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this reputation, the least to be contested. The history of this Flamel, who flourished in the fourteenth century, is very curious: he was a person of a good family, though much reduced in point of fortune; had quick parts; a lively wit; and, with the advantage of no more than an ordinary education, was sent to Paris to get a living as he could. Flamel wrote an extraordinary good hand, had some notion of poetry, and painted very prettily; yet all these accomplishments raised him no higher than a hackney clerk, in which condition he worked very hard, and had much ado to pick up a subsistence. In 1337, chance threw in his way a book of hermetic philosophy, written by one Abraham, a Jew, or rather engraven on leaves made of the bark of trees, and illustrated with very curious pictures, in which the whole secret was laid down in the clearest manner possible, to such as were acquainted with hermetic philosophy. This treasure cost Flamel no more than two florins, for the person who sold him the book knew nothing of what it contained, and Flamel himself, though he made it his whole study for twenty years, and though he took the precaution of copying the pictures, and hanging them up in his house, and asking the learned their opinion about them, was able to make very little of them.
Tired at length with so vain and so laborious a study, he, in 1378, took a resolution to travel into Spain, in hopes of meeting there some learned Jew, who might give him the key to the grand secret; that this journey might not appear to be undertaken on quite so chimerical a motive, he made a vow, to go in pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella, a practice frequent in those times. After much search to little purpose, he met at last with a Jew physician at Leon, who had been lately converted to the Christian religion, and who was well versed in this kind of science; this man, at the persuasion of Flamel, consented to go with him to Paris; but when they were got as far as Orleans, the physician, who was far in years, and little accustomed to the fatigue of travel, fell sick of a fever, which carried him off in a few days. Flamel having rendered the last kind offices to his dying friend, returned very disconsolate to Paris, where he studied three years more, according to the instructions he had received from the physician, with such success, that on the 17th of January, 1382, he made projection on a large quantity of mercury, which he changed into fine silver, and on the 25th of April following, he transmuted a vast quantity of mercury into gold. He afterwards repeated frequently the experiment, and acquired thereby immense wealth. He and his wife Perenella, in the midst of all these riches, lived still in their old sober way, and eat and drank as usual, out of earthen vessels. They maintained however a vast number of poor, founded fourteen hospitals, built three chapels, and repaired and endowed seven churches. In short, the acts of charity they did were so astonishing, that Charles the VI., who was then upon the throne, resolved to inquire how they came by their wealth, and sent for that purpose M. de Cramoisi, master of requests, and a magistrate of the highest reputation for probity and honour, to examine into their circumstances; to whom Flamel gave so satisfactory an answer, that no further inquiry was made
about them; but the honest old people were left in possession of the only privilege they desired, which was no greater, than that of doing all the good that lay in their power.
"The circumstances of this story, the immense wealth of Flamel and his wife, their many foundations, their vast endowments, and the prodigious estate they left behind them, are all facts, so well attested, that no dispute can be raised about them; or if there were, the last will of Nicholas Flamel, which, with forty authentic acts, of as many charitable foundations, that are laid up in the archives of the parish church of St. James, in the butchery at Paris, are proofs capable of convincing the greatest infidel. This Flamel wrote several treatises on the art of chemistry; but they are extremely obscure, because they are all delivered in an allegorical way, and consequently one may hit upon various interpretations, without coming at the true one; which it is said he gave to a nephew of his, and that the secret remained long in the family; nay, it is owing to indiscretion, if it does not so still. I must not, however, conceal an attempt that has been made to overturn the whole of this history, not by denying the facts, for that would have been ridiculous, since there are hundreds of poor that yet subsist on Flamel's and his wife's foundations, and are consequently so many living witnesses of the veracity of that part of the relation.
"But the thing attempted is, to give another account of Flamel's acquiring his wealth, and in order to this they tell you, that he was a notary public, at the time the Jews were expelled France, that they deposited with him, in trust, a great part of their wealth, and that he kept it for his own use."
