Sceptical Chymist/The Fourth Part
The Fourth Part.
ANd thus much ( sayes Carneades ) may suffice to be said of the Number of the Distinct substances separable from mixt Bodies by the Fire : Wherefore I now proceed to consider the nature of them, and shew you, That though they seem Homogeneous Bodies, yet have they not the purity and simplicity that is requisite to Elements. And I should immediately proceed to the proof of my Assertion, but that the Confidence wherewith Chymists are wont to call each of the Substances we speak of by the name of Sulphur or Mercury, or the other of the Hyposta200ticall Principles, and the intollerabln Ambiguity they allow themselves ie their Writings and Expressions, makes it necessary for me in Order to the Keeping you either from mistaking me, or thinking I mistake the Controversie, to take Notice to you and complain of the unreasonable Liberty they give themselves of playing with Names at pleasure. And indeed if I were oblig’d in this Dispute, to have such regard to the Phraseology of each particular Chymist, as not to Write any thing which this or that Author may not pretend, not to contradict this or that sence, which he may give as Occasion serves to his Ambiguous Expressions, I should scarce know how to dispute, nor which way to turn myself. For I find that even Eminent Writers, (such as Raymund Lully, Paracelsus and others) do so abuse the termes they employ, that as they will now and then give divers things, one name; so they will oftentimes give one thing, many Names; and some of them (perhaps) such, as do much more properly signifie some Distinct Body of another kind ; nay even in Technical Words or Termes of Art,201 they refrain not from this Confounding Liberty; but will, as I have Observ’d, call the same Substance, sometimes the Sulphur, and Sometimes the Mercury of a Body. And now I speak of Mercury, I cannot but take Notice, that the Descriptions they give us of that Principle or Ingredient of mixt Bodies, are so intricate, that even those that have Endeavour’d to Pollish and Illustrate the Notions of the Chymists, are fain to confess that they know not what to make of it, either by Ingenuous Acknowledgments, or Descriptions that are not Intelligible.
I must confess ( sayes Eleutherius ) I have, in the reading of Paracelsus and other Chymical Authors, been troubled to find, that such hard Words and Equivocal Expressions, as You justly complain of, do even when they treat of Principles, seem to be studiously affected by those Writers; whether to make themselves to be admir’d by their Readers, and their Art appear more Venerable and Mysterious, or, ( as they would have us think ) to conceal from them a Knowledge themselves judge inestimable.
202But whatever ( sayes Carneades ) these Men may promise themselves from a Canting way of delivering the Principles of Nature, they will find the Major part of Knowing Men so vain, as when they understand not what they read, to conclude, that it is rather the Writers fault then their own. And those that are so ambitious to be admir’d by the Vulgar, that rather then go without the Admiration of the Ignorant they will expose themselves to the contempt of the Learned, those shall, by my consent, freely enjoy their Option. As for the Mystical Writers scrupling to Communicate their Knowledge, they might less to their own Disparagement, and to the trouble of their Readers, have conceal’d it by writing no Books, then by Writing bad ones. If Themistius were here, he would not stick to say, that Chymists write thus darkly, not because they think their Notions too precious to be explain’d, but because they fear that if they were explain’d, men would discern, that they are farr from being precious. And indeed, I fear that the chief Reason why Chymists have written so 203 obscurely of their three Principles, may be, That not having Clear and Distinct Notions of them themselves, they cannot write otherwise then Confusedly of what they but Confusedly Apprehend : Not to say that divers of them, being Conscious to the Invalidity of their Doctrine, might well enough discerne that they could scarce keep themselves from being confuted, but by keeping themselves from being clearly understood. But though much may be said to Excuse the Chymists when they write Darkly, and AEnigmatically, about the Preparation of their Elixir, and Some few other grand Arcana, the divulging of which they may upon Grounds Plausible enough esteem unfit ; yet when they pretend to teach the General Principles of Natural Philosophers, this Equivocall Way of Writing is not to be endur’d. For in such Speculative Enquiries, where the naked Knowledge of the Truth is the thing Principally aim’d at, what does he teach me worth thanks that does not, if he can, make his Notion intelligible to me, but by Mystical Termes, and Ambiguous Phrases darkens what he should clear up ; and makes 204me add the Trouble of guessing at the sence of what he Equivocally expresses, to that of examining the Truth of what he seems to deliver. And if the matter of the Philosophers Stone, and the manner of preparing it, be such Mysteries as they would have the World believe them, they may Write Intelligibly and Clearly of the Principles of mixt Bodies in General, without Discovering what they call the Great Work. But for my part ( Continues Carneades ) what my Indignation at this Un-philosophical way of teaching Principles has now extorted from me, is meant chiefly to excuse my self, if I shall hereafter oppose any Particular Opinion or assertion, that some Follower of Paracelsus or any Eminent Artist may pretend not to be his Masters. For, as I told you long since, I am not Oblig’d to examine private mens writings, (which were a Labour as endless as unprofitable) being only engag’d to examine those Opinions about the Tria Prima, which I find those Chymists I have met with to agree in most: And I Doubt not but my Arguments against their Doctrine will be in great part ea205sily enough applicable ev’n to those private Opinions, which they do not so directly and expresly oppose. And indeed, that which I am now entering upon being the Consideration of the things themselves whereinto Spagyrists resolve mixt Bodies by the Fire, If I can shew that these are not of an Elementary Nature, it will be no great matter what names these or those Chymists have been pleased to give them. And I question not that to a Wise man, and consequently to Eleutherius, it will be lesse considerable to know, what Men Have thought of Things, then what they Should have thought.
In the fourth and last place, then, I consider, that as generally as Chymists are wont to appeal to Experience, and as confidently as they use to instance the several substances separated by the Fire from a Mixt Body, as a sufficient proof of their being its component Elements: Yet those differing Substances are many of them farr enough from Elementary simplicity, and may be yet look’d upon as mixt Bodies, most of them also retaining, somewhat at least, if not very much, of the Nature of those 206Concretes whence they were forc’d.
I am glad ( sayes Eleutherius ) to see the Vanity or Envy of the canting Chymists thus discover’d and chastis’d ; and I could wish, that Learned Men would conspire together to make these deluding Writers sensible, that they must no longe hope with Impunity to abuse the World. For whilst such Men are quietly permitted to publish Books with promising Titles, and therein to Assert what they please, and contradict others, and ev’n themselves as they please, with as little danger of being confuted as of being understood, they are encourag’d to get themselves a name, at the cost of the Readers, by finding that intelligent Men are wont for the reason newly mention’d, to let their Books and Them alone : And the ignorant and credulous ( of which the number is still much greater then that of the other ) are forward to admire most what they least understand. But if Judicious men skill’d in Chymical affaires shall once agree to write clearly and plainly of them, and thereby keep men from being stunn’d, as it were, or imposd upon by dark or empty Words; ’tis to be hop’d that 207these men finding that they can no longer write impertinently and absurdly, without being laugh’d at for doing so, will be reduc’d either to write nothing, or Books that may teach us something, and not rob men, as formerly, of invaluable Time; and so ceasing to trouble the World with Riddles or Impertinencies, we shall either by their Books receive an Advantage, or by their silence escape an Inconvenience.
But after all this is said ( continues Eleutherius ) it may be represented in favour of the Chymists, that, in one regard the Liberty they take in using names, if it be excusable at any time, may be more so when they speak of the substances whereinto their Analysis resolves mixt Bodies: Since as Parents have the Right to name their own Children, it has ever been allow’d to the Authors of new Inventions, to Impose Names upon them. And therefore the subjects we speak of being so the Productions of the Chymist’s Art, as not to be otherwise, but by it, obtainable ; it seems but equitable to give the Artists leave to name them as they please: considering also that none are so fit and likely to teach us what those Bo208dies are, as they to whom we ow’d them.
I told You already ( sayes Carneades ) that there is great Difference betwixt the being able to make Experiments, and the being able to give a Philosophical Account of them. And I will not now add, that many a Mine-digger may meet, whilst he follows his work, with a Gemm or a Mineral which he knowes not what to make of, till he shews it a Jeweller or a Mineralist to be inform’d what it is. But that which I would rather have here observ’d, is, That the Chymists I am now in debate with have given up the Liberty You challeng’d for them, of using Names at Pleasure, and confin’d Themselves by their Descriptions, though but such as they are, of their Principles; so that although they might freely have call’d any thing their Analysis presents them with, either Sulphur, or Mercury, or Gas, or Blas, or what they pleas’d; yet when they have told me that Sulphur ( for instance ) is a Primogeneal and simple Body, Inflamable, Odorous, &c. they must give me leave to dis-believe them, if they tell me that a Body that is either compounded or uninflamable is 209such a Sulphur ; and to think they play with words, when they teach that Gold and some other Minerals abound with an Incombustible Sulphur, which is as proper an Expression, as a Sun-shine Night, or Fluid Ice.
But before I descend to the Mention of Particulars belonging to my Fourth Consideration, I think it convenient to premise a few Generals ; some of which I shall the less need to insist on at present, because I have Touched on them already.
