+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

of the great masters, to perfect the lower
metals into the higher ones. They who
possessed the secretkept it! All that modern
chemistry can say, is, that metals do certainly
grow in the earth; but under what laws and
conditions originated, is not known. As regards
gems, which was also an object of
alchemical research, modern science has
recognised that it is absolutely practicable to
make gems by art, although hitherto the result
has not been perfect.

We are not writing a treatise upon alchemy;
all we purpose to ourselves is to give
the point of view from which the great old
masters of the art contemplated it. To speak
of alchemy flippantly and compendiously as
a delusion, or an imposture,—and to speak
of the adepts themselves only as either dupes
or impostors, is to show a very small and narrow
spirit, a spirit in which no sort of wisdom
can take root and grow. " Seest thou a
man wise in his own conceit," says King
Solomon, " there is more hope of a fool than of
him." Basil Valentine's instructions to those
about to address themselves to the Great
Work show that alchemists were at least
in earnest. "First, therefore, the name of
God ought to be called on religiously with
a pure heart and sound conscience, without
ambition, hypocrisy, and other abuses,
such as are pride, arrogance, disdain, worldly
boasting, and oppression of our neighbours,
and other tyrannies and enormities of that
kind, all which are to be totally eradicated
out of the heart. . . . For, seeing that man
hath nothing but what his most bounteous
Creator bestows upon him . . . it is most
just that his first Father (who hath created
the heaven and the earth, things visible and
invisible) be with most inward humble
prayers, sought to for the obtaining of them
. . . Whosoever, therefore, hath resolved
within himself to seek the top of terrestrials,
that is, the knowledge of the good lodging in
every creature lying dormant, or covered in
stones, herbs, roots, seeds, living creatures,
plants, minerals, metals, and the like; let
him cast behind him all worldly cares and
other appurtenances, and expect release with
his whole heart by humble prayer, and his
hope shall not fail." Men who began and
pursued their life-long toil in this spirit, are
not to be spoken of without great respect.

The mixture in the works of the alchemists
of religious analogies and fanciful
allusions, with philosophical facts, would
provoke a smile, so we will not go into
their speculations upon the New Jerusalem
as described in the Apocalypse. With its
twelve gates of precious stonesits streets of
gold, with the Tree of Life growing in the
midst, " the leaves of which were for the
healing of the nations,"—the " sea of glass
mingled with fire; " and the Fountain of the
Water of Life, at which whosoever is athirst
may hope to drink. We will conclude our
specimens and extracts from the alchemists,
by the following scrap from Sir George
Ripley, who wrote the Twelve Gates of
Alchemy, in fourteen hundred and seventy-one,
which he dedicated to King Edward the
Fourth. He was Canon of Bridlington, in
Yorkshire, and exempted from the rules of
his cloister in order that he might travel in
search of knowledge. He was dignified by
the Pope, and enjoyed a great reputation
he died in fourteen hundred and ninety.

The Bird of Hermes * is my name,
Eating my wings to make me tame.
In the sea withouten lesse
Standeth the Bird is Hermes-
Eating his wings variable,
And thereby makete himself more stable.
When all his feathers be agone
He standeth still there as a stone;
Here is now both white and red,
And also the stone to quicken the dead;
All and some, withouten fable,
Both hard, and nesh, and malleable.
Understand now well aright,
And thanke God of this Light

* The " Bird of Hermes " was one of the names by
which the masters spoke of their matter or substance.

The following, which is signed W. D.' D.
REDMAN and is called an Enigma
Philosophicum, is not one whit more easy to
be understood than the clear and candid
explanations; and with this we take leave of
our readers.


There is no light but what lives in the sun;
There is no sun but which is twice begott.
Nature and Arte the Parents; first begonne
By Nature 'twas, but Nature perfects not;
Arte, then, what Nature left, in hand doth take.
And out of one, a twofold work dothe make.

A twofold worke, but such a worke
As doth admit division none at all,
(See here wherein the secret most doth lurk),
Unless it be a mathematical.
It must be two, yet make it one and one,
And you do take the way to make it none.


THE Board of Audit has a history which-
thanks to an official documentit will not
cost us much trouble to tell.

Before the reign of Queen Elizabeth the
accounts of the crown were examined by
auditors specially constituted for the purpose,
or by the auditors of the land revenue; or at
times, as in the case of sheriffs, collectors of
revenue, the customs, the mint, and the
keeper of the wardrobe, by the auditors of the
exchequer. Certain accounts, however, were
examined in the office of the lord high trea-
surer, as some few accounts are to this day
examined there.

In the second year of the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, two auditors of the imprests (an
imprest is an advance of public money) were
appointed, and these offices continued in
existence till the year one thousand seven