Allegory of John of the Fountain


The Fountain of the Lovers of the Science,
composed by John Fountain
of Valencienn in the County of Hainault.
Lyons 1590.
The third edition.

[This English translation of this important early alchemical allegory (thought to have been composed in the 15th century) is found in MS. Sloane 3637 in the British Library (a 17th century manuscript). This work was published in French in various editions, the earliest of which I have seen being issued at Paris in 1561, though the Sloane manuscript refers to the edition published at Lyon in 1590. A. McLean.]
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It was in the time of the month of May, when one should bury sorrow and care, that I entered into an orchard, whereof Zephyrus was the gardener.
When I passed before the Garden, I was not clothed in silk, but arrayed in sorry garments, that I might not in public appear naked; and diverting myself with a desire to chase away unpleasant thoughts, I heard an harmonious song of many grateful birds. Then I beheld the entrance of the garden which was shut, but as I judged by my sight, Zephyrus soon opened it. He afterwards retired, seeming thereby as if he had not done it. And when I saw the manner of it, I retired a little back, and afterwards I entered in. My teeth not having eaten for a day I was very dry and hungry. But I carried bread with me, which I had saved for a week. Then I perceived a fountain of very clear, pure and fine water, which was under a hawthorn tree. I joyfully sat down by it, and made me pottage of my bread. Then after eating I fell asleep within this pleasant orchard. And according to my apprehension, I slept long enough for the pleasure which I took, being in the dream which I dreamed. You now may know it from my dream, and I after found it a fiction. It is true that methought two comely Ladies with beautiful looks, seeming like the daughters of a King, in respect of their noble atire, came softly towards me, and I humbly saluted them, saying to them, Glorious Ladies, God save you both bodies and souls, May it please you to tell me your names, do not ye deny me this.
One answered very courteously. Friend my name is Knowledge. Behold here Reason which accompanied me, whether it be in the mountains, or in the valleys, or in the fields, she can make you very wise. Then understanding this language and believing myself to be awake, I much wondered at what happened. For I saw issue from the fountain, which is so agreeable and wholesome, seven streams which I had never seen before. Having lain me down in this way, which wetteth me so much, that I was all be-dirtied, the water there gushed out abundantly. Then I desired the Lady Reason who was with Knowledge, to tell me the signification of the fountain, and the streams which are so plentiful and comely, and whose the enclosure was, on all sides well beset with trees and with sweet flowers, moistened with running waters, so that I thought I never saw its equal. But she most gently said to me. You, my friend, shall know how this affair does stand, which you so much desire to know; hearken attentitively to me.
In it the fountain has a thing, which is most nobly contained. He who shall know it well, will love it above all other things. He who would seek and search it out, and being found put it afterwards into the earth and dry it to a most subtile powder, then again dissolve it in its water, but which has before been separated, then gather the parts together, which the earth shall set to rot in the water which should nourish it. Thence there will a maiden breed, bearing fruit at both her breasts. But that we should remove the rottenness, which neither she nor her fruit does care for, the maid I speak of in many things bestirs herself, and fervently desires it. For she mounts into the air flying on high; afterwards descending down gliding in the valley, and in descending down she fawns the fawn which Nature gives to her.
It is a Dragon which has three throats, hungry and never satiated: all around him everyone assaults or kicks at him, surrounding him just as it were in a street and chasing him with a violent pursuit, so that a sweat do cover his face, (alias But beforehand by heat one drives away the sweat which covers the face) which blackens and beglews it, as with bird lime then impregnates it and [le mengue - an unknown word]. In the same manner she brings forth again (This amorously done) much more powerful than before, then drinks it as the juice of the apple. So the infant according to its manner often drinks, and afterward brings forth again, so that it clearer is than crystal, in truth the work is just so [Ytall - another obscure word]. And when it is so shining in a most strong and powerful water, it thinketh to devour its mother, who has eaten up its brother and father. So as it gives suck and broods, the dragon strikes it with his tail. Into two parts divide its Mother, which does assist it after this division: deliver it then to the three throats, which they have sooner taken it than a gargle.
