Alchemical texts sorted by date

Newton’s alchemical works are being transcribed by our sister project, The Chymistry of Isaac Newton at the University of Indiana. Links to the material already available on the Chymistry site are provided below. 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.

1.

Notebook (early 1690s), containing alchemical notes from a wide range of sources.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 38, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00027

2.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00045

3.

Three apparently unrelated fragments (early-mid 1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 58, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00047

4.

'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

5.

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

6.

Translation and transcription of the Tabula Smaragdina of 'Hermes Trismegistus', with notes (early 1680s-1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 28, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00017

7.

'The Epitome of the treasure of health written by Edwardus Generosus Anglicus innominatus who lived Anno Domini 1562'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 22, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00011

8.

'Notanda Chymica' (late 1660s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1028 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00080

9.

'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

10.

Memorandum by Newton (1696).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00015

11.

Four alchemical verse allegories, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 15, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00004

12.

Incomplete abstract of Yworth's 'Processus Mysterii Magni Philosophicus' condensed into five chapters (c. early 1690s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 66, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00055

13.

'The Regimen' (early 1680s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 49, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00038

14.

Alchemical notes (probably before 18 May 1669), drawn largely if not entirely from Michael Maier's Symbola Aureæ Mensæ duodecim nationum (Frankfurt, 1617: H1048).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 29, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00018

15.

Three alchemical excerpts (1668/9).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 36, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00025

16.

'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

17.

'Experimenta Raymundi', 6 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00036

18.

Notes on and excerpts from George Ripley's 'Clavis Aureæ Portæ', 'Medulla Alchimiæ', and 'Pupilla Alchemiæ'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 17, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00006

19.

Transcripts from two published alchemical tracts.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 43, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00032

20.

'Pearce the black Monck upon ye Elixir': an alchemical verse allegory, 226 lines.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 42, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00031

21.

'The Seven Chapters' (late 1680s-1690s) plus notes and an unrelated draft letter.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 27, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00016

22.

Notes on various (al)chemical processes (separations, processions, sublimations, distillations, etc.).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 57, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00046

23.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00034

24.

'Tabula Smaragdina' and 'Hieroglyphica Planetarum'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 60, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00049

25.

Chemical notes, partly in another hand.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1007 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00077

[1]

'Sententiæ notabiles' published with notes and a brief commentary in Sherwood Taylor, 'Alchemical work'.

[2]

Arranged under the headings 'Notanda Chemica' (in Latin, 3 pp.) and 'Sententiæ notabiles' (in Latin and English, 22 pp.). Preceded by the heading 'Index Chemicus', under which is a single entry ('Ablutio') in Latin, and followed by 76 blank leaves.

[3]

in English and Latin

[4]

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

[5]

Short extracts from a wide range of alchemical authors.

[6] 18 pp.

[7]

in Latin and English

[8]

Section b) is analysed in detail by Dobbs (Foundations, 167-75), who regards it as 'of extraordinary importance for a study of his [Newton's] alchemical methodology' (ibid., 168), being Newton's attempt to elucidate the symbolism of John de Monte Snyders' The Metamorphosis of the Planets (see Newton's transcript of this text, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale University). See also the notes on Snyders in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

[9]

a) f. 1r Copy of a recipe for multiplying silver (by adding silver, antimony and lead to cinnabar).

b) ff. 2r-5r Notes on 'Aqua Sicca', 'Aquila Iovis' and 'Sceptrum Iovis', with repeatedly reworked recipes for preparing these substances, accompanied by annotations either in parallel columns or at the foot of the page.

c) ff. 6r-8v Notes and recipes derived from an unidentified source, with rough sketches of furnaces and calculations.

[10] 12 pp. on 8 ff.

[11]

in English and Latin

[12]

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.

[13] 6 pp. on 3 ff.

[14]

in English

[15]

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.

[16]

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.

[17]

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.

[18] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[19]

in English and Latin

[20]

Described in the Sotheby catalogue as '4 pp.', presumably meaning 4 written leaves, since all three parts of the document are listed there.

[21]

Transcribed with notes in Dobbs, Janus Faces, 271-7. She argues, mainly on the basis of the handwriting, that the document was composed as follows: f. 6r copied from a Latin version in the early 1680s, followed immediately or not long afterwards by what she considers to be Newton's own 'Commentarium' (ff. 6r-7r); the English translation (f. 2r-v) in the late 1680s or early 1690s (from French: cf. notes to Keynes Ms. 27) and the following annotations (f. 2v) later still, possibly even post-1700. These suggestions are repeated, with some modification, from her earlier article 'Newton's Commentary on the Emerald Tablet', which also includes a transcript of the English translation (183-4). See also notes to Keynes Ms. 27.

