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Samuel Norton - The Key of Alchemy

The Elixir of Life

This transcription was originally made by W.A. Ayton in the latter decades of the 19th century, from the original manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Ashmole 1421. Samuel Norton was the great-grandson of the famous 15th century English alchemist Thomas Norton, author of the Ordinall of alchemy.
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Here beginneth
the 7th Treatise of the Key of Alchimie
containing the Elixir of Life
and the use thereof

I trust there is none so ignorant that thinketh any art able to prolonge, or continue the life of man any jot or little longer than the appointed houre; against which determined time of God there can be no defense, which to uphold, were farr from faith and sacred religion, neither have I ever redd any of the philosophers, or rather learned phisitians of elder time that asserted or attributed any such vertue of elongation unto their Elixir of Life; Although thereby they kept the bodie safe and sound from the extremitie of greefe, al long as God shall appoint times. Although it pleaseth some with full-blown cheekes of Goylus [B.C. 259 - used for austere critics] breath, to yield such sounds in reprochful sort, wondring, why some of the philosophers lived so little time and had such medicines to prolong life, as though what skill soever man hath, hee were able to prolonge the set houre; wee see none so great enemies to learning as the ignorant, not untrulie therefore riseth the Proverbe Scientia nemine habet inimicum proeter ignorantem: and these wee see are soonest readie to condemne, who either have least skill to judge, or else not to comprehend, have missed that which ignorantly they have sought for and cannot find or else moved by envie to see that attained to which they cannot aspire to. Do speak evil thereby to hinder what they mislike. I meane it by such obscure phisitians as know no more than maides, but walk in no other way to the woode, but one; deprave and speak ill of the most ancient medicine of the expert elders to cleave to the unsavorie Gallen's drugs, and if they chance to say that the elder sort which used them as Hermes, Alchimeus, with numbers, whose names are extant in turba philosophorum, knew not the excellent vertue of that chimicall kind of phisicke; Then what say they to Avicenne and Averroes, who were old men and knew both but used the one farre above the other: Rupescissa florished about that time, of latter times, Arnold and Raimond and others a number a number successively whom wee know not: Although of later yeeres and there were whose memories are fresh, as about an hundred yeeres since were Thomas Norton, whose owne word are these

I made also the Elixir of Life
Which mee bereft a marchant's wife:
She wrought with it a full great wonder;
I made the quintessence which set under
The nose of him which soundeth nie to death,
Would make revive thereof the only breath.

