Hermetic Triumph - To the Reader

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To the Reader

Seeing not only the bad Success most Searchers of the Hermetick Art meet with, but that likewise great Numbers of them are fallen into the greatest Absurdities, as well in respect to their Operations, as to the Matter they work upon, and often wishing to see some Remedy applied, to recover those unhappy People from their Errors, it led me into a serious Consideration of the Cause thereof; and I found that it was impossible, those deluded Searchers could dwindle away into the absurderst Operations, if they did not want a sufficient Theory of this Art.

Then meditating further, and finding that the said Theory (which is the main Pillar and Foundation to go upon) is not to be acquired but by the constant Perusal of good Books; I at last begun to consider of those Authors, which are Extant in the English Tongue, and found that there really too few of them, and that it was chiefly to be attributed to this Want, that People labour so much in vain, and so contrary to Nature.

'This true, some, who only look upon the Number of Books, will think there are Authors enough, nay, too many Extant that have written of the Hermetick Art in the English Tongue; but others who have acquired some Knowledge in their Divine Science, and who know to distinguish good Authors from Sophisters, will easily allow, that there is a real Want of them; for there are but few who wrote in the English Tongue, that may be deemed as Maters, or at least by whom a seeker of this mysterious Art may be instructed; so that, as to those sophistical Authors who have encreased the Number of such Books, and treated of an Art which they did not know, nor understood so much as any Part thereof, the more numerous they are the more pernicious they prove to a Beginner who happens to read them; for it is certain, that they may easily put him out of a right Path, but can never lead him into a true Way.

As for those that have been translated out of other Tongues, they are but of little Use, when they have been translated, rather to serve some private View, than to be instructive to those who Study this Science; especially when they have been translated by Persons, who had no Knowledge of the Terms and Operations in Chymistry; and I do not Question, but it will be affirmed by all those, who (understanding the German Tongue) have read Basil Valentine in his own Native Language, that the Translation of that Volume which contains his Will and Testament, etc., differs widely from the Original; nay, I believe I might easily convince the Lovers of this Art, that the same is bad Translation of a bad Edition.

Concerning others, I will say nothing against them, it not being my Intention, to search for the Faults of other Translators. But finding from the aforesaid Considerations, that to get some good Authors translated, would be the most likely Means to furnish the Lovers and Studiers of this Science with a sufficient Theory, and to make them do desist from their unnatural Operations: I resolved to undertake the Work, and fixed upon the following Treatises to be the first, that should appear in an English Dress.

The first of these Treatises was written by a German Philosopher, under the Title of, THE ANCIENT WAR OF THE KNIGHTS, and was not only first received, as coming from a good Author, and true Master, but all those who had got any Knowledge in this Science: But the said Treatise did likewise afterwards receive a Commentary, which another learned Philosopher has made thereupon in French; who also after his instructive learned Commentary has added six Keys, which for their Plainness and ingenious Expressions give way to none, and are of the greatest Use imaginable to s Studier of this Art.

Thus the whole being an excellent Work, there is no doubt but those who apply themselves to get Knowledge by reading good Authors, will find infinite Benefit from the perusal of its; and the said Treatise called, THE ANCIENT WAR OF THE KNIGHTS, being wrote in the German Tongue, I have been at the Pains and Expences to get an Original thereof, that so the Lovers of this Science might likewise have a Translation of the same, and thus be able to draw Water from the Spirit itself; and also, that by comparing it with the first, they might see and rectify such Passages as have suffered by a second Translation.

No Body will, I hope object, that the Style of this Work is not according to the present Politeness, if he is so kind as to consider that it is not intended for a Grammar, but to instruct People in the Hermetick Science, which is for the most Part described in such difficult Terms, that the unhappy Turn of one Word, may alter a whole Sentence, to the infinite Prejudice of a Tyro; and that it is therefore better to keep the Author's Meaning in a less agreeable Style, than to deviate from it, by using politer Expressions.

'Tis likewise for the same Reason, that where the German has a Word or Sentence which might bear a double Meaning or Signification, both of them have been given, as for Instance: Where the War of the Knights, at the End of this Book, translated from the German original, says by Num. 19. pag. 10. And if you two should mix your selves together, and were kept in the Fire - The original says indeed in the Fire, but because the Germans speaking of Chymical Operations, and mentioning Fire, often mean Digestion, which is performed by Fire; therefore has been added [or in Digestion,] that so the Reader might have both Meanings, and choose of the two which he should judge most proper.

I could easily have added my Opinion upon several Passages in this Work, as for Instance, pag. 41. where mention is made of the Stars of Venus and Diana, which two Signs or Characters put together, produce that which signifies Mercury; for if the Character of horned Diana {crescent sign with edges turned upwards}, is placed upon that of Venus {Venus sign}, it yields a Character in this Form {Mercury sign}. But I omit it, lest I should be thought presumptuous in endeavouring to explain, what I own I am not Master of.

Should this my well-intended Labour meet with Approbation: I'll continue it with Pleasure; and in Case the present Work should any way be wanting in Exactitude, I'll use all Endeavours to make amends in the next.

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