Introduction to Alchemy

Paranormal


alchemy

 

History of Alchemy 

From an early period the Egypt­ians possessed the reputation of being skilful workers in metals, and, according to Greek writers, they were con­versant with their transmutation, employing quicksilver in the process of separating gold and silver from the native matrix. The resulting oxide was supposed to possess marvelous powers, and it was thought that there resided within it the individualities of the various metals—that in it their various substances were incorporated. This black powder was mystically identified with the under­world form of the god Osiris, and consequently was credited with magical properties. Thus there grew up. In Egypt the belief that magical powers existed in fluxes and alloys. Probably such a belief existed throughout Europe in connection with the bronze-working castes of its several races. (See Shells Thari.) It was probably in the Byzantium of the fourth century, however, that alchemical science received embryonic form. There is little doubt that Egyptian tradition, filtering through Alexandrian Hellenic sources was the foundation upon which the infant science was built, and this is borne out by the circumstance that the art was attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and supposed to be contained in its entirety in his works. The Arabs, after their conquest of Egypt in the seventh century, carried on the researches of the Alexandrian school, and through their instrumentality the art was brought to Morocco and thus in the eighth century to Spain, where it flourished exceedingly. Indeed, Spain from the ninth to the eleventh century became the reposi­tory of alchemical science, and the colleges of- Seville, Cordova, and Granada were the centers from which this science radiated throughout Europe. The first practical alchemist may be said to have been the Arabian Geber, who flourished 720-750. From his Summa Perfeclionis, we may be justified in assuming that alchemical science was already matured in his day, and that he drew his inspiration from a still older unbroken line of adepts. He was followed by Avicenna, Mesna and Rhasis {q.v.j, and in France by Alain of Lisle, Arnold de Villanova and Jean de Meung (q.v.) the troubadour; in England by Roger Bac n and in Spain itself by Raymond Luliy. Later, in Preach alchemy the most illustrious names are those of Flamel (b. ca. 1330), and Bernard Trevisan (b. ca. 1406} after which the centre of interest changes to Germany and in some measure to England, in which countries Paracelsus, Khunrath (ca. 1560), Maier (ca. 1568), Bohme, Van Helmont, the Brabantcr (1553). Ripley, Norton, Dalton, Charnock, and Fludd kept the alchemical flame burning brightly. It is surprising how little altera­tion we find throughout the period between the seventh and the seventeenth centuries, the heyday of alchemy, in the theory and practice of the art. The same sentiments and processes art! found expressed in the later alchemical authorities as in the earliest, and a wonderful unanimity as regards the basic canons of the great art is evinced by the hermetic students of all time. On the introduction of chemistry as a practical art, alchemical science fell into desuetude and disrepute, owing chiefly to the number of charlatans practicing it, and by the beginning of the eighteenth century, as a school, it may be said to have become defunct. Here and there, however, a solitary Student of the art lingered, and the department of this article on "Modern Alchemy" will demonstrate that the science has to a great extent revived during modern times, although it has never been quite extinct.

The Quests of Alchemy 

The grand objects of alchemy were (1) the discovery of a process by which the baser metals might be transmuted into gold and silver; (2), the discovery of an elixir by which life might be prolonged indefinitely; and there may perhaps be added (3), the manufacture of an artificial process of human life. (For the latter see "Homunculus.")

