Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (c.1490-1541) was one of the authors found the library at Joseph Curwen's Providence home.

[The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - H.P.L.]
[The Evil Clergyman - H.P.L.]
[The Supernatural in Literature - H.P.L.]

Paracelsus's real name was Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim. He was a Swiss physician, magus, and astrologer. Born in the village of Einsiedeln, near Zurich, in 1493, he was the son of a doctor, Willaim Bombastus von Hohenheim. He studied at Basel, then in Wurzburg under the abbot Trithemius, whose occult books fascinated him. At the age of twenty-two, he took the name Philippus Paracelsus to proclaim his superiority over Aulus Cornelius Celsus, the celebrated author of 'De Medicina.' He traveled widely through Europe practising his various arts, including medicine, believing education came from seeing the widest possible number of patients. He never thought of himself as an occultist or magician, even in his alchemy and astrology, which he took as purely scientific. Paracelsus hooked up with the brilliant surgeon Ambroise Paré on his travels. In 1524 Paracelsus settled in Basel for a time to teach medicine. His students said he started his tenure by burning the works of Galen, Avincenna, Rhazes, and other physicians of antiquity, shouting that they were less gifted than the hairs in his beard. Though he was egotistical and loud-mouthed Paracelsus was a successful physician curing the publisher Frobenius of a septic leg, Erasmus for gout and kidney trouble, and Canon Lichtenfels. This last refused to pay and the pusuant trial ended with Paracelsus in contempt of court and leaving Basel rather than accept jail time. His fellow professors rejoiced. The Prince Palatine, Archbishop-Duke Ernst of Bavaria, invited him to stay in Salzburg. He arrived in April, 1541. Though this seemed a perfect haven, the sudden relaxation after fourteen years of hardship was too much for him. He died on September 24th at the age of forty-eight.

Paracelsus held that the elements of compound bodies were salt, sulfur, and mercury; fire he regarded as imponderable, or nonmaterial. He believed, however, in the existence of one undiscovered element common to all, of which the four elements of the ancients were merely derivative forms. This prime element of creation Paracelsus termed 'alkahest,' and he maintained that if it were found, it would prove to be the philosopher's stone, the universal medicine, and the irresistible solvent. Yes, the words "bombast" and bombastic" were taken from his name.

In his "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft attributed another work to Paracelsus, "Treatise on Elemental Sprites," from which Friedrich Karl is said to have gotten the inspiration for "Undine." This is probably 'Liber de nymphis, sylphis, pygmaeis et salamandris et caeteribus spiritibus' in which he propounded the theory of the existence of four spiritual beings; the sylphs of the air, the salamanders of the fire, the nymphs of the water, and the pygmies of the earth. Writing in Latin, he also referred to the pygmies as 'gnomi' which has the singular 'gnomus.' Paracelsus's 'Gnomes' were able to move through the earth 'unobstructed as fish do through water, or birds and land animals through air.' However, whether he coined the word "Gnome" himself or simply culled it from the writing of an earlier author is unknown.

Paracelsus, like Albertus Magnus, though his science might have been crude and defective, based it upon the instinctive recognition of the psychic links between man and nature, that he was not an alien in the universe but an integral and natural part of it, something which has been lost in modern science.

From LOVECRAFT AT LAST by William Conover: "PARACELSUS. This is the assumed name of the physician and chemist Theophrastus von Hohenheim, a Swiss who lived from 1493 to 1541 and was a professor at the University of Basel. He was a bit of a charlatan and alchemical dabbler, yet is one of the chief founders of the modern physician's and chemist's arts."

Also by Paracelsus:

Archidoxes of Magic; Of the Supreme Mysteries of Nature; of the Spirits of Planets; Secrets of Alchemy; Occult Philosophy; Signs of the Zodiack, Magical Cure of Diseases; and Celestial Medicines; Partial Contents: Of Simple Fire; Multiplicity of Fire; The Metals of the Planets; Spirit of the Sun; Spirit of the Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn; Of Tinctures how they are made; Conjunction of Male & Female; To make the Furnace; To place the Fire; The Red Colour; Of Consecrations; Of Ceremonies Magical; Of Conjurations; Supernatural Diseases must have Supernatural Cures; Visions and Dreams; Dreams natural and Supernatural; Of Imagination; Of Hidden Treasure; The Abuse of Magick; Preservatives against Witchcraft; Manner of helping persons bewitched; Of the mystery of the twelve Signs; Celestial Medicines.
Red the Francis Barrett biographical sketch in The Magus HERE