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.

Transcripts from two published alchemical tracts.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00032

27.

Three alchemical excerpts (1668/9).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00025

28.

Notes on Sendivogius (c. 1685-90).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00044

29.

'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

30.

Draft alchemical treatise or compilation.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1070 A, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00084

31.

'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

32.

Notes on the works of George Ripley [from a manuscript version of 'Eirenæus Philalethes'' Ripley Reviv'd (1678)] (late 1660s/ early 1670s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 51, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00040

33.

Notebook containing abstracts and notes drawn from various alchemical works.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1023 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00078

34.

Three related sets of notes (late 1680s-90s).

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: NMAHRB Ms. 1032 B, Dibner Library, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00082

35.

Three alchemical verse extracts, in English.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 37, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00026

36.

'Experimenta Raymundi', 6 pp.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00036

37.

'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

38.

Two sets of notes.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00001

39.

'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

40.

Incomplete draft treatise on the sequence of operations to be effected in transmutation.

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: Keynes Ms. 40, King's College, Cambridge, UK

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00029

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.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00048

43.

Miscellaneous alchemical notes and recipes

Author: Isaac Newton

Source: QD14.N498, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00202

44.

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

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00024

45.

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

46.

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

47.

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

48.

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

49.

'De Igne sophorum et materia quam calefacit'.

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00062

50.

'The Regimen' (early 1680s).

Author: Isaac Newton

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

Newton Catalogue ID: ALCH00038

[1]

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.

[2]

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.

[3] 8 pp. on 4 ff.

[4]

in Latin and English

[5]

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.

[6]

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

[7] 8 pp. on 4 ff.

[8]

in Latin

[9]

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.

[10]

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.

[11] 37 pp. on 21 ff.

[12]

in English and Latin

[13]

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

[14]

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.

[15] 20 pp.

[16]

in English

[17]

See Dobbs, 'Newton Manuscripts at the Smithsonian', 107; also H994-1001 for Newton's Lull collection. Bernoulli's letter printed in Brewster (1855), 2: 437-8.

[18]

Largely drawn, with page references, from various other works, principally those of Lull and 'Philalethes' but also Ripley, Snyders, Flamel, Sendivogius, Fabré, Arnoldus de Villanova, Van Helmont and others. Clearly represents an attempt to establish a sequence of operations: 'Opus primum', 'Opus secundum', etc. (cf. Keynes Mss. 40, 41 and Babson Ms. 421); the operations covered here are numbered 1-2 and 6-9). Very rough, heavily reworked draft, several sections incomplete.

Also includes three scraps of unrelated correspondence (1700, 1718, n.d.) and a transcript (in another hand, annotated by Newton) of Bernoulli's letter of 8 April 1717 to Montmort, in French, concerning Newton and Leibniz. These are unmentioned in the rather cursory Sotheby catalogue description of SL66, which gives the total page count as 43 pp.; some or all of the letters are presumably a later addition, though why they have been catalogued together with the foregoing treatise is a mystery.

[19] 42 pp. + 4 pp. of unrelated material.

[20]

in Latin with odd passages in English

[21]

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.

[22]

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.

[23] 20 pp. on 12 ff. of which two blank.

[24]

mainly in English

[25]

Westfall (Never at Rest, 287-8 and 288, n. 21) points out that the notes clearly predate the publication of Ripley Reviv'd (1678). Newton cites page references which do not correspond to the printed version and presumably refer to a now lost or unidentified manuscript. Further examples of Newton's interest in Ripley and his expositors (especially 'Philalethes') in Keynes Mss. 17, 52, 53, 54; he subsequently acquired a copy of the published version of Ripley Reviv'd (H1407).

[26]

Includes sections 'On Ripley's vision', 'On Ripleys preface to his Gates', and on each of the first six 'Gates' (calcination, solution, separation, conjunction, putrefaction and congelation).

[27] 14 pp. on 8 ff.

[28]

in English

[29]

See Dobbs, 'Newton Manuscripts at the Smithsonian', 107. This manuscript (minus the putative index) is also reproduced on R19 of the Chadwyck-Healey microfilm, between Keynes Mss. 64 and 65 (this has perhaps come from a photostat of the notebook held at Keynes Ms. 221). This would appear to be a mistake, since there is no reference to its presence there in the Chadwyck-Healey catalogue.

[30]

On the flyleaf in Thomas Pellet's hand: 'Sep. 25 1727/ Not fit to be printed/ Tho. Pellet'. Main text preceded by 5 unnumbered pages prepared as an index but containing only columns of alphabetical headings (eg. 'Suo/ Suu/ Ta/ Taa/ Tae') and one blank page. The main text has the following sub-headings, though besides the sources given by these there are references on pp. 48-9 to 'Laurent. Ventura' and Ramón Lull's 'Theorica', and on pp. 50-51 to 'Anonym[us] de Arte Chim[ica] in Arte Aurif[era]'.

p. 1 'Ex Rosarij abbreviati tract. quinq[ue]' [This is not, as stated in the Sotheby catalogue, taken from the Rosarius Philosophorum of Arnoldus de Villanova, but from an anonymous tract entitled 'Rosarium Abbreviatum', which appeared in vol. 3 of Zetzner's Theatrum Chemicum as part of 'Justus a Balbian. Tractatus septem de Lapide Philosophico' (first pub.1599, though Newton is extremely unlikely to have seen that edition), Balbian being the editor rather than the author of the collection: see Ferguson, Bibliotheca Chemica, 2: 287 and 437.]

p. 15 'Ex Petri Boni Lombardi Ferrariensis Margarita Pretiosa'

p. 24 'Ex Dionysij Zacharij Opusculo'

p. 31 'Out of Philaletha's works concerning the extraction of [sulphur] out of [mercury]', in Latin and English

p. 51 'Ex Clangore Buccinæ'

[31] 61 pp. + 208 pp. blank.