And first I must invite you to take notice of a certain passage in Helmont ;Illud notabile, in vino esse Spiritum quendam mitiorem ulterioris & nobilioris qualitatis participem quā qui immediatè per distillationem elicitur diciturque aqua vitæ dephlegmata, quod facilius in simplici Olivarum oleo ad oculum spectatur. Quippe distillatum oleum absque laterum aut tigularum additamento, quodque oleum Philosophorum dicitur, multum dissert ab ejus oleitate; quæ elicitur prius reducto oleo simplici in partes dissimilares sola digestione & Salis circulati Paracelsici appositione; siquidem sal circulatum idem in pondere & quantitatibus pristinis ab oleo segregatur postquam oleum olivarum in sui heterogeneitates est dispositum. Dulce enim tunc Oleum Olivarum ex oleo, prout & suavissimus vini spiritus a vino hoc pacto separantur, longéque ab aquæ vitæ acrimoniâ distinctus.— Helmont. Aura vitalis, pag. 725. which though I have not Found much heeded by his Readers, He Himself mentions as a notable thing, and I take to be a very considerable one ; for whereas the Distill’d oyle of oyle-olive, though 210drawn per se is ( as I have try’d ) of a very sharp and fretting Quality, and of an odious tast, He tells us that Simple oyle being only digested with Paracelsus’s sal circulatum, is reduc’d into dissimilar parts, and yields a sweet Oyle, very differing from the oyle distill’d, from sallet oyle; as also that by the same way there may be separated from Wine a very sweet and gentle Spirit, partaking of a far other and nobler quality then that which is immediately drawn by distillation and call’d Dephlegm’d Aqua vitae, from whose Acrimony this other spirit is exceedingly remote, although the sal circulatum that makes these Anatomies be separated from the Analyz’d Bodies, in the same weight and with the same qualities it had before; which Affirmation of Helmont if we admit to be true, we must acknowledge that there may be a very great disparity betwixt bodies of the same denomination (as several oyles, or several spirits) separable from compound Bodies: For, besides the differences I shall anon take notice of, betwixt those distill’d Oyles that are commonly known to Chymists, it appears by this, that by means of the Sal Circulatum, There may 211be quite another sort of Oyles obtain’d from the same Body; and who knowes but that there may be yet other Agents found in Nature, by whose help there may, whether by Transmutation or otherwise, be obtain’d from the Bodies Vulgarly call’d Mixt, Oyles or other substances, Differing from those of the same Denomination, known either to Vulgar Chymists, or even to Helmont Himself : but for fear You should tell me, that this is but a conjecture grounded upon another Man’s Relation, whose Truth we have not the means to Experiment, I will not Insist upon it ; but leaving You to Consider of it at leasure, I shall proceed to what is next.
Secondly, Then if that be True which was the Opinion of Lucippus, Democritus, and other prime Anatomists of old, and is in our dayes reviv’d by no mean Philosophers ; namely, That our Culinary Fire, such as Chymists use, consists of swarmes of little Bodies swiftly moving, which by their smallness and motion are able to permeate the sollidest and Compactest Bodies, and even Glass it Self; If this ( I say ) be True, since we see that In flints and other Concretes, 212the Fiery part is Incorporated with the Grosser, it will not be Irrationall to conjecture, that multitudes of these Fiery Corpuscles, getting in at the Pores of the Glass, may associate themselves with the parts of the mixt Body whereon they work, and with them Constitute new Kinds of Compound Bodies, according as the Shape, Size, and other Affections of the Parts of the Dissipated Body happen to dispose them, in Reference to such Combinations; of which also there may be the greater Number ; if it be likewise granted that the Corpuscles of the Fire, though all exceeding minute, and very swiftly moved, are not all of the same bigness, nor Figure. And if I had not Weightier Considerations to Discourse to you of, I could name to you, to Countenance what I have newly said, some particular Experiments by which I have been Deduc’d to think, that the Particles of an open Fire working upon some Bodies may really Associate themselves therewith, and add to the Quantity. But because I am not so sure, that when the Fire works upon Bodies included in Glasses, it does it by a reall Trajection 213 of the Fiery Corpuscles themselves, through the Substance of the Glass, I will proceed to what is next to be mention’d.
I could ( sayes Eleutherius ) help you to some Proofes, whereby I think it may be made very probable, that when the Fire acts immediately upon a Body, some of its Corpuscles may stick to those of the burnt Body, as they seem to do in Quicklime, but in greater numbers, and more permanently. But for fear of retarding Your Progress, I shall desire you to deferr this Enquiry till another time, and proceed as you intended.
You may then in the next place ( sayes Carneades ) observe with me, that not only there are some Bodies, as Gold, and Silver, which do not by the usual Examens, made by Fire, Discover themselves to be mixt ; but if ( as You may Remember I formerly told You ) it be a De-compound Body that is Dissipable into several Substances, by being expos’d to the Fire it may be resolv’d into such as are neither Elementary, nor such as it was upon its last mixture Compounded of ; but into new 214Kinds of mixts. Of this I have already given You some Examples in Sope, Sugar of Lead, and Vitrioll. Now if we shall Consider that there are some Bodies, as well Natural, ( as that I last nam’d ) as Factitious, manifestly De-compounded ; That in the Bowells of the Earth Nature may, as we see she sometimes does, make strange Mixtures ; That Animals are nourish’d with other Animals and Plants ; And, that these themselves have almost all of them their Nutriment and Growth, either from a certain Nitrous Juice Harbour’d in the Pores of the Earth, or from the Excrements of Animalls, or from the putrify’d Bodies, either of living Creatures or Vegetables, or from other Substances of a Compounded Nature ; If, I say, we consider this, it may seem probable, that there may be among the Works of Nature ( not to mention those of Art ) a greater Number of De-compound Bodies, then men take Notice of ; And indeed, as I have formerly also observ’d, it does not at all appear, that all Mixtures must be of Elementary Bodies ; but it seems farr more probable, that there are divers sorts of 215compound Bodies, even in regard of all or some of their Ingredients, consider’d Antecedently to their Mixture. For though some seem to be made up by the immediate Coalitions of the Elements, or Principles themselves, and therefore may be call’d Prima Mista, or Mista Primaria ; yet it seems that many other Bodies are mingl’d ( if I may so speak ) at the second hand, their immediate Ingredients being not Elementary, but these primary Mixts newly spoken of; And from divers of these Secondary sort of Mixts may result, by a further Composition, a Third sort, and so onwards. Nor is it improbable, that some Bodies are made up of Mixt Bodies, not all of the same Order, but of several ; as ( for Instance ) a Concrete may consist of Ingredients, whereof the one may have been a primary, the other a Secondary Mixt Body ; ( as I have in Native Cinnaber, by my way of Resolving it, found both that Courser the part that seems more properly to be Oar, and a Combustible Sulphur, and a Running Mercury : ) or perhaps without any Ingredient of this latter sort, it may be compos’d of Mixt Bodies, some of 216them of the first, and some of the third Kind ; And this may perhaps be somewhat Illustrated by reflecting upon what happens in some Chymical Preparations of those Medicines which they call their Bezoardicum’s. For first, they take Antimony and Iron, which may be look’d upon as Prima Mista ; of these they compound a Starry Regulus, and to this they add according to their Intention, either Gold, or Silver, which makes with it a new and further Composition. To this they add Sublimate, which is it self a De-compound body, ( consisting of common Quicksilver, and divers Salts United by Sublimation into a Crystalline Substance ) and from this Sublimate, and the other Metalline Mixtures, they draw a Liquor, which may be allow’d to be of a yet more Compounded Nature. If it be true, as Chymists affirm it, that by this Art some of the Gold or Silver mingl’d with the Regulus may be carry’d over the Helme with it by the Sublimate ; as indeed a Skilfull and Candid person complain’d to me a while since, That an experienc’d Friend of His and mine, having by such a way brought over a 217great Deal of Gold, in hope to do something further with it, which might be gainfull to him, has not only miss’d of his Aim, but is unable to recover his Volatiliz’d Gold out of the Antimonial butter, wherewith it is strictly united.
Now ( Continues Carneades ) if a Compound body consist of Ingredients that are not meerly Elementary ; it is not hard to conceive, that the Substances into which the Fire Dissolves it, though seemingly Homogeneous enough, may be of a Compounded Nature, those parts of each body that are most of Kin associating themselves into a Compound of a new Kind. As when ( for example sake ) I have caus’d Vitrioll and Sal Armoniack, and Salt Petre to be mingl’d and Destill’d together, the Liquor that came over manifested it self not to be either Spirit of Nitre, or of Sal Armoniack, or of Vitrioll. For none of these would dissolve crude gold, which yet my Liquor was able readily to do ; and thereby manifested it self to be a new Compound, consisting at least of Spirit of Nitre, and Sal Armoniack, ( for the latter dissolv’d in the former, 218will Work on Gold ) which nevertheless are not by any known way separable, and consequently would not pass for a Mixt Body, if we our selves did not, to obtain it, put and Distill together divers Concretes, whose Distinct Operations were known before hand. And, to add on this Occasion the Experiment I lately promis’d You, because it is Applicable to our present purpose, I shall Acquaint You, that suspecting the Common Oyle of Vitrioll not to be altogether such a simple Liquor as Chymists presume it, I mingl’d it with an equal or a Double Quantity ( for I try’d the Experiment more then once ) of common Oyle of Turpentine, such as together with the other Liquor I bought at the Drugsters. And having carefully ( for the Experiment is Nice, and somewhat dangerous ) Distill’d the Mixture in a small Glass Retort, I obtain’d according to my Desire, ( besides the two Liquors I had put in ) a pretty Quantity of a certain substance, which sticking all about the Neck of the Retort Discover’d it self to be Sulphur, not only by a very strong Sulphureous smell, and by the colour of 219Brimstone; but also by this, That being put upon a coal, it was immediately kindl’d, and burn’d like common Sulphur. And of this Substance I have yet by me some little Parcells, which You may command and examine when you please. So that from this Experiment I may deduce either one, or both of these Propositions, That a real Sulphur may be made by the Conjunction of two such Substances as Chymists take for Elementary, And which did not either of them apart appear to have any such body in it ; or that Oyle of Vitrioll though a Distill’d Liquor, and taken for part of the Saline Principle of the Concrete that yields it, may yet be so Compounded a body as to contain, besides its Saline part, a Sulphur like common brimstone, which would hardly be it self a simple or un-compounded body.
I might ( pursues Carneades ) remind You, that I formerly represented it, as possible, That as there may be more Elements then five, or six ; so the Elements of one body may be Different from those of another ; whence it would follow, that from the Resolution of De220compound body, there may result Mixts of an altogether new kind, by the Coalition of Elements that never perhaps conven’d before. I might, I say, mind You of this, and add divers things to this second Consideration ; but for fear of wanting time I willingly pretermit them, to pass on to the third, which is this, That the Fire does not alwayes barely resolve or take asunder, but may also after a new manner mingle and compound together the parts ( whether Elementary or not ) of the Body Dissipated by it.
