PART THE FIRST.
OF ALCHYMY, ITS DIVINE ORIGIN, &c.--DIFFICULTY OF ATTAINING A PERFECTION IN THE ART--WHAT AN ADEPT IS--OF THE CABALA--THE ROSIE CRUCIANS ADEPTISTS--POSSIBILITY OF BEING AN ADEPT--LIKEWISE, THAT THE LAPIS PHILOSOPHORUM EXISTS IN NATURE, AND THAT PROVED BY SUFFICIENT AUTHORITY, AND THAT THEY ARE NOT ALL IMPOSTORS WHO ARE ALCHYMISTS, OR PRETEND TO IT--THE MADNESS OF THE SCHOOLS PROVED, AND THE FOOLISHNESS OF THEIR WISDOM--THE TRIUMPH OF CHEMICAL PHILOSOPHY, OR THE HERMETIC ART PREFERABLE TO ANY OTHER.
IT is not necessary here to enter into a long detail of the merits of Alchymical Authors and Philosophers; suffice it to say, that Alchymy, the grand touch-stone of natural wisdom, is of Divine origin: it was brought down from Heaven by the Angel Uriel. Zoroaster, the first philosopher by fire, made pure gold from all the seven metals; he brought the sun ten times brighter from the bed of Saturn, and fixed it with the moon, who thereby copulating, begot a numerous offspring of an immortal nature, a pure living spiritual sun, burning in the refulgency of its own divine light, a seed of a sublime and fiery nature, a vigorous progenitor. This Zoroaster was the father of alchymy, illumined divinely from above; he knew every thing, yet seemed to know nothing; his precepts of art were left in hieroglyphics, yet in such sort that none but the favourites of Heaven ever reaped benefit thereby. He was the first who engraved the pure Cabala in most pure gold, and, when he died, resigned it to his Father who liveth eternally, yet begot him not: that Father gives it to his sons, who follow the precepts of Wisdom with vigilance, ingenuity, and industry, and with a pure, chaste, and free mind.
Hermes, Trismegistus, Geber, Artephius, Bacon, Helmont, Lully, and Basil Valentine, have written most profoundly, yet abstrusely, and all declare not the thing sought for. Some say they were forbid; others that they declared it obviously and intelligibly, yet some few little points they kept to
themselves. However far off the main point they lead us, of this be sure,--that something valuable is to be drained, as it were, out of each.
Geber is good--Artephius is better--but Flammel is best of all;--and better still than these is the instructions we give; for with them a man (following our directions) shall never want gold; therefore to be an adept is possible, but first "seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." This is truth incontrovertible, and herein lies a vast secret--"seek and ye shall find;"--but remember, whatsoever ye ask, that shall ye receive.
The cabala, in its utmost purity, is contained in the many precepts given in this book. The cabala enables us to understand--to bring our understandings to act, and, by that means, to attain knowledge;--knowledge makes us the children of God--God makes whom he pleases adepts in wisdom. To be an adept, according to God's will, is no contemptible calling.
The noble and virtuous Brethren of the Rosy Cross holds this truth sacred that "Virtue flies from no man;" therefore how desirable a thing is Virtue. She teaches us, first, wisdom, then charity, love, mercy, faith, and constancy; all these appertain to Virtue; therefore it is physically possible for any well-inclined man to become an adept, provided he lays aside his pride of reasoning, all obstinacy, blindness, hypocrisy, incredulity, superstition, deceit, &c.
An adept, therefore, is one who not only studies to do God's will upon earth, in respect of his moral and religious duties; but who studies, and ardently prays to his benevolent Creator to bestow on him wisdom and knowledge from the fulness of his treasury; and he meditates, day and night, how he may attain the true aqua vita--how he may be filled with the grace of God; which, when he is made so happy, his spiritual and internal eye is open to a glorious prospect of mortal and immortal riches:--he wants not food, raiment, joy, or any other thing--he is filled with the celestial spiritual manna--he enjoys the marrow and fat things of the earth--he treads the wine-press, not of the wrath, but of the mercy of God--he lives to the glory of God, and dies saying "Holy, holy, holy Lord of Sabaoth! blessed is thy name, now and for evermore! Amen."
Therefore, to be an adept, as we have before hinted, is to know thyself, fear God, and love thy neighbour as thyself; and by this thou shalt come to the fulfilment of thy desires, O, man; but by no other means under the scope of Heaven.
When thy soul shall be made drunk by the divine ambrosial nectar, then shall thy understanding be more clear than the noontide sun;--then, by thy strong and spiritualized intellectual eye, shalt thou see into the great treasury of Nature, and thou shalt praise God with thy whole heart;--then wilt thou see the folly of the world; and thou shalt unerringly accomplish thy desire, and shalt possess the true Philosophers' stone, to the profit of thy neighbour. I say, thou shalt visibly and sensibly, according to thy corporal faculties; not imaginary, not delusively, but real.
