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material mentioned by Paracelsus as the mysterious matrix of self-generation.-Thus, we read of one philosopher who “worked continually, sometimes in the dung of living creatures, as boyes' dung, and sometimes in his own ;'* because “the wise man knows her (i. e. nature) to be amongst dung.”+ Now, all this reasoning and practice is founded upon the principle (which we have before spoken of) of there being in every body a central point of the seed or sperm of life, which (with the true spirit of alchymical accuracy), is stated to be “alwaies the 8200th part, yea, even in every wheat corn, and this cannot be otherwise, I there being nothing made in the world which is destitute of seed;" a point so clear that “he which gives no credit to this undoubted truth, is not worthy to search into the secrets of nature.” His mode of proof is somewhat singular ; whether conclusive or not, we leave for the decision of others. “ There is one God: of this one God the Son is begotten; one produceth two, two have produced one holy spirit, proceeding from both; so the world is made, and so shall be the end thereof."| It would be an insult to the understanding of our readers to speak of the nature and manufacture of our common saltpetre; but as the "saltpetre of philosophers, by which all things grow and are nourished" appears to be a very different and curious article, as well as “most pretious,” we shall stand, we trust, excused in noticing it, as an instance of the facility of preparing an alchymical prescription.
“Take ten parts of air, one part of living gold, or living silver; put all these into thy vessel : boil this air first until it be water, and then no water. If thou art ignorant of this, and knowest not how to boil the air, without all doubt thou shalt err; seeing this is the matter of the ancient philosophers. For thou must take that, which is, and is not seen, until it be the artificer's pleasure; it is the water of our dew, out of which is extracted the saltpetre of philosophers.”
With respect to another well known substance, he is rather less explicit: we give his words.
“ I have not so clearly shewed the extraction of our sal ammoniac, or the mercury of philosophers, out of our sea water, and the use thereof, because I had from the master of nature no leave to speak any further; and this only God must reveal, who knows the hearts and minds of men."**
| Ibid. 9.
§ Ibid. 19.
*· New Light,” 62.
|| Ibid. 21.
+ Ibid. 77.
** Ibid. 45.
Perhaps this occasional unwillingness to impart to others every secret, may have originated in the constant communication they appear to have held with themselves, for we are told of one persevering experimentalist, who " was a man that was always wont to talk to himself, as indeed all alchymists usually do;"* notwithstanding the caution thrown out in p. 119, we advise thee, that before thou settest thyself to this art, in the first place thou learn to hold thy tongue.”
In treating of the element of earth, we find some very notable remarks, justly entitling it to the well-known appellation of mother earth; for though, as an element, she does not actually bring forth of herself, de jure, yet what is projected into her she receives and keeps, being " the nurse and matrix of all seed and commixtion;" and yet, notwithstanding these maternal qualities, she “is a, virgin” and a caput mortuum, containing, however, in her centre, “ the fire of hell.”+ The element of air stands high in the estimation of our author; for in it are “ all things entire through the imagination of fire, and it is the most worthy of the three in which is seed, and vital spirit or dwelling place of the soul of every creature.”+ Fire ranks, however, still bigher, for she" is the purest and most worthy element of all;" when adulterated, even she is invaluable, for “out of the less pure part of the substance the angels were created.” That which is "less pure” again is "raised up to terminate and hold up the heavens; but the impure and unctuous part of it is left and included in the centre of the earth by the wise and great Creator, for to continue the operation of motion, and this we call hell," and is also "in all things undiscernible,” S (here, by the bye, we again have latent heat :) as an example, the flint is mentioned, " in which there is fire and yet is not perceived, neither doth appear, until it be stirred up by motion."| In it are " the reasons of life and understanding, which are distributed in the first infusion of man's life, and these are called the rational soul, by which alone man differs from other creatures, and is like to God. This soul is of that most pure elementary fire infused by God into the vital spirit.” Amidst all this absurdity, there is something, if not philosophical, at least approaching to the sublime in connecting the soul with this pure element; and the following passage, in which the fiat of omnipotence is illustrated by the pomp of royalty, is, at least, impressive and eloquent.
*“New Light," 60. + Ibid. 83, 84. | Ibid. 96, 98
$ Ibid. 99, 100. || Ibid. 101.
“So the fire in which is placed the sacred majesty of our Creator, is not moved, unless it be stirred up by the proper will of the Most High, and so is carried where his holy will is. There is made by the will of the Supreme Maker of all things a most vehement and terrible motion. Thou hast an example of this when any monarch of this world sits in his pomp, what a quietness there is about him what a silence !-And, although some one of his court doth move, the motion is only of some one or other particular man, which is not regarded. But when the Lord himself moves, there is an universal stir and motion; then all that attend on him, move with him. What then, when that supreme monarch, the king of kings, and maker of all things (after whose example the princes of the world are established in the earth) doth move in his own person of majesty --what a stir! what trembling, when the whole guard of his heavenly army move about him !***
The latter part of this work does, indeed, contain many sprinklings of truth and sublimity ;-for example, “Know that thou canst create nothing, for that is proper to God alone, but to make things that are not perceived, but lye hid in the shadow, to appear, and to take from them their veil, is granted to an intelligent philosopher by God through nature.”+ Of paradise, we read, that it was and is such a place, which was created by the great Maker of all things, of true elements, pure, temperate, equally proportioned in the highest perfection; and all things that were in paradise were created of the same elements, and incorrupt; there, also, was man created and framed of the same incorrupt elements, proportioned in equality, that he could in no wise be corrupted, therefore he was consecrated to immortality.-But when, afterwards, man, by his sin of disobedience, had transgressed the commandment of the most high God, he was driven forth to beasts into the corruptible world,” &c.; and there declined into corruption, “until one quality exceeded another, and destruction, and infirmity, and, last of all, separation and death of the whole compound followed.”I
Again, in his conclusion, “He that well knows what he begins, shall well know what shall be the end. For the original of the elements is the chaos, out of which God, the maker of all things, created and separated the elements, which belongs to God alone; but out of the elements nature produceth the principles of things, and this is nature's work through the will of God alone.” An instance is mentioned, in this concluding chapter, of gold being found between a dead man's teeth, the explanation of which we cannot refrain from giving,
* New Light," 101.
