Joannes Agricola - Treatise on Gold
Chapter 4.Back to Agricola page .
Another Process for the Preparation of Oil of Gold
In this formula the author again shows us another process for making potable gold. Although he does not lack in processes, they are deficient in so far as gold cannot thereby be made truly potable. If there is a subject under the sun with which many processes have been undertaken, it is gold; and if there is one by which less has been accomplished, it is precisely gold. Therefore many have been induced to even bar gold from medicine. But those have not acted intelligently, for what fault is it of the pure and good gold that it is treated so wrongly? It would rather do away with such processes than it must submit to be tortured so badly as the daily works show more than enough. These Laboratory workers err all together in the sole key for opening its hard locks and fetters, for many works disclose an uncertain foundation. However, where there is no foundation, how can a stable house be built?
I remember a funny dreamer in Leipzig who pretended that gold, which is a pure fire, could not be opened or made potable except by another pure fire. In so saying he was not wrong, and it is so in truth. But I asked him what he understood by the fire that was to dissolve gold. He did not wish to tell me but said that it was a fire that only lights but does not burn. Now I well remembered that Paracelsus also wrote of such a fire, but whether that dreamer understood what was meant by it, I doubt very much, for in such a fire the angels and good spirits are also transformed.
I asked where he hoped to get this pure fire. Now it was difficult to get him to talk. Once I tried getting drunk, thinking that the wine was a sure betrayer of many secrets. It worked, and when he had become drunk and truthful, he let the art out of the bag and said that it was no other than the wil-o'-the-wisps, that they were such a pure fire. I would have loved to laugh at it but could not let him see what I thought till I had learned all his secrets. I also wanted to know how to catch them, but he did not wish to disclose this secret to me. But I did not think other than that this art would burst my stomach with laughter - or I already had the will-o'-the-wisps in my stomach and they wanted to get out again. I could not imagine that the old fool was serious, but he insisted solemnly. Then I thought how God could let a man fall down so much that he could imagine such absurdities. All that I found out - and that was also the reason why he had been called will-o'-the-wisp-catcher during his lifetime. I have met many other strange dreamers but none like him - but I cannot know if he ever caught a will-o'-the-wisp.
We must also examine the author's process. Many think very little of it, as the ( ) must be amalgamated with Mercury and calcined with Sulphur. For they say that Mercury robs gold of its inherent moisture and that it becomes subsequently all too dry owing to its reverberation with the Sulphur. Whether this is true or not, I will indicate in the proper place, It may very well be that this calcination is not of very great benefit to medicine, but whether it is due to the fact that Mercury robs gold of its moisture, I will not dispute. So, it cannot be highly considered because of this, but the whole process appears suspect to me, and I believe the author has never worked it himself or achieved potable gold by it.
He wants to dissolve the gold with oil of vitriol and drive it thereby over the alembic, which gives me much to think about, because the corrosive oil of vitriol does not dissolve gold in such a way that it rises with it over the alembic. It is evident and requires no proof that the corrosive oil of vitriol fixes all volatile spirits and makes them stable, including sulphur, which becomes so fixed by it that no fire can light or burn it. If it does that, how then can it take gold, the stablest of all, along with it over the alembic? Here it is not important that some object and say that gold can be worked so far with other corrosive spirits that it rises into the alembic - why should the spirit of vitriol not do the same? But the answer is easy to find: one corrosive spirit is not like another. I am here speaking of the corrosive spirit of vitriol and not of its sweet arcanum, of which something will also be said later. For I am well aware that from vitriol a menstruum can be prepared that can dissolve and take over the alembic not only gold but all other metals and precious stones. To do this, however, is not everybody's doing and ability, and it requires an experienced and learned Philosopher and not a common laboratory worker. The process also takes quite some time, and the White Swan must also be present, as the menstruum is useless without it.
