Chapter Seven: The Dawn of Wisdom

'spero […] ut Lux oboriatur mundo tam in naturalibus quàm divinis: ita auroram jam videre mihi videor' ('I hope light will rise on the world, as well in things natural as in things divine: indeed it seems to me I can already see the dawn') - Moriaen to Benjamin Worsley, 19 May 1651, HP 9/16/5A.

Benjamin Worsley's Alchemical Mission to the Netherlands

This chapter traces the personal collaboration of a small group within the Hartlib circle on a quest to attain spiritual enlightenment through practical experiment. It is the story of an entirely serious attempt to master the techniques of transmuting metals. As such, it shows just how seriously these thinkers were committed to the idea that the physical world is not so much the object as the medium of human perception rightly understood. All the preconceptions and preoccupations discussed in the foregoing chapters come to the fore in this episode, this attempt to open the 'gate of things' and gain a view of a reality beyond the material. The correspondence between the protagonists, their reflections on the undertaking and their reaction to its ultimate and inevitable failure, supply a great many insights into their understanding of the relationship between matter and spirit, of the operation of God in the created world, and of the nature and function of knowledge itself.

In 1647, at the same time Hartlib was canvassing the possibility of bringing Glauber to England to teach chemistry, Benjamin Worsley[1] was preparing for a visit to the Netherlands. Little has previously been established about the nature and purpose of this expedition, which lasted from the beginning of January 1648 to autumn 1649.[2] Hartlib's papers reveal much, though by no means everything, about the undertaking. The main prize Worsley hoped to bring home with him was a detailed knowledge of Glauber's chemical equipment and operations, though there was a good deal else on his agenda besides. The idea of recruiting Glauber for Gresham College perhaps reflected a hope of obviating the need for this, but if Glauber would not come to England, England would have to send to Glauber.

From at least August 1647, Hartlib was busy assessing the prospects for such an expedition, sending specific queries to Moriaen and Appelius, his principal sources on Glauber.[3] Moriaen promised to arrange an introduction, which he was confident would prove useful.[4] Appelius considered that Glauber would probably be prepared to put Worsley up during his stay.[5] Both pointed out that there was no chance of obtaining anything from Glauber unless he were offered a suitable financial recompense. Appelius thought £100 (roughly the sum he and his friend had paid some years earlier) would be enough.[6] Moriaen was somewhat more emphatic about this point, though given Glauber's reputation, it was advice which can hardly have come as much of a surprise.


This prerequisite was to be supplied by, or by means of, Cheney Culpeper, who had already pledged his support for the Office of Address scheme, and whose imagination had been fired by his labours on the translation of Furni novi philosophici. Culpeper was

soe muche taken, with very many of his [Glauber's] ingenuities, that (yf Mr Worsley will take soe much trouble vpon him,) as (in the trade of soe much ingenuity and knowledge) to become the Factor, & to goe ouer to Glauberus, & to purchase his ingenuities of him), I shall willingly become a marchante venturer in the busines, & shall be glad to finde others to that number, as that the voyage may be vnder taken.[7]

Worsley (c.1618-1677) was evidently a man of considerable charm, with an acute brain and eclectic imagination. Together with Boyle, he was a prime mover of the 'Invisible College' in the 1640s.[8] Had he become a member of the Royal Society, his writings would probably have attracted a great deal more attention and respect than they have.[9] His 'Physico-Astrologicall Letter', for instance, was until recently misattributed to Robert Boyle, among whose papers it was found after his death.[10]

Biographical details are scarce, and a fuller investigation of his life and thought would present a very interesting and valuable field of study. He features in the old DNB as the incompetent Surveyor of Ireland replaced by the much more efficient William Petty in 1658, in the teeth of support for Worsley from 'the fanatical or Anabaptist section of the army'.[11] Hartlib's papers present a rather more appealing picture both of the man and his abilities. He was probably Hartlib's personal favourite among all his many associates, certainly among those of the younger generation. Though Hartlib was never stinting of praise where he thought it due, his comments on Worsley are exceptionally warm. He used him as a yardstick of personal merit: long before any enmity between Worsley and Petty had arisen, Hartlib described the latter to Boyle as a fine linguist, very learned and 'of a sweet natural disposition and moral comportment', but for all that 'not altogether a very dear Worsley'.[12] He was proud to tell Boyle that this 'noble and high soaring spirit'[13] had 'resolved, for time to come, to look upon me no more as a private friend, but as a father'. Hartlib accordingly took to referring to him as 'my philosophical son'.[14] Boyle too obviously entertained the warmest affection for him.[15]

Worsley's formal education seems to have been limited, if not so severely as Glauber's. The clearest indication of his lack of a scholarly background is supplied by the shortcomings of his Latin. In a letter almost certainly to Worsley, Moriaen apologised for not being able to translate a message from Glauber into English,[16] and later clearly indicated that he felt obliged to write English to Worsley: 'May he [Worsley] excuse me for not writing to him in person; I cannot write English so readily'.[17] Again in 1657, Moriaen apologised for not being able satisfactorily to translate a German enclosure for Worsley, and asked Hartlib to do so.[18] Since there is no question of Moriaen's competence in Latin, this can only mean that Worsley did not understand the language well. The ten letters from Moriaen to Worsley which are in Latin, all dating from 1651,[19] were presumably intended to be translated by someone for the recipient. It is clear that Worsley replied in English.[20]


This social and scholarly disadvantage did not prevent Worsley from becoming an autodidact of some distinction. He was also something of an entrepreneur. In the mid-1640s, when his association with Hartlib began, he was busy promoting a scheme for producing saltpetre by a method more profitable and less inconvenient than the usual[21] - an interest Glauber strongly shared. In about 1640 or 41 he had been an army surgeon in Ireland, and he was studying medicine in 1647,[22] but though he later took to calling himself 'Dr Worsley', it seems he never obtained a degree.[23] In August 1649, shortly before his return from the Netherlands, he announced that he was thinking of giving up formal study. He envisaged instead going out to Virginia to help establish new plantations there or improve existing ones. Alternatively, he hoped to obtain some public office in Britain or Ireland through the influence of Dury, Hartlib, Culpeper and Sadler.[24] This plan bore fruit. It was almost certainly on Hartlib's recommendation that he was appointed Secretary to the short-lived Council of Trade (1650-51), following which he spent most of the rest of his life in a succession of other official secretarial and administrative posts related to trade and economics.[25]

Worsley's mission to the Netherlands ran into difficulties before it had even started. On 17 November 1647, Culpeper withdrew his offers of support both for Hartlib's Office of Address and Worsley's Dutch expedition. As a result of a family quarrel arising from Culpeper's support of the Parliamentary faction, he had been largely dispossessed, and was not in a position to contribute as he had hoped.[26] Nevertheless, Worsley set out, in December 1647 or January 1648, in a Micawberish trust that funds would somehow materialise in the course of the journey. Culpeper, perhaps feeling a little embarrassed, remarked in March that

I am extremely sorry for Mr Woorsly whome (to deale freely with you) I must judge somewhat erroneous, that wowlde not see him selfe well bottomed before hee vndertooke his journy. For my selfe I continue in my late condition.[27]

Worsley was certainly well supplied with an assortment of commissions, and received more during his stay, but whether he was being paid for them is not clear. His first task was to try to find out what had become of the drainage mill William Wheeler had been granted a Dutch patent for in 1639. Dorothy Dury, who was thinking of taking up the production of 'cordiall waters', wanted an account of the distilling techniques practised in the Netherlands, and Worsley duly sent her (via Hartlib) a long and detailed account of various processes.[28] For her husband he investigated the charges made by Menasseh ben Israel for the productions of his Hebrew press in Amsterdam and the theory being put about in Menasseh's and Serrarius's circles that the native Americans were the lost tribes of Israel.[29] He also promised to supply intelligence to Robert Child, though exactly what about is unclear.[30] But he did not forget the principal object of the exercise: 'The next opportunity I send once more to Glauberus, and then I shall be able to give you a more full account of things'.[31] At the bottom of his copy of a letter from Dury to Worsley, Hartlib scribbled a quotation from Isaiah 60:17 which is very suggestive of the hopes invested in Worsley's intelligence-gathering expedition: 'For brasse j will bring gold, and for iron j will bring silver, and for wood brasse and for stones iron'.[32]

Worsley reached Amsterdam on 25 February 1648, having been in the Netherlands about a month and a half, and made his first personal contact with <220> Moriaen.[33] Here another disappointment was in store, for Glauber had written - presumably from Arnhem - to declare himself unwilling to put Worsley up in his house, as Helena Glauber was again in childbed, and Glauber himself was taken up twenty-four hours a day with a new experiment. Worsley found this very demoralising, and it would seem to have discouraged him from proceeding to Arnhem, though Glauber had offered to find him other accommodation there. At the end of May he was still with Moriaen in Amsterdam, experimenting on some exotic seeds supplied from America through the agency of Hartlib.[34] Moriaen was especially concerned about the language barrier, highlighting again that neither Glauber nor Worsley had a very good command of Latin:

Glauber understands Latin if it is pronounced in the German manner, but he will not want to speak Latin: this will dampen his spirits and make him unwilling to converse.[35]

The prospects for technical and scholarly communication can hardly have looked bright.

Moriaen did his best to keep Worsley's spirits up and to help him find his feet in Amsterdam, just as he had earlier done for Rittangel and Pell, and this time with rather more success. Language problems notwithstanding (they presumably communicated in English, in which Moriaen was less than comfortable), the two became good friends. Brun, after his visit to Amsterdam the following year, reported: 'I hear that he [Moriaen] thinks very highly of Mr Worsley and lets him walk at his right hand', adding darkly and somewhat mysteriously,

which is not well looked upon by many, and indeed not without reason, for Herr Moriaen is a man of a goodly age, and expert in many arts and sciences.[36]

What impropriety was seen in this age gap (about twenty-six or twenty-seven years) is unclear. The implication is perhaps that Worsley was suspected of trying to obtain the older and presumably frailer man's hard-won secrets by coercion or deception. As will become apparent, Moriaen did indeed later come to believe that Worsley was guilty of giving rather less than he gained in their alchemical exchanges.

Appelius, who was living nearby in Purmerent at the time, spoke in May of unspecified 'hinderances' to Worsley's undertaking,[37] and at the beginning of August sent a more detailed and not very encouraging report of his doings (though making it clear that by this time he had at least met Glauber, who by this stage had returned to Amsterdam):

Mr Worsley's business proceeds slowly: Glauber does not appreciate that the time and expense is a burden on him; they waste much time on compliments and do not say roundly what they want or how they want it, in what way or manner a thing is to be agreed or accepted; many fear that Glauber will be unable to fulfil his side of the agreement.[38]


Some sort of negotiations were clearly in progress, and some suggestion will be given below of what they were about, but the details remain vague and uncertain. Most regrettably, hardly any letters survive from the whole period of the Dutch trip from either of the two men who were in a position to shed most light on such matters, Worsley himself and Moriaen.