The Theory and Philosophy of Alchemy 

The first ob­jects were to be achieved as follows: The transmutation of metals was to be accomplished by a powder, stone, or elixir often called the Philosopher's Stone, the application of which would effect the transmutation of the baser metals into gold or silver, depending upon the length of time of its application. Basing their conclusions on a profound examination of natural processes and research into the secrets of nature, the alchemists arrived at the axiom that nature was divided philosophically into four principal regions, the dry, the moist, the warm, the cold, whence all that exists must be derived. Nature is also divisible into the male and the female. She is the divine breath, the central fire, invisible yet ever active, and is typified by sulphur, which is the mercury of the sages, which slowly fructifies under the genial warmth of nature. The alchemist must be ingenuous, of a truthful disposition, and gifted with patience and prudence, following nature in every alchemical performance. He must recollect that like draws to like, and must know how to obtain the seed of metals, which is produced by the four elements through the will of the Supreme Being and the Imagination of Nature. We are told that the original matter of metals is double in its essence, being a dry heat combined with a warm moisture, and that air is water coagulated by fire, capable of producing a universal dissolvent. These terms the neophyte must be cautious of interpreting in their literal sense. Great confusion exists in alchemical nomen­clature, and the gibberish employed by the scores of charlatans who in later times pretended to a knowledge of alchemical matters did not tend to make things any more clear. The beginner must also acquire a thorough knowledge of the manner in which metals grow in the bowels of the earth. These are engendered by sulphur, which is male, and mercury, which is female, and the crux of alchemy is to obtain their seed—a process which the alchemistical philosophers have not described with any degree of clarity. The physical theory of transmutation is based on-the composite character of metals, and on the presumed existence of a substance which, applied to matter, exalts and perfects it. This, Eugenius Philalethes and others call " The Light." The elements of all metals are similar, differing only in purity and pro­portion. The entire trend of the metallic kingdom is towards the natural manufacture of gold, and the pro­duction of the baser metals is only accidental as the result of an unfavorable environment. The Philosopher's Stone is the combination of the male and female seeds which beget gold. The composition of these is so veiled by symbolism as to make their identification a matter of impossibility. Waite, summarizing the alchemical process once the secret of the stone is unveiled, says:

"Given the matter of the stone and also the necessary vessel, the processes which must be then undertaken to accomplish the magnum opus are described with moderate perspicuity. There is the calcination or purgation of the stone, in which kind is worked with kind for the space of a philosophical year. There is dissolution which prepares the way for congelation, and which is performed during the black state o( the mysterious matter. It is accomplished by water which does not wet the hand. There is the separation of the subtle and the gross, which is to be performed by means of heat. In the conjunction which follows, the elements are duly and scrupulously combined. Putrefaction afterwards takes place. Without which pole no seed may multiply. Then, in the subsequent congelation the white color appears, which is one of the signs of success. It becomes more pronounced in cibation. In sublimation the body is spiritualized, the spirit made corporeal, and again a more glittering whiteness is apparent. Fermentation afterwards fixes together the alchemical earth and water, and causes the mystic medicine to flow like wax. The matter is then augmented with the alchemical spirit of life, and the exaltation of the philosophic earth is accomplished by the natural rectification of its elements. When these pro­cesses have been successfully completed, the mystic stone will .have passed through three chief stages characterized by different colors, black, white, and red, after which it is capable of infinite multication, and when projected on mercury, it will absolutely transmute it, the resulting gold bearing every test. The base metals made use of must be purified to insure the success of the operation. The process for the manufacture of silver is essentially similar, but the resources of the matter are not carried to so high a degree.

"According to the Commentary on the Ancient Waif of the Knights the transmutations performed by the perfect stone are so absolute that no trace remains of the original metal. It cannot, however, destroy gold, nor exalt it into a more perfect metallic substance; it, therefore, transmutes it into a medicine a thousand times superior to any virtues which can be extracted from it in its vulgar state. This medicine becomes a most potent agent in the exaltation of base metals."

There are not wanting authorities who deny that the transmutation of metals was the grand object of alchemy, and who infer from the alchemistical writings that the end of the art was the spiritual regeneration of man. Mrs. Atwood, author of A Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery, and an American writer named Hitchcock are perhaps the chief protagonists of the belief that by spiritual processes akin to those of the chemical processes of alchemy, the soul of man may be purified and exalted. But both commit the radical error of stating that the alchemical writers did not aver that the transmutation of base metal into gold was their grand end. None of the passages they quote, is inconsistent with the physical object of alchemy, and in a work, The Marrow of Alchemy, stated to be by Eugenius Philalethes, it is laid down that the real quest is for gold. It is constantly impressed upon the reader, however, in the perusal of esteemed alchemical works, that only those who are instructed by God can achieve the grand secret. Others, again, state that a tyro may possibly stumble upon it, but that unless he is guided by an adept he has small chance of achieving the grand Arcanum. It will be obvious to the tyro, however, that nothing can ever be achieved by trusting to the alle­gories of the adepts or the many charlatans who crowded the ranks of the art. Gold may have been made, or it may not, but the truth or fallacy of the alchemical method lies with modern chemistry. The transcendental view of alchemy, however, is rapidly gaining ground, and pro­bably originated in the comprehensive nature of the Hermetic theory and the consciousness in the alchemical mind that what might with success be applied to nature could also be applied to man with similar results. Says Mr. Waite : "The gold of the philosopher is not a metal, on the other hand, man is a being who possesses within himself the seeds of a perfection which he has never realized, and that he therefore corresponds to those metals which the Hermetic theory supposes to be capable of develop­ment. It has been constantly advanced that the con­version of lead into gold was only the assumed object of alchemy, and that it was in reality in search of a process for developing the latent possibilities in the subject man." At the same time, it must be admitted that the cryptic character of alchemical language was probably occasioned by a fear on the part of the alchemical mystic that he might lay himself open through his magical opinions to the rigors of the law. The Elixir of Life has been specially treated elsewhere.

