John French - The Art of Distillation


Take the best canary wine as much as you please, let is stand in putrefaction forty days, then distill it in Balneum and there will come forth a spirit, and at last an oil. Separate the one from the other and rectify the spirit. Set the oil again in putrefaction forty days and then distill it. The feces that are left after the first distillation will yield a volatile salt which must be extracted without calcination, with the phlegm of the spirit. purify it well, then impregnate the salt with its spirit, and digest them. Then add the oil and digest them together until they become a red powder, which you may use as it is, or else set it in a cellar until it be dissolved into a liquor, and a few drops thereof will do as abovesaid.


Take weak spirit of wine and distill it in a vessel of a long neck. Then pour on this spirit again upon the phlegm, and distill it again. Do this several times and you shall see the oil of the wine swim on the phlegm, which phlegm you must separate from the oil by a tunnel.

If this oil be afterward circulated for a month, it will thereby become most odoriferous, and of a singular virtue, and good being both very cordial and balsamical.


Take the whole herb with flowers and roots and make it very clean. Then bruise it in a stone mortar and put it into a large glass vessel so two parts of three may be empty. Cover it exceeding close and let it stand in putrefaction in a moderate heat the space of half a year, and it will all be turned into a water.


Take the foregoing water and distill it in a gourd glass (the joints being well closed) in ashes, and there will come forth a water and an oil and in the upper part of the vessel will hang a volatile salt. Separate the oil from the water and keep it by itself. With the water purify the volatile salt by dissolving, filtering, and coagulating. The salt being thus purified, imbibe with the said oil until it will imbibe no more. Digest them well together for a month in a vessel hermetically sealed. And by this means you shall have a most subtle essence, which being held over a gentle heat will fly up into the glass and represent the perfect idea of that vegetable whereof it is the essence.


When you have made the water and oil of any vegetable first calcine or burn to ashes the remainder of the herb. With the ashes make a lye by pouring its own water thereon. When you have drawn out all the strength of the ashes, then take all the lye, being first filtered, and vapor it away and at the bottom you shall find a black salt which you must take and put into a crucible and melt it in a strong fire (covering the crucible all the time it is melting). After it is melted let it boil half an hour or more. Then take it out and beat it small and set it in a cellar on a marble stone or in a broad glass and it will all be resolved into a liquor. This liquor filter and vapor away the humidity until it be very dry and as white as snow. Then let this salt imbibe as much of the oil of the same vegetable as it can, but no more, lest you labor in vain. Then digest them together until the oil will not rise from the salt, but both become a fixed powder melting with an easy heat.


Distill them, being first bruised, in salt water, for salt frees the oil from its body. Let them first be macerated three or four days in the said water.


Take of crude sulphur as much as you please. Put it into a melting vessel to be dissolved over the fire. Being dissolved, pour it forth into seething hot water (this do ten or more times, remembering that the water must be always seething hot) and you shall see that the sulphur will be like butter. Then put it into a retort, pouring on it the best spirit of wine. Distill it with a soft fire, and there will come forth an oil of a golden color, of a good taste and smell which is the true balsam of sulphur. The oil that swims on the spirit must be separated.

This oil for the cure of all distempers of the lungs, for all fevers whether putrid or pentilential, and the cure of wounds and ulcers, is scarce to be equalled.


Dissolve what metal or mineral you please in a strong spirit of salt (except silver which must be dissolved in aqua fortis). Draw off the phlegm in balneum, pour on rectified spirit of wine, and digest them so long until a red oil swims above which is the quintessence of metals and minerals, and is a very great secret.


Take of the subtle powder of the regulus of antimony as much as you please. Sublime it of itself until it will sublime no more (still putting what is sublimed to that which remains at the bottom) or with sal ammoniac six or seven times (remembering that then you must dulcify it with warm water by dissolving therewith the salt, and dry the precipitate afterwards). Set this fixed powder in a cellar, laying it very thin upon a marble stone, and in about six weeks or two months it will all be dissolved into water which must be filtered. Then evaporate part of this water, and let it stand two or three days in the cellar to crystallize. These crystals purify and dry. Mix them with three times the quantity of the gross powder of tiles, distill them in a retort, and there will come forth first a white spirit, and then a red, which you may rectify in balneum.


Take of the foresaid crystals. Dissolve them in good rectified spirit of wine. Digest them two months in balneum or horse dung. Then evaporate the spirit of wine and there will remain in the bottom the true oil or essence of antimony.

Then take new crystals of antimony and let them imbibe either this oil or the foresaid spirit until they will imbibe no more. Then digest them two months in sand, and they will become a flowing fixed salt, and of excellent virtue.

The aforesaid spirit, this oil, and essence of antimony may be equalized to aurum potabile to all intents and purposes, according to a medicinal use, especially the fixed essence. The dose is five or six grains.