Whatever the hindrances Worsley had to overcome, Culpeper was delighted to find him 'very intentiue in frawghtinge himselfe with riche ladinge', having been sent (through Hartlib) details of a 'very pretty' experiment relating to one of his favourite topics, the 'nature & vse of cold'.[39] Culpeper went on: 'yf hee meete with more in that nature, hee shall muche oblige me by them', and added once again that if he could bring his financial affairs into order he would willingly 'venter a share' in the enterprise.[40] At the end of July, though still prevaricating about the question of money to be supplied by him (apparently another source of funding had been secured by Hartlib[41]), he was eagerly hoping 'that Mr Woorsly wowlde make himselfe master of all Glauberus his furnaces'.[42]

Glauber, however, was very far from being Worsley's only new contact in the Netherlands. Kuffler and his wife visited Amsterdam in the summer of 1648, and were introduced to Worsley by Moriaen.[43] Culpeper thanked Worsley for communicating 'Dr Kuffler's wife's experiments, especially concerning harty chocks [artichokes]'.[44] Worsley also discussed schemes for draining the English fens with various Dutchmen, principally Moriaen's 'cousin' Jacob Pergens.[45] Dutch achievements in land reclamation were the envy of the world, and even the standard anti-Dutch topos that the Netherlands were only a bog that ought by rights to be under water reveals a grudging admiration.[46] Worsley had hopes of persuading Pergens and his friends to invest both money and expertise in the fens, but met once again with a dispiriting response. Pergens promised to spread word of the suggestion, but warned that uncertainty about or antipathy to the new regime in England was likely to discourage Dutch investors, and moreover 'many of the cheife of the Dutch, and of his owne freinds, had beene themselves dreyned by having a hand in our fenns already'.[47]

The inventor Caspar Kalthof was in Amsterdam at the same time, intending to demonstrate one of his perpetual motion machines,[48] and Worsley made his acquaintance too. The device was burned down the night before the planned demonstration - by 'the dutch boores [i.e. peasants]', according to Worsley's report, though Brun (who was something of a gossip) relayed a rumour that Kalthof had set fire to it himself, having realised it would not live up to his claims.[49] Worsley put Kalthof in touch with Petty, who planned to collaborate with the German on a mine drainage scheme, or so at least Worsley thought. In view of their later bitter dispute, there is a rather sad irony in Worsley's fervent admiration at this juncture for Petty, whom he apparently saw as an exemplar of the 'free and generous communication of secrets' that was the whole Hartlib circle's ostensible goal:

you could not […] easily haue given mee greater cause, passionatly to loue you, then you haue in that generous offer of yours, to conjoine your enedeauors with Mr Kalthofs […] there being nothing amongst great or peeral witts, more frequent, tho nothing lesse manly, then æmulation, <222> envy and detraction […] and consequently nothing more rare or to bee admired then to find the contrary disposition.[50]

In fact there is some doubt as to whether Petty ever really did intend to 'conjoin his endeavours' with Kalthof, and was not merely, à la Clodius, taking advantage of the other man's research to further his own. At least four months before Worsley's letter, Hartlib had noted that Petty 'will also within a few day's perfect Kalthof's Invention and will now not joine with him'.[51] In April or May the same year, so still before Worsley's letter, Petty was apparently convinced that

Kalthof will finde himself deceived as to this application or vse. Hee [Petty] conceives that hee can doe more in his way then Kalthof himself […] as himself [Kalthof] shall bee made sensible of by his owne letter to him, which hee sends enclosed in Mr Worslys.[52]

There was some disparity, it would seem, between what Petty was telling Hartlib and what he was telling Worsley. At all events, no such collaboration ever did take place.

Worsley was particularly taken with the productions of the mechanic Fromantil or Fremantil, especially his microscopes.[53] These were a revelation to Worsley, unveiling to him an unimagined diversity in created matter. Far from confirming micro-macrocosm analogies, they brought home to him the individuality and disparity of the component parts of Creation:

wee may say not every man only but evey [sic] beast or fowle of the same, species, yea, every sand is knowne by its name […] I beleeve it would imploy many yeares, & fill a good volume, to discover to the world this little Atlantis, or Vnknowne part of the Creation, hitherto not well looked after by Any.[54]

This moved Worsley to take up lens-grinding himself (probably with help and encouragement from Moriaen), and to declare 'Optikes' to rank alongside 'Chymia' as the most excellent branch of knowledge available to man. This passionate interest in optics remained with him for the rest of his life, and after his return to England, he became one of the best customers for the telescopes and microscopes of Wiesel sent into England by Moriaen.

From these musings, Worsley proceeded directly to declare that he had 'abdicated much reading of Bookes, vulgare received Traditions & common or Schoole opinions', and had 'divided knowledge into Divine & humane'.[55] It is highly suggestive of the intellectual and cultural climate in which Worsley's thought had been formed that he could so brashly suppose the idea of distinguishing secular from divine knowledge to be an original one, when Comenius a decade earlier had been taken to task precisely for failing (or refusing) to make such a distinction. He believed no other 'divine' knowledge to be

the necessary Rule of fayth but what the spiritt of god hath sett doune plainely, in symple & univocall tearmes & easy to the understanding of any, looking vpon all poynts controverted, as the opinions but at best, if not the Inventions & pryde of men […] thinking it no shame to be <223> ignorant of many places of Scripture I meane the infallible sensce of them.[56]

Such an attitude effectively declared comprehensive exegetical methods such as Dury's Analysis demonstrativa wholly redundant. But neither was Worsley prepared to admit the other radical Evangelical standby of personal revelation as a certain means of Scriptural illumination: if it were, he pointed out, 'wee should have no difference of opinion among good men, which we see to the contrary'.[57] Indeed, on the face of it, this seems like a complete rejection of the sort of chemico-religious enlightenment that was the hallmark of the 'Chemical Philosophy'. The impression could be given of Worsley as moving towards a wholly areligious conception of experimental learning. It is quite clear that, having established 'his' division of knowledge, he himself was a good deal more interested in the 'human' than the 'divine' department. But it would be a mistake to view Worsley's philosophy through the filter of eighteenth-century rationalism. It was certainly not his intention to dismiss God from the laboratory altogether.

In a much later letter, probably to Hartlib, on 'Vniversal Learning', Worsley asserted the interdependence of all subjects, singling out the disciplines of astrology, medicine, chemistry and divinity.[58] (By 'astrology', Worsley meant not the art of divination but the study of the physical effects, both direct and indirect, of celestial bodies on sublunary matter and motion.[59]) All four disciplines, he insisted, were bound up with each other, and no one of them could properly be understood without reference to the others, especially the fourth. Worsley was far from dismissing human knowledge as a means of gaining insight into the work and the ways of God, and was still firmly committed to the pansophic notion that all disciplines are interrelated, and that all are ultimately comprehended within the study of divinity in the broadest sense. He still saw all learning, as Comenius did, as a means to raise men's minds to the contemplation of God. In the same letter about the microscopes in which he proclaimed the division of human and divine knowledge, he also affirmed that this discovery of infinite variety in the microscopic world 'more setts out the immensity of the wisedome of God then any other, & proves that nothing was done by chance or occasion'.[60]

The 'divine learning' that Worsley wanted to distinguish and exclude from his physical, chemical and astrological studies was not divinity in its broadest sense, but the specific discipline of Scriptural exegesis. All his somewhat dismissive comments on 'divine learning' refer to the interpretation of the Bible, not to the understanding of God. Indeed, he very much implied that the understanding of God would be a good deal better promoted by the study of Nature than that of Scripture, with all its ambiguities and obscurities. Worsley's thought had already been developing in this direction for some time. The earnest young student John Hall, whom Hartlib cultivated as a contact at Cambridge and put in touch with Worsley, early in 1647 expressed to the latter his doubts concerning the question 'Whether the Scripture bee an adequate Iudge of Physical Controversies or no?'[61] Hall was frank about the derivativeness of his thoughts on this subject. The case against is that Scripture 'dos expresse some things contrary to the received Tenents of Nature' and is consequently, in such cases, interpreted by 'Men of great Authoritie' as being merely figurative. The arguments in favour are that, as Comenius points out in the 'Preface' to his Physica, 'Man can but teach one thing at a time God who is infinit all things at once', and that Moses' <224> description of Creation 'questionles hath an End meant by the Holy Spirit'. Clearly conditioned to favour faith over reason, Hall found the latter view more convincing, but still had reservations.

What is interesting about this document, and makes it illustrative of the intellectual climate of the times and of the conceptual problems facing the promoters of 'experimental philosophy', is not the rather flimsy argumentation put forward for either side, but the fact that a young scholar such as Hall, evidently struggling to establish his own intellectual orientation, saw this as a crucial point to be determined. It is significant too that Hartlib obviously thought the exchange worth preserving and (presumably) distributing: two copies each of Hall's letter and Worsley's reply are preserved in his papers.[62] Worsley's substantial and considered response also testifies to the seriousness with which he took the question, and contains arguments of rather more intrinsic interest. It would be presumptuous, Worsley opined, 'to affirme what primitive or materiall Truths the Scripture conteineth not',[63] but it was already quite clear to him that, with regard at least to 'Physical Controversies', any such truths were expressed in Scripture in a manner that mankind in its fallen state was not capable of comprehending. Indeed, in an intriguing insight into a Protestant scholar's idea of Heaven, he envisaged Biblical study as a feature of the afterlife, suggesting that 'it is not absurd to thinke. It shall be part as well of our happinesse, as of our imployment in the other lyfe, to find that in it [Scripture], which the whole Ages of the world came short of discovering'.[64]

In the meantime, however, humankind was thrown back on its own resources of practical observation and experiment to supply those revelations about the nature of things that in holy writ were couched too obscurely, if at all, for mere mortals to comprehend. He neatly turned the literalist argument on its head, suggesting that the sin of presumption lay not with those who preferred the evidence of their merely human senses above the divine authority of Scripture, but with those who preferred their merely human interpretation of Scripture above the evidence of their God-given senses:

if any upon a probable phrase of scripture, shall build an axiome in physickes without thinking himselfe afterwards obleiged (for the satisfaction of others) to hold strictly a Correspondency with the rules and lawes of Reason, and experience. I should not conceive my selfe tyed, by any rule or law in Scripture, to believe or give creditt to his Assertion: neither should I confound his allegation of Scripture, with the authority of Scripture, where any evidence of Reason or demonstration from experience did oppose him. As apprehending it much more safe, to bend the words of Scripture to truth, then to writhe truth so, as it may speake to such or such a sense of Scripture. For truth will ever, admirably cleere, open, and illustrate Scripture, whereas the Scripture it selfe, very oft, concealeth what Truth that is, it conteineth.[65]

All this is very reminiscent of the argumentation 'by the light of Nature' that Moriaen commended in Adam Boreel - who was another new contact Worsley made in Amsterdam, presumably through Moriaen.[66] The remarks on Scriptural exegesis are very similar to Moriaen's repeated insistence that to commit oneself to a particular elucidation of any point of detail, or to expect such commitment from others, could only lead to schism and dissent, whereas <225> freedom of conscience encouraged fraternity and union. While it should be stressed that Worsley is dealing only with 'Physical Controversies', and not with moral precepts, prophecies or divine matters, his argument goes a stage further, bringing out what is at most only implicit in Moriaen's and Boreel's stance. The light of Nature is to be used not only to demonstrate but actually to interpret Scriptural truth. What Worsley was effectively saying was that, at least as far as our current imperfect condition goes, Scripture is ambiguous, that it may be necessary to 'bend the words of Scripture to truth'.

