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together, however afterwards they are so Confounded that I should
rather call them Concretions, or Resulting Bodies, than mixt ones; and
_though_, perhaps, some other and better Account may be propos'd, upon
which the name of mistion may remain; yet if what I have said be
thought Reason, I shall not wrangle about Words, though I think it
fitter to alter a Terme of Art, then reject a new Truth, because it
suits not with it. If it be also Objected that this Notion of mine,
concerning mixtion, though it may be allow'd, when Bodies already
Compounded are put to be mingl'd, yet it is not applicable to those
mixtions that are immediately made of the Elements, or Principles
themselves; I Answer in the first place, that I here Consider the
Nature of mixtion somewhat more Generally, then the Chymists, who yet
cannot deny that there are oftentimes Mixtures, and those very durable
ones, made of Bodies that are not Elementary. And in the next place,
that though it may be probably pretended that in those Mixtures that
are made immediately of the Bodies that are call'd Principles or
Elements, the mingl'd Ingredients may better retain their own Nature
in the Compounded Mass, and be more easily separated from thence; yet,
besides that it may be doubted, whether there be any such Primary
Bodies, I see not why the reason I alleadg'd, of the destructibility
of the Ingredients of Bodies in General, may not sometimes be
Applicable to Salt Sulphur or Mercury; 'till it be shewn upon what
account we are to believe them Priviledged. And however, (if you
please but to recall to mind, to what purpose I told you at First, I
meant to speak of Mistion at this Time) you will perhaps allow that
what I have hitherto Discoursed about it may not only give some Light
to the Nature of it in general (especially when I shall have an
Opportunity to Declare to you my thoughts on that subject more fully)
but may on some Occasions also be Serviceable to me in the Insuing
Part of this Discourse.

But, to look back Now to that part of our Discourse, whence this
Excursion concerning Mistion has so long diverted us, though we there
Deduc'd, from the differing Substances obtained from a Plant nourished
only with Water, and from some other things, that it was not necessary
that nature should alwaies compound a Body at first of all such
differing bodies as the fire could afterwards make it afford; yet this
is not all that may be collected from those Experiments. For from
them there seems also Deducible something that Subverts an other
Foundation of the Chymical Doctrine. For since that (as we have seen)
out of fair Water alone, not only Spirit, but Oyle, and Salt, and
Earth may be Produced; It will follow that Salt and Sulphur are not
Primogeneal Bodies, and principles, since they are every Day made out
of plain Water by the Texture which the Seed or Seminal principle of
plants puts it into. And this would not perhaps seem so strange, if
through pride, or negligence, We were not Wont to Overlook the Obvious
and Familiar Workings of Nature; For if We consider what slight
Qualities they are that serve to denominate one of the _Tria Prima_,
We shall find that Nature do's frequently enough work as great
Alterations in divers parcells of matter: For to be readily dissoluble
in water, is enough to make the body that is so, passe for a Salt. And
yet I see not why from a new shufling and Disposition of the Component
Particles of a body, it should be much harder for Nature to compose a
body dissoluble in Water, of a portion of Water that was not so
before, then of the Liquid substance of an Egg, which will easily mix
with Water, to produce by the bare warmth of a hatching Hen, Membrans,
Feathers, Tendons, and other parts, that are not dissoluble in Water
as that Liquid Substance was: Nor is the Hardness and Brittleness of
Salt more difficult for Nature to introduce into such a yielding body
as Water, then it is for her to make the Bones of a Chick out of the
tender Substance of the Liquors of an Egg. But instead of prosecuting
this consideration, as I easily might, I will proceed, as soon as I
have taken notice of an objection that lies in my Way. For I easily
foresee it will be alledged, that the above mentioned Examples are all
taken from Plants, and Animals, in whom the Matter is Fashioned by the
Plastick power of the seed, or something analogous thereunto. Whereas
the Fire do's not act like any of the Seminal Principles, but
destroyes them all, when they come within its Reach. But to this I
shall need at present to make but this easy Answer, That whether it be
a Seminal Principle, or any other which fashions that Matter after
those various manners I have mentioned to You, yet 'tis Evident, that
either by the Plastick principle Alone, or that and Heat Together, or
by some Other cause capable to contex the matter, it is yet possible
that the matter may be Anew contriv'd into such Bodies. And 'tis only
for the Possibility of this that I am now contending.




THE

SCEPTICAL CHYMIST.

