Hermetic Triumph - The Ancient War of the Knights

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I

The Ancient War of the Knights

or

A DISCOURSE between Stone of the Philosophers, and Gold, and Mercury. Concerning the true Matter from whence those who are acquainted with the Secrets of Nature, may make the Philosophical Stone, according to the Rules of a proper Practice, and by the help of Lunatic Vulcan.

Composed Originally in the German Tongue by a very able Philosopher, and newly translated from the Latin into French., now from the French render'd into English.

The Subject of this Discourse is a Dispute which Gold and Mercury had one Day with the Stone of the Philosophers. See here in what manner a true Philosopher speaks, (who is arrived at the Possession of this great Secret.)

I protest unto you before God, and upon the (eternal) Salvation of my Soul, with a sincere Heart, touch'd with Compassion for those who have been a long while in this great search; and (I give you notice,) all you who Esteem this wonderful Art, that our whole Work takes its Nativity {1} from one only thing, and that in this thing the Work finds its Perfection, without having need of any other thing, whatsoever, but to be dissolved {2} and coagulated, which it must do of it self, without the Assistance of any foreign Thing.

When we put Ice into a Vessel placed on the Fire, we see that Heat makes it dissolve into Water; {3} we must use the same way with our Stone, which only wants the help of the Artist, the Operation of this hands, and the action of the {4} natural Fire: For it will never be dissolved of it self, though it should remain for ever on the Earth, 'tis for that reason we must assist it; in such a manner, however, that we add nothing to it, which is foreign or contrary to it.

Just as God produces the Corn in the Fields, and that it afterwards belongs to us to reduce it into Metal, to knead it, and make Bread of it: In like manner our Art requires us to do the same thing {5}. God has created us this Mineral; to the end, that we should take it by it self, that we should uncompound or dissolve the Composition of the gross and thick Body; that we should separate and take for our selves whatever good it encloses inwardly, that we reject what it has of superfluous, and that our of a (mortal) Poison, we learn to make a (Sovereign) Medicine.

To give you a more prefect understanding of this agreeable Discourse; I will recite to you the Dispute which arose between the Stone of the Philosophers, Gold, and Mercury; so that those who have a long time apply'd themselves to the search (of our Art) and who know how we ought to deal with {6} Metals and Minerals, may be thereby sufficiently informed how to arrive directly at the End which they propose to themselves. 'This nevertheless necessary, that we should apply our selves to know {7} exteriorly, and interiorly, the Essence and the Properties of all things which are on the Earth, and that we penetrate into the Profundity of the Operations, which Nature is capable of.

The RECITAL

Gold and Mercury went on Day, with an armed Hand, to (give Battle unto, and) subdue the Stone. Gold animated with Fury, begun to speak thus:

GOLD

How have you the Boldness to raise your self above me, and my brother Mercury, and to pretend a Preference before us; you who are only a {8} Worm (swollen) with Poison? Do you not know that I am the most precious, the most durable, and the chief of all the Metals? (know you not) that Monarchs, Princes, and Nations, do alike make all their Riches to consist in me, and in by brother Mercury, and that you are on the contrary, the (dangerous) enemy of Men, and of Metals; so that the (most able) Physicians cease not publish and extol the (singular) Vertues which I possess {9} to give (and preserve) Health to all the World?

The STONE

To these Words (full of Anger) the Stone answer'd (without being moved,) my dear Gold, why are you not rather angry with God, and why do you not ask him, for what Reasons he has not created in you what is found in me?

GOLD

'This God himself who has given me the Honour, the Reputation, and the glittering Brightness, which renders me so estimable, it is for that Reason that I ma so searched for by every one. One of my greatest Perfections is to be a Metal unchangeable in the Fire, and our of the Fire: So all the World loves me, and runs after me; but you, you are only a {10} Fugitive, and a Cheat, that abuses all Men: This se seen in that, that you fly away and escape out of the Hands of those who work with you.

The STONE

'This true, my dear Gold , 'tis God who has given you the Honour, the Durability, and the Beauty, which makes you precious; 'tis for that Reason that you are obliged to return (eternal) Thanks (to the divine Bounty,) and not to despise others as you do; for I can tell you, that you are not that Gold, o which the Writings of the Philosophers make mention; {11} but the Gold is hidden in my Bosom. 'Tis true, I own it, I flow in the Fire (and abide not there,) nevertheless you very well know, that God and Nature have given me this Quality, and that this must be so; for as much as my Fluidity turns to the advantage of the Artist, who knows {12} the way how to extract it; know, nevertheless, that my Soul remains constant in me, and that she is more stable, and more fixt than you are, altogether Gold as you are, and more than are your Brother, and all your Companions are. Neither Water, nor Fire, be they what they will, can destroy her, nor consume her; though they should act upon her during as long time as the World shall last.

