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Aqua Vitae, Non Vitis
A Notebook of Thomas Vaughan
This notebook is in Ms Sloane 1741 in the British Library. Aqua Vitae, Non Vitis ; Or the Radical Humiditie of Nature, mechanically and magically dissected by the conduct of Fire and Ferment, as well in the particular Bodies of Metalls and Minerals as in its seminal, universal Forme and Chaos. By Thomas Vaughan, Gent.
Of this there are 35 leaves, containing chemical and other recipes, headed: Ars Tota: ut inventa est in diebus Conjugii meae dulcissimae: una cum variis Nitri et Salium Praeparationibus. Immediately after the general title - that is to say, on the next leaf - is this inscription: Ex Libris Th: and Reb: Vaughan, 1651, Sept. 28. Quos Deus conjunxit, quis separabit? And then : Sitivit anima mea ad Deum Elohim, ad Deum El vivum. Quando nam veniam et visitabo faciem Dei AElohim! T. R. V. 1658.
There are processes for Vegetable Mercury, mineral Mercury, notes on the arcana of nitre, a Cabala Metallorum, sive Lapis de Rebis, a collection of particular secrets appertaining ad rem medicam. There are also quotations from Turba Philosophorum and an occasional invocation or prayer, breathing fervent piety. A Liber Arcanorum follows, and confused with these leaves there are those private Memoranda concerning Vaughan's wife and himself which are the important parts of the document! They are sometimes on the obverse and sometimes on the reverse side.

Memoriae Sacrum


This happened on a Sunday night, towards the daybreak, and indeed I think it was morning light. On the 13th of June I dreamed that one appeared to me and purged herself from the scandalous contents of certain letters which were put into my hands by a certain false friend. Then she told me that her father had informed her that she should die again about a quarter of a year from that time she appeared to me : which is just the 14th of September next, and on the 28th of the same month we were married. It may be my merciful God has given me this notice of the time of my dissolution by one that is so dear to me, whose person representing mine signified my death, not hers, for she can die no more. Great is the love and goodness of my God and most happy shall I be in this interpretation if I may meet her again so soon and begin the heavenly and eternal life with her, in the very same month wherein we began the earthly : which I beseech my good God to grant us for his dear Son and our Saviour's sake, Christ Jesus. Amen ! (Written on the 14th of June, the day after I dreamed it. 1658.)


N.B. - N.B. - N.B. 1658

On Friday the 18th of July, I myself sickened at Wapping, and that night I dreamed I was pursued by a stone horse, as my dear wife dreamed before she sickened, and I was grievously troubled all night with a suffocation at the heart, which continued all next day most violently, and still it remains, but with some little remission. On the Saturday following, being the 17th of July, I could not, for some secret instinct of spirit, stay any longer at Wapping, but came that very night to Sir John Underhill; and the Sunday following after that night I understood that Mr Highgate was dead, as my heart gave me at Wapping a few days before. The will of my God be done : Amen and Amen ! That night I came to Sir John, I dreamed I had lent 20 pounds to my cousin J. Wakebross, and that his mother had stolen the money and I was like to lose it. But my cousin advised me to give out I had received it and he would secure it for me. I pray God my dear wife's things do not miscarry !


My most dear wife sickened on Friday in the evening, being the 16th of April, and died the Saturday following in the evening, being the 17th. And was buried on the 26th of the same month, being a Monday in the afternoon, at Mappersall in Bedfordshire, 1658. We were married in the year 1651, by a minister whose name I have forgotten, on the 28th of September. God of his infinite and sure mercies in Christ Jesus, bring us together again in Heaven, whither she is gone before me, and with her my heart and my faith not to be broken; and this thou knowest, oh my God ! Amen !


