1902 Encyclopedia > Alchemy > Alchemy - Further Reading

(Part 7)



Before concluding this short sketch of a vast subject, we must give a brief list of titles of the most important authorities on the subjects, and enumerate the principal words which alchemy has bequeathed to scientific terminology, or which have passed into the language of common life:--

AUTHORITIES. - Rogerbacon, Thesaurus Chimicus, 8vo, Francof., 1603; Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, History of Metals fol., London, 1670, J.J. Becher, Opera Omnia, Francof., 1680; Chymia Philosophica, 8vo, Nuremberg, 1639; John Espagnet, Enchiridion Philosophiae Hermeticae, Paris, 1638; Robert Fludd, Clavis Alchimiae, 2 vols. Francof.; T.R. Glauber, Works, Chimistry, fol., London, 1689; Hermis Trismegisti, Traduction par J. Mesnard, 8vo, Paris (edited by Didier); J. Kunkel, Experiments, 8vo, London, 1705; Paracelsi Opera Omnia (with a remarkable preface by Fred. Bitiski), 2 vols. fol.; J.B. Porta, De Aeris Transmutationibus, 4to, Romae, 1610; Quercetan, Hermatical Physic, 4to, London, 1605; Georgii Ripley, Opera Omnia, 8vo, Cassel, 1649; J. Trithermius, De Lapide Philosophico, 8vo, Par. 1611; Basil Valentin, Last Will, &c., 8vo, London, 1671. Of compilations we may mention- Artis Auriferae quam Chemian vocant Duo Volumina (this work includes the Turba Philosophorum), Basileae, 1610; J.J. Manget, Bibliotheca Chemica Curiosa, 2 vols. fol., 1702; Theatrum Chimicum, 6 vols. 8vo, Argent; The Lives of the Adepths in Alchemystical Philosophy, with a critical catalogue of the books in this science, and a selection of the most celebrated treatises, &c., 8vo, London, 1814; Essai sur la Conservation de la Vie par le Vcte. Le Lapasse, 8vo, Paris. Among the best historical and criticalm works with which we are acquainted we will mention - Petr. Gregor Tholozanus Syntaxeon Artis Mirabilis, 2 vols., Lugduni, 1576; 0. Borrichius de Ortu et Progressu Chemiae, 4to, 1668; The History of Chemistry, by Thomas Thomson, 2 vols, 8vo, London, 1830; Eusebe Salverte, Les Sciences Occultes, 8vo, paris, 1829; Ferd. Hoefer, Histoire de la Chimie, 2 vols. 8vo, Paris, and an abridgment by the same author; Histoire de la Physique et de la Chimie, 8vo, Paris, 1872; Louis Cruveilhier, Philosophie des Sciences Medicales, Ceuvres Choisies, 8vo, Paris, 1862; Fred. Morin, Genese de la Science (an important work, which we only know from quotations in French reviews and encyclopaedias); Dumas, Philosophie Chimique. Lastly, if we wish to trace the transition of alchemy to chemistry we shall find valuable information in Le Dictionnaire de Physique, dedicated to Mons. Le Duc de Berry, 3 vols. 4to, Avignon, 1761, under the words Alkali, Alum, Chimie, Pierre Philosophale, Homberg. The reader will observe that in this encyclopaedia, written with the express purpose of propagating the Newtonian theory in France, the classical science could bring no real arguments against alchemy. He may also consult the remarkable work of La Metherie, which has been undeservedly forgotten- Essai Analytique sur l'Air pur et les Differentes Especes d'Air, 3 vols. paris, 1785; and The Birth of Chemistry, by G.F. Rodwell, London, 1874.

ETYMOLOGY. The idea that nature must be tortured to make her reveal her secrets is preserved in the word crucible: Fr. creuset, Ital. cruciolo, Span, crisol -- all from the Latin crux, a cross. The word matrass, Fr. matras, is probably from the Celtic matara, an arrow, through the old French verb matrasser, to harass. Bain-Marie and amalgam (malagma [Gk.]) are a legacy of the sacred art. We can trace the two principles, male and female, of the alchemists in the word arsenic (arsenikon [Gk.], male). From the Arabs we get alcohol (al kohl), properly anything burnt, then a powder of antimony to darken the eyelids, and lastly, spirits of wine; alkali, ashes; borax, the white substance; lacker, from lac, resin; elixir, from el kesir, essence; alembic, Arab. alambiq. Potash is obviously the ash of the pot, germ. potasch; laudanum is a corruption of laudandum. The derivation of tartar, Fr. tartre, is strange. Paracelsus considered tartar to be the cause of the gout, and borrowed the name from the infernal regions (Tartarus). The Spaniards have borrowed from the Arabs, azogue, mercury; azogar, to overlay with quickslver; azoguero, a worker in mercury; azogamiento, agitation; azogadamente, with agitation. The same Celtic root which gave to Latin the word vertragus, used by Martial for greyhound, and to Greek ouertagos, found in Aelian, from which Dante took the word veltro has also created a large family of words -- the Ital. peltro, tin and mercury; Span. peltre, lead and tin; old Fr. peautre = peltro; Eng. pewter, pewterer, &c. The Place Maubert at Paris derives its name from the fact that Magister Albertus lived there (Maubert = Ma' Albert). From the alchemists we get both the ideas and the words affinity (Albertus Magnus), precipitate (B. Valentin), reduce (Paracelsus), saturation (Van Helmont), distillation, calcinations, quintessence, aqua vitae (brandy was originally only employed as a medicine), aqua regalis, aqua secunda, gas, cobalt, from Kobolds, the genii of mines, &c. (J. A.)

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Alchemy - Table of Contents

This article was written by: Jules Andrieu, sometime member of the Commune de Paris; author of L'Amour en Chansons, and Chiromancie.

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