But what kind of Swan this is, neither Basil nor Paracelsus has expressly stated, although Basil speaks about the Swan. But if it is to be understood literally, I very much doubt, and I cannot imagine that the common laboratory workers know the White swan or know how to look for it. Nor can I believe that Poppius understood it, otherwise he would have achieved much more precious and greater works with this menstruum, as it can be called a Universal Menstruum, which it really is. In nearly all his works out author goes for the menstruum prepared of tartar and vitriol, which he no doubt understands here, and of which we will also speak of in its place. Soon afterwards he indicates how to prepare it under the name of "arcanum of Tartar". Thus he also speaks a great deal about it in his Preparation of Silver and Preparation of Tartar, using his process seven times, as indeed a Universal can do. Let scholars judge of it, my opinion will be found expressed clearly enough in my Notes.
But I consider the menstruum with the Swan of Basil and Paracelsus much more important than that which I saw at a wealthy Philosopher's. He put a whole Ducat in it. It disappeared in half an hour without any noise, and the menstruum turned bloodred from it. Therefore a young chymist must take great care not to trust every process - only to gain misery and bitterness for his great trouble. True, a process can soon be written, but it only becomes apparent hoe true or right it is when it is put in practice and elaborated according to the letter. If any man were to verify his writings and processes, of which he smears together big volumes, oh! how badly he would fare and he would finally be obliged to say that his writings had only been the thoughts of his brain, and that he had imagined that they would also succeed in the fire.
Shortly before, I thought that many do not speak highly of the calcination of ( ) with Mercury and do not wish to adapt it for medicines, such as those which are prepared with the power of the fire, like the Aquae Regis and the spirits of the salts of ammonia. I will therefore indicate here a fine method, for although gold must be calcined if one wants to make something important of it, suitable for all works, dissolutions, and extractions, it must be done as follows:
Have a fine crucible made of the kind that the glaziers have. It must not be too big or too small. Set it in the glass furnace at a constant heat and let it stay in a continuous flux. It must be placed in such a way that it can frequently or constantly be stirred with an iron wire. Let it stand in that heat for 14 days, and you will find a beautiful gold calx within that time. It melts easily in almost every menstruum and can afterwards be worked as you like. Little is lost of the gold. I have sent 3 Lots of gold to the glassworks, and when the calx came back, not more than half a Quentlein had been lost. It was so delicate that no laboratory worker could have made it subtler or clearer, of a somewhat blackish-brown color. Such a calcination can easily be done. The glazier gets a good tip and does it, leaving the stirring to boys who are doing it day and night. And a Thaler goes a long way.
There are other ways of calcination. I have seen a gentleman in Austria calcine gold in a constant fire, but the fire was made of pure sulphur. After four weeks - for that is how long he left the gold in the fire - it was so soft that it could be ground into a fine flour between one's fingers. But because this calcination is not suitable for everything, I will not recommend it. Each will see which kind of calcination he should use for his work. Before reporting the above, I had indicated that which is done with stag's antlers. It is not only suitable for all works but there is no suspicion of a corrosive in it. Likewise, the above calcination in the glass furnace can also well be used. I have read about more than a hundred calcinations of the Sun, but when they were examined they are nearly all cast over one last and issue from one foundation: either through dissolving waters or through fumigations or cementations, through minerals, also through lead, because the fumes of lead also calcine gold, rendering it so soft that it can easily be reduced to a powder. I would not want to use it for medicines, however, as lead fumes are poisonous and contain arsenic.
Some assert that gold can be calcined wit the salt of rainwater, May dew, or hail. If it is put in it while in flux, it is supposed to turn into a delicate powder which can afterwards melt in any kind of liquid. If that were so, it would indeed be a fine thing, and I would myself think highly of it as it would be quite a handy means. However, I have neither tried it nor worked with it, and I can therefore not say anything sure about it, because I cannot make a reliable report about something my eyes have not seen themselves.
Once someone came to me who said that he calcined gold with the salt of rainwater, May dew, or hail for all his works! I do not wish to contradict it, as they contain anyhow a great secret for many sicknesses. I also know that some have prepared potable gold with their spirits, but it takes some effort to make the salt and requires a rather long time. The same is done with rainwater, but it results in a beautiful salt.I know a man who wants to make the Philosophers' Stone from rainwater. Whether he will accomplish it, time will tell. But I believe that he will achieve little without the central salt of Nature. It is probably true that water is a receiver for all celestial influxes, though it is questionable that it can be specified upon metals from its general condition. I am leaving to every man his will and ideas. They will show him what he can do with it.
