half-title: The Book of Quinte Essence / or / The Fifth Being.

What, exactly, is Quinte Essence? Well, judging by this text, it’s something that fifteenth-century alchemists were drinking a lot of. They must have enjoyed the experience, because the anonymous author was eager to share what he had learned—both how to make it and what it’s good for. (“Any way you like” and “Everything”, respectively.)


This ebook was originally made from a modern reprint of the 1889 re-edition. That copy is no longer available to me, so page images are from the 1866 edition unless otherwise noted. The Notes on Chemistry are not mine; they form part of the original (1866/1889) book. Even then, it looks as if the chemist threw up his hands in despair about a third of the way through, so the last note is from page 10 of the 25-page text.

In a few places, the 1889 re-edition introduced typographic errors that weren’t present in the 1866 original. If one edition or the other has the expected form (for example, “Brit. Mus.” rather than “Brit, Mus.”, or consistent typography in a modern sidenote) I’ve silently used the correct version. Punctuation and capitalization in the primary text are generally editorial, so I haven’t noted differences between 1866 and 1889. Italics in the primary text have their usual EETS meaning of expanded abbreviation. Note that the 1866 edition consistently used and (in italics) where the 1889 edition has & (ampersand).

As with any Early English Text Society publication, there is the problem of how to render the half-dozen different kinds of head- , foot-, and above all sidenotes:

page image showing various sidenotes

In the original, all sidenotes were printed in the outer margin; so were a few footnotes, probably for reasons of space. I’ve distributed them like this:

If you are reading this text on a small device such as a smartphone, sidenotes will display after the text they belong to.

Paragraph breaks without indentation were added by me so the sidenotes would line up better. The character “l-bar” ƚ (html entity 410 or x019A) has been represented throughout the text by “l-stroke” ł (322 or x0142) for more reliable display. Asterisks identifying folio breaks, as in “* The .5. medicyn” and “[* Fol. 20b]”, are in the original. Other changes or corrections—there are not many—are given at the end of the etext.

title page: The / Book of Quinte Essence / or / The Fifth Being / That is to say, / Man’s Heaven.

A tretice in englisch breuely drawe out of þe book of quintis
essencijs in latyn, þat hermys þe prophete and
kyng of Egipt, after þe flood of Noe,
fadir of philosophris, hadde by
reuelacioun of an aungil
of god to him




Original Series, No. 16



The odd account of the origin of this Treatise—in its first lines—caught my eye as I was turning over the leaves of the Sloane Manuscript which contains it. I resolved to print it as a specimen of the curious fancies our forefathers believed in (as I suppose) in Natural Science, to go alongside of the equally curious notions they put faith in in matters religious. And this I determined on with no idea of scoffing, or pride in modern wisdom; for I believe that as great fallacies now prevail in both the great branches of knowledge and feeling mentioned, as ever were held by man. Because once held by other men, and specially by older Englishmen, these fancies and notions have, or should have, an interest for all of us; and in this belief, one of them is presented here.

The loss of my sweet, bright, only child, Eena, and other distress, have prevented my getting up any cram on the subject of Quintessence to form a regular Preface. The (translated?) original of the text is attributed to Hermes—Trismegistus, “or the thrice great Interpreter,” so called as “having three parts of the Philosophy of the whole world”*—to whom were credited more works than he wrote. The tract appears to be a great fuss about Alcohol or Spirits of Wine; how to make it, and get more or vi less tipsy on it, and what wonders it will work, from making old men young, and dying men well, to killing lice.

The reading of the proof with the MS. was done by Mr. Edmund Brock, the Society’s most careful and able helper. To Mr. Cockayne I am indebted for the identification of some names of plants, &c.; and to Mr. Gill of University College, London, for some Notes on the Chemistry of the treatise, made at the request of my friend Mr. Moreshwar Atmaram. The Sloane MS. I judge to be about, but after, 1460 A.D. The later copy (Harleian MS. 853, fol. 66) seems late 16th century or early 17th, and has been only collated for a few passages which require elucidation. The pause marks of the MS. and text require to be disregarded occasionally in reading.

Egham, 16th May, 1866.

P.S. The short side-notes in inverted commas on and after p. 16 (save ‘5 Me’ and the like) are by a later hand in the MS. The ‘Spheres’ on p. 26, and the ‘Contents,’ p. vii-viii, are now added.—F. 1889.

* The Mirror of Alchimy, composed by the thrice-famous and learned Fryer, Roger Bachon, 1597.

Mr. M. A. Tarkhad has been for many years Vice-Principal of the Rajkumar College, for the sons of the native Chiefs of Rajkote.—1889.

Mr. E. A. Bond of the British Museum has kindly looked at the MSS., and puts the Sloane at 1460-70 A.D., and the Harleian at about 1600.








[Sloane MS. 73, fol. 10. Brit. Mus.]


[Fol. 10.] With þe myȝt, wisdom, and grace of þe holy trynite, I write to ȝou a tretice in englisch breuely drawe out of þe book of quintis essencijs in latyn, þat hermys þe prophete and kyng of Egipt, after the flood of Noe, fadir of philosophris, hadde by reuelacioun of an aungil of god to him sende, þat þe wijsdom and þe science of þis book schulde not perische, but be kept and preserued vnto þe eende of þe world, of alle holy men from al wickid peple and tyrauntis, for greet perilis þat myȝte falle þerof. For wiþinne þis breue tretis, wiþ þe grace of god, I wole more determine of practif1 þan of theorik. ȝitt ben boþe nedeful / By the grace of God I translate you this Treatise revealed to Hermes by an angel after Noah’s flood, that the knowledge of this book may be preserved to the end of the world.
The firste and souereyneste priuyte þat god, maker of kynde, ordeyned for mannys nede, how þat olde euangelik men, and feble in kynde, myȝte be restorid, and haue aȝen her firste strenkþis of ȝongþe in þe same degree þat is in al kynde, & be mad hool parfiȝtly, God’s greatest secret for man’s need is how to restore old feeble men to the strength of their youth,
except þe strok of þe þundir blast, & violent brusuris, and oppressynge of to myche betynge / Also perilous fallyngis of hiȝ placis, to myche abstynence, & oþere yuel gouernaunce aȝens kynde, And also þe teerme þat is sett of god, þat noman may a-schape, as Iob seiþ in latyn / except in case of thunder-blast, and too much fasting, and the term set for all men.
“Breues dies hominis sunt &c.” ‘Nota.’


