BETWEEN THE DEMONIC AND THE MIRACULOUS:
Athanasius Kircher and the Baroque culture of machines
Unabridged draft of essay published in abridged form in The Great Art of Knowing: The Baroque Encyclopedia of Athanasius Kircher, ed. Daniel Stolzenberg, Stanford: Stanford University Libraries, 2001, pp. 59-70
From the magnetic Jesus walking on water described in his very first published book, the 1631 Ars Magnesia, to the unfortunate cat imprisoned in a catoptric chest and terrified by its myriad reflections shown to visitors to his famous museum, the peculiar mechanical, optical, magnetic, hydraulic and pneumatic devices constructed by Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680) continue to defy the analytical categories used in both traditional museum history and history of science. Although Filippo Buonanni (1638-1725) later attempted to reduce the machines of the Kircherian museum to the status of mechanical demonstrations, even adding some of his own, it is clear that for Kircher and his immediate entourage, these machines were, in some real sense, magical. Far from being trivial addenda to a collection of antiquities and naturalia, the documents suggest that Kircher’s machines were utterly central to any seventeenth century visit to the Musaeum Kircherianum. But, from the point of view of traditional histories of science, Kircher’s machines remain defiantly perplexing. Their emblematic, ludic, and deceptive connotations sit ill with any attempt to place them within grand histories of “experimental science” emphasizing the demise of Aristotelianism through the triumph of an “experimental method” during precisely the period in which the Kircherian museum enjoyed its exhuberant heyday. From the point of view of the history of collections, the machines accumulated by Kircher and his disciples in Rome cannot merely be treated as objects removed from circulation, or from their original context of usage, as these machines had no original context of usage, and did not circulate prior to their display in the museum. Rather, we are dealing with purpose-built installations, constructed ad hoc by Kircher and his changing body of assistants, technicians and disciples in the Collegio Romano.
So what are we to make of these magical machines? This article attempts to situate Kircher’s machines in a Baroque culture of artificial magic. Using contemporary accounts of visits to Kircher’s museum and other documents, it aims to recover the purpose of these devices, to understand how they worked, not only by peering inside them to examine their secret workings, but also by looking outside them at how people responded to them, and at how Kircher and his Jesuit companions placed this part of their output in a rich tradition of artificial magic that has commonly been overlooked or trivialised by historians of science. We will argue that Kircher’s machines found their meaning in a flourishing Baroque culture of special effects. In the same way that “inside jokes” confirm the identity of a particular social group, while excluding the majority of people who are not privy to the assumptions on which the joke is based, the machines of Kircher and his disciples provided an elite social group with self-defining puzzles and enigmas.
The game of deducing the natural causes behind the strange effects produced by Kircher’s magical machines, such as a clepsydra apparently pouring water upwards into a “watery heaven”, really caused by a hidden mirror, was somewhat akin to fox-hunting or golf in our society: if you could play the game, your identity as part of a particular social elite was confirmed. If you could not play the game, and had to assume that demonic forces were responsible for the strange effects you were witnessing, you were doomed to the ranks of the vulgar masses. In this respect, Kircher’s machines had much in common with courtly emblems and enigmas, and the culture of “sprezzatura” which countless behaviour-manuals vainly attempted to divulge in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Like many types of joke, Kircher’s machines are, we argue, inherently conservative. They rest on a shared mystery – the hidden causes behind the visible effects. To challenge the received picture of the causes operating in the natural world in response to such a machine would thus amount in a strong sense to spoiling the joke for everybody else.
At the core of Kircher’s marvellous machines, then, lies a robust epistemological conservatism. Kircher’s machines thus offer us an alternative to conventional stories of the inevitable collapse of Aristotelian natural philosophy through direct experimentation, and require us to refine our understanding of the roles played by machines, experiments and instruments in seventeenth century natural philosophy. The culture of the elite audience for which Kircher’s machines were designed is inscribed graphically on the machines themselves – one need only consider such items as the water-vomiting two-headed Imperial Eagle (fig. 1, see also fig. 2), or the perspectival trick unjumbling an image of Pope Alexander VII. Indeed, one could arguably take this further and view the Musaeum Kircherianum as a whole as something of a self-portrait of an elite, primarily a Roman Catholic elite centered around the twin poles of the courts of Rome and Vienna. This elite was not a “given” quantity when Kircher’s museum came into existence – rather the museum helped to construct and consolidate the elite while the elite helped to construct the museum by corresponding with Kircher and providing him with portrait medals, natural curiosities and other objects for his collection.
At the centre of a vast correspondence network, and increasingly famous through his lavishly illustrated encyclopedic publications, Kircher wielded considerable power to shape the social group represented in his museum. Limited only by his religious poverty, Kircher extended his network at will to include powerful Protestants such as Duke August of Brunswick-Lüneburg or Queen Christina of Sweden, prior to her conversion. In a revealing letter to Duke August’s librarian Johann Georg Anckel, Kircher wrote that he had immediately had Duke August’s portrait “framed in gold and put up in my Gallery as a Mirror of the magnanimity, wisdom and generosity of the high-born prince”, adding that “my Gallery or museum is visited by all the nations of the world and a prince cannot become better known in hoc Mundi theatro than have his likeness here. And if the expense were not so great I would do this for all Germans, but I must cut my coat according to my cloth”.
As well as holding up a trick-mirror to an elite audience, Kircher’s museum also emblematized the Jesuit order itself. Many of the curious natural objects and artefacts of remote cultures present in the museum were sent to Kircher by Jesuit missionaries, who constitute the single most numerous group of his correspondents. Some of Kircher’s machines provide striking emblematic depictions of his order – his universal catholic horoscope of the Society of Jesus was a large sundial representing the Jesuit order as an olive tree, with the different Assistancies or administrative divisions of the order represented as branches, and the different colleges represented as leaves. Tiny sundials placed in each province give the local time, and the shadows of the gnomons of the sundials, when aligned, spelled “IHS”, the abbreviated name of Jesus and symbol of the Jesuit order, which appears to “walk over the world” with the passing of time (fig. 3). In Kircher’s museum, visitors were also shown “a large crystalline globe full of water representing the resurrection of the Saviour in the midst of the waters”. One of the aims of this article is to understand the relationship between such artefacts and Kircher’s position in the Jesuit Collegio Romano. The moment of the creation of the Musaeum Kircherianum coincided with a disciplinary crisis in Jesuit education that led the superiors of the order to condemn departures from Aristotle in philosophy, including natural philosophy or physics, and from Thomas Aquinas in theology. The works of Jesuit authors on natural philosophy during this period were closely scrutinized for anti-Aristotelian views. The exotic publications of Kircher and his disciples seem to contradict this doctrinal fundamentalism, but we will suggest that the contradiction is only apparent. The treatment of machines and instruments, even those associated with criticisms of Aristotle, in the works of Kircher and his Jesuit apprentices in magic was designed to avoid conflict with fundamental Aristotelian principles.
Before taking a look at the the magical and mathematical traditions from which Kircher’s machines emerged and the functions, mechanical and social, that they performed, it might be opportune to have a first glance at the machines themselves. In 1678 Giorgio de Sepibus (fl. 1678), Kircher’s “assistant in making machines” published the first catalogue of the Musaeum Kircherianum. Little is known about De Sepibus, from the Wallis (Valesia) canton in Switzerland, who seems to have been an intermittent companion of Kircher, and is first mentioned ten years earlier in a letter from the Oratorian priest Francesco Gizzio to Kircher. In 1670 Kircher sent De Sepibus to Naples, where he brought a number of machines to perfection, with the exception of a “versatile pulpit” that was left incomplete. It is not clear when De Sepibus left Kircher’s service, but by 1674 Kircher seems to have feared him dead, so with all likelihood the catalogue was completed well before its publication. De Sepibus provides us with a summary list of the machines present in Kircher’s museum, which may serve as our starting point:
1. Two helical spirals most skilfully measuring cycles with the twisted coils of snakes. An organ, driven by an automatic drum, playing a concert of every kind of birdsong, and sustaining in mid-air a spherical globe, continually buffetted by the force of the wind.
2. A hydrostatic-magnetic machine, representing the hours, zodiac, planets and the whole fabric of the heavens. The hours are described by means of a very simple motion, in which images of the Sun and Moon alternately ascend and descend vertically. The divisions of the hour are marked by the sympathetic motion of the flight of small birds.
3. A magnetic-hydraulic machine displaying the time all over the world, as well as the astronomical, Italian, Babylonian and ancient hours.
4. A little fountain moving the globe weighing down on the head of Atlas in a circle by hidden movements.
5. A fountain lifts a genie fixed in the water up and down, with a perpetual motion of tossing about and turning.
6. A fountain in which the Goddess Isis, contained in a crystalline sphere, is sustained, and greets guests by spraying water everywhere.
7. A hydraulic machine that apes perpetual motion, recently invented by the Author, consisting of a clepsydra that flows out when it is inverted, and again when it is turned the right way up, wetting a watery heaven with its spray.
8. A hydraulic machine most skilfully representing the Primum Mobile, and violently impelling a brass snake resting on top of the water in twists and turns by water.
9. A water-vomiting hydraulic machine, at the top of which stands a figure vomiting up various liquids for guests to drink.
10. A hydraulic clock urging or carrying globes or genies up and down inside crystal tubes of five palms in height, indicating the different times.
11. A hydraulic machine, which supports a crystal goblet, from one side of which a thirsty bird drinks up water, that a snake revomits from the other side while opening its mouth
12. A hydrotectonic machine moving armed knights from one place and a crowd returning from another by means of continual drops.
13. A two-headed Imperial Eagle, vomitting water copiously from the depths of its gullets.
14. A crowd of dancing genies driven by the silent approach of water
15. The dove of Archytas reaching towards a crystalline rotunda and indicating the hours by its free flight.
16. The catoptric theatre, completely filled with a treasure of all sorts of delicacies, fruits, and precious ornaments
17. An architectural perspective representing the arrangement of the rooms inside a magnificent palace.
18. A perpetual screw, the invention of Archimedes, by which it is an easy matter to lift 125 pounds with the strength of a very weak small boy.
19. A large crystalline globe full of water representing the resurrection of the Saviour in the midst of the waters.
Various thermoscopes, or thermometers which indicate the daily growth of simples, the mutations of the air, the ebb and flow of the tide, and the variation of the winds, together with experiments on the origins of springs.
An extremely large concavo-convex burning mirror, with a collection of many mirrors, some of which show ghosts in the air, others show objects unchanged, others show them multiplied and others reconstitute completely undetermined species from a confused series into a beautiful form. Amongst these there is one which reconstitutes the effigy of Alexander VII.
A large number of mechanical clocks, one of which plays harmonious music by a concert of bells with an elaborate movement, at any hour it plays the sound, also every half-hour with a marvellous harmony of notes and sweetness of sound it plays the hymn Ave Maris stella. Another one indicating the time of day by the movement of a pendulum. Another , finally, giving the minutes and seconds of time. The part of the world illuminated by the sun, the increase and decrease of day and night. The current sign of the zodiac, the astronomical and Italian hours, as well as the ancient hours, or the unequal hours, which it describes along a straight line by a singular artifice. Many sundials.
Armillary spheres, and celestial and terrestrial globes, equipped with their meridians and pivots.
Astrolabes, Planispheres, Quadrants, a very full collection of mathematical instruments.
The Delphic Oracle, or speaking statue.
A Divinatory Machine for any planetary influence at the circumference of two glass spheres by genies moved uniformly by a mutually sympathetic motion. Twisting themselves to the same degree at a large distance, each of them in his sphere indicates the same point of the sign.
Various motions of solid globes bearing a resemblance to perpetual motion.
A hydraulic perpetual motion by rarefaction and condensation, an Archimedean screw carrying globes up with a continual motion through helical glass channels.
This list is both illuminating and opaque – while allowing us to form an idea of what some of the machines may have looked like or sounded like, it gives us little or no idea of how they were perceived by contemporaries. Let us take one of them at random -- “the Delphic Oracle, or speaking statue”, the description of which De Sepibus leaves to the final chapter of his catalogue of the museum’s contents, stating that “we have rightly left the greatest machination of art until the final course”. What was this great “machination”? How did it work? Why was it made? De Sepibus gives the following description of the oracle:
Kircher has [sic, for “had”] a tube in the workshop of his bedroom, arranged in such a way that the porters, in order to call him to the door when business demanded it, used not have to take the trouble to go all the way to his bedroom, but merely called him in a normal voice at the door that gave access to the open-air garden. He heard their words as clearly as if they had been present in his bedroom, and answered in the same way, through the tube [...] Later he transferred this tube to the Museum, and inserted it into a statue in such away that the statue, almost breathing life, is seen to speak with its mouth open, and its eyes moving. He named this statue the Delphic oracle, as it was in the same way, by the ingenious trick of stuffing tubes into the mouths of idols, that the ancient priests of the Egyptians and Greeks deceived the people consulting the oracle and made superstitious men give valuable offerings
A manuscript draft of De Sepibus’ description (in Kircher’s handwriting incidentally, suggesting that he had a rather active role in the composition of the 1678 catalogue), is conserved amongst Kircher’s manuscripts in the Pontifical Gregorian University, in which he sometimes calls the machine the Oracle of Apollo, but otherwise describes it almost identically. Kircher’s earlier 1673 work on sound and acoustics, the Phonurgia nova, gives us a more detailed account of the machine, and its changing role in the Collegio Romano:
There was a repository in my Museum, between the wall and the door. At the end of the repository was an oval shaped window, looking out over the domestic garden of the Collegio Romano, which is about 300 palms in length and width. Inside this repository, or workshop, I adapted a conical tube to the length of the space, made from a length of 22 palms of sheet-iron, the speaking hole of which did not exceed ¼ of a palm in diameter. The tube, however, had a diameter of one palm at its aperture that then grew gradually by continuous and proportional increments in diameter so that the orifice of the part extended out of the oval window towards the garden had a diameter of three palms. We have seen how the tube was made, now we will also explain its effect.
Whenever our porters had to inform me of something, either of the arrival of guests or of any other matter, so that they would not be inconvenienced by having to come to my Museum through the labyrinthine corridors of the college, while standing inside the porters’ lodge they could talk to me while I remained in the remote recesses of my bedroom, and, as if they were present, they could tell me whatever they wanted clearly and distinctly. Then I too could respond in the same tone of voice according to the demands of the matter, through the orifice of the tube. Indeed nobody could say anything inside the garden in a clear voice that I could not hear inside my bedroom, and this was a thing seen as completely new and unheard of by the visitors to my museum, when they heard speech, but couldn’t see who was talking. So that I would not be suspected of some prohibited Art by the astonished people, I showed them the hidden structure of the device. It is difficult to say how many people, even including many Roman Nobles, were attracted to see and hear this machine.
