[Did Paracelsus “give way to intemperance”?]
Theosophist, February, 1883
Selection from letter to the editor “Paracelsus” by E.N.T. | Note by H.P.B.
In regard to “Theophrastus Paracelsus,” whose name appears from time to time in your journal in connection with Hermetic and Cabalistic matters, I shall feel thankful if you or any of your contributors could throw any light on the history of this eccentric genius. The span of his life comprised by 48 years, yet during that comparatively brief period he had travelled into the East and over a great part of Europe, prosecuting all the while his studied in physics, chemistry and occult sciences, and writing those works which have caused him to be regarded as the father of Modern Chemistry. A mystery, however, hangs over the latter portion of his career to which, as far as I am aware, no one has ever furnished a satisfactory solution. Although up to the age of 25 his only drink had been water, this remarkable man, who was believed by many of his contemporaries to have possessed himself of the Elixer Vitae, the philosopher’s stone, and other secrets of the Eastern Adepts, gave way during the concluding years of his life to excessive intemperance, and finally closed his chequered existence in the Hospital of Sebastian at Salzburg in 1541. it is well known that Paracelsus, by his unconciliatory manner and the aggressive attitude he assumed towards the scientists of his day, made numerous enemies who did all in their power to sally his reputation with their slanders; hence no reliance can be placed on the accounts of Erastus, Oporinus, and others. Nevertheless this lapse into dissipation, after he had passed his prime, has been admitted even by his defenders, and is, to say the least of it, strongly inexplicable in one who is considered to have advanced far in the path of occult wisdom and attained adeptship.1
1. We, who unfortunately have learned at our personal expense how easily malevolent insinuations and calumny take root, can never be brought to believe that the great Paracelsus was a drunkard. There is a “mystery,”—and we fondly hope it will be explained some day. No great man’s reputation was ever yet allowed to rest undisturbed. Voltaire, Paine, and in our own days, Littré, are alleged on their deathbeds to have shown the white feather, turned traitors to their lifelong convictions, and to have died as only cowards can die, recanting those convictions. St. Germain is called the “Prince of Impostors,” and “Cagliostro”—a charlatan. But who has ever proved that? [H.P.B.]