Forsoþe philosophoris clepen þe purest substaunce of manye corruptible þingis elementid, ‘quinta essencia,’ þat is to seie, ‘mannys heuene,’ drawe out by craft of mani;2 for whi, as quinta essencia superior, þat is, heuene of oure lord god, in reward of þe .iiij elementis, is yncorruptible & vnchaungeable / The purest substance of corruptible things is Quinte Essence or man’s heaven.
[* Fol. 10b.] riȝt so *quinta essencia superior inferior, þat is to seie, mannys heuene, is incorruptible, in reward of þe .4. qualitees of mannys body; and so it is preued naturaly þat oure quinta essencia, þat is, mannes heuene, in it-silf3 is incorruptible; and so it is not hoot and drie wiþ fier / ne coold and moist wiþ watir / ne hoot & moist with eyr, ne coold and drie wiþ erþe; but oure quinta essencia avayliþ to þe contrarie, as heuene incorruptible / Quinte Essence is incorruptible as to the four qualities of man’s body,
But vndirstonde þat oure qui[n]ta essencia is nouȝt so incorruptible as is heuene of oure lord god; but it is incorruptible in reward of composicioun maad of þe .4. elementis; but not as the heaven of God.
& it hath .iij. names by the philosophoris, þat is to seie / brennynge watir / þe soule in þe spirit of wyn, & watir of lijf / But whanne ȝe wole concelle it, þanne schal ȝe clepe it ‘oure quinta essencia’; for þis name, & þe nature þerof, riȝt fewe philosophoris wolde schewe / but sikurly þei biriede þe truþe with hem. and witiþ weel that it is clepid brennynge watir; and it is no brennyng watir: It is called, 1. Burning Water; 2. the Soul in the spirit of Wine; 3. Water of Life; and if you wish to conceal it, Quinte Essence.
forwhi, it is not moist ne coold as comoun watir; for it brenneþ, & so doiþ not comyn watir; It is neither moist and cold like water,
ne it is nat hoot and moist as eir, for eir corrumpiþ a þing a-noon, as it schewiþ weel by generacioun of flies, & areins, and siche oþere; but sikirly þis is alwey incorruptible, if it be kept cloos fro fliȝt / nor hot and moist like air,
Also it is not coold and drie as erþe. for souereynly it worchiþ & chaungiþ. And it is not hoot and drie as fier, as it schewiþ by experience; for hoot þingis it keliþ, & hoot sijknessis it doiþ awey / nor cold and dry like earth, nor hot and dry like fire.
[* Fol. 11.] Also þat it ȝeueþ incorruptibilite, and kepiþ a þing fro corruptibilite *and rotynge, it is preued þus / Forwhi. what pece of fleisch, fisch, or deed brid, be putt þerinne, it schal not corru[m]pe ne rote whilis it is þerinne / It gives incorruptibility, for it prevents dead flesh from rotting,
miche more þanne it wole kepe quyk fleisch of mannys body from al manere corruptibilite and rotynge / This is oure quinta essencia, þat is to seie, mannys heuene, þat god made to þe 3 conseruacioun of þe .4. qualitees of mannys body, riȝt as he made his heuene to þe conseruacioun of al þe world / and much more the living flesh of man. It is Man’s Heaven, preserving his body as Heaven does the world.
And wite ȝe for certeyn þat manye philosophoris and lechis þat ben now, knowe nouȝt þis quinta essencia, ne þe truþe þerof / Forwhi; god wole not þat þei knowe it; for her greet brennynge coueitise & vicious lyuynge / Many know it not now for their covetousness and vice.


Forsoþe quinta essencia superior, þat is to seie, heuene of oure lord god bi him silf / Aloone / ȝeueþ not conseruacioun in þe world, and wondirful influence, but by þe vertue of þe sunne, planetis, and oþere sterris; riȝt so oure quinta essencia, þat is, mannys heuene, wole be maad fair wiþ þe sunne mineralle, fynyd, schynynge, incorruptibile; and euene in qualite þat fier may not appeire, corrumpe, ne distroie. and þis is verry gold of þe myn, of þe erþe, or of þe floodis gaderid / But as God’s Heaven is aided by sun and stars, so our Heaven, or Quinte Essence, is made fair by the sun mineral, or pure gold of the mine, not of alchemy.
for gold of alkamy maad with corosyues distroieþ kynde, as aristotle and manye oþere philosophoris prouen / ‘Nota.’
and þerfore good gold naturel, & of þe myn of þe erbe, is clepid of philosophoris ‘sol’ in latyn; for he is þe sonne of oure heuene, lich as sol þe planet is in þe heuene aboue; for þis planete ȝeueþ to gold his influence, nature, colour, & a substaunce incorruptible. Good natural gold is called Sol, because Sol the planet gives gold its power, colour, &c.
[* Fol. 11b.] And oure quinta essencia, mannys heuene, is of þe nature *& þe colour of heuene / And oure sol, þat is, fyn gold of þe myne, schal make it fair, riȝt as sol þe planete makiþ heuene fair / and so þese two togidere ioyned schal ȝeue influence in us, and þe condiciouns of heuene and of heuenly sonne / in as miche as it is possible in deedly nature, conseruacioun and restorynge of nature lost, & renewynge of ȝongþe / Our Quinte Essence is the colour of heaven; gold makes it fair; and the two work in us (so far as is possible) renewal of youth, and give health plenteously.
And it schal ȝeue plenteuously heelþe: and so it is preued by astronomy aboue, þat sterris þat haþ influence vpon þe heed and þe necke of man / as ben þe sterris of aries, taurus, and gemini, ȝeuen influence syngulerly vpon̅ Gerapigra galieni / As Aries, Taurus, and Gemini draw humours from the head and breast, and not the limbs beneath,