Another copy of the Latin text in Keynes Ms. 60, f. 6r. See H84.

[22]

f. 2r-v 'Tabula Smaragdina Hermetis Trismegistri [sic] Philosophorum patris': English translation of the Tabula Smaragdina followed by references to the 'ffrench Bibliotheque' [i.e. Bibliothèque des philosophes (1672-8): see notes to the previous entry] and Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum.

f. 6r 'Hermes Trismegisti opera Chemica./ Tabula Smaragdina': the same passage in Latin.

ff. 6v-7r 'Commentarium': Latin notes on the above.

(ff. 1r and 5r both have the heading 'Hermes' but no text: according to Dobbs these were originally cover sheets for what are now the English sections of Keynes Mss. 27 and 28; the other leaves are blank.)

[23] 5 pp. on 10 ff.

[24]

in English and Latin

[25]

Copy of an unpublished treatise on the Philosophers' Stone, the 'Animal or Angelicall Stone', the 'Prospective [not 'Perspective' as stated in the Sotheby catalogue] stone or ye magical stone of Moses' and 'ye vegetable or ye growing stone'; concludes with an alchemical poem.

[26] 28 pp.

[27]

in English

[28]

See Dobbs, 'Newton Manuscripts at the Smithsonian', 106.

[29]

Notes and extracts, with page references, chiefly from Michael Maier's Arcana arcanissima, though there is also reference to the 'Rosarium Philosophorum' from Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum.

[30] 5 pp. (though there is only one word and a page reference on p. 5).

[31]

in Latin

[32]

'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.

[33]

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).

[34]

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.

[35] 11 pp. on 6 ff.

[36]

in English

[37]

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.

[38]

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.

[39] 3 pp.

[40]

in English

[41]

These are all taken from Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), 305-23, 393-6, 436 and 434 respectively.

[42]

'Out of Bloomfield's Blossoms' (an excerpt, beginning 'Father Time set me at ye gate'), 212 lines; 'A short work that beareth the name of Sr George Ripley', 92 lines (almost complete); and two 'Fragments', one untitled (beginning 'Let ye old man drink wine till he piss'), 8 lines, and the other headed 'The whole science', 11 lines.

[43] 8 pp.

[44]

The Sotheby catalogue describes this as an abstract of the first five chapters of the work, but it is a five-chapter abstract of the whole work, or at least of as much of it as is preserved in the ten chapters of Keynes Ms. 65.

[45]

See Keynes Mss. 65 and 91, Hampshire Record Office Ms. NC 17 and Yale Mellon Ms. 80.

[46] 12 pp. on 7 ff.

[47]

in English

[48]

The seven 'aphorisms' are printed in Dobbs, 'Newton's Copy of "Secrets Reveal'd"', 158 and Westfall, Never at Rest, 357-8.

[49]

A series of seven 'aphorisms', in English, relating to the stages of transmutation, followed by supporting 'Annotations upon ye foregoing Aphorisms', mostly in Latin but with some English and consisting mainly of notes from various authors. It seems likely that the 'aphorisms' are Newton's own summation of his alchemical reading: he notes, 'This Process I take to be ye work of the best Authors, Hermes, Turba, Morien, Artephius, Abraham ye Iew & Flammel, Scala, Ripley, Maier, the great Rosary, Charnock, Trevisan. Philaletha. Despagnet'.

[50] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[51]

in English and Latin

[52]

See Dobbs, Foundations, 131.

[53]

Begins with half a page in Latin on Hermes Trismegistus. Followed by English notes on the alchemical interpretation of ancient myths, then (ff. 1r-3r) Latin notes on a wide range of alchemical authors and myths, including references to Albertus Magnus, Flamel, the Rosicrucians, Lull and Geber. f. 2r has a diagram of a 'philosophical tree' taken from 'Anonymus Philosophicus Delphicus'. f. 3r has the subheading 'Aurum quot modis crescit & purgatur'. Concludes on f. 5r with 'Symbola 12 Sapientum': a list of the twelve sages who attend Maier's 'Banquet' together with their alchemical mottoes: they are Hermes [Trismegistus], Maria [the Jewess], Democritus, Morienus, Avicenna, Albertus Magnus, Arnoldus [de Villanova], Thomas Aquinas, Raim[undus] Lullius, 'Rocher [i.e. Roger] Bacon', Melchior [Cibinensis] and 'Anonymus Sarmata'.