Take the calx of saturn, or else minium, and pour upon it so much spirit of vinegar that may cover it four fingers breadth. Digest them in a warm place the space of 24 hours, often stirring them that the matter settle not too thick in the bottom. Then decant the menstruum and pour on more. Digest it as before and this do so often until all the saltness be extracted. Filter and clarify all the menstruum being put together. Then evaporate it half away and set the other part in a cold place until it crystallizes. These crystals dissolve again in fresh spirit of vinegar. Filter and coagulate the liquor again into crystals, and this do often until they be sufficiently impregnated with the sal ammoniac of the vinegar as their proper ferment. Digest them in a temperate balneum that they may be resolved into a liquor like oil. Then distill this liquor in sand in a retort with a large receiver annexed to it, and well closed that no spirits evaporate, together with the observation of the degrees of the fire. Then there will distill forth a spirit of such a fragrant smell that the fragrancy of all flowers and compounded perfumes are not to be compared to it. After distillation when all things are cold, take out and cast away the black feces which is of no use. Then separate the yellow oil which swims on the top of the spirit and the blood red oil which sinks to the bottom of it. Separate the phlegm from the spirit in balneum. You shall by this means have a most fragrant spirit that even ravishes the senses, and so balsamical that it cures all old and new sores inward and outward, and so cordial that the dying are with admiration revived with it.


Take of the best wax a pound and as much of pure sand well washed from all its impurity and again dried. First, melt the wax, and then mix the sand with it very exactly. Then put them into a glass retort well coated. Fit a strong receiver to it and set it in sand. Give it fire by degrees, continuing it four days, which at last must be very strong. There will come off a spiritous oil which must be rectified seven times in a glass retort, every time changing the retort, and you shall have a subtle oil of a golden color.

This oil extracts the virtues of all flowers presently, being set in the sun. It is wonderful balsamical for the cure of wounds or ulcers both inward and outward. Being applied outwardly, it also eases all pains, quickens any deadened member, as in the palsy.


The artificial process is this: take of what water you please, whether well water, fountain, river, or rain water, as much as you please. Let it settle three or four hours until the slime thereof separates itself. Then digest it the space of a month, after which time evaporate the fourth part by a very gentle heat and cast it away, being but the phlegm. Then distill off the remainder of the water until the feces only be left, which feces will be a slimy saltish substance. This middle substance distill again as before, casting away every time the fourth part, as phlegm, and keeping the feces by themselves for a further use, and this do seven times. Note that after the fourth or fifth distillation the water will distill over like milk, coloring the head of your still so that it can hardly be washed or scoured off. This pure water after the seventh distillation will leave no feces behind, and if you digest it three months it will be coagulated into stones and crystals which some magnify very much for the cure of inward and outward putrefactions, out of which also may be made a dissolving spirit. Note that as this water stands in digestion you may see diverse curious colors. Now, as for the feces which I spoke of (which indeed all waters, even the sweetest, leave at the bottom) being as I said a saltish slime and in taste, as it were, a medium between salt and nitre, take them and distill them in a retort in sand. There will first come forth a white fume which, being condensed, descends in a straight line to the bottom. Next will come over a red oil of great efficacy, exceeding the virtues of the spirit of salt or nitre. For confirmation of part of this process, take May dew gathered in the morning (when it has not rained the night before) and put it into a glass vessel, covered with a parchment pricked full of holes, and set it in the heat of the sun for the space of four months. There will store of green feces fall to the bottom, the residue of the water being white and clear. Now by all this you may conclude what manner of dissimilarity there is in the parts of water. I shall add but one observation more, and so conclude this subject.

Take a flint out of river water and put it into a gourd glass. Pour upon it as much river water as will fill the glass. Evaporate this water until the flint be dry. Then pour on more fresh water. Do this so long until the flint will fill up the glass (for in a little time it will fill it up and become to be of the form or figure of the glass) for it attracts to itself the mucilaginousness of the water which, indeed, is a slimy saltish matter and the true matter of stones. And thus you shall have that done by art in few days which nature would have been perfecting many years and, indeed, just such a flint as is produced in the rivers. Anyone that should see this flint in the glass would wonder how it should come in there. You may break your glass and take out your flint.


Take the best wheat and the best wine, of each a like quantity. Put them into a glass which you must hermetically seal. Then let them putrefy in horse dung three days, or until the wheat begins to germinate or to sprout forth, which then must be taken forth and bruised in a mortar and be pressed through a linen cloth. There will come forth a white juice like milk. You must cast away the feces. Let this juice be put into a glass which must not be above half full. Stop it close and set it in horse dung as before for the space of fifty days. If the heat be temperate, and not exceeding the natural heat of man, the matter will be turned into a spagyrical blood and flesh, like an embryo. This is the principal and next matter out of which is generated a two-fold sperm, viz., of the father and mother generating the homunculus, without which there can be made no generation, whether human or animal.

From the blood and flesh of this embryo let the water be separated in balneum, and the air in ashes, and both be kept by themselves. Then to the feces of the latter distillation, let the water of the former distillation be added, both which must (the glass being close stopped) putrefy in balneum the space of ten days. After this, distill the water a second time (which is then the vehiculum of the fire) together with the fire, in ashes. Then distill off this water in a gentle balneum, and in the bottom remains the fire which must be distilled in ashes. Keep both these apart. And thus you have the four elements separated from the chaos of the embryo.

