Francis Bacon - Experiments touching Sulphur and Mercury
This section on the making of gold is included Century IV of Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum, or a Naturall Historie in ten Centuries... London, 1627, which was part of Bacon's unfinished Instauratio Magna.
This text was transcribed by Marcus Williamson.
Experiments in Consort touching Sulphore and Mercury, two of Paracelsus Principals.
There bee two Great Families of Things; You may terme them by severall Names; Sulphureous and Mercureall, which are the Chymists Words: (For as for their Sal, which is their Third Principle, it is a Compound of the other two;) Inflammable,and Not Inflammable; Mature and Crude; Oily and Watry. For wee see that in Subterranies there are, as the Fathers of their Tribes, Brimstone and Mercury: In Vegetables, and Living Creatures there is Water and Oile: In the Inferiour Order of Pneumaticalls there is Aire and Flame: And in the Superiour, there is the Body of the Starre, and the Pure Sky. And these Paires, though they be unlike in the Primitive Differences of Matter, yet they seeme to have many Consents: For Mercury and Sulphure are principall Materialls of Metalls; Water and Oyle, are principall Materialls of Vegetables, and Animals; And seeme to differ but in Maturation, or Concoction: Flame (in Vulgar Opinion) is but Aire Incensed; And they both have Quicknesse of Motion,and Facilitie of Cession, much a like: And the Interstellar Sky, (though the Opinion be vaine, that the Starre is the Denser Part of his Orbe,) hath notwithstanding so much Affinity with the Starre, that there is a Rotation of that, as well as of the Starre. Therefore, it is one of the greatest Magnalia Naturae, to turne Water or Watry Iuyce into Oile or Oily Juyce: Greater in Nature, than to turne Silver, or Quick-silver, into Gold.
The Instances we have, wherein Crude and Watry Substance turneth into Fat and Oily, are of foure kindes. First in the Mixture of Earth and Water; which mingled by the help of the Sunne,gather a Nitrous Fatnesse, more than either of them have severally; As we see, in that they put forth Plants, which need both Juyces.
The Second is in the Assimilation of Nourishment, made in the Bodies of Plants, and Living Creatures; Whereof Plants turne the Juyce of meere Water and Earth, into a great deale of Oily Matter: Living Creatures, though much of their Fat, and Flesh, are out of Oily Aliments, (as Meat,and Bread,) yet they Assimilate also in a Measure their Drink of Water, &c. But these two Wayes of Version of Water into Oyle, (namely by Mixture, and by Assimilation) are by many Passages, and Percolations, and by long Continuance of soft Heats, and by Circuits of Time.
The third is in the Inception of Putrefaction; As in Water Corrupted; And the Mothers of Waters Distilled; Both which have a kinde of Fatnesse, or Oyle.
The Fourth is in the Dulcoration of some Metalls; As Saccharum Saturni, &c.
The Intension of Version of Water into more Oyly Substance, is by Disgestion; For Oile is almost Nothing else but Water Disgested; And this Disgestion is principally by Heat; Which Heat must be either Outward,or Inward: Againe, it may be by Provocation, or Excitation; Which is caused by the Mingling of Bodies already Oily, or Disgested; For they will somewhat Communicate their Nature with the rest.Disgestion also is strongly effected by direct Assimulation, of Bodies Crude into Bodies Digested; As in Plants,and Living Creatures,whose Nourishment is farre more Crude than their Bodies: But this Disgestion is by a great Compasse, as hath beene said. As for the more full Handling of these two Principles, whereof this is but a Taste; (the Enquiry of which is one of the Profoundest Enquiries of Nature,) We leave it to the Title of Version of Bodies; And likewise to the Title of the First Congregations of Matter; Which like a Generall Assembly of Estates, doth give Law to all Bodies.