Tuesday, 22 September 2009
LAW AND THEORY IN
A COMPAXION BOOK TOR STUDENTS
DOUGLAS CARNEGIE, M.A.
SOMETIMK SCHOLAR AND DEMONSTRATOR IN CHEMISTRY OF GONVILLE
AND CAIUS COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
AND NEW YORK: 15 EAST 16'h STREET
The philosopher's stone was the name given to a
mythical theurgic powder^ which was to have the
power of fermenting millions of times its own weight
of fused base metal into gold. The strangest and
most diverse ingredients were mixed together in the
attempts to prepare this much sought for powder ;
we read of snails' slime, serpents' teeth, gall stones
taken from cats, blood, hair, white of egg, &c., in
addition to the never failing ingredient, mercury.
The philosopher's stone was generally identified with
what in more general terms was called the " One
Thing" — the perfect form of matter which was to
combine in itself all the properties of all other kinds
of matter in their highest perfection. Hence we can
in a measure account for the many and varied in-
gredients which were believed to be necessary to its
Many of the receipts for making the philosopher's
stone that have come down to us are perfectly un-
intelligible, so allegorical is the language in which
they are couched. Sometimes the directions seem
fairly explicit, till one comes to the concluding item
— "add carefully a sufficiency of you know what.'"
1 It may here be stated that some philologists find in the generally
entertained belief that the "stone" would turn out to be a hlack
powder, a derivation of the word alchemy. See article " Chemie " in
Ladenburj^'s Handworterbuch der Chemie.