Records of Alleged Actual Transmutation 

Several records of alleged transmutations of base metals into gold are in existence. These were achieved by Nicholas Flamel, Van Helmont, Martini, Richthausen, and Sethon. For a detailed account of the methods employed the reader is referred to the several articles on these hermetists. In nearly every case the transmuting element was a mysterious powder or the "Philosophers' Stone."

Modern Alchemy 

That alchemy has been studied in modern times there can be no doubt. M. Figuier in his L'Alchimie et les Alchimistes, dealing with the subject of modern alchemy, as expressed by the initiates of the first half of the nineteenth century, states that many French alchemists of his time regarded the discoveries of modern science as merely so many evidences of the truth of the doctrines they embraced. Throughout Europe, he says, the positive alchemical doctrine had many adherents at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. Thus a " vast association of alchemists," founded in Westphalia in 1790, continued to flourish in the year 1819, under the name of the " Hermetic Society." In 1837, an alchemist of Thuringia presented to the Soci6te Industrielle of Weimar a tincture which he averred would effect metallic transmutation. About the same time several French journals announced a public course of lectures on hermetic philosophy by a professor of the University of Munich. He further states that many Hanoverian and Bavarian families pursued in common the search for the grand Arcanum. Paris, however, was regarded as the alchemistical Mecca. There dwelt many theoretical alchemists and " empirical adepts." The first pursued the Arcanum through the medium of books, the others engaged in practical efforts to effect transmutation. M. Figuier states that in the forties of last century he frequented the laboratory of a certain Monsieur L., which was the rendezvous of the alchemists of Paris. When Monsieur L's pupils left the laboratory for the day the modern adepts dropped in one by one, and Figuier relates how deeply impressed he was by the appearance and costumes of these strange men. In the daytime he fre­quently encountered them in the public libraries, buried in gigantic folios, and in the evening they might be seen pacing the solitary bridges with eyes fixed in vague con­templation upon the first pale stars of night. A long cloak usually covered their meager limbs, and their untrimmed beards and matted locks lent them a wild appearance. They walked with a solemn and measured gait, and used the figures of speech employed by the mediaeval illumines. Their expression was generally a mixture of the most ardent hope and a fixed despair.

Among the adepts who sought the laboratory of Monsieur L., Figuier remarked especially a young man, in whose habits and language he could see nothing in common with those of his strange companions. He confounded the wisdom of the alchemical adept with the tenets of the modern scientist in the most singular fashion, and meeting him one day at the gate of the Observatory, M. Figuier renewed the subject of their last discussion, deploring that a man of his gifts could pursue the sem­blance of a chimera." Without replying, the young adept led him into the Observatory garden, and proceeded to reveal to him the mysteries of modern alchemical science.

The young man proceeded to fix a limit to the researches of the modern alchemists. Gold, he said, according to the ancient authors, has three distinct properties: (1) that of resolving the baser metals into itself, and interchanging and metamorphosing all metals into one another; 2) the curing of afflictions and the prolongation of life; (3), as a spiritus mundi to bring mankind into rapport with the super mundane spheres. Modern alchemists, he continued, reject the greater part of these ideas, especially those con­nected with spiritual contact. The object of modern alchemy might be reduced to the search for a substance having the power to transform and transmute all other substances one into another—in short, to discover that medium so well known to the alchemists of old and lost to us. This was a perfectly feasible proposition. In the four principal substances of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and azote, we have the Mractus of Pythagoras and the ttlragratn of the Chaldeans and Egyptians. All the sixty elements are referable to these original four. The ancient alchemical theory established the fact that all the metals are the same in their composition, that ali are formed from sulphur and mercury, and that the difference between them is according to the proportion of those substances in their composition. Further, all the products of minerals present in their composition complete identity with those substances most opposed to them. Thus fulminating acid contains precisely the same quantity of carbon, oxygen, and azote as cyanic acid, and "cyanhydric" acid does not differ from formate ammoniac. This new property of matter is known as " isomerism." M. Figuier's friend then proceeds to quote in support of his thesis and operations and experiments of M. Dumas, a celebrated French savant, as well as those of Prout, and other English chemists of standing.

