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The Scots Magazine.


AUGUST 1820.


Life of the Wizard Michael Scott,


Origin of the Venetian Festivals
Remarks on Keats's Poems
Account of the Discovery of New South
Shetland; with Observations on its



Extract from Mrs Opie's Tales of the




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Specimens of a New Translation of the
Comedies of Terence.-The Fair An-
drian.-The Arts of Phormio......113
Remarks on Crawfurd's History of the
Indian Archipelago, (Continued. )..........120
Description of a Storm. From Marci-
an Colonna
Correspondence of the De Coverley Fa-
mily. No. III.
Historical Notices of the Popular Su-
perstitions, Traditions, and Customs
of Tiviotdale. No. III. www
Living Authors. A Dream.
Establishment of a General Board of

Health for Ireland


Second Letter from the Author of Es-
says on Phrenology143
On the English Dramatic Writers who

preceded Shakespeare. No. VIII.148 | Births, Marriages, and Deaths.......188


University of Edinburgh-New Metal
-Diamond-Steam Brig-Carriage
with Sails Scientific Voyage-

French Clergy-Sour-Krout, &c.
&c. &c. ~~~.....................

Works Preparing for Publication~~~~~164
Monthly List of New Publications.166


Foreign Intelligence

Parliamentary Intelligence
British Chronicle

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Appointments, Promotions, &c.179
Meteorological Table
Agricultural Report.
Commercial Report.



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Printed by George Ramsay & Co.


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29. Michaelmas Day.
30. Hare Hunting begins.

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TERMS, &c.


Sept. 2. Partridge shooting begins.
23. Sun enters Libra 28 m. past 3 m.
23. Day and Night equal.


WE hope no accident has befallen the BYSTANDer. If he does not pay us a visit next month, we shall be under a serious alarm. Perhaps he is only " in love, or in the gout." Either of these maladies may afford him an amusing subject for a paper, when the fit is over.


The Critique on the Drama of the Legend of Montrose is too sublimely composed for our humble pages.

The Correspondents of the EDINBURGH MAGAZINE AND LITERARY MISCELLANY are respectfully requested to transmit their Communications for the Editor to ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE and COMPANY, Edinburgh, or LONGMAN and COMPANY, London; to whom also orders for the Work should be particularly addressed.






Michael Scott.

AUGUST 1820.

(Concluded from p. 499, Vol. VI.) Before their eyes the Wizard lay, As if he had not been dead a day ; His hoary beard in silver rolled, He seemed some seventy winters old. A palmer's amice wrapt him round, With a wrought Spanish baldric bound Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea: The lamp was placed beside his knee : His left hand held his book of might, A silver cross was in his right, High and majestic was his look, At which the fellest fiends had shook, And all unruffled was his face, They trusted his soul had gotten grace.

Lay of the Last Minstrel. Canto II. We left the Wizard engaged in translating Aristotle at the court of Frederic the Second. A particular account of all the treatises of this philosopher, which he presented in a Latin dress to his patron the Emperor, would be unnecessarily dry and fatiguing. He who is curious in tracing the early history of the peripatetic philosophy, will find his translations enumerated by Dempster, Tanner, and Pitseus. * His original works are more worthy of notice, although it must be allowed that they give a strange and rather revolting picture


The list of his works given by Mackenzie in his Lives, Vol. I. p. 214, is very imperfect, nor is Niceron, Vol. XV. 101, to be relied on. Roger Bacon, in his Opus Majus, p. 36, 37, seems to ascribe a great portion of Aristotle's fame amongst the philosophers of his day to the transla. tion of his works by Michael Scott.

of the fantastic and puerile philosophy of the thirteenth century.