It happened later that I was required to transfer my Private Museum into a more suitable, and open space in the Collegio Romano, that they call the Gallery. Here, the tube that I have briefly described before was also moved, and even now it is looked at and listened to under the name of the Delphic Oracle, with the following difference: the tube that previously propagated clearly spoken words plainly into a distant space, now acts secretly in ludic oracles and false consultations with a hidden and quiet voice, so that nobody present is able to perceive anything of the secret technique of the reciprocal murmured conversation. And when it is exhibited to strangers even to this day, there are not lacking those who harbour a suspicion of demons among those who do not understand the machine, for the statue opens and closes its mouth as if it was speaking, and moves its eyes. Therefore I built this machine in order to demonstrate the impostures, fallacies and frauds of the ancient priests in the consultation of oracles. For while they gave their answers through secret tubes (described in the Oedipus), they urged the people to give offerings extravagantly, if they wanted their prayers to be answered. And consequently, by this fraud, they were able to greatly increase their wealth. In any case I would not deny that they also secretly involved demons in their works.
Kircher’s Delphic oracle reveals much about the role of machines in his Museum, and also much about the history of the museum itself. We are told that Kircher had a “private museum” before he transferred his collection to the Gallery of the Collegio Romano after the “official” founding of the museum with Alfonso Donnini’s 1651 bequest of his collection of antiquities to the Collegio Romano. Where was this “private museum”? In the passage cited from the Phonurgia Nova, Kircher identifies it explicitly with his “cubiculum”, or bedroom in the Collegio Romano. So, even before Kircher was in charge of the Gallery of the Collegio, his own bedroom functioned as a museum, containing within it a storage area or workshop, from which his speaking-tube originally allowed him to communicate with, or occasionally eavesdrop on, people in the College garden and the college porters, who, one imagines, must have been pleased with this labour-saving device. In England, at around the same time, another prominent mathematical magician, John Wilkins (1614-1672), made a similar speaking-tube in the gardens of Wadham College, Oxford. One day, a certain Mr. Ashwell was strolling through the college, shortly after Cromwell had urged the Fellows of Oxford University to bring the Gospel to Virginia. As he passed the statue of Flora, he was astonished to hear it say to him “Ashwell goe preach the Gospel in Virginia”, in a Puritanical translation of Kircher’s Jesuit machine.
To return to Kircher’s multi-purpose bedroom in the Collegio Romano, however, it may appear strange that this domestic space also functioned as a museum, and clearly attracted enough visitors to warrant the development of an intercom system. In fact, there was a long tradition in the Collegio Romano before Kircher’s arrival of describing the bedroom of the senior mathematician of the college as the musaeum mathematicum. Christoph Clavius (1538-1612), famous for his commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco, and for his extensive activities as a Jesuit mathematical pedagogue, kept mathematical instruments, clocks and manuscripts in this space, a space that also served as the focus for the activities of the private mathematical academy of the Collegio Romano. Unlike the normal mathematics lectures that formed part of the College’s public curriculum in philosophy, often taught by a junior professor, the mathematical academy was founded with the specific aim of teaching mathematics professors for the Jesuit colleges in the different provinces of the Order. Generally, the bedrooms of Jesuits were not provided with keys, but, along with the rooms of the Superiors and the Procurator (responsible for the financial affairs of the College), the room of the senior mathematician of the College formed an exception. The added security of a key meant that the mathematics professor could store valuable mathematical instruments in his domestic space. The musaeum mathematicum of the Collegio Romano then, formed a space for advanced level mathematical teaching and for the formation of close relationships between master and disciples, relationships which generally continued through correspondence after the apprentice mathematicians left to teach the mathematical disciplines in the provinces. When Christoph Clavius died, in 1612, his correspondence, manuscripts, instruments and position as the most senior mathematician of the Collegio Romano were inherited by the Tyrolese Jesuit Christoph Grienberger (c. 1564-1636). After Grienberger’s death in on 11 March 1636, the manuscripts collected by Clavius and Grienberger, their “archive” of correspondence, and their instruments seem to have all passed to Kircher. So, although Kircher only occupied the position of public mathematics professor for a short time, he inherited the musaeum mathematicum, a space in which the building of instruments and machines was already an established tradition. Indeed, Kircher’s far more modest predecessor Grienberger was rumoured to have invented a speaking statue himself. We find ample references in the works of Kircher to the documents and objects Kircher inherited. In Kircher’s 1641 book on magnetism, the Magnes, for example, Kircher states clearly that “I have collected together many observations concerning magnetic declination that are not to be rejected [...] partly from the Archive that I possess of mathematical letters sent from the different parts of the globe to Clavius, Grienberger and my other predecessors as Roman mathematicians of the Society of Jesus”.
Emulating the private mathematical academy directed by Clavius and Grienberger before his arrival in Rome, Kircher gathered private disciples around him who were also able to avail of the instruments and documents that Kircher had inherited from his mathematical predecessors. While working as Kircher’s assistant in Rome between 1652 and 1654, Kaspar Schott (1608-1666) seems to have spent much of his time leafing through the papers of Clavius and Grienberger: “In the manuscripts of the most learned man Fr. Christoph Grienberger [...] that I found in the Clavius and Grienberger archive ”, he wrote in his Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, “I came across the following words about this Machine made by Bettini, and an opinion about perpetual motion”. Describing a machine in which a sphere was suspended in the air and rotated about its centre, Schott wrote “I found the following machine amongst the papers of Fr. Christoph Clavius and Fr. Christoph Grienberger, once professors of mathematics in this Roman College of ours. However it was in the handwriting of neither of them, nor was it composed by them, as it smelled of neither of their lanterns. I suspect that it was sent to Clavius by one of the disciples of Francesco Maurolico, the Abbot of Messina, for it cites a small unpublished treatise of his. But, whomsoever’s manuscript it is, I have judged it fitting that it should be inserted here, since it can be applied to many things by an industrious artisan”. Schott also borrowed items from the Clavius and Grienberger “mathematical archive” that he did not acknowledge – a demonstration of how to lift a golden earth using the force of one talent, using a system of toothed wheels published in his Magia Universalis is lifted directly from an unpublished manuscript by Grienberger that Kircher would have possessed, as is a passage extolling the powers of mathematics and the extraordinary achievements of Archimedes in the same work.
Schott and De Sepibus also inform us about instruments, experiments and machines that Kircher had inherited from Clavius and Grienberger, and subsequently transferred to the Gallery after 1651, such as a trick-lantern made by Grienberger that performed in the same way when filled with water as with oil, and a sample of water from the river Jordan that Clavius had sealed hermetically in a glass vial, perhaps the most undramatic of Kircher’s museum exhibits, demonstrating the incorruptibility of water by remaining forever unchanged. A wooden astrolabe made by Grienberger was also displayed prominently in the museum, though by the time Sepibus compiled his catalogue it had been almost completely eaten away by woodworm. From all these examples, it should be clear that Kircher effectively inherited a space, complete with manuscripts, instruments and experiments, that already had a well-established role in the Collegio Romano – the musaeum mathematicum, and that many of the functions of this space did not change dramatically with Kircher’s arrival in Rome, when the space became his “private museum”. Indeed, it seems that most Jesuit colleges where mathematics was taught in the mid-seventeenth century had a mathematical museum of some description, which was normally the bedroom of the senior mathematician of the college where the mathematical instruments could be locked away, though most would have been far more modest than that of the Collegio Romano. An example is Valentin Stansel’s mathematical museum in Prague, where Jakob Johann Wenceslaus Dobrzensky de Nigro Ponte saw a hydro-magnetic fountain clock, that he described in his Nova, et amaenior de admirando fontium ... philosophia.
The descriptions of Kircher’s Delphic oracle quoted above also reflect on other aspects of his machinic installations. Kircher claims to have built the device in order to expose the “impostures, fallacies and frauds of the ancient priests”, so the ludic machine bears a moral burden. The corruption of the good magic given by God to Adam into a tool of deception and evil-doing in the hands of the post-diluvian Egyptians is a theme that crops up frequently in the works of Kircher and Schott, and we shall return to it. In the house of a certain Francesco Serra, Kircher and Schott had seen an example of an Egyptian speaking statue (fig. 4) designed to contain just such a speaking-tube as that hidden in Kircher’s Delphic Oracle, illustrated in the Oedipus Aegyptiacus. The section of this work dealing with Egyptian mechanics contains many examples of the tricks employed by Egyptian priests to deceive worshippers, and many of the machines in Kircher’s museum relate to the debunking of Egyptian magic (see e.g. fig. 5, fig. 6). A “multimammary Goddess”, for example, spraying forth liquid from her multiple breasts (fig. 7), is described both in the Oedipus Aegyptiacus and in Schott’s Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, where Schott writes: “many thought that this work was constructed with the art of prestidigitation and of demons, but Fr. Kircher clearly showed that this was a devious machination of the priests [...] and he has a small machine in his museum that he displays to this end”. Describing another Egyptian device, an altar on which small gods or demons dance (fig. 8), Kircher writes “A devious invention elaborately contrived by either Priests or evil demons in order to enslave the stupid and ignorant plebs in idolatrous servitude, so that nothing more effective or powerful could be devised for the cult of false gods”. It is interesting that, while exposing the fraudulence of the magic of the Egyptian priests, Kircher will nonetheless not rule out their involvement with demons. One might have thought that the priests’ impressive technical skills would have removed any need for traffic with real demons. Regarding Kircher’s own performances with his Delphic oracle, we are also told that he was frequently suspected of involvement with demons by his less perceptive visitors, and that he explained the functioning of the machine in order to remove suspicions of him practicing “some prohibited Art”. Traffic with demons was no laughing matter in the mid-seventeenth century, at the height of the European witch-craze. One could well imagine that a less well-inclined audience might well view Kircher’s wonders in an altogether different light. Indeed, on one of the few occasions when Kircher performed in front of a larger audience, this was precisely what happened. Kircher, in his early twenties, had recently arrived in Heiligenstadt after being stripped of his clothes and nearly killed by heretical soldiers who recognised him as a Jesuit, and a legation sent by the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz was about to be received in the town. The following excerpt is from his posthumous autobiography:
And because it was decided to spare no magnificence to provide an appropriate welcome for the legates, I was commissioned to arrange a theatrical performance. When I exhibited this, as they saw some things that went beyond common knowledge, the legates who witnessed the performance were so excited to great admiration that some of them accused me of the crimes of Magic, with some people say other things against me. In order to free myself of such an ugly crime I was obliged to expose the mechanisms of all of the things that I had exhibited. And when this task was discharged to everybody’s great satisfaction, so that they could hardly be separated from me, I also gave them a new collection of Mathematical Curiosities together with a laudatory panegyric in exotic languages composed in their honour, by which things resulted no small increase in their benevolence towards me.
It is clear from this episode that Kircherian magic flirted dangerously with the boundaries between technical ingenuity and the “prohibited art” of demonic magic. The Elizabethan magician John Dee (1527-1608), similarly came under suspicion of demonic magic in England when he constructed an automatic “scarabeus” that flew up to Jupiter's palace during a performance of a comedy by Aristophanes, when in fact the theatrical trick was achieved by "pneumatithmie" or by "waights”. Perhaps this very flirtation with the black arts was a source for titillation for the princely and religious audience of Kircher’s wonders – an audience directly involved in the persecution of popular magic during the same period – allowing them to experience the “armchair-thrills” of magic without being morally implicated. Jesuit theatrical productions during this period were particularly famous for their stage-machinery – convincing representations of hell were a speciality – and for their hard-hitting moral didacticism, both features that they shared with Kircher’s machinic-performances, as we have seen in the case of the Delphic oracle. Other inventions of Kircher’s also appear to have come under suspicion of demonic magic, including the magnetic anemoscope that he built in Malta (fig. 9), while he was supposed to be providing spiritual guidance to Landgrave Ernst of Hessen-Darmstadt, relied, like many Kircherian machines, on a hidden magnet. The magnet, rotated by a wind-vane, caused a figure of Aeolius, the god of winds, suspended in a glass sphere, to point to the direction of the wind marked on the outside of the sphere. Some of the Knights of Malta who witnessed Kircher’s machine apparently suggested that it must contain a real demon, and Kircher, yet again, had to take pains to demonstrate that his brand of magic was entirely natural.
Anatomies of machines and mechanical anatomies
By the time that De Sepibus’ catalogue was published, the Musaeum Kircherianum had entered a dramatic phase of decline, only to be resurrected through the efforts of Filippo Buonanni in the early years of the eighteenth century. The famous frontispiece of De Sepibus’ work, and many of its contents are misleading, as they represent Kircher’s museum as occupying a space that it had long abandoned, due to General Oliva’s decision to transform it into a library for the Jesuit “scriptors”, excused from teaching duties in order to devote themselves to writing works for publication. The frescoed lunettes and large windows of the space depicted and described in De Sepibus’ catalogue had long been forsaken for a dark corridor, much to the dismay of the ageing Kircher. The catalogue thus presents immediate problems as a historical document of Kircher’s museum. By 1678, Kircher, depicted on the frontispiece of De Sepibus’ catalogue warmly welcoming a pair of visitors to his museum, was nearing death, and spending almost all of his time in the Marian shrine of the Mentorella in the hills of Lazio, where his heart was soon to be buried.
De Sepibus’ catalogue of the museum, then, crammed with illustrations culled from Kircher’s other works, must be regarded as a monument to a dead, or at least dying and transfigured institution. In order to understand the magical nature of the machines on display in the museum, many of which had fallen into disrepair by 1678 we will have to look elsewhere. Long before De Sepibus published the catalogue, repeated attempts to publish a description of Kircher’s gallery had been made by Kircher’s close disciple Kaspar Schott. Schott’s association with Kircher had begun in 1630, when he was studying in Würzburg, a city that both Schott and his master had to abandon with the onslaught of the Swedish troops of Gustavus Adolphus in 1631. Whereas Kircher fled to the South of France, arriving in the Jesuit province of Lyon along with 40 other Jesuit refugees, Schott made for Tournai, and then began a series of wanderings through Sicily, where he completed his studies and taught in a number of Jesuit colleges. Between late 1652 and 1654, Schott was finally reunited with Kircher in Rome for an extraordinarily intense period of activity centered around the recently founded museum, a period that was to fuel his prolific output in the years that followed. In addition to assisting Kircher in the museum, Schott performed a number of other tasks. While Kircher laboured to complete his monumental Oedipus Aegyptiacus, Schott patiently edited the third edition of Kircher’s Magnes. An anonymous foreword by the “Author’s colleague in literary matters” inserted into this edition gives a graphic picture of the conscientious approach taken by Schott to this task:
I examined and emended all of the calculations and arithmetic tables with great care. I inspected the words in Latin, Greek and Hebrew of authors who were cited in the original sources and where they had been corrupted I restored them. I compared the magnetic declinations and inclinations, and other observations sent here to the Author (who had asked for them by letters) with the autographs, and eliminated typographical errors. I inspected the diagrams even engraved on brass or wood, and emended the mistakes, restoring the missing or erroneous letters, lines and signs. For several elevations I substituted more accurate ones. From time to time I eliminated words, or added them, or changed them, when I noticed that the sense was either false, altered or unclear. In arranging the Appendices, Paradoxes, Problems, and new Experiments and Machines written by the Author, or given to me to write, I conserved an order that altered the order of the previous editions as little as possible [...] I omitted, finally, no task that I felt would contribute to the splendour of the Work.