ON THE ESSENCE OF THE SUN & THE ARCANUM OF SULPHUR OF GOLD
If one takes what is beaten thin/
Opens it as it should/
Just as before/
The more often this is repeated/
Dry it quite gently/
Or else it will quickly ignite/
Something else I wish to relate/
If you cannot get any oil of Mutritar/
N O T E
These rhymes have been taken from an old book, and many have played with them like the cat with the mouse, believing that enormous secrets were hidden in them. Thus I met a laboratory worker in the archbishopric of Salzburg, who was otherwise no incompetent man and knew some fine manipulations. With him I had many discussions about the secrets of alchymy. Finally, he told, but confidentially, that he had a description of the secret of the Philosophers'Stone. He was so secretive about it, however, that he did not let the cat out of the bag. At last I promised him so much if he only let me read it once a quite superficially, that he agreed. After reading it, I had to laugh out loud that the good man considered these empty verses so important. I had hoped that I could surely go fishing in them, but I could hardly catch a crawfish.
I told him that there was nothing secret in these lines, that it was only the fulminating gold (or: leaf gold), aurum fulminans, known to all alchymists, that was indicated in them, and that he did not understand the word Mutratar nor the last eight lines in which mention is of 12 letters, 5 syllables, 6 vowels, and the number 14. He said that they contained a great secret - but this secret is also known to the coal-heavers. I believe that many would attain to the Art or some other secret if they did not set such great store by those futile things, they are only cheating themselves thereby. Good Lord! What a catalog of names I could report of those I met in my travels who relied on such false rhymes. They had bought them for a great deal of money from vagrants or fraudulent rascals, believing that they now had all they needed, that nothing was lacking, and that they had only to start working. But at the end they were shouting: "The thief has cheated me!" And I have seen more than three gallows full of such vagrants who peddled such rhymes.
When they came to me with them, I questioned them. They failed lamentably, bringing forth many excuses. They pretended not to understand such high matters themselves but had found the verses in some old vault or cloister where many distinguished alchymists had lived many years ago - to which they could swear magnificently. Whoever is not careful is easily caught in their thieve's net, for one's inquisitiveness is strongly prodded after such a mendacious discovery, especially as they can affirm it with so many oaths. They also say that they have seen such a large quantity of man-made gold, yes, that they themselves had seen it being made, and they use whatever more bacon they can find to bate the trap. What man would not listen with delight to those sirens who sing so beautifully that it makes you forget food and drink, like the companions of Ulysses. O you frivolous fellows, how will you one day answer for it that you attract so much money into your pockets with your thieving finger?
I knew a gentleman in Thieving who had been given 5.000 Thalers to a vagrant for such a process. when I became acquainted with him soon afterwards, he trusted me so much that he let me read it. After reading it, I told him that I had that process and poem four years ago and that it contained nothing but fantasy and nonsense. The good man was greatly startled, and when I explained one thing and another to him, also telling him that precisely the word Mutratar and the twelve syllables were in that process just as in these rhymes, he became even more startled and recognized the futility of this process. Although he said that he was going to write to the swindler, wherever he was, I have not heard any further, but I believe he did not say much to this fraud but preferred to keep quiet. It may also be that the swindler used a false name, as those fellows normally do. Nor do I doubt that our author himself thought little of it, because he gave it the title, "On the essence of the Sun and the arcanum of sulphur".
I must confess that there is no more stupid and bad process than this among all those dealing with gold. If the spirit of wine were to lie on it for a hundred years, it would not extract the right essence or sulphur from it, as experience shows more than enough. It is easy to write such things, but experience tells how true the writing is and what the process can do when it is tested. But so that beginners may not be mislaid by such poetry, I will explain here briefly what is said in it. Many a man might think that it is all seraphic wisdom, while it is nothing but an operation for acquiring fulminating gold.
