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His Sex-His Name- His Wanderings-His famous Sword–His Conformity to

his Age-His Style.- His Notions of Trinity in Unity–His Alchemy and Heroic Treatment, Epilepsy and Apoplexy–His Arcanum.

The opinions expressed by persons to all appearance equally capable of forming a just estimate of Paracelsus, are so conflicting, that it is an unusually difficult task for the historian to form an impartial and satisfactory judgment in regard to a man whose fate it was to live a considerable portion of his life in a blaze of notoriety, and to sink before his death into obscurity. According to Von Helmont, he was the forerunner of

“ true medicine, God-sent and armed with knowledge to decompose bodies by fire, and his excellent cures put all Germany into commotion."

Again the same author 1 Ortus Medicinæ, Pref.

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gence in wine; and his apologist asks, whether in the writings said to have been composed in this state of inebriation, we can discover any proofs which justify such a serious accusation. The answer is, that direct testimony in regard to a fact is of more weight than any presumptive reasoning about its possibility; and Oporinus, a man of great natural talent, who lived with him for a long time as his secretary or famulus, and distinguished himself, after leaying Paracelsus, by his acquirements in Greek, says, in a letter preserved by Brucker, that during two years Paracel- . sus was drunk every day, never undressed himself, and went to bed with his famous sword by his side, which he used occasionally to draw and flourish about the room, to the infinite alarm of the much-enduring Oporinus.' This sword, which caused so much dismay to his poor secretary, became the popular attribute of Paracelsus, and is thus described in Hudibras :

Bombastes kept a devil's bird,

Shut in the pummel of his sword,
That taught him all the cunning pranks
Of past and future mountebanks."

The reason of his final departure from Basle was not, however, the empty class-room, but a circumstance highly characteristic of the man and his times. There was a certain ecclesiastical dignitary, Cornelius von Lichtenfels, who was a martyr to the gout. In his agony and despair he sent for Paracelsus, and agreed to give him 100 florins if he eased him of his sufferings. Paracelsus administered three pills of his laudanum, and as the canon soon felt himself well and comfortable, the doctor claimed his stipulated fee; but

“When the devil was ill, the devil a saint would be ;

When the devil got well, the devil a saint was he;"

and the churchman refused to pay more than the usual sum for a doctor's visit. Upon this, Paracelsus took him

i vita Oporini. Argent. 1569.

into court; but the judge decided against the professor, who, losing command of his temper, expressed his indignation and astonishment in such violent abuse of the legal functionary, that the matter had to be taken up by the town council, and ended in the expulsion of Paracelsus from Basle.

This incident reveals the ignoble side of the character of Paracelsus. He may have been a man of great genius; he may have really possessed invaluable specifics ; but from this anecdote, which is not denied by his warmest admirers, we must pronounce him a quack. It is against both law and usage to bargain with a patient suffering pain, or in fear of death, as to the remuneration the physician is to receive in the event of giving relief or of saving life. The transaction establishes, beyond a doubt, that it was the habit of Paracelsus to pursue this illegal and disreputable course; otherwise, while holding a position of so much importance and respectability as a Professorship in the University of Basle, he would not have incurred the odium of so disreputable a compact. We again repeat that Paracelsus was a quack.

Once more let loose upon the world, he recommenced his wanderings, which were brought to a premature termination in 1541. Wherever he went, he excited the regular faculty to a state of violent hatred by his real or pretended cures, and his unmitigated contempt of the doctors and their systems—not wholly undeserved. At Salzburg, he had given offence in his usual way; and the result was, that “he was pitched out of a window at an inn by the doctor's servants, and bad his neck broken by the fall." In confirmation of this story of his melancholy end, we know that the great anatomist, Soemmering, found a fracture, which must have taken place before his death, extending through the base of Paracelsus' skull. i Sprengel, Vol. III., s. 445.

gence in wine; and his apologist asks, whether in the writings said to have been composed in this state of inebriation, we can discover any proofs which justify such a serious accusation. The answer is, that direct testimony in regard to a fact is of more weight than any presumptive reasoning about its possibility; and Oporinus, a man of great natural talent, who lived with him for a long time as his secretary or famulus, and distinguished himself, after leaving Paracelsus, by his acquirements in Greek, says, in a letter preserved by Brucker, that during two years Paracel. sus was drunk every day, never undressed himself, and went to bed with his famous sword by his side, which he used occasionally to draw and flourish about the room, to the infinite alarm of the much-enduring Oporinus. This sword, which caused so much dismay to his poor secretary, became the popular attribute of Paracelsus, and is thus described in Hudibras :

“Bombastes kept a devil's bird,

Shut in the pummel of his sword,
That taught him all the cunning pranks
Of past and future mountebanks.”

The reason of his final departure from Basle was not, however, the empty class-room, but a circumstance highly characteristic of the man and his times. There was a certain ecclesiastical dignitary, Cornelius von Lichtenfels, who was a martyr to the gout. In his agony and despair he sent for Paracelsus, and agreed to give him 100 florins if he eased him of his sufferings. Paracelsus administered three pills of his laudunum, and as the canon soon felt himself well and comfortable, the doctor claimed his stipulated fee; but~

“When the devil was ill, the devil a saint would be ;

When the devil got well, the devil a saint was he ;”. and the churchman refused to pay more than the usual sum for a doctor's visit. Upon this, Paracelsus took him

1 Vita Oporini. Argent. 1569.

into court; but the judge decided against the professor, who, losing command of his temper, expressed his indignation and astonishment in such violent abuse of the legal functionary, that the matter had to be taken up by the town council, and ended in the expulsion of Paracelsus from Basle.

This incident reveals the ignoble side of the character of Paracelsus. He may have been a man of great genius; he may have really possessed invaluable specifics ; but from this anecdote, which is not denied by his warmest admirers, we must pronounce him a quack. It is against both law and usage to bargain with a patient suffering pain, or in fear of death, as to the remuneration the physician is to receive in the event of giving relief or of saving life. The transaction establishes, beyond a doubt, that it was the habit of Paracelsus to pursue this illegal and disreputable course; otherwise, while holding a position of so much importance and respectability as a Professorship in the University of Basle, he would not have incurred the odium of so disreputable a compact. We again repeat that Paracelsus was a quack.

Once more let loose upon the world, he recommenced his wanderings, which were brought to a premature termination in 1541. Wherever he went, he excited the regular faculty to a state of violent hatred by his real or pretended cures, and his unmitigated contempt of the doctors and their systems—not wholly undeserved. At Salzburg, he had given offence in his usual way; and the result was, that "he was pitched out of a window at an inn by the doctor's servants, and had his neck broken by the fall.” In confirmation of this story of his melancholy end, we know that the great anatomist, Soemmering, found a fracture, which must have taken place before his death, extending through the base of Paracelsus' skull. Sprengel, Vol. III., 8. 445.

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