Début de l'ouvrage Texte précédent Texte suivant Fin de l'ouvrage Drapeau Page d'aide Retour. Flag Help frame Return. Bandera Página de ayuda Vuelta.
Flagge Hilfeseite Rückkehr. Flag Hjælp side Tilbage. Bandiera Guida Torna.

@

Page

Réfer. : AL2401H
Auteur : Anonyme.
Titre : A Tract of great price concerning the Philosophical Stone.
S/titre : Published by a German Sage in the year 1423, under the
following title: The true teaching of Philosophy concerning the Generation of metals and their true origin.
Editeur : J. Elliot and Co., London.
Date éd. : 1893 .


@



A T R A C T
OF GREAT PRICE
CONCERNING THE PHILOSOPHICAL
S T O N E.


PUBLISHED BY A GERMAN SAGE IN THE YEAR 1423,
UNDER THE FOLLOWING TITLE:
THE TRUE TEACHING OF PHILOSOPHY CONCERNING THE GENERATION OF METALS AND THEIR TRUE ORIGIN.
@
@



A TRACT OF GREAT PRICE
CONCERNING THE PHILOSOPHICAL STONE.
-------
CHAPTER I.
A LL temporal things derive their origin, their existence,
and their essence from the earth, according to the succession of time. Their specific properties are determined by the outward and inward influences of the stars and planets, (such as the Sun, the Moon, Etc.), and of the four
qualities of the elements. From these combined circumstances
arise the peculiar forms, and proper substances, of all growing, fixed,
and generating things, according to the natural order appointed by
the Most High at the beginning of the world. The metals, then,
derive their origin from the earth, and are specifically compounded
of the four qualities, or the properties of the four elements; their
peculiar metallic character is stamped upon them by the
influences of the stars and planets. So we are informed by
Aristotle, in the fourth book of his Meteor., where he says that
quicksilver is the common substance of all metals. The first
thing in Nature, as we said before, is the substance which
represents a particular conglomeration of the four elements,
which the Sages call Mercury, or quicksilver. But this
quicksilver is as yet imperfect, on account of its gross and
earthy sulphureous nature, which renders it too easily combustible,
and on account of its superfluous watery elements, which
have all been collected together out of the four elements by the
action of the heavenly planets. This substance is composed of a
hot sulphureous earth, and a watery essence, in such a way that
the Sages have called it imperfect sulphur.

@

248 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
Now, since Nature is always striving to attain perfection, and to reach the goal set before her by the Creator of all things, she is
continually at work upon the qualities of the four elements of
each substance; and so stirs up and rouse' the inward action of
the elements by the accidental heat of the Sun, and by natural
warmth, that there arises a kind of vapour or steam in the veins
of the earth. This vapour cannot make its way out, but is
closed in; in penetrating through fat, earthy, oily, and impure
sulphureous substances it attracts to itself more or less of these
foreign and external impurities. This is the reason that there
are seen in it so great a variety of colours before it attains to
purity and its own proper colour.
Those mineral and metallic substances which contain the largest proportion of efficacious sulphureous and mercurial
vapour are the best; and each quality of the four elements has
its own peculiar operation and transmuting influence in such a
conglomeration of various substances -- their action being roused
by the sulphur of the earth and the outward heat of the Sun.
Through these agencies the Matter is often dissolved and
coagulated, till that which is pure, or impure, is borne upward;
and this is the work not of a few years, but of a great length of
time. Nature has to purge away the peculiar characteristics of
all other metals before she can make gold; as you may see by
the fact that different kinds of metal are found in the same
metallic vein. This fact may be explained in the following
manner. When the sulphureous and mercurial vapours ascend,
they are mixed, and united by coction, with the aforesaid
substance. If those sulphureous vapours are earthy, thick, and
impure, and the heat of the Sun, or their own natural heat, have
too sudden and violent an effect, the substance hardens, with all its
sulphureous impurities, before it can be purged of its grossness,
and it becomes more like metallic sulphur. If the quicksilver is
hardened, the whole mass takes the form of some metal
according to the influence of the particular planet with which it
is penetrated. For Nature first combines the four elements into
some substance or body, which then receives its specific
properties through the influence of some planet. Such is the
origin of copper, tin, lead, iron, and quicksilver. But it is not
essential that I should here describe at length the specific