The explanation is as follows: Laminated gold has to be dissolved in Aqua Regis. When it is dissolved, the oil of tartar (for Mutratar is tartarum', the letters have only been transposed) has to be poured in drop by drop. A strong roaring and effervescence will arise, But the drops must be put in only one after another because of the fast ebullition. When the fermentation has stopped and everything is calm, the liquid has to be distilled off (it can also be just poured down while the gold precipitates). Some powder is left. Warm water has to be poured on that to remove the sharpness. If the gold were not altogether dissolved softly and subtly, the process has to be repeated from the beginning. Then it has to be dried gently, only in the room or in the air but not in the sun, or else it would quickly ignite, breaking everything it meets, as I once experienced in Austria. I had 8 Lots of this gold calx and wanted to dry it in the room on a copper cover in a stove. I had hardly left the room, as I wanted to go to dinner, when a rumbling arose in the room to startle everybody in the house. We did not know what it was. When I had opened the door of the room to leave, the gold ignited and broke the tiled stove into a thousand pieces, also shattering the railing around the stove. Thus I sustained a great loss, as I did not retrieve one Pfennig (small German coin) of these 8 Lots of gold.
If sulphur flowers are mixed with the gold, however, and they are again cemented and burnt, it loses all fulminating, which is quite surprising. What is even more surprising: The fulminating is due to the tartar, and if after the gold has fermented, a good amount of oil of tartar is poured on it, it does away with the in the same way, no matter how strong the heat is that one applies. Many will not believe this, and yet it is the truth. Many might say that it is against Nature, because two contrary or different operations cannot be done simultaneously in one subject.
If you have no oil of tartar at hand, the verses tell you to burn grape vine to ash and make salt of it. Then let it flow to oil in the cellar, and use it in the same way. This also works, it also precipitates the gold, but vinewood is often harder to obtain in many places than tartar. Nor are you always tied to these salts, others also precipitate gold, such as the salt of pine trees or ashes of firtrees, and there is more ash from firs than from vines. In addition, there exist other means for precipitating the dissolved gold in Aqua Regis than the salt of tartar, although Angelus Sala, in his Aphorismi, does not believe it. But experience is the teacher of fools.
But is it true that gold receives so much power to explode from these salts, someone might ask, not unreasonably. I say no, although the striking power does not properly stem from the tartar, for I have at various times precipitated gold with fir ashes. It did not explode, although the fire was rather strong. This has to be ascribed to the spirits which ignite the sulphur of the gold, making it explode so violently. This exploding occurs contrary to common sense, because other powder fulminates ahead or above itself, while this one kicks backwards and below itself, and with such force that one Quentlein of that fulminating gold has more force than 8 Lots of common gunpowder.
The sulphur of iron does the same as gold, but aside from that, no sulphur of any metal does, no matter how it is prepared. That is why many would like to conclude that these two metals must have a great kinship between themselves. They believe that the sulphur of iron is as good as the sulphur of gold, which is quite wrong, however. In all eternity, the sulphur of iron will not become a sulphur of the Sun, irrespective of how the preparationis carried out. the sulphur of iron remains what it is and cannot resist the power of Saturn (lead), even if it is a valiant hero. Nevertheless, it must concede victory to this old gentleman.
Now we will finish with the paraphrasing of the rhymes. When everything has thus been prepared and the calx of gold has been achieved, one is supposed to pour on it some spirit of wine, that is 5 syllables, 6 vowels, 12 letters, together the number 14. These words have mislaid many a man, believing that they contained a high arcanum, and the true Philosophical Menstruum were thereby revealed. But it is not so and is only bla-bla and humbug, which is no arcanum, much less the Universal Menstruum. This is the reason that many believe that the spirit of wine must be the true Philosophical Menstruum and that they spend a great deal of time acquiring it.