And þerfore it haþ a synguler strenkþe, by þe ordynaunce of god, to drawe awey þe superflue humouris fro þe heed, þe necke, and þe brest, and not fro þe membris byneþe / And so I seie of spicis þat drawiþ humouris fro þe knees, þe leggis, and þe feet, þat resseyuen a synguler influence of þe sterris of Capricorn, Aquarie and pisces, & riȝt so of oþere, et cetera / so those spices that do draw from these limbs get their power from Capricorn, &c.
Comounne ȝe not þis book of deuyne secretes to wickid men and auerous; 4 but kepe ȝe it in priuytee / Tell not these Divine secrets to wicked men.


To make Quinte Essence.

Take þe beste wiyn þat ȝe may fynde, if ȝe be of power; & if ȝe be riȝt pore, þanne take corrupt wiyn, þat is, rotyn, of a watery humour, but not egre, þat is, sour, for þe quint essencia þerof is naturaly incorruptible þe which ȝe schal drawe out by sublymacioun / And þanne schal þer leue in þe ground of þe vessel þe .4. elementis, as it were, rotun fecis of wiyn /

‘aqua vite’

Take the best wine, or any not sour; distil it, and the 4 Elements shall be left like dregs.
[* Fol. 12.] But firste ȝe muste distille þis wiyn .7. tymes; & þanne haue ȝe good brennynge watir / Forsoþe, þis is þe watri mater *fro which is drawe oure quinta essencia / Distil 7 times to get Burning Water;
Thanne muste ȝe do make in þe furneis of aischin, a distillatorie of glas al hool of oo. pece, wiþ an hoole a-boue in þe heed, where þe watir schal be putt yn, and be take out / And þis is a wondirful instrument þat þat þing þat by vertues of fier ascendith and distillith wiþinne þe vessel, per canales brachiales, þat is, by pipis lich to armys, be bore aȝen, and eftsoones ascendith, & eft descendiþ contynuely day and nyȝt, til þe brennynge water heuenly be turned into quintam essenciam / And so bi continuelle ascenciouns & discenciouns, þe quinta essencia is departid fro þe corruptible composicioun of þe .4. elementis.


put this in a Distiller in a furnace, and let the vapour rise, condense, and be distilled till it is turned into Quinte Essence, and parted from the 4 elements.
For bifore þat þing þat is twies sublymed is more glorified, and is more sotil, and fer from þe corrumpcioun of þe .4. elementis more separat þan whanne it ascendith but oonys; ‘Nota.’
and so vnto a þousand tymes, so þat by coutynuel ascendynge and descendynge, by the which it is sublymed to so myche hiȝnes of glorificacioun, it schal come þat it schal be a medicyn incorruptible almoost as heuene aboue, and of þe nature of heuene / And þerfore oure quinta essencia worþily is clepid ‘mannys heuene’ / Distil it 1000 times, and it shall be glorified and become a medicine incorruptible as heaven.
And aftir manye daies þat it hath be in þis sotil vessel of glas distillid / ȝe schulen opene þe hoole of þe vessel in þe heed þat was selid with þe seel of lute of wijsdom, maad of þe sotillest flour, and of white of eyren, and of moist papere, ymeyngid so þat no þing respire out / After many days unstop your distiller,


[* Fol. 12b.] And whane ȝe opene þe hoole. if þer come out a passynge heuenly swete flauour þat alle men þat come yn naturely *drawe þerto. þanne ȝe haue oure quinta essencia / and if there issues out a heaven-sweet savour, you have our Quinte Essence.
and ellis sele þe vessel, and putte it to þe fier aȝen til ȝe haue it. If not, distil again till you have.


The second way to make Quinte Essence.

And anoþer maner worchinge of oure quinta essencia is þis / Take þe noblest and þe strengest brennynge watir þat ȝe may haue distillid out of pure myȝty wiyn, and putte it into a glas clepid ‘amphora, with a long necke / and close þe mouþ strongly wiþ wex; And loke þat half or þe þridde part be fulle; and birie it al in hors dounge, preparate as it is seid hereafter / so þat þe necke of þe glas be turned dounward, & þe botum be turned vpward, þat by vertu of þe hors dounge þe quinta essencia ascende vp to þe botum. And þe grosté of þe mater of þe watir descende dounward to þe necke / Put the strongest Burning Water into an ‘amphora;’ seal it up; bury it neck downwards in horse-dung, and the Quinte Essence will rise into the globe and the impurities settle in the neck.
And aftir manye daies, whanne ȝe take it out, softly lift vp þe glas as it stondith, and ȝe schal se in þickenes and cleernesse a difference bitwene þe quintam essenciam sublymed, and þe grose mater þat is in þe necke / þe wondirful maistry of departynge of þat oon fro þat oþer is þis / Take the glass out of the dung;
Take a scharp poyntel, or a pricke of yren, & peerse into þe wex þat hongiþ in þe mouþ of þe glas aȝens þe erþe / and whanne ȝe haue peersid al fully to þe watir, take out þe poyntel or þe pricke / make a hole in the wax seal,
And þat erþely watir wole first come out þat is in þe necke / and so til it be come out vnto þe departinge bitwixe it / and þe quinte essence, þat is, mannys heuene sublymed. let out the impure earthy water,
[* Fol. 13.] and whane ȝe se þat þis quint essence wole renne & melte aftir þat þis erþely watir be voydid, putte þanne swiftly ȝoure fyngir to þe hoole, & turne vp þe glas, and þanne ȝe haue þerinne oure quinte essence, *and þe erþely watir wiþoute aside. And þis is a passyng souereyn priuytee. and when the Quinte Essence would begin to run, turn the glass up, and keep your Quinte Essence.