@

A TRACT OF GREAT PRICE 249
composition and distinctive properties of each of the imperfect
metals; they are all mingled in various proportions of impure
sulphur and inefficacious quicksilver. Nature, as I said, is
ceaselessly at work upon these imperfect metals, purging and
separating the pure quicksilver from the impure, and the pure
sulphur from the impure, until all their grossness is removed, and
they become what God designed that they should be, viz., gold.
But if these vapours float upward in their original pure condition,
with their inward, pure, and subtle earth, without becoming mixed
with gross, earthy, and sulphureous alloy, and if they succeed in
breaking forth into the open air, before they become hardened
into a sulphureous mass, they remain quicksilver and are not
changed into any metal.
If, however, this pure quicksilver floats upward in a pure mineral earth, without any gross alloy, it is hardened into the
pure and white sulphur of Nature by being subjected to a very
moderate degree of gentle heat, and at length assumes the
specific form of silver. Like all the other metals it may still be
developed into gold, if it remain under the influence of its
natural heat. But if the same pure, unalloyed quicksilver be
subjected to a higher degree of natural heat, it is transmuted
into the pure red sulphur of Nature, and becomes gold without
first passing through the stage of silver. In this form it
remains, because gold is the highest possible stage of metallic
development.
Quicksilver is the mother of all metals, on account of its coldness and moistness; and if it be once purified and cleansed
of all foreign matter it cannot be mixed any more with grossness
of any kind, neither can it be changed back into an
imperfect metal. For Nature does not undo her work, and that
which has once become perfectly pure can never become impure
again. Sulphur, on the other hand, is the father of all metals,
on account of its heat and dryness. In the following chapter we
shall refer to this difference, and speak more in detail about
quicksilver.

CHAPTER II.
There is, then, in all metals true mercury, and good sulphur, in the imperfect as well as in the perfect metals. But in the

@

250 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
imperfect metals it is defiled with impure matter, and stands in
need of maturing. Hence you see that all metals may be
changed into gold and silver, if the golden and silver properties
that are in them be freed from all alloy, and reduced by gentle
heat to the form of silver or gold. Those metals, indeed,
which have been torn up by the roots, that is to say, that have
been dug up from their own proper soil in the veins of the
earth, can no longer proceed in that course of development
which they pursued in their native abode; yet, as much as in
them lies, they strive to be perfected.
Now the Spirit of Truth, who imparts all true knowledge, has taught the Sages a Medicine, or Form, by which all the
impurities of the imperfect metals may be removed, and the
perfect nature, or true mercury, which is in them, transmuted
into gold and silver.

CHAPTER III.
But we must now proceed to say a few words about the method of preparing this Medicine, by which the imperfection is
removed from imperfect metals through the mediation of perfect
mercury, and the mode of gold and silver is developed in them.
I find that the writings of the Sages are all about gold silver, and quicksilver, which, it is said, must be reduced to the
form which they wore before they became metals, that is to
say, the form which they wore, perhaps, some thousands of
years ago. But the operation of Nature is progressive, not retrogressive.
Hence it is a great mistake to suppose that the work
of Nature can be reversed by dissolution in aqua fortis, or by
the amalgamation of gold or silver and quicksilver. For if
the metal be plunged in a solvent, if water be distilled from it, or
if quicksilver be sublimed from it, it still remains the same
metal that it was before. The specific properties of a metal cannot
be destroyed so as to obtain the first substance. Yet
Aristotle says that metals cannot be changed unless they are
reduced to their original substance.

CHAPTER IV.
What we said in the last chapter shows that Alchemical Art cannot be concerned with the subjecting of gold, silver, or quicksilver

@

A TRACT OF GREAT PRICE 251
to chemical processes. Nevertheless, that which you read
in the books of the Sages is most true; and we shall see in the
following pages in what sense it is to be understood, that our Art
is in gold, silver, and quicksilver. But it is clear that our Art can
make no use of quicksilver such as may be obtained from the
metals by means of any kind of artificial process, such as dissolution
in aqua fortis, or amalgamation, or any other method of
chemical purification.
If then, this is not the right substance, or original mercury, it is clear that it is not to be found in the metals. For even if
you melt two, three, or four metals together, yet not one of them
can give the others any aid towards attaining perfection, seeing
that itself stands in need of external aid. And even though you
mix some imperfect metal with gold, the gold will not give up its
own perfection for the purpose of succouring the other: for it
has nothing to spare which it might impart to the imperfect
metal. And even if the imperfect metal could assume the virtue
and efficacy of the gold, it could only do so at the expense of the
gold itself. In vain, then, shall we seek in metals the Medicine
which has power to liberate the perfect mercury contained in imperfect
metals.