Well then, with this spirit of wine one was supposed to extract the tincture of gold, and this was supposed to be the essence of the Sun which could help in case of need. Let those believe it who want to, I for my part cannot believe it. Nor do I let myself be persuaded, because I am quite certain that the spirit of wine does not extract any essence out of this fulminating gold. It is far too weak to decompose such a perfect subject, the most perfect Body. And what would it matter if it could extract an essence, it would yet not be the essence that could help you in need, for it would only be a subtle part of the gold, separated from its Body. It can do little, and can in no way lead you to riches, for it has not become plusquamperfect (more than perfect), as it has to become if it is to do something for others. Gold does not have its powers from it, it has no more than it requires for its own perfection. If it is to accomplish anything, it must first acquire such a virtue in its regeneration, when it has again to enter its mother's womb.
Now it is obvious that the spirit of wine is not the gold's mother, nor can it ever become so. As gold did not originate in spirit of wine at the beginning of the earth, it must necessarily follow that the spirit of wine can in no way extract a useful tincture from gold. It can therefore not be called "Sulphur of the Philosophers", while itself and its Body can be reduced. Yes, more men, many of them, including Angelus Sala, do not wish to admit that the tincture can be separated from the Sun - although Sala later changed his mind and recognized his error. One cannot deny that the color should not separate from the Body, that the Body stays behind as silver, and in the reduction it is not again a Body of the Sun but fixed silver that is left, which acquires another sulphur in antimony and copper, turning into gold again. Therefore many believe that because this fixed silver can again become gold, one could add a sulphur, which could tinge it into gold. This is true, provided one has the right Philosophical Tincture, or the silver is made so fixed that it can pass all gold tests through cement, antimony, and quartz. Otherwise it is impossible that anything useful can result thereby. But how this is done remains to be reported, because the Philosophers keep it very secret.
Some time ago, I saw at a Philosopher's in Italy a lump of several pounds of silver, which stood all tests. All it was lacking was the right color, which he could give it very easily. He frankly admitted that by his skill he could make a hundredweight of silver fixed within three months, provided he had just one partner. But how he did it, I was not told. True, many process-makers and braggarts write exceedingly big volumes about it, but in truth they are nothing deceit and processes that can never be brought to perfection. Hardly one hair curler can be found who does not pretend to know how to make fixed silver, and yet, with all their art they are such poor wretches that one could take pity on them. One may well say here, "Physician, help thyself!" And if they did not occasionally meet an imprudent beginner, hardly conversant with the writings of the Philosophers, who gave them bread for some time, for God's sake, they would have starved a long time ago and the world would have got rid of them many years ago.
I knew one of this sort in Erfurt. He convinced some good credulous people that he could fix all Thalers in a short time and finally transmute them into the best gold, and that it would not cost much at all. These good people imagined that they would soon become great gentlemen, and accepted the artist. He built various kinds of ovens, put up a pair of bellows, and set up an entire goldsmith's workshop. First, he tried with a small sample of 3 Lots of silver. He cemented these and juggled about with them till he thought that the time had come to ensnare the birds. But it was nothing but the White body of the Sun from which the tincture had been extracted. He put it into the cementing box as if it were only common silver.
When now everybody was eagerly looking forward to the issue, and the day had been set - which he first selected in the calendar to make sure there was a lucky aspect of the Sun and Moon - when the monkeys were supposed to come out of the box, everything happened in a solemn and devout manner. He pulled the boxes out of the fire and when they had cooled, he told his sponsors to open them themselves, so that they could see that he was dealing with them honestly and sincerely. Furthermore, he said, he was going away for one or two days, they should meanwhile have the fixed silver tested to see if it could pass all assays. This was done. The silver passed all examinations and was found to be good, but the color was lacking, and the people did not know what to do. The artist, however, stayed away for eight days, and they were greatly looking forward to his return. They were very sorry and worried that their teacher in the Art would not return at all, because he was being tested. Yet they were full of good hope nevertheless, as he had left behind his Suppellectilem, which was not that important. Meanwhile, they told their intimate friends of this feat and promised to accept them also into their society when the artist returned. Their friends were likewise interested in the new art and consented to put up a sum of Thalers.