'This not then my Fault if am sought for by Artists, who know not how they ought to work with me, nor in what way I ought to be prepared. They often mix me with foreign Things, which are (entirely) contrary to me. They add to me Water, Powders, and such other like things, which destroy my nature, and the Properties which are essential to me; so that there is hardly found one in a Hundred {13} who works with me. They apply themselves to search our the (Truth of the) Art in you, and in your Brother Mercury 'tis for that Reason that they all err, and 'tis therein that their Work are false. They are themselves a (good) Example of it; for 'tis unprofitably that they employ their Gold, and that they endeavour to destroy it; there remains nothing to them from all that, but extreme Poverty, to which they see themselves as last reduced.

'Tis you, Gold, who art the first cause (of this ill Fortune;) you very well know, that without me it is impossible to make any Gold, or any Silver, which shall be perfect, and that it is I alone who have this (wonderful) Advantage. Why therefore do you permit almost all the whole World to lay the Foundation of their Operations upon you, and upon Mercury? If you had yet any remainder of Honesty, you'd hinder Men from abandoning themselves to a most certain Loss; but as (instead thereof) you do quite the contrary, I may with Truth maintain, that it is you only who are a Cheat.

GOLD

I will convince you by the Authority of the Philosophers, that the Truth of the Art may be accomplished with me. Read Hermes, he says thus: "The Sun is its Father, and the Moon {14} its Mother; now I am the only one which they compare to the Sun.

Aristotle, Avicenna, Pliny, Serapion, Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Masue, Rasis, Averroes, Geber, Raymund Lully, Albertus Magnus, Arnold of Villa Nova, Thomas Aquinas, and a great Number of other Philosophers, whom I pass in Silence, that I may not belong, do all write clearly and distinctly, that the Metals and the (physical) Tincture, are not made but of Sulphur and of Mercury {15} that this Sulphur ought to be red, incumbustible, steadfastly resisting the Fire; and that the Mercury ought to be clear [or bright,] and well purified. In this manner they speak without any reserve; they name me openly by my proper Name and say, that in Gold, (that is to say in me) there is found the red digested, fixt, and incumbustible Sulphur; which is true, and very evident; for there is no Body who does not know well, that I am a Metal, the most durable (an unalterable) that I am endowed with a perfect Sulphur, and intirely fixt, over which the Fire has no power.

Mercury was of the same Opinion with Gold, he approv'd of this Discourse maintained that all which his Brother said was true, and that the Work might be perfected after the manner which the Philosophers herein above-cited have written. He added also, that every one (sufficiently) knew how great a (mutual) {16} Friendship there was between Gold and him, preferably before all the other Metals; that there was no Body who could not easily judge thereof by the Testimony of this own Eyes, that the Goldsmiths, and other such like Artificers knew very well, that when they would gild any work, they could not do without gild and work, they could not do without (a mixture of) Gold and Mercury, and that they make a Conjunction of them in a very small time, without difficulty, and with very little Labour; what ought not to be hop'd for with more Time, more Labour, and more Application?

The STONE

At this Discourse, the Stone begun to Laugh, and told them, in Truth you deserve both the one and the other of you, that they should jeer you, and your Demonstration; but it is you Gold that I still the more admire at, seeing that you are so much conceited of your self, for having the advantage which you have to be good for some certain Things. Can you be perswaded that the ancient Philosophers did write as they have done, in a Sense which should be understood in a common Way? And do you believe that one ought plainly to interpret their Words according to the Letter?

GOLD

I am certain, that the Philosophers, and the Artists, whom I cited, have not written a Lie. They are all of the same Sentiment concerning the Vertue which I possess: 'Tis very true that there are found some who would search in Things quite distant, for the Power and the Properties which are in me. They have workt on certain Herbs, on Animals, on Blood, on Urines, on Hair, on Sperm, and on Things of this Nature; these have without doubt stray'd from the true way, and have sometimes written Falshoods: But it is not so of those Masters whom I have named. We have certain Proofs, that they effectually possest this (great) Art; 'tis for that Reason that we ought to give credit to their Writings.