Worsley had plenty to keep him occupied, then, but the principal object of the exercise, the investigation of Glauber's laboratory and techniques, does not seem to have been achieved until Worsley had been in the country for nearly a year and a half. On 11 June 1649, however, Moriaen wrote that he and Worsley were at long last preparing 'to set to work with Herr Glauber on this and that, that Mr Worsley may not have come over in vain or expended so much time to no purpose'.[67]

Worsley's attitude to the project was highly ambivalent and changeable. At the beginning of July 1649, he had 'no heart at all to come over' to England, evidently seeing brighter prospects in the Netherlands, unless he could be found 'a place or settled imployment in England'.[68] So at least he told Hartlib: the following month he flatly contradicted this in a letter to Dury, declaring that 'For my Coming over/ As to my naturall Appetite, It is there already;/ This place not perfectly agreeing with my health, & as little, or lesse, with my affection'.[69] However, his hopes were rising of a profitable outcome from the Dutch venture: 'some thing is <still> further <expected> in our metallicke Busynesse; which if I may speake my owne thoughts in/ I lesse despayre about than ever/'.[70]

It is not at all clear when Worsley finally did leave the United Provinces. By the middle of August 1649, both Dury and Culpeper were expecting him any day,[71] and according to Appelius, he had already left, or was about to, by late September, in a state of high dudgeon:

Mr Worsley is returning home. I cannot say how perplexed I am as to why Glauber has held him up for so long and yet now lets him return home empty-handed after the expense of so much time and money. Glauber repeats that it is not so much his fault as Mr Worsley's, and yet they do not understand one another; it amazes me that Glauber judges so harshly of him, having shown himself so resolute and generous towards him at the outset.[72]

Yet a month later, Henry More was still speaking of his arrival in England in the future tense.[73] Perhaps he had left Amsterdam but was engaged on other business on the Continent.[74] What is clear, however, is that he and Glauber parted on very bad terms. The following March, Moriaen sent over something he described as Glauber's 'declaration', evidently a proposal of some sort, but Worsley was no longer interested: 'I thought to delight him [Worsley] greatly with Herr Glauber's proposal, but it has all turned out wrong; he [Worsley] has formed such a bad opinion of him that he puts the worst possible interpretation on everything'.[75] In his usual even-handed way, Moriaen tried to act as peacemaker, at once blaming Glauber's coarse and overly forthright manner and Worsley's melancholy and over-sensitivity for <226> the falling out. He also tried to clarify the terms of the offer, which he thought Worsley had misunderstood.[76] His intervention seems to have mollified Worsley sufficiently for him to respond offering his own terms for the proposed deal, since the next month Moriaen wrote that Glauber was willing to accept Worsley's conditions.[77]

This proposal or 'declaration' sent by Glauber via Moriaen to Worsley was, I believe, an offer to reveal a process of extracting gold from tin scoria (i.e. the residue of the ore after tin has been extracted from it). This is described in the usual vague terms in a document attributed to Glauber and preserved in Hartlib's papers, which sets the charge for a full revelation at 2000 ducats (in the region of £1400). Together with it is an account of another method of extracting silver and gold, this time from lead ore, valued at 1000 ducats. This document is presented with Moriaen's accompanying letter in Appendix Three. The strongest evidence that this is indeed the project under discussion is Moriaen's remark in his letter accompanying the proposal, 'you may consider if this will serve the Commonwealth of England as I hope it will. For a great store of this matter of Tin must needs be there to no vse at all'.[78]

It was at just this time that Glauber made his abrupt departure from Amsterdam to escape his creditors, and, temporarily abandoning his wife and children, disappeared into Germany. It may well be that this strategic withdrawal was financed by the sale of this secret to a small alchemical consortium including Moriaen, Worsley, Johann Sibertus Kuffler and a very shadowy figure going by the suggestive name of 'Aurifaber' ('Goldmaker'). For in 1651, despite being in two different countries, these four were engaged collaboratively on a variety of ambitious projects to transmute metal, including this very process, the extraction of gold from tin.

Moriaen and the 'Great Work'

Moriaen and Worsley had almost certainly come to an agreement, either formally or informally, to pursue the 'metallicke Busynesse' in their separate countries after Worsley's return to England, and to pool the results of their experiments. Ten letters from Moriaen to Worsley, dating from 1651, deal almost exclusively with alchemical experimentation, and feature detailed accounts of the work Moriaen was engaged on and repeated requests for information and materials from Worsley. Among the materials requested, there is specific mention of English tin scoria.[79] The letters are an excellent example of how linguistically precise alchemists could be, when it suited them, in their private correspondence. Here are no dragons, white doves of Diana or black crows' bills: substances are named by their names, quantities specified, processes described in detail and the type and intensity of heat required specified as accurately as possible. The only limitation on full and clear communication is that imposed by language itself, by the boundaries of the scientist's own knowledge and the capacity of contemporary instruments to give precise readings - limitations, of course, that apply to the scientific discourse of any period.

Moriaen was himself conscious of the linguistic limitations he was confronted with. He promised to explain an operation to Worsley 'insofar as this can be done in writing, for indeed the greatest part of its explanation lies in method and manual dexterity'.[80] Describing one of his transmutational <227> projects, he repeatedly stressed the need to obtain the 'right sort' of ore as a raw material, a goal he attained only by oral communication concerning 'the place, yea the very mine (for in one and the same place there are different sorts) in which the right sort of antimonial mineral, suitable for our work, is to be found'.[81] Given the tone of the rest of the letter, it is highly unlikely Moriaen would have concealed the exact nature of this mineral from Worsley if he had himself known what it was and been able to express it. Like Clodius when enquiring 'what sort' of silver Kretschmar was making gold from,[82] Moriaen had the technical knowledge to discern a difference between two similar substances, but lacked the vocabulary to define it.

Glauber was back in Germany by this point, making alcahest, aurum potabile and artificial wine in Wertheim. Moriaen's main collaborators in Amsterdam were Kuffler (who paid regular visits from Arnhem to take part in the experiments) and the mysterious 'Aurifaber'. This is a somewhat surprising pseudonym for an alchemist, given that its German translation 'Goldmacher' was a stock term of derision for mercenary or false adepts, but perhaps the pejorative connotations were deemed to be expunged by use of the more dignified Classical tongue. Another figure who was originally intended to feature in the business was Moriaen's brother-in-law Peter von Zeuel, from whom he received the vital information about where to obtain the mineral, but von Zeuel died in 1651 shortly after passing on this piece of knowledge.[83]

Very little is known of 'Aurifaber' except that he lived in Amsterdam and was rich. Besides mentions in Moriaen's letters, there are only three references to him in Hartlib's papers, all from the Ephemerides of 1650 and 51, and all citing Worsley as informant. Worsley was evidently rather more impressed by him than by Glauber: 'The Aurifaber at Amsterdam is the best mechanical man that ever hee [Worsley] met withal i.e. purely mettalical'.[84] According to another entry, his real name was 'Gralle',[85] but this appears to be a mistake by either Worsley or (more probably) Hartlib. 'Aurifaber' was the Antony Grill whom Moriaen twice mentioned by name,[86] and from whom Moriaen sent an extract on Swedish copper mines for Worsley.[87] The identification occurs in a letter from Moriaen to Worsley describing the two processes being used in the tin experiment: 'one [way] we will call Kufflerian, the other Grillian' ('Unam Kufflerianam, alteram Grillianam appellabimus'). After a long account of Kuffler's method, he then proceeded to 'the other way, which is Aurifaber's' ('Altera qest Aurifabri via').[88] However, nothing else whatsoever seems to be known about this Antony Grill.

Moriaen was highly impatient to receive, in return for the extensive reports he was sending, details of an experiment Worsley and an unnamed nobleman ('nobilis') had conducted to fuse gold and mercury indissolubly. Moriaen also wanted some of the materials sent to him. It is not possible to identify this 'nobleman' conclusively. Culpeper is an unlikely candidate: it is very doubtful whether his imaginative enthusiasm for alchemical theory was matched by his practical expertise, as also whether he had access to the material resources necessary to carry out many of the processes mentioned. Worsley's collaborator apparently knew more even than the forty-two medical preparations of antimony Moriaen himself laid claim to.[89] A likelier suggestion is Brereton, or Worsley's close friend Boyle. But another possibility is that there was a misunderstanding, and that Worsley had <228> employed some such formulation as 'noble spirit', which Moriaen had taken to mean someone of noble birth. If this was indeed the case, the American alchemist George Starkey, though he was not nobly born, becomes a candidate. William Newman, the leading expert on Starkey, concludes that there was little or no contact between Moriaen and Starkey beyond one letter from the latter, but he was not aware of the references to this mysterious 'nobleman'. I would stress, however, that the suggestion is purely speculative. But even if Starkey was not himself directly involved in the project, he certainly supplied part at least of the inspiration for it.[90]

Starkey had come to London in 1650 and been welcomed into the Hartlibian fold, and in 1651 was working as Boyle's assistant-cum-collaborator.[91] Just eleven days after Moriaen's first reference to this 'nobleman',[92] Starkey was persuaded by the circle to contact Moriaen with a view to the pooling of their antimonial wisdom.

Starkey made his overture to Moriaen on 30 May 1651, in a long and florid Latin letter which represents an early stage in Starkey's elaborate programme of self-mythologisation.[93] Reworking a legend current in alchemical circles about the early seventeenth-century magus Michael Sendivogius (one of Culpeper's favourite authors), Starkey portrayed himself as an eager student of the hermetic art and the disciple of an unnamed 'Cosmopolite' he had known in America, from whom he had received a number of priceless manuscripts and a small quantity of the true elixir. Starkey, however, had squandered this through his incomplete knowledge of the processes to be applied to it, and found himself plunged into poverty.

Starkey related this story to many correspondents besides Moriaen, and also in his published works. The myth went through various refinements between 1651 and 1654, with the 'Cosmopolite' fading gradually into a mysterious distance and becoming the author of works that were in fact by Starkey himself, principally George Riplye's Epistle to King Edward Unfolded and Introitus apertus ad occlusum regis palatium. This strategy offered a number of advantages: it conferred great value and authority on the manuscripts, while at the same time relieving Starkey himself of the onus of actually performing everything he claimed was possible. Yet it also recommended him as an initiate who had progressed a good way down the path of wisdom, and deserved support and patronage to enable him to complete the journey. As Newman puts it, he perhaps 'realised that it was far too uncomfortable to be an adept, and just as useful to have one for a friend'.[94] So successful was Starkey's self-projection that not only were Hartlib and his friends completely taken in, but attempts to identify the 'Cosmopolite' continued until 1990 when he was finally established as Starkey's fictional creation, and his works as Starkey's own.[95]

Starkey's letter to Moriaen retails the story of the lost elixir in some detail, and also speaks of some 'sophic mercury' given him by the fictitious adept, who at this early stage of the myth appears in relatively concrete guise as 'a certain young friend, still living'.[96] This too he lost in an unsuccessful attempt at 'multiplying' it. 'Aflame with desire of imitating that mercury', Starkey had subsequently succeeded, after great expense of time, money and pains, in extracting from antimony something he was not confident to call true sophic mercury, but which came very close to it. By means of this he had further produced 'the mercury of life of the great Paracelsus' ('mercurij vitæ <229> Paracelsis magni'), with which he could cure gout, consumption, paralysis and other supposedly incurable diseases.[97] Though no specific terms are mentioned, the general aim of this extremely obscure and convoluted letter was plainly to arouse Moriaen's interest in a collaboration or trade of alchemical lore, for by this juncture, Moriaen and his associates in Amsterdam had added to their projects the transmutation of antimony, the very substance that was supposed to be the source of Starkey's 'sophic mercury'. In 1651, probably in late April or early May, so just before Starkey sent Moriaen his letter, Hartlib noted that

Mr Dury saw Stirky really to extract silver out of Antimony, which was in weight equal to Gold, and out of Iron Gold of a most high colour as your Rosenobles are. Hee may easily make of it 300. lib. a year. Mr Dury.