Modern editors may take note. As well as working as Kircher’s editor, Schott was deeply involved with the machines of the museum, and it is to his works that we will turn to attempt to situate Kircher’s machines in a magical tradition. Schott’s Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica was published in 1657, shortly after his return to Germany. Apart from the appendix, which dealt with the new “Magdeburg” experiment carried out by Otto von Guericke to demonstrate the existence of a vacuum, Schott had composed the book while he was still in Rome with Kircher, as he explains in a “Notice to the Reader”, excusing himself for often writing as if he was still living in Rome. Schott writes that he plans “to compose a Natural Magic, collected from the printed works and manuscripts of the most learned man Athanasius Kircher, of world-wide fame, and also from all of his notes and loose pieces of paper that are in my possession, as well as from the works of other approved authors and the inventions of ours (i.e. Jesuits), composed in all trustworthiness and as the result of much study, established through my own experiments and those of others”. His promised work, subsequently published as the Magia Universalis Naturae et Artis, will contain “various, curious and exotic spectacles of admirable effects, wonders of recondite inventions, that are rightly called magic, free from all imposture and suspicion of the forbidden Art”. In the meantime, Schott’s Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica consists in an exhaustive description of the hydraulic and pneumatic machines found in Kircher’s museum. As he writes in the preface to the work:
There is, in the much-visited Museum (that we will soon publish in print) of the Most learned and truly famous Author mentioned above (i.e. Kircher), a great abundance of Hydraulic and Pneumatic Machines, that are beheld and admired with enormous delight of their souls by those Princes and literati who rush from all cities and parts of the world to see them, and who hungrily desire to know how they are made, and so that I can satisfy their desire to know the construction of the machines, I have undertaken to show the fabric, and almost the anatomy of all of the Machines in the said Museum, or already shown elsewhere by the same author.
Schott promises to give his readers detailed instructions on how to make instruments “for garden pleasures, for the utility of houses, for the commodities, and ornaments, particularly of Princes, who derive greater pleasure of their eyes and souls from these things than they might expect profit for their estate. Neither will we be satisfied with delighting only the eyes, we also prepare a feast for the ears, with various self-moving and self-sounding organs and instruments, that we will excite to motion and sound only by the flow of water and the stealthy approach of air, with no less ease than skill”.
Schott’s Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, then, provides an eloquent “identikit” picture of the ideal audience for Kircherian wonders, a leisured, decadent class of princes and cardinals, quite happy to turn their minds away from pressing matters of church and state in order to delight their minds, eyes and ears with the sensual pleasures provided by Kircherian machines. From the rich study of the intellectual culture of the Habsburg monarchy carried out by R.J.W. Evans, we see that this description was entirely consonant with the consuming interests of the prominent members of the Viennese courts of Ferdinand III and Leopold I. The wonders described in Schott’s work give us a vivid picture of how Kircher and his disciples went about satisfying the remarkable thirst for hydraulic and pneumatic curiosities of a Catholic elite on a daily basis. In one instance, Schott describes an incident in which the two Jesuit companions came across the marvellous spectacle of a “water-vomiting seat” in a Roman villa:
Lately Father Kircher and I were wandering through the fields of Rome to take the air, and we went into a suburban villa, on the facade of which an elegantly made sciatheric sundial was painted. While we were looking at this curiosity, we were invited by a Noble Frenchman to inspect the building and garden more thoroughly. We entered, and first saw a most delightful pleasure-garden, filled with flowers and fruit, and ornamented with statues of all kinds. We then entered a most elegant house, ornamented with paintings, emblems, epigrams, and epigraphs in Latin, Greek and Arabic, and thoroughly filled with statues and artificious machines, so that even Pope Innocent X, as he was being carried through the same fields with the delight of his soul, entered the same house and garden, and was not reluctant to honour it with his presence. The villa belongs to Jean Laborne, a French Presbyter and Knight of the same Pope. Amongst the other things, by which I was most delighted, was a seat known as hydratic or water-vomiting because of its effect.
If we are to take De Sepibus’s list of machines as a guide, we are forced to conclude that the predominantly German princely audience of the productions of Kircher and Schott had a peculiar fascination with regurgitation. From the two-headed Imperial Eagle (fig. 1), belching water copiously from its twin gullets, to the “water-vomiting hydraulic machine, at the top of which stands a figure vomiting up various liquids for guests to drink”, not to mention the various birds and snakes ingesting and throwing-up water from goblets, the spectacle of retching, puking, and spewing seems to have been the very epitome of good taste and noble amusement for the visitors to Kircher’s museum (see e.g. fig. 10). Schott further confirms this impression of an “emetophiliac” Catholic elite. One of the most endearing machines of his Mechanica is a “cancer vomitor” (fig. 11), illustrated as a nauseous lobster, bending forlornly over the edge of a goblet in its unhappy state. One is left unsure whether sea-sickness or the drinking of the goblet’s contents is responsible. Like a number of the machines illustrated in Schott’s works, this device was adapted from the popular work by Daniel Schwenter (1585-1636), later expanded by Georg Philipp Harsdörffer (1607-1658), the Deliciae Physico-Mathematicae. Perhaps the most graphic demonstration of the cult of emesis is in Schott’s description of a French visitor to Rome with an unusual talent:
While I was writing this, Jean Royer, a Frenchman from Lyon, who is superior to all in the art that we have been discussing, arrived here. From his stomach he brought forth twelve or fourteen differently coloured perfumed waters, most perfect liquors, distilled wine that could be set alight, and rock oil that burned with a lamp-wick, lettuces and flowers of all kinds, with complete and fresh leaves. He also exhibits a fountain by projecting water out of his mouth into the air for the time of two Misereres.
The description of this technicolour spectacle is followed by a letter from Kircher, in which he reassures worried readers that the digestive system of Mr. Royer was entirely free of demonic interference, and that his stomach-churning feats were carried out purely through the manipulation of natural causes. Royer, it transpires, had even entertained the Emperor at Regensburg, also exhibiting his “art” before “five kings and many princes and learned men”. In Schott’s work, Royer himself is classified as a machine – “Machina VII”, included with other incontinent “hydropota”. Moreover, in order to ensure that his talent was entirely natural, Kircher had studied his act closely in the Musaeum Kircherianum itself, so he certainly earns his place in a discussion of the museum’s hydraulic machines. The Miserere, incidentally, appears to have been a commonly used and even somewhat standardized unit of time measurement for seventeenth century Jesuit experimenters. Elsewhere, Schott describes one of his more dangerous experiments involving heating a sealed glass tube full of mercury, recounting that “after about the time in which Psalm 50, Miserere mei Deus, can be recited, it opened a way for itself with great violence and noise” When Schott performed this experiment in front of the son of the Duke of Holstein, the noise of the explosion brought the young nobleman’s servants running in fear of an assassination attempt. Jesuits describing Manfredo Settala’s burning mirrors in Milan remarked that “the smaller mirror, that burns at a distance of 7 braccie, works in barely an Ave Maria, whereas for the one that burns at 15 or 16 braccie, which works more slowly, you have to wait for a whole Miserere”. One can imagine the groups of Jesuits as they recite the rosary and sing hymns while incinerating objects with burning glasses, causing terrifying explosions or witnessing Jean Royer’s superhuman feats of projection.
The catoptric cat
Robert Darnton has remarked that the torture of cats was a source of constant amusement in early modern Europe, and that the historical investigation of arcane forms of humour has much to offer our understanding of major historical transformations. His famous study of the “great cat massacre” carried out by a group of Parisian printer’s apprentices allowed him to investigate the social tensions that formed the historical prologue to the French Revolution. More recently, Thomas Hankins and Robert Silverman have used Darnton’s insights in an original study of some of the more ludic machines and instruments produced by Kircher and others, in particular the sunflower clock (fig. 12) that Kircher displayed to Nicholas Claude Fabri de Peiresc in Aix, and the “cat piano”, a grisly musical instrument, said to have been invented by Kircher, that worked by prodding the tails of cats with spikes driven by a keyboard. Whereas for Darnton’s Parisian apprentices, the torture of cats was a humorous means for an abused community of labourers to score a symbolic victory over their wealthy bosses, for Kircher and his princely clients the manipulation of animals and automata was arguably a symbolic means of reinforcing the political and philosophical status quo. Schott recounts that one of the most “artificious and delightful” machines in Kircher’s museum was a catoptric chest, presumably identical with the “catoptric theatre” described by De Sepibus (fig. 13). Two other catoptric chests existed in Rome, according to Schott, one in the Villa Borghese and the other in the “villa of some other Prince”, and both exhibited wonderful spectres of objects – forests of pine trees, cities, elegantly furnished houses, treasures of gold and silver vases and pearls and infinite libraries of books, that seem so real that even those who were knowledgeable in catoptrics were sometimes fooled, and less intelligent people frequently held out their hands and attempted to take hold of the “species of things”, to the great amusement of spectators. Kircher’s catoptric chest, however, far surpassed the competition, both in multiplying species and in displaying illusory scenes. It could display infinite colonnades, tables covered with all sorts of delicacies, inexhaustable treasures, to the great torment of avaricious visitors who often, according to Schott, attempted to make off with the infinite quantities of money contained in the chest, only to be left with a handful of air. “You will exhibit the most delightful trick”, Schott informs us, “if you impose one of these appearances on a live cat, as Fr. Kircher has done. While the cat sees himself to be surrounded by an innumerable multitude of catoptric cats, some of them standing close to him and others spread very far away from him, it can hardly be said how many capers will be exhibited in that theatre, while he sometimes tries to follow the other cats, sometimes to entice them with his tail, sometimes attempts a kiss, and indeed tries to break through the obstacles in every way with his claws so that he can be united with the other cats, until finally, with various noises, and miserable whines he declares his various affectations of indignation, rage, jealousy, love and desire. Similar spectacles can be exhibited with other animals”. The catoptric chest, then, is an instrument for the manipulation and revelation of the passions. It is a theatre of social distinction, using visual illusion for the detection and display of baser human traits such as avarice and the instinctual passions of animals. An understanding of the magical art of catoptrics can allow one to trick people (and cats) into revealing their hidden natures. Kircher’s emotionally confused catoptric cat is thus very different from the pampered aristocratic cats slaughtered by the Parisian artisans described by Darnton. By making a spectacle out of incivility or popular superstition, devices such as the catoptric theatre, the Delphic oracle and the various vomiting-machines shown to visitors to Kircher’s museum contributed to a particular definition of early modern European civility. Many of Athanasius Kircher’s machines were thus civilizing machines. Descartes’ Treatise on the Passions of the Soul, published in 1649, attempted to provide a manual to instruct his readers both to combat the effects of the passions on the soul and to dissimulate their outward manifestations. The vogue for automata and machine-models of the human body in the seventeenth century was closely connected to the desire to exercise control over the body through discipline and manners. The Jesuit educational system, experienced by Descartes as a schoolboy at La Flèche, laid great emphasis on bodily comportment and behavioural discipline, epitomized by the choreographed movements of Jesuit ballet. The limits of the man-machine metaphor exercised a powerful fascination over Kircher’s contemporaries. While Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) theorized about mechanised musical ensembles, and instruments such as the “Archiviole”, allowing a single player to play multiple musical instruments simultaneously, and shortly after Justus Lipsius (1547-1606) had theorized about the well-disciplined army as a war-machine, Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) opened his Leviathan, published in the very year that the Musaeum Kircherianum was officially founded, with the famous metaphor of the commonwealth as a giant automaton, manipulated by a single monarch. Peter Dear has recently evoked the close links between the mastery of the passions, the rise of European absolutism and the culture of automata in early modern Europe.
We have frequently been led to discuss the wonders produced by Kircher and Schott in magical terms. But just what was the magic practiced by Kircher, that he took such pains to distinguish from the illicit arts that invoked the aid of demons? What were its boundaries? How did it intersect with natural philosophy, and with the mathematical arts? How did it find a home in the bosom of the Jesuit order and, especially, in Kircher’s Museum?
Kircherian magic: The roots of a paradigm
Kircherian machines, we have suggested, like Jesuit rhetorical devices, emblems and learned orations, helped to draw a boundary between elite and vulgar. To mount an attack on the causal knowledge at the core of the Kircherian culture of machines on physical grounds was comparable to challenging the authenticity of the Corpus Hermeticum and the traces of the prisca sapientia contained in Egyptian hieroglyphics on philological grounds. Both challenges threatened the mystical core of a structure of political power in which the Jesuit order constituted the cement linking the Counter-Reformation Papacy to the Habsburg court in Vienna through a sophisticated network of intermediaries. The intellectual project of Kircher’s Oedipus Aegyptiacus, supported by Ferdinand III, cannot be separated from Kircher’s artificial magic. Kircher’s marvellous machines took their place alongside his wooden reconstructions of Egyptian obelisks in the Musaeum Kircherianum. A letter from Schott inserted into the first volume of Kircher’s Oedipus Aegyptiacus gives us a revealing picture of the mutual legitimation that characterised Kircher’s close relationship with his Habsburg-linked clients:
In Kircher’s archive, I discovered an enormous number of letters, many of which were sent by him at every moment by Princes of the Christian world, and the supreme heads of the Roman Empire, and the Most Wise Emperor FERDINAND III, the Most Serene and Most Wise Queen of Sweden Christina, many Most Eminent Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Most Serene Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, Most Distinguished and Illustrious Dukes, Princes, Counts, Barons and innumerable Nobles of the same Empire and other Nations, all of whom admire and praise Kircher’s learning, and thank him for the books he sent them and for his other enormous productions, they urge and solicit him to print other monuments to erudition, they offer him help and protection, they communicate secrets, and ask for arcana, and for the unravelling of arcane matters, they seek the interpretation of exotic languages, strange inscriptions, and unknown characters, and various questions. I would have appended here various long letters from Emperors, other Princes and almost all the learned Men of this century, showing singular affection and respect if the small space and the Author’s modesty had permitted and if I had not reserved that for a different time and place
While Kircher provided princes, young and old, with enigmas, puzzles, emblems and arcane knowledge that confirmed their social distinction, they provided him with financial support and conferred authority on his works. Elsewhere Schott tells us of a revealing dream that Kircher had in the Collegio Romano while suffering from a serious bout of illness. After requesting a strong sleeping-mixture of his own specification from the college pharmacy, Kircher fell into a deep sleep, and dreamt that he had been elected to the Papal throne and was overcome with joy. He received legations and congratulatory messages from all the Christian princes, applause from all peoples, and, in his dream-role as Pope, built colleges and churches in Rome for the different nations of the world, and established “many other things for the propagation of the Catholic faith”. Schott is particularly interested in the healing capacities of Kircher’s dream – the older Jesuit pronounced himself to be restored to full health the following morning. However, without too much imagination, his dream might also be seen as hinting at more than a modicum of personal ambition on Kircher’s part. Although some of Kircher’s other nocturnal visions were later transformed into reality, most dramatically a graphic vision of the imment destruction of the Jesuit college in Würzburg by the Swedish armies of Gustavus Adolphus in 1631, his narcotically-induced dream of the papal tiara was never to be realized, although one is tempted to wonder what directives he might have issued in this role. Despite the fact that Kircher was never elected Pope, he was arguably the ruler of his own invented polity. The Oedipus Aegyptiacus contains no less than thirty-one separate letters of dedication for its different sections and provides us with a suggestive map of Kircher’s political universe. Prominent dedicatees include: the holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, Pope Alexander VII, Ferdinand IV King of the Romans, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand II de’ Medici, Johann Philipp von Schönborn, Elector of Mainz; Archdukes Leopold Wilhelm and Bernhard Ignaz of Austria, Johann Friedrich Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, and a host of other princes, cardinals, counsellors and confessors of the Holy Roman Empire.