The STONE

I do not make any doubt at all of (those Philosophers) having had an intire Knowledge of the Art; excepting, nevertheless, some of those whom you have alledged; for there are among them, though a very few, some who knew it not, and have only written what the have heard People say of it: But when they (the true Philosophers) plainly name Gold and Mercury, as the Principles of the Art, they only make Use of these Terms thereby to hide the Knowledge from the Ignorant, and from those who are unworthy (of this Science;) for they very well know that such (vulgar) Wits mind only the names of things, the Receipts, and the Processes which they find written, without examining whether there be any (solid) Foundation in what they put into Practice. But the wise Men, and those who read (good Books) with Application and Exactness, consider all Things with Prudence, examine how consonant and how agreeing one Thing is with another; and by these means they penetrate into the Foundation (of the Art,) so that by Reasoning, and by Meditation, they discover (at length) what the matter of the Philosophers is, among whom there is not any one to be found who would show it, of make it known openly, and by its proper Name.

They declare themselves plainly about it, when they tell ye, that they never reveal less (of the Secret) of their Art, than when they speak openly, an in the common way (of delivery:) But (they affirm) on the contrary {17}, that whne they use Similitudes, Figures, and Parables, it is in Truth in those places (of their Writings) that they disclose their Art; for (the Philosophers) after having discours'd of Gold and Mercury, fail not of declaring afterward and assuring us, that their Gold is not the common Sol (or Gold) and the their Mercury is not the common Mercury; see here the Reason.

Gold is a perfect Metal, which by Reason of its Perfection (which Nature has given it) cannot be carried further (by Art) to a more perfect Degree; so that in what way soever one may work with Gold, whatever Artifice one makes use of; though one should Extract its Colour (and its Tincture) a hundred Times, the Artist will never make more Gold, and shall never tinge a greater Quantity of Metal, than there was of Colour and Tincture in the Gold (from whence it shall have been Extracted;) for this Reason it is that the Philosophers say, that we ought to seek Perfection {18} in the imperfect Things, and that we shall find it there. You may read in the Rosary what I have told you here. Raymund, Lully,whom you have cited to me, is of the same Sentiment (he assures) that, that which ought to be made better, ought not to be prefect; because in what is perfectt, there is nothing to be changes; and one shal sooner destroy its Nature, (than add any Thing to its Perfection).

GOLD

I am ignorant, that the Philosophers speak after this manner; yet this may be apply'd to my Brother Mercury, who is as yet imperfect; but if one join both of us together, he then receives from the Perfection (which he wants:) For he is of the Feminine sex, and I am of the Masculine Sex; which makes the Philosophers say, that the Art is one quite homogeneal Thing. You see an Example hereof in (the Procreation of) Men, for there can no Child be Born without (the Copulation of) Male and Female; that is to say, without the Conjunction of the one with the other. We have the like Example thereof in Animals, and in all living Beings.

The STONE

'Tis true, your Brother Mercury is imperfect {19}, and by consequence he is not the Mercury of the wise. So though you should be join'd together, and one should keep you thus in the Fire during the Course on many Years, to endeavour to unite you perfectly to one another, there will always happen (the same Thing, namely,) that as soon as the Mercury feels the Action of Fire, it separates it self from you, it is sublimed, it flies away, and leaves you alone below. That if one dissolve you in Aqua fortis, if one reduce you into one only (Mass), in one melt you, you will never produce any Thing but a Powder, and a red Precipitate: That if one make a Projection of this Powder on an imperfect Metal, it tinges it not; but one finds as much Gold as one put therein at the beginning, and your Brother Mercury quits you and flies away.

See here, these are the Experiments, which those who apply themselves to the Search of Chymistry have made to their great Damage, during a long Train of Years: See also (where there endeth) all the Knowledge which they have acquired by their Words, but because there is a Saying of the Ancients, whereof you would make use to your Advantage, that the Art is all one (entire) homogeneal Thing; that no Child can be Born without Male and Female; and that you imagine to your self, that the Philosophers do thereby intend to speak of you and your Brother Mercury; I ought to tell you (plainly) that this false, and that it is understood much amiss concerning you, though in the same Places the Philosophers speak sincerely, and tell the Truth. I make it known to you, that here {20} lies the corner (angular) Stone, which they have laid, and at which many Thousands of Men have stumbled.

