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EVEN thus saith Hermes:

"Through long years I have not ceased to experiment, neither have I spared any labour of mind, and this science and art I have obtained by the sole inspiration of the Living God, who judged fit to open them to me His servant, who has given to rational creatures the power of thinking and judging aright, forsaking none or giving to any occasion to despair. For myself, I had never discovered this matter to anyone had it not been from fear of the judgment and the perdition of my soul, if I concealed it. It is a debt which I am desirous to discharge to the faithful as the Father of the faithful did liberally bestow it upon me.

"Understand ye then, O Sons of Wisdom, that the knowledge of the four elements of the ancient philosophers was not corporally or imprudently sought after, which are through patience to be discovered according to their causes and their occult operation. But, their operation is occult, since nothing is done except the matter be decompounded and because it is not perfected unless the colours be thoroughly passed and accomplished. Know then, that the division that was made upon the water, by the ancient philosophers, separates it into four substances, one into two, and three into

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one, the third part of which is colour, as it were--a coagulated moisture; but the second and third waters are the Weights of the Wise.

"Take of the humidity, or moisture, an ounce and a half, and of the Southern Redness, which is the soul of gold, a fourth part, that is to say, half an ounce; of the citrine Seyre, in like manner, half an ounce; of the Auripigment, half an ounce, which are eight; that is three ounces. And know ye that the vine of the wise is drawn forth in three, but the wine thereof is not perfected, until at length thirty be accomplished.

"Understand the operation, therefore. Decoction lessens the matter, but the tincture augments it, because Luna in fifteen days is diminished, and in the third she is augmented. This is the beginning and the end. Behold, I have declared that which was hidden, since the work is both with thee and about thee; that which was within is taken out and fixed, and thou canst have it either in earth or sea.

"Keep, therefore, the Argent vive, which is prepared in the innermost chamber in which it is coagulated; for that is the Mercury which is celebrated from the residual earth.

"He, therefore, who now hears my words, let him search into them, which are to justify no evil-doer, but to benefit the good; therefore I have discovered all things that were before hidden concerning this knowledge, and disclosed the greatest of all secrets, even the Intellectual Science.

"Know ye, therefore, Children of Wisdom, who inquire concerning the report thereof, that the vulture standing upon the mountain crieth out with a loud

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voice: 'I am the White of the Black, and the Red of the White, and the Citrine of the Red, and behold I speak the very Truth.'

"And know that the chief principle of the art is the Crow, which is the blackness of the night and the clearness of the day, and flies without wings. From the bitterness existing in the throat the tincture is taken, the red goes forth from his body, and from his back is taken a thin water.

"Understand, therefore, and accept this gift of God which is hidden from the thoughtless world. In the caverns of the metals there is hidden the stone that is venerable, splendid in colour, a mind sublime and an open sea. Behold, I have declared it unto thee; give thanks to God who teacheth thee this knowledge, for He in return recompenses the grateful.

"Put the matter into a moist fire, therefore, and cause it to boil, in order that its heat may be augmented, which destroys the siccity of the incombustible nature, until the radix shall appear; then extract the redness and the light parts, till only about a third remains.

"Sons of Science! For this reason are philosophers said to be envious, not that they grudged truth to religious or just men, or to the wise, but to fools, ignorant and vicious, who are without Self-Control and benevolence, lest they should be made powerful, and able to perpetrate sinful things. For of such the philosophers are made accountable to God, and evil men are not admitted worthy of this wisdom.

"Know that this matter I call the stone, but it is also named the feminine of magnesia, or the hen, or the white spittle, or the volatile milk, the incombustible

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oil, in order that it may be hidden from the inept and ignorant, who are deficient in goodness and self-control; which I have nevertheless signified to the wise by one only epithet, viz., the Philosophers' Stone.

"Include, therefore, and conserve in this sea, the fire, and the heavenly bird, to the latest moment of his exit. But I deprecate ye all, Sons of Philosophy, on whom the great gift of this knowledge being bestowed, if any should undervalue or divulge the power thereof to the ignorant, or such as are unfit for the knowledge of this secret. Behold, I have received nothing from any to whom I have not returned that which had been given me, nor have I failed to honour him; even in this I have reposed the highest confidence.

"This, O Son, is the concealed Stone of many colours, which is born and brought forth in one colour; I know this and conceal it. By this, the Almighty favouring, the greatest diseases are escaped, and every sorrow, distress and evil and hurtful thing is made to depart; for it leads from darkness into light, from this desert wilderness to a secure habitation, and from poverty and straits to a free and ample fortune."

Next: Section II