Helmont, an author of no mean repute, avouches that he has actually seen the stone which converts base metals into gold; that he has seen it with his eyes., and handled it with his fingers: taken from his own relation of the fact; notwithstanding Kircher's declamation against the possibility of obtaining it, noting them all who professed alchymy to be a set of impostors and jugglers, giving no better an exposition of their process of transmutation than this--"An Alchymist," says Kircher, "procures or desires a crucible to be brought, wherein is put lead or any other base metal, which, while in fusion, he (the Alchymist) stirs about with an iron rod, and then," he says, "he drops in, from between his fingers, a bit of gold; and after stirring up for some time, and essay being made, gold is found." This is, indeed, a very lame method of exploding alchymy; but, however, to leave Kircher as much in the dark as he was, we shall give you Van Helmont's declaration, a philosopher of much greater note than this pseudo-chemist Kircher. Van Helmont says--"I have divers times handled that stone with my hands, and have seen a real transmutation of saleable quicksilver with mine eyes, which, in proportion, did exceed the powder which made the gold in some thousand degrees.
"It was of the colour that is in saffron, being weighty in its powder, and shining like bruised glass, when it should be the less exactly beaten. But there was once given unto me the fourth part of one grain, (I call, also, a
grain the six hundredth part of an ounce). This powder I involved in wax, scraped off a certain letter, lest, in casting it into the crucible, it should be dispersed, through the smoak of the coals; which pellet of wax I afterwards cast into the three-cornered vessel of a crucible upon a pound of quicksilver, hot and newly bought; and presently the whole quicksilver, with some little noise, stood still from flowing, and resided like a lump; but the heat of that argent vive was as much as might forbid melted lead from recoagulating. The fire being straightway after increased under the bellows, the metal was melted; the which, the vessel of fusion being broken, I found to weigh eight ounces of the most pure gold.
"Therefore, a computation being made, a grain of that powder doth convert nineteen thousand two hundred grains of impure and volatile metal, which is obliterable by the fire, into true gold.
"For that powder, by uniting the aforesaid quicksilver unto itself, preserved the same, at one instant, from an eternal rust, putrefaction, death, and torture of the fire, howsoever most violent it was, and made it as an immortal thing, against any vigour or industry of art and fire, and transchanged it into the virgin purity of gold; at leastwise one only fire of coals is required herein."
By which we see that so learned and profound a philosopher as Van Helmont could not so easily have been made to believe that there existed a possibility of transmutation of base metals into pure gold, without he had actually proved the same by experiment.
Again, let the standing monuments of Flammel's liberal bounty to the poor, through this mean, to be seen at Paris every day, stand as a testimony to the truth of the existing possibility of transmutation. Likewise, Helmont mentions a stone that he saw, and had in his possession, which cured all disorders, the plague not excepted. I shall relate the circumstance in his own words, which are as follow:--
"There was a certain Irishman, whose name was Butler, being some time great with James, King of England, he being detained in the prison of the Castle of Vilvord; and taking pity on one Baillius, a certain Franciscan Monk, a most famous preacher of Gallo-Britain, who was also imprisoned,
having an erisipelas in his arm; on a certain evening, when the Monk did almost despair, he swiftly tinged a certain little stone in a spoonful of almond-milk, and presently withdrew it thence. So he says to the keeper--'Reach this supping to that Monk; and how much soever he shall take thereupon, he shall be whole, at least within a short hour's space.'--Which thing even so came to pass, to the great admiration of the keeper and the sick man, not knowing from whence so sudden health shone upon him, seeing that he was ignorant that he had taken any thing: for his left arm, being before hugely swollen, fell down as that it could scarcely be discerned from the other. On the morning following, I, being entreated by some great men, came to Vilvord, as a witness of his deeds; therefore I contracted a friendship with Butler.
"Soon afterwards, I saw a poor old woman, a laundress, who, from the age of sixteen years, had laboured with an intolerable megrim, cured in my presence. Indeed he, by the way, lightly dipped the same little stone in a spoonful of oil of olives, and presently cleansed the same stone by licking it with his tongue, and laid it up into his snuff-box; but that spoonful of oil he poured into a small bottle of oil, whereof one only drop he commanded to be anointed on the head of the aforesaid old woman, who was thereby straightway cured, and remained whole; which I attest I was amazed, as if he was become another Midas; but he, smiling, said--
'My most dear friend, unless thou come hitherto, so as to be able, by one only remedy, to cure every disease, thou shalt remain in thy young beginnings, however old thou shalt become.'--I easily assented to this, because I had learned that from the secrets of Paracelsus; and being now more confirmed by sight and hope. But I willingly confess, that that new mode of curing was unaccustomed and unknown to me: I therefore said, that a young Prince of our Court, Viscount of Gaunt, brother to the Prince of Episuoy, of a very great House, was so wholly prostrated by the gout, that he thenceforth lay only on one side, being wretched, and deformed with many knots: he, therefore, taking hold of my right hand, said--'Wilt thou that I cure the young man? I will cure him for thy sake.'--'But,' I replied, 'he is of that obstinacy, that he had rather die, than drink one only medicinal potion.'
