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Coenders van Helpen, Fredericus

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Breviarium Sapientiae. A collection of extracts, commentaries, and notes on alchemy: in French and Latin. Compiler's holograph MS. On p. 208 is a pen-drawn 'Circulus philosophicus'. There are two loose slips written by the compiler, one of which contains four anagrams of his name. Contents: 2nd, 3rd Prelim. ll. Breviarium Sapientiae. In the upper margin: 'A Roly. A[nn]o 1692 in Feb. F. C. ab Helpen'. 4th-7th Alchemical aphorisms, each beginning with a letter to form the words 'Flas Cherubin de Corde Superne', which is an anagram of the Compiler's name in the form 'Fredericus Conderus ab Helpen'. All the above are in Latin. 8th Prelim Leaf. Title-page giving a partial list of contents in French. Signed and dated 'F. Conders de Helpen. 1688'. In the lower margin 'À Role le 6 janv[ier] 1692'. Pp. 1-83 Axiomes philosophiques tirez du Cosmopolite [i.e. Michael Sendivogius] par F. C. de Helpen. Dated 1688, with the anagrammatic signature 'En debes pulchra ferundo scire' [i.e. Fredericus Conderus ab Helpen]. 85-140 Extrait de l'Harmonie et Constitution générale du vray sel et de l'Esprit Universal du Monde. Par Mr de Nuisement. Dated 1688, and signed as above on p. 136. 145-179 Extrait du Poème philosophique traittant de la Vérité de la Physique minérale par le Sr. de Nuisement. Dated 1688 and signed as above. P. 180 Leges viginti sex Magisterium Philosophicum brevissime et ordine exprimentes. C. ab H. 1692. Pp. 181-185 Testamentum Friderici Conders ab Helpen fait à Fontainebelau [sic] le 15 d'8bre 1688. 188-190 Philosophia Antiquorum de se ipso loquens secundum literas nominis F. C. ab H. In acrostic form. Dated Paris. 1689 (p. 189). 1690 (p. 190). 191-196 Abrégé de l'Explication de la Table d'Eméraude par Hortulain. 197-200 Operationes et termini Artis. Autores Philosophi. In acrostic forms of his name. Dated 1691. 201-202 Enigma Philosophicum Frederici Conders ab Helpen. 1691. 203-207 Magni Lapidis Philosophorum definitiones 26 secundum ordinem literarum nominis F. C. ab H. Dated Paris 1691. P. 208 Figure of 'Circulus Philosophicus'. Dated 1692. Pp. 209-214 Aurum diaphanum in Philosophia carminice [carmine ?] concentrata a F. Conders ab Helpen. 1691. 215, 216 Anagrams. 217-227 Extractum F. C. ab H. ex Apocalypsi Spiritus secreti. Incerto Autore. At the end: 'Ce traitté m'est communiqué à Paris de Mr. D'Aubenas à Salignac gentilhomme Provençal le 6e de 9e, 1691, qui a fait cette anagramme de mon nom'. 229-end Alchemical extracts, etc. The four anagrams on one of the loose slips, mentioned at the beginning of this entry are of great interest. They read as follows, and are written in capital letters: (1) De corde superne flas cherubin. (2) En debes pulchra ferundo scire. (3) Rediens nunc ero pulchra fides. (4) Sede nunc pulcher fora ridebis. These are repeated, with variations, on p. 216: and Nos. 1 and 2, as noted are mentioned on p. 227 as having been made up by a M. d'Aubenas. No. 2 is the one most frequently used by the author in this MS. He also uses it in the titles of MSS. No. 1701 and 1702. In the Catalogue of Stanislas de Guaita's Library compiled by R. Philipon, Paris, 1899, No. 1128, the title of a work entered as by 'Barent-Coënders van Helpen', reads 'Escalier des Sages...par un Amateur de la Vérité qui a pour l'anagramme de son nom: Rediens nunc ero pulchra fides. Groningen, Chez C. Pieman. 1686'. The next entry under the same author is for a 'Thrésor de la Philosophie des Anciens. Cologne. C. le Jeune 1693', which the Compiler states 'est le même, sous un tire différent que l'Escalier des Sages'. No. 36 of the same catalogue under the same author, is for an 'Introduction à la philosophie des anciens. Par un amateur de la vérité. Paris. Thiboust. 1689'. Our MS. No. 1702 is an 18th cent. copy of this work, which Philipon states in the entry noted above is 'le même ouvrage que l'Escalier des Sages, mais le style est moins barbare...grâce aux corrections de l'abbé de Saint Ussans, Fr. M. Pompeè Colonne'. François Marie Pompeè Colonne [1644-1726] was a bastard member of the Colonna Family, a devotee of the sciences and of alchemy, and perhaps may have used the pseudonym of 'Alexandre Le Crom' [cf. Ferguson 'Bibliotheca Chemica', Vol. II pp. 15, 16: s.v. Le Crom]. From the above evidence of the anagram it would seem to be conclusively shown that the 'Escalier' 'Thrésor' and 'Introduction' are the work of Fredericus Coenders van Helpen, and not by his father Barent, as stated in Bibliographies and Catalogues, including that of the British Museum Library. In Jöchers 'Allgemeine Gelehrten-Lexicon' there are entries for both father and son. The former Barent [Bernhard] is stated to have been born in 1601, and to have died in 1677. He was a Dutch nobleman and statesman, a Knight of the Order of St. Michael, and Ambassador to Queen Christina of Sweden. His son, Frederic, was Landrath of Groningen and Overseer of the Mint, and wrote a work on architecture which is said to have been given to the King of France.



Physical description

1 volume 8 ll. + 233 pp. + 2 ll. 4to. 21 x 161/2 cm. Original calf-gilt binding, worn.

Acquisition note

Purchased 1936.

Ownership note

Inscribed on the second preliminary leaf 'Bibliothèque de Presle.' [Raymon Baçon (or Baxon) Depresle]. Cf. MS. 4812 (Tollius) and MS. 2590 (Grasshoff)].

Finding aids

Database description transcribed from S.A.J. Moorat, Catalogue of Western Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1962-1973).


  • French
  • Latin

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