Can you well imagine to your self, that it should be the same {21} with Metals, as with Things which have Life. There happens to you in this, that which happens to all false Artists: for when you read (such like Passages) in the Philosophers, you apply not your selves any more to examine them, to endeavour to discover whether (such Experience) square and agree together, or not, with what has been said before, or that is said afterward: Yet (you ought to know) that all which the Philosophers have written in figurative Terms about the Work, ought to be understood of me only, and of no other Thing which is in the World; because there is only me who can perform that which they say, and that {22} without me it is impossible to make any true Gold, of any true Silver.

GOLD

Good God! have you no Shame of telling so great a lie? And do you not think you commit a Sin, in boasting your self to such a Height, as to dare to attribute to sour self alone, all which so many wise and knowing Men have written of this Art, for so many Ages; you who are only a thick, impure, and poisonous Matter: And you acknowledge, notwithstanding this, that this Art is all one (perfectly) Homogeneal Thing? You say further, that without you, one can make no true Gold, not true Silver, as being an universal Thing {23}. (Is there not a manifest Contradiction there?) For as much as many knowing Persons have applied themselves with so much Care and Exactness to those (curious) Searches, which they have made, that they have found out other ways (viz. Process) which they call Particulars, from which, nevertheless, one may draw great Gain.

The STONE

My dear Gold, be not surprised at what I am going to tell you, and be not so imprudent as to impute a Lie to me; to me, who am {24} older than you: If so be I were indeed mistaken in this Point, you'd have Reason to excuse my (great) Age; since you are not Ignorant that old Age should be respected.

But to convince you that I have spoken Truth; in order to defend my Honour, I will rely on no other but (the Authority) of the same Masters whom you have quoted, and whom for that Reason you have no Right to refuse. (For instance,) Hermes in particular says thus: It is true without Lie, certain and very true, That that which is below, is like unto that which is above; and that which is above, is like unto that which is bellow; {25} 'tis by these Things that one may make the Miracles of only one Thing.

Aristotle says: O how admirable is this Thing, which contains in it self Things which we have need of. It kills is self; and afterwards it reassumes a Life of it self; {26} it espouses it self; it impregnates it self; it is born of it self, it dissolves it self in its own Blood; it coagulates it self again with it, and takes a hard Consistence; it makes it self White, and it rubifies it self, of it self; we add nothing more to it, and we change nothing in it, except that we separate the Grossness and the Terrestreity {?}.

Pluto speaks of me in this manner: It is one only single Thing, of one and the same Species in it self; {27} it has a Body, a Soul, a Spirit, and the four Elements, over which it has Dominion, it wants nothing; it has no need of other Bodies; for it ingenders it self; all Things are from it, by it, in it.

I could here bring you many other Testimonies, but it being unnecessary, I pass them over in Silence, that I may not be tedious. However, since you happen to speak to me of (Process, or) Particulars, I'll explain to you in what they differ (from the Art) {28}, some Artists who have wrought with me, have carried on their Works so far, that they succeeded so far as to separate from me my Spirit, which contains my Tincture; so that mixing it with other Metals and Minerals they arriv'd thus fat, that they communicated a final part of my Vertus, and of my Power to such Metals as have some Affinity and Friendship with me. Yet these Artists who have succeeded in this way, and who have indeed found one Part (of the Art,) are really but a very small Number: but as they knew not {29} the Original whence the Tinctures come, it was impossible for them to carry on their Works beyond that; and at the casting up of their Accounts, they have found no vast Profit in their Proceeding. But if these Artists had carried on their Search further, and that they had well examined with is the {30} Wife who is proper for me; and that they had fought for her, and united me with her; then could have ting'd a thousand Times (more;) but (instead of that) they entirely destroyed my own Nature, by mixing me with foreign Things; 'tis truly for that Cause, that at the making up of their Accounts, they have found some Gain, however, but indifferent, in comparison of the great Power which is in me; 'tis apparent, nevertheless, that (this Gain) did not proceed, nor had its Original, but from me, and not from any other Thing whatsoever (wherewith I might be mixed).

GOLD

What you have said is no sufficient Proof; for though the Philosophers speak of one only Thing, which encloses it is self the four Elements; and which [Thing] has a Body, a Soul, and Spirit; and that by this Thing they would give us to understand the (Physical) Tincture; at such time when the same has been carried on to its highest (Perfection) which is the Point they aim at; yet this Thing ought at its beginning to be composed of me, who am the Gold, and of my Brother Mercury, as being (both together) the Male Seed, and the Female Seed; as has been said before: For after we have been sufficiently cook'd, and transmuted into a Tincture, we are then both the one and the other (together) the one only Thing which the Philosophers speak of.

