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the idea that everything in nature must have a mystic analogy with the Trinity in Unity. Thus, man consists of spirit, soul, and body; and the world of three elements -water, air, and earth; to which three correspond mercury, sulphur, and salt.
The term philosophy, he applies to the knowledge of Nature; a knowledge which we acquire by intuition, and a profound love and reverence for Nature. For he considers that all Nature is a spiritual existence, clothed with a material form; that the soul of man has the faculty of direct or intermediate consciousness of this soul of Nature; that Adam possessed this as an original attribute, so that, by looking at an animal or plant, the spirit of such animal or plant was revealed to his eyes, and he was empowered to give it the true name, which, in Hebrew, was not only an appellation, but a symbol; that this inherent faculty, with which our first parent was dowered by his Heavenly Father, could be restored to his degenerate offspring if they were penetrated by an intense love; and that, under the influence of this love, the object of study-for example, a sick fellowcreature became transparent like a crystal, to the gaze of the true physician. "A man," he says, "who, by abstraction from all sensuous influences, and by child-like submission to the will of God, has made himself partaker of the Heavenly intelligence, becomes possessed of the philosopher's stone; he is never at a loss; all creatures on earth, and powers in heaven, are submissive to him; he can cure all diseases, and himself live as long as he chooses, for he holds the elixir of life which Adam and the early fathers of the earth employed before the flood, and by which they attained so great longevity."
By astronomy, he meant the relation and influence of the heavenly bodies upon the human constitution. Those
1 Archidox., lib. 8., p. 818.
constituted a macrocosm, this the microcosm. There was a mystic influence continually flowing from the stars above, upon the spiritual, or siderial, body of man. But Paracelsus, while believing in some emanation from the stars and profound connection between them and the lives of men, was opposed to the prevailing astrology of his age, and treated the indications derived from the position of the constellations with a fine ridicule. The futility of casting nativities he demonstrates by the simple observation-" Many children are born here and elsewhere at the same moment, and, therefore, under the same constellations, and yet of these the great majority turn out fools, and here and there only do we find one turning out wise and good-how then can we impute the folly of the many, or the wisdom of the one to their stars?" It was then the universal practice, as prevails in India to the present day, to regulate blood-letting by the stars: it was considered unsafe to bleed when certain planets were in the ascendant, while, on the other hand, blood-letting was the only cure when other stars were in the place of those. On this, Paracelsus observes, "Go to a battle-field and you will find many men wounded under the same position of the heavenly bodies; but how differently does it fare with them! Would this be so if the stars controlled or indicated the effects of bloodletting?" Thus we find manly sense, and bold disbelief of popular superstition combined with mystic vagueness both of opinion and language.
The word Alchemy is now generally applied to the pursuit of the Philosopher's Stone, by means of which baser metals were to be converted into gold. But Paracelsus used it in an entirely different sense. "Take it not amiss," he says, "that the alchemy I teach yields neither gold nor silver; but look upon it as the key which opens the arcana of medi
and directs them against disease." "What is it that ripens the pears? what is it that brings the grapes to maturity? Nothing but Nature's alchemy." "As the matter of the pear exists in the blossom, but is of no use till it be ripened, so medicine must be extracted by the alchemy of the physician." "As the grain has to go through a process of decomposition, before it springs into a plant and yields its harvest; so must medicinal substances be submitted to the resolving action of heat, in order that out of this fermentation there may come forth the arcana. What fire performs in the kitchen, that is alchemy.' "What is alchemy? A preparer of medicines, a purifier of medicines, giving them perfect and entire, so that the physician may fully accomplish his art."3 "The third pillar of medicine is alchemy; not that alchemy which makes gold and silver (for these blockheads swarm in all countries), but the alchemy which instructs us how to separate each mysterium into its own reservaculum." 4 Such are a few of the definitions he gives of his notion of alchemy. It is evident that he derived them from observing the processes by which the smelters at the mines separated the metals. These processes we know he studied diligently and applied to the preparation of his medicines. It is probable that he employed the powerful metals, mercury, copper, arsenic, antimony, much more than was usual among the regular faculty; and doubtless it was through their instrumentality that he effected his cures. Indeed, one of the accusations made. against him was, that he did not shrink from giving poisons. But the result of his treatment in the cure of diseases which the antiquated school of tradition pro
nounced certainly mortal and incurable, gave him and his disciples such confidence in the power of medicines to