This is so evident, sayes Carneades, in some obvious Examples, that I cannot but wonder at their Supiness that have not taken notice of it. For when Wood being burnt in a Chimney is dissipated by the Fire into Smoke and Ashes, that smoke composes soot, which is so far from being any one of the principles of the Wood, that ( as I noted above ) you may by a further Analysis separate five or six distinct substances from it. And as for the remaining Ashes, the Chymists themselves teach us, that by a further degree of fire they may be indissolubly united into glass. ’Tis true, that the A221nalysis which the Chymists principally build upon is made, not in the open air, but in close Vessels ; but however, the Examples lately produc’d may invite you shrewdly to suspect, That heat may as well compound as dissipate the Parts of mixt Bodies : and not to tell you, that I have known a Vitrification made even in close vessels, I must remind you that the Flowers of Antimony, and those of Sulphur, are very mix’d Bodies, though they ascend in close vessells : And that ’twas in stopt glasses that I brought up the whole Body of Camphire. And whereas it may be objected, that all these Examples are of Bodies forc’d up in a dry, not a Fluid forme, as are the Liquors wont to be obtain’d by distillation ; I answer, That besides that ’tis possible, that a Body may be chang’d from Consistent to Fluid, or from Fluid to Consistent, without being otherwise much altered, as may appear by the Easiness wherewith in Winter, without any Addition or Separation of Visible Ingredients, the same substance may be quickly harden’d into brittle Ice, and thaw’d again into Fluid Water ; Besides this, I say it would be consider’d, that common 222Quick-silver it self, which the Eminentest Chymists confess to be a mixt Body, may be Driven over the Helme in its Pristine forme of Quicksilver, and consequently, in that of a Liquor. And certainly ’tis possible that very compounded Bodies may concur to Constitute Liquors ; Since, not to mention that I have found it possible, by the help of a certain Menstruum, to distill Gold it self through a Retort, even with a Moderate Fire : Let us but consider what happens in Butter of Antimony. For if that be carefully rectify’d, it may be reduc’d into a very clear Liquor ; and yet if You cast a quantity of fair water upon it, there will quickly precipitate a Ponderous and Vomitive Calx, which made before a considerable part of the Liquor, and yet is indeed ( though some eminent Chymists would have it Mercurial ) an Antimonial Body carryed over and kept dissolv’d by the Salts of the Sublimate, and consequently a compounded one; as You may find if You will have the Curiosity to Examine this White powder by a skilful Reduction. And that You may not think that Bodies as compounded as flowers of Brimstone cannot be brought 223to Concurr to Constitute Distill’d Liquors; And also That You may not imagine with Divers Learned Men that pretend no small skill in Chymistry, that at least no mixt Body can be brought over the Helme, but by corrosive Salts, I am ready to shew You, when You please, among other wayes of bringing over Flowers of Brimstone ( perhaps I might add even Mineral Sulphurs ) some, wherein I employ none but Oleaginous bodies to make Volatile Liquors, in which not only the colour, but ( which is a much surer mark ) the smell and some Operations manifest that there is brought over a Sulphur that makes part of the Liquor.
One thing more there is, Eleutherius, sayes Carneades, which is so pertinent to my present purpose, that though I have touch’d upon it before, I cannot but on this occasion take notice of it. And it is this, That the Qualities or Accidents, upon whose account Chymists are wont to call a portion of Matter by the name of Mercury or some other of their Principles, are not such but that ’tis possible as Great ( and therefore why not the like ? ) may be produc’d by such changes 224 of Texture, and other Alterations, as the Fire may make in the small Parts of a Body. I have already prov’d, when I discours’d of the second General Consideration, by what happens to plants nourish’d only with fair water, and Eggs hatch’d into Chickens, that by changing the disposition of the component parts of a Body, Nature is able to effect as great Changes in a parcell of Matter reputed similar, as those requisite to Denominate one of the Tria Prima. And though Helmont do somewhere wittily call the Fire the Destructor and the Artificial Death of Things ; And although another Eminent Chymist and Physitian be pleas’d to build upon this, That Fire can never generate any thing but Fire ; Yet You will, I doubt not, be of another mind, If You consider how many new sorts of mixt Bodies Chymists themselves have produc’d by means of the Fire : And particularly, if You consider how that Noble and Permanent Body, Glass, is not only manifestly produc’d by the violent action of the Fire, but has never, for ought we know, been produc’d any other way. And indeed it seems but an inconsiderate Assertion of 225some Helmontians, that every sort of Body of a Peculiar Denomination must be produc’d by some Seminal power ; as I think I could evince, if I thought it so necessary, as it is for me to hasten to what I have further to discourse. Nor need it much move us, that there are some who look upon whatsoever the Fire is employ’d to produce, not as upon Natural but Artificial Bodies. For there is not alwaies such a difference as many imagine betwixt the one and the other : Nor is it so easy as they think, clearly to assigne that which Properly, Constantly, and Sufficiently, Discriminates them. But not to engage my self in so nice a Disquisition, it may now suffice to observe, that a thing is commonly termed Artificial, when a parcel of matter is by the Artificers hand, or Tools, or both, brought to such a shape or Form, as he Design’d before-hand in his Mind : Whereas in many of the Chymical Productions the effect would be produc’d whether the Artificer intended it or no; and is oftentimes very much other then he Intended or Look’t for ; and the Instruments employ’d, are not Tools Artificially fashion’d and 226shaped, like those of Tradesmen, for this or that particular Work ; but, for the most part, Agents of Nature’s own providing, and whose chief Powers of Operation they receive from their own Nature or Texture, not the Artificer. And indeed, the Fire is as well a Natural Agent as Seed : And the Chymist that imployes it, does but apply Natural Agents and Patients, who being thus brought together, and acting according to their respective Natures, performe the worke themselves ; as Apples, Plums, or other fruit, are natural Productions, though the Gardiner bring and fasten together the Sciens of the Stock, and both Water, and do perhaps divers other wayes Contribute to its bearing fruit. But, to proceed to what I was going to say, You may observe with me, Eleutherius, that, as I told You once before, Qualities sleight enough may serve to Denominate a Chymical Principle. For, when they anatomize a compound Body by the Fire, if they get a Substance inflamable, and that will not mingle with Water, that they presently call Sulphur ; what is sapid and Dissoluble in Water, that must pass for Salt ; Whatsoever is 227fix’d and indissoluble in Water, that they name Earth. And I was going to add, that, whatsoever Volatile substance they know not what to make of, not to say, whatsoever they please, that they call Mercury. But that these Qualities may either be produc’d, otherwise then by such as they call Seminal Agents, or may belong to bodies of a compounded Nature, may be shewn, among other Instances, in Glass made of ashes, where the exceeding strongly-tasted Alcalizate Salt joyning with the Earth becomes insipid, and with it constitutes a Body, which though also dry, fixt, and indissoluble in Water, is yet manifestly a mixt Body ; and made so by the Fire itself.
And I remmember to our present purpose, that Helmont, amongst other Medicines that he commends, has a short processe, wherein, though the Directions for Practice are but obscurely intimated; yet I have some reason not to Dis-believe the Process, without affirming or denying any thing about the vertues of the remedy to be made by it. Helmont pag. 412.Quando ( sayes he ) oleum cinnamomi &c. suo sali alkali miscetur absque omni aqua, trium mensium artificiosa occultaque circulatione, totum in salem vola228tilem commutatum est, vere essentiam sui simplicis in nobis exprimit, & usque in prima nostri constitutivasese ingerit. A not unlike Processe he delivers in another place ; from whence, if we suppose him to say true, I may argue, that since by the Fire there may be produc’d a substance that is as well Saline and volatile as the Salt of Harts-horn, blood, &c. which pass for Elementary ; and since that this Volatile Salt is really compounded of a Chymical Oyle and a fixt Salt, the one made Volatile by the other, and both associated by the fire, it may well be suspected that other Substances, emerging upon the Dissipation of Bodies by the Fire, may be new sorts of Mixts, and consist of Substances of differing natures ; and particularly, I have sometimes suspected, that since the Volatile Salts of Blood, Harts-horn, &c. are figitive and endow’d with an exceeding strong smell, either that Chymists do Erroneously ascribe all odours to sulphurs, or that such Salts consist of some oyly parts well incorporated with the Saline ones. And the like conjecture I have also made concerning Spirit of Vinager, which, though the Chymists think one of the Principles 229of that Body, and though being an Acid Spirit it seems to be much less of kin then Volatile Salts to sulphurs ; yet, not to mention its piercing smell ; which I know not with what congruity the Chymist will deduce from Salt, I wonder they have not taken notice of what their own Tyrocinium Chymicum teach us concerning the Destillation of Saccharum Saturni; out of which BeguinusTyroc. Chym. L. 1. C. 4. assures Us, that he distill’d, besides a very fine spirit, no lesse then two Oyles, the one blood-red and ponderous, but the other swimming upon the top of the Spirit, and of a yellow colour ; of which he sayes that he kept then some by him, to verify what he delivers. And though I remember not that I have had two distinct Oyles from Sugar of Lead, yet that it will though distill’d without addition yield some Oyle, disagrees not with my Experience. I know the Chymists will be apt to pretend, that these Oyls are but the volatiliz’d sulphur of the lead ; and will perhaps argue it from what Beguinus relates, that when the Distillation is ended, you’l find a Caput Mortuum extreamly black, and ( as he speaks ) nullius momenti, as if the Body, or at least the chief part of 230the Metal it self were by the distillation carried over the Helme. But since you know as well as I that Saccharum Saturni is a kind of Magistery, made only by calcining of Lead per se, dissolving it in distill’d Vinager, and crystalizing the solution ; if I had leasure to tell You how Differing a thing I did upon examination find the Caput Mortuum, so sleighted by Beguinus, to be from what he represents it, I believe you would think the conjecture propos’d less probable then one or other of these three ; either that this Oyle did formerly concur to constitute the Spirit of Vinager, and so that what passes for a Chymical Principle may yet be further resoluble into distinct substances ; or that some parts of the Spirit together with some parts of the Lead may constitute a Chymical Oyle, which therefore though it pass for Homogeneous, may be a very compounded Body : or at least that by the action of the Distill’d Vinager and the Saturnine Calx one upon another, part of the Liquor may be so alter’d as to be transmuted from an Acid Spirit into an Oyle. And though the truth of either of the two former conjectures would make the example I 231have reflected on more pertinent to my present argument ; yet you’l easily discern, the Third and last Conjecture cannot be unserviceable to confirm some other passages of my discourse.