+ Ibid. 32. Ibid. 107.
$ Ibid. 143.
as an instance of the mode by which facts are compelled to bow down and accommodate themselves to preconceived theories.
“Now, the reason why gold was found, and generated betwixt the teeth of the dead man, is this, because, in his life time, mercury was by some physician conveyed into his infirm body, either by unction, or by turbith, or some other way, as the custom and manner was, and it was the nature of mercury to go up to the mouth, and, through the sores thereof, to be evacuated with the fegme. If, therefore, in time of such a cure, the sick man dyed, that mercury, not finding any egress, remained in his mouth betwixt his teeth, and that carcass became the natural vessel of mercury, so, being shut up fast for a long time, was congealed into gold, by its own proper sulphur being purified, by the natural heat of putrefaction, caused by the corrosive flegme of the man's body; but if mineral mercury had not been brought in thither, there could gold never have been produced. And this is a most true example, that nature, in the bowels of the earth, doth of mercury alone produce gold and silver, and other metals, according to the disposition of the place or matrix."*
The second part of this volume contains nine books of the nature of things, by Paracelsus; in noticing which, we have space only for the selection of a few of the most interesting facts recorded. We have seen the process for making men artificially. The following process, for the regeneration of chickens, may be acceptable to all careful housewives. living chicke be in a vessel of glasse, like a gourd, and sealed up, burnt to powder, or ashes in the third degree of fire, and afterwards so closed in, be putrified with the exactest putrefaction of horse-dung, into a mucilagenous flegme,t then that flegme may be brought into maturity, and become a renewed and new made chicke.”+ There is another curious recipe, for making a basiliske; but it is superfluous to give it, for the fol. lowing excellent reason,~" But who is so courageous and bold, to make, take him out and kill him again, (after he is made), unless he cover and fortify himself well first with glasses : I should persuade none so to do it, nay, I would advise them to take heed of it.” In fact, it would be not only a work of supererogation, but of cruelty, to manufacture these, or, indeed, any kind of monsters, since we are assured that “ God abhors” them all, and that “none of them can be saved; whence wee can conjecture nothing else but that they are so formed by the devil, and are made for the devill's service.”).
- If a
* “ New Light,” 146.
+ Flegm, fatness, and ashes, were considered as the three principles of life ; flegm being mercury, fat sulphur, and ashes salt.
1“ Nature of Things,” 3. Ibid. 7. || Ibid, 7.
The homunculi or artificial men before mentioned, are, however, by no means useless .commodities, because they furnish an ample supply of “ fairies, nymphs, gyants, pigmies or gnomi,* and other great and monstrous men, who are instruments of great matters ;"+ all of whom come from these homunculi. For the information of such as feel a difficulty in keeping their gold when they have it, we can inform them, that Paracelsus says, it “cannot be preserved better and fairer, than in boyes' urine, in which sal ammoniack is dissolved." In lib. iv. of the life of natural things, there are some definitions of life truly alchymical. The “ life of man is nothing else but an astrall balsome, a balsamick impression, and a celestial invisible and included air, and a tinging spirit of salt;" the life of bones is the liquor of mummie,” (of which, more anon ;) the life of flesh and blood is nothing else but the spirit of salt, which preserves them from stinking. In lib. viii., “ on the Separation of natural things,” the soul is considered as compounded of an elementary and sacramental substance; the former of which is corruptible, whereas the latter, or syderial, or celestial, as it is also called, is “ never putrified, or buried, neither doth it
possess any place. . This latter body appears to men, and also after death is seen."| Hence ghosts, visions, and super-natural appearances.
In the 8th book on Separations, a most excellent balsome is recommended, as the chiefest“ chirurgical specificum,” made from man's fat and flesh ! " Allaying the pains of the gout and cramp, and such like pains, if any parts affected be anointed with it warm.”T A daily application also is said effectually to cure the scab. Alchymy and astrology, as it might be expected, oft-times go hand in hand. Accordingly, we are reminded, that
wise man can rule the stars, and not be subject to them;" the stars being subject to the wise man, and not he to them not so, however, with such as lack wisdom, for then the stars compel them, “ that whither they lead them, they must follow, just as a thief doth the gallows, and a highway robber, the wheel; the fisher, the fishes; the fowler, the birds; and the hunter, the wild beasts."** Accordingly, we are told that " by the help of his star, a fowler needs not go after his birds, for they will come after him, flying to unusual places, contrary to their nature, and a fisherman can, by making use of the wisdom which God hath given him, make fishes swim to him of their own accord, so that he may take them up with his hands.”++
• Gnomes or pigmies are certain “corporeal spirits living under the earth, of a cubit long.” + “New Light," 9. [ Ibid. 24.
Ş“ Nature of things,” 31, &c. || Ibid. 81. Ibid. 96.
tt Ibid. 113. VOL. XIV. PART I.