Passing to consider the possibility of isomerism in elementary as well as in compound substances, he points out to M. Figuier that if the theory of isomerism can apply to sucli bodies, the transmutation of metals ceases to be a wild, unpractical dream, and becomes a scientific possibil­ity, the transformation being brought about by a mole­cular rearrangement. Isomerism can be established in the case of compound substances by chemical analysis, showing the identity of their constituent parts. In the case of metals it can be proved by the comparison of the properties of isomeric bodies with the properties of metals, in order to discover whether they have any common char­acteristics. Such experiments, he continued, had been conducted by M. Dumas, with the result that isomeric sub­stances were found to have equal equivalents, or equival­ents which were exact multiples one of another. This characteristic is also a feature of metals. Gold and osmium have identical equivalents, as have platinum and indium. The equivalent of cobalt is almost the same as that of nickel, and the semi-equivalent of tin is equal to the equivalent of the two preceding metals.

M. Dumas, speaking before the British Association, had shown that when three simple bodies displayed great analogies in their properties, such as chlorine, bromide, and iodine, barium, strontium, and calcium, the chemical equivalent of the intermediate body is represented by the arithmetical mean between the equivalents of the other two. Such a statement well showed the isomerism of ele­mentary substances, and proved that metals, however dissimilar in outward appearance, were composed of the same matter differently arranged and proportioned. This theory successfully demolishes the difficulties in the way of transmutation. Again, Dr. Prout says that the chemical equivalents of nearly all elementary substances are the multiples of one among them. Thus, if the equivalent of hydrogen be taken for the unit, the equivalent of every other substance will be an exact multiple of it—carbon will be represented by six, azote by fourteen, oxygen by sixteen, zinc by thirty-two. But, pointed out M. Figuier's friend, if the molecular masses in compound substances have so simple a connection, does it not go to prove that all natural bodies are formed of one principle, differently arranged and condensed to produce all known compounds?

If transmutation is thus theoretically possible, it only remains to show by practical experiment that it is strictly in accordance with chemical laws, and by no means in­clines to the supernatural. At this juncture the young alchemist proceeded to liken the action of the Philosophers' Stone on metals to that of a ferment on organic matter. When metals are melted and brought to red heat, a mole­cular change may be produc&d analogous to fermentation. Just as sugar, under the influence of a ferment, may be changed into lactic acid without altering its constituents, so metals can alter their character under the influence of the Philosophers' Stone. The explanation of the latter case is no more difficult than that of the former. The ferment does not take any part in the chemical changes it brings about, and no satisfactory explanation of its effects can be found either in the laws of affinity or in the forces of electricity, light, or heat. As with the ferment, the required quantity of the Philosophers' Stone is infinitesimal. Medicine, philosophy, every modern science was at one time a source of such errors and extravagances as are associated with medieval alchemy, but they are not therefore neglected and despised. Wherefore, then, should we be blind to the scientific nature of transmutation?

One of the foundations of alchemical theories was that minerals grew and developed in the earth, like organic things. It was always the aim of nature to produce gold, the most precious metal, but when circumstances were not favorable the baser metals resulted. The desire of the old alchemists was to surprise nature's secrets, and thus attain the ability to do in a short period what nature takes years to accomplish. Nevertheless, the mediaeval alchem­ists appreciated the value of time in their experiments as modern alchemists never do. M. Figuier's friend urged him not to condemn these exponents of the hermetic philosophy for their metaphysical tendencies, for, he said, there are facts in our sciences which can only be explained in that light. If, for instance, copper be placed in air or water, there will be no result, but if a touch of some acid be added, it will oxidize. The explanation is that " the acid provokes oxidation of the metal, because it has an affinity for the oxide which tends to form "—a material fact almost metaphysical in its production, and only explicable thereby.

