By H. Stanley Redgrove
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Extra info for Alchemy Ancient and Modern
A, are from a work known as Alchemiae Gebri (1545); plate 5, fig. B, is from Glauber's work on Furnaces (1651); and plate 6, fig. B, is from a work by Dr. John French entitled The Art of Distillation (1651). Page 38 The first figure shows us a furnace and alembics. The alembic proper is a sort of stillhead which can be luted on to a flask or other vessel, and was much used for distillations. In the present case, however, the alembics are employed in conjunction with apparatus for subliming difficultly volatile substances.
As writes Espagnet in his Hermetic Arcanum, canons 64 and 65: "The Means or demonstrative signs are Colours, successively and orderly affecting the matter and its affections and demonstrative passions, whereof there are also three special ones (as critical) to be noted; to these some add a Fourth. The first is black, which is called the Crow's head, because of its extreme blackness, whose crepusculum sheweth the beginning of the action of the fire of nature and solution, and the blackest midnight sheweth the perfection of liquefaction, and confusion of the elements.
God hath put a secret nature or influence in every creature, and . . to every nature of one sort or kind he hath given one common influence and vertue, whether it bee on Physick or other secret works, which partly are found out by naturall workmanship. "17 He gives directions for extracting the Quintessence, for which marvellous powers are claimed, out of sugar and other organic substances; and he appears to be the earliest known writer who makes mention of the famous sulphur-mercury-salt theory.