The letter of Johannes Marcus Marci to Athanasius Kircher (1640)
Reverend Lord Father in Christ and valued friend
I wrote to your Reverence at Regensburg that the things entrusted to me by your Reverence had been transacted in the presence of the emperor as promised. I directed my letters to the most illustrious Count of Martinitz and I can confirm that they were received by him. And since six weeks have gone by I am eagerly awaiting the response.
The Reverend Father Gans has written to me that your reverence is having no end of troubles. He said it all too nobly, which arouses my concern. And since you are entitled to know something of this I have copied out part of the letter.
The most illustrious Count Bernard had lamented to me that he had received no reply to his letters. I have received many benefits from him, and I know that he is most concerned for your reverence, and has done no little in the presence of his Majesty which will benefit us, so I should prefer to welcome any kind of statement of goodwill and friendship.
The Sph*nx will understand from the attached sheet what my friend Mr Georg Barschius wanted to have written by me. Though he is undoubtedly a man of the highest quality and greatly skilled in chemical matters, he has not in fact achieved the real goal he longs for. He seeks it for the sake not of money but of medicine.
His Majesty also asked me very keenly about that heliotrope. Did I know it or had I at least seen the effect? I told him No and No, which surprised him. I said I had not dared to abuse our friendship, which was then just beginning, by prying into what was considered a major secret. If it will not cause distress – and it is not right to say it face to face – I would ask to know in general terms whether the phenomenon is natural or artificial, mineral or vegetable, and whether it is available in this country. Whatever may be said, I shall keep it under any seal of silence by which I may be bound.
In any case, I should like a description of that variegated black ink and of the succulatum, both of which were promised me at Rome. If there is anything else worth knowing, it will do no harm to add it. By which I mean, is the Coptic Arabic lexicon to be typeset in Arabic letters? I have urged in my most recent letters that those founts of oriental letters should be engraved as soon as possible. If by chance any s*cr*ts needed to be published here we must not lack the requisite tools.
And with that I wish your Reverence all good fortune and pray you to visit us as soon as possible. May your Reverence be so kind as to salute Ferrarius. He will know his servant from his signature – Joannes Marci.
Prague 12 September 1640
Your Reverence’s obedient servant
Joannes Marcus Marci