Tis then the strongest in the World, there's nothing ever does confound it. Tis marvellous and powerful, one ounce is worth a hundred weight of Gold. it is a fire of such a nature, that it overcomes corruption, and transmutes into another substance, since it brings it to its own likeness and cureth every distemper, The imposhume leprosy and gout; and gives youth to ancient bodies, and to the young ones wit and mirth. Tis as a miracle from God. Without this the Treacle cannot be made, nor any thing which is found underneath the heavens, which is experienced by the ancient prophets and doctors who teach us Nature.
But one dare not make more enquiry, for fear of the Governors of the Earth; may such a mischief never happen, for without Sin one may do this. Many Wise loved it much, accursed be he who has defamed it. One ought never to reveal it, but to those who will love God, and those who will have the Victory, to serve God, love or believe. For he to whom God giveth time to live so long that he is some place have wrought this work, has from God obtained for himself grace or favour, know this for certain. Wherefore he should devoutly pray for those holy men who have put it into writing according to their way of discourse. Philosophers and Saints discreet men whose numbers I cannot reckon up. But may God shower all mercy on them who thus far have opened it. And for those who love the Science may God give them estate and patience.
You ought to know that this same serpent, which I at first did mention to you, is governed by the seven streams, which are so amiable and fair. So I was minded to describe it, but I will name otherwise. It is a noble worthy Stone made by a Science divine, in which more virtue does abound, than in any thing which is in the World. Tis found out by Astronomy, and by the true Philosophy. It is produced in the Mountains, where there grows no other strange or foreign thing (alias, they find it grow aloft with all it ought to have). Know it for an approved truth, that many wise men have found it there, and it may there be still found out, with taking pains to labour well. It is the cabinet (or the quarry) of the precious stones of the philosophers which is so amiable and dear. One may have it easily and so tis better that all that can be had. But you will have undergone a deal of toil, before you have found it out. Having it you shall fail of nothing, which we can find upon this earthen world. Now let us return unto the fountain, there to know a certain thing.
This valuable fountain does belong to a Lady of honour who is called Nature. Who ought to be much honoured; for each thing is made by her, and if she fails there all is undone. This Lady I assure you has been a long time established. For as soon as God had made the Elements which are perfect, Water, Air, Earth and Fire, Nature was perfect in them all. Without nature there could not grow a little oyster in the Sea. Natures the Mother of all things in the World. The noblest thing which is in Nature, does very well appear in the figure of a Man which Nature has made, wherein she has erred in nothing. So it does in many things which are produced by Nature. Birds, trees, beasts little flowers, they are all made by Nature. And so likewise it is of metals, which are not alike nor equal. For by herself they are made, very deep within the earth. Of which you will have a fuller account, when Nature shall show it you: whom I desire that you would see, to the end that you may the better follow her way and her path in your work, for she must make the discovery to you.
As she was making this discourse, I saw Nature approaching, and presently without delay I went straight on to meet her, and humbly to salute her. But truly she first bowed to me, giving me the salutation. Then Reason said, see Nature here, let it be all your care to love her, for it is she will make you the prudent Master of her Work.
I hearkened diligently, and she undertook to ask me whence I was and what I sought for in that place, because it was very wild and full of darkness for those who were not clerks. Lady, said I, by the God of the Heavens I came hither as those who know not whether to go to find out some good adventure. But I will tell you without delay and propound my adventure in short.
I have heretofore seen a very great prelate, skillful, a clerk, prudent and cunning, who discoursed in common speech so that he made many a man wise, to know the medicine which he made, very high and very precious: demonstrating its excellence by very great experiment, he spoke with very great reverence of the Philosophers and their Science. He had been at a very good school; then I was put to a school, which was desirous to learn and know a better things than all possessions. And it happened to me to ask him whence this science came at first. If one met with it in writing, and who it was who showed it. He answered me without delay, in this discourse which I will tell you.
The Science is the gift of God, which comes by inspiration, so is knowledge given by God, and is inspired into Man. But with this that one do well improve at school, by his understanding. But before a letter was seen, this surely was a Science known, by people not learned but inspired, who ought highly to be honoured, for many have found out this Science by the divine Wisdom.