He concluded his argument with an appeal for tolerance towards the medieval alchemists, whose work is under­rated because it is not properly understood.

Famous People Involved in Alchemy

Fabre, Pierre Charles: (French Alchemist — Fl. 1630.) Hardly any biographical details concerning this French alchemist are forthcoming. Mr. Waite, in his Lives of the Alchemystical Philosophers, declares that Fabre was a native of Montpellier; but we do not find any evidence to support this statement, and it is possible that he has confounded Fabre the alchemist with a painter of the same name, who was born at Montpellier, and after whom the Musee Fabre at that town is called. Pierre Jean Fabre appears to have been a doctor of medicine, and to have been renowned in his own day as a scholar of chemistry, a subject on which he compiled several treatises; while, though it is not recorded that he ever won any marked successes in the field of alchemy, he certainly wrote numerous things dealing wholly or partly with that topic. Of these the most important are Alchitnista Christianus and Hercules Pischymicus, both published at Toulouse, the first in 1632, the second two years afterwards ; and in the latter he maintains that the mythological" labors of Hercules " are allegories, embodying the arcane of hermetic philosophy. The philosopher's stone, he declares complacently, may be found in all compounded circumstances, and is formed of salt, mercury and sulphur.


Ferarius: This alchemist is supposed to have been an Italian priest of the thirteenth century, but nothing is known concerning his career. Various chemical writings ascribed to him are embodied in that curious collection, the Theatrum Chimicum, prominent among them being De Lapide Plnilosophorum and Thesaurus Philosophies ; and in the former the author observes, rather tritely, that in alchemy the first thing to be ascertained is what is really signified by the myrionimous argentum vivum sapientium. But he does not volunteer any information in this particular, and his works in general are obscure, and of but little interest.


Fritzlar, Martin Von: German alchemist. (Circa, 1750.) The dates of the birth and death of this alchemist have never been ascertained, but he is known to have lived in the first half of the eighteenth century, while he appears to have been a Hessian, resident chiefly at the village of Firtzlai. While a young man, he studied pharmacy, intending to make it his profession; but he soon grew interested in the quest of gold-making, and, when the celebrated alchemist, Lascaris, came to Germany, Martin hastened to his presence with a view to gleaning his secrets.


Flamel, Nicholas, was born at Pontoise, of a poor but respectable family, about the beginning of the fourteenth century. He received a good education, of which his natural abilities enabled him to make the best use. Repairing to Paris, he obtained employment as a public scrivener,—sitting at the corner of the Rue de Marivaux, copying or inditing letters and other documents. The occupation brought with it little profit, and Flamel tried in succession poetry and painting with an equally unsatisfactory result. His quick wits suggested that as he could make no money by teaching mankind, it might be more profitable to cheat them, and he took up the pursuit of Astrology, casting horoscopes and telling fortunes. He was right in his conjectures, and soon throve so vigorously that he was enabled to take unto himself a wife named Petronella. But those who begin to study the magic art for profit or amusement generally finish by addicting themselves to it with a blindly passionate love. Nicholas devoted himself both day and night to his fascinating but deceptive pursuits; and soon acquired a thorough knowledge of all that previous adepts had written upon the elixir vita, the universal Alkahest, and the Philosopher's Stone. In 1297 he lighted upon a manual of the art which would have been invaluable if it had been intelligible. He bought it for two florins. It contained three times seven leaves written with a steel instrument upon the bark of trees. The calligraphy was as admirable as the Latin was cryptical. Each seventh leaf was free from writing, but emblazoned with a picture; the first, representing a serpent swallowing rods; the second, a serpent crucified on a cross; and the third, the arid expanse of a treeless desert, in whose depths a fountain bubbled, with serpents trailing their slimy folds from side to side. The author of this mysterious book purported to be " Abraham, the patriarch, Jew, prince, philosopher, Levite, priest, and astrologer," who added to his other claims upon the wonder of mankind a knowledge of Latin. He had included within these precious pages a complete exposition of the art of transmuting metals; describing every process, explaining the different vessels, and pointing out the proper seasons for making experiments. In fact, the book would have been perfect, but for one deficiency; it was addressed not so much to the tyro as to an adept, and took it for granted that its student was already in possession of the Philosopher's Stone. This was a terrible obstacle to the inquiring Flamel. The more he studied the book the less he understood it. He studied the letterpress, and he studied the illustrations ; he invited the wise men of France to come and study them, but no light was thrown upon the darkness. For thrice seven years he pored over these perplexing pages, until at length his wife suggested that a Jewish Rabbi might be able to interpret them. As the chiefs of the Jews were principally located in Spain, to Spain went Flamel, and there he remained for two years. From one of the Hebrew sages he obtained some hints which afforded a key to the patriarchal mysteries, and returning to Paris he recommenced his studies with a new vigor.