Kircher’s Oedipus Aegyptiacus provides an ancient pedigree of magic that justified its revival amongst his distinguished dedicatees and their peers, a pedigree echoed in Gaspar Schott’s Magia Universalis.
In its broad lines, legitimate magic was first given by God to Adam, along with the other forms of knowledge. However, true magic was corrupted, through the “Cainite evil”, leading to the division between “licit” and “illicit” magic. The architect of the corruption of magic was, as Pliny recounts, Zoroaster. But which Zoroaster? A number of different Zoroasters appear in the history books. On this subject, many learned authors were in disagreement, but Kircher and Schott, aided by a manuscript of the apocryphal Book of Enoch studied by Kircher in the Greek library of Messina, are in agreement that Zoroaster is identifiable with Noah’s rebellious son Cham, who learned this art from the impious Cainites before the Flood and inscribed it on stones and columns so that it would not be destroyed in the deluge, transmitting it to his followers once the waters had abated. These columns were the very columns described by St. Augustine, when he wrote in the City of God that Cham, Noah’s son, erected fourteen columns bearing the canons of the arts and the sciences, seven made of brass and seven of bricks. After propagating his magic in Egypt, where he had settled after the flood and the linguistic confusion of the Tower of Babel, Cham left his kingdom to his son Misraim, and departed to spread the astrological and magical arts to Chaldea, Persia, Medea and Assyria, eventually obtaining the name “Zoroaster”, meaning “living star” as he appeared to be consumed with celestial fire in his zeal to spread magical knowledge.
What is magic? Schott tells us that magic is whatever is “marvellous and goes beyond the sense and comprehension of common men”. Common men because to “wise people or those who are more learned than the common people the causes of magical effects are normally apparent”. Natural magic, according to Schott, is “a recondite knowledge of the secrets of nature, that applies things to things, or, to speak philosophically, actives to passives, in the correct time, place and manner, by the nature, properties, occult powers, sympathies and antipathies of individual things, bringing about some marvels in this way that appear magical or miraculous to those who are ignorant of the causes”. An example of natural magic is asbestos that resists combustion in flames, as Kircher had demonstrated very frequently in Rome. Other examples of natural magic include the magnetic marvels described by Gilbert, Cabeo and Kircher, and the effects of music on the venom of the tarantula, also described by Kircher. However, one must beware, as not all magic said to be natural is truly so, the sunflower’s supposed capacity to make men invisible being an example of something that couldn’t possibly happen naturally. Schott’s encyclopedia of natural and artificial magic comprises four parts: Optics (“that is those things regarding sight and objects that are seen, and whatever in Optics, Catoptrics, Dioptrics, Parastatics, Chromatics, Catoptro-Dioptro-Caustics, Catoptrologics, and other similar sciences, arts, practices and secrets is rare, portentous and beyond the understanding of the common people, when they perceive rays directly, relected or refracted at the eye”), Acoustics (“that is, whatever pertains to hearing, and the object heard, and it will explain all of hearing, sound, the human voice, harmony, the Oeconomy of music, by analogy to the oeconomy of sight and vision, colours, lights, and their appearances, but only the rarer, less obvious ones that fall under praxis and operation”), Mathematics (“that is Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Statics, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, Pyrobolics, Gnomonics, Steganography, Cryptology, Hydrography, Nautical matters, and many other things, but only the rarer and more amusing and wonderful matters, and most of the practical things that come under human industry”) and Physics (“ whatever is wonderful, paradoxical or portentous in Nature. Of this kind are magnetism, sympathy, physiognomy, metallurgy, botany, stichiotics, medicine, meteorology, the secrets of animals, stones and innumerable other things”).
Natural magic has two branches in Schott’s system: operative and divinatory. The latter include such arts as physiognomy, allowing a person’s character to be determined by examining their features, colour and voice. Divinatory natural magic, however, cannot be used to find supernatural gifts or sins, as these don’t depend on nature but on free human will. Artificial magic, or operative natural magic, is, in Schott’s definition “an art or a faculty of producing some wonder through human industry, by applying various instruments”. Schott’s examples of this art, culled from an assortment of classical sources, include the glass sphere of Archimedes described by Cicero, which depicted the motions of the different planets (fig. 14), the flying wooden dove of Archytas, the small golden birds singing to the Byzantine emperor Leo, and the flying and singing birds and hissing serpents of Boethius. More recent pieces of artificial magic included the eagle of Regiomontanus that reportedly flew to meet Charles V when he was arriving in Nuremberg, and accompanied him to the gates of the city, and an iron fly also made by Regiomontanus that flew out of the hands of its artisan, and flew around the assembled guests, and a statue in the shape of a wolf that walked around and played a drum, that Schott had heard about from an eyewitness. The talking head reportedly made out of brass by Albertus Magnus was a further example of artificial magic for Schott. Whereas some claimed that this was a mere fable, and others suggested that it was the work of the devil, Schott disagreed, arguing that it was made by human industry alone. Kircher himself, Schott had just heard in a letter sent from Rome, was in the process of making just such a speaking statue for the visit of Queen Christina of Sweden to the Musaeum Kircherianum, “a statue that will have to answer the questions that it is asked”. The Delphic Oracle, then, places Kircher’s magical productions in a highly respectable historical series of artificial wonders, and rids Albertus Magnus of the suspicion of sorcery that allegedly led Thomas Aquinas to destroy his talking statue of Memnon.
The machines in Kircher’s museum occupy a central place in Schott’s exhaustive account of the licit magical arts. But what exactly were the boundaries of these arts? Where is the point of transgression? Schott’s answer is simple: illicit magic involves pacts with demons rather than the mere application of human industry and artifice to natural causes. Following the principal Jesuit authorities on the matter, the humanist Martin del Rio (1551-1608) and the philosopher Benito Pereira (1535-1610), Schott insists that demons are restricted to the manipulation of natural causes. Only God can effect miracles that go against the natural order. Demons are, effectively, just very good artificial magicians, manipulating natural causes with greater dexterity than even the most adroit instrumentally-enhanced human being.
But what exactly is the order of nature that even demons cannot pervert? Schott’s answer is unequivocal: demons are bound to obey the laws of Aristotelian natural philosophy! “They cannot create anything, as this exceeds the power of acting naturally. Neither can they derive a substantial form immediately from a subject, without a prior alteration, because this cannot be done naturally”. Demons cannot even create a vacuum, “as Nature abhors this and no experiment carried out until now proves that a vacuum has been made, as we have said in the Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica”. If demons could not make a vacuum, what chance did Evangelista Torricelli, Valeriano Magni or Otto von Guericke stand of doing so? Schott’s account of the absolute limits of artificial magic reveals its staunchly Aristotelian core. The artificial magic practiced and described by Schott and Kircher relied on an unchanging body of assumptions about the normal behaviour of the natural world. Schott’s Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica had opened with a list of the four fundamental principles underlying all hydraulic machines: the “attractive power to avoid a vacuum”, the “power of expulsion, avoiding the penetration of bodies”, the rarefactive power (i.e. the “expulsion or attraction of water by rarefaction and condensation”) and the weight of the water seeking equilibrium. The purpose of Schott’s work is not to investigate the truth of these principles, which have the status of axioms. Instead, his aim is to catalogue the surprising effects that can be obtained by combining these causes in different ways.
In discussing Otto von Guericke’s experimental demonstration of the existence of a vacuum using his antlia pneumatica, Schott remarks casually that of course, the plenitude of nature is invulnerable even to an angel, and thus Guericke’s device could never have produced a real vacuum. A refusal to allow the instrument to produce new natural philosophy did not put an end to Jesuit discussions of hydraulics. Instead, the device was removed from circulation in the philosophical domain and relocated within the context of the Wunderkammer. Schott's Mechanica-Hydraulico Pneumatica includes the experiments performed by Evangelista Torricelli and Gasparo Berti to demonstrate the existence of the vacuum in a section entitled De machinis hydraulicis variis, where they are surrounded by a ball made to spin in the air, a perforated flask for carrying wine known as the "Sieve of the Vestal Virgin ", and a "phial for cooling tobacco smoke". Unhealthy philosophical readings of Machina VI (the Torricelli and Berti tubes) are dismissed by Schott as the writings of "Neotherici Philosophastri" and "insolent and unmannerly braggarts proclaiming a triumph before victory". To situate the Torricellian experiment in the context of trick fountains and water-vomiting seats was to insulate it from the Aristotelian philosophy taught in the classrooms of Jesuit colleges. In a strong sense, then, the Aristotelian physics at the basis of the artificial magic of Kircher and Schott was invulnerable, except to occasional Divine intervention. Machines combined a pre-established set of causes to produce surprising effects, leaving the spectators to attempt to decipher the combination of natural causes underlying the appearances.
Schott’s accounts of natural and demonic magic drew heavily on the comprehensive treatment of magic composed by the Antwerp-born Jesuit Martin del Rio, the Disquisitionum Magicarum Libri Sex, first published in 1599. Del Rio was a scholarly prodigy before he joined the Jesuit order. At the tender age of twenty he published a work on the Latin grammarian Gaius Solinus, later attacked by Claude Saumaise. Shortly afterwards, he published a work on Claudius Claudianus that cited more than 1,100 authors. Before he joined the Jesuit order he occupied the important public offices of Senator of Brabant, Auditor of the army, Vice-chancellor and Procurator General. Del Rio’s three-volume treatment of magic was an enormously influential work, the influence of which was felt in witch-trials as much as in the scholarly arena. Chapter IV of Del Rio’s work deals with artificial magic, which Del Rio divides into “mathematical magic”, deploying the principles of geometry, arithmetic and astronomy, and “prestidigitatory magic”, involving deliberate deception and sleight-of-hand. The former includes all the the famous mechanical marvels that Schott listed. Del Rio’s approach to magic is to build an impenetrable wall between supernatural phenomena, which are the prerogative of God alone, and artificial and preternatural phenomena, which can be produced by men, by demons and by angels. Preternatural phenomena are those which appear to most people to go beyond nature’s capacities, but are in fact achieved through the combination of natural causes by human, demonic or angelic agents. The belong not to the “Order of Grace”, the realm of true miracles brought about by divine intervention in opposition the laws of nature, but to the Prodigious Order, reserved for phenomena that resemble miracles, but are in fact carried out through the manipulation of natural forces. Kircherian thaumaturgy, then, appears to transcend what can be achieved through the human manipulation of natural powers, thus leading some to view them as being produced by demonic means. Good angels do not collaborate in magical works, according to Del Rio, so any magical feat that goes beyond human capacities, such as the production of healing effects through incantations, must be due to the “ministry of bad angels”, that is to say the companions of Lucifer, as “no words have a natural power of healing wounds or illnesses, or driving away other injuries”. Incantations employed by Catholic priests in sacraments and exorcisms did not work naturally, but through the concurrence of divine grace, and thus belonged to the Order of Grace, and are thus excluded from the natural order.
Kircher’s machines ludically encouraged spectators to read them as wonders achieved through angelic or demonic concurrence. Many of the machines described in De Sepibus’ list even contained small genies, angels and demons, moved by occult forces to point at letters, scales and inscriptions, a miniature automated population that positively cried out to be interpreted as preternatural, and belonging to Del Rio’s prodigious order. While Descartes hypothesised a single evil genie to demolish the basis of scholastic metaphysics in the first of his Méditations Metaphysiques, Kircher and Schott employed an obedient army of them to uphold the core of Aristotelian physics (see figs. 8, 15, 16, 17).
Benito Pereira, Schott’s other chief authority on magical matters, was one of the most influential philosophers of the Jesuit order in the late sixteenth century, despite coming under suspicion of heterodoxy for his sympathy for the philosophy of Averröes. Pereira’s textbook on natural philosophy, De Communibus omnium rerum naturalium principijs & affectionibus, went through a great number of editions, and was widely used for teaching in Jesuit colleges. His widely read work on magic and divination, the Adversus fallaces & superstitiosas artes, id est, De magia, de observatione somniorum, et de divinatione astrologica, argued that demons could not pervert the natural order of the Aristotelian elements or create a vacuum, and this may have been the source for Schott’s similar assertions. Pereira insists that men skilled in knowledge of nature can work great wonders by natural magic, but those who are either wicked or ignorant may only learn this art from demons, “for scarcely any mortal or certainly very few indeed, and those men of the keenest mind who have employed diligent observation for a long time, can attain to such natural magic”.
Kircher clearly considered himself to be one of the latter, and offers us his own working definition of natural magic in his Magnes, a definition that is pretty close to those provided by Del Rio, Pereira and Schott:
Here I call natural magic that which produces unusual and prodigious effects through natural causes alone, excluding any commerce, implicit or explicit, with the Enemy of humankind. Of this kind are those machines that are called for this reason “thaumatourgikai”, that sometimes transmit prodigious movements to an effigy from air and water contained in siphons by a subtle art, and sometimes blow spirits into an organ arranged in a certain way to make statues burst forth in speech, and similar things, that can seem like miracles to people who are ignorant of their causes.