To return then to what I was saying just before I mention’d Helmont’s Experiment, I shall subjoyne, That Chymists must confess also that in the perfectly Dephlegm’d spirit of Wine, or other Fermented Liquors, that which they call the Sulphur of the Concrete loses, by the Fermentation, the Property of Oyle, ( which the Chymists likewise take to be the true Sulphur of the Mixt ) of being unminglable with the Water. And if You will credit Helmont,Ostendi alias, quomodo lib. una aquæ vitæ combibita in sale Tartari siccato, vix fiat semuncia salis, cæterum totum corpus fiat aqua Elementalis. Helmont. in Aura vitali. all of the purest Spirit of Wine may barely by the help of pure Salt of Tartar (which is but the fixed Salt of Wine ) be resolv’d or Transmuted into scarce half an ounce of Salt, and as much Elementary Water as amounts to the remaining part of the mention’d weight. And it may (as I think I formerly also noted ) be doubted, whether that Fixt and Alcalizate Salt, which is so unanimously agreed on to be the Saline Principle of incinerated Bodies, be not, 232as ’tis Alcalizate, a Production of the Fire ? For though the tast of Tartar, for Example, seem to argue that it contains a Salt before it be burn’d, yet that Salt being very Acid is of a quite Differing Tast from the Lixiviate Salt of Calcin’d Tartar. And though it be not truly Objected against the Chymists, that they obtain all Salts they make, by reducing the Body they work on into Ashes with Violent Fires, ( since Hartshorn, Amber, Blood, and divers other Mixts yield a copious Salt before they be burn’d to Ashes ) yet this Volatile Salt Differs much, as we shall see anon, from the Fixt Alcalizate Salt I speak of ; which for ought I remember is not producible by any known Way, without Incineration. ’Tis not unknown to Chymists, that Quicksilver may be Precipitated, without Addition, into a dry Powder, that remains so in Water. And some eminent Spagyrists, and even Raimund Lully himself, teach, that meerly by the Fire Quicksilver may in convenient Vessels be reduc’d (at least in great part) into a thin Liquor like Water, and minglable with it. So that by the bare Action 233of the Fire, ’tis possible, that the parts of a mixt Body should be so dispos’d after new and differing manners, that it may be sometimes of one consistence, sometimes of another ; And may in one State be dispos’d to be mingl’d with Water, and in another not. I could also shew you, that Bodies from which apart Chymists cannot obtain any thing that is Combustible, may by being associated together, and by the help of the Fire, afford an inflamable Substance. And that on the other side, ’tis possible for a Body to be inflamable, from which it would very much puzzle any ordinary Chymist ; and perhaps any other, to separate an inflamable Principle or Ingredient. Wherefore, since the Principles of Chymists may receive their Denominations from Qualities, which it often exceeds not the power of Art, nor alwayes that of the Fire to produce ; And since such Qualities may be found in Bodies that differ so much in other Qualities from one another, that they need not be allow’d to agree in that pure and simple Nature, which Principles, to be so indeed, must have ; it may 234justly be suspected, that many Productions of the Fire that are shew’d us by Chymists, as the Principles of the Concrete that afforded them, may be but a new kind of Mixts. And to annex, on this Occasion, to these arguments taken from the Nature of the thing, one of those which Logicians call ad Hominem, I shall desire You to take Notice, that though Paracelsus Himself, and some that are so mistaken as to think he could not be so, have ventur’d to teach, that not only the bodies here below, but the Elements themselves, and all the other Parts of the Universe, are compos’d of Salt, Sulphur and Mercury ; yet the learned Sennertus, and all the more wary Chymists, have rejected that conceit, and do many of them confess, that the Tria Prima are each of them made up of the four Elements ; and others of them make Earth and Water concur with Salt, Sulphur and Mercury, to the Constitution of Mixt bodies. So that one sort of these Spagyrists, notwithstanding the specious Titles they give to the productions of the Fire, do in effect grant what I contend for. And, of the o235ther sort I may well demand, to what Kind of Bodies the Phlegme and dead Earth, to be met with in Chymical Resolutions, are to be referr’d? For either they must say, with Paracelsus, but against their own Concessions as well as against Experience, that these are also compos’d of the Tria Prima, whereof they cannot separate any one from either of them ; or else they must confess that two of the vastest Bodies here below, Earth, and Water, are neither of them compos’d of the Tria Prima ; and that consequently those three are not the Universal, and Adequate Ingredients, neither of all Sublunary Bodies, nor even of all mixt Bodies.
I know that the chief of these Chymists represent, that though the Distinct Substances into which they divide mixt bodies by the Fire, are not pure and Homogeneous ; yet since the four Elements into which the Aristotelians pretend to resolve the like bodies by the same Agent, are not simple neither, as themselves acknowledge, ’tis as allowable for the Chymists to call the one Principles, as for the Peripateticks to call the other Elements ; since in both cases the 236Imposition of the name is grounded only upon the Predominancy of that Element whose name is ascrib’d to it. Nor shall I deny, that this Argument of the Chymists is no ill one against the Aristotelians. But what Answer can it prove to me, who you know am disputing against the Aristotelian Elements, as the Chymicall Principles, and must not look upon any body as a true Principle or Element, but as yet compounded, which is not perfectly Homogeneous, but is further Resoluble into any number of Distinct Substances how small soever. And as for the Chymists calling a body Salt, or Sulphur, or Mercury, upon pretence that the Principle of the same name is predominant in it, That it self is an Acknowledgment of what I contend for ; namely that these productions of the Fire, are yet compounded bodies. And yet whilst this is granted, it is affirm’d, but not prov’d, that the reputed Salt, or Sulphur, or Mercury, consists mainly of one body that deserves the name of a principle of the same Denomination. For how do Chymists make it appear that there are any such primitive and simple bo237dies in those we are speaking of ; since ’tis upon the matter confess’d by the answer lately made, that these are not such ? And if they pretend by Reason to evince what they affirm, what becomes of their confident boasts, that the Chymists ( whom they therefore, after Beguinus, call a Philosophus or Opifex Sensatus ) can convince our Eyes, by manifestly shewing in any mixt body those simple substances he teaches them to be compos’d of ? And indeed, for the Chymists to have recourse in this case to other proofs then Experiments, as it is to wave the grand Argument that has all this while been given out for a Demonstrative One ; so it releases me from the obligation to prosecute a Dispute wherein I am not engag’d to Examine any but Experimentall proofs. I know it may plausibly Enough be Represented, in favour of the Chymists, that it being evident that much the greater part of any thing they call Salt, or Sulphur, or Mercury, is really such ; it would be very rigid to deny those Substances the names ascribed them, only because of some sleight mixture of another Body; since not only the Peripateticks call particular parcels of 238matter Elementary, though they acknowledge that Elements are not to be anywhere found pure, at least here below ; And since especially there is a manifest Analogie and Resemblance betwixt the bodies obtainable by Chymical Anatomies and the principles whose names are given them ; I have, I say, consider’d that these things may be represented : But as for what is drawn from the Custome of the Peripateticks, I have already told You, that though it may be employ’d against Them, Yet it is not available against me who allow nothing to be an Element that is not perfectly Homogeneous. And whereas it is alledg’d, that the Predominant Principle ought to give a name to the substance wherein it abounds ; I answer, that that might much more reasonably be said, if either we or the Chymists had seen Nature take pure Salt, pure Sulphur, and pure Mercury, and compound of them every sort of Mixt Bodies. But, since ’tis to experience that they appeal, we must not take it for granted, that the Distill’d Oyle ( for instance ) of a plant is mainly compos’d of the pure principle call’d Sulphur, till they have given us an ocular proof, 239that there is in that sort of Plants such an Homogeneous Sulphur. For as for the specious argument, which is drawn from the Resemblance betwixt the Productions of the Fire, and the Respective, either Aristotelian Elements, or Chymical Principles, by whose names they are call’d ; it will appear more plausible then cogent, if You will but recall to mind the state of the controversie; which is not, whether or no there be obtain’d from mixt Bodies certain substances that agree in outward appearance, or in some Qualities with Quicksilver or Brimstone, or some such obvious or copious Body ; But whether or no all Bodies confess’d to be perfectly mixt were compos’d of, and are resoluble into a determinate number of primary unmixt Bodies. For, if you keep the state of the question in your Eye, you’l easily discerne that there is much of what should be Demonstrated, left unprov’d by those Chymical Experiments we are Examining. But ( not to repeat what I have already discover’d more at large ) I shall now take notice, that it will not presently follow, that because a Production of the Fire has some affinity with some of the greater Masses 240of matter here below, that therefore they are both of the same Nature, and deserve the same Name ; for the Chymists are not content, that flame should be look’t upon as a parcel of the Element of Fire, though it be hot, dry, and active, because it wants some other Qualities belonging to the nature of Elementary fire. Nor will they let the Peripateticks call Ashes, or Quicklime, Earth, notwithstanding the many likenesses between them ; because they are not tastlesse, as Elementary Earth ought to be : But if you should ask me, what then it is, that all the Chymical Anatomies of Bodies do prove, if they prove not that they consist of the three Principles into which the fire resolves them ? I answer, that their Dissections may be granted to prove, that some mixt bodies ( for in many it will not hold ) are by the fire, when they are included in close Vessels, ( for that Condition also is often requisite ) dissolube into several Substances differing in some Qualities, but principally in Consistence. So that out of most of them may be obtain’d a fixt substance partly saline, and partly insipid, an unctuous Liquor, and another Liquor or 241more that without being unctuous have a manifest taste. Now if Chymists will agree to call the dry and sapid substance salt, the Unctous liquor Sulphur, and the other Mercury, I shall not much quarrel with them for so doing : But if they will tell me that Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury, are simple and primary bodies whereof each mixt body was actually compounded, and which was really in it antecedently to the operation of the fire, they must give me leave to doubt whether ( whatever their other arguments may do ) their Experiments prove all this. And if they will also tell me that the Substances their Anatomies are wont to afford