_The Third Part._


What I have hitherto Discours'd, _Eleutherius_, (sayes his Friend to
Him) has, I presume, shew'n You, that a Considering Man may very well
question the Truth of those very Suppositions which Chymists as well
as Peripateticks, without proving, take for granted; and upon which
Depends the Validity of the Inferences they draw from their
Experiments. Wherefore having dispach't that, which though a Chymist
Perhaps will not, yet I do, look upon as the most Important, as well
as Difficult, part of my Task, it will now be Seasonable for me to
proceed to the Consideration of the Experiments themselves, wherein
they are wont so much to Triumph and Glory. And these will the rather
deserve a serious Examination, because those that Alledge them are
wont to do it with so much Confidence and Ostentation, that they have
hitherto impos'd upon almost all Persons, without excepting
Philosophers and Physitians themselves, who have read their Books, or
heard them talk. For some learned Men have been content rather to
beleeve what they so boldly Affirm, then be at the trouble and charge,
to try whether or no it be True. Others again, who have Curiosity
enough to Examine the Truth of what is Averr'd, want Skill and
Opportunity to do what they Desire. And the Generality even of Learned
Men, seeing the Chymists (not contenting themselves with the Schools
to amuse the World with empty words) Actually Perform'd divers strange
things, and, among those Resolve Compound Bodies into several
Substances not known by former Philosophers to be contain'd in them:
Men I say, seeing these Things, and Hearing with what Confidence
Chymists Averr the Substances Obtain'd from Compound Bodies by the
Fire to be the True Elements, or, (as they speak) Hypostaticall
Principles of them, are forward to think it but Just as well as
Modest, that according to the _Logicians_ Rule, the Skilfull _Artists_
should be Credited in their own Art; Especially when those things
whose Nature they so Confidently take upon them to teach others are
not only Productions of their own Skill, but such as others Know not
else what to make of.

But though (Continues _Carneades_) the Chymists have been able upon
some or other of the mention'd Acounts, not only to Delight but Amaze,
and almost to bewitch even Learned Men; yet such as You and I, who are
not unpractis'd in the Trade, must not suffer our Selves to be impos'd
upon by hard Names, or bold Assertions; nor to be dazl'd by that Light
which should but assist us to discern things the more clearly. It is
one thing to be able to help Nature to produce things, and another
thing to Understand well the Nature of the things produc'd. As we
see, that many Persons that can beget Children, are for all that as
Ignorant of the Number and Nature of the parts, especially the
internal ones, that Constitute a Childs Body, as they that never were
Parents. Nor do I Doubt, but you'l excuse me, if as I thank the
Chymists for the things their _Analysis_ shews me, so I take the
Liberty to consider how many, and what they are, without being
astonish'd at them; as if, whosoever hath Skill enough to shew men
some new thing of his own making, had the Right to make them believe
whatsoever he pleases to tell them concerning it.

Wherefore I will now proceed to my Third General Consideration, which
is, That it does not appear, that _Three_ is precisely and Universally
the Number of the Distinct Substances or Elements, whereinto mixt
Bodies are resoluble by the Fire; I mean that 'tis not prov'd by
Chymists, that all the Compound Bodies, which are granted to be
perfectly mixt, are upon their Chymical _Analysis_ divisible each of
them into just Three Distinct Substances, neither more nor less,
which are wont to be lookt upon as Elementary, or may as well be
reputed so as those that are so reputed. Which last Clause I subjoyne,
to prevent your Objecting, that some of the Substances I may have
occasion to mention by and by, are not perfectly Homogeneous, nor
Consequently worthy of the name of Principles. For that which I am now
to consider, is, into how many Differing Substances, that may
plausibly pass for the Elementary Ingredients of a mix'd Body, it may
be Analyz'd by the Fire; but whether each of these be un-compounded, I
reserve to examine, when I shall come to the next General
Consideration; where I hope to evince, that the Substances which the
Chymists not only allow, but assert to be the Component Principles of
the Body resolv'd into them, are not wont to be uncompounded.

Now there are two Kind of Arguments (pursues _Carneades_) which may be
brought to make my Third Proposition seem probable; one sort of them
being of a more Speculative Nature, and the other drawn from
Experience. To begin then with the first of these.

But as _Carneades_ was going to do as he had said, _Eleutherius_
interrupted him, by saying with a somewhat smiling countenance;

If you have no mind I should think, that the Proverb, _That Good Wits
have bad Memories_, is Rational and Applicable to You, You must not
Forget now you are upon the Speculative Considerations, that may
relate to the Number of the Elements; that your Self did not long
since Deliver and Concede some Propositions in Favour of the Chymical
Doctrine, which I may without disparagement to you think it uneasie,
even for _Carneades_ to answer.