Worsley, Morian and Aurifaber vndertake to turne that Antimonial silver into Gold. Also to extract Gold out of Tinne (for which they have set up their great Work) and Gold out of Iron in great quantity. […]

Stirke is now pidling and toiling for smal quantities, wheras if hee joine, hee cannot but bee a vast gainer by them. Worsly.[98]

Moriaen was obviously impressed by Starkey's approach. From this point on, antimony rather than tin became his favourite subject, and it was from this project that he hoped for the greatest rewards. On 30 June, in the first letter he sent after receiving Starkey's, he specifically mentioned that 'the other work concerning tin' ('alterum opus […] ex Iove') was also proceeding successfully, but that he was so taken up with his work on antimony that he barely had time to attend to it.[99] It seems likely that the 'right sort' of antimony he had at last obtained did indeed contain traces of gold, for Moriaen was entirely certain he was extracting gold at the rate of one pound per hundredweight, and that once he had learned to 'lead the material on to greater maturity' ('si materia […] ad majorem maturitatem perducatur'), the yield would be greatly increased.[100] In June and July, Moriaen was positively ecstatic about his success in transmuting metals, particularly antimony, and even more excited about the prospect of revelations from Worsley concerning mercury, which may relate to the 'sophic mercury' of Starkey.[101]

No letters from Moriaen to Starkey survive, but he wrote effusively to Worsley about the new contact, lauding Starkey's exceptional learning and generosity, hoping he would prove himself worthy of such a contact, and telling Worsley that he would 'have a poor nose indeed if he could not smell the recommendations of his friends' behind this desire on Starkey's part to take him into his confidence.[102] This was not in fact particularly perceptive of him, since Starkey had specifically told him it was Worsley who had brought Moriaen's 'truly heroic virtues' to his attention.[103] However, Moriaen rather pointedly added that the reward Worsley could expect from communicating his secrets would be the satisfaction of helping Moriaen live up to the commendations Worsley had himself given.[104] This strongly suggests that Moriaen thought Worsley was failing to match his own candour and forthcomingness in their exchange of arcana, and was trying to set a price on the knowledge he was acquiring. Worsley for his part perhaps felt that he was making better progress than his colleagues in Amsterdam, and deserved a <230> more tangible recompense for imparting his results than news about less successful experiments.

Moriaen's letters chart a growing disillusion with Worsley, as requests for information and material were repeatedly ignored. The tin scoria he had asked for in January 1651 had still not materialised by the beginning of August.[105] Neither had the 'miraculous silver fused with mercury' which Worsley had apparently also promised.[106] Some information Worsley had sent him about oils he considered to be 'common knowledge'.[107] It was evidently not God's will, Moriaen observed with lugubrious predestinarian irony, that he should be able to rely on Worsley.[108]

Late 1649, the date of Worsley's disgruntled return home, was precisely the time of Moriaen's bitterly lamented financial crash. This may help to explain the sudden overt enthusiasm for an alchemical process with obvious implications of vulgar financial gain. Repeated mentions of specific projected profit levels and considerations of the likely return on a given outlay suggest that while he probably did not contemplate so blatantly commercial a project as many of Glauber's were, the thought that the pious labour might incidentally provide some material relief was becoming more of a consideration.

This is not to suggest that the spiritual dimension had ceased to matter. The frequent and lengthy outbursts of thanks to God, and attribution to His personal intervention of any success the experiments were having, were not mere pious rhetoric. Worsley's 'nobleman' apparently criticised Glauber's mercenary attitude (again this is consistent with the suggestion this means Starkey, who in his letter to Moriaen roundly upbraided Glauber for precisely this fault[109]). Moriaen agreed: 'The nobleman's judgment of Glauber is certainly correct; commercial considerations are unseemly in this undertaking'.[110] Just as in the later case of his dye-works, however, Moriaen saw nothing wrong with making money provided it was being made for the right reasons, 'to serve the good of many'. As in all Moriaen's accounts of his labours in natural philosophy, delight in experimentation and discovery shines through his reports, and the very fact that he was so frank about hoping to make a profit confirms his good faith in rejecting the profit motive as the be all and end all of the enterprise. The real excitement was akin to that engendered in Comenius by his supposed discovery of perpetual motion: by demonstrating transmutation, Moriaen was confirming the metaphysical basis of his whole world-view, proving that man could indeed comprehend the universal, harness cosmic forces, and discern the true pattern, the divine method, underlying Creation itself.

But the project - rather predictably - was a failure. Two years later, the Ephemerides record that

Morian disbursed once 12 thousand Rixdollars upon one Experiment, in which he miscarried, his wife knowing nothing of it. Upon another Experiment he spent 2 or 3 thousand Gilders, which yet hee hath to shew of Gold and Antimony of which he might get back some ounces of gold, but in hope that some will yet be found to transmute the rest of the Antimony into Gold he wil not doe it.[111]

These two financially catastrophic experiments are surely the tin-transmuting project probably inspired by Glauber, and the antimony-transmuting project <231> probably inspired by Starkey. It would obviously be rash to assume that the figures quoted are entirely reliable, but given the quantity and nature of the materials referred to by Moriaen in his letters to Worsley, they do not seem excessive. There is talk in these letters of importing three hundred pounds of ore from Hungary, of casting tin in quantities of a hundred pounds at a time, and antimonial ore by the hundredweight, with an unspecified admixture of silver. There can be little doubt that these alchemical undertakings, which Moriaen had so hoped would restore his prosperity, in fact turned financial decline into disaster.

Moriaen's money problems at the time raise in turn the question of how he had obtained funds for experimentation on this scale. Kuffler can hardly have invested much, for he was himself in difficulties by this date and already in debt to Moriaen.[112] Nor had Worsley much to spare after his emotionally and economically exhausting visit to the Netherlands. Grill was certainly a major contributor. Moriaen told Worsley that Grill was spending 12,000 guilders (about £1200) on buying or building a house near Moriaen's, which was to be equipped with no less than six laboratories for the perfecting of the 'great work'.[113] This information also found its way into the Ephemerides:

Aurifaber […] hath gotten an estate of 60. thousand lb. Now hee adventur's 12. hundred lb. vpon an Experiment of Tinne and something else in which Mr Morian hath also an Adventure and is a very promising busines.[114]

But some sponsorship at least, and it was probably a substantial amount, had come from that tireless supporter of lost causes, Comenius's patron Laurens de Geer.

Six years after the alchemical debacle, with Moriaen still in deep financial difficulties, and Kuffler making no headway with the promotion of his inventions in England, Hartlib suggested that Comenius petition de Geer for fresh support for Moriaen. Comenius duly made the representation, but met with little sympathy:

I recently read him [de Geer] your letter and what you wrote about Moriaen and his unhappy lot, and how he might be helped if God would arouse the sympathy of my Patron L.D.G.; to which his only response was: 'He has caused his own downfall, or ruined himself, with alchemical nonsense'.[115]

The reasons for de Geer's sudden and uncharacteristic coldness are revealed in a later letter from Comenius's son-in-law Petr Figulus to Hartlib:

Mons de Geer may bee will write unto you what hee resolues to doe about your projects. But all what I saye and endeavour to encline him to some resolution about yours & Mr Morians &c publicke Concernements, hee seemes to haue some secret feare & doubtings of all the like Inventions and Endeavours. And as a child that hath burnt himselfe feareth the fire. For hee seemeth to haue beene engaged in the like promotion both with Mr. Morian & especially with Glauberus, but all his moneyes lost: & hee neuer bene able to see any the least effect of all their Inventions. Glauberus having prooued to bee a deceiuer, & neuer meaning uprightly to reveale any thing.[116]

Figulus repeatedly tried to reassure de Geer about Moriaen's probity and to arrange a meeting, presumably in the hope of persuading him to renew his patronage, but seemingly without success.


Neither personal profit nor transcendent enlightenment had resulted from Moriaen's involvement in the 'great work'. Just as with the pansophic scheme - to use an analogy he was himself fond of - he had climbed like Moses to the summit of Mount Pisga and beheld the Promised Land, but it had not been granted him to enter into it.

The Gate of Things

Understandably enough, Moriaen's enthusiasm for Glauber cooled somewhat in the immediate aftermath of this debacle. There may well be a personal twist to Hübner's report the following year that

Herr Moriaen told me in confidence that Glauber had done himself no little harm by accepting large sums for certain supposed secrets of art which, however, he has never tested himself and found to be true, for which reason he has many times been put to shame.[117]

Another two years later, Hartlib told Boyle that 'Mr Morian writes no more of him [Glauber], or his other promised magnalia'.[118] However, Moriaen did not lose faith in alchemy, and if he did fall out with Glauber they were later reconciled. It says much either about Moriaen's good nature or his gullibility that by 1657 he was once again prepared to give Glauber the benefit of the doubt, and to suggest that those who failed to replicate Glauber's processes should not automatically condemn the author, but consider whether the error did not perhaps lie with themselves.[119]

Fahrner subsequently claimed that Glauber had sold De Bra (Moriaen's brother-in-law) a worthless recipe for making vinegar for 1000 guilders and also swindled a certain 'Herrn Mörian'.[120] But Moriaen obviously came to the conclusion that he had not been cheated, and two years after the publication of Fahrner's attack was back on friendly terms with Glauber. Indeed, it was Fahrner he considered to be the liar when it came to alchemical claims: 'Fahrner gives out that he can extract 12 loth of silver from 100 pounds of lead, but if it were true and profitable, he would surely keep [the method] secret and perform it himself'.[121]

It might be pointed out that the same strictures could be applied to Glauber: if he was so confident of his tin experiment, why did he not conduct it himself instead of selling the process to Moriaen and his friends? The explanation would probably have been - and it is not implausible - that he lacked the necessary capital. It would in any case be unfair to convict Glauber of bad faith without more conclusive evidence. The kindest interpretation is that he thought it likely the process would work, but preferred to see others risk their money on finding out for sure, making do for his part with the smaller but more certain profit of selling his secret rather than applying it. By 1657, some six years after the collapse of the tin and antimony ventures, Moriaen was awaiting letters from both Glauber and 'Aurifaber', and planning to visit Glauber at his new house in Amsterdam to discuss 'everything' with the two chemists.[122] Whether this represents a projected new collaboration is unclear, though if so nothing seems to have come of it. At all events it is obvious the three were again on good terms.