Kircherian machines thus walked a tightrope between the demonic and the miraculous. To understand how the magical aspects of Kircher’s machines were experienced by contemporaries, it may be helpful to look at how Kircher’s Musaeum was visited.
Visiting the machines
The frontispiece of the fourth volume of the first edition of Kaspar Schott’s Magia Universalis depicts a crowned man pointing a magic wand at a flowerbed, making a clear visual link between social status and the practice of natural magic. The opening of Schott’s work provides a justification of magic that places Kircher’s machines directly in the context of aristocratic visits to the Jesuit Collegio Romano:
In my various long journeys through Germany, France, Italy and Sicily, and in my frequent occupation teaching mathematics both in public and in private, I have always found that almost everybody, especially Nobles and Princes, not only youths, but also men conspicuous for their learning, prudence, worldly experience and dignity displayed a propensity towards those disciplines that promise and set forward things that are marvellous, curious, hidden and beyond the comprehension of the common people. I hardly ever saw anyone, who, when he had achieved a little mastery of these matters, or had examined devices constructed from their prescription, was not thereby incited to continual study and did not surrender himself entirely to this discipline, or wish to do so if other occupations had permitted. Witnesses to this, to omit other examples, are the whole of Rome, and the most celebrated Roman College and Athenaeum of our Society, the seat and residence of Athanasius Kircher, a man of great fame in the whole world. For, every day the inhabitants of both [city and college] look at and admire (as I myself beheld with amazement and delight of my soul when I was [Kircher’s] assistant in literary matters for a few years) those works that many people hasten at every moment to behold, excited by the fame of his learning and the desire of seeing the things that he displays in his famous Museum. These works, constructed from the recondite arts and sciences, are truly deserving of wonder. The visitors are drawn from the most illustrious ranks, in doctrine and dignity, including Royalty and Cardinals, foreigners as often as natives. How many of them are instructed privately by him, even if occupied by other most grave matters, particularly the sons of Princes, recommended by very polite letters, with profit flowing into their whole nations and even into the whole Roman Church as a result!
Here Schott suggests that Kircher’s museum in Rome functioned as a powerful magnet for a Catholic elite, attracting princely visitors to the Collegio Romano, and encouraging them to send their sons to be privately educated in arcane matters by Kircher. Kircher’s aristocratic apprentices in magic would then return to their countries of origin, having acquired a taste for curiosity, and this would bring clear benefits both for their countries and for the Catholic church as a whole. Schott’s description of the social function of the museum is consonant with the apostolic goals of the Jesuit educational system, as developed since the mid-sixteenth century. Ignatius Loyola’s Majorcan assistant Jerónimo Nadal (1507-1580), famously remarked that “for us lessons and scholarly exercises are a sort of hook with which we fish for souls”. In 1594 Christoph Clavius had argued that excellence in the mathematical disciplines would aid the Jesuits to gain precious ground on the Protestant pedagogues that were enticing aristocrats away from the Catholic church, writing that
[T]here is no one who does not perceive how much it is central to every objective of the Society to have some men who are most outstandingly erudite in these minor studies of mathematics, rhetoric, and language [...] who would spread the eminent reputation of the Society far and wide, unite the love of noble youths, curb the bragging of the heretics in these arts, and institute a tradition of excellence in all those disciplines in the Society.
The creation of a private mathematical academy, along with similar academies for rhetoric, Greek and Hebrew, would, Clavius argued, create Jesuit experts in all of these disciplines, who, “when they are distributed in various nations and kingdoms like sparkling gems [...] will be a source of great fear to all enemies, and an incredible incitment to make young people flock to us from all the parts of the world, to the great honour of the Society”. We have argued above that Kircher inherited Clavius’s musaeum mathematicum. Schott’s description of the function of Kircher’s museum as a magnet for a curious princely elite suggests that it had much in common with Clavius’s prophetic vision of the Jesuit educational apostolate.
What was it like to visit Kircher’s artificial wonders? How did different visitors experience their magic? Arguably the most famous visit to the Musaeum Kircherianum was that made by the convert Queen Christina of Sweden. On 11 November 1651, Athanasius Kircher wrote a letter to Queen Christina in Stockholm:
Your Majesty will know that our Society not only holds you in intimate affection, as is fitting, but also esteems and admires above all other things those rare and sublime treasures bestowed by heaven that divine bounty has hoarded up in your breast. This is especially true of this Roman College of our Society, both of the famous men and writers and of the novices, who have come from all of the nations of the world, where we speak 35 different languages, some native to Europe, Africa and Asia, the remainder to the Indies and America. And all of them are excited by the fame of your majesty's wisdom, and attracted by some unknown sympathetic magnetism, and their only ambition is to paint the extraordinary example of all virtues that your Majesty exhibits to the world in all the colours that it deserves.
Queen Christina's tour of the Collegio Romano in 1656 was the culmination of a lengthy process of rapprochement between the Queen and the Jesuit order which had begun in February 1652 when two Italian gentleman travellers, going by the names of Don Bonifacio Ponginibio and Don Lucio Bonanni, had arrived in the Royal court in Stockholm. The two gentlemen, as Christina quickly divined, were in reality Jesuits, carefully disguised by long hair and beards. Paolo Casati and Francesco Malines, both highly trained in mathematics and theology, had set off from Venice on 8th December on their important mission to convert "Don Teofilo", as Goswin Nickel, the Vicar General of the order, had instructed them to call Christina in their letters. Christina had specially asked the General for mathematically skilled Jesuits, and spent as much time with her visitors discussing Galileo's Dialogo, atomism, and the latest books by Bartoli and Kircher as the matters of faith that were the ostensible reason for the meeting. She received a copy of Bartoli's Dell'huomo di lettere from her Italian visitors, and probably availed of their services to send a letter to Kircher in Rome in which she expressed a desire to have a chance to talk to the famous polymath more freely in the future.
Curiosity played a central role in Christina's abdication and relocation in Rome. The image of Rome which the Jesuit missionary mathematicians nurtured in the Queen's mind was one of a city in which the secrets of the natural world could be investigated under conditions of utter intellectual freedom, in stark contrast to the ascetic Lutheranism that reigned in Stockholm. Paradoxically, the very book that Kircher was to dedicate to Christina, the Iter Exstaticum, ran into serious difficulties on account of the atomist matter-theory which it sanctioned and which Christina also favoured. The receptions of the Queen in the Collegio Romano were intended to further the image of the Jesuits’ showpiece college as the home of cultivated Catholic curiosity.
On 18th January 1656, Queen Christina made her first visit to the Collegio Romano. 20 Swiss guards were placed at the door, preventing anyone from entering the building except the pupils of the lower classes, who were all meant to await the Queen in their classrooms. When the Queen arrived, the bells rang twice, and all of the Fathers, wearing cloaks, lined up inside the main door to receive her. The Queen entered the college with her entourage and the door was closed. In each class that the queen visited a pupil came forward to recite an epigram, and then presented her with a piece of printed satin brocaded with golden lace. When she had finished visiting the classes, she returned to the entrance, and went to visit the Church, where she prayed to Saint Ignatius and at the altar of Blessed Aloysius Gonzaga, while musicians sang some motets.
As she had been unable to see everything during this first visit, Christina returned to the college on 30th January. She entered by the side door, where she was received by the General, the Roman Provincial, the Rector of the College and other members of the order. Her subsequent perambulations are described in detail in Galeazzo Gualdo Priorato's biography of the queen, and we cite from the 1658 English translation:
She quickly went into the Library [...] Here her Majesty entertaining her self for some time, in viewing the many volumes, took pleasure too in looking on the Modell and Platforme of the City of Jerusalem, which was left by Father Villalpando, with the description of the streets, and holy places, consecrated by the journeys and passions of our Lord Jesus Christ. She then, going about the other sides, discovered some Greek and Latin Manuscripts lying open on a Table, and could judge of the Authors, shewing very great learning.
She went thence into the gallery, that was near, where Father Athanasius Kircherus the great Mathematician had prepared many curious and remarkable things, as well in nature, as art, which were in so great a number, that her Majesty said, more time was required, and less company to consider them with due attention. However she stayed some time to consider the herb called Phoenix, which resembling the Phoenix grew up in the waters perpetually out of its own ashes. She saw the fountains and clocks, which, by vertue of the load-stone turn about with secret force. Then passing through the Hall, where she looked on some Pictures well done, she went through the walkes and the garden, into the Apothecaries shop, where she saw the preparation of the ingredients of herbs, plants, metalls, gemms, and other rare things, for the making of Treacle [i.e. Theriac] and balsome of life. She saw them distill with the fire of the same furnace sixty five sorts of herbs in as many distinct limbecks. She saw the philosophical calcination of ivorie, and the like. She saw extracted the spirits of Vitriol, Salt, and Aqua fortis, as likewise a jarre of pure water, which with two single drops of the quintessence of milke, was turned into true milk, the only medicine for the shortness of the breath, and affections of the breast. In fine being presented with Treacle [i.e. Theriac] and pretious oyles, she went into the sacristy, where they opened all the presses, where they keep the Plate and reliques of the Church, with the great candlesticks, and vases given them by the deceased Cardinall Lodowick Lodowiso the founder of the Church. She honoured particularly the blood of St. Esuperantia a Virgin and Martyr, which, after a thousand and three hundred years, is as liquid as if newly shed. Then going into the Church she heard Mass, and at her departure, gave testimonies to the Fathers of her great satisfaction and content.
The accounts of Christina's visits to the Collegio Romano resonate with the image of the College as both a theatrum mundi and repository of universal knowledge suggested in Kircher's letters to the Queen before her departure for Rome. Although Christina's case is conspicuous for its dramatic charge, the pattern is far from unique, and there are innumerable other examples of monarchs and aristocrats, Catholic and Protestant, being enticed into metropolitan Jesuit colleges throughout Europe rather as Chinese literati were initially enticed into Matteo Ricci's house, by the promise of arcane knowledge, curiosities, maps and mathematical instruments. A manuscript chronicle of the Collegio Romano describes a large number of such ceremonial visits.
The transformation of the Collegio Romano into a theatre of curiosity had numerous precedents throughout the century. During the festivities to mark the canonization of Saints Ignatius and Francis Xavier in 1622, the College was transformed into ancient Rome, to echo the solemn ecclesiastical rites with "erudite allusion and ancient Apotheosis". The Atrium and entrances of the Collegio were decorated to represent the Roman forum, while the Aula Magna became the Campus Martius, scene of the apotheoses of the Roman Emperors. Two large globes, at the main entrance, represented the old and new worlds, divided into thirty-four Jesuit provinces, with their colleges and houses marked on tesserae. Plays representing important events in the lives of Xavier and Ignatius were staged by the Parthenian academicians of the College and the members of the Roman seminary. The mathematics professor Orazio Grassi (1583-1654) staged an opera in the transformed Aula Magna for the occasion, the Apotheosis of Saints Ignatius and Xavier, set to music by Kapsberger, with elaborate stage-machinery. Grassi also provided geographical demonstrations (ragioni Geografiche) that St. Francis Xavier was responsible for a larger amount of territory than any apostolic preacher, much as he had provided public mathematical demonstrations for the supra-lunary location of the comets of 1618.
By the time of Christina's visit in 1656, as Gualdo Priorato's account reveals, the College could boast two further sites of courtly display: the College pharmacy and the Musaeum Kircherianum. Building of the college pharmacy commenced on 5 July 1627, shortly after the commencement of work on Orazio Grassi's church of St. Ignatius, but the existence of Spetiali is evident from the Catalogues of the College back to 1598 and beyond. In 1609 the category becomes "Aromatarius", before the title of pharmocopolae was bestowed upon Francesco Vagioli and Francesco Savelli in the Catalogi of 1624-5. The walls of the pharmacy were decorated with a series of (surviving) frescoed lunettes by Andrea Sarti and Emilio Savonanzi in 1629, depicting Galen, Hippocrates, Mesue, Andromachus and other authorities in medicine, botany and pharmacy. A painted panel at the centre of the ceiling depicted the patron saints of medicine, Cosmas and Damien, in the company of Saints Francis Xavier and Ignatius and the Madonna and child, a grouping lent legitimacy by the coincidence that the bull of foundation of the Jesuit order (27 September 1540) fell on the feast day of the medical saints. A manuscript ground-floor plan of the Collegio apparently dating from the mid-seventeenth century depicts the pharmacy as occupying at least five rooms. As well as producing the balsam of life, theriac and various other precious substances that could be distributed to potential patrons of the order, the numerous books of secrets that survive suggest that the pharmacy was used for alchemical operations as well as the production of candle-wax and even substances for combatting "carnosità", or carnality, clearly a dangerous enemy to Jesuit collegiate life . As a site of display, the pharmacy played a part in a visit made by Urban VIII to the Collegio Romano as early as 1631. The enormous spagyrical furnace shown to Christina was depicted graphically in Kircher's Mundus Subterraneus, where it bolstered Kircher's attack on alchemical charlatans. On Vincenzo Carafa's first visit to the college after his election to the position of Father General of the Jesuit Order in 1646 he was shown a large parchment bearing the recipes of the theriac and other medicines produced in the Jesuit pharmacy. On the same visit, Carafa was brought to Kircher’s “private museum”, where he was shown the “universal horoscope of the Society of Jesus” (fig. 3) that we have described above. In its original form this device was cruciform in shape.
A less famous, but perhaps more observant visitor to Kircher’s museum was the English traveller Philip Skippon. Skippon, travelling in the company of the botanists John Ray, Francis Willughby and Nathaniel Bacon as well as two servants, visited Kircher’s museum in 1664. He gives the following very detailed description of his visit:
We visited father Kircher, a German Jesuit, at the Collegium Romanum (which is a very large and stately building belonging to the Jesuits). He shewed us his gallery, where we saw all his works, some of which are not yet printed; he hath translated an Arabick book into Latin; wherein the virtues of plants are discoursed. He said Johnston, the printer at Amsterdam, offered him 2000 for all his writings. His Roman medals were fixed within a wire grate on a turning case of shelves. This pope's picture seen in a glass that reflects it from the plaits or folds of another picture. An organ that counterfeits the chirping of birds, and at the same time a ball is kept up by a stream of ait. The picture of the king of China. A picture of father Adam Schall, a German Jesuit, who is now in great favour with the king of China, being his chief counsellor; on his breast he wears the mark of his honour, which is a white bird, having a long bill, and red on the crown of its head. The picture of Deva Rex Davan Navas. The picture of Michael Rex Nepal. The rib and the tail (flat and broad) of a Syrene, which Kircher said he saw at Malta. A cross made of 300 small pieces of wood set together without glew, nails &c. Painting of Raphael Urbin on earthen dishes. A microscope discovering fine white sand to be pellucid, and of an elliptical figure; and red sand pellucid and of a globular figure. A China shoe. Two Japan razors. A Japan sword, wherewith some Jesuits had been martyr'd. A China sword, or rather a mace. Corvus Indicus, a red bird. China birdsnests like white Gum. Canada money made of little pieces of bones, and a medal of the same, which faintly represented the figure of a man. Medals of the hieroglyphical obelisks in Rome. A cabinet door that first opened upon hinges on one side, and then upon hinges on the other. A flat and broad hoop that moved to and fro, on a declining plane, without running off; within it having a weight at A.. Water put into the glass BC, and by clapping one's hand at B, without touching the water, forces the water out a good heighth out at C.