I have not, replies he, Forgot the Concessions you mean; but I hope
too, that you have not forgot neither with what Cautions they were
made, when I had not yet assumed the Person I am now sustaining. But
however, I shall to content You, so discourse of my Third general
consideration, as to let You see, That I am not Unmindful of the
things you would have me remember.

To talk then again according to such principles as I then made use of,
I shall represent, that if it be granted rational to suppose, as I
then did, that the Elements consisted at first of certain small and
primary Coalitions of the minute Particles of matter into Corpuscles
very numerous, and very like each other, It will not be absurd to
conceive, that such primary Clusters may be of far more sorts then
three or five; and consequently, that we need not suppose, that in
each of the compound Bodies we are treating of there should be found
just three sorts of such primitive Coalitions, as we are speaking of.

And if according to this Notion we allow a considerable number of
differing Elements, I may add, that it seems very possible, that to
the constitution of one sort of mixt Bodies two kinds of Elementary
ones may suffice (as I lately Exemplify'd to you, in that most durable
Concrete, Glass,) another sort of Mixts may be compos'd of three
Elements, another of four, another of five, and another perhaps of
many more. So that according to this Notion, there can be no
determinate number assign'd, as that of the Elements; of all sorts of
compound Bodies whatsoever, it being very probable that some Concretes
consist of fewer, some of more Elements. Nay, it does not seem
Impossible, according to these Principles, but that there may be two
sorts of Mixts, whereof the one may not have any of all the same
Elements as the other consists of; as we oftentimes see two words,
whereof the one has not any one of the Letters to be met with in the
other; or as we often meet with diverse Electuaries, in which no
Ingredient (except Sugar) is common to any two of them. I will not
here debate whether there may not be a multitude of these Corpuscles,
which by reason of their being primary and simple, might be called
Elementary, if several sorts of them should convene to compose any
Body, which are as yet free, and neither as yet contex'd and entangl'd
with primary Corpuscles of other kinds, but remains liable to be
subdu'd and fashion'd by Seminal Principles, or the like powerful and
Transmuting Agent, by whom they may be so connected among themselves,
or with the parts of one of the bodies, as to make the compound
Bodies, whose Ingredients they are, resoluble into more, or other
Elements then those that Chymists have hitherto taken notice of.

To all which I may add, that since it appears, by what I observ'd to
you of the permanency of Gold and Silver, that even Corpuscles that
are not of an Elementary but compounded Nature, may be of so durable a
Texture, as to remain indissoluble in the ordinary _Analysis_ that
Chymists make of Bodies by the Fire; 'Tis not impossible but that,
though there were but three Elements, yet there may be a greater
number of Bodies, which the wonted wayes of Anatomy will not discover
to be no Elementary Bodies.

But, sayes _Carneades_, having thus far, in compliance to you, talk't
conjecturally of the number of the Elements, 'tis now time to
consider, not of how many Elements it is possible that Nature may
compound mix'd Bodies, but (at least as farr as the ordinary
Experiments of Chymists will informe us) of how many she doth make
them up.

I say then, that it does not by these sufficiently appear to me, that
there is any one determinate number of Elements to be uniformly met
with in all the several sorts of Bodies allow'd to be perfectly mixt.