The third way.

  The þridde maner is, þat ȝe take a greet glas clepid amphora, and seele it weel, and birie it weel in þe wombe of an hors al togidere. and þe pureté of þe quinte essencie schal be sublymed aboue, & þe grosté schal abide byneþe in þe botme / take out softli þat þat fletiþ a-boue; and þat þat leeueþ bihynde, putte it to þe fier. Put your amphora into a horse’s belly instead of the dung, and proceed as above.

The fourth way.

  The .iiij. maner is þis. take what vessel of glas þat ȝe wole, or of erþe strongly glasid, and þer-vpon a round foot of glas wiþ a leg. and seele þe vessel with his couertour, þat þe rod of þe foot of þe glas wiþinne þe vessel honge in þe eyr, þat þat þing þat ascendith to þe couertour in þe maner of a pott boilynge 6 descende doun aȝen by þe foot of þe glas. and this instrument may ȝe do make wiþoute greet cost / Substitute for the amphora a vessel of glass or earth, with a tube running from the top and hanging in the air, into which the vapour may fall and condense.


The fifth way.

  The fifþe maner is, þat þe brennynge water be .10 tymes distillid in hors dounge contynuely digest. Distil your Burning Water ten times.

To make fire without fire, and Quinte Essence without cost or trouble.

  The science of makynge of fier wiþoute fier / wherby ȝe may make oure quinte essence wiþoute cost or traueile, and withoute occupacioun and lesynge of tyme /
Take þe beste horse dounge þat may be had þat is weel digest, and putte it wiþine a uessel, or ellis a pitt maad wiþ þe erþe anoyntid þoruȝout with past maad of aischin. And in þis vessel or pitt, bete weel togidere þe dounge; And in þe myddil of þis doung, sette þe vessel of distillacioun vnto þe myddis or more / For it is nede þat al þe heed of þe vessel be in þe coold eir / Put horse-dung into a vessel or pit lined with ashes, and place your vessel in it up to the middle.
[* Fol. 13b.] þat, þat þing þat bi vertu of þe fier of þe doung þat ascendith þerby be turned into watir *by vertu of cooldnes of þe eir and falle doun aȝen and ascende vp aȝen. and þus ȝe haue fier wiþoute fier, and but wiþ litil traueile. The cold top part will condense the vapour caused by the heat of the dung.
Also anoþer maner of fier. sette ȝoure vessel forseid to þe strong reuerberacioun of þe sunne in somer tyme, and lete it stonde þere nyȝt and day. Or, place your vessel in the sun’s rays.

How poor evangelic men may get the gracious influence of gold.

  Here I wole teche ȝou how pore euangelik men may haue wiþoute cost, and almoost for nouȝt, þe gracious influence of gold, and þe maner of þe fixynge of it in oure heuene, þat is, oure quinta essencia.
if ȝe be pore, ȝe schal preie a riche man þat is ȝoure freend to leene ȝou a good floreyn of florence / and anele it vpon a plate of yren as yren is anelid. and haue biside ȝou a uessel of erþe glasid, fillid ful of the beste brennynge watir þat ȝe may fynde. & caste into þe watir þe floreyn anelid. and loke þat ȝe haue a sotilte and a sleiȝþe to quenche sodeynly þe fier, þat þe watir waaste not; and be weel war þat non yren touche þe watir. but af[t]er caste into þe watir þe floreyn, Borrow a Florence florin of a rich friend, anneal [?heat] it on a plate of iron, and throw it into some Burning Water, taking care to quench the fire quickly to prevent the Water wasting.
and do so .l. tymes or more, for þe oftere þe bettere it is / And if ȝe se þat þe watir waaste to myche, chaunge it þanne, and take newe, & do so ofte tymes. and whanne ȝe haue do ȝoure quenchour, putte all þe watris togidere / Repeat this 50 times in fresh Water, and then mix all the Waters together.


[* Fol. 14.] And ȝe schulen vndirstonde þat þe vertu of brennynge watir is sich þat naturely it drawiþ out of 7 gold alle þe vertues & propirtees of it, & it holdiþ incorrumptibilitee & an euene heete. The Water draws out all the properties of the gold.
*þanne meynge þis brennynge watir þus giltid wiþ oure quinte essence, and vse it. but be war þat ȝe quenche not þe floreyn in oure quinte essence; for þanne it were lost / Mix the gilt Burning Water with Quinte Essence.
And if it so be þat ȝe haue not þis brennynge watir redy, þanne quenche ȝoure floreyn in þe beste whiȝt wiyn þat may be had / For sikirly þe philosophore seiþ, þat wiyn hath also þe propirtee to restreyne in it þe influence and vertues of gold / And whanne ȝe haue do ȝoure werk, ȝe schal wite þat þe floreyn is als good, & almoost of þe same weiȝte, as it was afore / You may substitute for Burning Water best white wine, which also retains the powers of gold.
þerfore vse wiyn or brennynge watir giltid, so þat ȝe may be hool, and wexe glad, and be ȝong. And þus ȝe haue oure heuene, and þe sunne in him fixid, to þe conseruacioun of mannys nature and fixacioun of oure heuene, þat is, oure quinte essence. This gilt Water will make you well and young again.
In it you have the Sun fixed in our Heaven.

How to gild Burning Water or Wine more thoroughly.

