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LIFE OF THE WIZARD
is, however, to be classed among the Michael Scott,
many inaccuracies of this biographi
cal writer. Boece only remarks, that Few names are surrounded with Michael Scoit was reckoned - the such an air of mystery and romance
most learned physician of his age, and as that of the wizard Michael Scott; during his lifetime, on account of such and it is, perhaps, rather an ungrate
knowledge, beloved and patronized ful task to strip this distinguish- both by Alexander King of Scotland ed magician of his robes of gramarie, and Edward I. of England." Dempand to restore hiin to those sober re
ster simply transcribes the passage gions which belong to authentic his, in Boece, and the more classic tory, and which are peopled with more
volume of Leslie f contains only a common-rate philosophers. But, af- general encomium on the various tater the severer hand of biography has lents of Michael Scott as a physician, removed from the canvas all the rich
an astronomer, and a magician. Not fer colours in which the credulity of one of these historians have added a the vulgar and the imagination of the single syllable from which we may last and greatest of the minstrels have form even a conjecture of the birth invested him, it is some consolation to place of this reinarkable man; and think that there will still be left the the learned Niceron, when he follow picture of no ordinary man.
ed the authority of Mackenzie, and Michael Scott, or, as he is some- brought him into the world at Baltimes denominated, Michael Mathe. wirie, in the county of Fife, was not maticus, was born in Scotland about aware of the perfection to which this
author had carrierl the science of conthe year 1214, * in the commencement
of the reign of Alexander II., jectural biography. one of the most brave and able monarchs who ever sat on the Scottish
Dempster, indeed, so far from assignthrone. Mackenzie informs us that ing to Michael an extraction from the Scotts the place of his birth was Balwirie, of Balwirie, affirms that his name has been his paternal residence, in the shire of misunderstood ; that he is not to be called Fife, + and he refers, not only to the Michael Scott, but Michael the Scot. works of Dempster and Boece, but to
“ Cognomentum etiam Scoti non est fami.
liæ sed nationis.” the more authentic pages of Leslie, as
+ Leslaei Hist. B. vi. p. 220. his authority for this assertion. It
The mistake of Mackenzie has been
transcribed by Dr Henry, in the 8th voDempster says he died in the year lume of his History of Britain, p. 220. 1291, having lived to extreme old age. He also quotes Dempster as his authority. Hist. Eccles. B. xii.
P. Niceron says It is thus that error is perpetuated by inhe died in 1291, aged about 77.-Vol. dolence, for neither Mackenzie, Niceron, XV. p. 95.
nor Henry, could have consulted Demp. +
Mackenzie, Vol. I. p. 197. ster without detecting their mistake.
Michael, although no authority ex Scott repaired, where he devoted him. ists for transforming him into the self with intense application to philoLaird of Balwirie, was undoubtedly a sophical pursuits. Scotchman. This fact rests on the Although, in this dark period of the authority of the learned Bale. * It is Middle Ages, scarcely any studies detrue, indeed, that Pitseus f and Le- serving the name of real philosophy land, I with their usual nationality, were cultivated either at Oxford or have boldly affirmed that he was an elsewhere, yet, in the midst of the jarEnglishman, and born in the county gon of the scholastic philosophy, the of Durham ; yet the tale appears from puerilities which infested the sciences the first to have been discredited by of ethics and physics, and many other every writer of authority, and it must branches of human inquiry, soine real be classed among the numerous and knowledge was to be found, and the ridiculous fables which have been pro- love of truth and the spirit of investipagated by these authors.
gation, although misdirected, was not Michael is said from his earliest extinguished. It was thus that the years to have devoted himself to the study of practical astronomy in those cultivation of the sciences. In his periods, even when confounded with native country, however, he could re- the doctrines and made subservicnt to ceive nothing but the bare rudiments the purposes of judicial astrology, led of his education, as Scotland did not to an accurate examination of the possess at this period any public se- changes in the positions and conjuncminaries for the education of youth. tions of the heavenly bodies, to a use The casual lessons of some learned of the quadrant and other astronomi. monk, and, perhaps, an introduction cal instruments, and to an ardent culto the limited library of his convent, tivation of the sister science of geome composed all the advantages the fu- try." ture astronomer and magician could At the time when Michael Scott enjoy at home, and for higher and became a student of the University of more regular instruction it was neces- Oxford, this last science was extremely sary to seek the universities of the popular. We learn this from the sister country, and the schools of works of a contemporary author, Roger France and Italy.
