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Page

Réfer. : AL2401S
Auteur : Philalethes.
Titre : The Metamorphosis of metals.
S/titre : .

Editeur : J. Elliot and Co., London.
Date éd. : 1893 .


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THE
T H R E E T R E A T I S E S
O F
P H I L A L E T H E S.

I.
THE METAMORPHOSIS OF METALS.
II.
A SHORT VADE MECUM TO THE CELESTIAL RUBY.
III. THE FOUNT OF CHEMICAL TRUTH.
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CHAPTER I.
Of the Claims of our Art, its Students, and its Method.

A LL men who devote their lives to the study of any art, or to any kind of occupation, have before their eyes, as the aim of their efforts, perfection in the thing which they pursue. But only few attain to the goal of their wishes: there are many architects, bu, few masters of
the art of architecture; many students of medicine, but few men
like Hippocrates or Galen; many mathematicians, but few
proficients like Archimedes; many poets, but few worthy to rank
with Homer. Yet, even men who have nothing more than a
respectable knowledge of their calling, are capable of being
useful to society.
Among those who devote themselves to the transmutation of metals, however, there can be no such thing as mediocrity of
attainment. A man who studies this Art, must have either
everything or nothing. An Alchemist who knows only half his
craft, reaps nothing but disappointment and waste of time and
money; moreover, he lays himself open to the mockery of those
who despise our Art. Those, indeed, who succeed in reaching
the goal of the Magistery, have not only infinite riches, but the
means of continued life and health. Hence it is the most
popular of all human pursuits. Anyone who has read a few
" Receipts " claims the title of a Sage, and conceives the most
extravagant hopes; and, in order to give themselves the
appearance of very wise men indeed, such persons immediately
set themselves to construct furnaces, fill their laboratories with
stills and alembics, and approach the work with a wonderful
appearance of profundity. They adopt an obscure jargon, speak
of the first matter of the metals, and discuss with a learned air
the rotation of the elements, and the marriage of Gabritius with

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228 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
Bega. In the meantime, however, they do not succeed in
bringing about any metamorphosis of the metals, except that of
their gold and silver into copper and bronze.
When captious despisers of our Art see this, they draw from such constant failures the conclusion that our Art is
a combination of fiction and imposture; whilst those who have
ruined themselves by their folly confirm this suspicion by
preying on the credulity of others, pretending to have gained
some skill by the loss of their money. In this way the path of
the beginner is beset with difficulties and pestilent delusions of
every kind; and, through the fault of these swindlers, who give
themselves such wonderful airs of profundity and learning, our
Art itself has fallen into utter disrepute, though these persons, of
course, know nothing whatever about it. The beginner finds it
extremely difficult to distinguish between the false and the true
in this vast Labyrinth of Alchemy. Bernard of Trevisa warns
him to eschew like the plague these persons who hold out
so many vain and empty promises; while I have written this
Treatise for the guidance of the blind, and the instruction of the
erring. I wish, in the first place, to clear our .Art from the
slanders which have been cast upon it, then to describe the
qualifications of its students and its methods of procedure.
After these prefatory explanations, I will gird myself to a
description of the Art itself.
Before I say anything else, I would record my most earnest protest against that method of reasoning by which the deceptions
of certain wretched sophists are laid to the charge of this
science. The wickedness of some of its lying professors can
prove nothing either for or against its genuineness. Such a
position could be made good only by arguments based on
natural relations; but such arguments it is impossible to find.
The light of Nature is too bright to be darkened by these
obscurists I hope my Book will shew that the Transmutation of
Metals, from an imperfect to a perfect state, is a real and true
achievement, and that by the co-operation of Nature and Art.
The only thing that distinguishes one metal from another, is its
degree of maturity, which is, of course, greatest in the most
precious metals; the difference between gold and lead is not
one of substance, but of digestion; in the baser metal the