And further God is omnipotent, to give to his true servant such a knowledge as he pleases. Wherefore is displeases many clerks, saying that no one is sufficient, if he have not been a student. He who is not a Master of Arts or Doctor, gets no honour among the clerks. And can you blame them for this when they no nought but praising one another. But he who well would punish them must take the books away from them. Then their knowledge will be failing in many clerks, doubt it not. And it will not be in their lays, who make up round rhymes and songs, and who know not how to versify. And many things which many men do freely make a trade of, which they find not in their books. The carpenter and the mason study but very little. No. And they also surely make as good use, as those who study Physick, or Law, or Divinity; for the employment of their Life.
From henceforth I was much incited wholly to apply my mind, so as by true experience to be able to obtain the knowledge of which many men desire, by the favour of the sovereign Lord.
Reason and Nature I assure you hearkened well unto my story. Then said I to Nature, Madame, Alas I am Body and Soul always in care desiring to learn the science, where I cannot fail of having honour in my life, without any envying me. For all my riches I will get as the labourers of the ground, to dig and hough the land, and afterwards to sow their seed, as the true workman do; who make their riches and their praise. And for that reason I would pray you, that you would be pleased to tell me, how they do call this Fountain, which is so amiable and wholesome. She answered; Friends behold, since you desire to know it; It most properly is called, the Fountain of the Lovers. How it must be known to you, that ever since our Mother Eve, that I have governed all the world, as great as tis in all the Circle, nothing without me can rule, unless God would inspire it. I who am called Nature O environed the Earth, without, within and in the middle. In everything I have taken my place, by the command of God the Father, I of all things am the Mother. To all things I give virtue. Therefore nothing is or ever was without me, a thing which might beneath the Heavens be found, which is not governed by me. But since you reason understand, I will give you a goodly gift, by which if you will use it well, you may purchase Paradise, and great riches in this World. From whence nobility might rise, honour and great Lordships, and all pleasure in thy Life. For you shall use it with delight, and many noble feats behold by this fountain and the Cave, which governs all the seven metals. They rose from thence, that is certain. But I the Fountains Mother am, which is a sweet as honey. And to the seven planets of heaven it is compared, that is to Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the Moon, the Sun, Mercury and Venus. Observe it well; you are obliged to this. The seven planets which I mentioned, are without all doubt compared to the seven metals coming out of the Earth, which are made of one matter. Now by the Sun we mean Gold, a metal without compare; and by the Moon we mean silver, a noble handsome metal; by Venus, Copper we do mean, this also is a very fitting name. By Mars we mean Iron; and Tin by wholesome Jupiter. And by Saturn good Lead, which we call leprous Gold. Mercury is argent vive, which has all the government of the seven metals, for it is the mother (just so as here they appear) which can make the imperfect perfect. After it I would withdraw [draw] you.
Now understand well what I shall say, and how I shall manifest the Fountain of Dame Nature, which you see here hard by in the Figure. If you know well how to seek Mercury to work as the letter shows, you will make the Medicine of it, whereby you may purchase Paradise, with the honour of this world, where great plenty of riches does abound.
You ought to know by Astronomy and by Philosophy, that Mercury is the matter of the seven metals, and the principal. For by its lead-like heaviness, it keeps in a mass beneath the Earth, notwithstanding it is volatile, and very convertible into the others. And it is found underground, just so as is the dew, and after mounts into the Air of heaven. I Nature tell you so; and thus it may afterwards conceive. He who would have the Mercurial Medicine, must put it into its vessel in a furnace to make Sublimation, which is a noble gift of God, which I will show and represent to you, according to my Power; for if you make not pure Body and Soul, you never will make a good amalgam, nor also a good conclusion. Therefore apply your mind to it.
Now understand, if you would know; (tis better than anything to have good Judgment) take your Body and make a trial of it, as others have done, know it well. You must make your spirits very clean, so that it may incorporate. There will be a handsome battle. Twenty against seven are requisite without doubt. And if twenty cannot destroy they body in this case it must [muire - an unintelligible word]. So the battle is of Mercury most strong and fierce. it is afterwards requisite to make him restore, so that one can draw out nothing [more]. When your undertaking succeeds according to your desire, then he being taken, if you would have justice from him, you shall shut him up in the prison, from whence he cannot stir. But you must comfort him with one gift, or else for you he will do nothing, so that he will do the contrary. And if you would do him a kindness, it behoves you to set him at large, and set him again in his first estate, and for this you shall be his master. Otherwise you cannot well know that which you seek and which you would have. But by this means you shall know it, and all shall go according to your desire. But what you make of the Body, remember to make it here.
