Francis Bacon - The Making of GoldThis 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.
Experiment Solitary, touching the Making of Gold.
We resort therefore to our Axiomes of Maturation, in Effect touched before. The First is, that there be used a Temperate Heat; For they are ever Temperate Heats that Disgest, and Mature: Wherein we meane Temperate, according to the Nature of the Subject ; For that may be Temperate to Fruits, and Liquours, which will not Worke at all upon Metalls. The Second is, that the Spirit of the Metall be quickened, and the Tangible Parts opened: For without those two Operations, the Spirit of the Metall, wrought upon, will not be able to disgest the parts. The Third is that the Spirits doe spread themselves Even, and move not Subsultorily; For that will make the Parts Close, and Pliant. And this requireth a Heat, that doth not rise and fall, but continue as Equall as may be. The Fourth is, that no Part of the Spirit be emitted, but detained: For if there be emission of Spirit, the Body of the Metall will be Hard, and Churlish. And this will be performed, partly by the Temper of the Fire; And partly by the closenesse of the Vessell. The Fifth is, that there be Choice made of the likeliest and best prepared Metall, for the Version: For that will facilitate the Worke. The Sixth is, that you give Time enough for the Worke: Not to prolong Hopes (as the Alchymists doe;) but indeed to give Nature a convenient Space to worke in. These Principles are most certaine, and true; We will now derive a direction of Triall out of them; Which may (perhaps) by further Meditation, be improved.
Let there be a Small Furnace made, of a Temperate Heat; Let the Heat be such, as may keep the Metall perpetually Moulten, and no more; For that above all importeth to the Work. For the Materiall, take Silver, which is the Metall that in Nature Symbolizeth most with Gold; Put in also, with the Silver, a Tenth Part of Quick-silver, and Twelfth Part of Nitre, by weight; Both these to quicken and open the Body of the Metall: And so let the Worke be continued by the Space of Sixe Monthes, at the least. I wish also, that there be, at some times, and Injection of some Oyled Substance; such as they use in Recovering of Gold, which by Vexing with Separations hath beene made Churlish: And this is, to lay the Parts more Close and Smooth, which is the Maine Work. For Gold (as we see) is the Closest (and therefore the Heaviest) of Metalls: And is likewise the most Flexible and Tensible. Note, that to thinke to make Gold of Quick-silver, because it is the heaviest, is a Thing not to bee hoped; For Quick-silver will not endure the Mannage of the Fire. Next to Silver, I thinke Copper were fittest to bee the Materiall.
Gold hath these Natures: Greatnesse of Weight; Closeness of Parts; Fixation; Pliantnesse, or softnesse; Immunitie from Rust; Colour or Tincture of Yellow. Therefore the Sure Way, (though most about,) to make Gold, is to know the Causes of the Severall Natures before rehearsed, and the Axiomes concerning the same. For if a man can make a Metall, that hath all these Properties, Let men dispute, whether it be Gold, or no?
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