The following extracts come from an essay written in 1822 for The Quarterly Review (vol. 26), apparently inspired by a pair of publications, viz:
The essay is so beautifully redolent of its time, and of the ineradicable certainty among English Protestant gentlemen of that time that persons such as they represented the pinnacle of social evolution, that I couldn’t but offer it here and in its original form. Not all of it, but that part which suggests the same matter as Baresch’s ideas about MS Beinecke 408: as a work inspired by ‘good’ alchemy and medical lore. It is not impossible that he was thinking of exactly the same text, il Sabio’s ‘Libro de Tesoro‘ part of which is in cipher.
One of the more amusing aspects of this long-forgotten essay is the flustered tone in which the author attempts to deal with the fact that the old Church had warned against the irrationality of astrology, deeming it superstition. Now this, in the mind of contemporary English gentleman posed an uncomfortable problem, for they held it as an article of faith that no person who was a member of that Christian community might lay claim to rational thought; this (it was held by a masterly abeyance of rationality) was alone the preserve of those espousing other Christian sects. However, since one might not ever be seen agreeing with ‘Popish’ ideas, the author becomes bound to find some defence for astrology and finds it in the art’s supposed high antiquity.
In tomorrow’s post I’ll reproduce a little more, this time from the essay’s introduction..