In the second part of Trionfo del Mercurio, Carlo Lancillotti explains other three purging systems and, with the last one, the living mercury proceeding.
To purge is an ancient idiom for getting a pure mercury. As always, Lancillotti goes further and presents also what one can possible do with pure mercury to prepare a highly absorbable medicine. To an extent that “purge” this time easily switches to Alchemy, as the utmost purity is often just a matter or repetitions. The so called living mercury preparation is here explained in simple steps in chapters 5-6.
My translation from Farmaceutica Antimoniale Il Trionfo del Mercurio, triumph of mercury, 1683. Chapter 3: Second Purging of Mercury.
“Take as Bole as Mercury you want to prepare, and grind the said bole very finely till reducing to cream with well depurated honey and put in the said cream the quicksilver amalgamating all and then place to distill in a long neck large retort, ad distilling again mercury will be produced with new bole and honey as above for the third time, and you will have a very well purified mercury, which will be light blue and very bright.
Chapter 4. Third Purging of Mercury.
Black liquid soap three pounds. Quicklime one pound, tartar powder two pounds, sublimed mercury one and half pound, powder what should be powder and knead with the soap and made little balls and put for two days under the sun, and then into a retort, and distill into a container with half water and the mercury will distill and be well purged.
Chapter 5. Fourth Purging of Mercury. Side-note: pay attention to this process, as here you will find what you wish for, but I warn you not to fail in any detail, and at every operation to pass the mercury through suede (camossa).
Take of Mars regulus six ounces, fine cupeled silver one ounce, very fine gold purged for antimony four drams, get all amalgamated according to the art then get to powder and join with one pound of very good, and crystalline, sublimed and put in a retort to distill according to the art, and a butter very like the antimony butter will come out (1), and in the last fire crescendo will come out a great quantity of living mercury, which will be separated from the said butter, which will precipitate in the water and get sweet, and then, when it will dry up, you will take the one remained in the retort and put together in a crucible and get melted by throwing bulk, which will be reduced in powder and again will amalgamate with the said mercury adding half pound of sublimed and the said operation will be repeated for the third time, with three ounces for the fourth, and fifth, then two ounces for the sixth, and seventh, and eighth, and ninth, and so distilling, and amalgamating the said mercury as mentioned the first time, till the accomplishment of nine times, one will have the most perfect mercury, which one can have in the world, to do every kind of precious remedy, and I’m sure that nobody attained to teach so clearly such a strong arcane, and warn the reader, that if he will be able to well operate, he will not lose anything, and will be able to have all his metal back.
Chapter 6. Fifth Purging of Mercury according to Paracelsus. Tome 6 page 298 of Quercetanus Tetrad.
Do sublime mercury nine times, resuscitating it every time ( that’s to say taking one part of sublimed, and two parts of calcined tartar, or fresh quicklime, (the way to perform the sublimation will be published in a coming article) and in this way one can have a very precious mercury of huge quality, which I cannot neglect to append here Paracelsus words as I found them in Quercetanus Tetrad: “Essentificatus mercurius ex Paracelsi doctrina tom. 6 pag. 298, sit reitiratis Mercurii sublimationibus…….See how the perfection of mercury can be achieved from Paracelsus doctrine tome 6 page 298, that’s to say by repeated mercury sublimations by means of vitriol and salt and its reviving. In this way get the mercury to sublime for nine times, so the whole will resuscitate and brought to perfection. Its virtue is huge. Surely by this artifice quicksilver can reach the maximun degree of perfection and pureness; so this will clear from the black impurities; imbued with the quality of the sulfur and the fiery nature and celestial effective property, so we can really call it Philosophical Mercurius and true metallic philosophers vinegar, which can turn the sun and the moon into their true nature, we can get a spiritual body with seminal virtues, as this exalted and taken to perfection Mercurius dissolved in philosophical vinegar in the right proportion, then separated from the menstruum, then the separation of humid with the art of sublimation will lead to the exaltation of both; then it will put on the “purpurea Solis Veste exornatum iri” or the Sun purple garment, that’s to say we will dissolve gold inside the dissolving Mercurius and the real solar Life will be transferred, and that will bring to magisterium and elixirs and every body perfection and pureness.”
Quercetanus has summarized in a rush the difference between common mercury and the Philosophical Mercurius/Universal Dissolvent/Secret Fire. Nine times. Sometimes this was the difference between an ancient chemistry recipe and the first, or preparatory, alchemical work.
To be continued at Lancillotti, Operations on Mercury. Part 3.