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Samuel Norton - The Key of Alchemy
The Mineral Stone
This transcription was originally made by W.A. Ayton in the latter decades of the 19th century, from the original manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Ashmole 1421. Samuel Norton was the great-grandson of the famous 15th century English alchemist Thomas Norton, author of the Ordinall of alchemy.
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Here Beginneth the Second Treatise of the Key of Alchimie
The minerall stone is diversely taken among the philosophers and yet all to one end; Some therefore which hold opinion that vitrioll is the first matter doe think that it is the Green Lion of philosophers; in that the philosophers said take it for Poniaine gold. That it is not so to be taken I shall not neede to to spend any time therein; Seeing I have declared sufficiently what is the Green Lion of philosophers and what the Green Lion of fooles; and yet I meane not to denie, but that it may be done of vitrioll or green copperose; If therefore the elements be separated and the same manner observed as shall be shewed in this treatise upon Mercury: for Riplie in his Bosome Booke sheweth the selfe same worcke much alike unto this worcke whereof wee are now to intreat whose words as they be but briefe; yet are they plain and easie enough to understand.
Intreating of The Minerall Stone
Rx (saith hee) Leonem viridem and eum dissolve, ie: Take the Green Lion meaning by copperose and in corrosive water or Aqua Fortis dissolve it setting it in balnes by the space of 15 daies. After that out thy vessaile; and make distillation that the tincture of the vitrioll may be had; Then with his elements separated and rectified proceede upone his owne earth first calcined; or upon the calcined earth of the ferments, or other waies, as the minerall stone of Mercury is to be used;
To come therefore to the purpose of the Minerall Stone. Although some there are that not thoroughly understand the trade and secrets of philosophers doe not only think but also affirme that quicksilver is not the matter of the stone. To whom I willingly grant; and farre further they avouch divers authorities, as among others Thomas Norton's authoritie for one, where in his 4th Chapter hee saith,
hee may not with metalls and quicksilver beginne,
To make Elixirs which yee intend to winne.
Small clarkship there is therein for they are not for this art.
These words are not amiss if they were rightly weighed; for here it is that crude metalls and crude quicksilver shall never make Elixir as they remaine or are in their crude matter, except they be before brought in their bodily compactions that thereby they may be the better and quicklier brought into the viscous waters or Mercuries: and in that behalfe are Thomas Norton his words which in a little after where hee not after his accustomed manner of most dark speech uttereth his meaning very plainly as appeareth in these words: -
"Yet if you destroy their whole composition
Some of the component parts may serve your conclusion
And that is nothing else of that one, or yet other
But only magnesia and Litharge, her brother."
(Nota: lithargyros, PbO)
By which words is given to understand that first of all wee ought to make solution for bodies or Argent Viv: crudum, being dissolved, are not any longer bodies but dissolved liquors or Mercuries of bodies; And therefore saith Riplie in his medulla, wrighting to Markham, Bishop of Yorke, if that yee know how and after what sort with the Aire or Elements of Quicksilver dissolved by himselfe, lifted up and rectified, therewithe to elixerate the body of Sol; The Artist, saithe hee, shall bee a searcher out of the most pretious worcke; Againe in the Treatise of the Minerall Stone he hathe these words: Certeine philosophers saied Quicksilver to speake, and said I am a father of enchantments, Brother to the Sunn and Sister to the Moone; I am the water of life drawne out of wine but the quick that is not of the vegetable but of quicksilver.
I make black and white, I carry in my bellie the Sol of philosophers. He that can joyne mee being dissolved after I am virgin's milk with my brother the Sol should faine him an hundred fould with my sister the Moon. I shall make all black bodies white; of which Quicksilver and his elements separated I finde that another philosopher saithe of Quicksilver alonsic when his elements are separated, (Nota) and againe mixed together by equall waight is made the Elixir compleate of Saturn and Jupiter (Heaven and Earth?): And further that this is meant by Quicksilver common or ar:vi (Argent Vive): hear what Raimond saith: The best Mercury cometh from Mount Parsulan (Nota: Pasuran in the NE of Java) in erthen baggs or skinns of which Geber saith in all they worckes labour to separate Mercury: for hee that cannot destroy Mercury cannot repaire Mercury; neither may you workce there with all untill it be dissolved wherefore it is said as afore; put not crude to worke things; As it only with the ferment is the Elixir made which congealeth ar:vi and all imperfect bodies;
Wherefore as Raimond saith in his booke of Mercury; it is never congealed; But with the sulphur congealing and of itselfe congealed, And because in it being dissolved not crude there is a great secret the philosophers saith. A certain thinne smoake springeth out of his own vaines, which if it be finely gathered and againe redisserted upon his owne vaines, (that is if his water had out by distillation or solution and agin put on his own earth, therewith all to be made fluxible and fixed hee then causeth a certain fixion; of which the elixir is ingendred in short space of time, for certainly without his liquorous spirit the bodie alchimick is not clensed.)
