XII. Rosicrucian Apologists: Thomas Vaughan



EUGENIUS PHILALETHES, the author of the renowned
“Introitus apertus ad occlusum Regis Palatium,” the “Entrance
opened to the Closed Palace of the King,” is so far
connected with the Rosicrucians that he published a
translation, as we have seen, of the “Fama” and “Confessio
Fraternitatis,” and his philosophical doctrines are
very similar to those of the mysterious Brotherhood, of
which he has been erroneously, and despite his express
and repeated denials, represented as a member. Like them,
he expected the advent of the artist Elias who was foretold
by Paracelsus, represents his most important alchemical
work as his precursor, and declares that problematical
personage to be already born into the world. The entire
universe is to be transmuted and transfigured by the
science of this artist into the pure mystical gold of the Spiritual
City of God, when all currencies have been destroyed.
“A few brief years,” he cries in his prophetic mood,
“and I trust that money will be despised as completely as
dross, and that we shall behold the destruction of this vile
invention, so opposed to the spirit of Jesus Christ. The
wor1d is bewitched by it, and the infatuated nations adore
this vain and gross metal as a divinity. Is it this which
will help towards our coming redemption and our lofty
future hopes? By this shall we enter that New Jerusalem

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when its ways are paved with gold, and its gates are of
pearls and precious stones, and when the Tree of Life,
planted in the centre of Paradise, will dispense health to
the whole of humanity? I foresee that my writings will
be esteemed as highly as the purest gold and silver now
are, and that, thanks to my works, those metals will be as
despised as dung”
The date of this author’s birth was 1612; he is
supposed to have been a native of Scotland, but the fact
of his placing a Welsh motto on the title of one of his
books, together with his true name, Thomas Vaughan,
which is pure Welsh, is a strong argument of his Welsh
nationality. He adopted various pseudonyms in the
different countries through which he passed in his wanderings
as an alchemical propagandist. Thus in America he
called himself Doctor Zheil, and in Holland Carnobius.
According to Herthodt, his true name was Childe, while
Langlet du Fresnoy writers it Thomas Vagan, by a characteristic
French blunder. His nom de plume was Eugenius
not Irenæus Philalethes, as Figuier states.1 The life of this
adept is involved in an almost Rosicrucian uncertainty; he
was a mystery even to his publishers, who received his
works from “an unknown person.” Nearly all that is ascertained
concerning him, and concerning his marvellous
transmutations, rests on the authority of Urbiger, who has
been proved inaccurate in more than one of his statements.
His sojourn in America is an established fact, according to
Louis Figuier, and the projections which he there accomplished
in the laboratory of George Starkey, an apothecary,
were subsequently published by the latter in London.
1 Irenæus Philalethes was the pseudonym of George Starkey, the
American disciple of Thomas Vaughan.

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His writings shew him to be a supreme adept of spiritual
alchemy, and he despised the gold which he claimed to be
able to manufacture. The history of this man who roamed
from place to place, performing the most lavish transmutations,
but always anonymous, always obliterating his personality,
often disguised to conceal his identity, by his own
representation in continual dangers and difficulties through
the possession of his terrific secret, and gaining nothing by
his labours, is a curious study of the perversity of human
character for those who disbelieve in alchemy, and some
ground for the faith of those who believe in it. The essential
elements of fraud are wanting, and the intellectual nobility
of the man, illuminated, moreover, by lofty religious aspirations,
is conspicuous in all his works.
The list of his writings is as follows:—
“Anthroposophia Magica;” or a Discourse of the Nature
of Man and his State after Death. “Anima Magica Abscondita;”
or a Discourse of the Universal Spirit of
Nature. London, 1650. 8vo.
“Magia Adamica;” or the Antiquities of Magic, and the
descent thereof from Adam downwards proved. Whereunto
is added a perfect and full discovery of the “Coelum
Terræ.” London, 1650. 8vo.
The Man-Mouse taken in a Trap . . . for Gnawing
the Margins of Eugenius Philalethes. (A satire on Henry
More, who attacked him in a pamphlet entitled “Observations
upon ‘Anthroposophia Magica,’ ” etc.) London,
1650. 8vo.
“Lumen de Lumine;” or a New Magicall Light, discovered
and communicated to the World, with the “Aphorismi
Magici Eugenianii.” London, 1651. 8vo.
The Second Wash; or The Moore Scour’d once more,