Worsley responded similarly to the affair. At first, he was plunged into deep disillusion, and for a while would seem to have lost faith in the very notion of transmutation. Moriaen, who in turn was out of sorts with Worsley at the time, put this down to the instability of Worsley's character. He himself <233> was not to be shaken from belief in a truth he had seen proven with his own eyes simply because he had lost twelve thousand Imperials by it: 'that Mr Worsley refuses to believe any longer in transmutation is to me a sign of his unsteadiness of character, but for all that […] the truth will still remain true'.[123]

However, Worsley subsequently revised this jaundiced view, and in later life exhibited an even stronger interest in alchemy. Some five years after his return from the Netherlands, he took to declaring himself an adept, and making grandiose alchemical declarations entirely typical of the most committed 'Chemical Philosophers'. He invoked a favourite topos: just as in the Puritan view of Scriptural understanding, no amount of human endeavour and learning could lead to true insight without the spark of enlightenment that could only be imparted by divine grace. The failure of his undertakings during and just after his alchemical mission, he decided, were due not to any inherent error in the processes he had learned, but to the fact that God had not yet seen fit to bless him (or, presumably, Moriaen) with the means of understanding them. Subsequently, it was granted him to see what before he had only looked at:

I further professe honestly to you, that upon a deepe consideration of some of Glaubers writings & other discourses, I mett with when I was in Holland, it pleased god to discover the thing [i.e. the art of transmutation] so clearely to me, that I sett downe the very thing in my Adversaria [personal note-book], as a matter to be weighed & experimented, & yet understood it not.[124]

Worsley cast his younger self in the role of a competent technician who had not received insight into the hidden mysteries of his own knowledge. He explicitly compared his subsequent alchemical enlightenment to the imputed grace of Calvinist theology:

nor should [I] have beene ever able to have applyed any of these hynts, so as to have made any vse of them vnlesse God had (as he did) further as it were imposed the consideration of it upon me, by bringing my observation to a non plus, upon a kinde of fortuitous experiment made by me, which I speake even to this End to shew; that the Lord hath his seasons, & that it is not of him that wills, or of him that runnes, but of God only who in this as in more higher things enlightens whom he will.[125]

This retrospective self-image of a man granted knowledge but denied understanding strikingly parallels the response to Glauber within the Hartlib circle, insofar as a consensus can be defined. Glauber burst onto the scene with his great promises of a 'secret philosophic fire' a 'menstruum' for extracting the 'principles', and something at least approximating to the universal solvent. Eye witness accounts from Moriaen and Appelius vouched that there really were extraordinary physical and technological achievements on show in Amsterdam to support such claims. On closer inspection, however, the innovations were found to be merely technical. Glauber had made genuine progress in manipulating the outward, physical body of Nature, but when it came to penetrating her soul, he had provided no new insights. If <234> anything, his exaggerated or bogus claims were positively counter-productive. He did not know how to apply his own expertise to the deeper mysteries.

An anonymous Dutch contact of Clodius's exemplifies this attitude. This individual, described as one who 'hath all manner of Arcanas [sic] and is an Adept', and so was obviously qualified to comment, considered that Glauber had indeed discovered 'the true Alcahest'. Unfortunately, however, he did not know what to do with it: 'if Glauber himself knew how to vse it by it great things might bee done'.[126] Moriaen himself expressed the same opinion. As early as 1650 he asserted that 'it is most certain that others finde more in Mr Glaubers Book's, which are already published then hee knoweth himself or is able to put in practise',[127] and he repeated eight years later, in almost the same terms, 'I still believe as before that he has been granted a considerable insight into Nature, but he does not know how to make use of it'.[128]

This ambivalence towards Glauber finds its clearest and most fully worked out expression in the letters of Culpeper. Culpeper distinguished more clearly than any other commentator represented in Hartlib's papers between the merely utilitarian and the 'philosophical' aspects of Glauber's work - between the chemical and the alchemical, in the contemporary sense of those words suggested in Chapter Five. In complete contrast to later progressivist historians who have either derided Glauber because of, or admired him in spite of, the alchemical component in his works, Culpeper became increasingly concerned that they were not nearly alchemical enough. For all the initial excitement inspired by his work on translating Furni novi, he became more and more suspicious in the course of Worsley's visit to the Netherlands that Glauber had failed to probe beyond the mere external shell of created matter in his chemical investigations.

From his gleanings from Lull, Sendivogius and (above all) Nuysement,[129] Culpeper had concluded that to attain an 'excitation of the spirit of nature', some impurity had to be introduced, since matter in its natural state had no cause further to perfect itself: 'without an apposition of impurity (rightly chosen) there can nothinge be done in that woorke'.[130] What Culpeper seems to have had in mind, though he would obviously not have understood the comparison, was something akin to the practice of inoculation. By being infected with a judiciously chosen trace of a given disease or 'impurity', the body is stimulated to enhance its own innate powers, to attain a higher level of perfection. Following Nuysement, Culpeper fused this account of transmutation theory with his understanding of theology, and considered the necessary impurity or infection to be analogous to sin, the imperfection in humanity that was a prerequisite for the operation of grace which transmuted the human soul.

In the midst of Worsley's alchemical mission, Culpeper sent him a long letter full of citations from hermetic authors and his own abstruse reflections on the 'exaltation of the Spirits of Nature'. Among the extremely diverse and somewhat rambling meditations that comprise the letter is the following prime example of analogical thinking, an indissoluble alloy of practical experiment, alchemical allegory, micro-macrocosm theory and religious metaphor. Culpeper had been brewing some beer, and found that low temperatures slowed the process down. This, he declared, in a characteristic leap from the mundane to the metaphysical,


agrees with what Nicholas Flammell saith (viz.) that when the 2. dragons have siezed upon one another they never cease from fightinge if the cold hinder them not) till they bee all on a gore blood, and till that in the end they have killed one another, and out of these putrified carcases arises our puissant King; I pray yf from my scriblinge you now apprehend me try whether Glauberus can and will give an Answer what this Canaanite is that exercises our spirits of Nature, and what that is in Nature, which like sinne to a gracious soule, serves to encrease repentance and all the other graces for thus (by the mercifull and wise God) doe the sinnes worke where the Spirit of grace hath taken roote, & thus if my Philosophy faile not) doth something in nature (analogicall to sinn) worke upon the Spirit of nature.[131]

Culpeper was firmly convinced of the general principle behind all this, but what he was not at all sure about, as the confusion of his terminology abundantly bears out, was the exact physical nature of this necessary impurity, and this more than anything was the question he hoped Worsley would resolve for him:

now what this Sulphur externum, this Agent […] this Ignis contra naturam, these feces grossieres or impurités, this Ignis non de materia, is. This is my question, which if Glauberus either cannot or will not understand; I say againe that you may expect other pretty or vsefull experiments from him; but he will proove to seeke in the greate worke.[132]

There was a parallel here not only with the operation of grace but also with the Paracelsian notion that poisons correctly treated and administered were conducive to increased health and vigour in the human body. It was precisely such parallels that appealed to Culpeper's analogical imagination. Separating substances into their constituent parts was, Culpeper thought, a trivial occupation: mere chemistry, that would produce no 'exaltation' but leave nature essentially what it had been in the first place: 'this wrackinge of nature, is not the helpe that shee expectes from us, but onely a putting her into reiterated newe motions'.[133] Glauber failed to provide the enlightenment, the vistas onto infinity, that Culpeper had hoped for. Re-reading the first part of Furni novi, he declared that in it

I finde a ready way to more discoueries of nature by outwarde fire onely, than hathe beene heeretofore helde forthe by any, but, in philosophy as well as Christianity, it is the inwarde fire or Spirit, to which wee ought principally to looke & this inwarde spirit yf excited into motion, will make life to diffuse from the center to the outwarde parts; Oh where wowlde this divinity & philosophy ende, this other of Glauberus is, but to discouer, not to exalte, what wee finde in nature.[134]

This identification of 'divinity & philosophy' is a logical extension of the world-view that begat Comenius's Pansophy. The dissatisfaction with Glauberian chemistry is in turn illustrative of the metaphysical unease that inspired Pansophy. It represents a refusal to conceive that the universe might be reducible to a collection of physical phenomena and their interreaction, that <236> everything might be explicable in terms of the so-called 'secondary causes'. The true investigation of matter had to entail the revelation of its spiritual and divine components.

Glauber's chemistry was altogether too practical for Culpeper's tastes. His style, so plain and direct by the standards of the day, failed to supply the spiritual nourishment Culpeper relished in Sendivogius and Nuysement. Though there are pious invocations enough in Glauber's writing, they are extraneous to the experimental details. What Culpeper wanted was a chemical Epiphany, an exact analogy of the 'inward fire of the spirit' that was so crucial to Puritan theology, and a fully worked out scheme of sin, grace and redemption reflected in the human manipulation of nature.

Culpeper was expressing these reservations about Glauber in the early years of the latter's career, the years that saw the publication of what his progressivist admirers have considered his most important work, Furni novi philosophici (1646-9), which of all Glauber's writings was the one based most directly on his laboratory practice and most fully describing his technological innovations. It is rich in 'pretty or usefull experiments', but decidedly short on 'inwarde & centrall fire' and 'operation of the spirit of grace'. His only other major production during the period was De auri tinctura (1646). There is, unfortunately, no evidence available of Culpeper's, Worsley's or Moriaen's reaction to Glauber's work after Hartlib's death in 1662, the work which dismissed his earlier merely physical studies and turned wholly to mystic spiritualism and alchemical prophecy. The spirit of these late works seems much closer to their notion of attaining the metaphysical through the Janua rerum, the Gate of Things, than his earlier and more empirical productions.

