1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Vaughan

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 2:368-69.



THOMAS VAUGHAN, who stiles himself, in all or most of his writings which he published, Eugenius Philalethes, was the Son of Tho. Vaughan of Llansomfreid, but born at Newton in the Parish of S. Bridget near Brecknock in Brecknockshire, an. 1621, educated in Grammar learning under one Matthew Herbert, entred in Jesus Coll. in Mich. term, 1638, and was put under the tuition of a noted Tutor; by whose Lectures profiting much, he took one degree in Arts, was made Fellow of the said House, and afterwards taking holy Orders from Dr. Manwaring Bishop of S. David's, had about that time the Rectory of S. Bridget beforementioned conferr'd upon him by his kinsman Sir George Vaughan. But the unsettledness of the times hindering him a quiet possession of it, he left, it, retired to Oxon, and in a sedate repose prosecuted his medicinal geny, (in a manner natural to him) and at length became eminent in the chymical part thereof at Oxon, and afterwards at London under the protection and patronage of that noted Chymist Sir Rob. Murrey or Moray Kt. Secretary of State for the Kingdom of Scotland. He the said Vaughan was a great admirer of the labours of Cornel. Agrippa, whose principles he followed in most of his works, and to whom, in matters of Philosophy, he acknowledged that next to God he owed all that he had, and therefore in his praise he did often passionately break out into poetical strains, as that he was

Nature's Apostle, and her choice High Priest,
Her mystical and bright Evangelist. &c.

As he was a great admirer of Agrippa, so he was no great favourer of the Aristotelian Philosophy, condemning it as altogether imperfect and false, a meer Apothecary's drugg, a mixture of inconsistent contrary Principles, which no way agree with the harmony and method of nature. The whole Encyclopedia of which, abating the demonstrative mathematical part, he says is built on meer imagination without the least light of experience, and therefore he wishes that all true Sons of his famous Oxford Mother, would look beyond Aristotle and not confine their intellects to the narrow and cloudy horizon of his Text. Our Author seems also to have had as little kindness for the Cartesian Philosophy as the former, for he says that the Author of it was a whim and a wham, a Fellow that invented ridiculous Principles of his own, but hath cast them into such a method, that they have a seeming dependency, and (Scholars) mistake his knavery for his reason, &c. The truth is, our Author Vaughan was so wedded to his beloved Agrippa, that nothing could so relish with him but his works, especially his Occult Philosophy, which he would defend in all discourse and writing. He was a great Chymist, a noted Son of the Fire, an experimental Philosopher, a zealous Brother of the Rosie-Crucian fraternity, an understander of some of the Oriental languages, and a tolerable good English and Latin poet. He was neither Papist nor Sectary, but a true resolute Protestant in the best sense of the Church of England. His works are these,

Anthroposophia Theomagica: or, a Discourse of the Nature of Man and his State after Death, grounded on his Creator's Proto-chymistry, and verified by a practical examination of Principles in the great World. Lond. 1650. oct. Dedicated to his brethren of the Rosie-Cross.

Anima magica absondita: or, a Discourse of the universal Spirit of Nature, with his strange, abstruse, miraculous Ascent and Descent. Lond. 1650. oct. It is joyned with the former book, and they go both together. But the reader is to know, that our author having reflected on some of the writings of Mr. Hen. More fellow of Christ's coll. in Cambridge, particularly, as it seems, on his Psychodia Platonica; More thereupon came out with a book entit. Observations upon Anthroposophia Theomagica and Anima mag. abscond. under the name of Alazonomastix Philalethes — Par. alias Lond. 1650. oct. Which observations being somewhat satyrical, charging our author to be a magician, and withal affirming that nothing but an implacable enmity to immorality and foolery, and a zeal of discountenancing vanity, moved him to write against him, (in which his writings he stiles our author "a Momus, a mimic, an ape, a meer animal, a fool in a play, a jack-pudding," &c.) our author thereupon came out with an answer in vindication of himself, entit.