The artist returned after one week. There was great joy, and a wonderful meal was prepared. They were very happy indeed, especially when he asked how the silver passed the test, if it had also stood the gold assays. Everything was confirmed with delight, and each wanted to be the artist's next client. Then he told them that he would in future also turn this fixed silver into gold, and he began making arrangements for it, which was easy to do. Now their mood became even more jubilant, and they were wondering where they might perhaps find a kingdom to buy - there would be no shortage of gold...
They now concluded a deal and decided, seeing that a great work did not take more time than a little one, to invest 500 Marks. The instruments were arranged and the work was begun. In the meantime, the artist saw his advantage. He changed the cementing boxes, took the silver out, yes, even out of town. Nevertheless, the alleged work is given fire. On a Saturday night, the artist pretends to go to confession, and the good people are supposed to watch the work for some time, to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
He left - looking for a father confessor in a foreign country. As he was staying away a long time, the good people were eagerly waiting for him with their meal, but because he had promised the father confessor not to eat anything that evening, he did not come back to table. They were surprised at it but did not think anything bad of it, thinking he would come after the sermon and communion. He, however, was taking a really long way!
Now the company suspected that something was not right. They decided to let the fire go out and take a look at the work. It took place the following Monday. As the artist had perhaps fallen asleep in the church and did not come, they opened the boxes - and found in them a mighty odd transmutation, for instead of their Thalers, they found nothing but horseshoes, lead, bricks, and similar fine substances - while the silver and the artist were roving throughout the world.
They now began to look at each other and froze as if they had attacked and caught a torpedo fish (eel). Their brief happiness turned into an immense dirge, and yet they could not complain openly. But when they disagreed among themselves, each accusing the other of having persuaded him to enter this deal, the affair became known, and the good people had to add insult to injury. And that was called "making silver fixed".
Of such cheats there are still many more in the world, who might also mislead wise men. That is the reason why I am relating this, to put everybody on his guard and not to give credence to such swindlers. For they have studied for many years how to cheat people, and I think that this is one of the reasons why alchymia is forbidden in Spain and that not everybody can work with it. Would to God that the same would happen in Germany! Then many an honest man would not be so shamefully done out of his property. And no person should work with it who has not been called to it by God and is a physician.
Now we will stop with this report and turn to the other preparations, according to our author's instructions.
ANOTHER WAY OF MAKING OIL OF GOLD
Take some of the brown gold calx that has been reverberated with sulphur. Put it in a phial glass with a very flat bottom. Set that in warm sand for 18 weeks, day and night. Give it constant heat but so that the calx does not melt. In this way the gold is finally swelling up and becomes as soft as cotton. Open the glass and pour over it the following fiery spirit of the arcanum of tartar, which extracts the tincture of gold in an astonishing way. This must be discarded over the alembic, when a gold-colored oil will rise, quite transparent and lovely to look at.
THE ARCANUM OF THE SALT OF TARTAR
Take the magistery of vitriol, which is quite clear, transparent and crystalline. Dissolve in it the vegetable salt, then distill the phlegms gently off it. Thereafter dissolve it in distilled rainwater till it loses all its feces and gets rid of its slime. Now coagulate it to dryness. Pour the vegetable blood, or the vegetable fire over it, then distill it over the alembic. First the spirit will come out, then the fiery spirit, and this is the arcanum for this work.
N O T E
The author presents another way of making oil of gold. It differs little from the first, except that the menstruum for the extraction is taken from vitriolic tartar, with the addition of brandy. The process is probably fine and can be made, although I have not tried it for gold. I have, however, done it for silver and found it to be true according to the letter. But the reverberation is a very tiresome work, as 18 weeks is a long time and much coal has to be used. In addition, this fire must be well regulated or else the substance will easily melt and revert into a Body. Then all effort and work are lost. This long time is required to allow the calx to become all the subtler, but one can achieve this just as well in a shorter time. In the manner indicated, potable gold cannot be prepared in less than half a year. The patient could die a hundred times before getting his medicine. I would advise (the alchymists) to use the gold calx which I taught in the previous process, or that obtained with stag's antlers. It can melt and be extracted in almost every liquid, even if one does not use the tartarized arcanum as a menstruum.
