Glauber - A Short Book of Dialogues

A: I have searched into Vegetables, Animals, and Minerals, but I see, that I have not had under my hands the true Matter. For if there does appear in any [of these Matters] the Crow's head, yet the other Colours which the Philosophers make a description of (as the Dragon's Blood, the Peacock's Tail, Virgin's Milk, Coagulum, or curdling, and principally that Red and Fire-abiding Salamander) did never appear [to my view].

B: We will here take half an ounce of common Gold, and put it into this Aqua Fortis, made of Vitriol and Saltpeter, whereto we will add the same weight as the Gold is of, or a little more, of our Saltarmoniack, without which, the Aqua Fortis alone, and by itself, is not able to dissolve the Gold.

A: why do you say, Our Salarmoniack?

B: every Salarmoniack mixt with Aqua Fortis is very good to dissolve Gold; but yet that which is thus dissolved, still remains Gold, and doth easily admit of being again precipitated out of the Aqua Fortis, and of being reduced by Fusion into the former Body, it had before its Solution. But if the Solution shall be made of our Sal Armoniack, then your attempting its Reduction again will be in vain. For if Gold be but dissolved barely once with out Saltarmoniack, it admits not any more of melting, nor doth it of itself return again into a malleable Metallick Body, but gets a Reddish Scarlet kind of Colour in the Tryal [or Crucible] and remains an unfulfil Powder. And if you add some Borax thereunto, and set it in the Fire then to melt, it will pass into a Red Glass, which is a sign of its being plainly destroyed, and of its being transmuted into another Body.

A: Certainly, this is a Divine miraculous thing,

B: Well may you term it a wonderful Salt, though to such as know it, it is so vile and mean a thing; insomuch that scarce any one would think it likely, that such things could be done thereby, as are wont to be, should it be but named by its own proper Title. Does not, that Cosmopolita [or Sandivow] confess, that he hath declared the Art, and yet they would not believe him, by reason of the meanness, or vileness of the Work? And does not he make frequent mention of his own, and not the common Sal Armoniack? But that you may give more belief and credit to our salt, I would have you read the Turba of the Philosophers, wherein you will find all those things which they have published concerning their Salt: And amongst others, hearken to those few words, which the Rosary mentions: Our Salt dissolves Gold into a red Colour, and Silver into a white Colour, and transmutes them out of their Corporeity into a Spirituality, and with our Salt, are their Bodies calcined. Avicen saith, If thou hast a desire of getting Riches, prepare Salts, that they may be changed into a clear water, for by the Fire are Salts changed into Spirits: Salts are the Roots of thy work. Hermes saith: All Salts are Enemies to our Work, and to our Art, save the Salts of our Lune: Arnoldus saith: Every Salt that is well and rightly prepared, is of the Nature of Salt Armoniack, and the whole Mystery of our Art consists in the Preparation of common Salt: He therefore that knows Salt, and its Solution, to him is the Mystery of the ancient wise Men known.

A: I wish that you would let me see your Labour.

B: let us put the Gold in its requisite Menstruum, and place it in warm Sand, thereby to hasten forward the Solution of the same; though there is strength sufficient in our Menstruum, to dissolve the Gold in the Cold without Fire. We shall in a short time see it of a yellow colour: And behold that very Colour, and the Gold itself is so changed, as it is never more reducible into its former golden Body. Thus you have now the entrance and beginning, which as yet is vastly distant from the wisht for end: And when you now see the beginnning, know, that is the first day of our Philosophick Labour.

Next, let us proceed to the Putrefaction of the dissolved Gold, without which no Colours present themselves to our view. Behold in this very moment, Sol begins to wax black, and in a little while after it will conceive such a thorough blackness, that it will be like to Ink, and may serve to write withal on Paper. This lackness, the Philosophers cal the Head of the Crow, by that name pointing out unto us their Putrefaction; by which, the second day of our Philosophical Labour is finished.

Our Ground [or Earth] therefore, being sufficiently enough moistned, we must beseech God to bestow upon us the hot shine of the Sun; for without the Sun's heat which stirs up the Life in all things, there cannot possibly be any increase and growth. As soon as the putrefied Body of our Sol shall feel the warming heat of the Sun, its blackness, which was the true Sign of its Putrefaction, will vanish away by little and little, and give way to the access and approach of many most delicate Colours, the which, the Philosophers have named the Peacock's Tail, and this finisheth the third day of our Philosophical Labour.

And now, when the Fruit-producing Sun shall have thus illustrated our Field, or Ground with its warmer Rays, but for one day as yet, we may easily see, what is further likely to come to pass hereafter.

A: in so short a time, and how speedily hath the Peacock's Tail changed itself into a thick Blood?

B: And now upon the occasion of this Blood-like Colour, is arisen the Name of Dragon's Blood amongst the Philosophers, who say, that when this Colour appears in view, the fourth day of the Philosophical work or Labour is finished.