And for the more distinct proof of this Proposition, I shall in the
first place Represent, That there are divers Bodies, which I could
never see by fire divided into so many as three Elementary substances.
I would fain (as I said lately to _Philoponus_) see that fixt and
noble Metal we call Gold separated into Salt, Sulphur and Mercury: and
if any man will submit to a competent forfeiture in case of failing, I
shall willingly in case of prosperous successe pay both for the
Materials and the charges of such an Experiment. 'Tis not, that after
what I have try'd my self I dare peremptorily deny, that there may out
of Gold be extracted a certain substance, which I cannot hinder
Chymists from calling its Tincture or Sulphur; and which leaves the
remaining Body depriv'd of its wonted colour. Nor am I sure, that
there cannot be drawn out of the same Metal a real quick and running
Mercury. But for the Salt of Gold, I never could either see it, or be
satisfied that there was ever such a thing separated, _in rerum
natura_, by the relation of any credible eye witnesse. And for the
several Processes that Promise that effect, the materials that must be
wrought upon are somewhat too pretious and costly to be wasted upon so
groundlesse adventures, of which not only the successe is doubtful,
but the very possibility is not yet demonstrated. Yet that which most
deterres me from such tryalls, is not their chargeablenesse, but their
unsatisfactorinesse, though they should succeed. For the Extraction of
this golden Salt being in Chymists Processes prescribed to be effected
by corrosive _Menstruums_, or the Intervention of other Saline Bodies,
it will remain doubtful to a wary person, whether the Emergent Salt be
that of the Gold it self; or of the Saline Bodies or Spirits employ'd
to prepare it; For that such disguises of Metals do often impose upon
Artists, I am sure _Eleutherius_ is not so much a stranger to
Chymistry as to ignore. I would likewise willingly see the three
principles separated from the pure sort of Virgin-Sand, from
_Osteocolla_, from refined Silver, from Quicksilver, freed from its
adventitious Sulphur, from _Venetian_ Talk [Transcriber's Note:
Talck], which by long detention in an extreme _Reverberium_, I could
but divide into smaller Particles, (not the constituent principles,)
Nay, which, when I caused it to be kept, I know not how long, in a
Glasse-house fire, came out in the Figure it's Lumps had when put in,
though alter'd to an almost _Amethystine_ colour; and from divers
other Bodies, which it were now unnecessary to enumerate. For though I
dare not absolutely affirme it to be impossible to Analyze these
Bodies into their _Tria Prima_; yet because, neither my own
Experiments, nor any competent Testimony hath hitherto either taught
me how such an _Analysis_ may be made, or satisfy'd me, that it hath
been so, I must take the Liberty to refrain from believing it, till
the Chymists prove it, or give us intelligible and practicable
Processes to performe what they pretend. For whilst they affect that
_Ænigmatical_ obscurity with which they are wont to puzzle the Readers
of their divulg'd Processes concerning the Analyticall Preparation of
Gold or Mercury, they leave wary persons much unsatisfyed whether or
no the differing Substances, they promise to produce, be truly the
Hypostatical Principles, or only some intermixtures of the divided
Bodies with those employ'd to work upon them, as is Evident in the
seeming Crystalls of Silver, and those of Mercury; which though by
some inconsiderately supposed to be the Salts of those Metalls, are
plainly but mixtures of the Metalline Bodies, with the Saline parts of
_Aqua fortis_ or other corrosive Liquors; as is evident by their being
reducible into Silver or Quicksilver, as they were before.