  The science how ȝe schule gilde more myȝtily by brennynge watir or wiyn þan I tauȝte you tofore, wherby þe water or þe wiyn schal take to it myȝtily þe influence & þe vertues of fyne gold. ‘science.’
Take þe calx of fyn gold as it is declarid here-aftir in þis book, and putte it in a siluer spone, and anele it at þe fier. & þanne caste þe cals of the gold in þe brennynge watir or in wiyn .l. times, as I tauȝte ȝou tofore wiþ þe floreyn. Heat calcined gold in a silver spoon and put it in Burning Water or wine 50 times, as with the florin before.
[* Fol. 14b.] and ȝe schule haue ȝoure licour by an hundrid part bettir gilt þan ȝe had tofore wiþ þe floreyn / Forwhi. fier worchiþ more strongly and bettere *in sotil parties þan it doiþ in an hool plate / And also brennynge watir or wiyn drawiþ out more myȝtily bi a þousand part þe propirtees of gold fro smale parties anelid, þan it doiþ fro a þicke plate / And ȝe schal vndirstonde þat wiyn not aloonly holdiþ in it þe propirtees of gold, but myche more þe propirtees of alle liquibles if þei be quenchid þerinne. Your liquor will be better gilt, as the fire and Water or wine work more powerfully on the grains of gold than on a plate.
Wine retains the properties of all liquibles quenched in it.
and þat is a souereyn priuite: Forwhi, if ȝe quenche saturne liquified in wiyn or in comoun watir .7. tymes, and aftirward in þat wiyn or watir ȝe quenche mars manye tymes, þanne mars schal take algate þe neischede and þe softnes of saturne / If Saturn (lead) liquefied be quenched in wine, and then Mars (iron) be quenched in it, Mars acquires the softness of Saturn.
And þe same schal venus do, & alle oþere liquibles / or ellis, And ȝe 8 quenche mars in whiȝt wiyn or in comoun watir manye tymes, and aftirward in þe same wiyn or watir ȝe caste saturne liquified ofte tymes, þanne wiþoute doute ȝe schal fynde þat þe saturne is maad riȝt hard / Therfore þe propirtees of alle liquibles may be brouȝt into wiyn or watir; but myche more myȝtily into brennynge watir good and precious. Again, if you quench Mars in wine and put in it Saturn liquefied, this will be made hard.


To make fire without coals, lime, light, &c.

  The science to make a fier, þat is, wiþoute cole, withoute lyme, wiþoute liȝt, worchinge aȝens al maner scharpnes or accioun of visible fier, riȝt as worchiþ þe fier of helle /
[* Fol. 15] And þis priuytee is so vertuous, þat þe vertu þerof may not al be declarid. And þus it is maad. Take Mercurie þat is sublymed with vitriol, *& comen salt, & sał armoniac .7. or .10. tymes sublymed / and meynge hem togidere by euene porcioun. and grynde it smal, and leye it abrood vpon a marbil stoon; and by nyȝte sette it in a soft cleer eir, or ellis in a coold seler; and þere it wole turne into watir / And þanne gadere it togidere in to a strong vessel of glas, and kepe it / Mix equal parts of sublimated Mercury, Salt, and Sal Ammoniac, grind them small, expose them to the air, and they’ll turn into water,
This water forsoþe is so strong, þat if a litil drope þerof falle vpon ȝoure hond, anoon it wole perce it þoruȝ-out; and in þe same maner it wole do, if it falle vpon a plate of venus or Iubiter, into þis watir, it turneþ hem into lijknes of peerl. a drop of which will eat thro’ your hand, and make Venus (copper) or Jupiter (tin) like pearl.
who so coude reparale & preparate kyndely þis fier, wiþoute doute it wolde quenche anoon a brennynge sijknes clepid þe fier of helle. And also it wolde heele euery cor[os]if sijknesse. If it could be moderated it would cure the disease Hell fire, and every corrosive sickness.
And manye philosophoris clepiþ þis þing in her bookis ‘sal amarus,’ al þouȝ þei teche not þe maistrie þerof / If it be so þat þis firy watir breke þe glas, and renne out into þe aischen, þanne gadere alle togidere þat ȝe fynde pastid in þe aischen / and leye it vpon a marbil stoon as afore, and it wole turne into watir. And þis is a greet priuytee.

‘sal amarus.’

It is also called ‘Sal Amarus.’


To calcine gold.

[* Fol. 15b.] The science to brynge gold into calx / Take fyn gold, and make it into smal lymayl: take a crusible wiþ a good quantitee of Mercurie, and sette it to a litil fier so þat it vapoure not, and putte þerinne þi lymail of gold, and stire it weel togidere / & aftirward *wiþinne a litil tyme ȝe schal se al þe gold wiþinne þe Mercurie turned into erþe as sotil as flour. þanne ȝeue it a good fier, þat þe Mercurie arise and go his wey;


Cut gold into shavings; put it into a crucible with Mercury; heat it, and it will crumble into dust like flour.
Heat it more till the mercury goes his way;
9 or ellis, and ȝe wole, ȝe may distille and gadere it, puttynge þer-vpon a lembike / and in þe corusible ȝe schal fynde þe gold calcyned and reducid into erþe / or distil it, and the gold powder will be in the crucible.
And if ȝe wole not make lymayl of gold, þanne make þerof a sotil þinne plate, as ȝe kan, and putte wiþinne þe Mercurie al warm; and ȝe schal haue ȝoure desier / And in þis same maner ȝe may worche wiþ siluir / A thin plate of gold will do instead of shavings, and Silver may be treated like gold.
Thanne take þe calx of þese two bodies, and bere hem openly wiþ ȝou; and þer schal noman knowe what þei ben / And if ȝe wole bere hem more priuyly wiþoute ony knowynge, þanne meynge hem wiþ pich melt, or wex, or ellis gumme, for þanne noman schal knowe it what it is. To carry these powders about, mix them with pitch, wax, or gum,
And whanne ȝe wole dissolue ony of þese calces by hem silf, putte eiþir by him silf in a test, or ellis þe pich or þe wex in which þei ben ynne; and anoon schal come out verry gold & siluer as þei were tofore. melting the mass when you want the metal.