First then you must without contradiction, of thy Body make a Spirit, and the Spirit reincorporate into its Body without any separation. And if you know not how to do all this, be sure do not begin the work. After this conjunction there begins Operation, out of which if you proceed, you'll have the glory of the heavens. But by this book you ought to know, which I Nature deliver to you, that the Mercury of the Sun is not like to that of the Moon, for it should always remain white to make a thing to its own likeness. But that which serveth for the Sum, must openly resemble it, for one must rubify it, and this is the first Work. And then one may conjoin them as in my argument I have said, which you herein have heard before, and which you ought to hearken to. And if you cannot understand it , in your work you may mistake, and perhaps shall lose a deal of time and waste it in vain. And if you know how to work what I have said, you may assuredly proceed therein.
Now you have one point of this Work, which I Nature discover to you. You surely must with a good Judgment make afterwards a congelation of Body and Spirit together, so that one be like the other. And then you must with a right understanding separate the four elements, which you shall make all new, and then shall set them to work. First you must extract the Fire and also the Air for this affair; and afterwards reconcile them. I tell you this here in express words. Earth and water on the other part do serve very well in this Art. As also does the quintessence, for that is the Knowledge of our work. When you shall have found out the four and separated the one from the other, so as I have said before, thy work shall be half done.
Now you may proceed by this means to make what I before have told you in this chapter. You shall put it into a little furnace: this is called a Marriage, when it is made by a wise man: and this is also very properly its name. Now understand the reason well: for the male may well be tied or coupled with the amiable female. And when they are found pure and clean and the one joined with the other, they produce a certain generation. So that this is a glorious work, and which is of great substance. Just so it is in another similitude of many a man and many a woman, who have good reputation and fame, by their children which they breed, which thing each one ought to esteem. From birds, from beasts and from fruits I could prove it otherwise. Put the seed of a tree skillfully into the earth; after the Putrefaction from thence will come a generation. You may know it by the cork [core]: which is more worth that all things else. By sowing one grain, you'll thence have a thousand. You need not there be very cunning. Nor ever was there any creature who could say to me Nature, I obtained a Birth without seeking after you. You in nothing can reproach me. And so it is of metals, whereof Mercury is the most subtle. Tis put into the furnace where his body is, which I have told you in my relations. And it is very necessary to do this, according as you shall see herein afterward. There tis requisite for him to be in love with his like, and then to work. But first that they may come together they must be parted asunder. But after this separation I assure you they reunite. The first time is the betrothing, the second the marriage, and the third time skillfully united into one nature. This is the perfect marriage in which our total work consists. Now understand well what I've said, for I indeed have falsified in nothing. When you shall have separated them, and by little and little well mended them, you shall afterward reunite them, and join the one to the other. But remember in your lesson, the proverb which Cato spoke: The man who reads and noting understands, is like a hunter who catches nought. Learn then well to understand, that you may not calumniate the books, nor the good workmen, who are perfect understanders. For all those who blame our work, neither know nor understand it. He who well shall understand us, shall very soon come to our Work. It has been opened oftentimes, and by Philosophers approved; But many men esteemed for wise blame it, for which they are fools. And all should lay the blame thereof on them, who have in themselves understanding without gall. But one may well and truly praise all those who such a jewel have, and those who think to find it out by the means of working well. And one should say it is well done: their good work deserveth praise. Now we have told a thing which briefly ought to be disclosed: which is that, if you would well proceed, you make a union of two, so that they may be betrothed in the vessel, which well knows the being or existence, and then separate it for your work. It behoves you to order it well. And to let you know the Way, tis nothing else but dissolution, of which you will have great need. If you would pursue the Work, you out to destroy the Composition, so as you have occasion for it, so that each one be by itself apart. And then having the Earth thirsty, with the water of Heaven in due manner (for they are of one nature all) tis reason it should be moistened, and it shall be governed by me.
