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Joannes Agricola - Treatise on Gold

Chapter 6.

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Chapter 6

How the Purging ( ) is to be prepared

Take 4 Lots of quicksilver, 1 Lot of fine gold, make an amalgam with them, such as goldsmiths do when they wish to gild. Thereafter, enclose the amalgam in a glass, let it stand for 32 days in a gentle heat, such as a vapor fire. After that, 3 days in warm ashes. In this time the Body of the ( ) will have completely mixed with the quicksilver. Now pour the oil of vitriol over it, standing one finger's width over the materia. Set the glass in warm sand till the moisture has evaporated, then leave it in the same heat till it turns into a beautiful red precipitate.


In this process and title the author indicates how the gold is to be prepared so that it may purge and turn into a fine precipitate, which also takes place. But if I take a good look at the preparation, it is rather a Mercury than a purging gold. This must be achieved by the Mercury, as Mercury can also do this without the addition of gold, if it is precipitated with spirit of vitriol or other means, of which more will be said later on. It becomes more sudorific than cathartic, as its effect shows. But when I look at the composition, I find that there is 4 times as much Mercury as gold. Therefore it is wrong to call it "purging gold". This process is not at all new or of particular importance, for this preparation can be found in many authors, and I had previously seen it in many laboratories, though under the title of "purging Mercury". More can be read about this and looked up in Penotus, Beuinus, Quercetanus, Harmannus, and other chymists, who prepare this medicine in a shorter time.

The author believes that gold would turn altogether into a Mercury which could in turn again be reduced into gold. But he is mistaken. Gold stays gold, even if it went through the leather with Mercury, as the goldsmiths also know. If they wish to gild, they must put the gold on the silver, and even if everything had been precipitated and appeared to have become fixed, it could be driven off in a good fire, leaving the gold beautiful and shining. It had therefore not been altered, let alone turned into a medicine. Therefore students must be alert not to be misled by splendid titles. In this composition one can also see that gold stays as it is and does not impart the least bit of its substance to the Mercury. Accordingly, gold does not cause such a purging.

But whoever wants to purge with gold, let him take only aurum fulminans (gold that explodes over fire with sharp detonation - beaten into thin leaflets) which, however, must be properly edulcorated, 10 or 12 grains. He will find that it also purges violently without Mercury, but without pain and danger. It will rid him of much bad moisture, especially if it is wrapped in a little black hellebore and taken in pill form. Then it purges exceedingly well, and is especially good for persons who cannot take much medicine. It is also a good remedy for persons who cannot take much medicine. It is also a good remedy for fine gentlemen who generally do not like to take many medicines and would rather be purged without them, if it were possible.

Thus, some time ago, I purged a noble Count without the addition of any medicine, either external or internal. The following day he had twelve stools. It was indeed a fine piece of the Art, and many who read this will probably have a good laugh at it. But let them laugh or cry, it is the same to me, but even so it is the bitter truth, and I can perform it again whenever and at what time you are asking me for it. Nor is it sorcery, as some will think, but it happens in quite a natural way. In addition, it is surprising that it enables people to have as many bowel movements as they wish, and when they feel that they have been purged enough, they can at once stop, so that there is not too much of a good thing. Even if a man were several miles away from me, it can still be done as if he were present.

This purging method also provides you with a good way of purging pregnant women in case of need, as I tried recently with two such persons. It harms the fruit in no way, as it effects its operation without any trouble. That I should reveal it to everybody, however, I will not do. I reveal anyhow so much as nobody has ever done before. For how often it happens that a pregnant woman must be purged, and this is especially dangerous in the first and last months. Often mother and child must die from it. Those can be helped by this means, aided by God, and this is no paradox.

From a metallic body I can make a salt that is beautiful and bright like a crystal, without any rectification. It tastes like a somewhat sour apple. If you put no more than a grain of it on your tongue and let it melt, it purges in a surprising way 12 or 15 times, without any discomfort. Children and pregnant women can also use it, which is indeed a fine performance. It does not only attack the fluids, leaving the hard feces behind, as some purgatives sometimes do, but it removes all feculent material. It may well be called a specific purging medicine, and can be prepared in a few hours. But what kind of a metallic body it is, each may ponder upon, because it has no name. It is black, white and grey, and is heavy as gold. From this one can easily see what it is. (ha,ha,ha,ha,ha!)

What is more, I can cure epilepsy with it and have done so for various persons, praise be to God, giving only 1 or grains in a specific liquid, such as Linden -, cherry - or swallow-water. Well, to treat further of this cannot be done here and will probably be done at another place.

Poppius uses this purging gold for the cure of the French (syphilis), giving 2 or 3 grains in one Lot of teriac. True, the impure syphilis-infected blood is mightily cleansed by it, for it is not only purged through bowel movements but also causes profuse perspiration. It must be remembered, however, that if it is to purge, it must not be too fixed; if it is to cause perspiration, it must be reverberated in a strong fire. Then it gets a diaphoretic virtue and drives out the perspiration. All diaphoretics must be well fixed and separated from their volatile spirits, because the volatile spirits, move the abdomen and purge, as may be seen with antimony. Many think that it is impossible to prepare it in such a way that it only purges through the lower parts. Whoever can control its volatile spirits, however, can easily achieve it, and by many and various means, of which I will speak further on in detail.

Likewise, it is also used for the Plague in lemon water, juice or spirit, because it strongly fights every poison, provided it is made quite fixed. If great impurity is noticed in a subject, it can also be used for purging, but it must be done immediately at the beginning, since, as Quercetanus rightly reminds us in his Alexicaco, Mercurius strongly fights this poison. Thus one has heard that the Plague had made no dent in localities close to quicksilver mines. This is the reason why quicksilver is put around people's neck as a temporary amulet against the Plague.

This prepared gold is also used to advantage in cases of Red Dysentary when one generally becomes aware of a suspicion of poison, as in the year 1624, when such an epidemic prevailed in Thuringia. If you administer 2,3 or 4 grains in quince juice, it does much good, no matter through what channel it accomplishes its operation, for Nature knows well how to eliminate her excrements.

In jaundice, it does its share very well and can easily be administered by putting 5 grains into lavender water for three consecutive days. It not only drives away jaundice but all other sicknesses that have specific colors, and there is no better remedy.

In surgery, this gold is quite a healing medicine, for it provides a good foundation in all corrupted parts, cleanses them and promotes their healing. A surgeon may well rely on it, It eliminates everything impure without pain and corrosion, and does not let any accident become harmful. It heals all wounds in a short time, no matter what they are, because Mercury is a mighty incarnativum, better than all medicines, and barbers should use it instead of the common corrosive precipitate which is harmful and causes much pain. This one, however, operates quite without pain and does not cause any inflammation. Where there are especially deep holes, it heals them quickly, in particular if it is mixed with the other medicines.

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