Browse texts by Isaac Newton

1851.

Miscellaneous extracts from and notes on various alchemical authors, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 20, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00009

1852.

Notes and abstracts 'Ex Fabri Hydrographo Spagyrico' (f. 1r) and 'Ex Palladio Spagyrico' (f. 2r), with page references (1690s?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1024 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00079

1853.

'Sententiæ luciferæ et Conclusiones notabiles' (1696-8?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 56, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00045

1854.

'De Igne sophorum et materia quam calefacit'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Yahuda Ms. 38, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00062

1855.

'The method of ye work': a commentary on [A.T. Limojon, Sieur de] Didier's 'Six Keys' (early 1690s?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 21, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00010

1856.

Two sets of notes.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 12, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00001

1857.

'Practica Mariæ Prophetissæ in Artem Alchemicam' (early 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 45, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00034

1858.

'The Work of an old Priest, viz: B.' and other alchemical recipes (late 1660s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 62, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00051

1859.

'Observations of ye matter in ye Glass. Authore Anonymo' (mid-1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 39, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00028

1860.

Notes on Biblical chronology

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Ms. 1029, The Babson College Grace K. Babson Collection of the Works of Sir Isaac Newton, Huntington Library, San Marino, California, USA

Newton Catalogue ID: THEM00087

1861.

'Experimenta Raymundi', 6 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 47, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00036

1862.

Memorandum by Newton (1696).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 26, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00015

1863.

Notes on Sendivogius (c. 1685-90).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 55, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00044

1864.

A similar composition to Keynes Ms. 40, covering the first six 'operations' (but the fourth is missing). In Latin apart from some citations from George Ripley in English verse in the last two sections.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 41, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00030

1865.

Short extracts from an assortment of alchemical writers (early to mid-1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 25, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00014

1866.

'Ripley expounded', 12 pp.; and 'Notes upon Ripley,' in English, c. 1,500 words, 7 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 54, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00043

1867.

'Manna': transcript (1675?) of an anonymous alchemical treatise, in another hand with additions and notes by Newton.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 33, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00022

1868.

Abstracts of five works by Michael Maier (early 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 32, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00021

1869.

'Several Questions concerning the Ph[ilosoph]ers St[one]'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 44, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00033

1870.

'Collectiones ex Novo Lumine Chymico quæ ad Praxin spectant', 6 pp., and 'Arcanum Hermeticæ Philosophiæ Opus', 3 pp. (early 1669?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 19, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00008

1871.

Front Matter to The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728)

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (London: 1728).

Newton Catalogue ID: THEM00184

1872.

Chapter 3: Of the Assyrian Empire

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (London: 1728).

Newton Catalogue ID: THEM00188

1873.

Chapter 1: Of the Chronology of the First Ages of the Greeks

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (London: 1728).

Newton Catalogue ID: THEM00186

1874.

Chapter 4: Of the two Contemporary Empires of the Babylonians and Medes

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (London: 1728).

Newton Catalogue ID: THEM00189

1875.

Chapter 6: Of the Empire of the Persians

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Isaac Newton, The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (London: 1728).

Newton Catalogue ID: THEM00191

[1]

Both verses are copied from Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), 421-2 and 278-9 respectively, though the notes on the 'Green Lyon', comprising elucidatory cross-references to other alchemical authors, would seem to be Newton's own. (Ashmole's edition does include notes on the work as an appendix, but they are completely different from those in this manuscript.)

[2]

'The standing of ye glass for ye time of Putrefaction & Congelation of ye medecine', in verse, 14 lines; 'The hunting of ye Green Lyon' (an extract), in verse, c. 180 lines; 'Notes upon ye hunting of ye green Lyon', c. 500 words.

[3] 8 pp.

[4]

Both works cited are by the French alchemist Pierre Jean Fabré.

[5]

See H598 for Newton's copy of Fabré's complete works, and Dobbs, 'Newton Manuscripts at the Smithsonian', 106.

[6] 4 pp. on 2 ff.

[7]

in Latin

[8]

On the first page in identical handwriting is a note relating to the silver recoinage of 1696-8.

[9]

Short extracts from a wide range of alchemical authors.

[10] 18 pp.

[11]

in Latin and English

[12]

The Sotheby catalogue misreads the title as 'De Igne sophorem et materia quam cale facit', an error replicated in Ch-H.

[13]

Cf. Keynes Ms. 36.