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 229
coction has not been such as to purge out its metallic impurities.
If by any means this superfluous impure matter could be organically
removed from the baser metals, they would become gold
and silver. So miners tell us that lead has in many cases
developed into silver in the bowels of the earth, and we contend
that the same effect is produced in a much shorter time by
means of our Art. It is a fact that the Mercury which is
generated in the bowels of the earth, is the common substance of
all metals -- since this Mercury will enter into combination with
every kind of metal -- which could not be the case if it were not
naturally akin to them all. Mercury is a water that will mix
with nothing that is not of the same nature. By Art, the handmaid
of Nature, Mercury can be so successively concocted with
all metals, that one and the same under the same colour and flux,
may subalternately shew and express the true temperature and
properties of them all. Moreover, all metals are capable of being
resolved into running Mercury -- and surely this could not be if
it were not their common substance. Again, the Mercury of
lead may become that of iron, the Mercury of iron that of
copper; while the Mercury of tin may even be transmuted into
that of silver and gold -- a fact which triumphantly demonstrates
the substantial affinity of all the metals. From antimony, too, a
good Mercury is obtained, which some of our Artists are able to
change into metallic mercury. It is also a well-established fact
that the Mercury gained from any metallic or mineral body
possesses the properties of assimilating common Mercury to its
own nature; thus common Mercury may become that of all
metals in turn. Do not these arguments clearly skew that there
is one Mercury, and that in the various metals it is only differentiated
according to their different degrees of digestion or purity ?
I do not see how these arguments can be answered. It is
possible indeed that some dull person may allege in refutation
of our reasoning his inability to accomplish those chemical
transformations on which it is based; but such operators would
be vindicating too great an honour for their ignorance if they
claimed to advance it as an argument against the truth of our Art.
They must not make their own little understandings the standard
or measure of the possibilities of Nature. At any rate, my word
is as good as theirs (and better, since they can never prove

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230 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
a negative), and I do most positively and solemnly assert that I
have with my own hands performed every one of the experiments
which I have described; and I know many others whose experience
has shewn these things to be true. How can our opponents
hope to prevail against eye-witnesses by bare negation ? My
testimony is borne out by the experience of such men as
Albertus, Raymund, Riplaeus, Flamellus, Morienus, and a host
of others. I confess that the transformations of which I have
spoken are not easy to accomplish; but whoever has the Key of
our Art can unlock all gates, and has power over all the secrets
of Nature. But this Key is possessed only by those who have
both a theoretical and a practical knowledge of natural processes.
I could here reckon up divers mutations of metals, as, for
instance, Mars into Venus, by the acid stalagma of vitriol,
Mercury into Saturn, Saturn into Jupiter, Jupiter into Lune,
which operations, indeed, many vulgar chemists (far enough from
the top of the art) know how to perform. I might also add
what is known only to a few philosophers, that there is a secret
substance intermediate between metals and minerals, the mixed
heavenly virtues of which produce a certain metal without a
name, which is, strictly speaking, not a metal at all, but a Chaos,
or Spirit, for it is all volatile: from this all metals can be educed
without transmutatory Elixir, even gold, silver, and mercury. It
is called Chalybs by the author of the " New Light," and it is
the true key and first principle of our Art. What though the
Sages have hidden all these things, and set them forth parabolically
for the true sons of knowledge? Are they any the less
true for that reason ? . . . All that is wanted for the perfect
development of an imperfect substance, is the gentle, digestive
action of a homogeneous agent. This agent is gold, as highly
matured as natural and artificial digestion can make it, and a
thousand times more perfect than the common metal of that
name. Gold, thus exalted, radically penetrates, tinges, and
fixes metals. This scientific fact we may illustrate in the following
manner. If you take six pounds of silver, and gild it with a
single ounce of gold, you may afterwards draw out the silver into
threads of the greatest fineness, and still distinctly perceive in
each thread the brilliancy of gold. If then this dead, bodily, and
earthy metal (which, as a body, of course, has no power to enter

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 231
another body) can produce so wonderful an effect, does it seem
incredible that the spirit of this gold, which can enter and
animate the bodies of other metals, should transform them into
its own nature ? If we had this spiritual tincture, is it not clear
that it would do inwardly what the body of the gold is seen to
do outwardly ? Remember that our Tincture is the Quintessence
of gold, and infinitely more perfect than the mere body of gold
can ever be; and that it has, therefore, an infinitely greater
power of diffusing its essential quality. If gold thus spiritually
enters another metal, it will clearly assimilate it to its own
nature. The method of this spiritual ingestion we shall
describe further on. Let us only add in this place, where
we are discussing the rationale of metallic transmutation,
that seed is the perfection of any seed-bearing substance; that
which has no seed is altogether imperfect. It is, then, as the
poet sings: " Gold contains the seeds of gold, though they be
deeply hidden." Gold is not only perfect, but the most perfect
thing of its kind (i.e., of metals). If gold has seed, it must be
contained in water, which is the habitation of all spirits, seed
being a certain spiritual means of conserving any species. If
gold is to be dissolved for the purpose of educing its seed, the
dissolution will have to take place by means of this same
metallic water. When this dissolution takes place, the gold puts
off its earthly form, and assumes a watery form. Now, gold
being both the starting point and the goal in the whole of this
generative process, it is clear that all intermediate operations
must be of a homogeneous character, i.e., they must consist in
gradual modifications of this seed of gold. The processes of our
Art must begin with the dissolution of gold; they must terminate
in a restoration of the essential quality of gold. But as the
negative can never become the positive, the final form of our gold
must be essentially different from its initial one. The final form
is so much more noble than the initial one as fire is more subtle
and spiritual than earth. What I have written is enough for the
faithful student of our Art; and to its hostile and carping critics
this book is not addressed. Therefore, I will now go on to add
a word or two about the qualifications of those who should study
this noble science. Our Art has fallen into disrepute, as I have
said, through the stupidity and dishonesty of many of its professors.