them, are pure and similar, as Principles ought to be, they must give me leave to believe my own senses ; and their own confessions, before their bare Assertions. And that you may not ( Eleutherius ) think I deal so rigidly with them, because I scruple to Take these Productions of the Fire for such as the Chymists would have them pass for, upon the account of their having some affinity with them ; consider a little with me, that in regard an Element or Principle ought to be perfectly Similar and 242Homogeneous, there is no just cause why I should rather give the body propos’d the Name of this or that Element or Principle, because it has a resemblance to it in some obvious Quality, rather then deny it that name upon the account of divers other Qualities, wherein the propos’d Bodies are unlike ; and if you do but consider what sleight and easily producible qualities they are that suffice, as I have already more then once observ’d, to Denominate a Chymical Principle or an Element, you’l not, I hope, think my wariness to be destitute either of Example, or else of Reason. For we see that the Chymists will not allow the Aristotelians that the Salt in Ashes ought to be called Earth, though the Saline and Terrestrial part symbolize in weight, in dryness, in fixness and fusibility, only because the one is sapid and dissoluble in Water, and the other not : Besides, we see that sapidness and volatility are wont to denominate the Chymists Mercury or Spirit ; and yet how many Bodies, think you, may agree in those Qualities which may yet be of very differing natures, and disagree in qualities either more numerous, or more considerable, or both. For 243not only Spirit of Nitre, Aqua Fortis, Spirit of Salt, Spirit of Oyle of Vitriol, Spirit of Allome, Spirit of Vinager, and all Saline Liquors Distill’d from Animal Bodies, but all the Acetous Spirits of Woods freed from their Vinager ; All these, I say, and many others must belong to the Chymists Mercury, though it appear not why some of them should more be comprehended under one denomination then the Chymists Sulphur, or Oyle should likewise be ; for their Distill’d Oyles are also Fluid, Volatile, and Tastable, as well as their Mercury ; Nor is it Necessary, that their Sulphur should be Unctuous or Dissoluble in Water, since they generally referr Spirit of Wine to Sulphurs, although that Spirit be not Unctuous, and will freely mingle with Water. So that bare Inflamability must constitute the Essence of the Chymists Sulphur ; as uninflamablenesse joyned with any taste is enough to intitle a Distill’d Liquor to be their Mercury. Now since I can further observe to You, that Spirit of Nitre and Spirit of Harts-horne being pour’d together will boile 244and hisse and tosse up one another into the air, which the Chymists make signes of great Antipathy in the Natures of Bodies ( as indeed these Spirits differ much both in Taste, Smell, and Operations ; ) Since I elsewhere tell you of my having made two sorts of Oyle out of the same mans blood, that would not mingle with one another ; And since I might tell You Divers Examples I have met with, of the Contrariety of Bodies which according to the Chymists must be huddl’d up together under one Denomination ; I leave you to Judge whether such a multitude of Substances as may agree in these sleight Qualities, and yet Disagree in Others more Considerable, are more worthy to be call’d by the Name of a Principle ( which ought to be pure and homogeneous, ) than to have appellations given them that may make them differ, in name too, from the bodies from which they so wildly differ in Nature. And hence also, by the bye, you may perceive that ’tis not unreasonable to distrust the Chymists way of Argumentation, when being unable to shew us that 245such a Liquor is ( for Example ) purely saline, they prove, that at least salt is much the predominant principle, because that the propos’d substance is strongly tasted, and all Tast proceeds from salt ; whereas those Spirits, such as spirit of Tartar, spirit of Harts-horn, and the like, which are reckoned to be the Mercuries of the Bodies that afford them, have manifestly a strong and piercing tast, and so has ( according to what I formerly noted ) the spirit of Box &c. even after the acid Liquor that concurr’d to compose it has been separated from it. And indeed, if sapidness belong not to the spirit or Mercurial Principle of Vegitables and Animals : I scarce know how it will be discriminated from their phlegm, since by the absence of Inflamability it must be distinguish’d from their sulphur, which affords me another Example, to prove how unacurate the Chymical Doctrine is in our present Case ; since not only the spirits of Vegitables and Animals, but their Oyles are very strongly tasted, as he that shall but wet his tongue with Chymical Oyle of Cinnamon, or of Cloves, or even of Turpentine, may quickly find, to his smart. And not only I 246never try’d any Chymical Oyles whose tast was not very manifest and strong ; but a skilful and inquisitive person who made it his business by elaborate operations to depurate Chymical Oyles, and reduce them to an Elementary simplicity, Informes us, that he never was able to make them at all Tastless ; whence I might inferr, that the proof Chymists confidently give us of a bodies being saline, is so far from demonstrating the Predominancy, that it does not clearly Evince so much as the presence of the saline Principle in it. But I will not ( pursues Carneades ) remind you, that the Volatile salt of Harts-horn, Amber, Blood, &c. are exceeding strongly scented, notwithstanding that most Chymists deduce Odours from Sulphur, and from them argue the Predominancy of that Principle in the Odorous body, because I must not so much as add any new Examples of the incompetency of this sort of Chymical arguments ; since having already detain’d You but too long in those generals that appertain to my fourth consideration, ’tis time that I proceed to the particulars themselves, to which I thought fit they should be previous :
247These Generals ( continues Carneades ) being thus premis’d, we might the better survey the Unlikeness that an attentive and unprepossess’d observer may take notice of in each sort of Bodies which the Chymists are wont to call the salts or sulphurs or Mercuries of the Concretes that yield Them, as if they had all a simplicity, and Identity of Nature : whereas salts if they were all Elementary would as little differ as do the Drops of pure and simple Water. ’Tis known that both Chymists and Physitians ascribe to the fixt salts of calcin’d Bodies the vertues of their concretes ; and consequently very differing Operations. So we find the Alkali of Wormwood much commended in distempers of the stomach; that of Eyebright for those that have a weak sight ; and that of Guaiacum ( of which a great Quantity yields but a very little salt ) is not only much commended in Venereal Diseases, but is believed to have a peculiar purgative vertue, which yet I have not had occasion to try. And though, I confess, I have long thought, that these Alkalizate salts are, for the most part, very neer of kin, and retain very little of the properties of 248the Concretes whence they were separated ; Yet being minded to Observe watchfully whether I could meet with any Exceptions to this General Observation, I observ’d at the Glasse-house, that sometimes the Metal ( as the Workmen call it ) or Masse of colliquated Ingredients, which by Blowing they fashion into Vessels of divers shapes, did sometimes prove of a very differing colour, and a somewhat differing Texture, from what was usuall. And having enquired whether the cause of such Accidents might not be derived from the peculiar Nature of the fixt salt employ’d to bring the sand to fusion, I found that the knowingst Workmen imputed these Mis-adventures to the Ashes, of some certain kind of Wood, as having observ’d the ignobler kind of Glass I lately mention’d to be frequently produc’d when they had employ’d such sorts of Ashes which therefore they scruple to make use of, if they took notice of them beforehand. I remember also, that an Industrious Man of my acquaintance having bought a vast quantity of Tobacco stalks to make a fixt Salt with, I had the Curiosity to go see whether that Exotick Plant, which 249so much abounds in volatile salt, would afford a peculiar kind of Alcali ; and I was pleas’d to find that in the Lixivium of it, it was not necessary, as is usual, to evaporate all the Liquor, that there might be obtain’d a Saline Calx, consisting like lime quench’d in the Air of a heap of little Corpuscles of unregarded shapes ; but the fixt salt shot into figur’d Crystal, almost as Nitre or Sal-armoniack and other uncalcin’d salts are wont to do; And I further remember that I have observ’d in the fixt Salt of Urine, brought by depuration to be very white, a tast not so unlike to that of common salt, and very differing from the wonted caustick Lixiviate tast of other salts made by Incineration. But because the Instances I have alledg’d of the Difference of Alcalizate salt are but few, and therefore I am still inclin’d to think, that most Chymists and many Physitians do, inconsideratly enough and without Warrant from Experience, ascribe the Vertues of the Concretes expos’d to Calcination, to the salts obtain’d by it ; I shall rather, to shew the Disparity of salts, mention in the first Place the apparent Difference betwixt the Vegetable fixt salts and the 250Animal Volatile ones : As ( for Example ) betwixt salt of Tartar, and salt of Harts-horn ; whereof the former is so fixt that ’twill indure the brunt of a violent Fire, and stand in fusion like a Metal ; whereas the other ( besides that it has a differing tast and a very differing smell ) is so far from being fixt, that it will fly away in a gentle heat as easily as Spirit of Wine it self. And to this I shall add, in the next place, That even among the Volatile salts themselves, there is a considerable Difference, as appears by the distinct Properties of ( for Instance ) salt of Amber, salt of Urine, salt of Mans Skull, ( so much extoll’d against the falling Sicknesse) and divers others which cannot escape an ordinary Observer. And this Diversity of Volatile salts I have observ’d to be somtimes Discernable even to the Eye, in their Figures. For the salt of Harts-horn I have observ’d to adhere to the Receiver in the forme almost of a Parallelipipedon ; and of the Volatile salt of humane blood ( long digested before distillation, with spirit of Wine ) I can shew you store of graines of that Figure which Geometricians call a Rhombus ; though I dare not 251undertake that the Figures of these or other Saline Crystals ( if I may so call Them ) will be alwaies the same, whatever degree of Fire have been employ’d to force them up, or how hastily soever they have been made to convene in the spirits or liquors, in the lower part of which I have usually observ’d them after a while to shoot. And although, as I lately told You, I seldom found any Difference, as to Medical Vertues, in the fixt Salts of Divers Vegetables ; and accordingly I have suspected that most of these volatile Salts, having so great a Resemblance in smell, in tast, and fugitiveness, differ but little, if at all, in their Medicinal properties : As indeed I have found them generally to agree in divers of them ( as in their being somewhat Diaphoretick and very Deopilative ; Yet I remember HelmontError vero per distillationem nobis monstrat etiam Spiritum salinum plane volatilem odore nequicquam ut nec gustu distinguibilem a spiritu Urinae; In eo tamen essentialiter diversum, quod spiritus talis cruoris curat Epilepsiam, non autem Spiritus salis lotii.