[14]

A collection of alchemical extracts under the headings 'Moschus in Turb[a]', 'Philal[ethes] in Metal[lorum] Metamorph[osi]', 'Nov[um] Lum[en]' (f. 1r), 'Marrow of Alk' (f. 1v-2r), 'Philal. comment. on Ripl[ey]' (2r-3r), 'Brevis Manuductio [ad rubinum cœlestem]' (f. 3r-v).

[15] 6 pp. on 4 ff. of which one blank.

[16]

in Latin and English

[17]

Keynes Ms. 23 is a Latin translation of the French original of Didier's work. See Dobbs, Janus Faces, 180-81, and Westfall, Never at Rest, 529. Westfall argues that this manuscript and Keynes Ms. 53 represent the first steps, taken in the early 1690s, that led ultimately to the major essay 'Praxis' (Babson Ms. 420).

[18] 35 pp.

[19]

in English with Latin citations

[20]

For highly divergent theories about the dating, see Figala, 'Exakte Alchemie', 177 and Dobbs, Foundations, 133.

[21]

A 'Propositions': alchemical notes in Latin, c. 400 words, 3 pp. Apparently Newton's own formulations.

B Miscellaneous notes on multiplication by solution and coagulation, mostly in Latin with some English, c. 2,000 words, 4 pp. Drawn from various (acknowledged) sources including Aristotle, Nicholas Flamel and Michael Maier [Mayer].

[22] 7 pp.

[23]

mainly in Latin

[24]

See H1608, H90-H91, H221 for the works cited as Newton's sources.

[25]

A dialogue between 'Aros' and 'Maria', the sister of Moses, in which she replies to his queries about acquiring alchemical wisdom. Concludes with the note 'Extat hoc opus in Theat Chem Vol 5 & Vol 6 p 479 [i.e. Lazarus Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum (1659-61): it is in fact only in vol. 6] & Arte Aurif. vol. 1 et in Bibliotheca Gallica' [i.e. Bibliothèque des philosophes (1672-8): it is in vol. 1].

[26] 4 pp. on 3 ff. of which one blank.

[27]

in Latin

[28]

Evidently abstracted from Keynes Ms. 67.

[29]

Includes directions 'To turne [silver] into [gold]' and for making '[silver] out of [mercury] and [iron]', a recipe for 'aurum potabile', etc., with drawings of retorts, receivers, and other chemical equipment.

[30] 8 pp. on 9 ff. of which one blank.

[31]

in English

[32]

An account of an alchemical experiment, and directions for undertaking another (the latter beginning f. 2r under the heading 'Emanuel'). Presumably transcribed or translated from an unpublished manuscript, and thoroughly non-'mystical' in tone except for the specification (f. 2r) of a prayer for success to be offered before undertaking the experiment and another of thanks to be offered on its successful completion.

[33] 6 pp. on 3 ff.

[34]

in English

[35] 2 pp. on 1 f.

[36]

in Latin

[37]

See H994-1001 for Newton's Lull collection.

[38]

Descriptions of and notes on 24 experiments, interspersed with alchemical recipes, drawn from the works of (or supposedly of) Ramón Lull [Raimundus Lullius].

[39]

in Latin

[40]

Printed with an introduction in D. Geoghegan, 'Some indications of Newton's attitude towards alchemy', Ambix 6 (1957), 102-6 (Newton's text on 105-6); text also in NC, 4: 196-9. Cf. the variant version in SL46 (Joseph Halle Schaffner Collection, Chicago), and excerpts from Edmund Dickinson in Harry Ransom Research Center, University of Texas. See also Keynes Ms. 50 and Yahuda Ms. Var.259.

[41]

Begins: 'On Munday March 2d or Tuesday March 3 1695/6, A Londoner acquainted wth Mr. Boyle & Dr. Dickinson making me a visit, affirmed that in the work of Iodochus a Rhe wth [vitriol] twas not necessary that the [vitriol] should be purified but the oyle or spirit might be taken as sold in shops', and goes on to record the mystery visitor's account of his method of 'subliming' vitriol to produce a 'menstruum' that dissolves all metals.

[42] 3 pp.

[43]

in English

[44]

Earlier copies (not in Newton's hand) of ff. 1-12 in BL Sloane Mss. 3630.6 (ff. 102-12) and 3778.1 (ff. 2-18). Sloane Ms. 3630 belonged to Richard Dee in 1648, so this section is undoubtedly not by Newton. Figala ('Exakte Alchemie, 183) identifies it as an extract from a lost work ascribed to 'Philalethes', though she doubts whether in this case this means George Starkey. See also Keynes Ms. 19, Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.4, Babson Ms. 925, Dibner Institute, and H1192 and 1485.