But we think, (to use Dr. Cohausen's speech,) we "hear some captious reader cry out-what, did Flamel and Perenella die? to what end then all this tedious story? Peace a little." A quotation from the voyage of the Sieur Paul Lucas will help us. He informs us, that being at Broussa, in Natolia, he met a person dressed like one of the Tartarian Dervises.
"On the 10th, the Dervise, whom I took for an Usbec, came to pay me a visit. I received him in the best manner possible, and as he appeared to me a very learned, as well as curious man, I showed him all the manuscripts I had bought, and he assured me, they were very valuable, and written by great authors: I must say, in favour of this Dervise, that he was a person every way extraordinary, even to his outward appearance. He showed me abundance of curious things in physic, and promised me more; but at the same time he could not help saying, that it was necessary, that I should make some extraordinary preparations on my side, in order to put myself into a condition of profiting by the lights he was able to give me. To judge according to his appearance, he should have been a man about thirty, but by his discourse, he seemed to have lived at least a century, and of this I was the more persuaded from the accounts he gave me of some long voyages he had made.
"He told me, that he was one of seven friends, who all wandered up and down the world, with the same view of perfecting themselves in their studies, and that at parting, they always appointed another meeting at the end of twenty years, in a certain city which was mentioned, and that the first who came waited for the rest. I perceived, without his telling me, that Broussa was the city appointed for their present meeting. There were four of them there already, and appeared to converse with each other, with a freedom that spoke rather an old acquaintance, than an accidental meeting."
With these persons the Sieur Lucas converses a long time about religion, natural philosophy, chemistry, alchemy, and the cabala.
"At last, I took the liberty to mention the illustrious Flamel, who, I said, had possessed the philosopher's stone, but was dead to all intents and purposes for all that. At the mention of his name, he smiled at my simplicity. As I had by this time begun to yield some degree of credit to his discourse, I was surprised he should make a doubt of what I advanced upon this head; the Dervise observed this, and could not help saying with an air of mirth, and do you really think the thing so? do you actually believe Flamel is dead? no, no, my friend, continued he, don't deceive yourself, Flamel is living still, neither he nor his wife are yet at all acquainted with the dead. It is not above three years ago since I left both the one and the other in the Indies, and he is, said he, one of my best friends; upon which, he was going to tell me, how their acquaintance grew, but stopping himself short of a sudden, that, said he, is little to the purpose, I will rather give you his true history, with respect to which, in your country, I dare say, you are not very well acquainted.
"We sages, continued he, though rare in the world, yet are of all sects and professions, neither is there any great inequality amongst us on that account. A little before the time of Flamel, there was a Jew of our fraternity; but as through his whole life he had a most ardent affection for his family, he could not help desiring to see them after he once came to the knowledge of their being settled in France. We foresaw the danger of the thing, and did all that in us lay, to divert him from this journey, in which we often succeeded. At last, however, the passion of seeing his family grew so strong upon him, that go he would; but at the time of his departure, he made us a solemn promise to return to us as soon as it was possible. In a word, he arrived at Paris, which was, as it is now, the capital of the kingdom, and found there his father's descendants, in the highest esteem among the Jews. Amongst others, there was a rabbi, who had a genius for the true philosophy, and who had been long in search of the great secret. Our friend did not hesitate at making himself known to his relation; on the contrary, he entered into a strict friendship with him, and gave him abundance of lights. But as the first matter is a long time preparing, he contented himself with putting into writing the whole series of the process, and to convince his nephew that
he had not amused him with falsehoods, he made projection in his presence on thirty ocques (an ocque is three pounds) of base metal, and turned it into pure gold. The rabbi, full of admiration, did all he could to persuade our brother to remain with him, but in vain; because he, on the other hand, was resolved not to break his word with us. The Jew, when he found this, changed his affection into mortal hatred, and his avarice stifling all principles of nature and religion, he resolved to extinguish one of the lights of the universe. Dissembling, however, his black design, he besought the sage in the tenderest manner, to remain with him only for a few days. During this space, he plotted and executed his execrable purpose of murdering our brother, and made himself master of his medicine. Such horrible actions never remain long unpunished. Some other black things he had done came to light, for which the Jew was thrown into prison, convicted, and burnt alive.