The feculent earth is to be reverberated in a close vessel for the space of four days. In the interim, distill off the fourth part of the first distillation in balneum and cast it away. The other three parts distill in ashes, and pour it upon the reverberated earth, and distill it in a strong fire. Cohobate it four times, and so you shall have a very clear water which you must keep by itself. Then pour the air on the same earth, and distill it in a strong fire. There will come over a clear, splendid, odoriferous water which must be kept apart. After this pour the fire upon the first water, and putrefy them together in balneum the space of three days. Then put them into a retort and distill them in sand, and there will come over a water tasting of the fire. Let this water be distilled in balneum. What distills off, keep by itself, as also what remains in the bottom which is the fire, and keep by itself. This last distilled water pour again upon its earth, and let them be macerated together in balneum for the space of three days. Then let all the water be distilled in sand, and let what will arise be separated in balneum, and the residence remaining in the bottom be reserved with the former residence. Let the water be again poured upon the earth, be abstracted and separated as before until nothing remains in the bottom which is not separated in balneum. This being done, let the water which was last separated be mixed with the residue of its fire, and be macerated in balneum three or four days, and all be distilled in balneum that can ascend with that heat. Let what remains be distilled in ashes from the fire, and what shall be elevated is aerial. And what remains in the bottom is fiery. These two last liquors are ascribed to the two first principles, the former to mercury and the latter to sulphur. They are accounted by Paracelsus not as elements but their vital parts being, as it were, the natural spirits and soul which are in them by nature. Now, both are to be rectified and reflected into their center with a circular motion, so that this mercury may be prepared with its water being kept clear and odoriferous in the upper place, but the sulphur by itself.

Now, it remains that we look into the third principle. Let the reverberated earth, being ground upon a marble, imbibe its own water which did above remain after the last separation of the liquors made in balneum, so that this be the fourth part of the weight of its earth and be congealed by the heat of ashes into its earth. Let this be done so often, the proportion being observed, until the earth has drunk up all its water. And lastly, let this earth be sublimed into a white powder, as white as snow, the feces being cast away. This earth, being sublimed and freed from its obscurity, is the true chaos of the elements, for it contains those things occult, seeing it is the salt of nature in which they lie hid being, as it were, reflexed in their center. This is the third principle of Paracelsus, and the salt, which is the matrix, in which the two former sperms, viz., of the man and woman, the parents of the homunculus, viz., of mercury and sulphur are to be put, and to be closed up together in a glazed womb sealed with Hermes' seals for the true generation of the homunculus produced from the spagyrical embryo. And this is the homunculus or great arcanum, otherwise called the nutritive medicament of Paracelsus.
This homunculus or nutritive medicament is of such virtue that presently after it is taken into the body it is turned into blood and spirits. If then diseases prove mortal because they destroy the spirits, what mortal disease can withstand such a medicine that does so soon repair and so strongly fortify the spirits as this homunculus, being as the oil to the flame, into which it is immediately turned, thereby renewing the same. By this medicament, therefore, as diseases are overcome and expelled, so also youth is renewed and grey hairs prevented.


Reduce any vegetable into its three first principles. Then join them together again, being well purified, and put the same into a rich earth, and you shall have it produce a vegetable far more glorious than any of its species.


Take the ashes of moss and moisten them with the juice of an old dunghill, being first pressed forth and strained. Then dry them a little, and moisten them as before. Do this four or five times. Put this mixture, being neither very dry nor very moist, into some earthen or metal vessel, and in it set the seeds of lettuce, purslain or parsley (because they will grow sooner than other plants) being first impregnated with the essence of a vegetable of its own species (the process thereof you shall find in Book I) until they begin to sprout forth. Then, I say, put them in the said earth with that end upwards which sprouts forth. Then put the vessel into a gentle heat, and when it begins to dry moisten it with some of the said juice of dung.

You may by this means have a salad grow while supper is making ready.


Take the foregoing water and distill it in a gourd glass (the joints being well closed) in ashes, and there will come forth a water and an oil and in the upper part of the vessel will hang a volatile salt. Separate the oil from the water and keep it by itself. With the water purify the volatile salt by dissolving, filtering, and coagulating. The salt being thus purified, imbibe with the said oil until it will imbibe no more. Digest them well together for a month in a vessel hermetically sealed. And by this means you shall have a most subtle essence, which being held over a gentle heat will fly up into the glass and represent the perfect idea of that vegetable whereof it is the essence.


The process of this you may see in Book I and, therefore, I need not here again repeat it. Only remember that if you put the flame of a candle to the bottom of the glass where the essence is, by which it may be made hot, you will see that thin substance which is like impalpable ashes or salt send forth from the bottom of the glass the manifest form of a vegetable, vegetating and growing by little and little, and putting on so fully the form of stalks, leaves, and flowers in such perfect and natural wise in apparent show that anyone would believe verily the same to be naturally corporeal when as, in truth, it is the spiritual idea, induced with a spiritual essence which serves for no other purpose but to be matched with its fitting earth, so that it may take unto itself a more solid body. This shadowed figure, as soon as the vessel is taken from the fire, returns to its ashes again and vanishes away, becoming a chaos and confused matter.


