It is rather remarkable that in the history of alchemy the Comte de St. Germain has not been mentioned. There is no doubt that he was an expert in the art, but of the many stories related about this remarkable man, his achievements in this particular sphere seem to play no part.
St. Germain was a baffling personality. As far as can be ascertained he was the son of Prince Racozy of Transylvania, but, in any case, there can be no doubt that he was of noble birth, a man of great culture and refinement. His history as far as it is known is well worth reading, but does not come within the scope of this book, which is solely concerned with his interest in the alchemic art. To those of my readers interested in dietetics, it may be a point of interest that most of his biographers have noted his habits with regard to food. It was diet, he declared, combined with his marvellous elixir, which constituted the true secret of his longevity, for it may be remembered that records of St. Germain's various appearances in Europe extend over a period of 110 years, during which time his appearance never altered. Always he appeared as a well-preserved man of middle age. Madame la Comtesse d'Adhemar, for example, in 'Souvenirs de Marie Antoinette,' gives an excellent description of the Comte, whom Frederick the Great referred to as 'the man who does not die,' and Mrs. Cooper Oakley in her monograph, 'The Comte de St. Germain, the Secret of Kings,' traces him under his various names between the years 1710 and 1822.
The Italian adventurer, Jacques de Casanova de Seingalt, grudgingly admits that the Comte was an adept of the magical arts and a skilled chemist. Upon his telling St. Germain that he was suffering from an acute disease, the Comte invited Casanova to remain for treatment, saying that he would prepare fifteen pills which in three days would restore him to perfect health.
Of St. Germain's athoeter Casanova writes:
'Then he showed me his magistrum, which he called Athoeter. It was a white liquid contained in a well stopped phial. He told me that this liquid was the universal spirit of Nature and that if the wax of the stopper was pricked ever so slightly, the whole contents would disappear. I begged him to make the experiment. He thereupon gave me the phial and the pin and I myself pricked the wax, when, lo, the phial was empty.'
Casanova further records an incident in which St. Germain changed a twelve sous piece into a pure gold coin. There is other evidence that the celebrated Count possessed the alchemical powder by which it is possible to transmute base metals into gold. He actually performed this feat on at least two occasions as stated by the writings of contemporaries. The Marquis de Valbelle, visiting St. Germain in his laboratory, found the alchemist busy with his furnaces. He asked the Marquis for a silver six-franc piece, and covering it with a black substance, exposed it to the heat of a small flame or furnace. M. de Valbelle saw the coin change colour until it became a bright red. Some minutes after, when it had cooled a little, the adept took it out of the cooling vessel and returned it to the Marquis. The piece was no longer silver but of the purest gold. Transmutation had been complete. The Comtesse d'Adhemar had possession of this coin until 1766, when it was stolen from her secretary.
One author tells us that St. Germain always attributed his knowledge of occult chemistry to his sojourn in Asia. In 1755 he went to the East for the second time, and writing to Count von Lamberg he said: 'I am indebted for my knowledge of melting jewels to my second journey to India.'
There are too many authentic cases of metallic transmutations to condemn St. Germain as a charlatan for such a feat. The Leopold Hoffman medal, still in the possession of that family, is the most outstanding example of the transmutation of metals ever recorded. Two-thirds of this medal was transformed into gold by the monk Wenzel-Seiler, leaving the balance silver, which was its original state. In the circumstances fraud was impossible as there was but one copy of the medal extant.
For these notes on incidents in St. Germain's life I am indebted to Mr. Manly Hall's introductory material and commentary to the 'Most Holy Trinosophia' (Comte de St. Germain). The 'Most Holy Trinosophia,' or 'The Most Holy Threefold Wisdom,' is composed of twelve sections. It is at the same time a picture of the process of Initiation and an Alchemical treatise, a fact which careful perusal will establish. Let me quote from Section XII:
'The hall into which I had just entered was perfectly round it resembled the interior of a globe composed of hard transparent matter, as crystals, so that the light entered from all sides. Its lower part rested upon a vast basin filled with red sand. A gentle and equable warmth reigned in this circular enclosure. With astonishment I gazed around this crystal globe when a new phenomenon excited my admiration. From the floor of the hall ascended a gentle vapour, moist and saffron yellow. It enveloped me, raised me gently and within thirty-six days it bore me up to the upper part of the globe. Thereafter the vapour thinned. Little by little I descended and finally found myself again on the floor. My robe had changed its colour. It had been green when I entered the hail, but now changed to a brilliant red.'
Here is a picture of the pelican in its sand bath, the process of the sublimation of the contents, and the change of colour which takes place in one of the laboratory processes in the preparation of the Philosophers' Stone. That this preparation is a physical process carried out in a laboratory with water, retorts, sand-bath, and furnaces, there is no doubt. That alchemy is purely a psychic and spiritual science has no basis in fact. A science to be a science must be capable of manifestation on every plane of consciousness; in other words it must be capable of demonstrating the axiom 'as above, so below.' Alchemy can withstand this test, for it is, physically, spiritually, and psychically, a science manifesting throughout all form and all life.
The various foregoing records should in some measure bear testimony to the claim of alchemy to be a physical science based on an inner knowledge of the properties of metals. Casanova's description of St. Germain alone is evidence that as recently as the latter part of the eighteenth century, at any rate, a method of preparing a physical 'Stone,' capable of transmuting metals and curing disease was in practice.
Modern science knows of no substance that can change lead or quicksilver into the likeness of solid gold by the mere addition of a grain of red powder, and may therefore choose to scoff at the alchemists' assertions as products of a too-fertile imagination, at their writings as 'gibberish.' But the fact must be borne in mind that the 'assertions' were corroborated by impartial observers, and that the 'gibberish' of the Hermetic tracts is scarcely less intelligible to the layman than is modern chemical phraseology.