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.

26.

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

27.

'De Igne sophorum et materia quam calefacit'.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00062

28.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00045

29.

Two unrelated tracts in the same hand (not Newton's)

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 91, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00057

30.

Transcripts from two published alchemical tracts.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00032

31.

Notes on Sendivogius (c. 1685-90).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00044

32.

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.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 50, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00039

33.

'Basil Valentine Currus Triumphalis Antimonij': notes and abstracts (c. 1667-8).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 64, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00053

34.

'De secreto solu[tionum? (MS torn)]'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 59, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00048

35.

'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).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 14, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00003

36.

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

37.

'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

38.

Memorandum by Newton (1696).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00015

39.

'The Three Fires'.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 46, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00035

40.

Notes on various alchemical texts (early 1680s?).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 35, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00024

41.

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

42.

'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

43.

'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

44.

'Clavis': detailed directions for a lengthy alchemical operation beginning with the digestion of antimony, iron and sulphur.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 18, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00007

45.

'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

46.

'Tabula Smaragdina' and 'Hieroglyphica Planetarum'.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00049

47.

'The Regimen' (early 1680s).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00038

48.

'Experimenta Raymundi', 6 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00036

49.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00034

50.

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

[1]

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.

[2] 2 pp. on 2 ff.

[3]

in English and Latin

[4]

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

[5]

Cf. Keynes Ms. 36.

[6]

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).

[7] 6 pp. on 4 ff. of which one blank.

[8]

in Latin and English

[9]

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

[10]

Short extracts from a wide range of alchemical authors.

[11] 18 pp.

[12]

in Latin and English

[13]

The second tract is identified by Figala and Petzold ('Alchemy in the Newtonian circle', 180, 187-8) as a variant fragment of the 'Processus mysterii magni philosophicus' of William Yworth: cf. Keynes Mss. 65 and 66, Yale Mellon Ms. 80, and Hampshire Record Office Ms. NC17.

[14]

The first tract, which has three lines added by Newton, begins 'The Pondus in Dissecting the Subject Matter'. The second and more substantial, entitled 'Experim[ent] the 4th. Being the Coralary of all ye former, Containing a true Process of the whole Worke', concerns how to 'Continue ye Hunting of ye Green Lyon'.

[15] in total,1 p. + 8 pp.

[16]

in English

[17]

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.

[18]

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.

[19] 8 pp. on 4 ff.

[20]

in Latin and English

[21]

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.

[22]

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.

[23] 37 pp. on 21 ff.

[24]

in English and Latin

[25]

Discussed in Westfall, Never at Rest, 288-9. Westfall rather confusingly suggests that 'A.C. Faber' is a mistake for 'A.D. Faber', personal physician to Charles II and author of a book on 'aurum potabile': this seems likely, except that the physician in question is neither A.C. nor A.D. but A[lbert] O[tto] Faber, originally of Lübeck, author of De Auro potabili medicinali (1677). John Twisden was another London physician. See H1397 for Newton's copy of Rhenanus's Opera Chymiatrica: also H740, the compilation by Rhenanus and J. Grasshoff: Harmoniæ inperscrutabilis chymico-philosophicæ, sive Philosophorum antiquorum consentientium [...] decas I(-II) (1625), extensively annotated by Newton. His interest in Rhenanus is also evident in Keynes Ms. 26 and Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.

[26]

f. 1r 'Iodoci a Rhehe Opera Chymica [properly 'Chymiatrica': Frankfurt, 1668]. Descripsi hæc ex originali Msto Mri Iohannis quod penes me habeo. Io. Tw.'

f. 9v 'Epistolæ \quædam A.C./ Fabri, qui una cum consanguineo quodam Dris Io. Twysden opus hocce aggressus est et ad usq[ue] extractionem spiritus [mercur]ij Annis 1673 & 1674, fæliciter perduxit, et autographis descriptæ'. Notes on four letters, dated 3 June and 23 December 1673, 14 January and 24 June 1674.

f. 11r 'Notæ in opus Fabrianum'

[27] 22 pp. on 11 ff.

[28]

See Dobbs (who suggests the date), Foundations, 191, and H129 (a heavily dog-eared English translation of the work, though these notes were obvious based on a Latin edition).

[29]

Includes (in square brackets) a very few explicatory notes by Newton.