Now touching the matter of extraction. This water from Mercury crude there is but this only way; which I in theorick gather from Geber and Riplie but most specially from Paracelsus; and so have I seen it fall out in practise: Concerning the manner of doing it; Geber speaking of the dissolving of Sunn and Moon would have it done in the water of Mercury, that is, quothe hee, in the water of the dragon: And further saithe "Quod illa aqua draconis fit," that that water of the dragon ought to be made or drawne forth by alembick without putting any other water to it; and that in drawing thereof will arise a great stinck and further willeth that the Mercury be purified twice or thrice by passing it through Alimbeck before it be destilled in strong fire: As touching the stinck and perilous savoure my great grandfather commanded that the Artist should prepare a hood of leather with glass eyes to blindfold or stop his eies, nose, mouth, eares and by appointeth breath to be featched at one's feet for fears of the noisome aire or savour of Mercury. Ripley his way of drawing cometh somewhat neere Paracelsus way, in that his bodie was of stone his head of glasse; and touching the manner hee saith, Put they bodie which is waightie in a distillatorie of Stone and draw his sweat from him with a little spiracle as long as anything will distill: Then the vessaile being opened let the hole coole which being could; luting fast the head again, destill it and receive more of the humor. So doing manie times until the whole corporall bodie becomes after the manner of clay or dirt in the bottome of the glasse. Then put against on that matter the water distilled and make it putrifie the space of 40 daies in a dunghill or balneo: Which done destill first a white humor in a strong fire, with which worcke upon the calx of Sol and Luna prepared, either upon his owne calx or earth calcined, for that of his proper earth and oile is the redd medicine made with coagulated ar: vi (Argent Vivre). Yet thus far goeth Ripley: But to come to that which Paraclesus teacheth and that which is known proved, Take a stone bodie and set him among a heap of coales, the bodies being well luted to the head of glass or stone, then make fire until this bodie be redd fire hot, Then having a hole made in the bodie afore, a little under the head, which must be stopped with some lute so that it may be shut and opened at your will; Take your Mercury or quicksilver first well purged or lifted up by Alimbeck twice or thrice over and by a funnel of glass put in by 2,3, or 4 ounces at a time. Then close fast the hole and have your fire very hot. Then shall you hear a great noise in the bodie and the Mercury will rise over the water and fall into the receiver: which you must afore lute very soft into the nose of the Alimbeck and on this sort may you draw as much Mercury as you will and when you have done destilling. let your bodie coole and taking off your head you shall find in the bottom of the bodie an earth; He which take and calcine; for that earth is not to be taken away after it is fixed; for on that earth is the stone to be made after the separation of the elements out of the same liquor, or Menstruall Mercury aforesaid; which must be done; Take the humor as it is in the receaver; which put in to a Gripes egge close stopped, that nothing may expire; Then set it in balneo to putrifie for a space of 15 daies. That done, emptie it out into a bodie and setting on Alembick draw in the balneo gentlie all the water that will come. And that is the Lac Virginis; which thou must 7 times after destill in an ash fire; and the oile which remaineth, that keep fast in a glasse close stopped for it is the fierce element of the Minerall Stone.
The order and manner of working with these elements to the white and redd followeth and are triple; the first is with his owne earth; the 2nd on Sol and Luna; the 3rd by putrefaction; To the first take your Lac Virginis being rectified, and the earth being calcined into white, dissolve the same earth into Lac Virginis rectified and being dissolved coagulate it againe with a gentle fire over a fixatorie, the water being well stopped in a peare glass: and so put into a fixatorie and being so dried and fixed, dissolve and drie as afore untill it will flow or yield easy fusion; then may it be fermented with either the oile of Luna to the white worcke or oile of gold to the redd worcke. On this manner adjoyning to this flowing gumme being divided into 2 parts: The Luna to the white worckes in proportion halfe to halfe; and Sol in the same proportion the 4 parts; fire them well together in a fixatorie. And when they are joyned they will both flow on a fiery plate. Then take of thy redd Mercury or fierie element and pouring thereof some pretie quantity on the matter set it well stopped to dissolve in balneo; and being dissolved place it in an ash fire to drie to powder or rather in a fixatorie; And soe you may doe; increasing your medicine by dissolution and coagluation or fixation untill it will congeale no more; but remains oile, which is the great Elixir Minerall for gold Alchimik.