Take of the purest salt nitre as much as you please, and of tin half as much. Mix them together and calcine them hermetically. Then put them into a retort, to which annex a glass receiver, and lute them well together. Let there be leaves of gold put into the bottom thereof. Then put fire to the retort until vapors arise that will cleave to the gold. Augment the fire until no more fumes ascend. Then take away the receiver and close it hermetically. Make a lamp fire under it, and you will see represented in it the sun, moon, stars, fountains, flowers, trees, fruits and, indeed, even all things which is a glorious sight to behold.


Set a test with lead or copper in the sun. With a concave glass unite the beams of the sun, and let them fall on the center of the metal. Hold the concave glass in your hand, and let your test never be cold. This will be as well done in the sun as in the fire. But this concave must be two feet in diameter, and not too hollow or deep, but about the eighteenth or twentieth part of the circle, so that it may the better cast its beams forth. It must be very well polished.

Calcine antimony with a burning glass and you shall see it smoke and fume and be made drier than before, yet weigh it and it will be heavier than before.

I shall take in, for the confirmation of all this, a relation of Sir Kenelme Digby concerning the precipitating of the sun beams. I remember (says he) a rare experiment that a nobleman of much sincerity and a singular friend of mine told me he had seen which was, that by means of glasses made in a very particular manner and artificially placed one by another, he had seen the sun beams gathered together and precipitated down to a brownish or purplish red powder. There (says he) could be no fallacy in this operation. For nothing whatsoever was in the glass when they were placed and disposed for this intent. And it must be in the hot time of the year, else the effect would not follow. Of this magistery he could gather some days nearly two ounces, and it was a strong volatile virtue, and would impress its spiritual quality into gold itself (the heaviest and most fixed body we converse withal!) in a very short time.


Take a concave glass and hold it against the moon when she is at the full in a clear evening. Let the rays thereof being united fall upon a sponge, and the sponge will be full of a cold milky substance which you may press out with your hand and gather more. De-La-Brosse is of the opinion that this substance is of the substance of the moon, but I cannot assent to him in that. Only this I say, if this experiment were well prosecuted, it might produce, for ought I know, such a discovery which might be the key to no small secrets.


Take crystalline white pebble stones that are very white throughout and have no mixture of any other color which you shall find in fountains and on the sands of the sea. Put them into a crucible and make them glowing hot (covering the crucible). Then cast them into cold water, by which means they will crack and be easily reduced into a powder. Take the powder thereof and put the like quantity of pure salt of tartar thereto, which salt must not be made in any metalling, but glass vessels, so that it may have no mixture of any other colon To this mixture you may add what color you please which must be of a mineral or a metalline nature. Then put them into a very strong crucible which must be but half full and then covered, and there melt them in a strong fire until they become like glass. Note that when this mixture is in melting you must put an iron rod into it and take up some of it, and if there appears no corns of gravel in it, it is enough. If otherwise, you must melt it longer. The especial minerals and metals that give colons are these, viz., copper, iron, silver, gold, wismut, magnesia, and granite.

Common copper makes a sea green; copper made out of iron, a grass green; granite, a smaragdine green; iron, yellow or a hyacinth color; silver, white yellow, green, and granite color; gold, a fine sky color; wismut common blue; magnesia, an amethyst colon And if you will mix two or three of these together, they will give other colors. For copper and silver mixed together give an amethyst color; copper and iron, a pale green; wismut and magnesia, a purple color; silver and magnesia, diverse colors like as an opal. If you would have this mass not to be transparent, but opaque, you may add the calx of tin to it when it is in melting. As if you would make lapis lazuli, then to your mixture colored with wismut add the calx of tin, and this mixture when it is almost ready to congeal cast into a mold where some powder of gold has been scattered and, by this means, it will become full of golden veins very like true lapis lazuli which is very pleasant to behold. You may by these foresaid preparations cast what forms or figures you please, of what color you please.

The metals and minerals for the making of colors ought to be thus prepared as follows.

Plates of copper must be made red hot and then quenched in cold water, of which then take five or six grains, and mix them with an ounce of the aforesaid mixture, and melt them all together and they will color it sea green.

Iron must be made into a crocus in a reverberatory fire, and then eight or ten grains thereof will tinge the mixture into a yellow or hyacinth colon

Silver is to be dissolved in aqua fortis and precipitated with oil of flints, then dulcified with water, and afterward dried. Of this five or six grains give a mingled colon

Gold must be dissolved in aqua regis, precipitated with the liquor of flints, and then sweetened and dried. Five or six grains thereof give the finest sapphire color to an ounce of the mixture.
If gold be melted with regulus martis nitrosus, five or six grains thereof give to an ounce of this mass a most incomparable rubine colon

Magnesia may be powdered only, and then ten or twelve grains thereof make an amethyst color.
Wismut must be dissolved in aqua regis and precipitated with liquor of flints, and then sweetened and dried. Of this four or five grains turn an ounce of the mass into a sapphire color, but not so natural as gold does.