[30] 8 pp. on 4 ff.

[31]

in Latin

[32]

Mainly about strategies for identifying 'Diana's Doves', and drawn largely from various works of 'Eirenæus Philalethes'.

[33] 3 pp. on 2 ff.

[34]

in English and Latin

[35]

Cf. H1309-10, Keynes Ms. 25, and Yahuda Ms. Var. 259.

[36]

Excerpts from Nicholas Flammel, His Exposition of the Hieroglyphicall Figures which he caused to be painted upon an Arch in St Innocents Church-yard in Paris. Together with The secret Booke of Artephius, And the Epistle of Iohn Pontanus: Containing both the Theoricke and the Practicke of the Philosophers Stone. This English translation was published in London, 1624 and seems to have been Newton's main source. However, in the Pontanus letter he departs from the text of this edition at some points, possibly through reference to the Latin version in vol. 6 of Lazarus Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum (1659-61: H1608): see Dobbs, Foundations, 130-31.

[37] 20 pp.

[38]

in English

[39]

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

[40] 17 pp. on 10 ff.

[41]

mainly in Latin with some English

[42]

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

[43] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[44]

in English with the last four lines in Latin

[45]

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.

[46]

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.

[47] 3 pp.

[48]

in English

[49]

See Dobbs, Janus Faces, 124, and cf. SL78 (whereabouts unknown).

[50]

Notes interpreting various pieces of alchemical symbolism. This appears to be Newton's own work, though as usual in his alchemical writing he leans heavily on a range of authorities.

[51] 3 pp. on 2 ff.

[52]

in English

[53]

Sections (e) and (f) are wrongly described in the Sotheby catalogue as 5 and 4 pp. respectively.

[54]

a) 'Cap 1.', text beginning 'Quomodo metalla generantur', in Latin, c. 1,200 words, 3 pp.

b) 'Cap 3 De radice semine spermate et corpore mineralium', in Latin, c. 1,200 words, 3 pp.

c) 'Cap 3 De Mineralibus ex quibus lapis desumitur', in Latin but including an English verse extract from Thomas Norton, c. 3,500 words, 11 pp.

d) Untitled notes on mercury, lead, tin, sulphur and iron, in Latin and English, citing a very wide range of authors, c. 4,500 words, 14 pp.

e) 'De Mercurio duplato', in Latin, 4 pp., with the sub-headings: 'Ex Turba', 'Ex Artephio', 'Ex Bernardo Trevisano', 'Ex Flamelli Annotationibus'; followed by an earlier draft also headed 'De [mercurio] duplato' (1 p.) and notes out of Dionysius Zacharias (1 p.); in all c. 1,600 words.

f) 'De conjunctione in hora nativitatis', in Latin and English, c. 2,500 words, 8 pp.

Originally enclosed in a wrapper bearing a list of contents, which has somehow found its way into Keynes Ms. 30 (f. 1).

[55] 45 pp. on 30 ff. of which 3 blank.

[56]

mainly in Latin but with several sections in English

[57]

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

[58]

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.

[59]

in English and 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]

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.

[64]

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.

[65] 20 pp. on 12 ff. of which two blank.

[66]

mainly in English

[67]

Printed with an English translation in Dobbs, Foundations, 251-5. This was long regarded by Dobbs and many others as probably Newton's own work, but was in fact copied from an unpublished manuscript of George Starkey: see Newman, 'Newton's "Clavis"' (and Dobbs's acknowledgment of the reattribution, Janus Faces, 15).

[68] 3 pp.

[69]

in Latin

[70]

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.

[71]

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.

[72]

in English

[73]

See also Keynes Ms. 27.

[74]

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.

[75] 4 pp. on 3 ff. of which one blank.

[76]

in Latin

[77]

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

[78]

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'.

[79] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[80]

in English and Latin

[81]

See H994-1001 for Newton's Lull collection.

[82]

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

[83]

in Latin

[84]

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

[85]

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].

[86] 4 pp. on 3 ff. of which one blank.

[87]

in Latin

[88]

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

[89]

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.

[90] 88 pp.

[91]

in Latin

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Professor Rob Iliffe
Director, AHRC Newton Papers Project

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Fellow & Perne librarian, Peterhouse, Cambridge

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

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