It is a measure of how similarly alchemical and Scriptural texts were interpreted by the more devoted 'chemical philosophers' that the former as much as the latter were frequently invested with prophetic significance. One great enthusiasm of Glauber's last years was the interpretation of Paracelsus's supposed prediction that the hidden mysteries of Nature would shortly be revealed by a mystic figure called 'Elias Artista', acting as a latterday John the Baptist to usher in the Second Coming of Christ.[135] This was a prospect that greatly excited many alchemists of the day, some of whom even claimed to be Elias.[136] Glauber resolved the prophecy by relating it to his lifelong obsession with salt. 'Elias Artista', he realised, was an anagram of 'et artis salia' ('and the salts of [the] Art'): 'ein Herrlicher/ Glorioser, vnd Triumphirender Monarch ist/ ELIAS ARTISTA, wenigen bekant, ET ARTIS SALIA, Vielen genant' ('a splendid, glorious, and triumphant monarch is ELIAS ARTISTA, known to few, ET ARTIS SALIA, named by many').[137]

Worsley, after his initial disillusion with alchemy had been overcome, became a great enthusiast of the Elias prophecy, which he took a good deal more literally than Glauber. The obscure oracle stated that the unfolding of Nature would occur in 'the fifty-eighth year'. There were various interpretations of what was meant by 'the fifty-eighth year': earlier it had been widely seen as 1602, the fifty-eighth year after Paracelsus's death, but this had had to be readjusted. By the early 1650s, there was an obvious appeal in reading it as meaning simply 1658, an interpretation that also accorded well with many predictions of the date of the millennial dawn. On 4 Feb. 1659 (i.e., as he pointed out in his own dating of the letter, the end of 1658 in the <237> old style by which the year began in March), Worsley declared with the greatest confidence that 'The Devill […] shall shortly fall before the greate Elias & his ministry which is suddainly to surprize part of the world' and even claimed to be personally acquainted with 'some that are really (at this present) of the said schoole of the said Elias Artist the great'.[138] Culpeper too was very taken with the prospect of Elias's advent. Writing in 1645 with regard to attempts to secure a patent for the Hartlib-backed inventor Pierre le Pruvost, he suggested that there was not much point in holding out for a patent of over fourteen years: 'truly yf others had my faithe concerning the change that will be in the worlde before 59: they wowld not muche seeke for a perpetuity in any thinge but heauen'.[139]

Stephen Clucas suggests that 'For Culpeper, chemistry seems largely to have been a literary experience'.[140] It is certainly true that he almost invariably supported his chemical speculations not with any original or even second-hand experimental evidence but with a barrage of rather tenuously connected citations from his favourite chemical authors. The linguistic jumble of the terms to be found in his alchemical musings results from his citing them directly from a range of English, Latin and French tracts, principally those of Nuysement, Lull and Sendivogius (or 'Zengiuode', as Culpeper regularly called him in perhaps the most imaginative piece of spelling in the whole Hartlib archive). It is also true that imagination played a much greater role than logic, either inductive or deductive, in the establishment of his world-view. At least, this is true if 'imagination' is used in the modern sense of a faculty clearly distinguishable from the 'rational' or 'logical'. Comenius would have called Culpeper's approach 'syncretism', and would not have regarded it as in the least illogical. I would suggest that Culpeper, and a great many others of his day, Comenius and Moriaen among them, simply did not distinguish between a 'literary' and a 'scientific' response to the world about them. When thinkers of this period speak of Nature as the 'book of God's works', it is a mistake to take them over-metaphorically. Just as words were supposed to be symbols by which a single, definable, extra-linguistic 'meaning' was represented, so things were symbols representing the ideas of God, which mankind was capable of reading. God was the author of Creation - and it is significant that the Latin term 'auctor', meaning 'creator' in any sense, has in all modern Romance languages, in English and even in German, come specifically to mean 'writer'. Mankind was in the somewhat ambivalent position of being at once part of the text and the intended readership. Looking in nature for sin, repentance and the operation of grace, Culpeper was not so much inventing his own metaphors as interpreting God's.

Clucas further draws attention to the fact that Dury's 'analytical method', his pansophic system of Scriptural exegesis, was taken up by chemical philosophers such as Culpeper and applied to their subject: 'It is interesting that although the methodus Duræus was essentially a tool for scriptural analysis, it became applicable to any textual corpus.'[141] I have to quibble here with the letter, though not the spirit, of Clucas's analysis. What Culpeper was asking for was probably fresh commentary by Dury on the alchemical texts Culpeper favoured rather than application to them of the specifically theological exegesis Dury had proposed in the Analysis demonstrativa[142]. However, it is reasonable to assume that what Culpeper expected from Dury <238> was a very similar type of analysis. Alchemical texts were viewed as scarcely less sacred than the Bible itself, and their apparent obscurities were supposed, like the Bible's, to contain a simple, fundamental, underlying truth. Dury's talent for minute, detailed exegesis was seen as appropriate for the elucidation of both. Whether Dury's method was regarded as applicable to 'any textual corpus' whatsoever is debatable, but it was certainly deemed applicable to any divinely sanctioned corpus, and hence to the writings of any true alchemist.

Clucas proceeds to argue that 'Culpeper's urge to apply the analysis to chemistry was symptomatic of a wider secularization of the methods of theological systemizers.'[143] I would suggest, however, that to practitioners such as Culpeper and Dury, this represented not so much a secularisation of theological method as a theologisation of experimental learning. It exemplified the pansophic conviction that demarcations between disciplines are arbitrary and artificial, that all things are related and mutually illuminating, that all subjects fall into the category of 'divinity' in its widest sense, and that 'right method' is therefore universally applicable, its ultimate aim in all parts of learning being to lead men to God.

The intellectual histories of Worsley and Moriaen, the two main protagonists of the alchemical tragicomedy recounted in the previous section, were dominated by trends that have become something of a refrain in this study: disillusion with Scriptural analysis, withdrawal from confessional allegiance, commitment to seeking transcendental enlightenment not in verbal formulations but in the practical study and physical manipulation of Nature. They became, if anything, more religious as they became less religiose.

It should be stressed that while Culpeper, Worsley and Moriaen were certainly highly individual, they were by no means eccentric or unrepresentative. A host of other thinkers who have featured in this study, such as Brun, Rasch, Kretschmar, Glauber, Hartprecht, Poleman, Clodius and Starkey, were engaged on a similar synthesis of divinity with philosophy, practical experiment with theosophic enlightenment. However violent their personal differences and their disagreement on matters of detail, they were all guided by the same profound conviction.

The whole purpose of their intellectual - or, as they saw things, their spiritual endeavour was to attain a truer, more direct, more universal understanding of God than had proved possible through the old orthodoxies they were rejecting. The driving impulse behind their alchemical thought was precisely the same as that behind Pansophy: the fear of relativism, the fear of losing control and comprehension of the world through sheer overload of knowledge, the unfathomable complexity of the universe. This was countered by a determination to find in micro-macrocosm analogies and the notion of man as the divine image an underlying unity, harmony and pattern in all things.

In alchemy as in Pansophy it was 'right method' that would provide the key to unlock the 'Gate of Things'. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Worsley's reconversion to alchemical faith in the late 1650s. His letter of 1657 on 'Vniversal Learning' asserts once again the interconnection of all subjects and concludes by proclaiming all human knowledge to be but a shadowing of spiritual understanding. From the pansophic 'Temple of Wisdom' to the alchemical 'Shut-Palace of the King', the vision is barely altered. Worsley's declaration could have been penned by Comenius himself. <239> It provides an apt summation of the underlying faith he shared with Moriaen, Hartlib and Culpeper, the faith that sustained them even as, in personal, political and philosophical terms, their world fell apart around them:

he that knoweth any thing in the lawes, course, & motions, of nature itselfe, & seeth not a harmony, Image & resemblance between these & the lawes, mysteryes, Revelations, & discoveryes of things spirituall; either doth not know them at all, or doth but yet thinke he knoweth them, yet he knoweth them not comprehensively, analytically, originally & exemplarly: for if he did he would in all things see one face, viz. Constancy, simplicity, Identity, Homogeneity, Vnity.[144]

[1] On Worsley, see Thomas Leng, Benjamin Worsley (1618-1677): commerce, colonisation and the fate of universal reform (PhD thesis, Sheffield University, 2004); also Charles Webster, 'Benjamin Worsley: engineering for universal reform from the Invisible College to the Navigation Act', SHUR, 213-35; Antonio Clericuzio, 'New light on Benjamin Worsley's natural philosophy', SHUR, 236-246, and J.J. O'Brien, 'Commonwealth Schemes for the Advancement of Learning', British Journal of Education Studies 16 (1968), 30-42. A handy summary of the known facts about his career, with an extensive list of sources, is provided by G.E. Aylmer, The State's Servants: The Civil Service of the English Republic 1649-1660, (London, 1973), 270-72.

[2] Webster suggests late Feb. 1647 as the date of Worsley's departure ('Benjamin Worsley', 223), but this is far too early. He was still in England on 10 Dec. 1647, when Culpeper was trying to locate some recipes his wife had lost, and asked Hartlib to 'doe me the kindnes to search diligently at yourselfe & Mr Woorsly for them' (HP 13/206B). Clucas, on the other hand, situates the visit 'some time in the summer of 1648' ('The Correspondence of a XVII-Century "Chymicall Gentleman"', Ambix 40 (1993), 147-70, p. 152): Worsley was indeed in the Netherlands that summer, but had been there since at least January. A letter to Hartlib dated The Hague, 14 Feb. 1648 (HP 36/8/1A-6B), gives a detailed account of Worsley's recent contacts and activities. He mentioned having arrived at The Hague on 'the 27th', presumably of January, before which he had spent some time in Rotterdam.

[3] Hartlib's letters do not survive, but it is obvious from the replies that they were full of detailed queries about Glauber.

[4] Moriaen to Hartlib, 3 Feb. 1648, HP 37/127A. Worsley was already in the Netherlands by this date but had not met either Moriaen or Glauber.

[5] Appelius to Hartlib, 26 Sept./6 Oct. 1647, HP 45/1/37A.

[6] Ibid., HP 45/1/37B.

[7] Culpeper to Hartlib, 20 Oct. 1647, HP 13/197A. The illogical bracketing is Culpeper's. On Culpeper's offer of funding for the Office of Address, see Hartlib to Boyle, Nov. 1647, Boyle, Works VI, 76.

[8] See Webster, 'New Light on the Invisible College', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 24 (1974), 19-42; also Great Instauration, 59-67.

[9] As Charles Webster remarks, 'Benjamin Worsley: engineering for universal reform', SHUR, 213-235, 225.

[10] 'General History of the Air', Boyle, Works V, 638-44. For the reattribution, see Clericuzio, 'New light on Benjamin Worsley's natural philosophy', 238-9.

[11] DNB XLV, 113, under Petty; see Webster, 'Benjamin Worsley', for a reappraisal of this harsh and superficial judgment. See also Webster's entry on Worsley in the Oxford DNB.

[12] Hartlib to Boyle, 16 Nov. 1647, Boyle, Works VI, 76. Hartlib later became extremely disillusioned with Petty: see his bitterly humorous account to Boyle of 10 Aug. 1658, Boyle, Works VI, 112-13.

[13] Hartlib to Boyle, 28 Feb. 1654, Boyle, Works VI, 79.

[14] Hartlib to Boyle, 27 April 1658, ibid., 104-5. Hartlib was about eighteen years Worsley's elder.

[15] Cf. Webster, 'Benjamin Worsley', 220, and Great Instauration, 59-60 and the letters cited there.

[16] HP 37/142A.

[17] 'Er [Worsley] wolle mich excusiren das Ich an ihn selbsten nichts schreib bin im Englischen nicht so fertig' - Moriaen to Hartlib, 15 April 1650, HP 37/152A. Cf. also Moriaen to Hartlib, 25 March 1650, HP 37/146A: writing to Worsley 'fält mir […] zue schwehr vnd langsam' ('is too difficult and slow for me').

[18] Moriaen to Hartlib, 22 June 1657, HP 42/2/10B-11A.

[19] HP 9/16/1A-13B and 63/14/13A-B (all holographs, so they cannot be Latin translations of English originals).

[20] Worsley's letters are lost, but in one of his replies Moriaen quoted Worsley back to him in English, though Moriaen's own text is in Latin (Moriaen to Worsley, 26 May 1651, HP 9/16/6A).