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232 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
They are ignorant mechanics who, not having skill and
brains enough for an honest trade, must needs meddle with our
Art, and, of course, soon lose all they possess. Others, again,
are only just less ignorant than these persons; they are in too
great a hurry to make gold before they have mastered even the
rudiments of natural science; of course they fail, spend all they
have, borrow money from their friends, amuse themselves and
others with hopes of infinite wealth, learn to talk a barbarous semi-
philosophical jargon, and afford a capital handle to those who
have an interest in abusing our Art. Again, there are others
who really have a true knowledge of the secret, but who grudge
others the light which has irradiated their own path; and who
therefore write about it in hopelessly puzzling language, which
the perplexed beginner cannot possibly understand. To this
class belong Geber, Arnold, and Lullius, who would have done
much better service to the student, if they had never dipped pen
in ink. The consequence is that every one who takes up this
study at once finds himself lost in a most perplexing labyrinth of
falsehood and uncertainty, in which he has no clue. I will
therefore try to give him some sound advice as to the best way
of accomplishing his object.
In the first place, let him carry on his operations with great secrecy in order that no scornful or scurrilous person may knew
of them, for nothing discourages the beginner so much as the
mockery, taunts, and well-meant advice of foolish outsiders.
Moreover, if he does not succeed, secrecy will save him from
derision; if he does succeed, it will safeguard him against the
persecution of greedy and cruel tyrants. In the second place, he
who would succeed in the study of this Art, should be persevering,
industrious, learned, gentle, good-tempered, a close student, and
neither easily discouraged nor slothful; he may work in co-operation
with one friend, not more, but should be able to keep his
own counsel; it is also necessary that he should have a little
capital to procure the necessary implements, etc., and to provide
himself with food and clothing while he follows this study, so
that his mind may be undistracted by care and anxiety. Above
all, let him be honest, God-fearing, prayerful, and holy. Being
thus equipped, he should study Nature, read the books of genuine
Sages, who are neither impostors nor jealous churls, and study

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 233
them day and night; let him not be too eager to carry out every
idea practically before he has thoroughly tested it, and found it
to be in harmony not only with the teaching of all the Sages, but
also of Nature herself. Not until then let him gird himself for
the practical part of the work, and let him constantly modify his
operations until he sees the signs which are described by the
Sages. Nor let him despair though he take many false steps;
for the greatest philosophers have learned most by their mistakes.
For his guidance in these operations he will find all the light he
requires in the following treatises.

CHAPTER II.
Of the Origin of this Art and its Writers, its Fundamental
Metallic Principles, and the Gradual Production of Metals and Minerals.
Hermes, surnamed Trismegistus, is generally regarded as the father of this Art; but there are different opinions with
regard to his identity. Some say he was Moses; all agree that
he was a very clear-sighted philosopher, the first extant author
on the subject, and was also of Egyptian extraction. Others say
that Enoch invented the Art, and, before the coming of the Flood,
described it on the so-called emerald tables, which were afterwards
found by Hermes in the valley of Hebron. Many assert
that it w as known to Adam, who revealed it to Seth; that Noah
carried the secret with him into the Ark, and that God revealed
it to Solomon. But I do not agree with those who claim for our
Art a mystical origin, and thus only make it ridiculous in the
eyes of a scornful world. If it is founded on the eternal verities of
Nature, why need I trouble my head with the problem whether
this or that antediluvian personage had a knowledge of it ?
Enough for me to know that it is now true and possible, that it
has been exercised by the initiated for many centuries, and under
the most distant latitudes; it may also be observed that though
most of these write in an obscure, figurative, allegorical, and
altogether perplexing style, and though some of them have
actually mixed falsehood with truth, in order to confound the
ignorant, yet they, though existing in many series of ages,