At the particular request of Frederic, Michael, during his residence at his court, composed his treatise on physiognomy, entitled Phisionomia et de Hominis Procreatione. He has divided this singular and absurd dissertation into three parts. In the first he treats De Generatione Hominis, founding his doctrines regarding this mysterious subject upon the principles of Aristotle and Galen. In the second part are enumerated the various signs which enable us to form a judgment of the different dispositions of men and women; and in the third division of the work, he has laid down certain rules by which we may discern, from an examination of the various parts of the body, the particular mental qualities and ruling inclinations of the individual. This treatise of the magician's is not only absurd in its principles, but indecent to a high degree in its descriptions and illustrations. It commences with a laboured and dignified proemium to Frederic, of which it is one remarkable feature, that he addresses this representative of the Cæsars more in the familiar style of a sage who in, structs a disciple, than of an author who lays his work at the feet of an emperor. If we are to give credit to another part of this dedication, he had not only managed to insinuate himself into the confidence of this warlike prince, but it was by his particular advice that the emperor encouraged the resort of so many ingenious philosophers and learned doctors to his

court, and that he was wont laying aside the pomp and terror of a conqueror, to engage with them in friendly argument and familiar discourse. 66 Hence," says he, "it is by my advice and counsel that learned men, and grave and ingenious doctors, are found around thee at thy court, and that thou art often induced to enter into discourse with them, engaging them in conversation with wisdom and urbanity.

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booke," says the English translator,
"is to make a man able to judge of
the disposition and state of his own
body; of the effects, natures, and dis-
positions of those things wherewith
we daily feed our bodies. The next
is to give us a general insight and
brief notice of histories, and men of
greatest fame and note; and the next
is, that here we may recreate and
make merry ourselves at our tables."
He adds, that it is a work of "
cial notice in this kind, and written
first in Latin by Michal Scotus."
From this sketch of the contents and
nature of the Philosopher's Banquet,
we may believe that the discussions it
contains are somewhat heterogeneous
and dissimilar. It treats of Ram's
Flesh in one chapter, and of the Bi-
shops of the Gentiles in another-of
Pot Herbs, and Wicked Women. Its
investigates the actions of kings and
emperors, and explains the causes why
some eggs crack in the fire, and others
do not. It treats of the nature and
properties of friendship, and endea-
vours to determine whether fishes
chew their meat or no. Last of all,
it contains certain honest and merry
jests, " to exhilarate our bodies and
minds at our tables, which are to be
served in, like carawayes, at the end
of our feast.' This could scarcely be
written by Michael Scott-we must
believe it to have been the work of
some philosophic cook, or some very
cookish philosopher, although it must
be allowed that the frequent quota
tions from the volumes of Arabian
physicians and sages, from Rases, A
verroes, and Avicenna, give somes
countenance to the supposition of its
having been the performance of the

In addition to these, Gesner informs us that he composed, for the recreation of the Emperor, a Treatise on the Sphere of Sacrobosco,-a work entitled Astronomical Diagrams,book on the Opinions of Astrologers, -a dissertation on Chiromancy, and another book on the Signs of the Planets. *


The dissertation on the Sphere, written by John de Sacrobosco, a mathematical doctor of the thirteenth century, who has been highly praised by Regiomontanus and Melancthon, was one of the most popular works of

Gesner, Biblioth. p. 607.

According to Michael's definition, physiognomy is a science of a very high character, embracing within its range some of the noblest subjects on which the human intellect can be employed." It is the doctrine of safe ty, the election of good, the avoidance of evil. It is the comprehension of virtue, the detestation and prætermission of vice. The knowledge of this science is induced and created by the *true love of God, and the fear of the devil-by the meritorious principle of faith, and the hope of the imperishable reward of eternal life." +

When we compare this high wrought definition with the shallow and trifling opinions, and the indecent ribaldry which, under the name of philosophy, compose the greatest part of the work, it is difficult to say whether we should be most surprised at the folly of the author who could write, or of the public which could greedily swallow, no 'less than thirteen editions of so disgusting a production.

