Kuhlman, Quirinus

, a celebrated fanatic, was born at Breslaw in Silesia in 1651, and gave great hopes by the uncommon progress he made in literature; but this was interrupted by a sickness he laboured under at eighteen years of age. He was thought to be dead on the third day of his illness, but had then, it seems, a most terrible vision. He fancied himself surrounded with all the devils in hell, and this at mid-day, when he was awake. This vision was followed by another of God himself, surrounded by his saints, and Jesus Christ in the midst; when he saw and felt things inexpressible. Two days after, he had more visions of the same kind; and when he was cured of his distemper, though he perceived a vast alteration with regard to these sights, yet he found himself perpetually encompassed with a circle of light on his left hand. He had no longer any taste for human learning, nor any value for university-disputes or lectures; he would have no other master but the Holy Ghost. He left his country at nineteen years of age. His desire to see Holland made him hasten thither, even in the midst of a desolating war; and he landed at Amsterdam, Sept. 3, 1673, which was but three days before the retaking the city of Naerden. He went to Leyden a few days after, and meeting with Jacob Behmen’s works, his disorder increased, for he now | said he found that Behmen had prophesied of things, of which he thought nobody but himself had the least knowledge. There was at that time in Holland one John Hothe, a prophet likewise of the same stamp; for whom Kuhlman conceived a high veneration, and dedicated to him his “Prodromus quinquennii mirabilis,” printed at Leyden in 1674. This work was to be followed by two other volumes, in the first of which he intended to introduce the studies and discoveries he had made from the time of his first vision to 1674. He communicated his design to father Kircher; and, commending some books which that Jesuit had published, he let him know, that he had only sketched out what himself intended to carry much farther Kircher wrote him civil answers, in which he did not trouble himself to defend his works, but declared, that, having written only as a man, he did not pretend to equal those who wrote by inspiration. “I frankly own myself,” says he, “incapable of your sublime and celestial knowledge: what I have written, I have written after a human manner, that is, by knowledge gained by study and labour, not divinely inspired or infused. I do not doubt but that you, by means of the incomparable and vast extent of your genius, will produce discoveries much greater and more admirable than my trifles. You promise great and. incredible things, which, as they far transcend all human capacity, so I affirm boldly, that they have never been attempted, nor even thought of, by any person hitherto; and therefore I cannot but suspect, that you have obtained by the gift of God such a knowledge as the scriptures ascribe to Adam and Solomon: I mean, an Adamic and Solomonic knowledge, known to no mortal but yourself, and inexplicable by any other.” Our fanatic, not perceiving that his correspondent was jesting with him, carefully published Kircher’s answers, using capital letters in those passages where he thought himself praised. Kircher, however, gave him serious advice, when Kuhlman consulted him about writing to the pope: he told him with what circumspection and caution things were conducted at Rome; and assured him, that in his great work, which he proposed to dedicate to the pope, he must admit nothing which might offend the censors of books, and especially take care not to ascribe to himself an inspired knowledge.

When Kuhlman left Holland does not appear; but it is related, that he wandered a long time in England, France, | and the East, and at last was burnt in Muscovy, Oct. 3, 1689, on account of some predictions of the seditious kind. In the character of this fanatic, there is little to excite respect or compassion. He kept two women in succession, without the sanction of marriage, and made use of the worst arts to get money. He used to write letters to people, in which he denounced terrible judgments, if certain sums were not advanced for the promotion of the new kingdom of God. The celebrated Van Helmont received one of these letters, but paid no attention to it. Another proof that there was nothing very sincere in his enthusiasm, is, that, while he was reaay to write respectfully to the pope for the good of Christianity, he was comforting himself with Drabicius’s prophecies relating to the destruction of the papacy; and, at that very time, wrote to his friends letters full of hopes that it was then approaching. 1


Gen. Dict. —Moreri.