Mencke Notes

Notes on Johann Burckhardt Mencke, De Charlataneria Eruditorum (1715)

These stories are second hand and plainly biased against Kircher, who may not have been as gullible a man as Mencke took him for. When sent a cryptographical challenge dated 1 April, Kircher appears to have risen to the occasion. It is true that the author of Arca Noe and Turris Babel was prepared to entertain bizarre ideas, but those books are properly read as works of ingenious scepticism about the new science rather than a literalist rejection of it.

Longobardicis: This word was used, and probably devised by, Mabillon in his foundational De Re Diplomatica (1681): see book V p. 353. It is significant that Mencke should use a term from the then new discipline of palaeography with the insinuation that Kircher would not have understood it. Theories that the Voynich manuscript is old, but still a fabrication designed to look older than it really is, have to reckon with the fact that few people before about 1700, and probably none before 1600, had the mastery of period detail to do so successfully.

Müller tried to interest Kircher in his ‘key’ to Chinese, but apparently without success.