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VMs: VMS from Lvov?
I was thinking how the two conflicting stories on the VMS
origins might be reconciled. Obviously, if Nick succeeds
in contacting Wilfrid Gaye we shall be (hopefully) on
firmer ground - but still I thought I might share my
If Mr. Gaye indeed confirms his version from the BBC
site comment, then I believe the "smuggling" must
have occured on Ethel's visit to Lvov in 1894/1895
(which is also mentioned by Fremantle in her article,
even though she does not explain what manuscript it
was - from the context it appears it was a revolutionary
text but as Fremantle makes many other factual errors,
this should not be conclusive). She was there in the
cultural and literary circles - but how could the VMS
get to Lvov?
The scenario might have been that the VMS never reached
Rome. If the Marci letter is dated 1666 (rather than 1665),
then it was at the end of his life (he died in 1667).
Even though the letter does not look like his last will,
it may in fact have been written and inserted into
the VMS but not actually sent.
It may be noted that Kircher apparently separated
all attachements from incoming letters. It is therefore
strange why this particular letter of Marci was not
removed from the VMS.
Lvov was at that time in Poland - but there was
a Jesuite College there founded in 1608 which in
1661 became the basis for the newly founded University.
As the University in Cracow opposed the creation of a new
(rival) university in Poland, it is possible that professors
were brought from Prague, and one of them may have
brought the VMS with him.
After 1772 Lvov belonged to Austria - ie. the same country
as Prague. After the Jesuit Order was closed in 1773, the
University was transformed into a gymnasium and the Collegium
Theresianum which had two faculties: Medical and Theological.
In 1784 the University was revived by Joseph II and existed
throughout the 19th c. (with a break 1805-1817), and then
until now (being Polish 1918-1939, and now Ukrainian).
There would, therefore, be many possible ways for the VMS
to get there between 1666 and 1894 when Ethel Lilian
would get it and take to London.
The note from The Times posted recently by Dana which
included Voynich's recollection of his meetings with
Robert Garnett (famous librarian from the BL Reading Room)
"to whom I had chatted about books on many occasions"
and that he suggested to him to become a rare books dealer.
It must have been before 1898 (when the first Voynich's
catalogue already appeared) but after 1895 (when
the Voynichs withdrew from revolutionary activities).
But why would Voynich (not yet a book dealer) go to
the BL and what would he chat about with Garnett?
If Ethel really brought the VMS from Lvov in 1895,
it might be a sensible explanation that Wilfrid
("I was very miserable not knowing what to do,
and very poor") wanted to find out what the VMS
was and if it was valuable - so visitings the BL would
be the thing to do.
For what it's worth...
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