Granite may be powder only, and then ten or fifteen grains thereof tinge an ounce of the mass into a fine green color not unlike to the natural smaragdine.


Dissolve pure fine gold in aqua regis according to art (the aqua regis being made of a pound of aqua fortis and four ounces of salt armoniac distilled together by retort in sand) which clear solution put into a large glass of a wide neck and upon it pour drop by drop oil of tartar made per deliquium, until the aqua aegis which before was yellow becomes clear and white, for that is a sign that all calx of gold is settled to the bottom. Then let it stand all night, and in the morning pour off the clear liquor, and wash the calx four or five times with common spring water, being warmed, and dry it with a most gentle heat.

Note, and that well, that if the heat be too great, the calx takes fire presently like gun powder and flies away to your danger and loss. Therefore, it is best to dry it in the sun, or on a stone, stirring it diligently with a wooden spatule. To this calx add half a part of the powder of sulphur. Mix them together, and in an open crucible let the sulphur burn away in the fire, putting a gentle fire to it at the first, and in the end a most strong fire for the space of an hour so that the calx may in some manner be reverberated and become most subtle, which keep in a vial close stopped for your use.

Then make a spirit of urine after this manner. Take the urine of a healthy man drinking wine moderately. Put it into a gourd which you must stop close, and set in horse dung for the space of forty days. Then distill it by alembic in sand into a large receiver until all the humidity be distilled off. Rectify this spirit by cohobation three times so that the spirit only may rise. Then distill it in sand by a glass with a long neck having a large receiver annexed and closed very well to it, and the spirit will be elevated into the top of the vessel like crystal without any aqueous humidity accompanying of it. Let this distillation be continued until all the spirits be risen. These crystals must be dissolved in distilled rain water and be distilled as before. This must be done six times and every time you must take fresh rain water distilled. Then put these crystals into a glass bolt head, close hermetically, and set in the moderate heat of a balneum for the space of fifteen days so that they may be reduced into a most clear liquor. To this liquor add an equal weight of spirit of wine, very well rectified, and let them be digested in balneum the space of twelve days, in which time they will be united.

Then take the calx of gold above said, and pour upon it of these united spirits as much as will cover them three fingers breadth. Digest them in a gentle heat until the liquor be tinged as red as blood. Decant off the tincture and put on more of the aforesaid spirits and do as before until all the tincture be extracted. Then put all the tincted spirits together and digest them ten or twelve days, after which time abstract the spirit with a gentle heat and cohobate it once. And then the calx will remain in the bottom like an oil as red as blood and of a pleasant odor, and which will be dissolved in any liquor. Wherefore this oil may be the succedaneum of true gold. If you distill the same solution by retort in sand there will come over after the first part of the menstruum the tincture with the other part thereof, as red as blood, the earth which is left in the bottom of the vessel being black, dry, spongy, and light. The menstruum must be vapored away and the oil of gold will remain by itself, which must be kept as a great treasure. And this is Dr. Anthony's Aurum Potabile.

Four or eight grains of this oil taken in what manner soever wonderfully refreshes the spirits, and works several ways, especially by sweat.


Take an ounce of leaf gold and dissolve it in four ounces of the rectified water of mercury. Digest them in horse dung the space of two months. Then evaporate the mercurial water, and at the bottom you shall have the true oil of gold which is radically dissolved.


Dissolve pure gold in aqua regis. Precipitate it with the oil of sand into a yellow powder which you must dulcify with warm water, and then dry it (this will not be fired as aurum fulminans). This powder is twice as heavy as the gold that was put in, the cause of which is the salt of the flints precipitating itself with the gold. Put this yellow powder into a crucible and make it glow a little, and it will be turned into the highest and fairest purple that ever you saw, but if it stands longer it will be brown. Then pour upon it the strongest spirit of salt (for it will dissolve it better than any aqua regis) on which dissolution pour on the best rectified spirit of wine, and digest them together. By a long digestion some part of the gold will fall to the bottom like a white snow and may with borax, tartar, and salt nitre be melted into a white metal as heavy as gold and, afterwards with antimony, may recover its yellow color again. Then evaporate the spirit of salt and of wine, and the gold tincture remains at the bottom and is of great virtue.


Take of the aforesaid yellow calx of gold precipitated with oil of sand, one part, and three or four parts of the liquor of sand or of crystals. Mix them well together and put them into a crucible in a gentle heat at first, so that the moisture of the oil may vapor away (which it will not do easily because of the dryness of the sand which retains the moisture thereof, so that it flies away like molten alum or borax). When no more will vapor away, increase your fire until the crucible be red hot and the mixture ceases bubbling. Then put it into a wind furnace and cover it so that no ashes fall into it. Make a strong fire about it for the space of an hour, and the mixture will be turned into a transparent ruby. Then take it out, beat it, and extract the tincture with spirit of wine which will become like thin blood, and that which remains undissolved may be melted into a white metal as the former.