A perpetual motion attempted by this engine. D is a cistern with water, which runs down the channel E, and turns the wheel from G to F. At i the axis of this wheel is a handle that lifts up the sucker H, that forces up the water out of the cistern K K into the pipe L into the upper cistern D.
A sphere moved regularly by water that falls on the aequinoctial line which is made like a water wheel. An image that spewed out of its mouth four sorts of water, one after another. A serpent vomiting water, and a bird drinking out of the same dish. The perpetual motion we saw at Milan. The heat of a man's breath or hand, expelled water out of a glass, that afterwards turned a wheel. A brass Clepsydra made after this manner. A and B are two cisterns for water. When that in A is uppermost it falls down thro' thee four tubuli, which are the supporters into the lower cistern B, and there it springs up like a fountain, a pretty height for an hours's space; and so vice versa when B is turned up.
A notable deceptio visus in the pyramidal spire C. D. being turned one way it seemed to go up, and moved the other way it appeared as if running downwards. These and many other inventions are described in Kircher de Magnete.
Birds-nests, that are earen by the Indians, which Wormius p. 311, calls Nidus Ichthyocollam referens.
The figure of a woman he called the oracle with a hole in her breast, which applying one's ear to, words and sentences are plainly understood, though whispered a good way off.
Flies and a lizard within amber. A paper lizard with a needle stuck in it, ran up and down a wooden pillar, being moved by a loadstone. The magnet moved several figures hanging within glass globes. One figure was moved by the loadstone, thro' wood, glass, water and lead. A cylindrical glass of water with a glass figure in it, which rises or falls as you press the air at the top of the glass with your finger; the air being pressed in the cylinder, presses that in the figure into a narrower room, and so water comes in and weighs the figure down, which rises upon lessening the pressure at the top of the cylinder. Avis Guaria, p. 308 Wormii, was seen here.
Skippon’s meticulously detailed description betrays little emotion – we are not told whether the English naturalists were frightened by the Delphic oracle. Indeed, if anything Skippon even suggests a certain tedium in the face of Kircherian wonders – “the perpetual motion machine we saw at Milan”. His curt, “objective” style also has much to do with the developing genre of the travel journal, however, and there is ample evidence that English circles were utterly enthralled by Kircher’s natural and artificial wonders, and were doomed to repeated frustration in attempting to repeat Kircher’s experiments in Restoration England.
The vegetable phoenix, admired by Queen Christina in Kircher's museum, immediately the object of great interest amongst English natural philosophers, illustrates the difficulty Kircherian wonders experienced in travelling beyond the walls of his museum. In 1657 Henry Oldenburg planned a trip to Italy, hoping to bring back to England news of Kircher's "vegetable phaenix's resurrection out of its own dust by ye warmth of ye Sun", along with other Kircherian secrets and "remarquable things, one might have the satisfaction to be punctually informed about" Oldenburg never made the trip, and the next news about Kircher's phoenix had to wait until Robert Southwell encountered an English traveller returning from Italy. Southwell reported to Oldenburg "[H]e gives me some incouragement yt when I come to Rome I shall be able fully to satisfy you concerning Kerchers plant. he told me he was wth him and remembers to have seene in a glasse half as bigg as his head (close luted) a plant glowne up ye length of his finger with a kind of asshes at ye bottome but I found he had not beene Curious in the observation of it".
On accomplishing his mission, Southwell brought disappointing news about the phoenix: "As to the flower growing from its ashes, he had such a thing, but it is now spoiled; he made it not himself, but it was given him". Southwell nonetheless acquired "the receipt thereof, upon a swop, wrote with his own hand; it is long and intricate, and of a nice preparation". We have no record of whether the Royal Society suceeded in reproducing the vegetable phoenix, but generally attempts to replicate Kircherian wonders in London and Oxford met with little success. The trouble was not limited to England. John Bargrave recounted in graphic terms the price of failure for a Nuremberg optician:
I bought this glass of Myn Here Westleius, an eminent man for optics at Nurenburg, and it cost me 3 pistolls, which is about 50S English. This gentleman spoke bitterly to me against Father Kercherius, a Jesuit at Rome (of my acquaintance), saying that it had cost him above a thousand pounds to put his optic speculations in practice, but he found his principles false, and showed me a great basket of glasses of his failings.
Kircher’s net drew in too much, according to unsympathetic English commentators in the 1650s. Robert Payne's remarks on Kircher qua Jesuit in 1650, while complaining about an experiment on roasted worms reported in the Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae emphasize precisely this point:
The truth is, this Jesuit, as generally the most of his order, have a great ambition to be thoughte the greate and learned men of the world; and to that end writes greate volumes, on all subjects, with gay pictures and diagrams to set them forth, for ostentation And to fill up those volumes, they draw in all things, by head and shoulders; and these too for the most part, stolen from other authors. So that if that little, which is their owne, were separated from what is borrowed from others, or impertinent to their present arguments, their swollen volumes would shrink up to the size of our Almanacks. But enough of these Mountebankes.
In similar vein, on sending Descartes a copy of Kircher's Magnes, Constantijn Huygens had remarked that the former would find in it "more grimaces than good material, as is normal for the Jesuits. These scribblers, however, can be useful to you in those things quae facti sunt, non juris".
Sir Robert Moray (1608-1673), later one of the prime movers in acquiring a charter from Charles II for the foundation of the Royal Society and its first president, entered into close correspondence with Kircher in 1644, after admiring the Magnes. While in the services of the French army in Germany, Moray consumed Kircher's books avidly and discussed their contents with Jesuits in Cologne and Ingolstadt. On his return to the royal court in Whitehall, he informed Kircher of the foundation of the Royal Society, and continued to send scholars, such as the mathematician James Gregory, the naturalist Francis Willughby and others to seek Kircher's company in Rome. Moray was confident that Kircher's agglomeration of information could be filtered, or threshed, to separate the wheat from the chaff:
Whatsoever Mr. Hugens & others say of Kercher, I assure you I am one of those that think the Commonwealth of learning is much beholding to him, though there wants not chaff in his heap of stuff composted in his severall peaces, yet there is wheat to be found almost every where in them. And though he doth not handle most things fully, nor accurately, yet yt furnishes matter to others to do it. I reckon him as usefull Quarries in philosophy and good literature. Curious workmen may finish what hee but blocks and rough hewes. Hee meddles with too many things to do any exquisitely, yet in some that I can name I know none goes beyond him, at least as to grasping of variety: and even that is not onely often pleasure but usefull.
Moray changed his tune in his following letter to the secretary of the Royal Society, demonstrating the increasing fragility of Jesuit scientific credibility, and linking the failure of an experiment involving the focusing of moonbeams on substances with a powerful burning-glass to Kircher's membership of the Jesuit order explicitly, writing that “hee does but lyke other birds of his feather”.
Boyle wrote to Oldenburg in 1665 to complain about the problem:
I suppose Sr. Rob. Murry has told you, that the Expt about Salt & Nitrous water exposed to the Beames of the moone did not succeed as Kircher promises, but as I foretold. And for the same Author's Expts with Quicksilver & sea water seald up in a ring, though the want of fit glasses will, till the commerce with London be free, keepe mee unable to try: yet besides it is at most the same, but not soe probable as that wch he publishd in his Ars Magnetica, 20 or 30 year ago. I cannot but think it unlikely that it will succeed at least in our Climate, where by concentrating the Beames of the Moone with a large Burning-glasse, I was not able to produce any sensible Alteration, in Bodys that seeme very easily susceptible of them.
Commenting to Boyle on the unhappy results of attempts to repeat Kircher’s experiments, Oldenburg wrote darkly that "'Tis an ill Omen, me thinks, yt ye very first Experiment singled out by us out of Kircher, failes, and yt 'tis likely, the next will doe so too".
The replication of the wonders displayed to visitors to Kircher’s museum and described in his published works was difficult. Kircher’s performances and demonstrations were apparently meant to be beheld, admired and believed, but not to be repeated outside the preternatural realm of the museum of the Collegio Romano.
For Kircher, as for other early modern natural magicians, art is nature’s ape. Or, to turn the metaphor on its head, nature is God’s work of art, and thus the natural magician bears a relationship to his technical productions that is analagous to the relationship God bears to the whole of Creation. Kircherian machines can thus be compared to miniature, artificial universes, bearing encrypted messages from a playful creator. The perpetual motion machines and emblematic clocks displayed in Kircher’s museum display the microcosmic character of Kircherian machines most evidently, sometimes even bearing zodiacal and planetary symbols to make the analogy unmissable (e.g. fig. 14). The “user intervention” required by machines such as Kircher’s sunflower clock (fig. 12), that so frustrated Nicholas Claude Fabri de Peiresc when the instrument was demonstrated to him in Aix-en-Provence in 1633 was not a failing in Kircher’s instrument, but rather a rhetorical demonstration of the limits of the analogy between the human magus and his omnipotent forbear. Other machines, as we have argued, were miniature moral universes, the catoptric chest (fig. 13) being a striking example.
We have argued that Kircherian machines were jokes that occupied a ludic space between the demonic and the supernatural realms. What, then, are we to make of the following machine listed by De Sepibus: “a large crystalline globe full of water representing the resurrection of the Saviour in the midst of the waters”? How could Kircher dare to make a joke of the central mystery of Christianity? How could he place the resurrected Christ in a glass sphere, alongside genies, water-vomitting snakes and pagan Goddesses? Surely to place the Resurrection in this mechanical context was tantamount to reducing it to a secret combination of natural causes and denying its miraculous status?
The problem is even more striking when we look at Kircher’s first published book, the Ars Magnesia, published in Würzburg when he was twenty-nine years old. Launching into a description of the various machines that can be constructed with the aid of the magnet, Kircher describes a device “to exhibit Christ walking on water, and bringing help to Peter who is gradually sinking, by a magnetic trick”. “Carve statues of Christ and Peter from the lightest material possible”, Kircher’s description begins, “When a strong magnet is placed in Peter’s breast, and with Christ’s outstretched hands or any part of his toga turned toward Peter made of fine steel, you will have everything required to exhibit the story. With their lower limbs well propped-up on corks so that they don’t totter about above the water, the statues are placed in a basin filled up to the top with water, and the iron hands of Christ soon feel the magnetic power diffused from the breast of Peter. The magnet drags the statue of Christ to it with equal motions, and insinuates itself into Peter’s embrace. The artifice will be greater if the statue of Christ is flexible in its middle, for in this way it will bend itself, to the great admiration and piety of the spectators”.
Despite Kircher’s claims, the steel-handed bending Jesus floating on a cork and drawn to a magnetic Peter does not strike us as a particularly pious artifice. Indeed, his demonstration almost seems to carry the heretical suggestion that what appeared to be miraculous was merely carried out through a clever piece of natural magic, reminiscent of James Bond’s magnetic encounter with the metal-toothed villain Jaws in the film Moonraker. But that can hardly be the real thrust of Kircher’s demonstration. Rather, the clue to Kircher’s intention can probably best be gleaned from his own definition of natural magic: feats of natural magic can resemble miracles to those who are ignorant of their true causes. Again, as in the case of the perpetual motion machines, the analogy is limited. Real miracles by definition defy demonstration and replication. By producing wonder, fear and amusement, however, Kircher’s magical machines rehearsed his visitors’ reactions to the miraculous and the demonic, and trained them in civility and piety.
 For discussions of Kircher’s machines, see particularly Thomas L. Hankins and Robert J. Silverman, Instruments and the Imagination, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995, especially chapters 2-4, Paula Findlen, Scientific Spectacle in Baroque Rome: Athanasius Kircher and the Roman College Museum, Roma Moderna e Contemporanea. 1995; 3:625-665, Joscelyn Godwin, Athanasius Kircher: A Renaissance man and the quest for lost knowledge. London: Thames and Hudson; 1979, Eugenio Lo Sardo ed. Icononismi e Mirabilia da Athanasius Kircher. Rome: Edizioni dell'Elefante; 1999 and Adalgisa Lugli,. Naturalia et Mirabilia. Il collezionismo enciclopedico nelle Wunderkammern d'Europa. Milan; 1983. On Kircher’s musical machines, see Jan Jaap Haspels, Automatic musical instruments, their mechanics and their music, 1580-1820, Niroth: Muiziekdruk C.V. Koedijk, 1987. On Kircher’s magnetic devices in particular see Martha Baldwin. Magnetism and the anti-Copernican polemic. Journal for the History of Astronomy. 1985; 16:155-174, Jim Bennett, Cosmology and the Magnetical Philosophy, 1640-1680. Journal for the History of Astronomy. 1981; 12: 165-177, Silvio Bedini, Seventeenth Century Magnetic Timepieces. Physis. 1969; 11: 37-78. On optical and catoptric devices, see Jurgis Baltrusaitis, Anamorphoses ou magie artificielle des effets merveilleux. Paris: Olivier Perrin; 1969, and idem., Le miroir. Paris: Le Seuil 1978.
 Filippo Buonanni, Musaeum Kircherianum sive Musaeum a P. Athanasio Kirchero In Collegio Romano Societatis Iesu Jam pridem Incoeptum Nuper restitutum, auctum, descriptum, & Iconibus illustratum. Rome: Typis Georgii Plachii; 1709, pp. 302-315:
 See, for example, the classic study by Krysztof Pomian, Collectionneurs, amateurs et curieux: Paris, Venise, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle, Paris: Gallimard, 1987, especially chapter 1.
 On the relationship between courtly models of behaviour and early modern science, see in particular Mario Biagioli, Galileo Courtier: The practice of science in the culture of absolutism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1993. For sprezzatura see pp. 51-52.
 On early-modern scientific “jokes”, cf Paula Findlen, Jokes of Nature and Jokes of Knowledge: The Playfulness of Scientific Discourse in Early Modern Europe. Renaissance Quarterly. 1990; 43:292-331.