Now I have told without any error, how the body shall get a soul, and how you must separate them, and divide them from one another: but the division without doubt, is the key of all our work. It is performed by the fire: without it art would be imperfect. Some say that Fire produces nothing of or by its nature, except ashes. But saving their respect Nature's engrafted in the Fire, for if Nature were not there, the fire neer have any heat. And I will prove it thus. I will take Salt (alias Sol or the Sun) to bear me witness. But now we will leave this discourse and we will speak of other noble subjects. And when I heard this conference, I writ the word down in my heart: and said thou Lady in a bright array, will you hearken to me a while, and let us return to ye (alias the seven) metals, of which Mercury is the principal, and let you and reason make me some interpretation, or I am mistaken in your work, because of what you have said above. For you would have me to destroy that which I made at first: and that you do expressly say. I know not whether these are repetitions, or whether you speak by Parables, for I understand not your schools.
Friend (Nature answered thus) how understand you the Mercury which I have heretofore named to you? I tell you that it is shut up, although it happen oftentimes that it goes and comes through many hands. The Mercury which I commend to you, surnamed De Mercurio, that it of, from or out of Mercury. It is the Mercury of Mercuries; and many folks make it their care to find it out for their affair. For tis not vulgar Mercury, you cannot find it without me. But when you would work therein, you must be very authentical, (versed in good Authors), to arrive at the practise, whereby you may have a very great knowledge of our works. You must know the metals. or your work will not be worth an oyster. Now, the better to know the way, I'll tell you where the work is placed, likewise where it does begin, if you are a Son of the Science. And he who thither would arrive must know how to obtain this point, or his affair will be worth naught, for all the labour he there employs. Therefore I do call ye Fountain, which is so amiable and wholesome Mercury, the true source or fountain head who is the cause of perfection.
Now understand well what I shall say, for indeed I will speak nothing wrong. This Mercury without its equal you may find in the Sun, when he is in his great heat, and that he makes many blossoms appear, for the fruits come after blossoms. I can prove it in this manner, and still a hundred other ways, which to this art are very slight. But this hear is the chief, and I therefore mention it to you. I have not abused you indeed, for it is visibly there to be found. And if you would work in Luna, you may as well there find it out; in Saturn and in Jupiter, and in Mars which I call Iron: in Venus and in Mercury one may find it most securely. But as to me I found it in the Sun and after wrought it. And therefore I made this Book for you, that you may freely understand me. In Luna seek to see or find it: from thence I took my first matter.
Moreover I say to ye understanders, that both the works are but one, except the rubifying, which serveth rarely for the Sun. And I know not how to tell you more thereof, unless I should show you the practice. And this could not draw you back from error, if you did not see it done. But keep in your memory well, what I have told for you to hear.
Being at dissolution you ought to make imbibition. But do not you begin to act what I have said in this affair, if you have not a perfect proof of the Work, in having well dissolved the imperfect. And if you can get over this step, reincorporate it by the circle, returning to the former work: the other was only a messenger. You may seek it evidently, how it is slightly made: you cannot come to a nearer way, to the highest of your aim. And if you truly understand it, you will not labour in vain. And after this work so performed, you must restore what is undone. Putrefaction is to be seen from whence a noble being should be born: and in this point the masterpiece consists, whereby all our work is put together. And as I have said to you before, all which is fitting does consist in this. The preparation is put into the furnace. You must have like to like: for the sprout must putrefy before it can issue out of the earth. Likewise the seed of man, which I name you for a proof, putrefies in the body of the woman, and becomes blood and after takes a soul, but in the form of a creature. This same secret Nature gives you.
From thence there ought a thing to be born which shall know more than its Master, to suckle the four children who already are all grown great, which are called Elements and separated from one another.
Now you have five things together, and they do much resemble one another, also it is but one substance, all of the same appearance. The Child should there eat up its Mother and afterwards destroy its Father. Flower and milk and fruit with blood, it behoves you to find in one pool.
Now mind from whence the milk does come, and it is needful there to make Blood. If this you cannot well consider, you lose your labour as your work. And if you know how to understand me well, be sure to work without more delay, for you have passed the Pass, where many fools and wise men do stop. There you may pause a while, and afterward begin to work, and so pursue till you make issue forth the perfect fruit which we do call Elixir. For by a mighty skillful work the precious stone is made of the Philosophers of renown, who very well do know the reason.