Hang plates of gold over the fume of argent vive, and they will become white, friable, and fluxile as wax. This is called the magnesia of gold, as says Paracelsus, in finding out of which (says he) philosophers as Thomas Aquinas and Rupescissa with their followers took a great deal of pains, but in vain, and it is a memorable secret and indeed very singular for melting of metals that are not easily fluxible. Now, then, gold being thus prepared and melted together with the mercury, is become a brittle substance which must be powdered and out of it a tincture may be drawn for the transmuting of metals.


Take half an ounce of pure gold and dissolve it in aqua regis. Precipitate it with oil of flints, dulcify the calx with warm water and dry it, and so it is prepared for your work. Then take regulus martis powdered and mix it with three parts of salt nitre, both which put into a crucible and make them glow gently at first. Then give a strong melting fire and then this mixture will become to be of a purple colon, which then take out and beat to powder. Add to three parts of this one part of the calx of gold prepared as before. Put them into a wind furnace in a strong crucible, and make them melt as a metal. So will the nitrum antimoniatum in the melting take the calx of gold to itself and dissolve it, and the mixture will come to be of an amethyst colon Let this stand flowing in the fire until the whole mass be as transparent as a rubine which you may try by taking a little out and cooling of it. If the mixture does not flow well, cast in some more salt nitre. When it is completely done, cast it forth being flowing into a brazen mortar and it will be like an oriental rubine. Then powder it before it be cold. Then put it into a vial and with the spirit of wine extract the tincture.


First make a furnace fit for the purpose which must be closed at the top and have a pipe to which a recipient with a flat bottom must be fitted. When this furnace is thus fitted, put in three or four grains, not above at once, of aurum fulminans which, as soon as the furnace is hot, flies away into the recipient through the pipe like a purple colored fume and is turned into a purple colored powder. Then put in three or four grains more and do as before until you have enough flowers of gold (that which fly not away but remain at the bottom, may with borax be melted into good gold). Then take them out and pour upon them rectified spirit of wine tartarizated, and digest them in ashes until the spirit be colored blood red which you must them evaporate and at the bottom will be a blood red tincture of no small virtue.


Take the purest gold you can get and pour on it four times as much aqua regia. Stop your glass with a paper, and set it in warm ashes. So will the aqua regia in an hour or two take up the gold and become a yellow water, if it be strong enough. (Be sure that your gold has no copper in it, for then your labor will be lost, because the copper will be precipitated with the gold and hinder the firing thereof). Then pour on this yellow water drop by drop pure oil of tartar made per deliquium, so will the gold be precipitated into a dark yellow powder and the water be clear. Note that you pour not on more oil of tartar than is sufficient for the precipitation, otherwise it will dissolve part of the precipitated gold to your prejudice. Pour off the clear liquor by inclination, and dulcify the calx with distilled rain water warmed. Then set this calx in the sun or some warm place to dry, take great heed and especial care that you set it not in a place too hot, for it will presently take fire and fly away like thunder and not without great danger to the standers by, if the quantity be great. This is the common way to make aurum fulminaris, and has considerable difficulties in the preparation. But the best way is to precipitate gold dissolved in aqua regis by the spirit of salt armoniac or of urine, for by this way the gold is made purer than by the other and gives a far greater crack and sound. Note that the salt of the spirits which is precipitated with the gold must be washed away and the gold dulcified as before.

A few grains of this being fired give a crack and sound as great as a musket when it is discharged and will blow up anything more forcibly far than gunpowder, and it is a powder that will quickly and easily be fired.

This is of use for physick as it is in powder, but especially it is used in making the foregoing tincture.


Take oil of sand, as much as you please, and pour upon it the same quantity of oil of tartar per deliquium. Shake them well together so that they be incorporated and become as one liquor of a thin consistency. Then is your menstruum or liquor prepared. Then dissolve gold in aqua regia, and evaporate the menstruum and dry the calx in the fire, but make it not too hot, for it will thereby lose its growing quality. Then take it out and break it into little bits, not into powder. Put those bits into the aforesaid liquor (that they may lay a finger's breadth the one from the other) in a very clear glass. Keep the liquor from the air, and you shall see that those bits of the calx will presently begin to grow. First they will swell. Then they will put forth one or two stems, and then diverse branches and twigs so exactly as that you cannot choose but exceedingly to wonder. This growing is real and not imaginary only. Note that the glass must stand still and not be moved.


Calcine fine gold in aqua regia so that it becomes a calx, which put into a gourd glass, and pour upon it good and fresh aqua regia and the water of gradation, so that they cover the calx four finger's breadth. This menstruum abstract in the third degree of fire until no more will ascend. This distilled water pour on it again and abstract it as before, and this do so often until you see the gold rise in the glass and grow in the form of a tree having many boughs and leaves.