 Athanasius Kircher to Johann Georg Anckel (or J.M. Hirt), Rome, 16 July 1659, Herzog-August-Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, Bibliotheksarchiv N° 376, quoted in John Fletcher (ed.), Athanasius Kircher und seine Beziehungen zum gelehrten Europa seiner Zeit. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz; 1988, p. 105. The manuscript letters of Kircher conserved in the Herzog-August-Bibliothek have recently been made available on the Internet <http://www.hab.de/projekte/kircher/kircher.htm>
 Athanasius Kircher, Ars Magna lucis et umbrae. Romae: Ludovico Grignani; 1646, p. 553: "Horoscopium Geographicum universale Societatis Iesu construere, quo in omnibus Collegijs dictae Societatis toto orbe terrarum diffusis, quota hora sit uno intuitu demonstratur".
 Georgio de Sepibus. Romanii Collegii Musaeum Celeberrimum cuius magnae antiquariae rei... Amsterdam: Ex Officina Janssonio-Waesbergiana; 1678; also Kircher, Phonurgia nova, Campidonae: Dreherr; 1673, p. 2
 See Claudio Costantini, Baliani e i Gesuiti. Florence: Giunti Barbèra; 1969, Ugo Baldini, Uniformitas et Soliditas Doctrinae: Le censure librorum e opinionum. in idem., Legem impone subactis. Studi su filosofie e scienze dei gesuiti in Italia, 1540- 1632. Rome: Bulzoni; 1992; pp. 75-119, Michael John Gorman, A Matter of Faith? Christoph Scheiner, Jesuit censorship and the Trial of Galileo. Perspectives on Science. 1996; 4(3):283-320, idem., Jesuit explorations of the Torricellian space: carp-bladders and sulphurous fumes. Mélanges de L'Ecole Française De Rome. Italie Et Méditerranée. 1994; tome 106(fasc. 2):pp. 7-32 and Marcus Hellyer, "Because the authority of my superiors commands": Censorship, physics and the German Jesuits . Early Modern Science and Medicine. 1996; 1(3):319-354.
 De Sepibus, op. cit. (note 6)
 See Francesco Gizzio to Athanasius Kircher, Naples; 27 October 1668, Rome, Archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University (hereafter APUG), 564 f. 156r and, for De Sepibus’ trip to Naples, Gizzio to Kircher, Naples, 28 February 1670 (APUG 559, f. 85r). For Kircher’s fear that De Sepibus had died in 1674, see Gizzio to Kircher, Naples, 14 July 1674 (APUG 565, f. 213rv. The manuscript correspondence of Kircher conserved in the Archives of the Pontifical Gregorian University (APUG 555-568) is now available for consultation on the Internet. See The Athanasius Kircher Correspondence Project, ed. Michael John Gorman and Nick Wilding, <http://galileo.imss.firenze.it/multi/kircher/index.html>
 De Sepibus, op. cit., pp. 2-3.
 De Sepibus, op. cit., p. 60
 De oraculo Delphico, APUG 566, f. 236r <http://126.96.36.199/kircher/ASPgentit.asp?idtitrec=4965>, accessible via the Athanasius Kircher Correspondence Project, cit.
 Athanasius Kircher, Phonurgia nova, Campidonae: Dreherr; 1673, p. 112.
 On the official foundation of the Musaeum Kircherianum and the Donnini bequest, see Findlen, op. cit., R. Garrucci, Origini e vicende del Museo Kircheriano dal 1651 al 1773. La Civiltà Cattolica. 1879; Serie X Vol. XII(Quaderno 703): 727-739, Maristella Casciato, Maria Grazia Ianniello and Maria Vitale, eds., Enciclopedismo in Roma barocca: Athanasius Kircher e il museo del Collegio Romano tra Wunderkammer e museo scientifico. Venice: Marsilio; 1986, and R. G. Villoslada, Storia del Collegio Romano dal suo inizio all soppressione della Compagnia di Gesù. Rome; 1954, as well as Buonanni, Musaeum Kircherianum, pp. 1-3, as well as the manuscripts documenting the museum’s history in APUG 35.
 The passage, from John Evelyn’s diary, is quoted in Barbara Shapiro, John Wilkins, 1614-1672; an intellectual biography, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969, p. 120. See Jack Peter Zetterberg, "Mathematical Magick" in England: 1550-1650, Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison; 1976, pp. 212 ff.
Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (hereafter ARSI) Rom. 150, I. 36r, cited in Ugo Baldini and Pier Daniele Napolitani, eds., Christoph Clavius: Corrispondenza, Pisa: Università di Pisa, Dipartimento di Matematica, Sezione di Didattica e Storia della Matematica; 1992, Vol. III.2, pp. 54-5, note 2.
 On Grienberger, see Michael John Gorman, Mathematics and Modesty in the Society of Jesus: The Problems of Christoph Grienberger, forthcoming in Archimedes, guest ed. Mordechai Feingold, 2001.
 Kircher, Magnes, sive de arte magnetica opus tripartitum, Romae: Ex Typographia Ludovici Grignani, 1641, Lib. II, Cap. II, p. 431, "[P]artim è literis ab ijs, qui iter in Indias susceperant, vel oretenus ab ijs, qui inde peregrini Romam advenerant; partim ex literarum Mathematicarum è diversis orbis terrae partibus ad Clavium, Grimbergerum, aliosque Romanos Societatis IESU Mathematicos praedecessores meos datarum, quod penes me est, Archivio; multas sanè, circa declinationes Magneticas haud spernendas observationes collegi"
 Kaspar Schott, Mechanica Hydraulica-Pneumatica, Würzburg: Pigrin, 1657, p. 339
 Schott, Mechanica Hydraulica-Pneumatica, cit., p. 300
 See Schott, Magia Universalis, Pars III, Würzburg: J. G. Schönwetter, 1658, pp. 219-228 “Machina II: Glossocomum nostrum”, discussed in Gorman, Mathematics and Modesty, cit., and also Schott, Magia Universalis, Pars I, Würzburg: J. G. Schönwetter, 1657, pp. 26-7.
 De Sepibus, op.cit., p. 13 (on Clavius’ experiment) and p. 17 (on Grienberger’s wooden astrolabe)
 Jakob Johann Wenceslaus Dobrzensky de Nigro Ponte, Nova, et amaenior de admirando fontium genio (ex abditis naturae claustris, in orbis lucem emanante) philosophia. Ferrara: Alphonsum, & Io. Baptistam de Marestis; 1659, p. 46. On Dobrzensky de Nigro Ponte see R.J.W. Evans, The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy: An Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1979, pp. 316, 337, 339-40, 356, 369-70, 390
 Schott, Magia Universalis, Pars I, Würzburg: J. G. Schönwetter, 1657, p. 42, cf. Kircher, Oedipus Aegyptiacus hoc est universalis hieroglyphicae veterum doctrinae temporum iniuria abolitae instauratio, Rome: Vitalis Mascardi; 1652-1654, Tom. 3, Syntag. 17, Cap. 1, p. 488
 Schott, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., Pars II, Classis I, p. 255 and Kircher, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, cit., Tom. II2, Classis VIII, Cap. III, Pragmatia I, p. 332.
 Kircher, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, cit., Tom. II2, Classis VIII, Cap. III, Prag. V, pp. 337-8, “Ara deorum”.
Athanasius Kircher, Vita admodum Reverendi P. A. Kircher, Augsburg: S. Utzschneider, 1684, pp. 30-3.
 See Zetterberg, “Mathematical Magick”, cit., p. 32
 For a rich discussion of the contrast between learned and popular magic during this period see R.J.W. Evans, The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy, cit., Chapters 9-12.
 The literature on Jesuit theatre is enormous, and a survey would take us beyond the scope of this article, but a classic study is Jean-Marie Valentin, Theatre des Jésuites dans les pays de langue allemande (1554-1680) : salut des ames et ordre des cités, Bern, Las Vegas : P. Lang, 1978 (3 vols.).
 See Schott, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., p. 323 and Iconismus XXIX. On Kircher’s time in Malta see Alberto Bartòla, Alessandro VII e Athanasius Kircher S.I. Ricerche e appunti sulla loro corrispondenza erudita e sulla storia di alcuni codici chigiani. Miscellanea Bibliothecae Apostolicae Vaticanae. 1989; III:7-105.
 See the letter from Kircher to General G.P. Oliva, Rome, 5 May 1672, published in Garrucci, Origini e vicende del Museo, cit., also Buonanni, Musaeum Kircherianum, pp. 1-3, Godwin, Athanasius Kircher, cit., pp. 14-15.
 See Schott to Kircher, n.p., n.d. [Würzburg, circa 1656? ], APUG 567, f. 52r: “Tutti li Padri di questa nostra Provincia stimano e amano Vostra Reverenza principalmente il nostro R. P. Provinciale, il quale vorebbe che io discrivessi e stampassi la Galeria di Vostra Reverenza”, also Schott to Kircher, Würzburg, 21 October 1656: “O[ro] se V.a R.a volesse e potesse impiegare per mio e suo servitio, uno o due giorni, e farmi un’abbozzo, e breve descrittione della sua Galeria, significandomi brevemente le cose più riguardevole, massimamente le nuove datte doppo la mia partenza, delineandole ruditer e obiter. Vorrei descrivere a lungo ogni cosa, e farle stampare, con bellissime figure di rame, prima separatamente, e doppo nella mia Magia Universalis Naturae et Artis”. Apparently Valentin Stansel had been charged with composing the description for Schott, but Stansel, soon to depart for Brazil, did not send it, despite Schott’s repeated pleas (e.g. “Prego Vostra Reverenza quanto posso, e per l’amore che mi porta, e propter con humania studia, che m’impetri dal R.P. Assistente, che mi mandi la Galeria di V.a R.a descritta dal P. Stansel, o almeno le cose più principali”, Schott to Kircher, Würzburg, 16 June 1657, APUG 567, f. 45r)
 On Schott’s career, see ARSI, Lamalle: Schott. On Kircher’s arrival in Avignon, see ARSI, Lugd. 14, f. 239v, and the appendix to the Catalogue.
 See ARSI Rom. 81 ff.64v, 88v, 114v: (Catalogue of Collegio Romano, 1652-4): “P. Gaspar Sciot, socius P. Athanasii”, “P. Athanasius Chircher, scribit imprimenda”.
 Kircher, Magnes, sive de magnetica arte libri tres, Rome: V. Mascardi, 16543, sig. †† rv.
 Schott, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., pp. 1-3, Praeloquium ad Lectorem
 Schott, op. cit.., p. 3
 Schott, op. cit., p. 5
 R.J.W. Evans, The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy, cit., especially ch. 9-12.
 Schott, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., p. 219.
 Daniel Schwenter and Georg Philipp Harsdörffer, Deliciae Physico-Mathematicae, oder Mathematische und philosophische Erquickstunden, herausgegeben und eingeleitet von Jörg Jochen Berns, Frankfurt a. M.: Keip, 1991.
 Schott, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., pp. 311-2
 Schott, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., pp. 63-4 (on explosions) and Gioseffo Petrucci, Prodromo apologetico alli studi Chircheriani, Amsterdam: Janssonio-Waesbergi; 1677, p. 128 (on Settala’s burning-mirrors).
 Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, New Your: Basic Books, 1984, pp. 75-104.
 Thomas L. Hankins and Robert J. Silverman, Instruments and the Imagination, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995, especially chapters 2-4. On the cat piano, designed to entertain a melancholy prince, see Kircher, Musurgia universalis, Rome: Francesco Corbelleti; 1650, Tom. I, Lib. VI, Pars IV, Caput I, p. 519 and Schott, Magia Universalis, cit., Pars II, pp. 372-3. Schott provides an illustration.
 Schott, Magia Universalis, cit., Pars I, p. 302
 The classic study of early modern civility remains Norbert Elias, The civilizing process, trans. Edmund Jephcott, Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. A contrasting view, arguing that European civility had its origins in monastic disciplina rather than court culture is advanced in Dilwyn Knox, Disciplina: The Monastic and clerical origins of European Civility in John Monfasani and Ronald G. Musto, eds. Renaissance society and culture: Essays in honour of Eugene F. Rice, Jr. New York: Italica Press; 1991; pp. 107-135. Kircher would seem to demonstrate that the lines between courtly and clerical traditions are perhaps not so clear-cut as both Knox and Elias suppose. On civility see also Jacques Revel, The Uses of Civility, trans. Arthur Goldhammer, in Roger Chartier, ed., A History of Private Life, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989, Vol. 3, pp. 167-205
 René Descartes, Les Passions de l’âme, ed. Geneviève Rodis-Lewis, Paris: J. Vrin, 1966.
 Marin Mersenne, Harmonie Universelle, Paris: S. Cramoisy, 1636 (facsimile repr. Paris: CNRS, 1963), sig. A iiij recto (on the Archiviole), Justus Lipsius, De Militia Romana, Antwerp: Plantin-Moretus, 1598), Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, London: A. Crooke, 1651. For the court of Louis XIV at Versailles as a “machine”, see Apostolidès, Le roi-machine: Spectacle et politique au temps de Louis XIV, Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1981. On automata and political power see Otto Mayr, Authority, Liberty and Automatic machinery in Early Modern Europe, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986. For a more dated, though entertaining, presentation of the political function of automata, see Lewis Mumford, Authoritarian and Democratic Technics. Technology and Culture. 1964; 5(1):1-8. On automata more generally see Derek J. de Solla Price, Automata and the Origins of Mechanism and Mechanical Philosophy. Technology and Culture. 1964; 5(1):9-23, who recounts the (probably apocryphal) story that Descartes constructed a “beautiful blonde automaton named Francine, but she was discovered in her packing case on board ship and dumped over the side by the captain in his horror of apparent witchcraft”, and Silvio Bedini, The Role of Automata in the history of technology, Technology and Culture. 1964; 5(1): 24-42.
 Peter Dear, A Mechanical Microcosm: Bodily Passions, Good Manners, and Cartesian Mechanism. in Christopher Lawrence and Steven Shapin, eds. Science Incarnate: Historical embodiments of Natural knowledge. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press; 1998; pp. 51-82.
 On the context of Kircher’s Oedipus Aegyptiacus, see especially Giovanni Cipriani, Gli obelischi egizi: politica e cultura nella Roma barocca. Florence: Olschki; 1993, pp. 77-167. On the question of the Corpus Hermeticum see Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic tradition, London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1964, and, more recently, Anthony Grafton, Protestant versus Prophet: Isaac Casaubon on Hermes Trismegistus, and idem., The Strange Deaths of Hermes and the Sibyls, both in idem., Defenders of the Text: The Traditions of Scholarship in an Age of Science, 1450-1800, on pp. 145-161 and 162-177 respectively.