And there's no jewel nor possession, which can be the value of this stone. If you would have me tell you its force; it can cure all diseases, likewise by its most noble acts, it perfects all imperfect metals. And there is nothing in the world but this, where mighty virtue does abound. It is disposed to wonderful things, yet we do call it the Medicine. And of all the other Stones, which many Princes hold for dear, none can so much rejoice a man, as that which I do name to you. And therefore I put you in mind, that you may take it for certain. For above all the Stones in the world, virtue does in ours abound. And therefore you must do your endeavour to gain such noble wealth. If you will well follow me, you may arrive at this end.
Learn well, so it will make you wise, for I have told you all the Practice. In the Furnace you may see it very well, in which all you have ought to be: making by a certain management the circle of Putrefaction. Moreover I have taught you by these divisions your work remains in two parts: I will tell you no more of this, until I shall have seen in you some service for which I may tell it you; otherwise it would be folly. But when you shall have deserved it, I'll tell it you is short words; therefore ask me no more, I have only told over and above too much.
And when I heard Nature, that she cared not to say any more to explain her works, I began to weep most tenderly and said, O dame in bright attire, will you have pity on me, or I shall never despatch that which I have found in a book. Tell me O noble and good Lady beforehand, you will do a charity.
Then she answered, you shall know no more until you have deserved it. Alas, said I, then O dear Lady, will you tell me the way how I may deserve it. For I will always serve you loyally without any other thought. I cannot make you recompense, nor increase your riches. I will serve you incessantly, if you will give me so noble a gift, as to receive me for one of yours.
The Nature answered. Son, you know what I have said. But is you do believe me, you may beforehand be much more knowing. Lady, said I, by the God of Heaven, I would willingly be one of those, who should serve for such a work his whole lifetime without doing any wrong. Will you then tell me your commands, for I will contradict nothing.
Then, said Nature, without mistake, my son in law, you needs must learn to know the seven planets, of which Mercury is the principal, their powers, their infirmities, their changeable qualities. Tis needful afterward to learn whence Sulphur, Salt and Oil do come. Wherefore we put you in mind of what you will still have occasion for. Sulphur is mighty necessary: so will it give you profit or much ado to make it. Without Salt you'll bring to pass nothing useful for your work. From Oil you have a great mystery. (alias you have great occasion for Oil). You'll make without it nothing sweet-scented. This you ought to remember well, if you would arrive at our Work.
I'll tell you one word, now understand it, with which you will be well contented. One metal in one only vessel, you need to put into one furnace. Tis Mercury which I explain to you, and there is no need of ought else there. But the abridgements of your work, I disclose it to you word for word.
Now I will speak to you Gold, which is the treasure of the metals. It is perfect, nothing is more perfect than it, of those which I have named before. Luna is and it is not perfect. This I certify to you for a Truth. There's but one metal in the world in which our Mercury does abound, and so tis found in all the seven. This I have tried very well. Gold by right is hot and dry, Luna in her nature cold. Saturn is heavy and soft; in this it may be likened to Gold. Many clerks fierce in speech, will nominate it leprous Gold. Venus well resembles Luna in weight and also in the forging. Mercury is cold and moist, witness Jupiter which thence is bred. Mars is hard and heavy and cold. This is the dressing [preparation] of all the rest, be their nature hard or tender, you must understand all seven, as I have named them above, and know their virtues well; and by this means afterward you will make what you will of Mercury.
Indeed, Lady, it shall be done, tell me the work beforehand, and how I may manage what I have seen within your bounds. For never yet since I was born, have I been so much enamoured of any thing in the world. I think a virtue there abound. I esteem it as the secret of God, which is revealed in this place.
Then, said nature, you say true, and this is all the wealth of the World, from from my Fountain there proceed great riches, from which honour comes to many men is diverse ways. I'm like a mine to many people. And because you are come hither without any return or revenue, and that you have the good will to labour as a person desiring to meet good fortune, I will show it you beforehand.