[32]

mainly in Latin with some English

[33]

See Dobbs, 'Newton Manuscripts at the Smithsonian', 106-7 and 'Newton's Copy of "Secrets Reveal'd"', 159.

[34]

Entitled 'The Regimen' (7 pp.), 'The Regimen', (8 pp.) and 'Of ye Regimen' (2 pp., incomplete). Describe a sequence of (al)chemical operations largely drawn from the works of 'Philalethes', though other authors including Pontanus, Maier and Roger Bacon are cited, especially in the second set of notes. On the loose scrap (which is not mentioned in the Sotheby catalogue, though the manuscript is described as 18 pp. and the catalogue does not normally count blank pages), various alchemical references, with mention of John Day and of Roger Bacon's Elementorum and Michael Maier's Arcana arcanissima, written over and on the reverse of a receipt dated 11 September 1689.

[35] 8 pp. badly discoloured and barely legible.

[36]

in English

[37]

These are all excerpted from Elias Ashmole's Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652: H93), in which the works quoted from appear on pp. 1-106, 227-56, 275-7 and 257-68 respectively.

[38]

'Out of Norton's Ordinal', 200 lines; 'Out of Chaucer's Tale of ye Chanon's Yeoman', 12 lines; 'Out of ye work of Richard Carpenter', 14 lines. Followed by the heading 'Out of Dastins Dream', but this entry breaks off after only one line.

[39] 7 pp. on 4 ff

[40]

See H994-1001 for Newton's Lull collection.

[41]

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

[42]

in Latin

[43]

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.

[44]

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.

[45]

in English

[46]

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

[47]

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].

[48] 7 pp.

[49]

mainly in Latin

[50]

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.

[51] 28 pp.

[52]

in English

[53]

Cf. Keynes Ms. 41, Babson Ms. 417 and Dibner Institute NMAHRB Mss. 1070 A.

[54]

Drawn from the writings of a range of alchemical authorities.

f. 1r Title page reading only 'Opus primum'.

f. 3r 'Gradus primus/ Extractio et Rectificatio Spiritus'

f. 5r 'Extractio auri vivi, et conjunctio ejus'

f. 9r 'Opus Quintum/ Vivificatio et Putrefactio Terræ foliatæ.'

f. 15r 'Opus Quintum/ Vivificatio et Putrefactio Terræ foliatæ': though the title is identical to the foregoing, the text is quite different.

f. 19r 'Opus sextum./ ffixis in album et rubrum. Conjunctio viri rubri cum fœmina alba, & decoctio ad complementum' (partly in English).

f. 27r 'Opus sextum/ Præparatio Mercurij Vulgaris per Veneris Columbas.'

f. 29r 'Opus septimum/ Solutio Metallorum \primo/ in Mercurium per Mercurium, deinde in aquam [mercur]ialem et compositio mercurij nostri duplati' (partly in English).

f. 31r 'Opus Octavum/ Conjunctio Putrefactio et Regimen Decoctionis'

f. 33r 'Opus Octavum/ Conjunctio Putrefactio et Regimen Decoctionis' (variant draft).

[55] 42 pp. on 33 ff.

[56]

mainly in Latin with some 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]

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

[61] 3 pp. on 2 ff.

[62]

in English and Latin

[63]

f. 1 originally belonged to SL18 and ff. 2 and 3 to SL88. The whereabouts of the rest of these lots remains unknown.

[64]

f. 1r: Notes in English under the headings 'Ruth Mallor's work' and 'The 3d period', c. 300 words.

f. 1v: Recipes in English for 'a menstruum wch will dissolve gold' and 'a menstruum for resolving bodies like ye Alkahest but not so potent', c. 80 words.

f. 2r: Notes headed 'Experimentum Bellinj', in Latin in an unidentified hand, c. 80 words.

f. 3v: Notes headed 'Aqua fortis' and 'Refining silver', in English in John Conduitt's hand, c. 250 words, with a sketch of the apparatus used for refining silver.

[65] 4pp. on 3 ff.

[66]

in English and Latin

[67]

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

[68]

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).

[69] 45 pp. on 30 ff. of which 3 blank.

[70]

mainly in Latin but with several sections in English

[71]

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.

[72]

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

[73] 12 pp. on 7 ff.

[74]

in English

[75]

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

[76] 8 pp.

[77]

in Latin

[78]

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.)

[79]

'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.

[80] 8 pp.

[81]

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

[82]

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

[83] 4 pp. on 2 ff.

[84]

in Latin

[85]

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

[86]

Cf. Keynes Ms. 36.

[87]

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).

[88] 6 pp. on 4 ff. of which one blank.

[89]

in Latin and English

[90]

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

[91]

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'.

[92] 7 pp. on 4 ff.

[93]

in English and Latin

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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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