On the same day my dear wife sickened, being a Friday, and at the same time of the day, namely in the evening, my gracious God did put into my heart the secret of extracting the oil of Halcali, which I had once accidentally found at the Pinner of Wakefield in the days of my most dear wife. But it was again taken from me by a most wonderful judgement of God, for I could never remember how I did it, but made a hundred attempts in vain. And now my glorious God (Whose name be praised for ever) has brought it again into my mind, and on the same day my dear wife sickened ; and on the Saturday following, which was the day she died on, I extracted it by the former practice : so that on the same day, which proved the most sorrowful to me, whatever can be, God was pleased to confer upon me the greatest joy I can ever have in this world after her death. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away : blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen! T. R. V.
To the end we might live well and exercise our charity, which was wanting in neither of us, to our power, I employed myself all her life time in the acquisition of some natural secrets, to which I had been disposed from my youth up; and what I now write, and know of them practically, I attained to in her days, not before in very truth, nor after, but during the time we lived together at the Pinner of Wakefield ; and though I brought them not to perfection in those dear days, yet were the gates opened to me then and what I have done since is but the effect of those principles. I found them not by my own wit or labour, but by God's blessing and the encouragement I received from a most loving, obedient wife, whom I beseech God to reward in Heaven for all the happiness and content she afforded me. I shall lay them down here in their order, protesting earnestly and with a good conscience, that they are the very truth ; and here I leave them for his use and benefit to whom God in his providence shall direct them. On the 28th August, being Saturday morning after daylight, God Almighty was pleased to reveal to me after a wonderful manner, the most blessed estate of my dear wife, partly by herself and partly by His own Holy Spirit, in an express disclosure, which opened to me the meaning of those mysterious words of S. Paul: "For we know, if our earthly house of this tabernacle, etc." Bless the Lord, O my soul! and all that is within me, bless his holy name! T. R. V. Quos Deus conjunxit, quis separabit?


The dream I wrote on the foregoing page is not to be neglected, for my dear wife, a few nights before, appeared to me in my sleep and foretold me the death of my dear father; and since it is really come to pass, for he is dead and gone to my merciful God, as I have been informed by letters come to my hand from the country. It concerns me therefore to prepare myself and to make a right use of this warning which I received from my merciful and most loving God, Who used not to deal such mercies to all men; and Who was pleased to impart it to me by my dear wife, to assure me she was a saint in His holy Heavens, being thus employed for an Angel and a messenger of the God of my salvation. To Him, be all praise and glory ascribed in Jesus Christ for ever ! Amen! T. R. V.


The month and the day I have forgotten, but having prayed earnestly for remission of sins I went to bed and dreamed that I lay full of sores in my feet and clothed in certain rags, under the shelter of the great oak, which grows before the courtyard of my father's house, and it rained round about me. My feet that were sore with boils and corrupt matter troubled me extremely, so that being not able to stand up I was laid all along. I dreamed that my father and my brother W., who were both dead, came unto me and my father sucked the corruption out of my feet so that I was presently well, and stood tip with great joy and looking on my feet they appeared very white and clean and the sores were quite gone ! Blessed be my good God ! Amen !

N.B. N.B. N.B.

When my dear wife and I lived at the Pinner of Wakefield I remember I melted down equal parts of Talc and the Eagle with Brimstone, repeating the fusion twice. And after that, going to draw Spirit of Salt with Oil of Glass, I chanced (as I think) to mingle some Bay-Salt, or that of Colla Maris, with the former composition and I had an oil with which I did miracles. But assaying to make more of it I never could effect it, having forgotten the composition; but now I am confident the Eagle was in it, for I ever remember the manner of the first fume that came out, and could never see the like again, but when I worked on the Eagle, though I never afterwards worked on her prepared as at that time. I know also by experience that Talc and Baysalt together will yield six times more spirit, than either of both will yield by itself. And that passage of Rhasis confirms me, when he mentions Aqua Salis trium generum; but above all that one word of Lullie, namely, Petra Salis, and especially that enumeration of materials which he makes in his Ars Intellectiva, Nitrum, Sal, Sulphur, Vapor, than which nothing could have been said more expressly. And yet I doubt I shall be much troubled, before I find what I have lost, so little difference there is between Forgetfulness and Ignorance.
T. R. V. 1658.
Quos Deus conjunxit, quis separabit ?

Left at Mrs Highgate's

1. One flat trunk of my dear wife's, with her maiden name upon it.
2. Another cabinet trunk of my dear wife's in which is her small rock and Bible, and her maiden Bible I have by me.
3. One great wooden box of my dear wife's in which is all her best apparel, and in that is her great Bible with her practice of piety and her other books of Devotion.
4. Another wooden box with pillows in it and a sweet basket of my dear wife's.
5. One large trunk of my dear wife's with my name upon it, in which are the silver spoons. And in the drawers are two small boxes, one with a lock of my dear wife's hair, made up with her own hands, and another with several small locks in it.
6. One pair of grate irons with brass knobs and a single pair with brass knobs, a fire shovel, tongs and bellows ; my dear wife's' little chair, a round table, joint stool and close stool, with a great glass full of eye-water, made at the Pinner of Wakefield, by my dear wife and my sister Vaughan, who are both now with God.

