Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/604

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in 1875, while he was disposed to acquit Thölde of the authorship, he nevertheless clearly expressed his opinion that the authorship followed rather than preceded the time of Paracelsus.[1] Eleven years later, however, after failing to find new evidence from any source, he comes to the conclusion that the most reasonable assumption is that Thölde himself was the author. There is therefore nothing "uncompromisingly" different in his views at the two periods rather is it a case of the carefully guarded expression of a gradually maturing conviction. It is not without significance in connection with this Thölde to note that he also published (1605) an alleged "Kleine Hand-Bibel, etc.," of Paracelsus, claimed by Thölde to have been reproduced from a long-hidden manuscript of Paracelsus. Sudhoff in his bibliography of Paracelsus[2] pronounces this an undoubted imposture, reserving for another place the discussion as to whether Thölde were himself the author. This discussion, however, I have not met with.

Since Kopp's time other competent students of the science of that period have come to similar conclusions. Thus M. Berthelot[3] referring to "antimony," says that this name is far earlier than the mythical personage called Basil Valentine, to whom has sometimes been attributed the discovery of this substance, and under whose name have appeared various works which did not appear previous to the sixteenth century.

Dr. Karl Sudhoff, the eminent student of the early history of medicine and author of the monumental bibliography of the literature of Paracelsus, and whose researches into the books and manuscripts of the period in question have been most exhaustive, covering many years of labor, has recently[4] unquestionably assigned Basil Valentine's writings to the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Dr. Franz Strunz, another well-known scholar in the history of chemistry and natural philosophy of the medieval and renaissance periods, asserts with similar conviction:[5]

The writings of the so-called Basil Valentine, who never existed at all, are by Joh. Thölde. He, however, was in post-Paracelsan time.

Mention may also be made of Lasswitz[6] and Lehmann,[7] amongst modern students of the period who have expressed themselves as accepting the post-Paracelsus origin of the Basil Valentine literature.

It would seem, therefore, in the light of this evidence and in the

  1. "Beiträge z. Ges. d. Chemie," III., pp. 117-119.
  2. "Versuch einer Kritik der Echtheit der Paracelsichen Schriften," I., 465.
  3. "Introdn. a l'étude de la Chimie," p. 279.
  4. "Beiträge aus der Geschichte der Chemie, dem Gedächtniss von G. W. A. Kahlbaum," 1909, p. 254.
  5. In his "Paracelsus, Leben und Personlichkeit," 1903, p. 30.
  6. Geschichte der Atomistik," etc., 1896.
  7. "Aberglaube und Zauberei," 1908.