'Be it so,' said Butler; 'for neither do I require any other thing, than that he do, every morning, touch this little stone, thou seest, with the top of his tongue; for after three weeks from thence, let him wash the painful and unpainful knots with his own urine, and thou shalt soon afterwards see him cured, and soundly walking. Go thy ways, and tell him, with joy, what I have said.'
"I therefore, being glad, returned to Brussels, and told him what Butler had said.
"But the Potentate answered--'Go, tell Butler that if he shall restore me as thou hast said, I will give him as much as he shall require;--demand the price, and I will willingly sequester that which is deposited for his security.--And when I declared the thing to Butler, on the day following, he was very wrath, and said--'That Prince is mad, or witless and miserable, and therefore will I never help him: for neither do I stand in need of his money--neither do I yield--nor am I inferior to him.'--Nor could I ever induce him, afterwards, to perform what before he had promised; wherefore I began to doubt whether the things I had before seen were dreams.
"It happened, in the mean time, that a friend, overseer and master of the glass-furnace at Antwerp, being exceeding fat, most earnestly requested of Butler that he might be freed from his fatness; unto whom Butler offered a small piece of that little stone, that he might once every morning lick, or speedily touch it with the top of his tongue: and, within three weeks, I saw his breast made more strait, or narrow, by one span, and him to have lived no less whole afterwards. Wherefore I began again to believe that the aforesaid gouty Prince might have been cured, according to the manner Butler had promised.
"In the mean time, I sent to Vilvord, to Butler, for a remedy, in the case of poison given me by a secret enemy; for I miserably languished--all my joints were pained; and my pulse, vehement, being at length become an intermitting one, did accompany the faintings of my mind, and extinguishment of my strength.
"Butler, being still detained in prison, commanded my household-servant, whom I had sent, that forthwith he should bring unto him a small bottle of oil of olives; and his little stone, aforesaid, being tinged therein, as at other times, he sent that oil unto me; and told the servant, that with one only small drop of the oil, I should anoint only one place of the pain, or all the places, if I would; the which I did, and yet felt no help thereby. In the mean time, my enemy, according to his lot, being about to die, bade that pardon should be craved of me for his sin; so I knew that I had taken poison, the which I suspected; and therefore, also, I procured with all care to extinguish the slow venom, which, through the grace of God favouring me, I escaped.
"Seeing that, afterwards, many other cures were performed upon certain gentlewomen, I asked Butler why so many women should be cured, but that I (while that I sharply conflicted with death itself, being also environed with pains of all my joints and organs) should not feel any ease?--But he asked with what disease I had laboured?--And when he understood that poison had given a beginning to the disease, he said,--that, as the cause had come from within to without, the oil ought to be taken into the body, or the stone to be touched with the tongue; because the grief being cherished within, it was not local or external; and also observed, that the oil did, by degrees, uncloath itself with the efficacy of healing, because the little stone being lightly tinged in it, it had not pithily charged the oil throughout its whole body, but had only ennobled it with a delible or obliterable besprinkling of its odour: for truly that stone did present, in the eyes and tongue, sea-salt spread abroad, or rarified; and it is sufficiently known that salt is not to be very intimately mixed with oil.
"This same man, also, cured an Abbess, who, for eighteen years, had had her right arm swelled, with an entire deprivation of motion, and the fingers thereof stiff and unmoveable, only by the touching of her tongue with this admirable stone.
"But very many being present witnesses of these same wonders, did suspect some hidden sorcery, or diabolical craft; for the common people have it for an ancient custom, that whatsoever honest thing their ignorance has determined
not to comprehend, they do, for a privy shift of their ignorance, refer the same to be the juggling of an evil spirit. But I could never decline so far, because the remedy was supposed to be natural; for neither words, ceremonies, nor any other suspected thing, was required. For neither is it lawful, according to man's power of understanding, to refer the glory of God, shewn forth in Nature, unto the devil. For none of those people had required aid of Butler, as from necromancy any way suspected; yea, the thing was at first made trial of with smiling, and without faith and confidence; yet this easy method of curing shall long remain suspected by many; for the wit of the vulgar being inconstant and idle, they do more readily consecrate so great a bounty of restitution unto diabolical contrivance, than to Divine Goodness, the framer, lover, saviour, refresher of human nature, and the father of the poor. And these vile prejudices are not only inherent in the common people, but also in those that are learned, who rashly search into the beginning of healing, being not yet instructed, or observing the common and blockish rules; because they are always wise as children, who have never gone over their mother's threshold, being: afraid of every fable. For they who have not hitherto known the whole circuit of diseases to be included within the spirit of life, which maketh the assault; or if they hereafter, reading my studies by the way, shall imprint on themselves this moment or concernment of healing; nevertheless, because they have been already before accustomed from the very beginnings of their studies, to the precepts of the humorists, they will easily, at length, depart from me, and leap back to the favourite bigotry and ancient opinions of the schools."
But now we will hasten to the manner of preparation necessary to qualify a man for the attainment of these sublime gifts.