1659. April 8th. Die ♀

In the evening I was surprised with a sudden heaviness of spirit, but without any manifest cause whatsoever ; but I thank God a great tenderness of heart came along with it, so that I prayed most earnestly with abundance of tears, and sorrow for sin. 1 fervently solicited my gracious God for pardon to myself and my most dear wife ; and besought Him to bring us together again in His Heavenly Kingdom, and that He would shew me His mercy and answer my prayers by such means and in such a way as might quicken my spirit, that I might serve Him cheerfully and with joy praise His name.
I went that night to bed after earnest prayers and tears and towards the daybreak, or just upon it, I had this following dream : I thought that I was again newly married to my dear wife and brought her along with me to shew her to some of my friends, which I did in these words. Here is a wife, which I have not chosen of myself, but my father did choose her for me [this was not true of our temporal marriage, nor of our natural parents, and therefore it signifies some greater mercy], and asked me if I would not marry her, for she was a beautiful wife. He had no sooner shewed her to me, but I was extremely in love with her and I married her presently. When I had thus said, I thought, we were both left alone, and calling her to me, I took her into my arms and she presently embraced me and kissed me; nor had I in all this vision any sinful desire, but such a love to her as I had to her very soul in my prayers, to which this dream was an answer. Hereupon I awaked presently with exceeding great inward joy. Blessed be my God! Amen!

April the 9th. Die ♄ 1659

I went to bed after prayers and hearty tears and had this dream towards daybreak. I dreamed I was in some obscure, large house, where there was a tumultuous, raging people, amongst whom I knew not any but my brother H. My dear wife was there with me, but having conceived some discomfort at their disorder, I quitted the place, and went out, leaving my dear wife behind me. As I went out I considered with myself, and called to mind some small, at least seeming, unkindnesses I had used towards my dear wife in her lifetime, and the remembrance of them being odious to me I wondered with myself that I should leave her behind me and neglect her company, having now the opportunity to converse with her after death. These were my thoughts, whereupon I turned in, and taking her along with me, there followed us a certain person, with whom I had in former times revelled away many years in drinking. I had in my hand a very long cane, and at last we came to a churchyard, and it was the brightest daylight that ever I beheld: when we were about the middle of the churchyard, I struck upon the ground with my cane at the full length and it gave a most shrill, reverberating echo. I turned back to look upon my wife, and she appeared to me in green silk down to the ground, and much taller, and slenderer than she was in her lifetime, but in her face there was so much glory, and beauty, that no Angel in Heaven can have more. She told me the noise of the cane had frighted her a little, but saying so she smiled upon me and looked most divinely. Upon this I looked up to Heaven, and having quite forgot my first apprehension, which was true, namely that she appeared thus to me after her death, I was much troubled in mind lest I should die before her, and this I feared upon a spiritual account, lest after my death she might be tempted to do amiss, and to live otherwise than she did at present. While I was thus troubled, the cane that was in my hand suddenly broke, and when it was broken, it appeared no more like a cane, but was a brittle, weak reed. This did put me in mind of her death again, and so did put me out of my fear, and the doubts I conceived, if I died before her. When the reed was broken, she came close to me, and I gave her the longer half of the reed, and the furthest end and the shortest I kept for myself; but looking on the broken end of it, and finding it ragged, and something rough, she gave me a knife to polish it, which I did. Then we passed both out of the churchyard, and turning to the gentleman that followed me I asked him if he would go along with us, but he utterly refused; and the truth is, he still follows the world too much. Then I turned to my dear wife to go along with her, and having so done I awaked.
By this dream, and the shortest part of the reed left in my hand, I guess I shall not live so long after her, as I have lived with her. Praised be my God ! Amen !

April the 16th, at night. 1659

I dreamed that a flame of a whitish colour should break out at the toes of my left foot, and this was told me in my dream by a strange person and of a dark countenance. It is to be noted, that this was the very night on which my dear wife died, 1658; it being a Saturday night and but one short of the number, or true account. It may be the disease that shall occasion my death, was shewed me on the night wherein she died, for true it is, that in my left foot there is now a dangerous humour fallen down, and lodged under my very heel, and upon the lifting of my leg upward, it pains me strangely. It fell first into my knee, and what it may come to I know not, unless it will end in a gout; but it first of all troubled me in the sinews, and caused a contraction of them, and then I had a dull pain and still have in the uppermost joint of the thigh. T. R. V.


Many years ago, at Paddington, before my distemper in the liver seized me, there appeared to me twice in the same night in two several dreams, a young, strange person, not unlike to him who appeared in a strange manner to me at Edmond Hall Oxford. His countenance was dark, and I believe it is the evil genius, but, in this last dream, I saw him not so clearly, my life I bless God for it, being much amended. The evil he so gladly signifies to me, frightens me not, for I am ready for death and with all my heart shall I welcome it, for I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, which is far better for me, than live, and sin in this sinful body. T. R. V. 1659.
God is. T. R. V. Amen and Amen!

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