Catalogue Entry: ALCH00111

Six sets of notes on Newton's alchemical reading (c. late 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Mellon Alchemical Mss Mellon Ms. 78, Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Custodial History

SL47 was bought at the Sotheby sale by 'Ulysses' (Jacob Schwartz?) for £11.10s.

Sotheby Lot

SL47 (Ms. 78.5) + ?

Contents

Ms. 78.1

Extracts from Lull's 'Theorica' [the first part of his Testamentum] on the three principles of reduction, with notes on the extraction of gold starting at the other end of the page, 1 f. Written on the cover slip of a letter addressed 'ffor Mr Issiac Nuton mathematik Profesoor in Trenity colidg cambridg'; remains of the original wax seal carry the initials 'IW'.

Ms. 78.2

Single page with a list of thirty alchemical operations, in Latin, beginning:

'Opus 1. Vvarum præparatio prima manuaalis [sic]

Opus 2 Fermentatio & putrefactio

3 Extractio et rectificatio spiritus'

Ms. 78.3

Paper bifolium with forty-five brief headings from Lull, Aristotle and others, referring to alchemical operations, in Latin, on same paper as Ms. 78.6. (c. early 1690s).

Ms. 78.4

Four leaves with a list of operations similar to those in Ms. 78.3. On f. 4v there is a reference to 'Centrum naturæ concentratum. Or ye salt of Nature regenerated. ffor ye most part improperly called ye Phers stone. Written in Arabic by Aliphi a Mauritanian born of Asiatick parents. Published in Low Dutch 1694 & now done in English 1696. Price bound 1s. Printed for Iohn Harris at the Harrow in little Brittain' (H25).

Ms. 78.5

Paper bifolium with notes from Bloomfield, Flammel, 'Philalethes' and Ripley's Medulla Alchimiæ on the 'Rod of Mercury', in English and Latin, 11 pp. f. 1r is headed 'De Virga [Mercurii]', with remarks in English from Bloomfield, Flammel, and 'Ayrenæus' [i.e. 'Eirenæus Philalethes']. Followed by five queries: 'What Lute for distilling O. Vitr.'; 'Whether ye Spt. in ye first degestion stink, & how soon, & with what odor'; 'How he contrives his Lamp', etc.

Ms. 78.6

Paper bifolium cut to the same size as Ms. 78.3 containing a series of 'Observationes' beginning with 'Prima operatio est in mineris vivis, secunda in [mercurio] et metallis imperfectis'.

Many pages of Ms. 78.6 printed in facsimile and transcript with further details in MacPhail, Alchemy and the Occult, 2: 470-78.

© 2020 The Newton Project

Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

Faculty of History, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2RL - newtonproject@history.ox.ac.uk

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