CHAPTER V.
Again, we read in the books of the Sages that quicksilver and mercury are the original substance of all metals. These
words are true io a certain sense. But by many beginners they
are supposed to mean ordinary quicksilver. Such an interpretation,
however, makes nonsense of the dictum of the Sages. For
ordinary quicksilver is an imperfect metal, and itself derived from
the original substance of all metals. The Sages, indeed, say
little about the origin of their mercury; but that is exactly because
they use the name of mercury, or sulphur, for the first
substance of their perfect metals. If common mercury were not
a metal, there would be no metal corresponding to the celestial
influence of the planet Mercury, as gold and silver receive their
specific properties from the influence of the Sun and Moon. Now,
as it is one of the metals, the other metals cannot be derived from
it, much less can their properties be derived from it or from
themselves, although the real perfect mercury is quite as abundant

@

252 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
in mercury as in any other metal. Nor can common sulphur
be the first substance of the metals, for no metal contains so
much impurity as common sulphur; and if it be mixed with any
metal, that metal becomes even more impure than it was before
and is even partially, or wholly, corroded.

CHAPTER VI.
Again, the Sages affirm that quicksilver, or mercury, is the spirit of the specific nature of metals, collected out of the four
elements by the influence of the Planets, and the operation of
Nature in the earth -- and that from it is developed either gold,
silver, or some other of seven metals, according to the peculiar
effects of the predominant planetary influence.
Hence ignorant alchemists have supposed that all this is true of the common quicksilver, because it amalgamates with
all metals, and is soft and volatile. But why should its volatile
properties prove it to be no metal ? According to this definition,
we might deny the metallic character of tin, lead, and other
metals, because they do not remain fixed in a fierce fire -- though
one can stand a greater degree of heat than another. If, again,
any substance is to be called the first substance of metals because
of the facility with which it amalgamates with them, copper
would have a better claim to be so regarded, since it enters into a
closer union with gold and silver than mercury, and shares both
their fusible and malleable nature. But that is no final union,
for it admits of separation; and quicksilver may, with the
greatest ease, be separated from the metals with which it has
amalgamated A true union of metals can only take place in
the original substance which is common to all. We do find
amalgams of three, or even more metals, but then this union
wax consummated in the first substance, which is one, and the
whole amalgam would have been developed into gold, if its
natural growth had not been retarded by gross, sulphureous,
arsenical, and earthy impurity, which is found among metals
when purified. The metals which we dig up out of the earth
are, as it were, torn up by the roots, and, their growth having
come to a standstill, they can undergo no further development
into gold, but must always retain their present form, unless something

@

A TRACT OF GREAT PRICE 253
is done for them by our Art. Hence we must begin at the
point where Nature had to leave off: we must purge away all
impurity, and the sulphureous alloy, as Nature herself would have
done if her operation had not been accidentally, or violently, disturbed.
She would have matured the original substance, and
brought it to perfection by gentle heat, and, in a longer or shorter
period of time, she would have transmuted it into gold. In this
work Nature is ceaselessly occupied while the metals are still in
the earth; but she takes away from them nothing save their
superfluous water, and the impurity which prevents them from
attaining to the nature of gold, as we briefly showed in the
second chapter.

CHAPTER VII.
It is clear, then, that the final union of metals, or their perfection, cannot be attained by the mingling of any specific
metals; that the metallic substance becomes useless for our
purpose, as soon as it assumes a specific form; but that, at the
same time, all metals have a common origin, or Matter, which is
one thing, flowing out by the operation of Nature, who ever
desires the most perfect form which her own essence and her condition
will admit. And this is the form of gold, highest and best
of all that belong to the metallic mode. If, then, the purest form
of this substance which it is possible for Art to prepare with the
help of Nature, be added to the imperfect metals, then it overcomes
what is impure in these, for it is not the impure, but the
pure matter which is like unto it. But you must not suppose
that this power belongs to common gold; common gold has its
own specific form, which it is unable to impart to other metals.
The power of gold is sufficient only for preserving its own excellence;
but our prepared substance is much better and more
honourable than gold, and has power to do that which gold
cannot do, viz., to change the common matter of all metals
into gold.