[21] See his proposals for the saltpetre project at HP 71/11/1A-B and 17/11/12A-13A; a similar unascribed document at HP 53/26/6A-B is probably also by Worsley. See also Webster, Great Instauration, 378-80, and 'Benjamin Worsley: engineering for universal reform', 215-17.

[22] Moriaen, before getting to know him, twice referred to him as 'candidatus medicinæ' (HP 37/122A and 37/123A), this evidently being the description Hartlib had provided.

[23] Aylmer, The State's Servants, 271; Webster, 'Benjamin Worsley', 213.

[24] Worsley to Dury, 27 Aug. 1649, HP 33/2/3A-4B.

[25] Fuller details in Aylmer, The State's Servants, 270-72.

[26] Culpeper to Hartlib, 17 Nov. 1647, HP 13/204A. During a severe illness in 1641, which he expected to prove fatal, Culpeper had signed over the control of his estates to his father, Sir Thomas Culpeper. Sir Thomas was supposed to return control to his son in the event of the latter's recovery, but, outraged by Cheney's support of Parliament at the outbreak of civil war, he refused to do so. Furthermore, Sir Thomas's own debts were charged to the revenue of the estates he had taken over from his son. In the course of 1646-7, with the estates now apparently again under his control, Culpeper was trying to get the fine imposed on them reduced, and succeeded in having the charge cut by about a third, but was still confronted in Nov. 1647 with a bill for £844 1 s. He was consequently in financial straits throughout the rest of his life, and was heavily in debt at his death. For fuller details, see 'Introduction' to M.J. Bradwick and M. Greengrass (eds.), The Letters of Sir Cheney Culpeper (1641-1657), Camden Miscellany XXXIII (Cambridge, 1996), 118-23.

[27] Culpeper to [Hartlib?], 29 March 1648, HP 13/214B.

[28] Worsley to Hartlib, 22 June/2 July 1649, HP 26/33/1A-3B.

[29] Dury to Worsley, 14 March 1648, HP 1/2/1A-B and 12 July 1649, HP 26/33/4A-5B, and Worsley to Dury, 27 July 1649, HP 33/2/18A-19B. On this theory and its ramifications, see above, p. 43, and the literature cited there.

[30] Worsley to Hartlib, 14 Feb. 1648, HP 36/8/6A.

[31] Ibid. On 10 Feb. Moriaen mentioned having forwarded a letter from Worsley (then in Rotterdam) to Glauber (HP 37/129A).

[32] HP 1/2/1B.

[33] As Moriaen wrote to Hartlib two days later, HP 37/131A.

[34] Moriaen to Hartlib, 28 May 1648, HP 37/133A.

[35] 'Glauber verstehet woll Latein wans auff hoch teutsch außgesprochen wird aber Er wird nicht Lateinisch reden wollen […] das wird Ihme unlustig und die conversation zue wieder machen' - Moriaen to Hartlib, 27 Feb. 1648, HP 37/131A.

[36] 'Ich höre dz Er [Moriaen] Herrn Worslÿ sehr ehret vndt auf der Rechten handt läßet gehen, welches Ihm aber von etlichen nicht zum besten wird aufgenommen, vnd zwar nicht ohne vrsach, dan H. Morian ist ein zimlich betagter Man, in vielen Künsten vndt wißenschafften erfahren' - Brun to Hartlib, 13 June 1649, 39/2/9A.

[37] Appelius to Hartlib, May 1648, HP 45/1/47A.

[38] 'Mr Worsleys werck geht langsam fort, Glauber fühlt nicht dz ihm die zeit vnd kosten schwer fallen, man bringt viel zeit mit complementen zu, vnd sagt nit rund aus was vnd wie man ein ding begehrt, was oder wie man ein ding zusagt, vnd auf sich nimt: etliche förchten Glauber werde seiner zusage keinen genügen können thun' - Appelius to Hartlib, 2 Aug. 1648, HP 45/1/39B.

[39] Culpeper to Hartlib, 5 April 1648, HP 13/215A. On Culpeper's interest in this subject, see above, p. 166.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Culpeper to Hartlib, 25 July 1648, HP 13/231A: 'I vnderstande from yourselfe that hee is (for the presente) otherwise supplied'. I can find no hint as to what this alternative source might have been.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Cf. Worsley to ?, 22 July 1648, 42/1/1A, recounting that he had dined with the Kufflers at Moriaen's.

[44] Culpeper to Hartlib, 5 April 1648, HP 13/217B.

[45] On this subject, see H.C. Darby, The Draining of the Fens (Cambridge, 1940).

[46] See Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1988), 257-88.

[47] Worsley to Hartlib, 22 June/2July 1649, HP 26/33/1A.

[48] Kalthof (or Calthof) aroused much interest in Hartlib for his work on drainage and perpetual motion. He was co-recipient of patents for perpetual motion machines from the States General in 1642 and from the States of Holland in 1653 (Doorman, 144, G432, and 179, H72).

[49] Worsley to Petty, 15 June 1649, HP 8/50/1A, and Brun to Hartlib, 13 June 1649, HP 39/2/9A.

[50] Worsley to Petty, 15 June 1649, HP 8/50/1A.

[51] Eph 49, HP 28/1/3B.

[52] Eph 49, HP 28/1/17A, giving Petty himself as the source.

[53] Fromantil is a thoroughly obscure figure who appears to have been an all-round inventor. There are numerous mentions in the Ephemerides of 1649 on, and Hartlib's papers include a list of 'Ahasverus Fremantils Mechanical Vnder takings in his owne hand' (n.d., HP 71/19/1A-B), in all probability sent or brought over by Worsley. These include various clocks, an engine for levelling river beds and various engines for raising weights or water. He also invented a fire engine (HP 53/35/5A), an instrument for measuring the concentration of liquids in compound, and an 'art of making notches in Iron-wheels', perhaps meaning cog wheels (Eph 49, HP 28/1/32B and 35A). Worsley is the only correspondent to mention his microscopes. He is surely identical with, or at least related to, the Assuerus Fromanteel of the Dutch Reformed Church in London who in 1645 had joined the Anabaptists and was consequently excommunicated from the Dutch church the following year: see O.P. Grell, Calvinist Exiles in Tudor and Stuart England (Cambridge, 1996), 90-91.

[54] Worsley to ?, 27 June or July 1648, HP 42/2/1A. Hartlib was obviously circulating this very interesting letter, which constitutes something of a manifesto for natural philosophy, as there are three copies in his papers, HP 42/2/1A-2A, 8/27/2B-7B and 8/27/9A-13B. The second of these is dated June, the other two July.

[55] Worsley to ?, 27 June or July 1648, HP 42/2/1B.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] HP 42/1/7A-8B, 14 Oct. 1657.

[59] As he explained in his 'Physico-Astrologicall Letter' of c. July 1657 (copies at HP 26/56/1A-4B and 26/56/5A-8B; Latin translation at 42/1/18A-25B). Cf. Clericuzio, 'New light on Benjamin Worsley's natural philosophy', 242.

[60] HP 42/2/1A.

[61] Hall to Worsley, 5 Feb. 1647, HP 3/6/1A-B.

[62] Hall's letter is at HP 3/6/1A-B and 36/7/2B-3A, Worsley's (16 Feb. 1647) at HP 36/6/3A-8B and 36/7/3A-6B.

[63] HP 36/6/4B.

[64] HP 36/6/4B.

[65] HP 36/6/5B-6A.

[66] E.g. Dury to Worsley, 2 May 1649, HP 4/1/26A-B, thanking Worsley for obtaining from Boreel or Moriaen a catalogue of Menasseh's Hebrew books, and sending regards to both. Dury also hoped Boreel could learn from Menasseh or another rabbi whether there were any Jewish refutations of Islam to be had.

[67] 'mit H Glaubern ein vnd anders ins werkh zuestellen damit H Worsleÿ nicht vergeblich herkommen oder so lange zeit vnnüzlich zuegebracht habe' - Moriaen to Hartlib, 11 June 1649, HP 37/137A.

[68] Worsley to Hartlib, 22 June/2 July 1649, 26/33/2B.

[69] Worsley to Dury, 27 July/6 Aug. 1649, HP 33/2/19B (misdated '27 July 165?' in the HP transcript: though the manuscript gives no year, the letter is obviously a reply to Dury's of 12 July 1649, HP 26/33/4A-5B).

[70] Ibid.

[71] Dury to ?, 8 Aug. 1649, HP 1/31/1B; Culpeper to Hartlib, 14 Aug. 1649, HP 13/260A-261B.

[72] 'D. Worsley zeügt wieder nach haus […] ich kan nicht genug verwundern, woher es komt, dz er von Glauber so lang aufgehalten worden, vnd nun auch mit lehrer hand nach haus reiset, nach dem er so lange schwehre kosten gethan […] Glauber sagt alle zeit, es mangele an ihn nicht so [word missing] auch H Worsley, vnd gleichwol verstehen sie ein ander nicht, es wundert mich dz Glauber so hart [word missing] gegen ihn ist, da er sich doch so resolut vnd liberal gegen ihn vor [sic] anfang erzeigt hat' - Appelius to Hartlib, 20 Sept. 1649, HP 45/1/41A.

[73] More to Hartlib, 21 Oct. 1649, HP 18/1/35A. Moriaen later mentioned that Worsley had intended to observe the solar eclipse of 4 Nov. with him (HP 37/146A), but whether it was his departure or something else that prevented him from doing so is not stated.

[74] The first clear indication of his being back in England does not occur until late January 1650, when Moriaen sent his regards and More expressed a hope of visiting Worsley and Hartlib in London - Moriaen to Hartlib, 21 Jan. 1650, HP 37/140A, and More to Hartlib, 29 Jan., HP 18/1/25A. Moriaen also mentioned in this letter that he had written several times to Worsley, who was apparently complaining that he had not heard from Moriaen, but whether Moriaen had been writing to him in England or not is not specified.

[75] 'Ich hab gemeint mit H Glaubers furschlag ihn [Worsley] sehr zueerfrewen aber es falt ganz wiederartig aus seine einbildung die Er von Ihm hatt ist so ganz schlecht das Er alles zum argsten auffnimbt' - Moriaen to Hartlib, 25 March 1650, HP 37/146A.

[76] He stressed in particular that Glauber's method had been tested using large quantities of material (for the greater the quantity experimented on, obviously, the greater the reliability of the results: this distinction between operations effected in bulk and those only tested on small samples is regularly drawn in chemical texts of the period).

[77] Moriaen to Hartlib, 29 April 1650, HP 37/153A: 'berichte das Glauber die conditiones von Mr W. annimbt'.

[78] Moriaen to Worsley, 4 March 1650, HP 37/142A. This is not a holograph so it is unclear whether the English is Moriaen's own or a translation from German or Latin. Worsley is not cited as the addressee, but the internal evidence is overwhelming.

[79] Moriaen to Worsley, 27 Jan. 1651, HP 9/16/1B.

[80] 'quoad fieri per literas potest, namque maxima eius ratio in methodo et manuali dexteritate posita est' - Moriaen to Worsley, 26 May 1651, HP 9/16/6A.