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234 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
differing in tongue and nation, have not diversely handled one
operation, but do all exhibit a most marvellous and striking
agreement in regard to the main features of their teaching -- an
agreement which is absolutely inexplicable, except on the supposition
that our Art is something more than a mere labyrinth
of perplexing words. Our Art is most plainly and straightforwardly
expounded by Bernard of Trevisa, Ripley the Englishman,
Flamellus the Frenchman, Sendivogius, the author of the
" New Light," the anonymous author of the " Arcanum of
Hermes," who also wrote Enchiridion Physicae Restitutae, and
" The Ladder of Philosophers," the great " Rosary," the " Child's
Play," the Tract of Dionysius Zachary, the works of Morienus,
the works of Egidius de Vadis, Augurellus' poem entitled
" Goldmaking," the works of Peter Bonus of Ferrara, and the
" Abridged Rosary." Let the student procure one or more of
these, and similar genuine works on Alchemy, and let him study
the secrets of Nature by the light which they throw upon it. He
will find a knowledge of natural science, and more particularly
of mineralogy, indispensable for his purpose.
All philosophers tell us that there are four elements, which compose all things, and, by means of their diverse combination,
produce various forms. But the truth is that there are only
three elements, i.e., those which of their own nature are cold --
air, water, and earth. The defect of heat which we perceive
in them is in proportion to their distance from the sun. Fire
I do not acknowledge as an element. There is no fire, except
the common fire which burns on the hearth; and its heat is
essentially destructive. The heat there is in things is the
product either of light, or motion, or life, or alterative processes.
Fire is not an element, but a robber that preys on the products
of the four elements; it is a violent corruptive motion caused by
the clashing of two active principles. Thus, we see that it is an
operation of two other substances, not a substance in itself -- a
result of the active co-operation of a comburent and a combustible.
The nature and characteristic quality of the three
elements is cold, and they possess heat only as an accident. . .
Nor is it true that objects are formed by a mixture of these three
elements; for dissimilar things can never really unite, seeing
that union is a complete mixture and concretion of the smallest

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 235
atoms or molecules of two substances. But such a mixture is
impossible in the case of two dissimilar matters, as, for instance,
between water and earth (or water and wine); they admit of
being separated at any time on account of the disproportion of
their smallest particles. It may be said that for the sake of union
the grosser element becomes as subtle as the other; but if this were
the case, if for the purpose of union water became as subtle as air,
that would simply mean that water became air, an assumption
which would thus fail to prove the possibility of an amalgamation
of water and air. Is it not a simpler and more credible
supposition that only water or air, as the case may be, enters into
the composition of any given object ? But if any one still persists in
maintaining this permutation of the elements (which, after all,
would only mean that all things consist of air) -- let me ask the
humble question -- by the activity of what agent they are so transmuted
? Moreover, one would also be glad to enquire what is the
use of this permutation of earth into water, and of water into air ?
What can earth converted into water, or water converted into air,
perform, that could not be just as well accomplished by simple
unchanged water or air ? Surely, Nature does nothing in vain:
but here would be a difficult and wasteful process of transmutation
constantly going on, which is not calculated to serve any useful
purpose whatsoever. If it be said that earth rarefied into water
is like water, yet not exactly water, my answer is that this is a
mere quibble about words, and that if the rarefied earth is only
like water, and not really water, it cannot possibly combine with
it in its smallest particles; so nothing is gained by this hypothesis.
Hence we may conclude that all things derive their
origin from one element, which can be neither earth nor air.
This I could prove at great length if I were not cramped for
space. It follows, then, that water must be the first principle of
all things, i.e., of all concrete bodies in this world, earth is the
fundamental element in which all bodies grow and are preserved;
air is the medium into which they grow, and by means of which
the celestial virtues are communicated to them. The
seed of all things has been placed by God in water. This
seed some exhibit openly, like vegetables, some keep in their
kidneys, like animals; some conceal in the depths of their
essential being, like metals. The seed is stirred into action