They were rewarded with success. On the I3th of February,"1382, o.s., Flamel made a projection on Mercury, and produced some virgin silver. On the 25th of the following April he converted some Mercury into gold, and found himself the fortunate possessor of an inexhaustible treasure. But his good fortune did not end here. Flamel, continuing his researches discovered the elixir of life, which enabled him to prolong his him— and accumulate gold—to the venerable age of 116. He further administered the life-giving potion to his wife, who reached nearly as great a longevity as himself, dying in the year preceding his own death, A.D. 1414. As they had no children, they spent their wealth upon churches and hospitals, and several of the religious and charitable institutions of France still attest their well-directed benevolence. There is no doubt that Flamel practiced alchemy, and one of his works on the fascinating science—a poem entitled The Philosophic Summary—was printed as late as 1735. In Salmon's valuable and very curious Biblio~ theque des Philosophes CAimiques are preserved same specimens of the drawings in Abraham's treatise on metallurgy and of his own handwriting. But Flamel was neither an enthusiast nor a dupe. His alchemical studies were but the disguises of his usurious practices. To account for the immense wealth he acquired by money-lending to the young French nobles, and by transacting business between the Jews of France and those of Spain, he invented the fiction of his discovery of the Philosopher's Stone. He nevertheless obtained great repute as a magician, and his followers believed that he was still alive though retired from the world, and would live for six centuries. 


Fludd, or Find, Robert: This Rosicrucian and alchemist was born in 1574 at Milgate House, in the parish of Bearsted, Kent, his father being one Sir Thomas Fludd, a knight who enjoyed the patronage of Queen Elizabeth, and served her for several years as " Treasurer of War in the Low Countries." At the age of seventeen Robert entered St. John's College, Oxford, and five years later he took his degree as Bachelor of Arts; while shortly afterwards, on his deciding to take up medical science, he left England and went to prosecute his studies on the Continent. Going first to Spain, he traveled thence to Italy, and subsequently stayed for some time in Germany, where he is said to have supported himself by acting as pedagogue in various noble households; but soon he was home again, and in 1605 his alma mater of Oxford conferred on him the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Doctor of Medicine, while five years later he became a Fellow of the College of Physicians. Having thus equipped himself thoroughly for the medical profession, Fludd went to London and took a house in Fenchurch Street, a quiet place in those days, though now a noisy centre of commerce; and here he soon gained an extensive practice, his success being due not merely to his genuine skill, but to his having an attractive and even magnetic personality. But busy though he was in this way, he found leisure to write at length on medicine; while anon he became an important and influential member of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross, and at the same time he commenced alchemistic experiments. He preached the great efficacy of the magnet, of sympathetic cures, of the weapon-salve; he declared his belief in the Philosopher's Stone, the universal alkahest or solvent, the elixir vita; he maintained that all things were animated by two principles—condensation, the Boreal, or northern virtue ; and rarefaction, the Austral, or southern virtue. He asserted that the human body was controlled by a number of demons, that each disease had its peculiar demon, each demon his particular place in the frame of humanity, and that to conquer a disease—say in the right leg—you must call in the aid of the demon who ruled the left, always proceeding by this rule of contraries. 