The Man-Mouse taken in a Trap, and tortured to Death for gnawing the Margins of Eug. Philalethes. Lond. 1650. oct. Written in the greatest buffoonery and scolding imaginable, out-stripping the pattern laid before him by his adversary; and not only plays and quibbles on his name like a novice, but falls fouly on his university in a childish manner. All which doth fully make out the fantasticalness of the title. But this also was replied upon by the said More under the name of Alaz. Philalethes in a book entit. The second Lash against Vaughan's Anthropos. Cantab. 1651. oct. Which answer and reply of More did afterwards so little please him, tho' they tended to a good end, that he thought not fit to have them translated into Latin, with the rest of his Philosophical Works, which were printed 1679. fol. See the general preface to the said works concerning the occasion and stile of the aforesaid answer and reply. Tho. Vaughan hath also written,

Magia Adamica: or, the Antiquity of Magic, and the Descent thereof from Adam downward, proved, &c. Lond. 1650. oct.

A perfect and full Discovery of the true Coelum Terrae, or the Magicians heavenly Chaos and first Matter of all Things. — Printed with the Magia Adam.

The second Wash: or, the Moore scoured once more; being a charitable Cure for the Distractions of Alazomastix. Lond. 1651. oct. The first wash was the Man-mouse. This worthy person Dr. Hen. More (of whom he heard no farther as to this matter) was born of Calvinistical parents in a market town in Lincolnshire, called Grantham, and there for a while bred up under a master of the same persuasion. At about 14 years of age he was sent to Eaton school near Windsor, where he usually spoke very slightly of the opinions of Calvin, and about three years after he was entred into Christ's coll. in Cambridge, where he became fellow, a great tutor, and a most noted philosopher. He died on the 1st of Sept. 1687. aged 73 years, and was buried in the chappel of Christ's coll. as I have been informed thence.

Lumen de Lumine: or, a new magical Light discovered, and communicated to the World. Lond. 1651. oct.

Aphorismi Magici Eugeniani. Printed with Lum. de Lum. and both dedicated to the univ. of Oxon.

Aula Lucis: or, the House of Light: a Discourse written in the year 1651. Lond. 1652. oct. Published not under the name of Eug. Philalethes, but under the two letters of S. N. a modern speculator, being the two last letters of Thomas Vaughan.

Large Preface with a short Declaration of the physical Work of the Fraternity of the Rosie Cross — Set by him before a book entit. The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of R. C. commonly of the Rosie Cross. Lond. 1652. oct. Which Fame and Confession was translated into English by another hand. I have seen another book entit. — Themis aurea. The Laws of the Fraternity of the Rosie Cross. Lond. 1656. oct. Written in Lat. by count Michael Maierius, and put into English for the information of those who seek after the knowledge of that honourable and mysterious society of wise and renowned philosophers. This English translation is dedicated to Elias Ashmole esq. by an epistle subscribed N. L. — T. S. — H. S. but who he or they are, he the dais El. Ashmole hath utterly forgotten.

Euphrates. A Discovery of the Waters of the East; or of that secret Fountain, whose Water flows from Fire, and carries in it the Beams of the Sun and Moon. Lond. 1656. oct. He hath also translated into English, The Chymist's Key to open and shut: or, the true Doctrine of Corruption and Generation. Lond. 1655. Written by Hen. Nollius. He hath also left several Lat. poems behind him, which are in the hands of his brother Henry, called by some Olor Iscanus, esteemed by many fit to be published. One Eugenius Philalethes hath written, A brief natural History intermixed with Variety of philosophical Discourses upon the Burning of Mount Aetna, with Refutations, &c. Lond. 1669. oct. but by the language of it, it seems not to be written by our Eug. Phil. but another; and besides, when Olor Iscanus sent me a catalogue of his brother's works, the title of that book was not put among them. One who calls himself Eireneus Philalethes a citizen of the world hath published Ripley redivivus, &c. and another who writes himself Eireneus Philoponos Philalethes, hath published The Marrow of Alchymy, &c. in two parts. Lond. 1654 and 55. oct. Both which parts are written in verse, and so consequently the author is to be numbered among the poets. As for our Author Eug. Phil. alias Thom. Vaughan, he did accompany Sir Rob. Murrey before-mentioned to Oxon, at what time the great Plague at London drove their Majesties and their respective Courts to that place, where he continued for a time. Soon after taking up his quarters in the house of Sam. Kem Rector of Albury near to Thame and Ricot in Oxfordshire, died there as it were suddenly, when he was operating strong Mercury, some of which by chance getting up into his Nose killed him, on the 27th of Feb. in sixteen hundred sixty and five, and was buried on the first of March following in the Church belonging to the said Village of Albury alias Oldbury (about 8 Miles distant from Oxon,) by the care and charge of the said Sir Robert Murrey: Of whom, by the way, I must let the Reader know these things [omitted].