CHAPTER VIII.
From what I have hitherto said, one ignorant of alchemy might suppose that the teaching of the Sages is altogether false
and untrustworthy. Therefore I must now proceed to tell you

@

254 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
how it may truly be affirmed that our Art is concerned with quicksilver,
silver, and gold, or with quicksilver and sulphur, and in
what sense mercury is the spirit of the metals. I will first speak
about quicksilver, and at once premise that this word is not here
taken to mean that common quicksilver which is one of the
metals, but the first substance of all the metals, and itself no
specific metal at all. For a metal must have derived its distinctive
properties through planetary influences; nor can any one
metal be the first substance of all metals. This quicksilver is
neither too hot, nor too cold, nor too moist, nor too dry; but it is
a well-tempered mingling of all four. When perfectly matured
quicksilver is subjected to external heat, operating thereon, it is
not burned, but escapes in a volatile essence. Hence it may well
be called by the philosophers a spirit, or a swift, and winged, and
indestructible soul.
So long as it is palpable and visible it is also called body when subjected to external cold it is congealed into a fixed body,
and then these three, body, soul, and spirit, are one thing, and
contain the properties of all the four elements. That outward
part which is moist and cold is called water, or quicksilver; on
account of its inward heat it is called air; if without it appear hot
and dry it is fire, or sulphur; and on account of its internal
coldness it is also styled earth. In this way quicksilver and sulphur
are the original substance of all metals; but, of course, I do
not mean that the substance is prepared by mixing common
sulphur and quicksilver. The sulphur and quicksilver of the
Sages are one and the same thing, which is first of the nature of
quicksilver, or moist and watery, and is then, by constant coction,
transmuted into the nature of sulphur, which may most justly be
described as dry and igneous.

CHAPTER IX.
But I wish to confine my discourse to the quicksilver and sulphur of the philosophers, from which all metals derive their
origin; and it is, according to the Sages, a heavy, earthy water,
mixed with very subtle white earth, and subjected to natural coction
until the moist and the dry elements have become united
and coagulated into one body -- through the perfect mutual

@

A TRACT OF GREAT PRICE 255
adjustment of all the elementary properties, and by the accidental
operation of cold. This is the substance which is used for the
purposes of our Art, after it has been perfected and purified by
gentle coction, and freed from its earthy and sulphureous grossness,
and the combustible wateriness of the quicksilver. It is then
one clear, pure, and indestructible substance, proceeding from a
duplex substance, exhibiting, in their greatest purity and efficacy,
the united properties of quicksilver and of sulphur. In Art the
operation is similar to Nature. Hence the Sages have justly
affirmed that our Art is concerned with quicksilver, gold, and
silver. For in its first stage the substance resembles quicksilver,
which is sublimed by gentle natural heat, and purified in the
veins of the rocks in the form of a pure vapour, as we explained
above. To it we now add silver and gold, and that for the following
reason, because we cannot find anywhere else in any one
thing the metallic power needed for rousing the sulphur of the
quicksilver, and coagulating it, except in gold and silver. For
the Sage cannot prepare our quicksilver unless it be first removed
from the earth, and separated from the potency of its natural
surroundings, and all these natural influences can be artificially
supplied only by the addition of gold and silver. Our Art, then,
has to find a substitute for those natural forces in the precious
metals. By them alone it is able to fix the volatile properties of
our quicksilver, for in them alone do we find the powers and influences
which are indispensable to our chemical process.
You should also bear in mind that the silver should be applied to our quicksilver before the gold, because the quicksilver
is volatile, and cannot with safety be subjected all at once to
great heat. Silver has the power of stirring up the inherent
sulphur of the quicksilver, whereby it is coagulated into the
form of the Remedy for transmuting metals into silver; and
this coagulation is brought about by the gentle heat of the
silver. Gold requires a much higher degree of heat, and if
gold were added to the quicksilver before the silver, the greater
degree of heat would at once change the quicksilver into
a red sulphur, which, however, would be of no use for the
purpose of making gold, because it would have lost its essential
moisture; and our Art requires that the quicksilver should
be first coagulated by means of silver into white sulphur,

@

256 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
before the greater degree of heat is applied which, through gold,
changes it into red sulphur. There must be whiteness before
there is redness. Redness before whiteness spoils our whole
substance.

