Alchemy rediscovered and restored by Archibald Cockren

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About the period of the first Crusades alchemy shifted its centre to Spain, to which country it had been introduced by the Moors. In the twelfth century Artephius wrote 'The Art of Prolonging Human Life,' and is reported to have lived throughout a period of one thousand years. He himself affirms this:

'I, Artephius, having learnt all the art in the book of Hermes, was once as others, envious, but having now lived one thousand years or thereabouts (which thousand years have already passed over me since my nativity, by the grace of God alone, and the use of this admirable quintessence), as I have seen, through this long space of time, that men have been unable to perfect the same magistery on account of the obscurity of the words of the philosophers, moved by pity and good conscience, I have resolved, in these my last days, to publish in all sincerity and truly, so that men may have nothing more to desire concerning this work. I except one thing only, which is not lawful that I should write, because it can be revealed truly only by God, or by a master. Nevertheless, this likewise may be learned from this book, provided one be not stiff-necked and have a little experience.'

Of the thirteenth-century literature, a work called 'Tesero' was attributed to Alphonso, King of Castile in 1272: William de Loris wrote 'Le Roman de Rose' in about 1282, assisted by Jean de Meung, who also wrote 'The Remonstrance of Nature to the Wandering Alchemist,' and 'The Reply of the Alchemist to Nature.' Peter d'Apona, born near Padua in 1250, wrote several books on 'magic,' and was accused by the Inquisition of possessing seven spirits, each enclosed in a crystal vessel, who taught him the seven liberal arts and sciences. He died upon the rack.

Among other famous names appearing about this period is that of Arnold de Villeneuve or Villanova, whose most famous work is found in the 'Theatrum Chemicum.' He studied medicine in Paris, but was also a theologian and alchemist. Like his friend, Peter d'Apona, he was thought to obtain his knowledge from the devil and was charged by many with magical practices. Although he did not himself fall into the hands of the Inquisition, his books were condemned to be burnt in Tarragona by that body on account of their heretical content. For Villanova maintained that works of faith and charity were more acceptable in the eyes of God than the Sacrificial Mass!

The authority of Albertus Magnus (1234--1314) is undoubtedly to be respected, since he renounced all material advantages to devote the greater part of a long life to the study of philosophy in the seclusion of a cloister. When Albertus died, his fame descended to his 'sainted pupil' Aquinas, who in his 'Thesaurus Alchimae' to his friend the Abbot Reginald, speaks openly of the successes of Albertus and himself in the art of transmutation.

Raymond Lully is one of the alchemists about whose life there is so much conflicting evidence that it is practically certain that his name was used as a cover by a second adept either at the same or a later period. He was probably born in Majorca about 1235,and after a somewhat dissolute youth, he was induced, apparently by the tragic termination of an unsuccessful love affair, to turn his thoughts to religion. He became imbued with a burning desire to spread the gospel among the followers of Mohammed, and to this end devoted years to the study of Mohammedan writings, the better to refute the Moslem teachings. He travelled widely, not only in Europe, but in Africa and Asia, where his religious zeal nearly cost him his life on more than one occasion. He is said to have become acquainted with Arnold de Villanova and the Universal Science somewhat late in life, when his study of alchemy and the discovery of the Philosophers' Stone increased his former fame as a zealous Christian.

According to one story his reputation eventually reached John Cremer, Abbot of Westminster at the time, who after working at alchemy for thirty years, had still failed to achieve his aim, the Philosophers' Stone. Cremer therefore sought out Lully in Italy, and having gained his confidence, persuaded him to come to England, where he introduced him to Edward II. Lully, being a great champion of Christendom, agreed to transmute base metals into gold on condition that Edward carried on the Crusades with the money. He was given a room in the Tower for his work, and it is estimated that he transmuted 50,000 pounds worth of gold. After a time, however, Edward became avaricious, and to compel Lully to carry on the work of transmutation made him prisoner, although with Cremer's aid he was able to escape from the Tower and return to the Continent. Records state that he lived to be one hundred and fifty years of age and was eventually killed by the Saracens in Asia. At that age he is reputed to have been able to run and jump like a young man.

The enormous output of writings attributed to Lully (they total about 486 treatises on a variety of subjects ranging from grammar and rhetoric to medicine and theology) also seems to suggest that the name Lully was merely a pseudonym.

It was about this time that the science fell into grave disrepute, for the alchemist's claim to transmute metals offered great possibilities to any rogue with sufficient plausibility and lack of scruple to exploit the credulity or greed of his fellow-men, and there proved to be no lack either of charlatans or victims. Rich merchants and others greedy for gain were induced to entrust to the alleged alchemists gold, silver, and precious stones--which they lost--in the hope of getting them multiplied, and Acts of Parliament were passed in England and Pope's Bulls issued over Christendom to forbid the practice of alchemy on pain of death, although Pope John XXII is said to have practised the art himself and to have enriched the public treasury by this means.

In the fourteenth century lived the two Isaacs Hollandus, father and son, Dutch adepts, who wrote 'De Triplici Ordinari Exiliris et Lapidis Theoria' and 'Mineralia Opera Sue de Lapide Philosophico.' The details of their operations on metals are the most explicit that have been given, and because of this very lucidity have been discounted. John Read, for instance, Professor of Chemistry, in his 'Prelude to Chemistry, an Outline of Alchemy,' dismisses the writing of the Hollandus pair in a few words, possibly because their clarity of detail led him to suspect a blind. Alas, how blind sometimes are our experts themselves.

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