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236 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
by its form (i.e., a certain appropriate celestial influence),
coagulates the material water, and passes through a series of
fermentative processes (fermentation being the principle of all
transmutation), until it has produced that for the production of
which it was specially suited. If the seed is metallic, there is
generated from it first a dry liquid, which does not wet the hand,
viz., Mercury, the mother of all metals. Mercury may be
described as the true first matter of metals; for not until the
elemental water has become Mercury can it be affirmed with any
degree of certainty that a metal or mineral must result from it.
Water is, in itself, potentially the seed of either an animal,
vegetable, or mineral; but Mercury is metallically differentiated
water, i.e., it is water passed into that stage of development, in
which it can no longer produce anything but mineral substances.
Mercury, then, is the common seed of gold, silver, copper, tin,
iron, lead, etc.; their difference is only to be sought in the degree
of their digestion. The digestive is not any fat sulphur which is
brought to bear on them from without; but Mercury contains
within itself the active principle of its development, viz., the
inward heat due to celestial influences, causing vitality, and
dependent on the fitness of the womb. These heavenly influences
are at work throughout the world; but their exact mode of
action is determined by the potential nature of the seed; if the
inward life be metallic, the course of its development by means of
outward agents will also be metallic. Still Mercury develops
only w here these outward influences (celestial and terrestrial) can
be brought to bear. In every other place it will appear a cold,
dead, and lifeless substance. But in the centre of its nativity it
is quickened by the action of celestial influences, conveyed to it
through the medium of air, whence results heat, wherewith life is
necessarily associated. Now, the womb in which this Mercury is
placed, is either more, less, or not at all suited to it; and according
to the different degrees of this fitness, the substance either
remains altogether stationary, or is more or less perfectly
developed; imperfection of development yields the imperfect
metals, while by means of perfect development are produced
silver and gold; but all metals, though differentiated by the
degree of their digestion or maturity, have the same first
substance, viz., Mercury. The dross and impurities which are

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 237
so largely found in the base metals, form no part of the original
Mercury, but are added afterwards through some flaw in the
process of coagulation, or through the impurity of the place or
womb in which their metallic generation (fermentation) takes
place But I will now go on to deal with the special subject of
this Treatise, viz., the renovation or multiplication of gold and
silver.

CHAPTER III.
Of the Generation of Gold and Silver from the Mercurial
Substance, and the Possibility of bringing Imperfect Metals to the same State of Perfection.
To the aforesaid source (Mercury) we trace the birth of gold, and of its sister, silver; they represent this substance
brought to perfection by means of digestion. Perfection is
of two kinds, inchaotive or complete, partial or entire. Complete
perfection (the complete digestion of all crudities and elimination
of all impurities) is the ultimate aim of Nature; and she
has reached it in our gold, which with its brilliancy lights up the
whole earth. Inchaotive perfection may be so named, not absolutely,
but relatively, when compared with essentially imperfect
bodies. Those bodies are formally or essentially imperfect in
the composition of which the impure predominates over the
pure, so that they could never of themselves (by natural development)
attain perfection; this is the case with all metals except
gold and silver. But whenever the pure is freed from the corruptive
tyranny of the impure, and obtains the mastery over it,
we have inchaotive perfection, though the development of the
body may be still incomplete. These crudities and impurities
do not originally belong to the metallic substance, and are very
well capable of being separated from it; if they are so purged off
before coagulation, we get a perfect metal. But even if they are
coagulated together with the Mercury, it is still possible to
separate them from it, and thus to perfect the Mercury. It is on
this possibility that our Art is based; and its business is to
perform this separation. The base metals contain the same
Mercury as gold; if we can free this Mercury from the
impurities which hinder its development, it must also go on to

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238 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
perfection, i.e., become gold. If we could find some separating
agent which would perform this office for the impure minerals, it
would also be a digestive, i.e., it would quicken the inward metallic
digestion of the long-entombed Mercury. Such a separant is
our divine Arcanum, which is the heavenly spirit of water with
fiery penetrative power. Compared with common gold, it is
what the soul is in comparison of the body; and having attained
the highest degree of corporeal fixity, it takes up the Mercury of
the base metals into its own nature, and protects it from the fire
while the impurities are being burnt up. The Mercury of the
base metals (unlike the Mercury of gold), if exposed to the fire
without such protection, would not be able to encounter the
searching ordeal, but (having no cohesion with its impure body,
and possessing no fixity in itself) would simply evaporate, and
leave the impurities to be burned. But our Arcanum, being both
a spiritual and a homogeneous substance, is capable of entering
into a perfect atomic union with the imperfect metals, of taking
up into its own nature that which is like to it, and of imparting
to this Mercury its own fixity, and protecting it from the fire; so
when the fire has burnt up all the impurities, that which is left
is, of course, pure gold or silver, according to the quality of the
Medicine -- which from that time forward is (like all other gold
and silver) capable of resisting the most searching ordeal. So
you see we do not, as is sometimes said, profess to create gold
and silver, but only to find an agent which -- on account of its
homogeneity and spirituality -- is capable of entering into an intimate
(atomic) and maturing union with the Mercury of the base
metals. And we contend that our Elixir is calculated, by the
intense degree of its fixity and colour, to impart these qualities
to any homogeneous substance which does not possess them.

CHAPTER IV.
Of the Seed of Gold; and whether other Metals have Seed.