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being a charitable cure for the distractions of Alazonomastix
(i.e., Henry More). London, 1651. 8vo.
The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of R. C.,
with a Preface annexed thereto, and a short declaration of
their physicall work. London, 1652. 8vo.
Euphrates; or The Waters of the East; being a
short discourse of that great fountain whose water flows
from Fire, and carries in it the beams of the Sun and Moon.
London, 1655. 8vo.
A Brief Natural History, intermixed with variety of
Philosophical Discourses and Observations of the Burnings
of Mount Etna, &c. London, 1669. 8vo.
Introitus Apertus ad Occlusum Regis Palatium. Philalethæ
Tractatus Tres. I. Metallorum Metamorphosis. II.
Brevis Manductio ad Rubrium Coelestem. III. Fons Chymicæ
Veritatis. 1678. 4to.
It is only in the introduction to the “Fame and Confession”
that Philalethes makes any important reference to the
Rosicrucian Society. There his opinions are expressed in
the following manner:—”I am in the humour to affirm the
essence and existence of that admired chimæra, the Fraternitie
of R. C. And now, gentlemen, I thank you, I have
aire and room enough; methinks you sneak and steal from
me, as if the plague and this Red Cross were inseparable.
Take my Lord have mercy along with you, for I pitty your
sickly braines, and certainly as to your present state the
inscription is not unseasonable. But in lieu of this, some
of you may advise me to an assertion of the Capreols of del
Phæbo, or a review of the library of that discreet gentleman
of La Mancha, for in your opinion those knights and these
brothers are equally invisible. This is hard measure, but I
shall not insist to disprove you. If there be any amongst

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the living of the same bookish faith with myself, they are
the persons I would speak to.”
The preface proceeds to discourse upon the contempt
which magic has undergone in all ages, and then the author
distinctly denies his personal acquaintance with the Rosicrucian
Society. “As for that Fraternity, whose History
and Confession I have here adventured to publish, I have,
for my own part, no relation to them, neither do I much
desire their acquaintance. I know they are masters of great
mysteries, and I know withal that nature is so large they
may as wel receive as give. I was never yet so lavish an
admirer of them as to prefer them to all the world, for it is
possible, and perhaps true, that a private man may have
that in his possession whereof they are ignorant. It is
not their title and the noise it has occasioned which
makes me commend them. The acknowledgment I give
them was first procured by their books, for there I found
them true philosophers, and therefore not chimæras, as most
think, but men. Their principles are every way correspondent
to the ancient and primitive wisedome—nay, they are
consonant to our very religion, and confirm every point
thereof. I question not but most of their proposals may
seem irregular to common capacities, but when the prerogative
and power of Nature is known, there they will quickly
fall even, for they want not order and sobriety. It will be
expected, perhaps, that I should speak something as to their
persons and habitations, but in this my cold acquaintance
will excuse me, or, had I any familiarity with them, I should
not doubt to use it with more discretion. As for their
existence (if I may speak like a schoolman), there is great
reason we should believe it; neither do I see how we can
deny it, unless we grant that Nature is studied, and books

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also written and published, by some other creatures then
men. It is true, indeed, that their knowledg at first was
not purchased by their own disquisitions, for they received
it from the Arabians, amongst whom it remained as the
monument and legacy of the children of the East. Nor is
this at all improbable, for the eastern countries have been
always famous for magical and secret societies.”
He compares the habitation of the Brachmans, as it is
described by Philostratus in his life of Apollonius, with the
Rosicrucian Lotus Sancti Spiritus, concerning which he quotes
the following curious passage by a writer whom he does not
name:—”Vidi aliquando Olympicas domos, non procul a Fluviolo
et Civitate notâ, quas S. Spiritus vocari imaginamur.
Helicon est de quo loquor, aut biceps Parnassus, in quo Equus
Pegasus fontem aperuit perennis aquæ adhuc stillantem,1 in quo
Diana se lavat, cui Venus ut Pedissequa et Saturnus ut Anteambulo,
conjunguntur. Intelligenti nimium, inexperto minimum
hoc erit dictum.” Quoting afterwards the description of the
Elysium of the Brachmans—”I have seen (saith Apollonius)
the Brachmans of India dwelling on the earth and not on
the earth; they were guarded without walls, and possessing
nothing, they enjoyed all things”—this is plain enough,
says Philalethes, “and on this hill have I also a desire to
live, if it were for no other reason but what the sophist
applyed to the mountains—
Hos primum sol salutat, ultimosque descrit,
Quis locum non amet, dies longiores habentem?

But of this place I will not speak any more, lest the readers
should be so mad as to entertain a suspicion that I am of
the Order.” He attempts, however, to show “the confor-

1 See Introduction, note, p. 10.

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mity of the old and new professors,”—namely, the Rosicrucians
and the Indian initiates. “When we have evidence
that magicians have been, it is proof also that they
may be. . . . I hold it then worth our observation that
even those magi who came to Christ Himself came from the
East; but as we cannot prove they were Brachmans, so
neither can we prove they were not. If any man will . . .
contend for the negative, it must follow that the East
afforded more magical societies then one. . . . The learned
will not deny but wisdom and light were first manifested
in the same parts, namely, in the East. From this fountain
also, this living, oriental one did the Brothers of R. C.
draw their wholesom waters.”
He concludes by reiterating his previous statement—”I
have no acquaintance with this Fraternity as to their persons.”