Yf of him it were asked what daies he lived; there were lately that could well report, for he lived since the birth of my father and was provectoe aetatis: In his time there flourished, Anglorum Raimundus, I mean George Ripley, who resting alonlie to that excellent kind of phisick, hadd Gallen's doses in little price: And yet I speak not this to condemne Galen, for I know in describing the knowledge of phisick, hee wrote right excellentlie; although in prescribing of medicines hee had them all from the empiricks, and set downe none of this owne; what phisic used Gallen to minister of his owne? if he had none but that which hee had from other men's practise? or wherefore getteth hee his name of a most expert phisitian? if hee did great cures, it appeareth hee did them not with that kind of phisick: of which he was ignorant, yf then at all with some other mean then is commonly knowne, I write not this to deprave Gallen, but rather to shew that Gallen used the secret phisick of philosophers which hee learned of Hippocrates his Master; which phisick since hee could not teach, unless hee should disclose the secret of the stone, hee therefore gave out another kind of phisick to colour the matter with all, which hee had observed to do good by worcking the practises of the Empiricks; I used not this opinion as of my own authoritie; for indeed the honorable Raimod fathers in his first distinction of his quintessentiis, where shewing that Hyppocrates, philosophers like had darklie in his pronosticks spoken of it commeth to Gallen, and writing a gloss upon the same worcke of Hyppocrates, hee saith; Galenus à veritate hujus narrare voluit, [...] which indeede Raimond most faithfully teacheth, and the use thereof; which here I mean to declare, not that the world should know it, for feare of opening so great secrets abroad; But in this place that you most noble soveraigne mought be instructed therein for the preservation of that time in healthie estate; which time I desire of Gold to grant it long; for I feede not on future hope;
To our purposed matter, I know there are sundrie kinds of phisicks between the Gelenists and the chimicall phisitians; wherefore because I am not ignorant of the both; I will thus much say between them, that as I know among the Galenists, that the huge quantitie of their dosis; doe divers waies hurt the bodies , so among the other sort, I fear their desperate gwing of Mercurie and hurtfull mineralls, will breed great hurt; for that verie few know how rightfulie to prepare them; but that which is done by extraction of oiles and quintessence is most excellent and may most safelie be given, for mettals such as are of knowne vertues may be ministered surely if they be brought into potable liquors; for the effecting of sublimates and precipitates which are divills, they rather are effectuall in surgerie that in phisicke inwardlie, although they may be given if they bee well prepared, and in my opinion the aqua vitae which Paracelsus speaketh of for the preparation of sublimate is our Aqua vitae, and not of a vine, but our true Quintessence and Mercury vegetable: of whose compose I will now speake:
In the vegetable treatise I afore taught what the matter was how the menstrue is extracted and in what sort the elements ought to be separated and rectified; then therefore you have your Mercury vegetable or ardent water well rectified, that is 7 times rectified and destilled; then thereto adjoine these simples following; black pepper, Euphorbium, pyrethrum, Andcardium, and qulla Qoiatrum, Apium [...], in proportion after the judgment of the discreet Artist; These put into the Quintessence of ardent water to putrefie for 21 daies; in the fire of the first degree, then put them so digested and putrefied into a Limbeck and in ash fire draw out that with ascende, and after that circulate it in a Beachell for 100 daies; the is it Quintessence and artificial Balme; of which Ripley thus speaketh: Let spices and gumms be putrefied in the said aire of the blessed stone; and after distilled and kept in a circulatorie in Balneo for 100 daies, and shall be Quintessence, healing all infirmerie; preserveth the body from corruption and renewing youth; that is the strength of the members and sicke parts, how this quintessence is to be used shall last of all appeare; here note that as soon as it is drawne and circulated, that then it is quintessence; but when it is circulated with spices and gumms, then it is artificial balme; to which if the quintessence of gold be added; it shall be then gold potable and elixir of life;
To make gold potable, take gold verie well purified and in oils of salt dissove it, which will be done by setting it 3 or 4 daies on an ash fire; then by often washing away, the salt with distilled vinegere either drawing it oftentimes in a Limbec in ash fire untill the oile of salt have lost his saltness, that done wash away the vinegeish tast with distilled founteine water then pour of thy water ardent afore reserved, for this purpose twice or thrice, every time evacuating of as much as you soe tained into a yeallow colour, and when you have so much as you think will serve your turne, which may be about 3 or 4 angells waight of the golden tincture which will be enough for 4 or 5 ounces of ardent water, which is both a great and huge quantitie; then proceed with your evacuations and draw away your ardent water, and your oile of gold so left in the bottome, put to dissolve in balneo; and when 7 daies it will be turned into a more thinn water, which so dissolved, saith Raimond is gold potable, and hath infinit vertues, as I have written (saith he) in the booke of the preservation of man's health, This gold potable if it be added to the artificiall Balm before that it be circulated, and so altogether into the thickness of honnie for 150 daies, is then the Quintessence of artificial balme, and the Elixir of Life; and that onlie medicine whereof Raimond writeth in his booke of Quintessence.
Who will read the reasons and proofes whie this medicine works so great effects, let him read the same worcke of Raimond, and there shall hee find how it hath infinite vertues and why it is called Coelum phorid: ffurther because it is for great causes appointed, that at some time the quintessence of pearle should be adjoyned that which I will shew forth the making thereof; Take of seede pearle verie finelie poundered, put it into vinegere 3 or 4 times destilled and therein dissolve it, which dissolved, evacuate of and so put on new vinegere untill that all the pearle be dissolved: Then wash it well with destilled water that the vinigrish salt or savore may be had away: That done, handle it as you did the gold, and so shall you have the quintessence of the pearle redie to any use, either to joyne your Elixir, or else used with the Elixir, as you shall see cause.
The order how the elixir is to be used for the diversitie of cures followeth:

The first cannon therefore sheweth how to cure all diseases in generall
from the head to the feete after a general manner,
so likewise for the restoring of youth, which is to be done;

