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and pressed by the parliaments, he applied himself, although late, to correct it by very severe laws; and, in the beginning of the year
1609, having assembled the constables, marshalls of France, and the principal lords of his council, he issued that very harsh edict against duelling, which he swore, in their presence, to observe, religiously, and not to pardon any man soever who might violate it. He made the constables and marshalls swear to the like observance of it, giving them fresh and more ample jurisdiction in the affair; and expressly forbade the chancellors and secretaries of state, under pain of answering it in their own names and persons, not to seal or sign any pardon or reprieve in cases of this nature, whatever orders they might receive from him: and, lastly, to add to the terror and infamy of the punishment, he ordered, that all who were killed in a duel should be not only deprived of burial, but hung by the feet to a gibbet. This vigorous edict, supported as it was by circumstances, was effectual ; and, for the last year of the reign of the late king, and the first two of the present, there was but one instance of a violation of it.”
In this case, the law was vigorously executed on the dead, but remitted in favour of the living offender, who was protected by Marshall d'Ancre. After this, adds our author,
“Nobody doubted that he could obtain the same indulgence which had been granted to a man of so little stuff and consideration; so that this salutary edict was all at once outraged and despised ; and though attempts have been made to restore it to its former force, it has been found impossible, so that pardon or punishment have followed, according to the different passions of those who had power and authority in their hands."
Art. V.-Propugnaculum Alchymia, authore Petro Joanne
Fabro, Doctore Medico, &c. Tolosa, 1645. A new Light of Alchymie taken out of the Fountaine of Nature
and manual Experience. To which is added, a Treatise of Sulphur, by Michael Sandivogius ; also nine books of the Nature of Things, by Paracelsus, translated out of the Latin, into the
English Tongue, by J. F., M. D. London, 1650. Paracelsus of the Chymical Transmutation, Genealogy, and Genera
tion of Metals and Minerals. Also of the Urim and Thummim of the Jews, with an Appendix of the vertues and use of an excellent Water, made by Dr. Trigge. Also the second part of the Mumial Treatise, whereunto is added Philosophical and Chemical Experiments of that famous Philosopher, Raymond Lully. Translated into English, by R. Turner. Printed for R. Moon, London, 1657.
We will honestly confess, though our fair fame is risked upon the die, that we should rejoice to hear of the establishment of a joint stock company, to open a communication even with the moon, or that shares were at a premium in Mr. Valence's patent for conveyance in vacuo, by which tons of goods and passengers are to be propelled from Brighton to London, at the rate of (we use the very words as we find them in print)* “ not exceeding perhaps two or three hundred miles an hour.” We beg leave, however, to have it fully understood, that we have never entertained a momentary thought of speculating in the former, or taking places in the loco-motive engine of the latter, though assured, by advertisement, that such were to be engaged in Mr. Valence's newly invented condensed coaches, about to start on the 1st April, 1827. To be serious, we are ever glad to hear of any speculation, any experiment, any course of lectures, whether theoretical or practical, however extravagant they are, or appear to be, bearing, directly or indirectly, on art, science, or philosophy. For example, let a right good, sanguine, persevering enthusiast start for the; moon, and how many facts must remain, like the weightier sediment in the crucible of our alchymists, respecting the nature and properties of the atmosphere, the muscular powers of his pteromatic machinery; and, again, we feel equally confident, that, if Mr. Valence, after expending his own or his subscribers' shares, pending his gallantly protracted tubular warfare with condensed air, should, at length, find it more ex- , pedient to go to London from Brighton in any of those numerous coaches, which daily plod their weary way, at the jog-trot pace of some ten or twelve miles an hour, instead of proceeding in one of his gas-poppers in a twentieth part of the time, he, nevertheless, will have gleaned no inconsiderable information respecting condensation, expansion, resistance of aërial fluids, (to say nothing of his necessarily discovered power of breathing in vacuo ;)-all which may turn to good account at some future period. Such are our reasons for being bold enough (we entreat you, gentle reader, not to say mad or credulous enough) to dare hazarding an opinion in favour of those hyper-excited authors, who have written the very absurd books now before us. We are not of that class of men of narrow_souls and grovelling conceptions,” so severely handled by Dr. Johnsou,+ who treat every new attempt as wild and chimerical; and look upon every endeavour to depart from the beaten track, as the rash efforts of a warm imagination, or
• " Register of Arts and Sciences," vol. i. p. 239.
the glittering speculation of an exalted mind, that may please and dazzle for a time, but can produce no real or lasting advantage; men who value themselves upon a perpetual scepticism, and have, consequently, been the most formidable enemies of the great benefactors of the world.-We, on the contrary, entirely agree with one of the most enlightened writers of our days,* who remarks, that “ the attempts to discover the philosopher's stone, and the quadrature of the circle, have led to many useful discoveries in mathematics."
To the partially enlightened spirits of a dark age, the study of alchymy naturally presented many charms, and was as naturally pursued from many motives :-laudable curiosity, affected superiority, fascinating love of mystery, had, each, their share ; and, to crown all, upidity and self-interest : and yet, though we fear it must be allowed that the latter were predominant, in many cases, we know not how far it is either just or fair to overwhelm its professors with the load of vituperation, heaped on them by those who look only at the follies of which they were guilty; for, with all their failings, we are inclined, generally speaking, to absolve them from the guilt of hypocrisy, and to believe that, in thought, word, and deed, they were consistent self-deceivers, instead of artful impostors. Of their sincerity, diligence, and piety, indeed, we find ample proof scattered over their works, with a gratuitous profusion quite unnecessary for persons whose sole object it was to enrich themselves, and fatten upon the credulity of their dupes. Of course, in saying this, we would confine ourselves to the professors and founders of the art, not to the low pretenders, who, availing themselves of human weakness, profited by this popular infirmity. We would wish them to speak in their own defence :-thus, then, closes the life of Johannes Strangunere, a profound student in the "celestial sciences,” in an address to his son.
