.
The parchment section written by one hand in a neat, minute humanistic
cursive with a very fine stylus in brownish ink, headings in red throughout,
that on f. 1r overwritten in an intense red ink covering earlier writing in
pale red ink, the intense ink then used for the remainder of the headings in
this portion of the codex, and the overwriting probably by the original
scribe; plain, small, roman capitals at beginnings of sections of the text in
blue or green; a large initial "D" and a full border no f. 1r, as well as a
smaller initial "L" at the beginning of the second book of text, foot of f.
25r, all finely illuminated in gold and colors in the "white-vine" style, the
lower part of the border on f. 1r with a coat of arms consisting of a shield
azure, a bear rampant or; the paper leaves undecorated. Heavy, standard
abbreviation in the parchment leaves; sparse, standard abbreviation in the
paper section. Virtually without correction. Parchment of very good quality,
but with follicles showing on the hair side; watermark of the heavy paper
trimmed and not interpreted. F. 10 in the parchment section misbound after f.
BINDING: Late eighteenth-century, probably French binding of speckled calf,
the sides undecorated, the repaired back in compartments with gilt tooling,
the original title-stamping defective, speckled edges; restored by Carolyn
Horton, November 1955, according to her ticket pasted inside the lower cover.
PROVENANCE: Written originally for a member of the Orsato family of Padua,
according to the identification of the coat of arms on the first leaf of the
parchment section, made by Thomas E. Marston for De Ricci-Bond, cited below;
belonged about 1800 to an unidentified Italian owner who may have purchased
it in France; Denis Duveen, with his bookplate and inked number 12; Mellon MS
116, acquired with the Duveen collection. De Ricci-Bond 27 (116).
Front pastedown: [Denis Duveen's inked number 12 at upper left. All of the
remaining notes on the flyleaves, unless otherwise attributed, are in Italian
and are by the scribe of the paper section, or a contemporary.] Libro del M.
Cruset tradotto d[e] | Francese in Italiano dal signor Gerolemo [sic] |
Zanichelli un buon libro--| [horizontal rule] | Erba Asteroide e infallbile
per | le morsicature delle Vipere et | altri animali venenose | [horizontal
rule] | [remainder blank.] Flyleaf 1r: 26-5 | Conto intuto Lire 26-5 |
[below: bookplate of Denis Duveen. Remainder blank.]
Flyleaf 1v: [A scribbled three-line note in Italian which has not been
interpreted; remainder blank.]
Flyleaves, 2r-5v: [Blank.]
Flyleaf 6r: Mi costo Luigi sei - | [A short entry, perhaps a name, has been
erased. Remainder blank. Flyleaf 6v blank.]
f. 1r, 1: Liber de stimulatu physice | evangelio domini nostri jesu Chri- |
sti et pauperibus evangelicis | viris ad quem veniunt mul- | ti vocati pauci
vero electi: Li- | ber primus de consideratione quinte | essentie omnium
rerum trans- | mutabilium: Prologus incipit. | Dicit Salomon sapientie
capitulo septimo | Deus dedit mihi horum...
f. 25r, 25: ...: et consolationem evangelicorum virorum et Ho- | norem
ecclesie sancte dei: Explicit primus liber qui est de consideratione | quinte
essentie. Incipit liber secundus qui de generalibus remedijs appellatur: |
Licet primus liber qui est de consideratione quinte | essentie: ... [Ends f.
37v, 7:] ... quam nobilissima quinta essentia. vel ex ab- | sente aqua ardens
[sic]: Explicit nobile opus vere medicine |
[21.1: John of Rupescissa, De consideratione quinte essentie, TK 458; DWS
292; T III, pp. 725-730; etc.]
f. 37v, 9: Celidonia calida est et sicca in quarto gradu... [f. 38v, 3:]
Rosmarinus a grecis vocatur lybanites ... [f. 40r, 8:] Ex vino vetustiori
distillando praesertim nigro... [f. 40r, 25:] ... Ex libro divini ruris [sic]
capitulum de Enula herba | ENula alias elenum vel Rasem: Ab octubri [sic] in
februarium... [f. 40v, 13:] ... De boragine: | Borago augusto septembri et
aprili seritur: nec alio... [Ends 40v, 31:] confert tremori cordis et estatis
amorem: Finis. |
[21.2: Anonymous, Descriptions of various herbs, in Latin, all unidentified,
except for the second, which is probably related to that sometimes ascribed
to Arnold of Villanova, noted by TK 1365.]
f. 41r, 1: [In an Italian hand, about 1800:] Credo author huius tractatus sit
Nicolaus Mundi di Sijccilgia | De Planetarum, Metallarum, Magistrolum | Et
Elementorum | Proprietate, Natura, transmutatione | qualitatibus, et mixtione
| Tractatus sagacissimus | ab | Innominato quopiam Philosopho | conscriptus.
| Septem sunt planeta, secundum quorum | influxum omnia inferiora... [Ends f.
48v, with a diagrammatic treatment of heat and cold, which has been discussed
in the preceding pages.]
[21.3: Anonymous, Alchemy, cited by TK 1433 from Condeesyanus I, pp. 46-61.
The text is here ascribed to Nicolaus Mundi of Sicily, who has not been
traced in the literature consulted.]
ff 49-50: [Blank ]
f. 51r, 1: Nota Bene. del'aqua di Vitriol bisogna lasciar | cascar poco
nell'aqua di lume de rocha, ... [f 51v, 1:] Il Blo di Berlino, che si vende |
ducati due l'onza Per li Pitori | Si prenda salnitro et tartaro parte uguali
| et si formi | alcali more solito [sic], ... [f. 52v, 1:] Il Bloo [sic] da
Berlino | chesi vende ducati due | l'onza perli Pitori | Si prenda onze due
lume di roccha, |
[21.4: Anonymous, Recipes for making Prussian Blue, and another recipe, all
in Italian, ending defectively, not identified.]
SUMMARY: The original part of the codex contains a very handsome humanistic
copy of the standard Rupescissa text with slight additions. The writing,
decoration, and parchment are of the types associated with the finest late
humanistic manuscripts, and might suggest both Padua and Naples. T. E.
Marston, writing in De Ricci-Bond No.27, has identified the coat of arms at
the foot of f.1r as that of the Orsato family of Padua. This localization,
together with the very fine, elegant, and almost cursive humanistic hand of
the parchment leaves, could suggest the influence of the famous scribe
Bartolommeo San Vito. Three centuries after the original writing of the
codex, another speculative alchemy was added, with an attribution to an
unidelltified Nicolaus Mundi of Sicily. MS 21 is a fine copy of a literary
alchemy prepared for the library of a nobleman.