[81] 'quo in loco, imo cujus in fodinâ (nam in uno eodemque loco illæ differunt) debita et ad opus nostrum idonea minera antimonij invenienda sit' - Moriaen to Worsley, 16 June 1651, HP 9/16/8A.

[82] See above, p. 162.

[83] Moriaen to Worsley, 9 June 1651, HP 9/16/7A.

[84] Eph 51, HP 28/2/15A.

[85] Eph 50, HP 28/1/49B: 'The Refiners name at Amsterdam worth 10 thousand lb. is Gralle. Hee is the Aurifaber of which hee [presumably Worsley or Moriaen] speakes in his Letters.'

[86] HP 37/161A and 42/2/9A.

[87] HP 42/2/10B-11A.

[88] Moriaen to Worsley, 26 May 1651, HP 9/16/6A.

[89] Moriaen to Worsley, 19 May 1651, HP 9/16/5A.

[90] Newman has subsequently come to agree that the 'nobleman' refers to Starkey, and argues convincingly that Worsley was deliberately trying to conceal his identity from Moriaen by the use of such a misleading term. Worsley, it would seem, was by this point trying to wean Starkey off thoughts of a collaboration with Moriaen, even though it was Worsley who had proposed such a collaboration in the first place. See Alchemy Tried in the Fire, 246, esp. n. 133.

[91] On Starkey, see William Newman's excellent biography, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, an Alchemist of Harvard in the Scientific Revolution (Harvard, 1994). Newman has also written a number of valuable shorter studies on specific aspects of Starkey's career: 'Prophecy and Alchemy: the Origin of Eirenæus Philalethes', Ambix 37 (1990), 97-115; 'Newton's Clavis as Starkey's Key', Isis 78 (1987), 564-74, and 'George Starkey and the selling of secrets', SHUR, 193-210. See also Turnbull, 'George Stirk, Philosopher by Fire', Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts 38 (1959), 219-51, and R.S. Wilkinson, 'George Starkey, Physician and Alchemist', Ambix 11 (1963), 121-52, though both these have been largely superseded by Newman's work. Since this book first came out, Newman and Lawrence M. Principe have co-authored another important contribution to the literature on Starkey and his place in alchemical history, Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the fate of Helmontian chymistry (Chicago and London, 2002).

[92] Moriaen to Worsley, 19 May 1651, HP 9/16/5A.

[93] Starkey to Moriaen, 30 May 1651, HP 17/7/1A-2B. This is summarised and analysed in detail by Newman, 'Prophecy and Alchemy', 101, and my account here is based largely on Newman's.

[94] 'Prophecy and Alchemy', 111.

[95] E.g. R.S. Wilkinson, 'The Problem of the Identity of Eirenæus Philalethes', Ambix 12 (1964), 24-43. Newman's 'Prophecy and Alchemy' provides the conclusive identification. 'Eirenæus Philalethes' is a pseudonym subsequently applied to Starkey's fictional adept, though not one he used himself.

[96] Starkey to Moriaen, 30 May 1651, HP 17/7/1A: 'quodam amico juvene […] adhuc vitali'. All my citations from this letter are given in Newman's translations as published in 'Prophecy and Alchemy'.

[97] Ibid., 17/7/2A.

[98] Eph 51, HP 28/2/18A. The names 'Dury' and 'Worsly' appended to the entries indicate that these were the sources of Hartlib's information. Precise dating of entries in the Ephemerides is seldom possible, but the previous entry but one to this refers to events of 23 April, so it is certainly later, but probably not much later, than that. The next mention of a specific date is 26 July, several pages later (HP 28/2/23B).

[99] Moriaen to Worsley, 30 June 1651, HP 9/16/9A.

[100] Ibid.

[101] Especially the letters of 30 June (HP 9/16/9A-B), 2 July (9/16/10A-B) and 9 July (9/16/11A-12B).

[102] 30 June 1651, HP 9/16/9B: 'obesæ naris sim si amicorum commendationes non suboleam'.

[103] Starkey to Moriaen, 30 May 1651, HP 17/7/1A: 'virtutis vestræ verè Heroicæ'.

[104] 30 June 1651, HP 9/16/9B: 'operæ pretium fuerit eum, quem commendare non erubuistis, vestro consilio et auxilio juvare ut aliquo modo virum se præstare possit ne aliquando commendationis vestræ vos pudeat'.

[105] Moriaen to Worsley, 4 Aug. 1651, HP 9/16/13A.

[106] Moriaen to Worsley, 7 July 1651, HP 9/16/11B: 'Lunam vestram mirabilem unam cum mercurio anxie desidero' (I anxiously desire your miraculous silver fused with mercury'); and 4 Aug. 1651, HP 9/16/13A: 'de non missa luna nullam video excusationem' ('I can see no excuse for not having sent the silver').

[107] Moriaen to Worsley, 4 Aug. 1651, HP 9/6/13A: 'illud vulgare esse existimo'.

[108] Ibid: 'Ego ulterius non Urgebo, sed in voluntate Divinâ acquiescam' ('I shall press [you] no longer, but acquiesce in the will of God').

[109] HP 17/7/1A: 'Venalia nulla secreta habeo, quod et abominor, eoque solo nomine, Magister Iohannes Glauberus (vir sane inclytus) mihi vituperandus censetur'.

[110] Moriaen to Worsley, 2 July 1651, HP 9/16/10A: 'judicium Nobilis, de Glaubero prorsus rectum est. […] Turpis ex hoc negotio mercatura est'.

[111] HP 28/2/64B: no source is given for the information.

[112] Moriaen to Worsley, 4 Aug. 1651, with reference to 'debitor meus Kufflerus' ('my debtor Kuffler'), HP 9/16/13A.

[113] Moriaen to Worsley, 31 March 1651, 9/16/4A.

[114] Eph 51, HP 28/2/15A.

[115] Comenius to Hartlib, 10 August 1657, HP 7/111/23A: 'legi nuper illi epistolam Tuam etiam qvæ de Moriano, illiusque misera sorte, & qvomodo illi subveniri posset, si Patroni D. L. de G. animum excitaret Deus, scripsisti: ad quæ ille nihil, nisi Er hat sich mit Alchymisterey gestürzt, vel ruiniret'.

[116] Figulus to Hartlib, 6 Nov. 1650, HP 9/17/45A-B, also in Blekastad, Figulus Letters, 236.

[117] 'Von Glaubern sagte H. Morian mir im vertrawen das Er damit sich nicht wenig shaden [sic] gethan hätte, das er sich grosses geld fur gewisse vermeinte kunst-stucklein geben lassen, die er doch selbst niemals versuchet, vnd sie in der that also befunden, dannenhero er dan ettliche mahl mit shanden [sic] bestehen mussen' - Hübner to ?, 24 March 1652, HP 63/14/21A. The letter exists as a copy in Hartlib's hand, and this idiosyncratic German spelling ('sh' for 'sch') is a distinctive quirk of Hartlib's, probably reflecting how anglicised he had become.

[118] Boyle to Hartlib, 8 May 1654, Boyle, Works VI, 86.

[119] Moriaen to Hartlib, 24 Aug 1657, HP 42/2/19A.

[120] Christoph Fahrner, Ehrenrettung (1656), 75; cf. Link, Glauber, 33.

[121] 'Farner gibt fur wie Er aus 100 lb bleÿ 12 lot Silber bringen könne gieng es aber mit nuz zue wurde Ers woll schweigen und selbst practisiren' - Moriaen to Hartlib, 24 Aug. 1647, HP 42/2/19A.

[122] Moriaen to Hartlib, 4 May 1657, HP 42/2/7B: 'de qvibus cum Aurifabro & Glaubero agendum mihi est nihil dum rescribere possum qvosque illorum responsa recepero. Glaub: hoc ipso tempore de domo in domum migrat, qvo facto ad aliqvot dies me convenire consituit, qvando opportuna dabitur de omnibus colloqvendi occasio Deo benè juvante'.

[123] 'das H W keine transmutation mehr glauben will, ist mir ein zeichen seines wanckelbahren gemuehts, darumb wird […] warheit doch woll warheit bleiben' - Moriaen to ?, 3 May 1652, HP 63/14/20A.

[124] Worsley to ?, 14 Feb. 1655/6, HP 42/1/5A.

[125] Ibid., citing Romans 9:16. This is an unascribed copy letter, but the style, the subject matter, the autobiographical details and the fact that it is from Dublin leave virtually no doubt of Worsley's authorship.

[126] Eph 59, HP 29/8/5A.

[127] 30 Dec. 1650, HP 31/8/1A. This letter, a copy in Hartlib's hand which to judge by the numerous manuscript corrections is probably a translation, is unattributed, but there is much internal evidence to suggest Moriaen's authorship.

[128] 'bin noch der meinung wie vor diesem das ihm in der Natur ein zimblich liecht auffgangen ist dz Er Ihm aber selbsten nicht zue nuz machen kan' - Moriaen to Hartlib, 26 May 1658, HP 31/18/28A.

[129] For a summary of Nuysement's chemico-religious doctrines and their direct influence on Culpeper, see Clucas, 'Correspondence of a XVII-Century "Chymicall Gentleman"', 153-4.

[130] Culpeper to Hartlib, 14 Aug. 1649, HP 13/260B.

[131] Culpeper to Worsley, 9/19 April 1648, HP 13/219B-220A; the illogical parentheses are again Culpeper's.

[132] Culpeper to Worsley, 9/19 May 1648, HP 13/219A. Whether the writers he was citing here were indeed, as Culpeper maintained, all talking about the same thing is a moot point.

[133] Culpeper to Hartlib, 14 Aug. 1649, HP 13/260A.

[134] Culpeper to Hartlib, 4 July 1649, HP 13/155A.

[135] The prophecy occurs in the Liber mineralium which is probably not in fact by Paracelsus.

[136] See Walter Pagel, 'The Paracelsian Elias Artista and the Alchemical Tradition', Kreatur und Kosmos: Internationale Beiträge zur Paracelsus-Forschung, ed. Heinz Dillinger (Stuttgart, 1981); Newman, 'Prophecy and Alchemy', 97-9.

[137] From the full title of Miraculum Mundi Ander Theil [in fact the fifth part] Oder Dessen Vorlängst Geprophezeiten ELIÆ ARTISTÆ TRIUMPHIRLIcher Ein Ritt. Vnd auch Was der ELIAS ARTISTA für einer sey? (Amsterdam, 1660).

[138] Worsley to ?, HP 33/2/16A-B.

[139] Culpeper to Hartlib, Dec. 1645, 13/112A: Culpeper goes on to cite the 'Paracelsian' prophecy verbatim.

[140] 'Correspondence of a XVII-Century "Chymicall Gentleman"', 154.

[141] Ibid., 157-8.

[142] Culpeper wished that Dury would 'give me an hower or two of his analiticall thowghts upon my Chymicall quotations, Oh that I cowld but sometimes injoy an hower with him about his Analisis in which I see enough to rayse but not enough to satisfy my desires' - to Hartlib, 17 Feb. 1646, HP 13/128A.

[143] 'Correspondence of a XVII-Century "Chymicall Gentleman"', 158.

[144] Worsley to [Hartlib?], 14 Oct. 1657, HP 42/1/7A-B.

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Professor Rob Iliffe
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