“ But I desire thee, upon the salvation of thy soul, that thou do not forget the poor; and, in any case, to look well to thyself, that thou do not disclose the secrets of this science to any covetous, worldly man; for, if thou do, it will turn to thy hurt; for I have declared to thee, as I trust to be saved, upon my salvation, the things that my eyes have seen, and my hands have wrought, and my fingers have pulled forth; and I have written this book with my own hand, and set to my name, as I did lie on my death-bed, in the
1432.” Again, that great adept, Peter John Faber, author of the
Propugnaculum,” thus speaks of the disposition and qualities essential to a true alchymist. " Supremum sapientiæ gradum habere tentant et cupiunt qui ad lapidem philosophorum aspirant: Deum potissimum ergo timere, in primis habent, cum initium sapientiæ et scientiæ, sit timor Dei; ad supremum enim sapientiæ et scientia culmen evehi nequeunt, nisi Deo ducente elevante ac sublimante, sapientia enim sola a Deo est nec auro ullo pacto et argento erui potest,” &c. Propugnaculum, p: 103,
*“ Stewart on the Mind," 464.
So much for their piety, (implying also sincerity;) in further corroboration of which, we are unwilling to multiply quotations, which will, more properly, be introduced in our comments upon the works themselves; but, in addition, we beg leave to give the picture of a true alchymist, in the words of the renowned Paracelsus himself; after which, it would be quite superfluous to offer a syllable more in proof of their diligence.
“ In the mean time, I will give to Spagiricall Physitians their due praise ; for they are not given to idlenesse and sloth, nor goe in a proud habit, or plush and velvet garments, often shewing their rings upon their fingers or wearing swords with silver hilts by their sides, or fine and gay gloves upon their hands, but diligently follow their labours, sweating whole nights and dayes by their furnaces. These doe not spend their time abroad for recreation, but take delight in their laboratory. They wear leather garments, with a pouch and apron, wherewith they wipe their hands. They put their fingers, amongst coales, into clay and dung, not into gold rings. They are sooty and black, like smithes, or colliers, and doe not pride themselves with clean and beautiful faces; but, laying aside all these kinds: of vanities, they delight to bee busied about the fire, and to learn the degrees of the science of Alchymie. Of this order are distillation, resolution, putrefaction, extraction, calcination, recerberation, sublimation, fixation, separation, reduction, coagulation, tincture,"* &c.
Having said this much for the operators, we would extend the favourable feeling to the object of their pursuit, and remind our readers of the degree of gratitude due to the art itself, from all classes of society now revelling in full possession and enjoyment of fruits matured from alchymical seeds, unwittingly and casually scattered over the soil of science. What saith Cornelius Agrippa, that “ portentous witt,” as Paulus Jovius styles him; or that “ miracle of learning and learned men,” as he is, with equal propriety, termed by his biographer, Ludovicus Vivus, a philosopher of no mean repute, and a dabbler in the occult sciences, though, as we shall see, a devout eschewer of the alchymic art, who thus, in his curious work
•“ Paracelsus, of the Nature of Things," 92.
on the vanitie of sciences,” is compelled, nevertheless, to do justice, if not to the cause, at least to the effects of alchymy?"
“ This onely I will say, that the Alcumister be, of all men, the naughtiest: for, whereas God commandeth that man should eate breade with the sweate of his browes, &c. these men. being despisers of God's commandment, and of the promised blessednesse, farre from labour and (as it is sayd) in womens worke, and in boyes pastime, they go about to make mountaines of golde, I doe not denie that, of this arte, many most excellent workemanshippes had theyr beginning : From hence came the temperatures of asure, of cinnabar, of sinople, of purple, and of that which they call musicall golde, and other colours : wee are bounde to this arte for latten mettall, for the mixtions of all mettals, for the fastenings of them togither, for the tryings of them, and for their separation. The invention of the gunne, a fearfull instrument, belongeth to this arte: from this came the most noble art of glasse making,” &c.*
And Lord Bacon has a remark, in his History of Marvails, which, mutato nomine, is very applicable to the question. He is speaking of sorceries, witchcrafts, dreams, divinations, and the like, concerning which he says, “ howsoever the practice of such things is to be condemned, yet, from the speculation and consideration of them, light may be taken, not only for the discerning of the offences, but for the further disclosing of nature. Neither ought a man to make scruple of entering into these things, for the inquisition of truth.”+
We perfectly agree with these learned men; convinced, as we are, that, to the persevering labours of alchymy, experimental science owes, if not its rise, certainly much of its progress and success. These subtle divers into the penetralia of Nature, in the absence of rational and sound principles, were compelled to search for facts, as the only sure mode of investigation, and passed days and nights, as we have seen, in obscure laboratories, amidst theircrucibles, extorting, if we may so speak, from nature the materials wherewith they intended to exalt themselves, and astonish the world, by imaginary discoveries.
Before we enter upon an analysis of the books at the head of our article, we shall endeavour to give a sketch of the history, characteristic peculiarities, and principles, of this singular delusion, which, during certain periods of its prevalence, occupied the minds of some of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals of the world, and spread its influence over the wide surface of civilised society to a much greater degree than those, who have given little heed to its operations, can
* “ Cornelius Agrippa,” 159.
7 “Bacon," vol ii., p. 103.