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many men of his generation did correspondingly great work. Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa had developed mathematics and applied mathematical ideas to the heavens, so that he could announce the conclusion that the earth was a star, like the other stars, and moved in the heavens as they do. Contemporary with Cusanus was Regiomontanus, who has been proclaimed the father of modern astronomy, and a distinguished mathematician. Toscanelli, the Florentine astronomer, whose years run almost parallel with those of the fifteenth century, did fine scholarly work, which deeply influenced Columbus and the great navigators of the time. The universities in Italy were attracting students from all over Europe, and such men as Linacre and Dr. Caius went down there from England. Raphael was but a young man at the end of the century, but he had done some noteworthy painting before it closed. Leonardo da Vinci was born just about the middle of the century, and did some marvellous work before the end of that century. Michael Angelo was only twenty-five at the close of the century, but he, too, did fine work, even at this early age. Among the other great Italian painters of this century are Fra Angelico, Perugino, Raphael's master, Pinturicchio, Signorelli, the pupil of his uncle, Vasari, almost as distinguished, Botticelli, Titian, and very many others, who would have been famous leaders in art in any other but this supremely great period.
It was not only in Italy, however, that there was a wonderful outburst of genius at this time, for Germany also saw the rise of a number of great men during this period. Jacob Wimpheling, the “ Schoolmaster of Germany," as he has been called, whose educational work did much to determine the character of German education for two centuries, was born in 1450. Rudolph Agricola, who influenced the intellectual Europe of this time deeply, was born in 1443. Erasmus, one of the greatest of scholars, of teachers, and of controversialists, was born in 1467. Johann Reuchlin, the great linguist, who, next to Erasmus, is the most important character in the German Renaissance, was born in 1455. Then there was Sebastian Brant, the author of “ The Ship of Fools," and Alexander Hegius, both of this same period. The most influential of them all, Thomas à Kempis, who died in 1471, and whose little book, “ The Following of Christ,” has influenced every generation deeply ever since, was probably a close contemporary of Basil Valentine. When one knows what European, and especially German scholars, were accomplishing at this time, no room is left for surprise that Basil Valentine should have lived and done work in medicine at this period that was to influence deeply the after history of medicine.
Most of what Basil Valentine did was accomplished in the first half of the fifteenth century. Coming, as he did, before the invention of printing, when the spirit of tradition was more rife and dominating than it has been since, it is almost needless to say that there are many curious legends associated with his name. Two centuries before his time, Roger Bacon, doing his work in England, had succeeded in attracting so much attention even from
the common people, because of his wonderful seientific discoveries, that his name became a byword, and many strange magical feats were attributed to him. Friar Bacon was the great wizard, even in the plays of the Elizabethan period. A number of the same sort of myths attached themselves to the Benedictine monk of the fifteenth century. He was proclaimed in popular story to have been a wonderful magician. Even his manuscript, it was said, had not been published directly, but had been hidden in a pillar in the church attached to his monastery, and had been discovered there after the splitting open of the pillar by a bolt of lightning from heaven. It is the extension of this tradition that has sometimes led to the assumption that Valentine lived in an earlier century, some even going so far as to say that he, too, like Roger Bacon, was a product of the thirteenth century. It seems reasonably possible, however, to separate the traditional from what is actual in his existence, and thus to obtain some idea at least of his work, if not of the details of his life. The internal evidence from his works enables the historian of science to place his writing within half a century of the discovery of America.
One of the myths that have gathered around the name of Basil Valentine, because it has become a commonplace in philology, has probably made him more generally known than any of his actual discoveries. In one of the most popular of the oldfashioned text-books of chemistry in use about half a century ago, in the chapter on antimony, there was a story that students, if I may judge from my own experience, never forgot. It was said that Basil Valentine, a monk of the Middle Ages, was the discoverer of this substance. After having experimented with it in a number of ways, he threw some of it out of his laboratory one day when the swine of the monastery, finding it, proceeded to gobble it up, together with some other refuse. Just when they were finishing it, the monk discovered what they were doing. He feared the worst from it, but took the truasion to observe the effect upon the swine wery warefully. He found that, after a preliminary period of digestive disturbance, these swine developed an enormous appetite, ani became latter than any of the others. This seemed a rather desirable result. and Basil Valentine, ever on the search for the practical. thought that we migh: use the remedr to good purpose 01: the weinbers of the community. Some of tur monk ir: tun monastery were of rather irai bealth, and ueneath constitution, and most of them wert rather thin, and we thought that the putting oi, o á Littis lat. provideu it could be accomplished without infringemen of the rule, might be a good thing for them. eordingly, he administered, surreptitiously, some of the salts of antimony, wit} which he was experimenting in the food served to these monks. The result, however, was not so favorable as in the case of the bogs. Indeed, according to one, though less authentic, version of the story, some of the poor monks, the unconscious subjects of the experiment, perished as the result of the ingestion of the antimonial com pounds. According to the better version, ther sut fered only the usual unpleasant consequences of
taking antimony, which are, however, quite enough for a fitting climax to the story. Basil Valentine called the new substance which he had discovered antimony, that is, opposed to monks. It might be good for hogs, but it was a form of monks' bane, as it were.
Unfortunately for most of the good stories of history, modern criticism has nearly always failed to find any authentic basis for them, and they have had to go the way of the legends of Washington's hatchet and Tell's apple. We are sorry to say that that seems to be true also of this particular story. Antimony, the word, is very probably derived from certain dialectic forms of the Greek word for the metal, and the name is no more derived from anti and monachus than it is from anti and monos (opposed to single existence), another fictitious derivation that has been suggested, and one whose etymological value is supposed to consist in the fact that antimony is practically never found alone in nature.
Notwithstanding the apparent cloud of unfounded traditions that are associated with his name, there
It is curious to trace how old are the traditions on which some of these old stories, that must now be rejected, are founded. I have come upon the story with regard to Basil Valentine and the antimony and the monks in an old French medical encyclopedia of biography, published in the seventeenth century, and at that time there was no doubt at all expressed as to its truth. How much older than this it may be I do not know, though it is probable that it comes from the sixteenth century, when the kakoethes scribendi attacked many people because of the facility of printing, and when most of the good stories that have so worried the modern dry-as-dust historian in his researches for their correction became a part of the body of supposed historical tradition. It is probably French in origin because in that language antimoine is a tempting bait for that pseudo-philology which has so often led to false derivations.