Seed is the means of generic propagation given to all perfect things here below; it is the perfection of each body; and
anybody that has no seed must be regarded as imperfect. Hence
there can be no doubt that there is such a thing as metallic seed.

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 239
If metals have seed, they certainly do not lose it in coagulation,
which is the effect of perfection (or rather of perfect conditions).
Now, in all seed-bearing things maturity means the perfect
development of the seeds, and it stands to reason that metallic
seed is therefore most certainly not destroyed by coagulation
(the maturing process). If it be asked whether all metals have
seed, my ans\ver is, that the seed of all metals is the same; but
that in some it is found nearer to, and in some further from the
surface. All metallic seed is the seed of gold; for gold is the
intention of Nature in regard to all metals. If the base metals
are not gold, it is only through some accidental hindrance; they
are all potentially gold. But, of course, this seed of gold is most
easily obtainable from well-matured gold itself. Hence it would
be lost labour to endeavour to obtain it from tin or lead by some
laborious process, when it may be more readily obtained from
gold itself. Remember that I am now speaking of metallic seed,
and not of Mercury. Lead is to be multiplied, not in lead, but
only in gold; for only when it attains its maturity as gold can
its seed become fruitful. It may be admitted that silver has
its own seed, as there is a white (as well as a red) multiplicative
Tincture. Still, the White Tincture is really contained in the
Red; and the seed of silver is nothing but a modification of that
of gold. The whiteness of silver is the first degree of perfection,
the yellowness of gold is the second, or highest degree. For the
mother of our Stone (the silver of the Sages) is white, and
imparts its whiteness to our gold, whence the offspring of these
two parents first becomes white, like its mother, and then red
with the royal blood of its father.

CHAPTER V.
Of the Virtue of Golden Seed, and where it is most readily found.
In order that we may obtain this means of perfecting imperfect metals, we must remember that our Arcanum is gold
exalted to the highest degree of perfection to which the combined
action of Nature and Art can develop it. In gold, Nature
has reached the term of her efforts; but the seed of gold is
something more perfect still, and in cultivating it we must,

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240 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
therefore, call in the aid of Art. The seed of metals is hidden
out of sight still more completely than that of animals; nevertheless,
it is within the compass of our Art to extract it. The
seed of animals and vegetables is something separate, and may
be cut out, or otherwise separately exhibited; but metallic seed
is diffused throughout the metal, and contained in all its smallest
parts; neither can it be discerned from its body: its extraction
is therefore a task which may well tax the ingenuity of the most
experienced philosopher; the virtues of the whole metal have to
be intensified, so as to convert it into the sperm of our seed,
which, by circulation, receives the virtues of superiors and inferiors,
then next becomes wholly form, or heavenly virtue, which
can communicate this to others related to it by homogeneity of
matter. In respect of the Stone, the whole of gold is its substance.
The place in which the seed resides is -- approximately
speaking -- water; for, to speak properly and exactly, the seed is
the smallest part of the metal, and is invisible; but as this invisible
presence is diffused throughout the water of its kind, and
exerts its virtue therein, nothing being visible to the eye but
water, we are left to conclude from rational induction that this
inward agent (which is, properly speaking, the seed) is really
there. Hence we call the whole of the water seed, just as we call
the whole of the grain seed, though the germ of life is only a
smallest particle of the grain. But the seminal life is not distinct
from the remaining substance of metals; rather, it is
inseparably mingled with the smallest parts of the body.
Roughly speaking, however, we describe the whole of our golden
water as the seed of gold, because this seminal virtue pervades it
in a most subtle manner. This seminal virtue the ancient Sages
called the hidden ferment, the poison, or the invisible fire;
again, they said that it was fire, or that fire resided in the water;
they distinguished between soul and spirit, of which the former
is the medium, the latter the active virtue. If anyone wonders
that we describe water as the seat of the seed, or the seminal spirit,
let him remember that in the beginning the Spirit of God moved
on the face of the waters, i.e., penetrated them with His heavenly
quickening power. Thus, from the very first day of Creation,
water has been the source and element of all things. For water
alone contains the seeds of all things; yet in vegetables they are