Take the Elixir of life aforesaid, and thereunto joyne 2 or 3 drops of the quintessence of pearle to the quantitie of half a nut shell and so take it for a convenient space of 4 or 5 daies, and it to this you will add the common quintessence of wine, it shall worck more stranglie and forceablie. This is the rule which must be observed for the restoring of age and strengthning of the feeble:

The second Cannon sheweth after what manner
it is to be used for the raising up of those
which seeme to be gone in pangs:-

Take of this Elixir the quantitie aforenamed, and putting it with some liquor in a spoone, minister it to the parties, upon the receipt whereof you shall see how dispersing itself into the stomach and principall members, it will raise the materiall heat of life: [...] which [...] have it worcke more [...], add thereunto the quantity of [...] the fierie element which is of golden colour extracted out of the herb Chelidon.

The 3rd teacheth the cure of leprosis:

Give of our Elixir unto the partie by the space of 8 daies and hee shall be perfectly cured so that it be not leprosie from the finger of God as was Gehazi, and Constantine his leprosy; yet for the better worcking hereof, let it be taken in the water of strawberries, for if that water be druncken inwardlie, and clothes wet therein laid on the partie, it will worcke wonderfully; for that strawberrie hath a special propertie in that behalfe.

The 4th for the Palsey

Take the quantitie of Elixir aforesaid, and give it in drinck with the juice of yvie and sage with musterd seed for the space of 9 daies to drinck wherewith all use also to rub the paraliticall members and therewith all let him bee bathed in a bath hot and moist made of these herbs by which shall be cured in short space, and that so wonderfully, as if he never had had it; and other helpe there is with all that with our quiescence you give such things as purge viscous humours.

The 5th teacheth remedies against the consumption:-

Give with our Elixir the aire of the hero Chelidon separated according to art, and herewith all mingle some quantetie of the pouder of the flesh of water crevishes; and hee shall be whole and sound; Note also that this is the onlie cure and refuge of all fevers whatsoever.

The 6th against melancholie and all manner of falling sickness

The cure which is that with our Elixir aforesaid given in drinck wherein be infused Humitorie, Centaurie, the greater epichinie, Lime, Lapis Lazuli, and Eleboris niger; Bust most chiefly it unto them you add the herb Hyperion, commonly called St. John's Wort or Perforatum; and if for the falling sickness; Piony helpe.

The 7th to such as are fearfull,
to make them recover strength, boldness and fortitude
more then commonlie they have by Nature.

Add unto our Elixir of the Quintessence of pearle, nionie, angelica, and saffran, and give it him to drinck, and soe shall he recover both externall fortitude and strength.

The 8th for such are poisoned
by biting, stinging, or any kind of poison.

Give him with the quantitie of our Elixir or medecine aforesaid some of the Quintessence by our Angelica, with the juice of Rue, red Dittanie and Scopae regiae, whereunto put Gentian and Unicornes horne, which let him drinck and hee shall be cured.

The 9th to heale infectious humors;
lice, and fowle breaking out.

Give them of our Elixir to drinck and outwardlie anoint them with ointment made of quicksilver and stavesacre, to which some of our Elixir, and which the drinck may stavesacre be mingled; and so doing hee shall bee cured, except it be a plaane from God as that of Herod, which is redd of the 12 of the Acts.

The 10th for the quartaine
which seemeth so nard to common Galenic Christians:-

Give unto the patient with our Elixir to drinck such things as are spoken of in our cure of Melancholy, adding thereto the herb Savine which only hath an especial propertie for this fever in so much that if there be but 2 or 3 drops of his juice warmed, put into the mouth or into his eare, it taketh away the fever, being so used for 3 or 4 daies:-

The 11th for a true Tertian:-

give of Rubarbe, two penie waight to drinck, one penie waight of pure scamonie; with half a nutshell full or our Elixir, and so continue 3 daies, and hee shall be cured; But if the Elixir be mixed with phlegme add unto the decoction aforesaid Turbith Senna; and Tolipodie.

The 12th a remedy against the Quotidian

The Quotidian is only cured by taking our Quintessence afore it be artificiall Balme [...] Elixir, and especially if therewith all be given any of those things which purge fflegme, but above all if you put thereunto some of the juice of the herbe Mercury: for it is an experiment that if you take 3 or 4 drops thereof, and put it, and put it in the right nostrill or right eare of the partie, then as Raimond saith:- Tollit typum quotidianae foebris.

