As an 'illustrated history', this book is an undoubted success. The pages are attractively designed, with good use of paintings and photographs, many in colour. Maps are somewhat fewer but judiciously used and well-presented. The technique of imparting additional information through sidebars, lengthy captions and inserted panels, while conventional enough, is well done and carefully balanced against the main text. The unified design of the volume is rounded off with a good chronology and glossary, well-chosen introductory lists of further reading, and a detailed index.
There is something curious, though, in producing such an attractive book on such an unattractive subject.
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The very design of the book tends to convey its own underlying message that war is colourful, interesting and exciting. This is not to say that the book ignores entirely the personal experiences of individual combatants, or the suffering and destruction which are the inevitable accompaniment of war. But these play a minor role in the text, and are usually relegated to the sidebars and inserted panels. For the most part, the book addresses the audience which the publisher claims for it: It fails, however, to convey the human experience of and reaction to violence on such a scale: Alchemy therefore is a science teaching how to make and compound a certain medicine, which is called Elixir, the which when it is cast upon metals or imperfect bodies, does fully perfect them in the very projection.
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The Mirror of Alchemy
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The mirror of alchimy
Dec 27, Chris Schaeffer rated it it was amazing. I don't know how much I got out of this but I sure like the words spilling untrammelled from Roger Bacon's lips and fingers. Feb 17, Jonathan Widell rated it it was amazing. A concise and accessible introduction to alchemy written by an authority in this field, Roger Bacon.
Although it is impossible to take anything in this little booklet seriously, one has to admire the resolve and clarity with which the author goes about his business. And let us not make any bones about it, gold is what all of us are interested in, isn't it? May 28, Rather Dashing rated it really liked it Shelves: A fascinating short tractatus on alchemical theory. Definitely well worth your time if you're at all interested in the period. Barbara rated it really liked it Dec 11, Mac rated it it was amazing Feb 14, Myk XLR rated it it was ok Jun 01, Lee rated it liked it Nov 12, Ron Langley rated it it was amazing Jan 15, Angela Ghionea rated it really liked it Apr 02, John Ervin rated it it was amazing Jan 08, BookBurner rated it liked it Nov 27, Ryan Mackeigan rated it really liked it Jan 15, Duke rated it liked it Nov 06, Daniel rated it really liked it Jun 22, Luiz Fraga rated it it was ok Jan 22, It wants purity, fixation, and weight: Of the nature Iron.
Iron is an unclean and imperfect body, engendered of Argent-vive impure, too much fixed, earthy, burning, white and red not clear, and of the like Sulphur: It wants fusion, purity, and weight: It has too much fixed unclean Sulphur, and burning earthiness. That which has been spoken, every Alchemist must diligently observe. Out of what things the matter of Elixir must be more nearly extracted.
The generation of metals, as well perfect, as imperfect, is sufficiently declared by that which has been already spoken, Now let us return to the imperfect matter that must be chosen and made perfect. Seeing that by the former Chapters we have been taught, that all metals are engendered of Argent-vive and Sulphur, and how that their impurity and uncleanness does corrupt, and that nothing may be mingled with metals which have not been made or sprung from them, it: Neither does Argent-vive by itself alone, nor Sulphur by itself alone, beget any metal, but of the commixtion of them both, diverse metals and minerals are diversely brought forth.
Our matter therefore must be chosen of the commixtion of them both: And if we should draw it from living creatures of which sort is man's blood, hair, urine, excrements, hens' eggs, and what else proceed from living creatures we must likewise out of them extract Argent-vive and Sulphur by decoction, from which we are freed, as we were before. Or if we should choose it out of middle minerals of which sort are all kinds of Magnesia, Marchasites, of Tutia, Coppers, Allums, Baurach, Salts, and many other we should likewise, as afore, extract Argent-vive and Sulphur by decoction: And if we should take one of the seven spirits by itself, as Argent-vive, or Sulphur alone, or Argent-vive and one of the two Sulphurs, or Sulphur-vive, or Auripigment, or Citrine Arsenicum, or red alone, or the like: Finally, if we should choose them, we should mix everything as it is, according to a due proportion, which no man knows, and afterward decoct it to coagulation, into a solid lump: Keep this secret more secretly.
Gold is a perfect masculine body, without any superfluity or diminution: Silver is also a body almost perfect, and feminine, which if it should almost perfect imperfect bodies by his common melting only, it should be Elixir to white which it is not, nor cannot be, because they only are perfect. And if this perfection might be mixed with the imperfect, the imperfect should not be perfected with the perfect, but rather their perfection's should be diminished by the imperfect, and become imperfect.
But if they were more than perfect, either in a two-fold, four-fold, hundred-fold, or larger proportion, they might then well perfect the imperfect. And forasmuch as nature does always work simply, the perfection which is in them is simple, inseparable, and incommiscible, neither may they by art be put in the stone, for ferment to shorten the work, and so brought to their former state, because the most volatile does overcome the most fixed.
And for that gold is a perfect body, consisting of Argent-vive, red and clear, and of such a Sulphur, therefore we choose it not for the matter of our stone to the red Elixir, because it is so simply perfect, without artificial mundification, and so strongly digested and fed with a natural heat, that with our artificial fire, we are scarcely able to work on gold or silver, And though nature does perfect anything, yet she cannot thoroughly mundify, or perfect and purify it, because she simply works on that which she has.
If therefore we should choose gold or silver for the matter of the stone, we should hard and scantly find fire working in them.
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And although we are not ignorant of the fire, yet could we not come to the thorough mundification and perfection of it, by reason of his most firm knitting together, and natural composition: There must therefore be such a matter chosen, where in there is Argent-vive, clean, pure, clear, white and red, not fully complete, but equally and proportionably commixt after a due manner with the like Sulphur, and congealed into a solid mass, that by our wisdom and discretion, and by our artificial fire, we may attain unto the uttermost cleanness of it, and the purity of the same, and bring it to that pass, that after the work ended, it might be a thousand thousand times more strong and perfect, then the simple bodies themselves, decoct by their natural heat.
Of the manner of working, and of moderating, and continuing the fire. I hope ere this time you have already found out by the words already spoken if you are not most dull, ignorant, and foolish the certain matter of the learned Philosophers blessed stone, whereon Alchemy works, while we endeavor to perfect the imperfect, and that with things more then perfect.
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And for that nature has delivered us the imperfect only with the perfect, it is our part to make the matter in the former Chapters declared unto us more then perfect by our artificial labor. And if we know not the manner of working, what is the cause that we do not see how nature which of long time has perfected metals does continually work!
Do we not see, that in the Mines through the continual heat that is in the mountains thereof, the grossness of water is so decocted and thickened, that in continuance of time it becomes Argent-vive? And that of the fatness of the earth through the same heat and decoction, Sulphur is engendered!
And that through the same heat without intermission continued in them, all metals are engendered of them according to their purity and impurity? Woe to you that will overcome nature, and make metals more then perfect by a new regiment, or work sprung from your own senseless brains.
God has given to nature a straight way, to wit, continual concoction, and you like fools despise it, or else know it not. Again, fire and Azot, are sufficient for you. And in another place, Heat perfects all things.