Helmont. Aura Vitalis. somewhere informes us, that there is this Difference betwixt the saline spirit of Urine and that of Mans blood, that the former will not cure the Epilepsy, 252but the Latter will. Of the Efficacy also of the Salt of Common Amber against the same Disease in Children, ( for in Grown Persons it is not a specifick ) I may elsewhere have an Occasion to Entertain You. And when I consider that to the obtaining of these Volatile Salts ( especially that of Urine ) there is not requisite such a Destructive Violence of the Fire, as there is to get those Salts that must be made by Incineration, I am the more invited to conclude, that they may differ from one another, and consequently recede from an Elementary Simplicity. And, if I could here shew You what Mr. Boyle has Observ’d, touching the Various Chymicall Distinctions of Salts ; You would quickly discern, not only that Chymists do give themselves a strange Liberty to call Concretes Salts, that are according to their own Rules to be look’d upon as very Compounded Bodies ; but that among those very Salts that seem Elementary, because produc’d upon the Anatomy of the Bodies that yield them, there is not only a visible Disparity, but, to speak in the common Lan253guage, a manifest Antipathy or Contrariety : As is evident in the Ebullition and hissing that is wont to ensue, when the Acid Spirit of Vitrioll, for Instance, is pour’d upon pot ashes, or Salt of Tartar. And I shall beg leave of this Gentleman, sayes Carneades, casting his Eyes on me, to let me observe to You out of some of his papers, particularly those wherein he treats of some Preparations of Urine, that not only one and the same body may have two Salts of a contrary Nature, as he exemplifies in the Spirit and Alkali of Nitre ; but that from the same body there may without addition be obtain’d three differing and Visible Salts. For He Relates, that he observ’d in Urine, not only a Volatile and Crystalline Salt, and a fixt Salt, but likewise a kind of Sal Armoniack, or such a Salt as would sublime in the form of a salt, and therefore was not fixt, and yet was far from being so fugitive as the Volatile salt ; from which it seem’d also otherwise to differ. I have indeed suspected that this may be a Sal Armoniack properly enough so call’d, as Compounded of the Volatile salt of Urine, and the fixt 254of the same Liquor, which, as I noted, is not unlike sea-salt ; but that it self argues a manifest Difference betwixt the salts, since such a Volatile salt is not wont to Unite thus with an ordinary Alcali, but to fly away from it in the Heat. And on this occasion I remember that, to give some of my Friends an Ocular proof of the difference betwixt the fixt and Volatile salt ( of the same Concrete ) Wood, I devis’d the following Experiment. I took common Venetian sublimate, and dissolv’d as much of it as I well could in fair Water : then I took Wood Ashes, and pouring on them Warme Water, Dissolv’d their salt ; and filtrating the Water, as soon as I found the Lixivium sufficiently sharp upon the tongue, I reserv’d it for use : Then on part of the former solution of sublimate dropping a little of this Dissolv’d Fixt salt of Wood, the Liquors presently turn’d of an Orange Colour ; but upon the other part of the clear solution of sublimate putting some of the Volatile salt of Wood ( which abounds in the spirit of soot ) the Liquor immediately turn’d white, almost like Milke, and af255ter a while let fall a white sediment, as the other Liquor did a Yellow one. To all this that I have said concerning the Difference of salts, I might add what I Formerly told you, concerning the simple spirit of Box, and such like Woods, which differ much from the other salts hitherto mention’d, and yet would belong to the saline Principle, if Chymists did truly teach that all Tasts proceed from it. And I might also annex, what I noted to you out of HelmontAliquando oleum Cinnamomi, &c. suo sali Alcali miscetur absque omni aqua, trium mensium Artificiosa occultaque circulatione, totum in salem volatilem commutatum est. Helmont. Tria Prima Chymicorum, &c. pag. 412. concerning Bodies, which, though they consist in great part of Chymical Oyles, do yet appear but Volatile salts ; But to insist on these things, were to repeat ; and therefore I shall proceed.
This Disparity is also highly eminent in the separated sulphurs or Chymical Oyles of things. For they contain so much of the scent, and tast, and vertues, of the Bodies whence they were drawn, that they seem to be but the Material Crasis ( if I may so speak ) of their Concretes. Thus the Oyles of Cinna256mon, Cloves, Nutmegs and other spices, seem to be but the United Aromatick parts that did ennoble those Bodies. And ’tis a known thing, that Oyl of Cinnamon, and oyle of Cloves, ( which I have likewise observ’d in the Oyles of several Woods ) will sink to the Bottom of Water : whereas those of Nutmegs and divers other Vegetables will swim upon it. The Oyle ( abusively call’d spirit ) of Roses swims at the Top of the Water in the forme of a white butter, which I remember not to have observ’d in any other Oyle drawn in any Limbeck; yet there is a way ( not here to be declar’d ) by which I have seen it come over in the forme of other Aromatick Oyles, to the Delight and Wonder of those that beheld it. In Oyle of Anniseeds, which I drew both with, and without Fermentation, I observ’d the whole Body of the Oyle in a coole place to thicken into the Consistence and Appearance of white Butter, which with the least heat resum’d its Former Liquidness. In the Oyl of Olive drawn over in a Retort, I have likewise more then once seen a spontaneous Coagulation in the 257Receiver : And I have of it by me thus Congeal’d ; which is of such a strangely Penetrating scent, as if ’twould Perforate the Noses that approach it. The like pungent Odour I also observ’d in the Distill’d Liquor of common sope, which forc’d over from Minium, lately afforded an oyle of a most admirable Penetrancy ; And he must be a great stranger, both to the Writings and preparations of Chymists, that sees not in the Oyles they distill from Vegetables and Animals, a considerable and obvious Difference. Nay I shall venture to add, Eleutherius, ( what perhaps you will think of kin to a Paradox ) that divers times out of the same Animal or Vegetable, there may be extracted Oyles of Natures obviously differing. To which purpose I shall not insist on the swimming and sinking Oyles, which I have sometimes observ’d to float on, and subside under the spirit of Guajacum, and that of divers other Vegetables Distill’d with a strong and lasting Fire ; Nor shall I insist on the observation elsewhere mention’d, of the divers and unminglable oyles afforded us by Humane Blood long fermented and 258Digested with spirit of Wine, because these kind of oyles may seem chiefly to differ in Consistence and Weight, being all of them high colour’d and adust. But the Experiment which I devis’d to make out this Difference of the oyles of the same Vegetable, ad Oculum, ( as they speak ) was this that followes. I took a pound of Annisseeds, and having grosly beaten them, caused them to be put into a very large glass Retort almost filled with fair Water ; and placing this Retort in a sand Furnace, I caus’d a very Gentle heat to be administer’d during the first day, and a great part of the second, till the Water was for the most part drawn off, and had brought over with it at least most of the Volatile and Aromatick Oyle of the seeds. And then encreasing the Fire, and changing the Receiver, I obtain’d besides an Empyreumatical Spirit, a quantity of adust oyle ; whereof a little floated upon the Spirit, and the rest was more heavy, and not easily separable from it. And whereas these oyles were very dark, and smell’d ( as Chymists speak ) so strongly of the Fire, that their Odour 259did not betray from what Vegetables they had been forc’d ; the other Aromatick Oyle was enrich’d with the genuine smell and tast of the Concrete ; and spontaneously coagulating it self into white butter did manifest self to be the true Oyle of Annisseeds ; which Concrete I therefore chose to employ about this Experiment, that the Difference of these Oyles might be more conspicuous then it would have been, had I instead of it destill’d another Vegetable.