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 241
put forth in crude air; in animals they are preserved in the kidneys;
while in minerals they are diffused throughout the whole
substance; nevertheless, seed can never leave its original scat
(i.e., water). Things are preserved by that from which they derive
their origin; for the cause of their origin being removed, the
things which are the effect must also cease to exist; hence the
multiplication and nutrition of all things is in water and through
water. Vegetables are generated and nourished by the aqueous
Teffas of the earth; animals by the liquid chyle, metals by the
mercurial liquid. Animals preserve their seed in their kidneys,
and in due time project it into the proper womb, where it is first
moulded into a tender and very watery foetus; this foetus is
nourished by the liquid female menstruum, and thus grows until
the time comes for it to be born. Then it is nourished with
milk until it can bear stronger food; but this solid food does not
become real nutriment until the stomach has converted it into a
liquid chyle (as, for instance, bones in the stomach of the dog).
In the same way the metals keep their perfect seed where it cannot
be seen; but even there it is preserved in water. Thence the
Artist extracts it, puts it into its own proper womb, where it is
cherished and grows, until (by means of corruption) it attains to
its glorification. This is a most difficult operation, because the
metals, in which the seed is hidden, are so firmly and tightly compacted,
and will not yield to violence, but only to a gentle and
exquisitely subtle chemical process. Then I say to you, that
there is a womb into which the gold (if placed therein) will, of
its own accord, emit its seed, until it is debilitated and dies, and
by its death is renewed into a most glorious King, who thenceforward
receives power to deliver all his brethren from the fear
of death.

CHAPTER VI. Of the Mode and Means of Extracting this Seed.
That the most beautiful things are the most difficult to produce, is the experience of all mankind, and it is not to be
wondered at, therefore, that the most glorious of sublunary
operations is attended with a very great amount of difficulty. If
any student of this Art is afraid of hard work, let him stop with
his foot upon the threshold. When, indeed, the Father of Lights

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242 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
has entrusted the Key of the Art to any man, that which remains
to be done is mere child's play; his eyes are ravished with the
sight of the most glorious signs, until the time of harvest arrives.
Without this, error and vexation will be the result. Therefore
the wise man, before commencing the work, will be chiefly
solicitous of knowing it by its marks. Let the sons of knowledge
learn that the great object of our Art is the manifestation of the
hidden seed of gold, which can be effected only by full and
perfect volatilisation of that which is fixed, and the subsequent
corruption of its particular form. To break up gold in this way
is the most profound secret in the world. It is not brought
about by corrosive depravation of the metal, nor by the usual
method of dissolution, but by our philosophical solution of the
metal into mercurial water, by means of a previous mercurial
calcination (made by means of the agent (O+)), which is produced
through the subtle rotation and conversion of the elements; this
calcination, again, is a mortification of our homogeneous liquid
with the dry element belonging to it; afterwards the dry is so
far revived by means of this same liquid, that the perfectly
matured virtue, extracted from the substance by the solvent, is
the cause of this calcination and solution. Here, then, there is no
room for the action of a corrosive. Gold, which is the most solid,
strong, fire-proof, and fixed of all substances, is to be volatilised
and no mere corrosive will accomplish such a perfect change of
nature. The mighty agent required for this purpose must be
homogeneous, amicable, and spiritual, i.e., it must be akin to the
body (of gold), and yet strong enough to overcome it; and
penetrate to its very core, still leaving each smallest part of the
gold true gold. Gold does not easily give up its nature, and will
fight for its life, but our agent is strong enough to overcome and
kill it, and then it also has power to restore it to life, and to
change the lifeless remains into a new pure body.

CHAPTER VII.
Of the First Agent or Womb, into which our Seed should
be emitted, and where it is matured.
There remains to be found an Agent, by means of which the aforesaid operation may be performed. F`or this purpose we

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 243
require a homogeneous water. For we have seen that the seed
of gold is concealed, and can remain effectual only in water, and
this water must be homogeneous with the body, or else it could
not penetrate all the thick integuments by means of which this
seed is secured. For like generates like, that is to say, every
agent that exercises a generative action upon anything, transmutes
it (as far as possible) into its own nature. The Agent
then must be akin to the body which is to be dissolved, and,
moreover, perfectly pure from all dross or alloy. Again, whereas
gold is fixed and solid, the Agent must be highly volatile and
spiritual, gold is thick and gross, our Agent is subtle gold is
dead, our Agent is living and life-giving: in short, our Agent
should have all those qualities which gold has not, and which it
is to impart to the gold. Hence we conclude that Mercury
alone is the true Key of our Art; for it is in truth the dry water
described by the Sages, which, though liquid, does not wet the
hands, nor anything else that does not belong to the unity of its
substance. Mercury is our doorkeeper, our balm, our honey,
oil, urine, may-dew, mother, egg, secret furnace, oven, true fire,
venomous Dragon, Theriac, ardent wine, Green Lion, Bird of
Hermes, Goose of Hermogenes, two-edged sword in the hand of
the Cherub that guards the Tree of Life, &c., &c.; it is our true,
secret vessel, and the Garden of the Sages, in which our Sun
rises and sets. It is our Royal Mineral, our triumphant vegetable
Saturnia, and the magic rod of Hermes, by means of which he
assumes any shape he likes. It is of this water that the Sage
uses the words: " Let Alchemists boast as much as they like,
but without this water the transmutation of metals is impossible.
In Nature it is not such as we use it in our Art; it is a most
common thing, and yet the most precious treasure of all the
world. . . . . . Therefore, Son of Knowledge, pay diligent
heed to my words: Take that which in itself is most impure, the
strumpet woman, purge it radically of all its uncleanness, and
extract from it that which is most pure, namely, our menstruum
(solvent), the Royal Diadem." Behold, I have told you in a few
words that which ennobles the Sage, delivers him from error, and
leads him to the most beautiful meadow of delights. . . . The
Arcanum which we seek is nothing but gold exalted to its
highest degree of perfection, through the operation of Nature