[54] 9 pp. on 5 ff.

[55]

in Latin and English

[56]

Taken from Martinus Birrius, Tres Tractatus De Metallorum Transmutatione [...] incognita auctore (Amsterdam 1668: H1641), containing these three compositions, which are in fact by 'Eirenæus Philalethes' (i.e. George Starkey). See Dobbs, Foundations, 131-2.

[57]

'De Metallorum Metamorphosi' (f. 1r), divided into a preface and chapters; 'Brevis Manuductio ad rubinum cœlestem' (f. 3r); 'Fons Chemicæ Philosophiæ' (f. 3v).

[58] 8 pp. on 4 ff.

[59]

in Latin

[60]

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).

[61] 35 pp.

[62]

in English with Latin citations

[63]

See H994-1001 for Newton's Lull collection.

[64]

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

[65]

in Latin

[66]

Taken from George Ripley, Opera Omnia, Chemica, quotquot hactenus visa sunt (Kassel, 1649: H1405).

[67] 8 pp.

[68]

in Latin

[69]

See H1238-H1243 for Newton's Paracelsus collection, and H128 for references to Maier's emblems in Newton's annotations to his copy of Basil Valentine's Last Will and Testament.

[70]

f. 1r 'Regulæ seu canones aliquot Philosophici de Lapie [sic: leg. 'Lapide'] Philosophico Authore docto quodam Anonymo. Impress in fine Curationum Paracelsi'. List of alchemical rules in Latin, c. 2,500 words.

f. 4r 'Mayer's ffigures præfixed to Basil Valentine's Keys'. Description of ten alchemical symbols, in English, c. 500 words.

[71] 8 pp. on 4 ff.

[72]

in Latin and English

[73]

Copied from Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), 269-74 and 427-30.

[74] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[75]

in English with the last four lines in Latin

[76]

Printed with an introduction in Churchill, 1967, q.v. for a discussion of sources and the suggestion that this is Newton's own translation. Dobbs (Janus Faces, 272) considers it to be a translation from the French Bibliothèque des philosophes (1672-8), and dates the translation late 1680s/early 1690s but considers the table of contents (f. 1r) to have been added in the late 1690s if not later. The main text (ff. 4r-12r) originally belonged after f. 2v of Keynes Ms. 28 (see Dobbs, Janus Faces, 272) but had been separated from it before the Sotheby sale, possibly by Newton himself. See H84 for Newton's copy of the Latin edition of the text, and H221 for his copy of the Bibliothèque des philosophes.

[77]

Translation [by Newton?] of a treatise on transmutation by 'Hermes Trismegistus'.

f. 1r 'The contents of ye 7 Chapters'.

f. 1v Brief Latin notes from Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum.

ff. 4r-12r The translated text.

f. 12v Partial draft letter, undated and with no indication of addressee, on mathematics.

[78] 20 pp. on 12 ff. of which two blank.

[79]

mainly in English

[80]

Includes references to 'Raymundus' [Ramón Lull], Ferrar, Avicenna, Sendivogius, Flamel, Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum, 'Philalethes' and others.

[81] 17 pp. on 10 ff.

[82]

mainly in Latin with some English

[83]

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

[84]

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].

[85] 4 pp. on 3 ff. of which one blank.

[86]

in Latin

[87]

See also Keynes Ms. 27.

[88]

f. 1r 'Tabula Smaragdina': another copy of the Latin excerpt from 'Hermes Trismegistus' reproduced in Keynes Ms. 28, with the [correct] page reference 'Theatr. Chym. Vol. 1 pag 362', followed by other excerpts on transmutation from Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum.

f. 2r 'Hieroglyphica Planetarum': notes, principally from Lull, Maier and Flammel, on astronomico-alchemical symbolism.

[89] 4 pp. on 3 ff. of which one blank.

[90]

in Latin

[91]

The first sheet contains a brief alchemical recipe in another hand, copied out again in Newton's. The second has a Latin extract from Basil Valentine on distillation, followed by a related recipe in English, all in Newton's hand.

[92] 2 pp. on 2 ff.

[93]

in English and Latin

© 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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