Alchemy Essay Research Paper The science by — страница 4

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continued to flourish in the year 1819, under the name of the “Hermetic Society”. In 1837, an alchemist of Thuringia presented to the Societe Industrielle of Weimar a tincture which he averred would effect metallic transmutation. About the same time several French journals announced a public course of lectures on hermetic philosophy by a professor of the University of Munich. He further states that many Honoverian and Bavarian families pursued in common the search for the grand arcanum. Paris, however, was regarded as the alchemical Mecca. There dwelt many theoretical alchemists and “empirical adepts”. The first pursued and arcanum through the medium of books, the other engaged in practical efforts to effect transmutation.M. Figuier states that in the forties of the last

century he frequented the laboratory of a certain Monsieur L., which was the rendezvous of the alchemists in Paris. When Monsieur L’s pupils left the laboratory for the day, the modern adepts dropped in one by one, and Figuier relates how deeply impressed he was by the appearance and costumes of these strange men. In the daytime, he frequently encountered them in the public libraries, buried in gigantic folios, and in the evening they might be seen pacing the solitary bridges with eyes fixed in vague contemplation upon the first pale stars of night. A long cloak usually covered the meager limbs, and their untrimmed beards and matted locks lent them a wild appearance. They walked with a solemn and measured gait, and used the figures of speech employed by the medieval illumines.

Their expression was generally a mixture of the most ardent hope and fixed despair. Among the adepts who sought the laboratory of Monsieur L., Figuier remarked especially a young man, in whose habits and language he could nothing in common with those of his strange companions. He confounded the wisdom of the alchemical adept with the tenets of the modern scientist in the most singular fashion, and meeting him one day at the gate of the Observatory, M. Figuier renewed the subject of their last discussion, deploring that ” a man of his gifts could pursue the semblance of a chimera.” Without replying, the young adept led him into the Observatory garden, and proceeded to reveal to him the mysteries of modern alchemical science.The young man proceeded to fix a limit to the

researches of the modern alchemists. Gold, he said, according to the ancient authors, as three distinct properties: (1) that of resolving the baser metals into itself, and interchanging and metamorphosing all metals into one another; (2) the curing of afflictions and the prolongation of life; (3), as a ’spiritus mundi’ to bring mankind into rapport with the supermundane spheres. Modern alchemists, he continued, reject the greater part of these ideas, especially those connected with spiritual contact. The object of modern alchemy might be reduced to the search for a substance having the power to transform and transmute all other substances into one another – in short, to discover that medium so well known to the alchemists of old and lost to us. This was a perfectly feasible

proposition. In the four principal substances of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and azote, we have the tetractus of Pythagoras and the tetragram of the Chaldeans and Egyptians. All the sixty elements are referable to these original four. The ancient alchemical theory established the fact that all the metals are the same in their composition, that all are formed from sulphur and mercury, and that the difference between them is according to the proportion of these substances in their composition. Further, all the products of minerals present in their composition complete identity with those substances most opposed to them. Thus fulminating acid contains precisely the same quantity of carbon, oxygen, and azote as cyanic acid, and “cyanhydric” acid does not differ from formate

ammoniac. This new property of matter is known as “isomerism”. M. Figuier’s friend then proceeds to quote support of his thesis and operations and experiments of M. Dumas, a celebrated French savant, as is well known to thous of Prout, and other English chemists of standing.Passing to consider the possibility of isomerism in elementary as well as in compound substances, the points out to M. Figuier that id the theory of isomerism can apply to such bodies, the transmutation of metals ceases to be a wild, unpractical dream, and becomes a scientific possibility, the transformation being brought about by a molecular rearrangement. Isomerism can be established in the case of compound substances by chemical analysis. showing the identity of their constituent parts. In the case of