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Fasciculus Chemicus

Fasciculus Chemicus or Chymical Collections. Expressing the Ingress, Progress, and Egress, of the Secret Hermetick Science our of the choicest and most famous authors is an anthology of alchemical writings compiled by Arthur Dee (1579–1651) in 1629 while resident in Moscow as chief physician to Czar Mikhail Romanov, founder of the Romanov dynasty (1613–1917).

Fasiculus Chemicus was revised by Dee sometime between 1631 and 1633 and translated from Latin into English by Elias Ashmole in 1650 under the anagrammatic pseudonym of "James Hasholle" (by substitution of the letter J for I). However, Dee was displeased with Ashmole's translation, and wrote to him:

I am sorry you or any man should take pains to translate any book of that art into English, for the art is vilified so much already by scholars that do daily deride it, in regard they are ignorant of the principles. How then canit any way be advanced by the vulgar? But to satisfy your question, you may be resolved that he who wrote Euclid's Preface was my father. The 'Fasciculus', I confess, was my labour and work.

Arthur Dee's principal sources in his alchemical anthology include Petrus Bonus, John Dastin, Gerhard Dorn, Raymund Lull, Michael Maier, Laurentius Ventura and Evavadus Vogelius.

During the 1650s an easing of regulations on the licensing of printing-presses and the subject-matter of leaflets, pamphlets and books allowed the newly-liberalised printing presses of the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell to cater to the reading public's fears and speculations on England's future following an era of great social change. This revival of interest in alchemy in Britain was primarily due to the social uncertainties engendered by the social trauma of the Civil War and the execution of King Charles I followed by the establishment of the Commonwealth and Protectorate.

Dee's anthology was in the vanguard of a revived interest in alchemy in Britain throughout the 1650s, the foremost publication being Ashmole's major edition of British alchemical literature, Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum (1652). Many other editions of esoteric writings were published and made available for the first time in Britain during the 1650s and 1660s, including the writings of the Rosicrucians, Jacob Boehme, Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus and the prophecies of Nostradamus.

A manuscript copy of Fasiculus Chemicus is listed in the Library of Sir Thomas Browne.

In the early 20th century Dee's alchemical manuscripts were among items stolen by the so-called "Mad Monk" Rasputin during the last years of the Romanov dynasty.

Modern edition

  • Fasciculus chemicus of Arthur Dee; translated by Elias Ashmole; edited by Lyndy Abraham. Published by Garland Press, N.Y., December 1996.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Fasciculus_Chemicus". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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