The gold calx can in any case soon be made volatile. Within two days I can volatilize it so much that it rises entirely into the alembic; even flies away. One may well be surprised that such a fixed Body can be so far destroyed that it can fly away without wings like Mercury, and yet can also be made fixed again with a little effort. I know how to make a spirit that destroys gold so much in a few hours that it flies with the spirit out of the glass into the air, if the glass is not tightly closed. Nobody knows where it goes, and it vanishes entirely, so that not one grain is left in the glass.
When I mentioned this one day at a princely table, the Prince did not want to believe it and asked me to show it to him in practice. When I did this in a short time - because I already had a supply of the spirit - he was quite surprised and said that he had had many laboratory workers, but none had gone so far. Furthermore, he said that if he knew how to make this spirit, he would not doubt the preparation of the Philosophers' Stone. But he was wrong, because this spirit had not been the Universal Spirit, as the Philosophers want it to be, but had been made from other minerals, and was corrosive. Therefore it could not and should not be an ingredient and medium for attaining this high Work. Although it could not be used for this purpose - nor had I prepared it to this end - it was yet a wonder that it could volatilize the gold so fast without further preparation. And if nothing was added to it, it did not let the gold drop away. Even if one tried ten times to separate it through the Balneum, the gold always went with it over the alembic, not as an oil or an extract but with its color, just the color of the spirit itself, only somewhat pale-yellow. Aside from that, it was beautiful, bright and white like spring water. It is not necessary to describe here how to prepare this spirit as it does not help this Work. It is also dangerous to operate with it because it kicks so much and violently as no gunpowder does. It is better, however, to handle the tartarized arcanum, but one must have a good amount of it, and I will here describe how I made it.
I took 1 lb. of salt of tartar, optim. rectified. Upon it I poured drop by drop the same amount of oil of vitriol. I let it effervesce, then put it down till it had settled. I decanted the liquid and gently dried the residue. I dissolved the latter in the phlegma of the vitriol, poured the pure off and filtered it. I distilled the liquid to half, then put the rest in a cold place. Now beautiful clear and transparent crystals sprouted, which I took out with a wooden spoon, letting half of the remaining water steam off further; set it back in the cellar, let it sprout, poured the liquid off, mixed the crystals with the previous ones. When I had dried and weighed them, I had obtained 2 lbs. from these 4 lbs.
On these crystals I poured some good rectified spirit of wine - which the author calls the "vegetarian blood" - set it to digest, as otherwise they do not easily dissolve, till they were completely dissolved. Then I distilled them according to the Art. When I had driven over 2 lbs. of the spirit, I changed the receiver, added another and increased the fire somewhat. Now a beautiful fiery spirit went over. I removed the Death's Head, enclosed it in a retort and reverberated it well. I also extracted its salt with distilled rainwater, added it to the distilled spirit, let it circulate for 8 days, and drove it over again. Thus I obtained a wonderful menstruum with which one can not only extract the Soul of the gold but also that of all metals, minerals and precious stones. It dissolves and extracts exceedingly well, and if it does not take everything over the alembic the first time, it must be cohobated and will work very well.
When I tried this process with silver, I could not get everything over the alembic the first time but had to pour it back several times into the left-over. Then it went over, leaving only a few feces in the retort, which were quite black and light. I am of opinion that one has to proceed in the same way with gold, as its Body is even more fixed and compact than the Body of silver, and the cohobations achieve much good, which could otherwise not be done.
With this menstruum I have dissolved the crocus Martis, the crocus (saffron color) of iron and extracted its tincture, which turned out more beautiful than any dissolution of the Sun. I took it over the alembic in the same way. And when I separated the menstruum from it by a vapor bath, a beautiful oil was left, pleasant and sweet, as if it had come from the best gold. It also tinged silver into shining gold, though it was not stable. But when the silver was immediately held in the fire, it did not fly away like that which comes from antimony. It was only washed away when it was strongly rubbed. This work could well make you hope that you could make something out of iron with which you could earn your bread. I leave it to anyone who would like to try it. I am afraid, however, that it will hardly be possible without a good fermentation, because Basil says that Mars also attains glory by his quarrelsomness, but that he must take care not to be pushed down again and suffer shame and derision, as the old Saturn (lead) is his archenemy: where he can give him a secret knock, he will not hesitate to do so, because the old folks are generally no friends of warriors.