Bacon,-a very extraordinary man, The University of Oxford at this who appears to have possessed much time enjoyed a very high reputation. of that freedom of thought, that pas. It had been endowed as far back as sion for experiment, and that conthe ninth century by the Great Al- tempt for the received systems of phifred. At a later period, Henry II. losophy, which re-appeared nearly and Richard I. had conferred upon it four centuries afterwards in his great some extraordinary privileges, and namesake, Lord Verulam. To the under the subsequent reign of John, science of astronomy were united at the beginning of the thirteenth cen- amongst the pursuits which were tury, 3000 students were contained fashionable at this time, the study of within its colleges. Henry III., al- the learned languages, embracing not though in other respects a weak mo- only Latin,t and although more rarenarch, and deficient in that energy of ly read, Greek, but the Hebrew and character which his turbulent king- the Arabic, the sciences of logie, of dom required, was a munificent patron of the university. New colleges were erected, additional immunities 196. At this time, the most eminent scho
* Anthony Wood, Hist. Oxf. Vol. I. p. granted by pontifical and regal boun- lar and lecturer at Oxford was Edmund ty, and Oxford, in the words of Ma. Ryche, who became afterwards Archbishop thew Paris, became the second school of Canterbury. One of his disciples was of the church in Europe.
Roger Bacon. Ryche, according to Wood, To this famous university Michael read the Elenchs of Aristotle. Bracto,
author of the Consuetudines Angliæ,
Greathead, or Grosteste, Bishop of LinMichael medicus natione Scotus cla- coln,-and Roger Bacon,-are to be numrissimus sui temporis philosophus, mathe- bered amongst the most celebrated contemmaticus, et astrologus. --Balæus, fol. 120. porary scholars at the period when Michael + Pitseus, p. 374.
Scott must have studied at the university. * Leland de Script. Britt. Vol. I. p. + Henry's History, Vol. VIII. chap. 1. 954.
rhetoric, of theology, and of chemi- sity of Paris. It is probable, that, in stry. This last embraced within its this celebrated seminary, he was a range the art and mystery of alchymy, fellow-student with Roger Bacon. an art which was not only at this Bacon and Scott were born nearly atime very passionately cultivated by bout the same period, both studied the most learned men in the kingdom, at Oxford, both completed their acabut was also the subject of royal pa- demical education at Paris, and both tronage and munificence. The saga- were addicted to the same scientific cious and politic Edward I. seems pursuits. Such was the enthusiasın to have been so far transported by his with which Michael Scoit devoted belief in the transmutation of metals, hinself, while at Paris, to the science that he invited the famous Lully, one of mathematics, that he became known of the greatest philosophers of his there by the academic surname of time, into his dominions, and it was Michael the Mathematician. † He apthen currently believed, that the gold plied himself also to the study of sawhich was spent in fitting out an ex- cred letters and of divinity, and after pedition to the Holy Land, had issued having gained in these faculties a very not from the Exchequer of the king, high reputation, he received the dea but from the laboratory of the philo- gree of doctor in theology. S John Basopher. *
con-thorpius, an English Carmelite The University of Oxford was pos- Friar, who made a great noise in his sessed at this period of very high pri- day, and obtained at Paris the pomvileges. The jurisdiction of the civil pous title of the Resolute Doctor, || and magistrate did not extend over the Prince of the Averroists, has distin immense body of ecclesiastical stu- guished Michael in one of his works I dents; and the unpunished arrogance as an eminent theologian. of these young clerks, as they were If we may judge from the works called, led frequently to serious com- which he soon after gave to the world, motions not only between the citizens this singular man had applied himself, and the University, but between the during his academical career at Paris, different sects and nations of the stu- not only to mathematics and theology, dents themselves. Hostile banners but in a particular manner to astrolowere borne by the armies of the con- gy, to chemistry, and to medicine. tending nations; the peaceful habit After having acquired at Paris this of the student, and the intellectual high reputation, he determined to armour of Aristotle, were exchanged continue his travels, and visited many for more sanguinary weapons, and foreign countries and learned Univers blood was spilt, and lives were lost, sities. ** Amongst these he first soughtbefore these scholastic feuds could be appeased. + In the midst of these commotions,
Bacon was born in the year 1214, and however, we know that philosophy according to Pitseus, p. 369, and died in and the sciences were very ardently the year 1284. Anthony Wood, however, cultivated, and Michael Scott acquir- that the 1902 was the year of his death,
who is a more valuable authority, asserts ed at this period that remarkable Hist
. Oxon. Lib. I. p. 79. Leland is knowledge of the Latin and Arabic guilty of a great mistake, when he states, languages, which afterwards enabled that he died in the 12.40, and Tanner has him to become the translator of the copied Leland's error. works of Aristotle from the Arabic + The learned Bulæus, the historian of version of Avicenna and Averroes. the University of Paris, has celebrated him
After having completed his studies in his Catalogue of Illustrious Academiat Oxford, he repaired, according to cians, under the name of “ Michael Scotus, the custom of that age, to the Univer- Cognomento Mathematicus.” Bulæus, Vol.