As soon as the doctrines of the Rosy Cross Brotherhood were promulgated Fludd embraced them with all the eagerness of which his dreamy-intellect was capable; and several German writers having made an attack upon them, he published a defense in 1616, under the title of Apologia Compendiaria Fraternitatem de Rosea-Cruce Suspicionis et Infamia Maculis Asper-samAbluens, which procured him a wide-spread reputation as one of the apostles of the new fraternity. He met with the usual fate of prophets, and was lustily belabored by a host of enemies—by Mersenne, Gassendi, and Kepler. Fludd was by no means discomfited, and retorted upon his opponents in an elaborate treatise, Summum Bonum, quod est Magice, Cabala, Alchimice, Fratrum Roseee-Crucis Verorum, et adversus Mersenium Calumniatorem. He made at a later period and adventurous attempt to identify the doctrines of the Rosicrucians with what he was pleased to call the Philosophy of Moses (Philosophic. Mosaica, in qua sapientia et scieniia Creationis explicantur), published at Ghent, 1638, and wrote numerous treatises on alchemy and medical science. He founded an English school of Rosicrucians. Fludd is one of the high priests of the Magnetic Philosophy, and learnedly expounds the laws of ostral medicine, the doctrines of sympathies, and the fine powers and marvelous effects of the magnet. When two men approach each other—such was his theory—their magnetism is either active or passive; that is, positive or negative. If the emanations which they send out are broken or thrown back, there arises antipathy, or Magnetismus negativus: but when the emanations pass through each other, the positive magnetism is produced, for the magnetic rays proceed from the centre to the circumference. Man, like the earth, has his poles, or two main streams of magnetic influence. Like a little world, he is endowed with a magnetic virtue which, however, is subjected to the same laws as, on a larger scale, the magnetic power of the universe. How these principles may be developed in the cure or prevention of disease, the reader must learn from the mystic pages of Robertus a Fluctibns himself.

Fludd died in 1637 at a house in Coleman Street, to which he had removed a few years before; but ere his demise he had won a fairly wide reputation by his chymical ability, and had also issued a considerable number of books, prominent among them being Tractatus Apologeticus integrita-tem Societatis de Rusae Cruce defendants, Leyden 1617, Veri-tatis Proscenium, Frankfort 1621, Medicina Catholica, Frankfort 1629, Monochordum Mundi Syhiphoniacum, Frankfort, 1622.


Fontaine, John: This Flemish alchemist and poet appears to have lived at Valenciennes towards the close of the thirteenth century. Two books are ascribed to him, La Fontaine des Amoweux de Science and La Fontaine Perilleuse. both of which are written in French and were published at Paris, the first-named in 1561 and the second eleven years later. His claims to the authorship of the latter work have frequently been disputed, but the former is almost certainly his, and a curious production it is. At the outset the author professes himself an adept in hermetic philosophy, and thereafter he proceeds, in poetry of an allegorical style which recalls The Romawtt of the Rose, to describe the different processes to be gone through ere achieving a transmutation. There is little in this metrical treatise which indicates that the writer was an alchemist of any great ability, but he certainly possessed a distinct gift for making pleasant if hardly powerful verses.


Glauber, Johann Rudolph: German mediciner and alchemist, born at Carlstadt, in 1603. No authentic records concerning bis life appear to exist, although he was a profuse writer and left many treatises on medicine and alchemy. He discovered and prepared many medicines of great value to pharmacy, some of which are in common use, for example the familiar preparation known as Glauber's Salts. He was a firm believer in the Philosophers' Stone and elixir vita. Concerning the former, he states: " Let the benevolent reader take with him my final judgment concerning the great Stone of the Wise; let every man believe what he will and is able to comprehend. Such a work is purely the gift of God, and cannot be learned by the most acute power of human mind, if it be not assisted by the benign help of a Divine Inspiration. And of this I assure myself that in the last times, God will raise up some to whom He will open the Cabinet of Nature's Secrets, that they shall be able to do wonderful things in the world to His Glory, the which, I indeed, heartily wish to posterity that they may enjoy and use to the praise and honour of God." Some of Glauber's principal works are, Philosophical Furnaces, Commentary on Paracelsus, Heaven of the Philosophers, or Book of Vexation, Miracultim Murdi, I'u Prosperity of Germany, Book of Fires.


Gustenhover: A goldsmith who resided at Strasburg in 1603. In a period of much danger he gave shelter to one M. Hirschborgen who is described as good and religious. In return for the hospitality of his host he gave him some powder of projection and departed on his journey.

Gustenhover indiscreetly made transmutation before many people, which in due course reached the ears of Rudplph II. himself, an amateur alchemist. He forthwith ordered the Strasburg magistrates to send the goldsmith to him. He was accordingly arrested and guarded with the greatest vigilance. On learning that he was to be sent to the Emperor at Prague he disclosed the whole business and requesting the magistrates to meet together asked them to procure a crucet and charcoal, and without his coming near them to melt some lead. On the metal being molten he then gave them a small quantity of a reddish powder on which being thrown into the crucet produced a considerable amount of pure gold.