The STONE

That goes not as you fancy; I have already told you before, that no true Union can be made of you two; for you are not the only Body {31}, but two Bodies together; and consequently you are contrary, considering the Foundation of Nature: but as for me, I have an {32} imperfect Body, a steadfast Soul, a penetrating Tincture. I have, besides this, a clear, transparent, volatile, and moveable Mercury: And I can operate all those (great) Things, which you boast of with you both, and which however you are not able to perform: For 'tis I who carry the Philosophical Gold, and the Mercury of the Wise (Men) in my Body; wherefore the Philosophers (speaking of me) say, our Stone {33} is Invisible, and it is not possible to attain to the Possession of our Mercury, any other way than by Means of {34} two Bodies, whereof one cannot receive without the other the (requisite) Perfection.

'Tis for this Reason the there is no other but only my self, who possesses a Male and a Female Seed, and who is (at the same time) a Thing (entirely) Homogeneal; also am I call'd an Hermaphrodite. Richardus Anglicus witnesses of me, saying, the first Matter of our Stone is call'd Rebis (twice a Thing) that is to say, a Thing which has received from Nature a double occult property, which is the Reason that the name of Hermaphrodite is given to it, as if one would say, a Matter, whereof it is difficult to be able to distinguish the Sex (and to diccover) whether it be a Male, or a Female, it inclining equally to both Sides: The (Universal) Medicine is therefore made of a Thing which is {35} the Water, and the Spirit of the Body.

This has given Occasion to the saying, that his Medicine has deceived a great number of Fools, by Reason of the Multitude of Enigma (under which it is hid;) nevertheless this Art requires but only one Thing, which is known by every one, and which many do with for; and the whole is a Thing, which has not its equal in the World; {36} it is however cheap, and to be had at small Expense: It ought not to be despised for that; for it makes and perfects wonderful things.

Alanus the Philosopher says, you that work in this Art, ought to have a firm and constant Application of Mind to your Work, and not to go about to try sometimes one Thing, sometimes other. The Art consists not in a Plurality of Species; but in the Body, and in the Spirit. Oh! how true it is, that the Medicine of our Stone is one Thing, one Vessel, one Conjunction. All the Artifice begins by one Thing, and ends by one Thing, altho' the Philosophers, with a Design to conceal this (great Art) describe several ways, viz. a continual Conjunction, a Mixing, a Sublimation, a Desiccation, and as many other (Ways and Operations) more, as may be named by different Names: But {37} the Dissolution of the Body is not made, but in its own Blood.

Geber says thus: There is a Sulphur in the Profundity of Mercury, which cooks it, and which digests it in the Vein of the Mines, during a very long time. Thus you see my dear Gold, that I have fully demonstrated to you, that this Sulphuris only in me; because I do all my self alone, without your help, and without that of all your Brother, and of all your Companions. I have no Need of you, but all have Need of me, for as much as I can give Perfection to you all, and raise you all above the State, which Nature has plac'd you in.

At these last Words, the Gold grew furiously enrag'd, not knowing what to answer any further; he concluded (however) with his Brother Mercury, and they agreed together, that they would assist one another, (hoping) that they being two against our Stone, which is but one alone, they might easily overcome it; so that after not having been able to conquer it by disputing, they took a Resolution to put it to Death by the Sword. In this design they join'd their Forces, to make them the stronger by uniting double Power.

Battle was given: Out Stone display'd its Force and its Valour; fought them both, {38} overcame them, destroy'd them, and swallowed up both the one and the other; in a manner that there remained so sign, whereby one might know what was become of them.

Thus, dear Friends, who have the fear of God before your Eyes, what I tell you ought to make you know the Truth, and illuminate your Minds as much as is necessary to understand the Foundation of the greatest and the most predious of all Treasures, which no Philosopher has so clearly explained, discovered, or brought to Light.

You have then no need of any Thing else. This only remains, that you pray to God, that he would make you arrive at the Possession of the Jewel, which is of an inestimable Value. Next to this, sharpen your Mind, read the Writings of the Wise with Prudence; work with Diligence (and Exactness,) act not rashly in so precious a Work. {32} It's time is ordained by Nature; in the like manner as the Fruits which are on the Trees, and as the Bunches of Grapes the Vine does bear. Be upright of Hearth, and propose to your self (in your Work) an honest End; otherwise God will grant you nothing; {40} for the doth not communicate (so great) a Gift, except to those who will make a good use of it; and he depriveth them thereof, who design to make use of it to commit Evil. I pray to God that he may give you his (holy) Blessing. Amen.


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