111. p. 701.
# Bulæus, Vol. III. p. 701. • “ Sed scientia experimentalis, (says
Ś “ Tandem factus Doctor Theologus Roger Bacon in his Opus Majus, p. 472,) magnum in ea Facultate nomen decusque novit per secreta secretorum Aristotelis pro- sibi comparavit.” Bulæus, Vol. III. p. ducere aurum non solum viginti quatuor 701. graduum, sed triginta et quadraginta et || Bale, p. 136, Pitseus, p. 451. quantum volumus."
Naude Apologie pour les grands † Mathew Paris, sub anno 1236, page Personages soupconnées de magie, p. 496. 245., Ibid. page 355.
** Pitseus, p. 374.
the far famed College of Padua, and the works and passionate adherence such appears to have been the im- to the doctrines of Aristotle. It is pression there created by his ta- not improbable, that the high reputalents, that his essays in the science of tion which Michael brought into judicial astrology were no longer, as Spain, assisted by a congenial passion in France, confined within the walls in both for the same studies, may of the University ; his fame became have led to a meeting between Avera noised abroad, and he began to pub- roes and the Scottish Wizard; bei lish to the world those predictions of sides, Averroes was an inhabitant of future events which were remember- Cordova,* which had been long, in the ed in later times with awe and re- fame and the numbers of its philosoverence in Italy. * Villani, a historian, phers, historians, and poets, the first who wrote long after the reputed pro- city in Spain, and it is difficult to be phet was gathered to his fathers, re- lieve, that Michael should have left cords a prediction of Michael Scott's, Toledo without visiting the most which he declares had been rigidly learned man of the most learned unifulfilled, and Dante has given him, versity in the country. If these two in his character of a magician, a con- remarkable men did meet, the transspicuous place in his Inferno.t lation from Aristotle may have been
From Italy, still untired in the pur- undertaken at the request of his Ara. suit of those limited stores of know- bian disciple. But this is entirely conledge which the benighted state of jectural, and is not supported by any philosophy afforded to the student of direct authority. the thirteenth century, he made his Be this as it may, the learned of way into Spain, then partly in the the western world were now made acpossession of the Arabians, but which, quainted, for the first time, in a Latin under these Mussulman conquerors, translation, with any considerable was at this time certainly the most work of the great founder of the Pea enlightened portion of Europe. ripatetic school, but the time was now . Here, that he might perfect himself at hand when Aristotle was destined in the knowledge of the language, and to find an illustrious patron, and become acquainted with the philoso- Michael Scott to become an instruphy of this remarkable people, he re ment of a still more general dissemipaired to Toledo, of which the uni- nation of his writings. This patron versity was then highly celebrated, was the Emperor Frederic the See especially for the cultivation of the cond, who, although engaged in occult sciences. This was a line of those projects of ambition which study which, from the part he had al- brought him into the eye of the ready assumed as a magician and a world chiefly in the character of a prophet in Italy, must have been pe- conqueror, had yet found leisure to culiarly agrecable to him, but it was devote himself to science ard philosoby no means exclusively pursued. phy, and was then universally regardOn the contrary, he began and con ed as the most learned prince in Eu. cluded at Toledo a work, which, if rope. + we consider the period when it was Frederie was not only himself a written, was certainly of an uncom scholar and an author. He was a mon and laborious nature, a transla- munificent supporter of letters. He tion from the Arabic into Latin of had founded many new schools Aristotle's nineteen books on the History of Animals. S
At the head of the Saracenic philo * Casiri, VoL 1. p. 184. sophy at this period was placed the of Henry, Hist. Vol. VIII. p. 221. famous Averroes, the father of the
See Menckenius, Biblioth. Viror. Milisect of the Averroists, remarkable for
tia ac scriptis illustrium, p. 203. Cuspi. his voluminous commentaries upon speaks of him : “ Multarum linguarum
nianus in libro de Cæsaribus, p. 419, thus
peritus ac simul eruditus. Latinam, Græ • Villani Libro Decimo C. V. p. 195. cam, Saracenicam, Gallican, et Germania + Dante Inferno, Canto XX.
cam, linguam optime callens.” Frederic I Daniel Morley, a student of Oxford, wrote a work De Arte Venandi cum Avi. as early as the year 1185, had studied the bus, which Arnoldus calls “ præclaruum mathematical sciences at Toledo in Spain. monumentum eruditionis singularis et rari
Anthony Wood, p. 287, Vol. I. Note 5. ingenii."