Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/376

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354
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Of magic he says: "The things which the deluded and bewitched persons do imagine, have no truth of action and being, save only things imagined. For the end of this skill is not to do, simply, but to stretch out Imaginations even unto appearance."

The chapter on alchemy is a curiosity. One passage reads: "Finally, of that only blessed thing alone, besides which there is no other thing, yet to be found in every place, the subject of the most holy stone of the Philosophers, I mean, that is to say, I have almost rashly uttered the name of the thing, whereby I should be a sacrilege and forsworn, yet I will speak it with circumlocution, but somewhat more obscure, that none but young beginners in the Art and they which be trained up in the mysteries thereof may understand it. It is a thing, which hath substance, and not overmuch fiery, nor altogether earthly, nor simply watery, nor a most sharp nor most blunt quality, but indifferent, and light in touching, and after a sort tender, or at the least not hard, not unpleasant, but after a sort sweet in taste, sweet in smell, delectable to the sight, pleasant and jocund to the hearing, large to the imagination: I may say no more, and yet there be things greater than these." The description is scarcely definite enough to enable us to find the philosopher's stone.

The 102d chapter is "A Digression in prayse of the Asse"—after which follows the conclusion of the work, in which he salutes his readers, "O ye asses." Perhaps some modern authors would like to follow his example in this respect.

The printer, in his preface to this edition, remarks: "Sapience proceedeth of perfect Reason, joyned vvith Learning, and knovvledge, which if it be true, then consequently it follovveth, that Artes and Sciences are good. And although this Authour sharply inveyeth against them, (vvhich to the rude multitude for that cause may seeme naught and noysome) yet his intent is not to deface the vvorthiness of Artes and Sciences, but to reprove and detect their euill vses, and declare the excellencie of his vvit in disprouing them, for a shevve of learning."

Henry Cornelius Agrippa was one of the most learned men of his time, and wrote voluminously upon scientific and philosophical subjects. The "Edinburgh Encyclopædia" says of him: "As a soldier and a physician, a lawyer and a lecturer, a metaphysician and a theologian, the versatility of his genius enabled him to attain the highest distinction." He wrote a "Dissertation on Original Sin," a work on "Occult Philosophy," a "History of the Government of Charles V.," and various other treatises. The book from which we have quoted so largely is undoubtedly the most complete summary of the condition of science at that day to be found in any one volume.

Is it probable that our present accepted theories will seem as curious to the reader of three hundred and fifty years hence as those of Agrippa's day appear to us? Will the customs, the manners, and the