How to separate gold from silver when mixed with it.

  Now I wole teche ȝou þe maistrie of departynge of gold fro siluir whanne þei be meyngid togidere / Forsoþe ȝe woot weel þat þer be manye werkis in þe whiche gold and siluir be meyngid, as in giltynge of vessel & Iewellis /
[* Fol. 16.] þerfore whanne ȝe wole drawe þe toon fro þat oþir, putte al þat mixture into a strong watir maad of vitriol and of sał petre. and þe *siluyr wole be dissolued, and not þe gold: þanne ȝe haue þat oon departid fro þe toþir / Put the mixture into a solution of vitriol and saltpetre, and the silver will be dissolved.
And if ȝe wole dissolue þe gold to watir, putte þanne yn þe watir corosyue, Sał armoniac; and þat watir wiþoute doute wole dissolue gold into watir. Corrosive water and sal ammoniac will dissolve the gold.


How to get out of gold its Quinte Essence.

  The science to drawe out of fyn gold vta essencia is þis / First ȝe schal reduce gold into calx, as I tolde ȝou tofore / þanne take vynegre distillid, or ellis oold vryne depurid fro þe fecis, and putte it in a uessel glasid; and þe liquor schal be in þe heiȝþe of 4. ynchis; and þerinne caste þe calx of gold, & sette it to the strong sunne in somer tyme, þere to abide / and soone aftir ȝe schal se as it were a liquor of oyle ascende vp, fletynge aboue in maner of a skyn or of a reme. gadere þat awey wiþ a sotil spone or ellis a feþere, and putte it into a uessel of glas in þe which be putt watir tofore. and þus gadere it manye tymes in þe day, into þe tyme þat þer ascende nomore /


Put calcined gold into distilled vinegar or purified urine; set it in a hot sun; a film will soon rise; skim it off, collect all such in a glass vessel till no more rise.
and aftir do vapoure awey þe watir at þe fier. And þe vta essencia of þe 10 gold wole abyde byneþe. And manye philosophoris clepiþ þis quinta essencia an oile incombustible, þat is a greet priuytee / Evaporate the water left; the residuum is the Quinte Essence of Gold.
And if ȝe wole fixe þis quinta essencia in oure heuene, þat4 it may wiþoute doute restore aȝen to man þat nature þat is lost, and reduce him aȝen into þe vertu of þe strenkþe of ȝongþe, and also lenkþiþ his lijf into þe laste terme of lijf set of god // And if you fix this Quinte Essence in our heaven, it will restore man to the strength of his youth.
[* Fol. 16b.] Now forsoþe I haue toold ȝou þe souereynest *priuytee and restorynge of mannys kynde, and in part greet þing þat schulde not be schewid / Forwhi. þis oyle, þat is to seie, quinta essencia of gold, hath þe mooste swetnes and vertu to a-swage and putte awei þe ache of woundis, and for to heele woundis, oolde sooris, and manye wondirful yuelis / Also in þe same maner ȝe may drawe out of siluir, quinte essencie // Now I have told this most sovereign secret, which should not be shewed.


The Quinte Essence of gold is best to heal wounds.


How to get its Quinte Essence out of Antimony.

  The science to drawe out of antymony, þat is, mercasite of leed, þe vte essencie, is a souereyn maistrie, and a priuytee of alle priuytees / Take þe myn of antymony aforeseid, and make þerof al so sotil a poudre as ȝe kan / þanne take þe beste vynegre distillid, and putte þerinne þe poudre of antymonye, and lete it stonde in a glas vpon a litil fier into þe tyme þat þe vynegre be colourid reed. þanne take þat vynegre awey, and kepe it clene, and putte aȝen þer-to of oþere vynegre distillid, and lete it stonde vpon a soft fier til it be colourid reed. & so do ofte tymes. and whanne ȝe haue gaderid al ȝoure vynegre colourid, putte it þanne in a distillatorie. and first þe vynegre wole ascende; þanne after ȝe schal se merueilis: for ȝe schal se as it were a þousand dropis of blessid wiyn discende doun in maner of reed dropis, as it were blood, by þe pipe of þe lymbike / þe which licour, gadere togidere in a rotumbe / and þanne ȝe haue a þing þat al þe tresour of þe world may not be in comparisoun of worþines þerto / Put powdered antimony into distilled vinegar; heat it till the vinegar is red; take away the red vinegar, and put fresh; take that away when red. Put the red vinegar into a distiller, and 1000 drops of blessed wine shall come down the pipe; collect this; it is an incomparable treasure.
[* Fol. 17.] aristotle seiþ þat it is his lede in þe book of secretis, al þouȝ he *telle not þe name of þe antymonye aforeseid / [Nota.]
Forsoþe þis doiþ awey ache of alle woundis, and wondirfully heeliþ. þe vertu þerof is incorruptible & merueilous profitable / It cures the pain of all wounds,
it nedit to be putrified in a rotombe and seelid in fyme, and þanne it worchiþ greet priuytees / Forsoþe þe vta essencia of þis antymony þat is reed, in þe which is 11 þe secreet of alle secretis, is swettere þan ony hony, or sugre, or ony oþir þing. and when fermented it works great secrets.


How to get its Quinte Essence from Man’s Blood.