I cannot but Confesse (saith _Eleutherius_) that though Chymists may
upon probable grounds affirm themselves Able to obtain their _Tria
Prima_, from Animals and Vegetables, yet I have often wondred that
they should so confidently pretend also to resolve all Metalline and
other Mineral bodies into Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury. For 'tis a
saying almost Proverbial, among those Chymists themselves that are
accounted Philosophers; and our famous Countryman _Roger Bacon_ has
particularly adopted it; that _Facilius est aurum facere quam
destruere_. And I fear, with You, that Gold is not the only Mineral
from which Chymists are wont fruitlessly to attempt the separating of
their three Principles. I know indeed (continues _Eleutherius_) that
the Learned _Sennertus_, even in that book where he takes not upon him
to play the Advocate for the Chymists, but the Umpier betwixt them and
the Peripateticks, expresses himself roundly, thus;[11] _Salem omnibus
inesse (mixtis scilicet) & ex iis fieri posse omnibus in
resolutionibus Chymicis versatis notissimum est._ And in the next
Page, _Quod de sale dixi_, saies he, _Idem de Sulphure dici potest_:
but by his favour I must see very good proofs, before I believe such
general Assertions, how boldly soever made; and he that would convince
me of their truth, must first teach me some true and practicable way
of separating Salt and Sulphur from Gold, Silver, and those many
different sort of Stones, that a violent Fire does not bring to Lime,
but to Fusion; and not only I, for my own part, never saw any of those
newly nam'd Bodies so resolved; but _Helmont_, who was much better
vers'd in the Chymical Anatomizing of Bodies then either _Sennertus_
or _I_, has somewhere this resolute passage;[12] _Scio_ (saies he) _ex
arena, silicibus & saxis, non Calcariis, nunquam Sulphur aut
Mercurium trahi posse_; Nay _Quercetanus_ himself, though the grand
stickler for the _Tria Prima_, has this Confession of the
Irresolubleness of Diamonds;[13] _Adamas_ (saith he) _omnium factus
Lapidum solidissimus ac durissimus ex arctissima videlicet trium
principiorum unione ac Cohærentia, quæ nulla arte separationis in
solutionem principiorum suorum spiritualium disjungi potest._ And
indeed, pursues _Eleutherius_, I was not only glad, but somewhat
surprized to find you inclined to Admit that there may be a Sulphur
and a running Mercury drawn from Gold; for unlesse you do (as your
expression seem'd to intimate) take the word Sulphur in a very loose
sence, I must doubt whether our Chymists can separate a Sulphur from
Gold: For when I saw you make the experiment that I suppose invited
you to speak as you did, I did not judge the golden Tincture to be the
true principle of Sulphur extracted from the body, but an aggregate of
some such highly colour'd parts of the Gold, as a Chymist would have
called a _Sulphur incombustible_, which in plain English seems to be
little better than to call it a Sulphur and no Sulphur. And as for
Metalline Mercuries, I had not _wondred_ at it, though you had
expressed much more severity in speaking of them: For I remember that
having once met an old and famous Artist, who had long been (and still
is) Chymist to a great Monarch, the repute he had of a very honest man
invited me to desire him to tell me ingenuously whether or no, among
his many labours, he had ever really extracted a true and running
Mercury out of Metalls; to which question he freely replyed, that he
had never separated a true Mercury from any Metal; nor had ever seen
it really done by any man else. And though Gold is, of all Metalls,
That, whose Mercury Chymists have most endeavoured to extract, and
which they do the most brag they have extracted; yet the Experienced
_Angelus Sala_, in his _Spagyrical_ account of the seven _Terrestrial_
Planets (that is the seven metalls) affords us this memorable
Testimony, to, our present purpose; _Quanquam_ (saies he) _&c.
experientia tamen (quam stultorum Magistrum [Errata: Magistram]
vocamus) certe Comprobavit, Mercurium auri adeo fixum, maturum, &
arcte cum reliquis ejusdem corporis substantiis conjungi, ut nullo
modo retrogredi possit._ To which he sub-joynes, that he himself had
seen much Labour spent upon that Design, but could never see any such
Mercury produc'd thereby. And I easily beleeve what he annexes; _that
he had often seen Detected many tricks and Impostures of Cheating_
Alchymists. For, the most part of those that are fond of such
_Charlatans_, being unskilfull or Credulous, or both, 'tis very easie
for such as have some Skill, much craft, more boldness, and no
Conscience, to impose upon them; and therefore, though many profess'd
_Alchymists_, and divers Persons of Quality have told me that they
have made or seen the Mercury of Gold, or of this or that other Metal;
yet I have been still apt to fear that either these persons have had a
Design to deceive others; or have not had Skill and circumspection
enough to keep themselves from being deceived.

[Footnote 11: Sennert. lib. de cons. & dissens. pag. 147.]

[Footnote 12: Helmon. pag. 409.]

[Footnote 13: Quercet. apud Billich. in Thessalo redivivo. pag. 99.]

You recall to my mind (sayes _Carneades_) a certain Experiment I once
devis'd, innocently to deceive some persons, and let them and others
see how little is to be built upon the affirmation of those that are
either unskillfull or unwary, when they tell us they have seen
_Alchymists_ make the Mercury of this or that Metal; and to make this
the more evident, I made my Experiment much more Slight, Short and
Simple, than the Chymists usuall processes to Extract Metalline
Mercuries; which Operations being commonly more Elaborate and
Intricate, and requiring a much more longer time, give the
_Alchymists_ a greater opportunity to Cozen, and Consequently are more
Obnoxious to the Spectators suspicion. And that wherein I endeavour'd
to make my Experiment look the more like a True _Analysis_, was, that
I not only pretended as well as others to extract a Mercury from the
Metal I wrought upon, but likewise to separate a large proportion of
manifest and inflamable Sulphur. I take then, of the filings of
Copper, about a Drachme or two, of common sublimate, powder'd, the
like Weight, and _Sal Armoniack_ near about as much as of Sublimate;
these three being well mingl'd together I put into a small Vial with a
long neck, or, which I find better, into a Glass Urinall, which
(having first stopped it with Cotton) to avoid the Noxious Fumes, I
approach by degrees to a competent Fire of well kindled coals, or
(which looks better, but more endangers the Glass) to the Flame of a
candle; and after a while the bottom of the Glass being held Just upon


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