On being brought into the presence of the Emperor he confessed that he had not himself prepared the magical powder and was wholly ignorant of the nature of its composition. Then the Emperor refused to believe in spite of the repeated Erotestations of the goldsmith. The powder being exhausted, Gustenhover was set to the now impossible task of making more gold. He sought refuge from the fury of the Emperor by an alchemical blasphemy accursed by all sons of the doctrine. Convinced that the alchemist was concealing his secret, the Emperor had him imprisoned for the rest of his life.

It is believed that Hirschborgen who presented Gustenhover with the powder was no other than Alexander Sethon (q.v.), who at that period was traveling Germany in various disguises.


Lasearis: (Alchemist of the Eighteenth Century.) It is impossible to determine the date at which this mysterious personage was born, or to say, exactly, whence he came and where he chiefly lived. He is commonly supposed to have been active about the beginning of the eighteenth century, while Germany is held to have been the principal scene of his activities ; but everything recorded concerning Mm reads like a romance, and suggests the middle ages rather than the day before yesterday. Sometimes he assured people that he was of Oriental origin, sometimes he maintained that his native land was the Ionian Isles, and that he was a scion of the Greek royal house of Lasearis; while on other occasions he declared that he was an archimandrite of a convent in the Island of Mytilene, and that his object in coming to Europe was to solicit alms for the ransom of Christian prisoners in the East. Such was his tale when, about 1700, he commenced wandering in Germany, and, while sojourning at Berlin, he happened to fall ill and sent for medical aid. This appeared shortly in the shape of a young apothecary, Johann Friedrich Botticher by name, who chanced to be deeply interested in alchemy, so a friendship sprang up between physician and patient and ere Lasearis left the Prussian capital he gave Botticher a packet of transmuting powder, at the same time instructing him how to use it successfully, yet refraining from telling him how to manufacture the powder itself. Nothing daunted, Botticher set to work speedily, concocted considerable quantities of gold and silver, grew rich, and was raised to the peerage ; while simultaneously he began to find his society, and more especially his services as a scientist, courted by kings and nobles. Meanwhile, however, his-supply of the precious powder had run short, and being unable to make more he found his reputation waning apace ; while worse still, he had spent his newly-acquired wealth speedily, and now he found himself reduced to penury. Ultimately he was incarcerated, but during his period of durance vile he set himself to the manufacture of porcelain, and by the sale of this he eventually restored his fallen fortunes.

We presume naturally that it was gratitude to his physician which inspired the crafty alchemist to give Botticher the powder, but why did Lasearis make an analogous present at a later date ? The recipient on this occasion being one Schmolz de Dierbach, a lieutenant-colonel in the Polish Army. He, like the German apothecary, succeeded in making a quantity of gold, and, though we hear no more about him after this transmutation, we learn that a certain Baron de Creux was likewise favored by Lasearis, the Baron's experiments proving just as successful as those of the others aforesaid. Nor were these the only people on whom our alchemist bestowed his indulgence, for one Domenico Manuel, the son of a Neapolitan mason, was-likewise given a packet of transmutatory powder, and, armed thus, he wandered through Spain, Belgium, and Austria, performing operations before princes and noblemen, and reaping wealth accordingly. Pride was the inevitable result of this, and though there is no reason to suppose that any patent of nobility was ever conferred on Domenico, we find him styling himself now Comte Gautano, now Comte di Ruggiero; while in one town he maintained that he was a Prussian major-general, and elsewhere he declared that he was field-marshal of the Bavarian forces. Going to Berlin in the course of his perambulations, he offered to make gold in the presence of the king; but alas ! his operation proved utterly futile, and he was hanged as a charlatan in consequence. This was in 1709, and in the-same year, according to tradition, Lasearis himself performed some successful transmutations before a German politician named Liebknech, a citizen of Wurtembourg. Nothing further is heard of the mysterious Greek alchemist, however, so it may be assumed that he died soon after these events. His was a curious career indeed: his generosity having scarcely a parallel in the whole history of hermetic philosophy.





 

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