Take leaves of gold and bury them in the earth which looks towards the east. Let it often be soiled with man's urine and dove's dung, and you shall see that in a short time they will be increased.
The reason of this growth, I conceive, may be the gold's attracting that universal vapor and sperm that comes from the canter through the earth (as has been spoken in the Anatomy of Gold) and by the heat of putrefaction of the dung putrifying and assimilating it to itself.


There is found a certain stone in Bononia, which some call a golden marcasite, some a salary magnes, that receives light from the sun in the daytime and gives it forth in the dark.
About this there has been much reasoning among philosophers, as whether light be really a body, or any kind of substance, or an accident only, and whether this stone had any gold in it or no, and what it did consist of. He that first discovered it thought that he had found a thing that would transmute metals into gold (by which it appears that there seemed to be something of gold in it or something more glorious than gold). But his hopes were frustrated by a fruitless labor, notwithstanding which I conceive there might be some immature or crude gold in it; for crude gold is a subject (being there is some life in it) that is most fit to receive the influences of the sun according to the unanimous consent of all philosophers and, therefore, is by them not only called salary, but sol, the sun itself.

It is prepared for the receiving of light thus. It is calcined two ways. First it is brought into a most subtle powder with a very strong fire in a crucible. Secondly, being thus brought into a powder, it is made up into cakes as big as a dollar or a piece-of-eight, either with common water alone or with the white of an egg. Put those cakes being dried by themselves into a wind furnace S S S with coals and calcine them in a most strong fire for the space of four or five hours. When the furnace is cold, take them out, and if they be not sufficiently calcined the first time (which is known by their giving but little light) then reiterate the calcination after the same manner as before, which is sometimes to be done thrice. That is the best which is made with the choicest stones that are clean, pure, and diaphanous, and gives the best light. With this being powdered, you may make the forms of diverse animals, of what shapes you please, which you must keep in boxes, and they will, receiving light from the sun in the daytime, give light in the night or in a dark place which light will vanish by degrees.


All the several preparations of gold may, except that of aurum fulminans, be applied to silver, of which being thus prepared the virtues are inferior to those of gold, yet come nearer to them than those of any other matter whatsoever, or howsoever prepared.
Note that silver has some peculiar preparations which neither gold nor any other metals are capable of.


Take fine silver and dissolve it in twice so much rectified spirit of nitre. Then abstract half of the said spirit in sand. Let it stand a day or two in a cold place, and much of the silver will shoot into crystals, and in oft doing, most of it.

These crystals are very bitter, yet may be made into pills and taken inwardly from three grains to twelve. They purge very securely and gently, and color the lips, tongue, and mouth black. If in this dissolution of silver before it be brought to crystals, half so much mercury be dissolved and both shoot together into crystals, you shall have a stone not much unlike to alum. This purges sooner and better, and is not so bitter. It colons the nails, hair, skin, if it be dissolved in rainwater, with a lovely brown, red, or black, according as you put more or less thereof.

Take of the aforesaid crystals of silver and mix with them a like quantity of pure saltpetre well powdered. Then put this mixture into the distilling vessel at the bottom of which must be powdered coals to the thickness of two fingers breadth. Then make a strong fire so that the vessel and coals be red hot. Put in a dram of the aforesaid mixture, and it will presently sublime in a silver fume into the recipient which, being settled, put in more and do so until you have enough. Take out the flowers and digest them in the best alcholizated spirit of wine so that thereby the tincture may be extracted which will be green.


Take of the abovesaid crystals of silver one part, of spirit of salt armoniac two or three parts, and digest them together in a glass with a long neck, well stopped, twelve or fourteen days. So will the spirit of salt armoniac be colored with a very specious blue color. Pour it off and filter it. Then put it into a small retort and draw off most of the spirit of ammoniac, and there will remain in the bottom a grass green liquor. Then draw off all the spirit, and there will remain in the bottom a salt which may be purified with spirit of wine or be put into a retort. Then there will distill off a subtle spirit and a sharp oil.

This green liquor is of great use for the gilding of all things presently.

If you take common rainwater distilled, and dissolve and digest the aforesaid crystals of silver for a few days, you shall after the appearance of diverse colors find an essence at the bottom, not so bitter as the former, but sweet. In this liquor may all metals in a gentle heat by long digestion be maturated and made fit for medicine. But note that they must first be reduced into salts, for then they are no more dead bodies, but by this preparation have obtained a new life, and are the metals of the philosophers.


Take of the aforesaid salts or crystals of silver and reverberate them in a very gentle fire. Then put them into a cellar on a marble stone, and they will in two months time be resolved into a liquor.


Take the aforesaid salt of silver, pour upon it the spirit of salt armoniac, dissolve it thoroughly, and it will do as abovesaid.

With a glass being full of this liquor you may condense the air into water in the heat of the summer, as also freeze water.


Take of the calx of silver made by dissolution of it in aqua fortis. Dulcify it, boil it in a lixivium made of soap ashes, and it will be white as any snow.