1 Tract. II., 65.
2 Schultz, s. 19.
3 Fragment. Medic. de Paragramm.
Rademacher, s. 39.
4 Buch von Terpenthin.
avert the fatal issue of all disorders of the human frame, that he breaks out, "Wilt thou love thy neighbour? Tell him not, there is no help for thee; but, only say, 'I cannot do it; I do not understand it."1
So much for his notions about alchemy, or the art of procuring powerful remedies: to understand his method of applying them, we must examine his pathology. The pathology of Paracelsus affords an instructive illustration of how much easier it is for a man to perceive the actual errors of his contemporaries, than to emancipate himself from the spirit of the age out of which these errors spring. The radical vice of the Galenic system consisted in founding the explanation of the symptoms of diseases, not upon observations of morbid appearances, but upon imaginary changes in equally imaginary constituents of the body— the so-called humours. The absurdity of this Paracelsus saw and exposed with trenchant sarcasm. But his substitute was equally defective, and far more incoherent. He assumed that disease was an immaterial entity, a sort of evil spirit, composed or generated out of three co-efficients, which he called salt, sulphur, and mercury. From his employing names of true chemical substances, it is generally supposed that he introduced a chemical pathology, and meant to express that a disease arose from excess or deficiency of the inorganic materials out of which the body is composed. This, however, seems to be altogether an erroneous conception of his doctrines. The terms he applied were purely arbitrary symbols, and might as well have been X, Y, Z, as salt, sulphur and mercury. "Salt," he says, "gives form and colour to all creatures. Sulphur gives body, growth, nutrition, &c., and these two are the father and the mother which beget all creatures with the help of the stars; that is, sun and moon by sulphur and salt bring forth mercury. Mercury, however, when born,
1 Rademacher, s. 28.
requires for its daily growth and nourishment, the presence of sulphur and salt." Again, "every body (corpus) consists of three things, mercury, sulphur, salt." Now disease he looked upon as a corpus or entity, and it likewise consisted of these three things, or in other words, was the resultant of three co-operating forces. Perhaps under this verbal mystification, the meaning at the bottom of his mind was, that disease required for its production the combination. of an external influence and an internal susceptibility; or, in modern phraseology, an exciting and predisposing cause, and that when these two met a third force, or what we call the proximate cause, the corpus delicti or body of offence, was generated.
The reference to the stars represents the notion out of which his pathology grew into a therapeutic system. This microcosm, this body of disease, was subject to its own laws of birth, growth, and death, like any other body, and it stood in the same relation to the external world as other separate, independent, immaterial entities. This relation was one of correspondence, there being some mysterious connection between the phenomena of external nature and these spiritual bodies. As an example of his strange illustrations and analogies, we find him describing epilepsy as the earthquake of the microcosm, caused by the ebullition of the vital spirit, and apoplexy as the thunderbolt. The reason that lunacy is increased at the period of new and full moon, is, that the brain is the microcosmic moon. Jaundice arises from astral impressions, and through the .imaginative power of the siderial body (durch Einbildingskraft des syderischen Leibes),* whatever that may be! In short, if we are to perform radical cures, we must study the physiognomy of disease, as we read the character of a man by perusing his coun
1 Schultz, s. 31, 32.
2 Morb. Ament., lib. 1, p. 487. De Caduc., p. 596.
3 The microcosm here is the body of man, not the body of disease.
• Von den Farbsuchten, s. 522.