I have told you in a remarkable chapter, I know not whether you remember it, that thy work consists of two parts. I Nature, discover it to you. Make thy penetrative Sulphur by fire become attractive. make it then eat up its mother. So our affair will be accomplished. Put the Mother into the belly of the child, which she has brought forth before: then so it will be both father and son quite made perfect by or of two spirits. Indeed it is no other thing, that what I here expose to you. And if you thereunto would add a foreign thing, or apply any other thing than Sulphur, Salt and Oil, in truth your work will be worth nothing. For the Earth will not bring forth other fruit than what you saw therein. A creature makes a creature, and a beast a beast of its own nature. So of all seeds it likewise is. Take this for the design of my Sciences.
Say not, my son in law that this is gall. All must arise and fall in a most acceptable way, most pleasant, and most amiable. I have preordained the way, just so as is the dew, it must mount up into the air of heaven, and sweetly afterwards descend by a most amicable path (Alias, Our water pure prepared goeth just as does the dew), which one ought to manage well.
In the descension which it makes, it bringeth forth the perfect Sulphur, and if you can obtain this point, you well may say without a lie, that you can have a great quantity of Gold above ground without doing evil; for if all the sea were a metal, such as one would have it, Copper, argent vive, lead or tin, and you should cast one only grain on it when it were heated, there would come out of it a smoke, which would appear in a wonderful dress, and all would afterwards be quiet, and when the smoke should be appeased and all becalmed, the sea would be much finer Gold, than any King has in his Treasure.
Now to our purpose we'll return, as before to govern well. When they sulphur shall be eaten up, your Mercury mortified, keep him in prison forty days, and then you'll see that which you love. And God send you to do so well, as to obtain Paradise. Here you see well ordered, the prison which I have named to you; faith I have given it you there in the figure. Now do you remember Nature, who was willing to afford you so noble a gift, as to reveal the most admirable Science, and venerable in this world. There could not otherwise be made the stone of which I treat with you. Do thou then view the writings well of our books: or else by figures this science is demonstrated. A real thing without any fable; most certain and most true, what is beneath is all just like to what is mutable above, for producing in the end, the miracle of one thing alone. As from one thing were all, and by the thought of one all things which have been produced did grow; so are our works made out of one. The glorious Sun its father is, and the Moon the real mother, the wind does close it in its belly: its nurse indeed is the Earth. It is the father of the treasure of the world, and the great secret has its foundation here, Its power then is quite entire, when it returns back into Earth again. Make separation of the earth from Fire, by skill and in the proper place, and sweetly separate the gross from the subtle, which you shall keep apart. then will it mount up from the earth to heaven, and before your eyes descend, receiving sovereign virtue with its terrestrial power. Thus at great glory you'll arrive, obtaining victory over all the world. This is the power of Powers, where many take great pains and struggle. It will conquer things subtle and the hard it will transpierce. They are very agreeable wonders, whereof we have most excellent reasons.
My name is John of the Fountain. I have not lost my labour in working, for through the world I multiply [or there multiplies and increases] the work of Gold, which I have finished in my lifetime, by my truth (thanks to the holy Trinity) which is the medicine of all evils, true and effectually the finest, which one can search for any where, be it in the seas, or be it in all the earth. And from a metal foul it drives the filth away, so that it renders it a matter pure, that is a metal very delicate, of the species of Gold or Silver. By this means the work is made, and there's no need of any other craft, according to my little sentiment, I do really find it so. Therefore I'll call my book which tells the matter, and declares so precious an artifice, the Fountain of the Lovers of the most useful science, described in my humble style. It was made by a friendly [Seuvage - an unknown word]. When I was in my youthful days, in the year one thousand four hundred and thirteen, when I was twice sixteen years of age. Twas finished in the month of January in the city of Montpelier.

Some add.

Here does end John of the Fountain,
Who possessed this mighty work,
As the most secret gift of God,
Which ought to make all men discreet.

This Art which is so precious may
Be comprehended in these two verses.

Si fixum solvas faciasque volare solutum,
Et volucrem igas faciet te vivere tutum.

If you dissolve the fixed
And make what is dissolved fly
And fix the volatile
It will make you live happily.


If you have problems understanding these alchemical texts, Adam McLean now provides a study course entitled How to read alchemical texts : a guide for the perplexed.