Fludd, Robert

, or de Fluctibus, an English philosopher, was the son of sir Thomas Fludd, knight, sometime treasurer of war to queen Elizabeth in France and the Low Countries; and was born at Milgate, in the parish of Bearsted, in Kent, in 1574. He was admitted of St. | John’s-college, Oxford, in 1591; and having taken both the degrees in arts, applied himself to physic. He then spent six years in travelling through France, Spain, Italy, and Germany: in most of which countries he not only became acquainted with several of the nobility, but read lectures to them. After his return, being in high repute for his chemical knowledge, he accumulated the degrees of bachelor and doctor of physic. This was in 1605; about which time he practised in London, and became fellow of the college of physicians. He did not begin to publish till 1616, but afterwards became a voluminous writer, being the author of about twenty works, mostly written in Latin, and as dark and mysterious in their language, as in their matter. Some of his productions were aimed against Kepler and Mersennus; and he had the honour of replies from both those philosophers. He wrote two books against Mersennus; the first entitled “Sophias cum Moria certamen, in quo lapis Lydius, a falso structore Patre Marino Mersenno Monacho reprobatus, celeberrima voluminis sui Babylonici in Genesim figmenta accuratæ examinat.Franc. 1629, folio. The second, “Summum Bonorum, quod est verum Magiae, Cabalae, Alchymije, Fratrum Roseug Crucis Verorum, subjectum: in dictarum scientiarum laudem, in insignis calumniatoris Fr. Mar. Mersenni dedecus publicatum, per Joachim. Frizium,1629, folio. Mersennus desiring Gassendus to give his judgment on these two books of Fludd against him, that great man drew up an answer divided into three parts: the first of which sifts the principles of Fludd’s whimsical philosophy, as they lie scattered throughout his works the second is against “Sophiae cum Moria certamen” and the third against “Summum Bonorum,” &c. This answer, called “Examen Fluddanae Philosophise,” is dated Feb. 4, 1629, and is printed in the third volume of Gassendus’s works in folio. In the dedication to Merseniius, this antagonist fairly allows Fludd the merit of extensive learning. His other works were: 1. “Utriusque Cosmi, majoris et minoris, Technica Historia,” Oppenheim, 1617, in two volumes foiio. 2. “Tractatus Apologeticus integritatena societatis de Rosea cruce defendens,Leyden, 1617. 3. “Monochordon mundi symphoniacum, eu Replicatio ad Apologiam Joannis Kepleri,” Francfort, 1620. 4. “Anatomise Theatrum triplici effigie designatum,” ibid. 1623. 5. “Philosophia Sacra et vere Christiana, seu Meteorologia Cosmica,” ibid, 1626. 6, | Mediclna Cathotica, sen, Mysticum artis Medicandi Sacrarium,” ibid. 1626. 7. “Integrum Morborum Mysterium,” ibid. 1631. 8. “De Morborum Signis,” ibid. 1631. These two treatises are a part of the Medicina Catholica. 9. “Clavis Philosophise et Alchyrniae Fluddanse,” ibid. 1633. 10. “Philosophia Mosa’ica,” Goudae, 1638. 11. “Pathologia Daemoniaca,” ibid. 1640.

So peculiar was this philosopher’s turn of mind, that there was nothing which ancient or modern times could afford, under the notion of occult wisdom, which he did not eagerly gather into his magazine of science. All the mysterious and incomprehensible dreams of the Cabbalists and Paracelsians, he compounded into a new mass of absurdity. In hopes of improving the medical and chemical arts, he devised a new system of physics, loaded with wonderful hypothesis, and mystical fictions. He supposed two universal principles, the northern or condensing power, and the southern, or rarefying power. Over these he placed innumerable intelligences and geniuses, and called together whole troops of spirits from the four winds, to whom he committed the charge of diseases. He applied his thermometer to discover the harmony between the macrocosm and the microcosm, or the world of nature and of man he introduced many marvellous fictions into natural philosophy and medicine he attempted to explain the Mosaic cosmogony, in a work entitled “Philosophia Mosaica,” wherein he speaks of three first principles, darkness, as the first matter; water, as the second matter; and the divine light, as the most central essence, creating, informing, vivifying all things of secondary principles, two active, cold and heat and two passive, moisture and dryness and describes the whole mystery of production and corruption, of regeneration and resurrection, with such vague conceptions and obscure language, as leaves the subject involved in impenetrable darkness. Some of his ideas, such as they were, appear to have been borrowed from the Cabbalists and Alexandrian Platonists. The reader will easily judge, what kind of light may be expected from the writings of Robert Fludd, when he is informed that he ascribes the magnetic virtue to the irradiation of angels. Fludd died at his house in Coleman-street, London, in 1637, and was sent to Bearsted for interment. 1


Ath. Ox, vol. I. Brucker. Fuller’s Worthies,