Introducing Newton’s Alchemical Papers
At the beginning of 2004, The Chymistry of Isaac Newton was established at the University of Indiana. Their goals are:
- to transcribe Newton’s alchemical manuscripts
- to investigate the laboratory techniques of Newton’s time
- to replicate contemporary equipment and experiments
The Chymistry of Isaac Newton operates in close collaboration with us with a view to creating a comprehensive resource that will encompass all aspects of Newton’s thought and activity. A full listing of the source material it will make available can be found in the Alchemical Papers section of the Newton Project’s online catalogue. Links to the material already available on the Chymistry site are provided below.
Alchemical texts sorted by date
Notebook containing notes and experimental reports
Transcript of 'Sr George Ripley His Epistle to K Edward unfolded'
Two incomplete treatises on the vegetative growth of metals and minerals
'Verses at the end of B[asil] Valentine's mystery of the Microcosm'
Notes evidently on Newton's own laboratory experiments
Twelve small bundles of alchemical notes and extracts from a very wide range of sources.
Three lists of alchemical writers and works, partly on the reverse of Mint-related material
'Of ye first Gate'
'Causæ et initia naturalium' (notes on Jan Baptista van Helmont's Ortus medicinae (1667)).
'Several Questions concerning the Ph[ilosoph]ers St[one]'.
Memorandum by Newton (1696).
'De Igne sophorum et materia quam calefacit'.
Notes on and excerpts from George Ripley's 'Clavis Aureæ Portæ', 'Medulla Alchimiæ', and 'Pupilla Alchemiæ'.
Notes and abstracts 'Ex Fabri Hydrographo Spagyrico' (f. 1r) and 'Ex Palladio Spagyrico' (f. 2r), with page references (1690s?).
'Sententiæ luciferæ et Conclusiones notabiles' (1696-8?).
Excerpts from Jodocus a Rhe [Johannes Rhenanus], with transcripts of letters to Dr. John Twysden [Twisden] from 'A.C. [leg. A.O.?] Faber' and notes on a work by Faber. In Latin.
Two unrelated tracts in the same hand (not Newton's)
Three alchemical verse extracts, in English.
Incomplete abstract of Yworth's 'Processus Mysterii Magni Philosophicus' condensed into five chapters (c. early 1690s).
'The Three Fires'.
'Notanda Chymica' (late 1660s).
'Liber Mercurioum [sic: leg. 'Mercuriorum'] Corporum' (1668-75).
'Tabula Smaragdina' and 'Hieroglyphica Planetarum'.
Notebook containing little but headings ('De Sale'; 'Solutio'; 'Conjunctio et Liquefactio'; 'Imbibitio & Calcinatio', etc.), with gaps for entries left blank apart from a few perfunctory notes in Latin.
'Thesaurus Thesaurorum sive Medicina Aurea'.
Notebook (early 1690s), containing alchemical notes from a wide range of sources.
Notes on Sendivogius (c. 1685-90).
Chemical notes, partly in another hand.
Notebook containing abstracts and notes drawn from various alchemical works.
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.
Three alchemical excerpts (1668/9).
Miscellaneous alchemical notes and recipes
'Out of La Lumiere sortant des Tenebres' and 'Out of the Commentator on La Lumiere sortant de Tenebris [sic]' (c. 1687-92), incomplete.
Incomplete draft treatise on the sequence of operations to be effected in transmutation.
'The Work of an old Priest, viz: B.' and other alchemical recipes (late 1660s).
'The method of ye work': a commentary on [A.T. Limojon, Sieur de] Didier's 'Six Keys' (early 1690s?).
Short extracts from an assortment of alchemical writers (early to mid-1670s).
Notes on the preparation of 'philosophical mercury' by fermentation and 'ye mediation of Diana's Doves', on the preparation of 'menstrua', etc.
'Artephius his secret Book', followed by 'The Epistle of Iohn Pontanus, wherein he beareth witness of ye book of Artephius', c. 1,500 words, 3 pp. (c. 1670s).
'De secreto solu[tionum? (MS torn)]'.
Draft alchemical treatise or compilation.
Translation and transcription of the Tabula Smaragdina of 'Hermes Trismegistus', with notes (early 1680s-1690s).
Four alchemical verse allegories, in English.
Alchemical notes (probably before 18 May 1669), drawn largely if not entirely from Michael Maier's Symbola Aureæ Mensæ duodecim nationum (Frankfurt, 1617: H1048).
'The Regimen' (early 1680s).
Two sets of notes.
'Ripley expounded', 12 pp.; and 'Notes upon Ripley,' in English, c. 1,500 words, 7 pp.
'Clavis': detailed directions for a lengthy alchemical operation beginning with the digestion of antimony, iron and sulphur.
Notes on various (al)chemical processes (separations, processions, sublimations, distillations, etc.).
'Anno 1656. Serenissimi Principis Frederici Ducis Holsatiæ et Sleswici &c. communicatione sequens epistola me sibi vendicat, inaudita memorans. Veni et vide'.
Transcripts from two published alchemical tracts.
'Basil Valentine Currus Triumphalis Antimonij': notes and abstracts (c. 1667-8).
'Pearce the black Monck upon ye Elixir': an alchemical verse allegory, 226 lines.
'Collectiones ex Novo Lumine Chymico quæ ad Praxin spectant', 6 pp., and 'Arcanum Hermeticæ Philosophiæ Opus', 3 pp. (early 1669?).
Two alchemical treatises (one incomplete; after 1686) and a collection of short extracts from various alchemical sources.
Two accounts of alchemical operations (1690s?).
Notes on various alchemical texts (early 1680s?).
'Manna': transcript (1675?) of an anonymous alchemical treatise, in another hand with additions and notes by Newton.
Abstracts of five works by Michael Maier (early 1690s).
'Practica Mariæ Prophetissæ in Artem Alchemicam' (early 1690s).
Three apparently unrelated fragments (early-mid 1670s).
'The Epitome of the treasure of health written by Edwardus Generosus Anglicus innominatus who lived Anno Domini 1562'.
'The Seven Chapters' (late 1680s-1690s) plus notes and an unrelated draft letter.
Three related sets of notes (late 1680s-90s).
'Epistola ad veros Hermetis discipulos continens claves sex principales Philosophiæ secretæ' (early 1690s).
'Experimenta Raymundi', 6 pp.
'Observations of ye matter in ye Glass. Authore Anonymo' (mid-1670s).
Notes on the works of George Ripley [from a manuscript version of 'Eirenæus Philalethes'' Ripley Reviv'd (1678)] (late 1660s/ early 1670s).
Miscellaneous extracts from and notes on various alchemical authors, in English.