[45]

f. 1r 'Sendivogius Explained': notes on Treatises 1-7 and 9-12 [of Sendivogius's A New Light of Alchymie (English translation London, 1650)], with precise page and line numbers for each reference.

f. 13r 'The Preface to ye Philosophick Riddle'

'The Philosophick Riddle'

f. 15v Very brief notes on 'The Dialogue between Mercury the Alchymist & Nature'; 'The 3 principles of all things'; 'Of Sulphur' (ff. 15v-16r).

f. 17r-21r 'Sendivogius explained': another set of notes on Sendivogius, in Latin.

[46] 37 pp. on 21 ff.

[47]

in English and Latin

[48]

Also features extensive interlinear notes and additions apparently inserted after the main text had been written.

f. 1r 'Opus primum. Extractio \& rectificatio/ spiritus.'

f. 2r 'Opus secundum. Extractio animæ.'

f. 3r 'Opus tertium. Terræ calcinatio'

f. 5r 'Opus quintum./ Acuatio spiritus rectificanti cum rebus calidis sui generis per sublimationes, & conversio in mercurium vegetabilem ut et in Quintessentiam quæ cælum est Philosophorum, et Liquor Alkahest, quocum fit Aurum potabile.'

f. 11r 'Opus sextum. Solutio sicca et humida metallorum vulgi \eorumq[ue] purgatio &/ multiplicatio infinita mercurij sophici et extractio auri vivi.'

[49] 39 pp. on 20 ff.

[50]

Same watermark (with countermark AI) as Mellon Ms. 79 (probably mid-1670s), the essay 'De ære et æthere' (date uncertain but definitely not before 1673), part of the 'Hypothesis' sent to the Royal Society in December 1675, and a letter to Hooke of the same month: see Shapiro, 'Dating Game', 195-6.

[51]

See Dobbs, Foundations, 132 for discussion of the sources and dating of this manuscript. Apart from the first two items, Newton could have taken all this from Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum. The first five are all based on works of 'Philalethes'. Cf. also Keynes Mss. 14, 29, 36 and Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.

[52]

f. 1r 'Out of Flammel./ The ffirst agent [not 'Angel' as stated in the Sotheby catalogue] painted in Abraham ye Iews 4 Hieroglyphicks', in English. From the same source as Keynes Ms. 14.

f. 1v 'Out of ye Comment[ary] on Ripleys Epistle to K. Edward' [i.e. 'Sir George Ripley's Epistle to King Edward Unfolded' by 'Eirenæus Philalethes'], in English.

f. 2r 'Ex libro de Metallorum Metamorphosi', in Latin.

f. 2v 'Ex Brevi Manuductione ad Rubinum cælestem', in Latin.

'Ex Fonte Chemicæ Philosophiæ', in Latin.

f. 3v 'Iterum ex Comment[ario] in Ripl[æi] Epist[ola] ad Reg[em] Edw[ardum]', in English with one sentence of Latin.

'Ex Epistola Com[itis] Trevisani ad Thom[am] Bonon[iam]', in Latin.

f. 4r 'Ex Artephio', in Latin.

'Ex Turba [i.e. 'Turba Philosophorum']', in Latin.

[53] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[54]

in English and Latin

[55]

The 'Notes upon Ripley' represent, in Dobbs's words, 'Newton's study of Philalethes' comments on Ripley' (Janus Faces, 122, n. 1). See also Keynes Mss. 17, 51, 52, 53.

[56]

The first section is another commentary on Ripley's 'Gates', similar in construction to Keynes Mss. 51 and 53 but quite different in content, and this time covering all twelve 'gates': in addition to the six mentioned above under Keynes Ms. 51 there are cibation, sublimation, fermentation, exaltation, multiplication and projection.

[57]

in English

[58]

'Mr F' may be Ezekiel Foxcroft, Fellow of King's College and translator of J.V. Andreæ's Chymische Hochzeit: see Dobbs, Foundations, 111-12 (though the suggestion is disputed by Figala, 'Newton as Alchemist', 103). There is another reference to 'Mr. F.', unequivocally meaning Foxcroft, in 'De Scriptoribus Chemicis', Stanford University Library Ms.: see Figala et al., 'De Scriptoribus', 146-7. Newton's notes clearly date from no earlier than 1675 (the year in which the manuscript was communicated to him), and the handwriting suggests not much later: the preceding text could of course be earlier.

[59]

See Figala, 'Exakte Alchemie', 161, including a partial transcript of Newton's comments. A similar version of the text, but without Newton's additions and commentaries, was published by William Cooper in the anthology Aurifontana Chymica (London, 1680: H103).