The 13th continueth the cure of all fevers,
whether of blood, coller, or phlegme,
whether foebris sinochae, causon, frenesie, or lethargie,
or any other proceeding of phlegme:-

In leavers proceeding of bloud, first make phlebotomie or letting of blood; and after applie the partie with our quintessence, the pouder of water crevishes, and a little chamber; give it to be drunck, that the feaverie inflamation may be taken away if of coller, applie with our quintessence in drinck such as wee use to coole, and outwardlie applie Cinaments, with those cooling things, water crevishes and champhir: Of phlegme applie with our quintessence things as purge phlegme. If for the lethargie, give the fire of the quintessence, i.e. the fire of oile of our stone; Which let it be applied with hot things, and in drinck, let cold things be given: If unto all these things of the quintessence of man's bloud, be added; it will worck wonders in the cure of all feavers.

The 14th against the Feaver Pestilent:-

Minister of our Elixir of life half a nut shell full and it shall suffice, yet if you will have it worck the stronger, adjoin thereto Gentian, Red Dittany, Cloves, Poole Armenie, Castorium, Scopae, Regiae or Wild Rue: which when hee shall taste, the raies of life will ascend to the heart, which will expell the infected aire. This would be given within a day after the partie is sick and God willing hee shall be cured;

The 15th against the spasmes:-

There are divers kinds of spasms, some proceeding of emptiness, some of overfulness, some of wounds, but howsoever it happeneth, it is deadlie, [...] drinck it with the fire of oile of our stone, or quintessence : If thereto you add things that are moist of operation. The greatest cure in this is to induce a feaver, which is to be done with the herb flamula or Speerwort, if it be put in our quintessence, and so let it stand 3 houres with which rubb the Arteries and the back bone, and lay on clothes enough, and the patient shall have a feaver which cureth the spasme: Then labor after to cure the feaver with the medicines apointed for the feaver: If the spasms proceed of emptiness, let the partie eate: Yf of fulness give him a spare diet; if of a wound, combat the wound with a hot iron; After that which salves that provoke rottenness or quitture, and then with such as cause flesh to grow; and give all these ministered with a little of our quintessence. Further four wounds or fistalas, this can I add that our first menstrue worketh wonders.

The 16th against the Sciatica.
foot gout, and all manner of gouts,
and last of all how laxative medicines ought to bee ministered:-

ffor the cure of the gout in generall, God hath given us the quintessence to bee used in drinck, and to bee laid upon the place, but farre better if with all, the quintessence of man's bloud be administered, or mingled, but if to these bee added the quintessence of Ebulus sodden in wine, bee outwardlie applied; But because wee are entered into the cure of the Gout, not knowing what may happen even unto the greatest, I will show the most approved medicine of the world, which sithence it was my happe to finde by great consideration of the thing, and having also had great proofe thereof, I will heere set it downe; for I know it is the only medicine [...] upon a piece of lether and immediately within and hour or two after, it taketh away both redness, swelling, and paine; But in tempering of it, you are to add a spoonefull of our menstrue to it; then work [...] it as quick dispatch: yf for the thorow cure; our Elixir were given for 6 or 7 daies inward and applied outward; then noe doubt, it should bee cleane [...] write not this conjecturally; for my selfe in whom it is morbus hereditarius, and greatly given unto it, am by that only in a manner never troubled with all, ffor the administering of laxative things, there falleth out three considerations: first that they kill not; secondlie, that the lose no vertue: 3rdly, that they may worcke in the farmost parts of the bodie without danger to take away the corrupt humours. Observe therefore these things and give it without our quintessence; and let stand mixed 3 houres, for the quantitie is without our quintessence that you minister one ounce: with it one dragme if of a dragme one pennie waight, if of a pennie waight one barlie corn and so forth.

As touching the making of the Quintessence of man's bloud, I referre it over to Arnold de Villanova, in the book which hee writeth ad Magistrum Iacobum de Tolledo, which is a common booke and joyned to Rupesissus; and so the 7th treatise hath end.