Of this way Riplie speaketh in his Medulla; To the end that Elixir may be had to the transmutation of metalls; there are sundrie waies; of which the first is the Mercury onlie, that is with Mercury and his owne earth of them to create gumme flowing; which must be sought of a cunning artificer; dissolve, saith hee, Mercury into a milckie water; of which milckie water hee giveth a prettie note, for therewith he affirmeth that the Artist may dissolve as much other crude Mercury into water as hee will. But passing to the process he addeth to the separation in these words: Let this dissolved liquor be put to dissolve in an easy fire and it shall distill our Virgin's Milcke cleare and cristalline wherewith all bodies may be dissolved into their first matter. and this water is of silverie colour: which if it were fixed with his earthly faeces calcined and againe dissolved in a quantitie of his water remaining againe and so congealed and dissolved until it pierce and flow; it should make the Elixir on all bodies imperfect as Ar:vi: and others into trew white and redd. and so is made of this Mercury (Mercurial) Liquor or water permanent and (c) and by touching the process of this worcke hee saith; And because when Mercury is dissolved the elements are separable from it; a competent putrefaction had; after the white liquor a golden humor shall ensue or much like unto redd with which a little ferment to the gumm of the aforesaid white stone being added shall bee with that golden humor imbibed and brought into the redd Elixir which shall transmute and elixirate all bodies into perfect Sol and Luna, if it be handled as aforesaid. And so is that first manner accomplished.
The 2nd is in Mercury and the white bodie to the white worcke and with the redd bodie to the redd worcke; that is with the prepared calces of Sol and Luna, namely that the calx be prepared after the manner as shall be hereafter shewed in fermentation; When therefore the calces be prepared put them in a circulatorie in ashfire and put thereon a prettie quantity of Lac Virginis and so circulate them into powder having first dissolved them in balneo but far better would it be done in Gammissaries after the manner of the vegetable accortation aforesaid. And may so be handled in all points; for the third manner which is by putrefaction which Riplie plainely sheweth in these words; Moreover when Mercury shall be dissolved, dissolve in it a little of the redd ferment and put all into a kimia (Kymenna ampulla or matrass), sealed with the philosopher's knot, and with an easie fire draw the chariot of the four elements through the depths of the sea till when the clouds are gone into the dright there shall be shine and appear a matter like to fishes eyes; then by the space of thirty daies following let it be made redd in a mighty fire till it seeme to melt like flowing wax; Then it is apt to convert all bodies into pure gold; And this Medicine may be multiplied with his proper humidities by convenient solutions and coagulations. and this is the way plain to elixirate with Mercury only; another way is there also to dissolve Mercury into water, which is called the sharp vinegar or philosophers; or the water of the sea, of which Thomas Norton (though enigmatically enough) make mention in his sixth chapter, where he speaketh of such liquors as apt the stone, hath these words: --
"Other men say no liquors from above"
Descended better than such as cungers love."
By which hee signified the waters of the sea, that is the water of their Mercury sublimate; which otherwise Ripley termeth sharp vinegar and hath white foeces and serveth as for putrefaction with water upon the calx of Lune; did Ripley make Elixir as appeareth in the 9 worckes he did at Estergate where in his 4th worcke hee saith was upon the calx of Lune with most sharp vinegar, which is our pure water of the sea. The order of the worcking therewith is on this wise: Take the Mercury well purged and sublime it thrice from Vitrioll and combust salt and once more from Allom; Then beate or grinde it small and rubb it up and downe on a broad pewter platter and let your sublimate to stand in a coole place to dissolve and it will turne to water. Take that water and filter it oftentimes then distill it and so rectifie it 7 times. With this water dissolve his owne earth which remaineth after the first (Nota) distillation being afore calcined into white and so dissolve it and fix it often times until it be fixed and flow; for to that end are the waters of Ripley where he saith; A good quantity of the Sharp vinegar being distilled by filter, Let destillation be made by Nature form his foeces and let the foeces be taken and with a lent fire be dried up and fixed in a phiol stopped; then being iterated let them be dissolved in his own water and let the water be destilled againe and his foeces may be fixed;
So continuing solutions and fixations until you may have the medicine fixed and flowing which is to be fermented in this manner; Let the medicine be dissolved in his owne water by himselfe; and let the white calx of (Luna) also be destilled with the same water in an other vessaile. Then let the solutions be mingled together and fixed together and doe with this as aforesaid in the other; And out of the vinegar if it be convenient lie putrefient for 10 days in balneo thereout may the elements be separated to serve for the uses aforesaid shewed; And therefore saith Ripley; Let there also be made water of Ar: Vi: sublimed, as you know, wich is called our Sharp vinegar and let the calx of white or red ferment bee dissolved with vulger dissolution untill it be cleare water with which the stone shall be fermented if you list; And thus I trust I have sufficiently declared the practise of the Minerall Stone.