 Kircher, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, cit., Sig. d recto
 For Kircher’s dream of being elected Pope, see Kaspar Schott, Physica Curiosa, sive Mirabilia Naturae et Artis, Würzburg: Jobus Hertz; 1667 (2nd edition), Liber III (Mirabilia Hominum), Caput XXV, pp. 455-6. Kircher’s vision of the invasion of the Jesuit college in Würzburg is described in idem., Liber II (Mirabilia Spectrorum), Caput V, p. 210 and also in Kircher’s posthumous autobiography, Vita admodum Reverendi P. A. Kircher, Augsburg: S. Utzschneider, 1684, pp. 38-41. On the use of recorded dreams as a historical source, see Peter Burke, The Cultural History of Dreams, in idem., Varieties of Cultural History, Ithica: Cornell University Press; 1997, pp. 23-42.
 Schott, Magia Universalis, cit., Pars I, Prolegomena, especially pp. 8-18, cf Kircher, Oedipus Aegyptiacus, Tom. 2, class. 2, cap. 1 and Kircher,Obeliscus Pamphilius, Rome: Ludovico Grignani; 1650, bk. 1, ch. 1.
 Schott, Magia Universalis, loc. cit.
 Schott, Magia Universalis, Pars I, Cap. VI (p. 22 ff). In a letter to Kircher sent from Würzburg on 1 April 1656, Schott wrote “Gaudeo vehementer, Reginam Suedice [sic] tandem visitare Museum R.ae V.ae” (APUG 561, f. 40r)
 On the relationship between demonology and natural philosophy in seventeenth century Europe, see Stuart Clark, Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997, especially pp. 149-311, and idem., The rational witchfinder: conscience, demonological naturalism and popular superstitions. in Stephen Pumfrey, Paolo Rossi and Maurice Slawinski, (eds.). Science, Culture and Popular belief in Renaissance Europe. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press; 1991; pp. 222-248.
 Schott, Magia Universalis, cit., Pars I, Caput X, p. 39 (on demons and the vacuum) and idem., Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., introduction, on the four fundamental principles of hydraulic machines.
Schott, Mechanica Hydraulico-Pneumatica, cit., pp. 307-8
 Martin del Rio, Disquisitionum Magicarum Libri Sex, Louvain, 1599 (edition used Mainz: Henningii; 1624). Liber I, De magia in genere, & de naturali ac artificiosa in specie. On this work and witch-trials see Petra Nagel, Die Bedeutung der "Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex" von Martin Delrio für das Verfahren in Hexenprozessen, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1995. On Del Rio’s life, see anon., [H. Langeveltius?], M. A. del Rii.... Vita brevi commentariolo expressa. Antwerp; 1609. On Del Rio’s critique of Stoic drama see Roland Mayer, Personata Stoa: Neostoicism and Senecan Tragedy. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. 1994; 57:151-174.
 On wonders and the preternatural, see especially Lorraine Daston and Katherine Park, Wonders and the order of nature, 1150-1750, New York : Zone Books, 1998.
 Del Rio, Disquisitionum Magicarum, ed. cit., pp. 49-50.
 Unfortunately there is no adequate scholarly study of Pereira.
 Benito Pereira, Adversus fallaces & superstitiosas artes, id est, De magia, de observatione somniorum, et de divinatione astrologica. Libri tres, first published Ingolstadt 1591, edition used Coloniae Agrippinae, apud Ioannem Gymnicum, 1598, pp. 41, 67-8, 91.
 Kircher, Magnes, 16543, cit., Liber II, Pars 4, p. 238.
 Schott, Magia Universalis, cit., Sig. ††††† recto: Prooemium totius operis
 J. Nadal, Exhortatio Coloniensis 6a (1567), in P. Hieronymi Nadal Commentarii de Instituto Societatis Iesu, ed. Michael Nicolau, S.J. (= Epistolae et Monumenta P. Hieronymi Nadal, Tomus V) Romae: apud Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, 1962, p. 832, n. 21.
Christoph Clavius, Discursus cuiusdam amicissimi Societatis Iesu de modo et via qua Societas ad maiorem Dei honorem et animarum profectum augere hominum de se opinionem, omnemque haereticorum in literis aestimationem, qua illi multum nituntur, convellere brevissime et facillime possit, (c. 1594), ARSI Stud. 3, ff. 485-487 (Clavius autograph), published in Monumenta Paedagogica Societatis Iesu, Nova editio penitus retractata, ed. Ladislaus Lukács, Rome, Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 1965-, VII, pp. 119-122
Athanasius Kircher to Queen Christina of Sweden, Rome, 11 November 1651, APUG 561 ff. 50r-v (autograph draft), on 50r.
There is a vast bibliography on Christina, but see especially Susanna Åkerman, Queen Christina of Sweden and her circle: The transformation of a seventeenth-century philosophical libertine, Leiden: Brill, 1991, idem., Cristina di Svezia: scienza ed alchimia nella Roma barocca. Bari: Dedalo, 1990, Jeanne Bignami Odier and Anna Maria Partini, 'Cristina di Svezia e le scienze occulte', Physis 1983, A. 25(fasc. 2): 251-278. Georgina Masson, Queen Christina London: Secker & Warburg, 1968, though a popularised presentation, remains useful as an overview.
Kircher had arranged for a copy of his Musurgia Universalis to be sent to Christina in 1650. See Louys Elzevier to Athanasius Kircher, Amsterdam; 14 November 1650, APUG 568, f. 238 r-v
Daniello Bartoli, Dell'huomo di lettere difeso & emendato, Bologna: Heredi di E. Dozza, 1646.
See the undated letter to Kircher in APUG 556 f. 173r, in a more legible Italian translation on f. 174r: "Spero che hormai havremo un occasione più libera, e fedele di corrispondenza mutua, e per poter communicarmi gli più sicuramente". Kircher eventually dedicated his 1656 Itinerarium Exstaticum to Christina, who mentions his plan to do so in the same letter: "Desiderei ancor sapere, se me giudichi ancor degna a dedicarmi la sua incomparibile opera".
See Carlos Ziller Camenietzki, L'Extase interplanetaire d'Athanasius Kircher: Philosophie, Cosmologie et discipline dans la Compagnie de Jésus au XVIIe siècle, Nuncius, 1995, X(1): 3-32.
APUG 142 ff.81r-83r
Galeazzo Gualdo Priorato, History of her majesty Christina Alessandra, queen of Swedland. London: Printed for T.W., 1658, pp. 428-431.
See Jonathan D. Spence, The memory palace of Matteo Ricci, London: Faber and Faber, 1985, Pasquale M. D'Elia, Galileo in China. Relations through the Roman College between Galileo and the Jesuit Scientist-Missionaries (1610-1640). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960, Jacques Gernet, China and the Christian impact: a conflict of cultures, trans. Janet Lloyd, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, p. 22.
[Anon.], Origine del Collegio Romano e suoi progressi, APUG: 142. This manuscript forms the basis of the descriptions of ceremonial receptions given in the Collegio Romano provided in R. Garcia Villoslada, Storia del Collegio Romano dal suo inizio all soppressione della Compagnia di Gesù. Rome: Typis Pontificiae Universitatis Gregorianae, 1954, pp. 263-296.
Famiano Strada, Saggio delle Feste che si apparecchiano nel Collegio Romano in honore de' Santi Ignatio et Francesco da N. S. Gregorio XV Canonizati All'Illustrissimo, & Eccellentissimo Signor Principe di Venosa. Roma: Appresso Alessandro Zannetti; 1622, sig. A2 recto. On theatrical productions in the Collegio Romano during this time, see Irene Mamczarz, La trattatistica dei Gesuiti e la pratica teatrale al Collegio Romano: Maciej Sarbiewski, Jean Dubreuil e Andrea Pozzo. in M. Chiabò and F. Doglio, eds., I Gesuiti e i Primordi del Teatro Barocco in Europa. Roma: Torre d'Orfeo; 1995: 349-387 and Jean-Yves Boriaud, La Poésie et le Théâtre latins au Collegio Romano d'après les manuscrits du Fondo Gesuitico de la Bibliothèque Nationale Vittorio Emanuele II. Mélanges de l'École Française de Rome, Italie et Mediterranée. 1990; 102(1): 77-96.
See Emilio Sala and Federico Marincola, La Musica nei Drammi Gesuitici: Il Caso dell'Apotheosis sive Consecratio Sanctorum Ignatii et Franciscii Xaverii (1622), in in M. Chiabò and F. Doglio, eds., I Gesuiti e i Primordi del Teatro Barocco in Europa, cit., pp. 389-439. For a rich contemporary Italian discussion of theatrical machinery see Nicola Sabbattini, Pratica di fabricar scene, e machine ne' teatri Ravenna: Per Pietro de' Paoli, e Gio. Battista Giouanelli Stampatori Camerali; 1638.
Strada, op. cit., p. 9, and, for the cometary presentation, [Orazio Grassi], De tribus cometis anni MDCXVIII Disputatio astronomica publice habita in Collegio Romano Societatis Iesu ab uno ex Patribus eiusdem Societatis. Romae: ex typographia Iacobi Mascardi; 1619, OG VI pp. 21-35, translated in Stillman Drake and C.D. O'Malley, The Controversy on the Comets of 1618, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 1960, pp. 3-19.
APUG 142 ff.1r-8v: Nota delle spese fatte nella Fabrica del Collegio Romano f. 4r :" Dal 1627 fino a tutto il 1632 furono spesi [scudi] sedicimila dugento novanta due per la fabrica della spezieria, cominciata a di 5 Luglio 1627"
ARSI Rom. 79 f.11v and Biblioteca Nazionale di Roma “Vittorio Emmanuele II”, Fondo Gesuitico 1526 f.35r
ARSI Rom. 110 f.51v
See Imago Primi Saeculi Societatis Iesu A Provincia Flandro-Belgica eiusdem Societatis Repraesentata. Antwerp: Balthasar Moretus; 1640, p. 12.
APUG 134, XVI, Abbozzo iconografico del Collegio Romano.
See e.g. Athanasius Kircher to Duke August of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Rome, 25 July 25, HAB BA n. 366, and the other medical gifts discussed in John Fletcher Athanasius Kircher and Duke August of Brunswick-Lüneburg. A chronicle of friendship in John Fletcher, John, ed., Athanasius Kircher und seine Beziehungen zum gelehrten Europa seiner Zeit. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz; 1988: pp. 99-139.
Some manuscript books of secrets originating in the Collegio Romano are listed in Il Fiore dell'arte di sanare, Rome: Edizione Paracelso, 1992, pp. 565-570. The Fondo Curia of APUG also contains numerous manuscript books of secrets, including APUG: FC 2087, APUG: FC 1381, APUG: FC 562, APUG: FC 1860/2, APUG: FC 2200. The "ceroto per la carnosità", accompanied by a crude drawing of a phallus, is described in APUG FC 2193, f. [40v]. On candlewax see APUG 134, XIV. For a study of the contents of another Jesuit pharmacy see Carmen Ravanelli Guidotti, La Farmacia dei Gesuiti di Novellara, Faenza: Edit Faenza, 1994. On the tradition of books of secrets during this period, see William Eamon, Science and the secrets of nature: Books of secrets in medieval and early modern culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press; 1994.
APUG 142 f. 71r, Villoslada, Storia, cit., p. 275. For the Rospigliosi family's visit to the pharmacy in 1668, see Villoslada, Storia, cit., p. 277.
 Kircher, Mundus Subterraneus, Amsterdam: Janssonius, 1665, Vol. 2 p. 392
 See the manuscript Fondo Gesuitico 1382 in the Biblioteca Nazionale di Roma, “Vittorio Emmanuele II”
 Kircher, Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae, cit., pp. 553-4.
 On Skippon see Peter Burke, The discreet charm of Milan: English travellers in the seventeenth century, in idem., Varieties of cultural history, Oxford: Polity Press, 1997, pp. 94-110.
 Philip Skippon, An Account of A Journey made Thro' Part of the Low-Countries, Germany, Italy and France. in A. and J. Churchill, A Collection of Voyages and Travels. London: J. Walthoe; 1732; pp. 359-736, on pp. 672-4.
Oldenburg to Boyle, Saumur, 19 March 1657, The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, ed. and transl. by A. Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall, Madison, Milwaukee, and London, 1965-, vol. I pp.155-156.
Southwell to Oldenburg, Montpellier; 20 October 1659, The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, cit., I, pp. 323-325.
Southwell to Boyle, n.p., 30 March 1661, in The works of the honourable Robert Boyle, ed. Thomas Birch, London: J. & F. Rivington, 1772 (2nd edition), VI, pp. 297-300.
Boyle did however allude to the palingenetic experiment in A Discourse about the possibility of the resurrection (1675) in Boyle, Works, cit., 4, p. 194.
Quoted in John Bargrave, Pope Alexander the Seventh and the College of Cardinals, with a Catalogue of Dr. Bargrave's Museum, ed. J.C. Robertson. London; 1867.
R[obert] P[ayne] to Gilbert Sheldon, Oxford, 16 December 1650, British Library Ms. Lansdowne 841 ff. 33r-v, on 33v.
 Constantyn Huygens to Descartes, n.p., 7 January 1643, published in Leon Roth, ed., Correspondence of Descartes and Constantyn Huygens 1635-1647, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1926, pp. 185-6, cited in John L. Heilbron, Electricity in the 17th and 18th centuries. A study in early modern physics, Berkeley, California: University of California Press; 1979, p. 106.
On Moray see Alexander Robertson, The Life of Sir Robert Moray. Soldier, Statesman and Man of Science (1608-1673), London, 1922.
Moray to Kircher, Ingolstadt, 1 June 1644, APUG 557 363r-v.
Moray to Kircher, Ingolstadt, 7 September 1644, APUG 557 323ar-av, Moray to Kircher Ingolstadt, 24 January 1645; APUG 568 ff. 74r - 75v, Moray to Kircher, Paris, 12 March 1645, APUG 557 ff. 271r-v, Moray to Kircher, Cologne, 21 November 1655; APUG 568 ff. 39r-v, Moray to Kircher, Cologne, 28 January 1656; APUG 568 ff. 20r-21v, Moray to Kircher, Rotterdam, 6 August 1657; APUG 568 ff. 196r-197v.
Moray to Kircher, Whitehall, 25 July 1663, APUG 563 ff. 212 r-v
 Moray to Oldenburg, Oxford; 19 October 1665; The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, cit., II: 574-576.
Moray to Oldenburg, Oxford, 16 November 1665 in The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, cit., II: 608-611
Boyle to Oldenburg, Oxford [?]; 18 November 1665, The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, cit., II: 613-614.
Oldenburg to Boyle, London, 21 November 1665, The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, cit., II: 615-617
 See Kircher, Magnes, 16543, cit., pp. 22-23, Axiomata seu pronunciata De Natura & Arte
 See Hankins and Silverman , Instruments and the Imagination, cit., pp. 14-36
 De Sepibus, Romani Collegii Musaeum, cit., pp. 2-3