For this Golden Blood may [probably] be the potable Gold of the Ancients, which never more suffers itself to be reduced into its former malleable Body. I have sundry ways attempted to reduce it, but never could effect the same. But this one Case I except, viz., a little of this dry Blood, being put upon molten Gold, hath ingressed into the same, and the residue swims at the top thereof like an Earth: but yet that little which adjoyned itself to the Gold, is of so great a Power as to make all that whole Body of Gold which it entred into, brittle, yea so brittle, as that it suffers itself to be beaten in a Morter into most fine Powder.

A: all the Philosophers do with one consent confess, that their Tincture, when quite perfected and cast in upon molten Gold, doth render the same brittle. And now seeing this Golden Blood of ours, being as yet immature, and not prepared, doth effect the same, would it not, I pray, perform the same much better, if it had but Ingress given unto it, by inceration, whereby it might flow the easier, and enter the more readily. this aureous Blood both can and in time will become an universal Tincture of Medicinal Virtues.

B: this very Blood will turn itself (according to my description) into a white Milk, and then into a Red Stone, and, by a new reiteration of the work, pass through all colours. the White Swan doth also show itself in the Work. Now, if by but as yet One days shining, the Sun shall have illuminated by its brightness the Dragon's Blood, you shall see it turned into a white Milk, which at length goes into a Coagulum, or cheeselike curdling. Look therefore now upon that Milk, which you see to admit of Coagulation and Condensation, by little and little: And thus with this golden Cheese do we finish the Philosophical Labour of the Fifth day.

A: the whole Work would be finished in six days space, and that on the seventh Day we may cease from all our Work and Labours, and sanctify it, or keep it holy, and give God due thanks for all his benefits bestowed on us.

B: nor do you ought else this Sixth day, but hourly increase the Fire by degrees, and stir it up more and more, that so you may see, by what means our white Coagulated Milk will by little and little pass into a yellow Colour, and will at length be thoroughly Red, and abide most constant in the Fire. This fixed Redness, the Philosophers call their Salamander: with which (if you except only Inceration and Multiplication) they ended their work, and so do we also finish these our present Labours.

A: what use to put that Salamander to? as touching Inceration and Multiplication, in which the two Cardinal main points, the very pillar or hinge of the whole operation lies.

B: Inceration: the out-driven Soul is to be restored to the dead King; the dead Body may be recalled back to Life, and it, arising with a more glorious Body, and a more excellent Crown, may prove an helper to its meaner Brethren. Here the Soul lets itself down, and refresheth the dead body. For it is not sufficient, that the King be deprived of Life and so left dead: No, no, for necessity requires, that its Soul be restored unto it, which may restore its motion, and lost life, to the dead body. Now, by how much the oftener, the Soul and Life is taken away from the King, and that which is taken away be again restored thereunto, which so much the stronger and more active Body, and so much the magnificenter a Crown will he arise withal. By these few words have I laid open unto you, Inceration and Multiplication.

But yet there are other ways of increasing our fixed Salamander, and rendring it fusible, viz. by the addition of Mercurial things, which by their speedy Flux and penetrating Property, do pierce into this our destroyed Gold, dissolve it, and so bring to pass, that there is made of them both (viz. of the destroyed Gold, and which admits not of any reduction, and of the Volatile Mercury) a certain fusile middling Body, which said Body, thus conjoin'd of the two, is to be matured by the bare Regiment of the Fire. And by this maturation, is this universal Medicament rendred so fusible, as to have ingress into all the Metals, and to penetrate them.

A: is not this way of giving a more easy ingress by the Mercury of Metals, more facile, than that abovesaid way, which requires a great many operations, by the reiterating of Inceration and Multiplication?

B: Yes verily, it is a shorter and easier way, as being void of many tedious Labours, for it needs nothing else, but that the Mercury of some Metals be put into some good strong glass with the inverted Gold, and so be brought unto Fixation. But yet this medicament, that is on this wise wrought up with the Mercury to a constancy in the fire, cannot extend its colour so largely, as that, which is rendered fusible by so many reiterated Operations, because, in every reiteration, the Tincture is exalted and multiplied...

A: .. Only this one thing more would I gladly know, viz., where I ought to seek for the Soul of the King.

B: You must look, whither you have driven it, and there must you seek it, and having found it, you must restore it to the dead King, and so you will again begin your Work, and you shall again bring it through all, the variety of colours, like as you did at the first time. For when the Soul is restored to the Body, there is made a new Solution, which is to be again putrefied, that it may turn back [sic]; and then proceeding on according to the same way, as was done in the first operation, there will appear all the Colours, and they too far more delicate than in the foregoing Labour. The Crows head will be blacker, the Dragons Blood redder, the Lac virginis whiter, and the Salamander more subtle, than it was in the first operation. For by so much the oftener you shall repeat this Mortification and Vivification of the king, so much the more Magnificent, more precious, and more efficacious a Tincture, will you obtain.