With this oil one can also turn Mercury into a beautiful precipitate, which can be used to great advantage in many sicknesses. It makes it so fixed and fireproof that it can pass a rather stiff test of Vulcan (fire). I really think that if it is conjoined with the oil of gold, it can become something useful, but I do not wish to cause anyone to squander money on it. In this passage I only reveal my thoughts in case someone wanted to do something for Mars, although Mars seldom brings riches. Instead, he robs and takes wherever he can, not asking if it belongs to God or the poor fellowman, as a very honest man learned after 24 years. I could also tell a story of what war has cost me. May God one day end such abominable destruction of the country and restore noble peace to us, for then many fine arts will yet arise, honoring God and serving the poor fellowman. Well then, everything comes from God, good fortune and misfortune, and we must say with Job: Si bona suscepimus a Domino, cur non mala sustineamus.
We will also say something about the virtues of this gold. The author (Poppius), however, does not mention them, doubtlessly because it does precisely what has been said of the other preparations, to which I will also refer to the kind reader. He will easily notice when this gold oil is to be used. Not only will he learn the doses but also see from my comments in what cases I used them. It cannot be contradicted that gold can in general heal all sicknesses, as all the books of hermetic physicians testify. And whoever will read the history of cases cured by the potable gold of Anthony of London will find astounding things in them, observed and cured both by himself and others who had the potable gold brought to them from far-away countries. Of that a whole treatise has been written and printed in Hamburg. Even so there are some who do not think much of it, saying that this solution is not philosophical, etc. I will not discuss this here, while no one knows yet for sure by what means he dissolves the gold, even if there are several descriptions available, pretending to indicate the process. I believe, however, that he did not make his secret public to the extent that the sparrows could whistle it from the rooftops, for he would be a bad fencer who did not keep one stroke for himself. One thing is sure, it is no small science to know how to process gold correctly so as to turn it into a medicine without a corrosive.
What to think of potable gold that is supposed to be strengthened with the blood of Venus (copper) and Mars (iron), is not difficult to decide. I consider it nonsense, because the sulphur of iron and copper is not the sulphur of gold. Therefore, no such effect can follow, and I wonder that some wealthy physicians also publish articles about it, trying to convince people that cow dung is grease. Although both come from the cow, they are therefore not the same. Dung may well be spread, but plants do not melt thereby.
Basil also wrote something about it, and I have in my possession the original of his writing. I believe, however, that his views are quite different from the literal meaning. That gold has first to be enriched or activated by iron and copper, is hard to believe, for it is evident that both have impure and leprous Bodies which cannot protect themselves from the least corruption. If their blood were so pure that the Sun's blood were thereby raised to a higher degree, it would follow that they themselves could first keep themselves from corruption and destruction. Indeed, it is said: Medice, cura teipsum (Physician, heal thyself!)
If now it is true that each thing has its own seed, and must have its own seed if it is to be an autonomous Body, it must necessarily follow that gold must have a special seed, copper and iron other special seeds. Even so, it cannot be denied that the seed of metals is identical as far as their remote potentiality is concerned, and that it refined by cooking. Nevertheless, digestion produces a ripe fruit and seed different from the others, and the artist will never be able to cook gold from copper, even if he were doing it till Doomsday. Well, as this does not belong here, I will not deal with it at the present but wait for another opportunity. I am only relating it so that no one should be misled into thinking that gold can be increased in virtue by the lesser metals. The contrary can rather be proven,, namely, that the pure blood of gold is infected by the impure and leprous iron and copper. Then it is quite useless to medicine. Therefore one has to be very careful about such potable gold and not to believe what anybody fancies, but he must diligently read the writings of the Philosophers and reflect upon them with special care, even if they are only understood according to the letter.
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