[60]

A disquisition on the nature of alchemy, stressing that making gold is the most trivial of its aims. Followed by recipes 'To make all pretious stones better then the Natural', 'To make a Diamant', etc. On f. 5r, in Newton's hand, two further recipes under the headings 'Praxis Lapidis' and 'Multiplication', and then a series of notes on the foregoing text headed 'Here follow several notes & different readings collected out of a M.S. communicated to Mr F. by W.S. in 1670, & by Mr F. to me 1675'. Finally (f. 6r), 'An epitome of the practise of the work', also in Newton's hand.

[61] 11 pp. on 6 ff.

[62]

in English

[63]

See Westfall, Never at Rest, 524, and H1044, 1046, 1048 and 1052.

[64]

On the cover in Thomas Pellet's hand: 'No 17'.

a) 'Symbola aureæ mensæ duodecim nationum, Authore Michaele Majero. Dat. Francofurti mense Decemb. 1616. Edit Francofurti 1617. Anno ætatis Majeri 49', including copies by Newton of two of Maier's alchemical emblems, 20 pp.

b) 'Lusus Serius. Authore Mich. Majero Com. Pal. Med. D. Dat. 1616 mense Septembri', 4 pp.

c) 'Atalanta fugiens, hoc est Emblemata nova &c. Dat Francofurti mens. Aug. 1617. Edit 1618', 24 pp.

d) 'Viatorium, hoc est De montibus Planetarum septem. Datum Francofurti ad Mœn. 1618. mense Septembri. Edit Rothomagi 1651', 16 pp.

e) 'Septimana Philosophica. Dat. Magdeburgi Anno 1620, Ian. 11 styl. vet.', 24 pp.

[65] 88 pp.

[66]

in Latin

[67]

A dialogue between a novice and an adept, each 'Question' being followed by an answer. Transcript or translation of an anonymous unpublished work.

f. 1r 'Quest. 1. Of what kind is the true & only one Philosophical matter'

f. 1v 'Quest. 2. But how ought ye reduction into the first matter to be done.'

f. 2r 'Quest. 3. What is the signe of a perfect fixation and where by can it be known.'

f. 2v 'Quest. 4. But if it should ascend in the said operation what must be done.'

'Quest. 5. What is to be done when the tincture has obteined its perfection.'

f. 3r 'Quest. 6. What ought to be done wth this golden powder'

'Quest. 7. What hereafter'

f. 3v 'Quest. 8. How must the silver be proceeded with'

'Quest. 9. What fire is used in this work'

f. 4r 'Quest. 10. What do you think of the colours of Bernardus.'

'Quest. 11. Is the labour of this work troublesome'

'Quest. 12. Are there no more lyes of the Sophisters.'

[68] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[69]

in English

[70]

Reproduced with German translation and commentary in Karin Figala's unpublished thesis 'Newton als Alchemist' (Munich, 1978). See Dobbs, Foundations, 152-5 and 160-62 for a fuller description and arguments for the dating; also Figala, 'Exakte Alchemie', 179. H1192 is the Sendivogius work in question: for the rest of Newton's Sendivogius collection see also H445, 1131 (the Musaeum Hermeticum reformatum, which includes tracts by Sendivogius) and 1485 (but H445, a French version, post-dates these notes if Dobbs's dating is correct). H1311 is his copy of d'Espagnet's La philosophie naturelle. Further notes on Sendivogius in Keynes Ms. 55, Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.4 and Babson Ms. 925, Dibner Institute.

[71]

Annotated extracts from Michael Sendivogius and Jean d'Espagnet respectively. The right-hand half of each page consists of exegetical notes, which in the first set are headed 'Collectionum Explicationes', and in both cases take up rather more space than the original citations. f. 3v has the column headings 'Arcanum Hermeticæ Philosophiæ Opus' and 'Explicationes'.

[72]

in Latin

[73] A Short Chronicle from the First Memory of Things in Europe, to the Conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)] Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)

[74] Chapter 4: Of the two Contemporary Empires of the Babylonians and Medes [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)] Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728) Chapter 2: Of the Empire of Egypt. [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)]

[75] Chapter 2: Of the Empire of Egypt. [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)] Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728) A Short Chronicle from the First Memory of Things in Europe, to the Conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)]

[76] Chapter 5: A Description of the Temple of Solomon [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)] Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728) Chapter 3: Of the Assyrian Empire [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)]

[77] Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728) Chapter 5: A Description of the Temple of Solomon [Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms (1728)]

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Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

Scott Mandelbrote,
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