I had almost forgot to take notice, that there is another sort of Bodies, which though not obtain’d from Concretes by Distillation, many Chymists are wont to call their Sulphur ; not only because such substances are, for the most part, high colour’d ( whence they are also, and that more properly, called Tinctures ) as dissolv’d Sulphurs are wont to be ; but especially because they are, for the most part, abstracted and separated from the rest of the Masse by Spirit of Wine : which Liquor those men supposing to be Sulphureous, they conclude, that what it works upon, and abstracts, must be a Sulphur also. And upon this account they presume, that they can sequester the sul260phur even of Minerals and Metalls ; from which ’tis known that they cannot by Fire alone separate it. To all This I shall answer ; That if these sequestred substances where indeed the sulphurs of the Bodies whence they are drawn, there would as well be a great Disparity betwixt Chymical Sulphurs obtain’d by Spirit of Wine, as I have already shewn there is betwixt those obtain’d by Distillation in the forme of Oyles : which will be evident from hence, that not to urge that themselves ascribe distinct vertues to Mineral Tinctures, extolling the Tincture of Gold against such and such Diseases ; the Tincture of Antimony, or of its Glass, against others ; and the Tincture of Emerauld against others; ’tis plain, that in Tinctures drawn from Vegetables, if the superfluous spirit of Wine be distill’d off, it leaves at the bottom that thicker substance which Chymists use to call the Extract of the Vegetable. And that these Extracts are endow’d with very differing Qualities according to the Nature of the Particular Bodies that afforded them ( though I fear seldom with so much of the specifick vertues as is wont to be imagin’d ) is freely confess’d 261both by Physitians and Chymists. But, Eleutherius, ( sayes Carneades ) we may here take Notice that the Chymists do as well in this case, as in many others, allow themselves a License to abuse Words : For not again to argue from the differing properties of Tinctures, that they are not exactly pure and Elementary Sulphurs ; they would easily appear not to be so much as Sulphur’s, although we should allow Chymical Oyles to deserve that Name. For however in some Mineral Tinctures the Natural fixtness of the extracted Body does not alwayes suffer it to be easily further resoluble into differing substances ; Yet in very many extracts drawn from Vegetables, it may very easily be manifested that the spirit of Wine has not sequestred the sulphureous Ingredient from the saline and Mercurial ones ; but has dissolv’d ( for I take it to be a Solution ) the finer Parts of the Concrete ( without making any nice distinction of their being perfectly Sulphureous or not ) and united it self with them into a kind of Magistery ; which consequently must contain Ingredients or Parts of several sorts. For we see that the stones that are rich in vitriol, 262being often drench’d with rain-Water, the Liquor will then extract a fine and transparent substance coagulable into Vitriol ; and yet though this Vitriol be readily dissoluble in Water, it is not a true Elementary Salt, but, as You know, a body resoluble into very differing Parts, whereof one ( as I shall have occasion to tell You anon ) is yet of a Metalline, and consequently not of an Elementary Nature. You may consider also, that common Sulphur is readily dissoluble in Oyle of Turpentine, though notwithstanding its Name it abounds as well, if not as much, in Salt as in true Sulphur ; witness the great quantity of saline Liquor it affords being set to flame away under a glasse Bell. Nay I have, which perhaps You will think strange, with the same Oyle of Turpentine alone easily enough dissolv’d crude Antimony finely powder’d into a Blood-red Balsam, wherewith perhaps considerable things may be perform’d in Surgery. And if it were now Requisite, I could tell You of some other Bodies ( such as Perhaps You would not suspect ) that I have been able to work upon with certain Chymical Oyles. But instead of digressing further 263I shall make this use of the Example I have nam’d. That ’tis not unlikely, but that Spirit of Wine which by its pungent tast, and by some other Qualities that argue it better ( especially its Reduciblenesse, according to Helmont, into Alcali, and Water, ) seems to be as well of a Saline as of a Sulphureous Nature, may well be suppos’d Capable of Dissolving Substances That are not meerly Elementary sulphurs, though perhaps they may abound with Parts that are of kin thereunto. For I find that Spirit of Wine will dissolve Gumm Lacca, Benzoine, and the Resinous Parts of Jallap, and even of Guaiacum; whence we may well suspect that it may from Spices, Herbs, and other lesse compacted Vegetables, extract substances that are not perfect Sulphurs but mixt Bodies. And to put it past Dispute, there is many a Vulgar Extract drawn with Spirit of Wine, which committed to Distillation will afford such differing substances as will Loudly proclaim it to have been a very compounded Body. So that we may justly suspect, that even in Mineral Tinctures it will not alwaies follow, that because a red substance 264is drawn from the Concrete by spirit of Wine, that Substance is its true and Elementary Sulphur. And though some of these Extracts may perhaps be inflamable ; Yet besides that others are not, and besides that their being reduc’d to such Minuteness of Parts may much facilitate their taking Fire ; besides this, I say, We see that common Sulphur, common Oyle, Gumm Lac, and many Unctuous and Resinous Bodies, will flame well enough, though they be of very compounded natures : Nay Travellers of Unsuspected Credit assure Us, as a known thing, that in some Northern Countries where Firr trees and Pines abound, the poorer sort of Inhabitants use Long splinters of those Resinous Woods to burne instead of Candles. And as for the rednesse wont to be met with in such solutions, I could easily shew, that ’tis not necessary it should proceed from the Sulphur of the Concrete, Dissolv’d by the Spirit of Wine ; if I had leasure to manifest how much Chymists are wont to delude themselves and others by the Ignorance of those other causes upon whose account spirit of Wine and other Menstruums may acquire 265a red or some other high colour. But to returne to our Chymical Oyles, supposing that they were exactly pure ; Yet I hope they would be, as the best spirit of Wine is, but the more inflamable and deflagrable. And therefore since an Oyle can be by the Fire alone immediately turn’d into flame, which is something of a very differing Nature from it : I shall Demand how this Oyle can be a Primogeneal and Incorruptible Body, as most Chymists would have their Principles ; Since it is further resoluble into flame, which whether or no it be a portion of the Element of Fire, as an Aristotelian would conclude, is certainly something of a very differing Nature from a Chymical Oyle, since it burnes, and shines, and mounts swiftly upwards ; none of which a Chymical Oyle does, whilst it continues such. And if it should be Objected, that the Dissipated Parts of this flaming Oyle may be caught and collected again into Oyl or Sulphur ; I shall demand, what Chymist appears to have ever done it ; and without Examining whether it may not hence be as well said that sulphur is but compacted Fire, as that Fire is but 266diffus’d Sulphur, I shall leave you to consider whether it may not hence be argu’d, that neither Fire nor Sulphur are primitive and indestructible Bodies ; and I shall further observe that, at least it will hence appear that a portion of matter may without being Compounded with new Ingredients, by having the Texture and Motion of its small parts chang’d, be easily, by the means of the Fire, endow’d with new Qualities, more differing from them it had before, then are those which suffice to discriminate the Chymists Principles from one another.
We are next to Consider, whether in the Anatomy of mixt Bodies, that which Chymists call the Mercurial part of them be un-compounded, or no. But to tell You True, though Chymists do Unanimously affirm that their Resolutions discover a Principle, which they call Mercury, yet I find them to give of it Descriptions so Differing, and so AEnigmaticall, that I, who am not asham’d to confess that I cannot understand what is not sence, must acknowledge to you that I know not what to make of them. Paracelsus himself, and 267therefore, as you will easily believe, many of his Followers, does somewhere call that Mercury which ascends upon the burning of Wood, as the Peripateticks are wont to take the same smoke for Air ; and so seems to define Mercury by Volatility, or ( if I may coyne such a Word ) Effumability. But since, in this Example, both Volatile Salt and Sulphur make part of the smoke, which does indeed consist also both of Phlegmatick and Terrene Corpuscles, this Notion is not to be admitted ; And I find that the more sober Chymists themselves disavow it. Yet to shew you how little of clearness we are to expect in the accounts even of latter Spagyrists, be pleas’d to take notice, that Beguinus, even in his Tyrocinium Chymicum, written for the Instruction of Novices, when he comes to tell us what are meant by the Tria Prima, which for their being Principles ought to be defin’d the more accurately and plainly, gives us this Description of Mercury ; Chm. Tyrocin. lib. 1. Cap. 2.Mercurius ( sayes he ) est liquor ille acidus, permeabilis, penetrabilis, aethereus, ac purissimus, a quo omnis Nutricatio, Sensus, Motus, Vires, Colores, Senectutisque Praeproperae retarda268tio. Which words are not so much a Definition of it, as an Encomium : and yet Quercetanus in his Description of the same Principle adds to these, divers other Epithets. But both of them, to skip very many other faults that may be found with their Metaphoricall Descriptions, speak incongruously to the Chymists own Principles. For if Mercury be an Acid Liquor, either Hermetical Philosophy must err in ascribing all Tasts to Salt, or else Mercury must not be a Principle, but Compounded of a Saline Ingredient and somewhat else. Libavius, though he find great fault with the obscurity of what the Chymists write concerning their Mercurial Principle, does yet but give us such a Negative Description of it, as Sennertus, how favourable soever to the Tria Prima, is not satisfi’d with. And this Sennertus Himself, though the Learnedst Champion for the Hypostatical Principles, does almost as frequently as justly complain of the unsatisfactoriness of what the Chymists teach concerning their Mercury ; and yet he himself ( but with his wonted modesty ) Substitutes instead of the Description 269of Libavius, another, which many Readers, especially if they be not Peripateticks, will not know what to make of. For scarce telling us any more, then that in all bodies that which is found besides Salt and Sulphur, and the Elements, or, as they call them, Phlegm and Dead Earth, is that Spirit which in Aristotles Language may be call’d ουσιαν αναλογον τω των αϛρων ϛοιχαιω. He sayes that which I confess is not at all satisfactory to me, who do not love to seem to acquiesce in any mans Mystical Doctrines, that I may be thought to understand them.
If ( sayes Eleutherius ) I durst presume that the same thing would be thought clear by me, and those that are fond of such cloudy Expressions as You justly Tax the Chymists for, I should venture to offer to Consideration, whether or no, since the Mercurial Principle that arises from Distillation is unanimously asserted to be distinct from the salt and Sulphur of the same Concrete, that may not be call’d the Mercury of a Body, which though it ascend in Distillation, as do the Phlegme and Sulphur, is neither insipid like the former, nor infla270mable like the latter. And therefore I would substitute to the too much abused Name of Mercury, the more clear and Familiar Appellation of Spirit, which is also now very much made use of even by the Chymists themselves, of our times, though they have not given us so Distinct an Explication, as were fit, of what may be call’d the Spirit of a mixt Body.
I should not perhaps ( sayes Carneades ) much quarrel with your Notion of Mercury. But as for the Chymists, what they can mean, with congruity to their own Principles, by the Mercury of Animals and Vegetables, ’twill not be so easie to find out ; for they ascribe Tasts only to the Saline Principle, and consequently would be much put to it to shew what Liquor it is, in the Resolution of Bodies, that not being insipid, for that they call Phlegme, neither is inflamable as Oyle or Sulphur, nor has any Tast ; which according to them must proceed from a Mixture, at least, of Salt. And if we should take Spirit in the sence of the Word receiv’d among Modern Chymists and Physitians, for any Distill’d Liquor that 271is neither Phlegme nor oyle, the Appellation would yet appear Ambiguous enough. For, plainly, that which first ascends in the Distillation of Wine and Fermented Liquors, is generally as well by Chymists as others reputed a Spirit. And yet pure Spirit of Wine being wholly inflamable ought according to them to be reckon’d to the Sulphureous, not the Mercurial Principle. And among the other Liquors that go under the name of Spirits, there are divers which seem to belong to the family of Salts, such as are the Spirits of Nitre, Vitriol, Sea-Salt and others, and even the Spirit of Harts-horn, being, as I have try’d, in great part, if not totally reducible into Salt and Phlegme, may be suspected to be but a Volatile Salt disguis’d by the Phlegme mingl’d with it into the forme of a Liquor. However if this be a Spirit, it manifestly differs very much from that of Vinager, the Tast of the one being Acid, and the other Salt, and their Mixture in case they be very pure, sometimes occasioning an Effervescence like that of those Liquors the Chymists count most contrary to one another. And even among 272those Liquors that seem to have a better title then those hitherto mention’d, to the name of Spirits, there appears a sensible Diversity ; For spirit of Oak, for instance, differs from that of Tartar, and this from that of Box, or of Guaiacum. And in short, even these spirits as well as other Distill’d Liquors manifest a great Disparity betwixt themselves, either in their Actions on our senses, or in their other operations.
