Three parts in one vol., folio, ff. , 152 [varying between foliation and pagination]; 30, [1, errata]; with engraved title illustration to both parts of the Philosophia Moysaica (see below), and over 30 illustrations in the text; f. 53 of the first part with old repair to outer margin; four leaves of the Responsum with small marginal repairs; a very fresh, clean copy in contemporary vellum over boards, some wear to spine.
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Philosophia Moysaica. In qua sapientia & scientia creationis & creaturarum Sacra veréque Christiana (ut pote cujus basis sive Fundamentum est unicus ille Lapis Angularis Jesus Christus) ad amussim & enucleaté explicatur. [with:] Responsum ad Hoplocrisma-Spongum M. Fosteri Presbiteri, ab ipso, ad unguenti armarii validitatem delendam ordinatum ...
a very good copy in contemporary vellum of the first edition of fludd’s moysaical philosophy.
‘In the first half of the seventeenth century [Fludd] was one of England’s best known philosophers. Certainly few Englishmen of his day managed to draw the attention of such a distinguished group as Kepler, Mersenne, and Gassendi – each of whom wrote at least one work discussing, and usually complaining of, Fludd’s theories. To many Europeans he seemed the most prominent of all English philosophers of his day …
‘Fludd, like most other Renaissance scientists, and certainly like all Paracelsians, had a bitter hatred of Aristotle even though Aristotelian influences are evident throughout his work. As his authority he preferred to turn to God’s two books of revelation – one, His written book, the Holy Scriptures, and the other, nature, God’s book of Creation … Fludd stated that the origin of all things may be sought in the dark chaos (potential unity) from which arose the light (divine illumination or actual unity). He affirmed that there is true unity in this dichotomy since “Light was unto the eternall unity all one with darkness, though unto our weak capacities they are opposite in property”. Continuing, he explained that it was from the darkness or shades of the chaos through the divine light that there appeared the waters which are the pervasive matter of all other substances. This is then true Mosaic philosophy, which is built upon the three primary elements of darkness, light, and the waters or the Spirit of the Lord. And it is with the aid of this divine knowledge that we may bring order even out of the confusion found in the writings of the ancients on the subject. With a careful analysis of their texts Fludd showed that when Aristotle wrote of the prima materia, Plat of the hyle, Hermes of the umbra horrenda, Pythagoras of the “symbolical unity”, and Hippocrates of the deformed chaos, they were all writing in reality of the darkness or the dark abyss of Moses. Similarly by some name or another all of these philosophers knew something of the Mosaic “light” and “waters”. However, in their interpretations they often varied far from the truth and it is to the works of Plato and the Pymander of Hermes that the true adept is urged to go for enlightenment’ (Debus, The English Paracelsians pp. 105-109).
The engraving on the title-page (repeated at the beginning of the second part) is ‘one of the most important plates for the understanding of Fludd’s metaphysics. “There is one God, one Supreme Being, one Essence, one Divine Mind, vel volens, vel nolens - both willing and nilling. [This is the upper circle.] These are like a man’s dual faculties of affirmation and negation: and just as both can be good, so God is good whether he wills or nills, for in God there is no evil... In the dark circle all is in the primal state of chaos, before the creation of the world. God is in the middle, in his essence and light, but he does not send it out. Pimander calls this “an infinite shadow in the abyss”; it is the Dark Aleph of the Cabbala. This divine property manifests as darkness, silence, death, disease, etc., as can be seen by its connection to the central circle, that of the world. And if we could visit the centre of the Earth, we would doubtless find there the corner-stone of light (lapis lucidus angularis). God’s other property gives the world its life, light, form and harmony. It is the World of God, the spiritual Christ filling all, and the incorruptible Spirit in all things. According to the Ancients, there is an archetypal Sun through which all is adorned with beauty and harmony. They attribute the mystery of the visible, created Sun to this divine Sun, Apollo, who carries life, grace and health in his right hand but in his left a bow and arrows as a sign of his severity. Similar to him is Bacchus or Dionysus, by whom creatures are torn in pieces. But he is the same being, known by day as Apollo and at night as Dionysus, the Prince of Darkness. As Dionysus tears man into his seven pieces by night, so Apollo restores him by day to his sevenfold constitution. They are both none other than the one God, who works in all’ (Robert Fludd, quoted in Joscelyn Godwin’s publication on the author).
The Philosophia Moysaica ‘was the author’s last work and, as such, fitly represents his matured opinions on Metaphysics, Philosophy, &c ... [It was] the only one of any importance that he translated into English, and thus evidently intended it to be more popular than his others’ (Gardner, Rosicrucian Books p. 33).
Appended is Fludd’s dialogue with Foster on the use of the weapon salve. ‘Fludd entered into the contemporary dispute over the “weapon salve,” which was an important test for the validity of sympathetic medicine. In the course of this debate he described William Gilbert’s magnetic experiments in detail because they seemed to give valid examples of action at a distance. Here was support by analogy for the truth of the action of the weapon salve’ (DSB). ‘The treatment consisted in anointing the weapon which had inflicted the wound with the unguentum armarium, of the patient’s blood and human fat, the wound itself being wrapped in wet lint. The doctrine was supported by Fabry of Hilden, Robert Fludd the Rosicrucian, and van Helmont, who attributed the cure to animal magnetism’ (Garrison, History of Medicine p. 279).
The title engraving to the second part of the Philosophia Moysaica is surrounded by descriptive text, whereas that on the title is of the image only. Here, however, the first owner has personalized this copy by pasting another example of the version with text onto the main title.
Caillet 4036; Ferguson I, p. 284; Gardner 237; Krivatsy 4140; Shaaber F150; Wellcome 2331.
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