  The science in the extraccioun of þe .55 essencie from blood, and fleisch, & eggis / To ȝou I seie, þat in euery elementid þing, þe .5. essencie remayneþ incorrupte: it schal be þanne þe moost þing of merueyle if I teche ȝou to drawe out þat fro mannys blood reserued of Barbouris whanne þei lete blood; also fro fleisch of alle brute beestis, and fro alle eggis, and oþere suche þingis. ‘Science.’
for als myche as mannes blood is þe perfitist werk of kynde in us, as to þe encrees of þat þat is lost, it is certeyn þat nature þat .5. essence maad so perfiȝt þat, wiþoute ony oþir greet preparacioun wiþoute þe veynes, it beriþ forþ þat blood anoon aftir into fleisch. and þis 5 essence is so nyȝ kynde þat [it] is moost to haue6 / Man’s blood is the perfectest work of nature in us, and its Quinte Essence converts blood into flesh,
Forwhy. in it is merueylous vertu of oure heuene sterrid, and to þe cure of nature of man worchiþ moost deuyn myraclis, as wiþinne I schal teche ȝou / and works divine miracles of healing.
þerfore resceyue of Barbouris, of ȝong sangueyn men, or colerik men, whanne þei be late blood, þe which vse good wynes. take þat blood aftir þat it haþ reste, and cast awey þe watir fro it, and braie it wiþ þe .10. part of comen salt preparate to medicyns of men; and putte it into a uessel of glas clepid amphora, Get from Barbers the blood of young sanguine men; let it stand; pour off the serum; mix the blood with a tenth of prepared salt; put it in an amphora;
[* Fol. 17b.] þe which, sotely seele, and putte it wiþinne þe *wombe of an hors, preparate as tofore, and renewe þe fyme oonys in þe wike, or more, and lete it putrifie til al þe blood be turned into watir / and it schal be doon at þe mooste in xxx. or xl dayes, or aftir, more or lasse / þanne putte it in a lembike, and distille it at a good fier / what so euere may ascende, putte þat watir vpon þe fecis brayed, meyngynge vpon a marbil stoon; putte it aȝen, and aftir distille it aȝen manye tymes rehersynge / seal that up; put it in a horse’s belly, renewing the dung weekly till all the blood turns into water; distil that; put the outcome on the pounded fæces, and distil over again.
And whanne ȝe haue þis noble þing of blood, þerof þe .5. beynge drawe out / putte aȝen þe watir in þe stillatorie of circulacioun til ȝe brynge it to so myche swetnes & an heuenly sauour, as ȝe dide þe brennynge watir. and þis is þe 5 beynge of blood deuyn, and miraclis more þan man mai bileue but if he se it. Heat the water in the distiller till it comes to a heavenly savour. This Fifth Being works miracles hardly credible unless seen.


To get the Quinte Essence out of capons, beasts, eggs, &c.

  Now wole I teche ȝou to drawe out þe .5 beynge from capouns, hennes, and al maner fleisch of Brut beestis, and from al maner eggis of foulis þat ben holsum and medicynable to ete for mān kynde / Grynde summe of þese þingis forseid, which þat ȝe wil, as strongly as ȝe can in a morter, wiþ þe 10 part of him of sal comen preparate to þe medicyne of men, as I seide tofore. putte it in þe wombe of an hors til it be turned into water. distille as it is aforeseid, and in þe stillatorie of circulacioun þe watir þat is distillid, putte it in aȝen til it be brouȝt to þe swete heuenly sauour and smel aforeseid / Grind some of them with a tenth part of prepared salt; put ’em into a horse’s belly till they become water, and distil that till it’s heaven-sweet.

To draw the Fifth Being out of each of the Four Elements, and to separate them.

  The science to drawe out þe 5 beynge of euerych of þe .4 elementis, and to schewe euerych of þe forseid þing bi hem silf; & þat is riȝt merueylous / I wole not leue for a litil to schewe a greet secreet, how ȝe may drawe out þe 5 beynge of ech of þe 4 elementis of al þe þing rehersid afore, and profitably schewe hem / ‘science.’
[* Fol. 18.] And þe maner ys *þis / take þat þing putrified and brouȝt into watir, what so euere ȝe wole, as I tauȝte ȝou tofore; and þat þing be mannes blood brouȝt into watir, of þe which ȝe wole drawe out þe 4 elementis / putte þerfore þat water, or þat blood putrified, in a stillatorie of glas, and sette it wiþinne a pott of watir, and ȝeue vndirneþe a fier til þe watir of blood be distillid by þe pipe of þe lembike into a glas clepid amphora, riȝt clene / Take any thing rotted and turned into water, as man’s blood; put it in a glass distiller, and distil it over into an amphora.
And whanne no þing may more by þat fier ascende, for certeyn ȝe haue of blood drawen out al oonly þe element of watir / Forwhi. fier of þat bath hath no strenkþe to sublyme eyr, or fier, or erþe. When no more vapour rises, you have drawn out the water.
and so [take] þo þre elementis, and sette in þe same bath by .vij. dayes þat þei be weel meyngid, & so cloos þat no þing be distillid / Put the other 3 elements for 7 days into the same bath,
aftir þe .vij. dayes take þe stillatorie, and putte it to þe fier of aischen, þat is strongere þan fier of bath clepid marien; and þe watir schal ascende in foorme of oyle schynynge as gold / then into a coal fire, and the water shall rise as oil shining like gold,
and aftirward þat no þing more schal ascende, ȝe haue þanne in þe ampulle .ij. elementis, þat is to seie, watir and eyr. & oon from anoþir ȝe schal departe in þe bath, puttynge yn aȝen wher al-oonly þe cleer watir schal ascende / and þe eyr schal al-oonly remayne in̅ þe botum of þe vessel in lijknesse of oyle of gold. þe which oyle þat is gold, þe which oyle 13 þat is ayr / putte it aside. the air remaining at the bottom like oil of gold. Put these aside.
þanne þer leeueþ ȝitt fier wiþ erþe. to departe fier from erþe, putte þe element of watir, þat is to seye .iiij of watir, vpon j of mater / and putte by .vij. daies to encorpere wel as tofore in þe bath of marien̅ / To separate fire from the earth, put 4 lbs. of water on 1 lb. of earth; place it in the Marian bath for 7 days;
[* Fol. 18b.] Aftirward putte it to þe fier of flawme riȝt strong, and þe reed water schal ascende. þe which gadere togidere as longe as ony *þing ascendiþ. and to ȝou schal remayne an erþe riȝt blak in þe botum. þe which gadere togidere aside / then in hot flames; red water shall ascend and black earth fall.
þanne þe redeste watir ȝe schal take. forwhy. þer be .ij. elementis, þat is to seie, þe element of watir and fier. þanne yn þe stillatorie, to þe fier of baþ, cleer watir schal asende. and in þe botum schal remayne þe reed watir, þat is, þe element of fier. Put the red water into the distiller; pure water shall rise; red water, or fire, shall remain;
and so ȝe haue now first oon oyle, þat is, ayer o side, and watir, and fier, and erþe. and note ȝe weel þat þerfore þe element of watir is putt aȝen to drawe out from erþe fier and eyr, for þei wole not ascende, but þoruȝ þe help of element of watir. so you have the 4 Elements separate.
brynge aȝen euerych into 5 beynge wiþ þe vessel of circulacioun as tofore / or ellis rectifie, makynge oon ascende .7 tymes bi an oþir / but first ȝe moste þe riȝt blak erþe of oon hide7 nature, in þe furneys of glas mon8, or ellis reuerberacioun, xxj. dayes calcyne / Distil each into its Quinte Essence, or rectify it, and
And for a cause I speke to ȝou nomore of this science. but ioie ȝe, and thanke oure glorious lord god of þese þingis þat ȝe haue had. thank our glorious God for this bit of knowledge.