Another work which has been ascribed to Michael Scott, although it is not to be found in the pages of Dempster, or the catalogue of Tanner, is the "Mensa Philosophica," a translation of which was published in England in the year 1609, entitled, "The Philosopher's Banquet, furnished with a few Dishes for Health, but large Discourse for Pleasure." This is a very whimsical performance, and if we look to a passage at the commencement of the thirtieth chapter, a strong presumption arises, that it was not written by our Scottish philosopher. This supposition will be strengthened by a reference to the very ludicrous subjects of several of his chapters, and the culinary remarks which are thrown in to garnish and enrich the style. "The use of this

Phisionomia, p. 1, edit. 1477. +Ibid. p. 2.


this age. It has run through innumerable editions-it kept possession of the schools for four centuries -and, during this long period, it has, in the words of Leland, been sought out, studied, and painfully handled by the whole herd of mathematicians.' Upon this mathematical treasure Michael Scott composed the work entitled Super autorem Sphæræ Questiones. Justinian de Rubeira, a printer of Bologna, in the year 1495, about two hundred years after the death of its author, published an edition of this treatise, with the following title, showing that the lapse of two centuries, so far from impairing, had added freshness to the scientific reputation of our Scottish astronomer. "The work of Michael Scott, that most excellent and inimitable investigator of the motions of Nature and the courses of the Stars, upon the author of the Sphere, with the Mathematical questions most diligently corrected."+

Frederic, however, whose time was now occupied by schemes of ambition, and his exchequer drained by continual and expensive wars, could probably afford to give little else than empty praise to his philosophic instructor; and although Michael, in the spirit of the age, had become an experienced alchymist, this delusive science must rather have impoverished than enriched him.

would happen at a certain castle named Fiorenzola. The prophecy, according to Granger, in his Commentary on Dante, in due time was strictly fulfilled. Frederic, as he was praying in the chapel of the castle of Fiorenzola, at the time when the bell was ringing, was struck on the head by a stone which had been loosened by the rope; the wound proved mortal; and his death, of course, imparted additional lustre to the supernatural endowments of his late astrologer.

After a residence of many years in Germany, Michael passed over into England, on his return to his native country. Edward I. then filled the throne, and was employed at this period in those able and treacherous schemes for the subjugation of Scotland, in which he spared neither blood nor money, and regarded neither truth nor honour, provided he accomplished his purpose. It was one part of his policy to endeavour to lower and brutalize the character of the Scottish people, by compelling all the learned scholars of the nation to reside at the universities of England, "This year," (1302,) says Antony Wood, "the King compelled all such Scotchmen as were of singular knowledge in learning or literature to be resident in Oxford, doubting lest the Scotch nobility, increasing in politic prudence by their instructions, should seek to throw off the yoke of bondage."+ The celebrated John Duns Scotus was one of those scholars who suffered under this persecution. Along with eleven other ecclesiastical prisoners, he was led chained and a captive into England. Michael Scott's destiny was


It is likely that these reasons induced him to bid farewell to the court of the emperor, and to devote himself seriously to the study of medicine as a profession. In this art he soon arrived at the greatest reputation, and possessed, if we may believe an able, though anonymous, author, the most miraculous skill. + "Dira illa (says he) lepram podagram, hydropsin, aliaque insanabilia corporis contagia arte sua mirifice, et nullo ut videatur negotio sustulit."

Michael, as a last service to the emperor, predicted to him the place in which he was fated to finish his royal career, asserting that his death

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* Naude Apologie, p. 497.

It ought not to be concealed, that Christoforo Landini, in his Commentary on Dante, published at Florence in 1482, tells the story somewhat differently. Michael, according to him, told Frederic that he would die at Florence; but the similarity. of the name, says he, deceived the wizard, for the emperor died at Fiorenzola, a stone from the belfry falling upon his head when he was praying, "which, when he had taken up and weighed, he found it was of the exact weight which had been foretold, and knew that he would die, which happen ed accordingly."

+ Hist. Oxf. Vol. I. p. 366.

Vita Joan. Dunsii, a Mathco Veglense, a very rare book, published at Padua in 1671.

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