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244 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
assisted by our Art. When the sperm hidden in the body of
gold is brought out by means of our Art, it appears under the
form of Mercury, whence it is exalted into the quintessence
which is first white, and then, by means of continuous coction
becomes red. All this is the work of our homogeneous Agent,
our Mercurial Ponticum, which is pure crystalline without
transparency, liquid without humectation, and, in short, the
true Divine water, which is not found above-ground, but is
prepared by the hand of the Sage, with the co-operation of
Nature, which we know, have seen, have made, and still possess;
which also we desire to make known to the true students of our
Art, while it is our wish to hide it only from the unworthy.

CHAPTER VIII.
Concerning the Genealogy of the Mercury of the Sages,
its Origin, Birth, and the Signs which precede and accompany it.
Some boastful and arrogant sophists, who have read in books that our Mercury is not common Mercury, and who know
that it is called by different names, do not blush to come forward
as pretenders to a knowledge of this Art, and take upon themselves
to describe this solvent as diaphanous and limpid, or as a
metallic gum which is permiscible with metals, though they do
not in reality know anything whatsoever about it. The same
may be said of those who would extract our Mercury from herbs
or other still more fantastic substances. These gentry know not
why the Sages do not use Mercury such as is sold by apothecaries
as their substance. They are aware of the fact, but are unacquainted
with its causes; and the consequence is the idea which
they have that anything which changes the nature of common
Mercury, will convert it into that of the Sages. But in regard to
these foolish persons, I have already expressed our opinion. . . .
All metals, as I demonstrated in the second chapter, have the
same substantial principle, viz., Mercury. From this proposition
it follows that the substance of common Mercury is
homogeneous with that of all the other metals; and if the
Mercury of the Sages be the homogeneous metallic water, it can

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TREATISES OF PHILALETHES. 245
differ from common Mercury only in respect of its purity and
heat. The first substance of common Mercury is that of all other
metals, viz., our Mercury. So long as it remains in the veins of the
earth, in a place perfectly adapted to its generation, and is sheltered
from crude air, it retains its inward movement and heat, which
are the cause of all metallic development. But if it be marred by
any accident, or if the place become unfit for it, the inward
movement is stopped, and the germinal life chilled like that of
an egg which a hen has left after sitting on it for some time.
This is the reason why those who have attempted to digest
common Mercury by means of artificial heat have failed as
ludicrously as any one who should endeavour to incubate
artificially an addled egg. The difference between the egg and
the metal is that our Art is capable of making good the damage,
but not by artificial means. We have a crude, undigested, frigid,
unmatured metallic mass, which wants the form of our Mercury,
for which it must exchange its own, if it is to become that which
we seek. With this end in view, its deficiences are twofold, its
nature is clogged with superfluous foreign matter, and it does
not possess the requisite spiritual virtue. Its superfluities
consist of earthy leprosy, and aqueous dropsy. Its deficiency
is one of true sulphureous heat, by means of which it would be
enabled to purge off these superfluities. Water, indeed, is the
womb, but no womb can receive a vital germ without warmth.
Supplement your (common) Mercury, therefore, with the inward
fire which it needs, and it will soon get rid of all superfluous
dross. If you can do this, you have accomplished the great feat
of the Sages. Jupiter has recovered his empire; the black clouds
of Saturn are dispersed, and the sparkling fountain wells forth
clear and pure. This substance will dissolve gold by means of a
true philosophical solution, which is as different as can be from
that foolish use of corrosives which only destroy the metallic
nature. This Mercury (with) gold and silver naturally produces
the Arcanum, or potable gold, as all adepts know and can testify.
Here I conclude this Tract, as all that remains to be said is set forth in a special (the next) Treatise.


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