Take four ounces of aqua fortis in which dissolve an ounce of fine silver. Then take two ounces of aqua fortis in which is dissolved half an ounce of argent vive. Mix these two liquors together in a clear glass with a pint of pure water. Stop the glass very close and you shall see day after day a tree to grow by little and little which is wonderful pleasant to behold.

I have set down several vulgar preparations of gold and silver, and of almost all things else, I shall now crave leave to give an account of some philosophical preparations of the philosophers gold and silver. For indeed the art of preparing them is the true alchemy, in comparison of which all the chemical discoveries are but abortives and found out by accident, viz., by endeavoring after this. I would not have the world believe that I pretend to the understanding of them. Yet I would have them know that I am not incredulous as touching the possibility of that great philosophical work which many have so much labored after and may have found. To me there is nothing in the world seems more possible, and whosoever shall without prejudice read over the book entitled The New Light Of Alchemy shall almost whether he will or not (unless he resolves not to believe anything though never so credible) be convinced of the possibility of it. What unworthiness God saw in gold more than in other things that he should deny the seed of multiplication (which is the perfection of the creatures) to it, and give it to all things besides, seems to me to be a question as hard to be resolved, yea, and harder than the finding out the elixir itself, in the discovering of which the greatest difficulty is, not to be convinced of the easiness thereof. If the preparations were difficult many more would find it out than do (says Sendivogius) for they cast themselves upon most difficult operations and are very subtle in difficult discoveries which the philosophers never dreamed of. Nay, says the aforenamed author, if Hermes himself were now living together with subtle witted Geber and most profound Raimund Lullie, they would be accounted by our chemists not for philosophers, but rather for learners. They were ignorant of those so many distillations, so many circulations, so many calcinations, and so many other innumerable operations of artists nowadays used which, indeed, men of this age did find out and invented out of their books. Yet there is one thing wanting to us which they did, viz., to know how to make the Philosophers Stone, or physical tincture the processes of which according to some philosophers are these.


Take the mineral electrum, being immature and made very subtle. Put it into its own sphere so that the impurities and superfluities may be washed away. Then purge it as much as possibly you can with stibium after the alchemystical way, lest by its impurity you suffer prejudice. Then resolve it in the stomach of an estridge which is brought forth in the earth and through the sharpness of the eagle is comfortated in its virtue.

Now when the electrum is consumed, and has after its solution received the color of a marigold, do not forget to reduce it into a spiritual transparent essence which is like to true amber. Then add half so much, as the electrum did weigh before its preparation, of the extended eagle, and oftentimes abstract from it the stomach of the estridge, and by this means the electrum will be made more spiritual. Now when the stomach of the estridge is wearied with labor, it will be necessary to refresh it and always to abstract it. Lastly, when it has again lost its sharpness, add the tartarizated quintessence, yet so that it be spoiled of its redness the height of four fingers and that pass over with it. This do so often until it be of itself white, and when it is enough and you see that sign, sublime it. So will the electrum be converted into the whiteness of an exalted eagle, and with a little more labor be transmuted into deep redness, and then it is fit for medicine.


Take of our earth through eleven degrees, eleven grains, of our gold, and not of the vulgar, one grain, of our tuna, not of the vulgar, grains two. But be you admonished that you take not the gold and silver of the vulgar, for they are dead, but take ours which are living. Then put them into our fire, and there will thence be made a dry liquor. First the earth will be resolved into water which is called the mercury of philosophers, and in that water it will resolve the bodies of the sun and moon and consume them so that there remain but the tenth part with one part, and this will be the humidum radicale metallicum. Then take the water of the salt nitre of our earth, in which there is a living stream if you digest the pit knee deep. Take therefore the water of it, but take it clear and set over it that humidum radicals, and put it over the fire of putrefaction, but not so much as was that in the first operation. Govern all things with a great deal of discretion until there appear colors like to the tail of a peacock. Govern it by digesting of it, and be not weary until these colons cease and there appear throughout the whole a green color, and so of the rest, and when you shall see in the bottom ashes of a fiery color and the water almost red, open the vessel, dip in a feather, and smear over some iron with it. If it tinge, have in readiness that water which is the menstruum of the world (out of the sphere of the moon so often rectified until it can calcine gold). Put in so much of that water as was the cold air which went in. Boil it again with the former fire until it tinge again.


Take the matter and grind it with a physical contrition as diligently as may be. Then set it upon the fire and let the proportion of fire be known, viz., that it only stir up the matter, and in a short time that fire without any other laying on of hands will accomplish the whole work, because it will putrefy, corrupt, generate, and perfect, and make to appear the three principal colors: black, white, and red. And by the means of our fire, the medicine will be multiplied if it be joined with the crude matter, not only in quantity but also in virtue. Withall, they might therefore search out this fire (which is mineral, equal, continual, vapors not away, except it be too much stirred up; partakes of sulphur, is taken from elsewhere than from the matter; pulls down all things, dissolves, congeals, and calcines, and is artificial to find out, and that by a compendious and near way without any cost, at least very small, is not transmuted with the matter because it is not of the matter). And you shall attain your wish, because it does the whole work, and is the key of the philosophers which they never revealed.