"The Jews fell soon after under a persecution at Paris, as without doubt you have heard. Flamel, more reasonable than the rest of his countrymen, entered into a strict friendship with some of them; and as his great honesty, and unblemished probity were well known, a Jew merchant intrusted him with all his books and papers, among which were those of the Jew which had been burnt, and the book that our brother had left with him. The merchant, taken up no doubt with his own affairs, and with the care of his trade, had never considered this valuable piece with any attention; but Flamel, whose curiosity led him to examine it more closely, perceiving several pictures of furnaces and alembics, and other vessels, he began immediately to apprehend that in this book was contained the grand secret. He got the first leaf of the book, which was in Hebrew, translated, and with the little he met with therein, was confirmed in his opinion; but knowing that the affair required prudence and circumspection, he took, in order to avoid all discovery, the following steps. He went into Spain, and as Jews were every where settled throughout that country, in every place that he came to, he applied himself to the most learned, engaging each of them to translate a page of his book; having thus obtained an entire version, he set out again for Paris. He brought back with him a faithful friend of his, to labour with him in the work, and with whom he intended to share the secret; but a raging fever carried him off, and deprived Flamel of his associate. When therefore he came home, he and his wife entered together upon the work, and arriving in process of time at the secret, acquired immense riches, which they employed in building public edifices, and doing good to a multitude of people."
The facts which we have quoted speak for themselves. The theories that have been from time to time brought forward, -of diet, air, exercise, &c., must of course be reduced to experiment, and take their station accordingly. With the astrologers we profess to have nothing to do: they are too occult. But the Hermetics are an interesting people. Less universal than ordinary conjurors, and with a sublimity to which our modern quacks (English or Italian) have no pretension, they have,
also, claims to our respect on the ground of pure and temperate lives, and sometimes of extensive learning.
We had intended to have devoted a page or two to the consideration of these wise men of the east and west; but we must defer it to some other article. It would be curious to trace the descent of these sages,-from Pythagoras (who has been much slandered, we think) or his masters, the Egyptians, down to the fellows who eat fire at a fair,-the ventriloquists,-the venders of patent medicines,-the jugglers, the cheats, the mountebanks, &c. &c. They may all, we think, with a little trouble be derived from the same source; like rivers of different colours, clear and dull, rapid and slow, they branch out from the parent channel, and assume their own peculiar hues or figures. Some of these mystics have been knaves, no doubt: yet, mystery has been sometimes adopted for wise purposes, and deceit practised for benevolent ends. James's powders are given to children in jelly and sugar. It is the same with medicines of a different sort. Whether this be the best plan, or not, is another question. Good, like truth, should certainly be attained, where it is possible, by the straitest road: but where there is only one, and that circuitous, we think, that it would not be altogether wise to avoid it. But the ridentem dicere verum has caused much debate, and we do not desire to revive the question.
ART. VI.-The White Devil, or the Tragedie of P. Giordano Ursini, Duke of Brachiano, with the Life and Death of Vittoria Corombona, the famous Venetian Courtezan. 4to. 1612.
The Devil's Law-case; or When Woman go to law, the Devil is full of Business. Tragi-Com. 4to. 1623.
The Dutchess of Malfy, a Tragedy, as it was approvedly well acted at the Blackfriers, by his Majesties' Servants. The perfect and exact copy, with divers things printed, that the length of the Play would not bear in the Presentment. Written by John
Appius and Virginia; a Tragedy, by John Webster. London,
In the course of our dramatic researches, we have continually occasion to regret the difficulty of obtaining any accurate information respecting the biography of the early authors in that species of literature. However distinctly the character of the poet may be marked in his works,-however well we may be able to ascertain the degrees in which these lights of the world,