CHAPTER X.
The quicksilver of the Sages has no power to transmute imperfect metals, until it has absorbed the essential qualities of
gold and silver; for in itself it is no metal at all, and if it is to
impart the spirit, the colour, and the hardness of gold and silver,
it must first receive them itself. It is with the first substance of
metals as it is with water. If saffron is dissolved in water, the
water is coloured with it, and if mixed with other water, imparts
to that water, too, the colour of saffron. Unless the first substance,
or quicksilver, is tinged with silver and gold, and coagulated
by their efficacy, it cannot impart any colour, or
coagulate the (water or) first substance which is latent in the
imperfect metals. For it is essentially a spirit, and volatile, and
if it be added to imperfect metals, it cannot act upon their water,
or undeveloped first-substance, because that is partly fixed by
their coagulated sulphur. But if the first-substance has been
fixed by means of gold and silver, it has become a fixed and
indestructible water; and, if added to imperfect metals, takes up
into its own nature their first substance, or water, and mingles
with it. By this means all that is combustible and impure in
them is driven off by the fire. And herein is the saying true,
which was uttered by the Sage Haly: " The spirit (i.e., quicksilver)
is not coagulated, unless the body (i.e., gold and silver) be
first dissolved." For then gold and silver become spiritual, flowing,
capable of being assimilated by the common substance of
all metals, and of imparting to it their own metallic strength
and potency. And even though this new substance be fusible
in the fire, yet, when it cools again, it still remains what it
was, nor is it ever again converted into a permanent spiritual
substance. It is the quicksilver, then, that constitutes the chief
strength and efficacy of our Art; and he that has no
quicksilver is without the very seed of gold and silver from
which they grow in the earth.

@

A TRACT OF GREAT PRICE 257
EPILOGUE.
We have sufficiently explained that quicksilver is the first substance of the metals, without which no metal can become
perfect, either in Nature or in our Art But we do not yet
know where to look for it, and where to find it. This is the
great secret of the Sages, which they are always so careful to
veil under dark words that scarcely one in many thousands
is thought worthy to find the philosophical Mercury. Many
things have been written about it; but I will quote the words
of one philosopher which I consider as the most helpful: In the
beginning, he says, God created the earth plain, simple, rich,
and very fertile, without stones, sand, rocks, hills, or valleys; it
is the influences of the planets which have now covered it with
stones, rocks, and mountains, and filled it with rare things of
various colours, i.e., the ores of the seven metals; and by these
means the earth has entirely lost its original form, and that
through the following causes:--
First, the earth which was created rich, great, deep, wide, and broad, was, through the daily operation of the Sun's rays,
penetrated to her very centre with a fervent, bubbling, vaporous
heat. For the earth in herself is cold and saturated with the
moisture of water. At length the vapours which were formed
in this way in the heart of the earth became so strong and
powerful as to seek to force a way out into the open air, and
thus, instead of effecting their object, threw up hills and hillocks,
or, as it were, bubbles on the face of the earth. And since in
those places where mountains were formed the heat of the Sun
must have been most powerful, and the earthy moisture rich
and most plentiful, it is there that we find the most precious
metals. Where the earth remained plain, this steam did not
succeed in raising up mountains; it escaped, and the earth, being
deprived of its moisture, was hardened into rocks. Where the
earth was poor, soft, and thin, it is now covered with sand
and little stones, because it never had much moisture, and, having
been deprived of the little it possessed, has now become sandy
and dry, and incapable of retaining moisture. No earth was
changed into rocks that was not rich, viscous, and well saturated
with moisture. For when the heat of the Sun has sucked up

@

258 THE HERMETIC MUSEUM.
its moisture, the richness of the earth still makes it cohere,
although now it has become hard and dry; and earth that is not
yet perfectly hard is even at the present time undergoing a
change into hard stones, through the diligent working of Nature.
But the steam and the vapours that do not succeed in escaping,
remain enclosed in the mountains, and are day by day
subjected to the maturing and transmuting influences of the Sun
and the planets. Now, if this vaporous moisture become mixed
with a pure, subtle, and earthy substance, it is the quicksilver
of the Sages; if it be reduced to a fiery and earthy hardness,
it becomes the sulphur of the Sages. This enquiry opens up
the way of finding our quicksilver, or first substance of the
metals; but though it be found in great quantities in all mines, it
is known only to very few. It is not silver, or gold, or common
quicksilver, or any metal, or sulphur. The Sage says: " It
is a vaporous substance out of four elements, watery, and pure,
and though it is found with all metals, it is not matured in those
which are imperfect. Hence it must be sought in the ore, in
which we find gold and silver." And when again he says, " If
this quicksilver be hardened, it is the sulphur of the Sages," he
means that this can only be done by means of gold and silver,
which it takes into itself, and by which it is sublimed and
coagulated through its own natural gentle coction, under the
influence of the Sun's heat, and in its own proper ore.

O heavenly Father, shew this quicksilver to all whom Thou biddest walk in Thy paths!
@

Début de l'ouvrage Texte précédent Texte suivant Fin de l'ouvrage Drapeau Page d'aide Retour. Flag Help frame Return. Bandera Página de ayuda Vuelta.
Flagge Hilfeseite Rückkehr. Flag Hjælp side Tilbage. Bandiera Guida Torna.