There are no contemporary references to the Voynich Manuscript that we know of, only a few 17th century letters which were written long after it was created. The first which appeared is the famous Marci Letter of 1665, which Wilfrid Voynich found attached, or with, the manuscript to begin with. But it is not the only, or earliest, reference. The first possible mention is from 1637. A complete list of all “Voynich letters”, with translations, can be found on Philip Neal’s pages at Voynich central. But the letter which is the topic of this post is the 1666 letter from Godefirdus Aloysius Kinner to Kircher. It includes mention of the following subjects:
1) The Voynich and it’s mystery, and a hope for it’s translation
2) The two Bacons
3) The founding of the Royal Society
4) The New Atlantis
Mr. Neal notes, “‘English Society’ (Anglica Societate). The Royal Society, founded by Charles II of England in 1660. This paragraph is a discussion of an important issue at that time, the need to break with the wisdom of the ancient world and pursue new knowledge by means of experimental science. Kinner, clearly, is on the side of experiment, but in his day its value was not self-evident and needed to be argued for. Barschius, by contrast, seriously believed that major medical discoveries would more likely result from the decipherment of an old manuscript than from first hand observation.”
That is a well-stated point of course. But imagine the profound irony, to me and my theory, that both the Voynich and the New Atlantis are discussed on the same page of a 1666 letter to Kircher, when I had theorized, pre-C14, that they were in fact related.
The two books are not linked in this letter. But what are the odds of them even being mentioned together? Out of all the tens of thousands of books and writings Kinner could have discussed? Are there implications in them being together, so early? For one thing, perhaps the nature of the Voynich Ms., and the nature of the New Atlantis seemed related to him, and so, without saying so (but because of this, “on his mind”) he included both. But conversely, the fact that he did include both, and yet did not openly link the two, seems to suggest that he did not see any connection at all. How does this relate to my having suspected a connection between his two books of interest, and his author, 400 years later? I don’t know. I do consider it a coincidence, and somehow worthy of note. For one thing, it certainly shows just how both tempting and disarming coincidence can be.