BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Mellon MS 26
ALCHEMICAL MISCELLANY, in Latin and French
France (?), unsigned, about 1510; 1775
26.1 John of Rupescissa. De consideratione quinte essentie.
26.2 Anonymous. Aqua solempnissima, atque mirabilis.
26.3 George Ripley (?). Touchant le grand magistere des sages,
translated from English into French.
Two paper codices bound together, the first in Latin, folio, 290 x 200, ff.
35 of 36 originally, the last leaf (presumed blank) now wanting, foliated
1-34 by a later hand in ink in the centers of the lower margins omitting a
leaf after f. 9 (in the description below the correct folio numbers are
supplied outside parentheses; those inside parentheses indicate the old
foliation where it is incorrect); written throughout by a single hand in a
semigothic cursive with standard abbreviation, headings in red, corrections
by the scribe, single columns 200 x 120, 20 lines; no signatures, no
catchwords. Collation: (1-2)^^12, (3)^^12-1. The second codex in French,
folio, 308 x 200, f. 12 extracted from a more extensive manuscript, foliated
1-12 at top right margins, recto; also foliated 155-166 in lower center
margins, recto, both series probably by the original scribe; written
throughout in a cursive hand sloping to the right, single columns, 275 x 165,
about 35 lines to the page; no signatures, no catch- words. Collation:
(1)^^12. Watermarks: a unicorn mark in the first section; in the second, a
faint watermark on f. 7 and a countermark on f. 5; all unidentified.
BINDING: Nineteenth-century English tan buckram boards, brown morocco back
and corners, flat backstrip with gold-stamped title, plain edges.
PROVENANCE: Perhaps belonged to Abbate Matteo Luigi Canonici (1727-1805),
approximately two-thirds of whose large collection of manuscripts was sold to
the Bodleian Library in 1817; the Reverend Walter Sneyd, who purchased the
remaining 915 Canonici mansucripts in 1835, with his small circular engraved
bookplate; probably sold in the Sneyd sale, London, 16 December 1903, but not
located in the catalogue; Denis Duveen, with his bookplate and inked number
124; Mellon MSS 112 and 114, acquired with the Duveen collection. De
Ricci-Bond 25 (114).
f. 1, headline: -JESUS- [line 1, as heading:] Incipit liber primus de
consideration‘ quinte essenci‘ omnium rerum | transmutabilium pauperibus
[letter canceled] euangelicis Viris Erogatus. [D]Icit Salamon Sapienti‘
capitulo septimo. Dedit mihi | deus horum veram scientiam... [At the foot of
f. 22(21)v is a modern pencil note, where the text of Book I ends, perhaps in
Duveen's hand:] Ends at p. 97 of Basle | 1561 Edition of Rupescissa | ... [f.
23 (22)r, headline:] -JESUS- [line 1:] Incipit secundus liber qui de p
[letters canceled] cticularibus [sic] remedijs appellatur. | [L]icit primus
liber... [In the upper, outer margin is another pencil note:] Starts at 120
of | Basle 1561 edition | of Rupescissa | ... [f. 34(33)v, 6:] ... vel in
eius absencia aqua ardens, Et sic est finis secundj | libri de consideratione
quinte essenti e de quo laudetur deus in secula. Amen. | Explicit liber de
consideratione quint‘ essentice Raymundi Lulij. |
[26.1: John of Rupescissa, De consideratione quinte essentie, here
attributed to Ramon Lull, TK 458, DWS 292, etc. The text of this copy has
frequent variants and may be somewhat abbreviated.]
f. 34(33)v, 9: Aqua Solempnissima atque mirabilis | [R]ecipe Saluice, Iu‘
[sic], Pedis coruini ... [Ends f. 35(34)v, 4:] ... aut per melancoliam, aut
per sanguinem | putrefactum.]
[26.2: Anonymous, Aqua solempnissima, an unidentified recipe.]
Pt. II, f. 1r, headline: [The number "19" is written in large characters at
top center of the page; this numbering, together with the independent
foliation at top right and the foliation 155-166 in lower margin, suggests
that this section was once the nineteenth tract in a volume; line 1, written
as a heading:] Touchant le grand Magis= | tere des Sages, et ce que - | L'on
appelle Vniversalissime | Discours | Traduit d'un Manuscrit Anglois | en
Francois, Lequel on attribue | au Grand et fameux Philosophe | Ripleus. |
[Text begins:] Je me suis propose en moy mesme de composer | ce petit
traitte, n'ayant pas este seulement | temoing oculaire, mais aussi Acteur...
[Ends f. 12v, 4:] ... et ainsi je te laisse en La garde du | tout puissant
pour te conduire en ses saintes | voyes. | Fin. [remainder blank.]
[26.3: George Ripley (?), Touchant le grand magistere des sages, translated
from English into French, not otherwise identified in the literature
SUMMARY: This codex comprises two distinct manuscript elements brought
together early in the nineteenth century by the avid collector Walter Sneyd.
The first (Mellon Shelf List 114) is a routine, late fifteenth-century copy
of John of Rupescissa's work on the Fifth Essence in Latin (see also MSS
9.29, 11.1, 14.1, 21.1, 24.7, and 32.7), while the second element (Mellon
Shelf List 112) is a comparatively late copy of a text in French attributed
to the fifteenth-century English alchemist George Ripley, but not otherwise
identified and quite possibly of not much earlier date than this copy. Both
elements may be categorized as speculative alchemies, the earlier
representing the fashion for Rupescissa's cryptic popularization, the later
the revival in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of interest in
writings of a basically similar character. See MS 120,