And ( continues Carneades ) besides this Disparity that is to be met with among those Liquors that the Modernes call spirits, & take for similar bodies, what I have formerly told you concerning the Spirit of Box-wood may let you see that some of those Liquors not only have qualities very differing from others, but may be further resolved into substances differing from one another.
And since many moderne Chymists and other Naturalists are pleased to take the Mercurial spirit of Bodies for the same Principle, under differing names, I must invite you to observe, with me, the great difference that is conspicuous betwixt all the Vegetable and Animal spirits I have mention’d and running 273Mercury. I speak not of that which is commonly sold in shops that many of themselves will confesse to be a mixt Body ; but of that which is separated from Metals, which by some Chymists that seem more Philosophers then the rest, and especially by the above mentioned Claveus, is ( for distinction sake ) called Mercurius Corporum. Now this Metalline Liquor being one of those three Principles of which Mineral Bodies are by Spagyrists affirmed to be compos’d and to be resoluble into them, the many notorious Differences betwixt them and the Mercuries, as They call Them, of Vegetables and Animals will allow me to inferr, either that Minerals and the other two sorts of Mixt Bodies consist not of the same Elements, or that those Principles whereinto Minerals are immediately resolved, which Chymists with great ostentation shew us as the true principles, of them, are but Secundary Principles, or Mixts of a peculiar sort, which must be themselves reduc’d to a very differing forme, to be of the same kind with Vegetable and Animal Liquors.
But this is not all ; for although I for274merly told You how Little Credit there is to be given to the Chymical Processes commonly to be met with, of Extracting the Mercuries of Metals, Yet I will now add, that supposing that the more Judicious of Them do not untruly affirme that they have really drawn true and running Mercury from several Metals ( which I wish they had cleerly taught Us how to do also, ) yet it may be still doubted whether such extracted Mercuries do not as well differ from common Quicksilver, and from one another, as from the Mercuries of Vegetables and Animalls. Claveus,Dixi autem de argento vivo a metallis prolicito, quod vulgare ob nimiam frigiditatem & humiditatem nimium concoctioni est contumax, nec ab auro solum alterato coerceri potest. Gast. Clave. in Apoll. in his Apology, speaking of some experiments whereby Metalline Mercuries may be fixt into the nobler metals, adds, that he spake of the Mercuries drawn from metals ; because common Quicksilver by reason of its excessive coldnesse and moisture is unfit for that particular kind of operation ; for which though a few lines before he prescribes in general the Mercuries of Metalline Bodies, yet he chiefly commends that drawn by art from silver. 275And elsewhere, in the same Book, he tells us, that he himself tryed, that by bare coction the quicksilver of Tin or Pewter ( argentum vivum ex stanno prolicitum ) may by an efficient cause, as he speaks, be turn’d into pure Gold. And the Experienc’d Alexander van Suchten, somewhere tells us, that by a way he intimates may be made a Mercury of Copper, not of the Silver colour of other Mercuries, but green; to which I shall add, that an eminent person, whose name his travells and learned writings have made famous, lately assur’d me that he had more then once seen the Mercury of Lead ( which whatever Authors promise, you will find it very difficult to make, at least in any considerable quantity ) fixt into perfect Gold. And being by me demanded whether or no any other Mercury would not as well have been changed by the same Operations, he assured me of the Negative.
And since I am fallen upon the mention of the Mercuries of metals, you will perhaps expect ( Eleutherius ! ) that I should say something of their two other principles ; but must freely confess to you, that what Disparity there may be be276tween the salts and sulphurs of Metals and other Menerals, I am not my self experienced enough in the separations and examens of them, to venture to determine : ( for as for the salts of Metals, I formerly represented it as a thing much to be question’d, whether they have any at all : ) And for the processes of separation I find in Authors, if they were ( what many of them are not ) successfully practicable, as I noted above, yet they are to be performed by the assistance of other bodies, so hardly, if upon any termes at all, separable from them, that it is very difficult to give the separated principles all their due, and no more. But the Sulphur of Antimony which is vehemently vomitive, and the strongly scented Anodyne Sulphur of Vitriol inclines me to think that not only Mineral Sulphurs differ from Vegetable ones, but also from one another, retaining much of the nature of their Concretes. The salts of metals, and of some sort of minerals, You will easily guesse by the Doubts I formerly express’d, whether metals have any salt at all, that I have not been so happy as yet to see, perhaps not for want of curiosity. But if Paracelsus did alwaies 277write so consentaneously to himself that his opinion were confidently to be collected from every place of his writings where he seems to expresse it, I might safely take upon me to tell you, that he both countenances in general what I have delivered in my Fourth main consideration, and in particular warrants me to suspect that there may be a difference in metalline and mineral Salts, as well as we find it in those of other bodies. For, Sulphur ( sayes he )Paracel. de Mineral. Tract. 1. pag. 141. aliud in auro, aliud in argento, aliud in ferro, aliud in plumbo, stanno, &c. sic aliud in Saphiro, aliud in Smaragdo, aliud in rubino, chrysolito, amethisto, magnete, &c. Item aliud in lapidibus, silice, salibus, fontibus, &c. nec vero tot sulphura tantum, sed & totidem salia ; sal aliud in metallis, aliud in gemmis, aliud in lapidibus, aliud in salibus, aliud in vitriolo, aliud in alumine : similis etiam Mercurii est ratio. Alius in Metallis, alius in Gemmis, &c. Ita ut unicuique speciei suus peculiaris Mercurius sit. Et tamen res saltem tres sunt ; una essentia est sulphur ; una est sal ; una est Mercurius. Addo quod & specialius adhuc singula dividantur ; aurum enim non unum, sed multiplex, ut et non unum pyrum, pomum, sed idem multiplex ; totidem e278tiam sulphura auri, salia auri, mercurii auri ; idem competit etiam metallis & gemmis ; ut quot saphyri præstantiores, lævioris, &c. tot etiam saphyrica sulphura, saphyrica salia, saphyrici Mercurii, &c. Idem verum etiam est de turconibus & gemmis aliis universis. From which passage ( Eleutherius ) I suppose you will think I might without rashness conclude, either that my opinion is favoured by that of Paracelsus, or that Paracelsus his opinion was not alwaies the same. But because in divers other places of his writings he seems to talk at a differing rate of the three Principles and the four Elements, I shall content my self to inferr from the alledg’d passage, that if his doctrine be not consistent with that Part of mine which it is brought to countenance, it is very difficult to know what his opinion concerning salt, sulphur and mercury, was; and that consequently we had reason about the beginning of our conferences, to decline taking upon us, either to examine or oppose it.
I know not whether I should on this occasion add, that those very bodies the Chymists call Phlegme and Earth do yet recede from an Elementary simplicity. 279That common Earth and Water frequently do so, notwithstanding the received contrary opinion, is not deny’d by the more wary of the moderne Peripateticks themselves : and certainly, most Earths are much lesse simple bodies then is commonly imagined even by Chymists, who do not so consideratly to prescribe and employ Earths Promiscuously in those distillations that require the mixture of some caput mortuum, to hinder the flowing together of the matter, and to retain its grosser parts. For I have found some Earths to yield by distillation a Liquor very far from being inodorous or insipid ; and ’tis a known observation, that most kinds of fat Earth kept cover’d from the rain, and hindred from spending themselves in the production of vegetables, will in time become impregnated with Salt-Petre.
But I must remember that the Water and Earths I ought here to speak of, are such as are separated from mixt Bodies by the fire ; and therefore to restrain my Discourse to such, I shall tell you, That we see the Phlegme of Vitriol (for instance) is a very effectual remedie against burnes ; and I know a very Fa280mous and experienc’d Physitian, whose unsuspected secret ( himself confess’d to me ) it is, for the discussing of hard and Obstinate Tumours. The Phlegme of Vinager, though drawn exceeding leasurly in a digesting Furnace, I have purposely made tryall of ; and sometimes found it able to draw, though slowly, a saccharine sweetness out of Lead ; and as I remember by long Digestion, I dissolv’d Corpals in it. The Phlegme of the sugar of Saturne is said to have very peculiar properties. Divers Eminent Chymists teach, that it will dissolve Pearls, which being precipitated by the spirit of the same concrete are thereby ( as they say ) rendred volatile ; which has been confirmed to me, upon his own observation, by a person of great veracity. The Phlegme of Wine, and indeed divers other Liquors that are indiscriminately condemnd to be cast away as phlegm, are endow’d with qualities that make them differ both from meer water, and from each other; and whereas the Chymists are pleas’d to call the caput mortuum of what they have distill’d ( after they have by affusion of water drawn away its salt) terra damnata, or Earth, it may be doubted whether or 281no those earths are all of them perfectly alike : and it is scarce to be doubted, but that there are some of them which remain yet unreduc’d to an Elementary nature. The ashes of wood depriv’d of all the salt, and bone-Ashes, or calcin’d Harts-horn, which Refiners choose to make Tests of, as freest from Salt, seem unlike : and he that shall compare either of these insipid ashes to Lime, and much more to the calx of Talk ( though by the affusion of water they be exquisitely dulcify’d ) will perhaps see cause to think them things of a somewhat differing nature. And it is evident in Colcothar that the exactest calcination, follow’d by an exquisite dulcification, does not alwaies reduce the remaining body into elementary earth; for after the salt or Vitriol ( if the Calcination have been too faint ) is drawn out of the Colcothar, the residue is not earth, but a mixt body, rich in Medical vertues ( as experience has inform’d me ) and which Angelus Sala affirmes to be partly reducible into malleable Copper ; which I judge very probable : for though when I was making Experiments upon Colcothar, I was destitute of a Furnace capable of giving a heat intense Enough to bring such a 282Calx to Fusion ; yet having conjectur’d that if Colcothar abounded with that Metal, Aqua Fortis would find it out there, I put some dulcifi’d Colcothar into that Menstruum, and found the Liquor, according to my Expectation, presently Colour’d as Highly as if it had been an Ordinary Solution of Copper.