To fix all earthly things in our Quinte Essence.

  The science to fixe alle erþely þingis in nostra 5ta essencia, þat is to seie, oure heuene, þat by her influence þei may ȝeue þerto þer propertees and her hid vertues / oure glorious god haþ ȝeue sich a uertu to oure quinta essence, þat it may drawe out of euery matier of fruyȝt / tree / rote / flour, herbe / fleisch, seed & spice / And euery medicynable þing, alle þe vertues, propirtees, and naturis, þe whiche god made in hem; and þat wiþinne .iij. houris. God has given it the power of drawing all the virtues out of every thing in 3 hours.


[* Fol. 19.] Now I haue schewid ȝou a souereyn priuytee, how þat ȝe may wiþ oure heuene drawe out euery 5 essencia from alle þingis aforeseid / þerfore alle necessarie þingis to euery syrup putte yn oure 5 essencie, & wiþinne .iij. houris þat watir schal be sich a sirup, vndirstonde wel, bettir by an hundrid part, by 14 cause of oure 5 essencie, þan it *schulde be wiþoute it / Put therefore every thing necessary for any syrup into our Quinte Essence, and in 3 hours it shall be 100 times better than before.
And so I seie of medicyns comfortatyues, digestyues, laxatyues, restriktyues, and alle oþere; forwhy. if ȝe putte seedis or flouris, fruyȝtis, leeues, spicis, coold, hoot, sweet, sour, moist, do þei good or yuel, into oure 5 essencie, forsoþe sich 5 essence ȝe schulen haue þerfore. Whatever medicines are put into our Quinte Essence,
oure 5 essencie is þe instrument of alle vertues of þing transmutable if þei be putt in it, encreessynge an hundrid foold her worchingis // it increases their power a hundred fold.

Explicit pars prima tractatus quinte essencie:

End of Part I.



To restore an old evangelic man to the strength of his youth.

  Here bigynneth the secunde book of medicyns / The first medicyn is to reduce an oold feble euangelik man to þe firste strenkþe of ȝongþe / Also to restore aȝen his nature þat is lost, and to lenkþe his lijf in greet gladnesse and perfiȝte heele vnto þe laste teerme of his lijf þat is sett of god /
ȝe schal take oure 5ta essencie aforeseid, þat is to seye, mannys heuene, and þerinne putte a litil quantite of 5 essencia of gold and of peerl. and þe oolde feble man schal vse þis deuyn drynk at morn and at euen, ech tyme a walnote-schelle fulle / Give him our Quinte Essence with some of that ‘1a. Me.’ of Gold and Pearl, a walnut-shell full at morn and eve.
and wiþinne a fewe dayes he schal so hool9 þat he schal fele him silf of þe statt and þe strenkþe of xl ȝeer; and he schal haue greet ioie þat he is come to þe statt of ȝongþe. And whanne his ȝongþe is recouerid, and his nature restorid, and heelþe had, it is nedeful þat litil and seelde he vse 5 essence / Also it is nedeful þat he vse ofte good wiyn at his mete and at þe soper, in þe which be fixid þe 5. essence of gold, as I tauȝte ȝou tofore. In a few days he shall feel only 40 years old. Then let him take little of our Quinte Essence, only that of Gold in good wine at dinner and supper.

To cure a man given up by his doctors.

[* Fol. 19b.] The secunde *medicyn is to heele a man, and make hym lyue, þat is almoost consumed in nature, and so nyȝ deed þat he is forsake of lechis. but if it be þe laste teerme of his lijf sett of god, ȝe schal ȝeue him oure quinte essence of gold wiþ a litil quantite of watir of celendoyn ȝdrawe, and meynge it wiþ þe oþere þingis aforeseid / and anoon as þe sike hath resceyued it into his stomak, it ȝeueþ to þe herte influence of naturel heete and of lijf. and þanne ȝe schal se him rise vp and speke, and wondirfully be comfortid and strenkþid þerby //

‘2a. Me.’

Give him Quinte Essence of Gold with celandine water,

‘Aqua celidoyn.’

and he shall rise up and speak.
þanne comforte him wiþ ministracioun of oure quinte essencie afore seid, and he schal be al hool / but if it be so þat god wole algatis þat he schal die / And I seie to ȝou truly, þat þis is þe hiȝeste maistrie þat may be in transmutacioun of kynde; for riȝt fewe lechis now lyuynge knowe þis priuytee. Then comfort him with our Quinte Essence, and he shall be cured, unless God wills he shall die.
Few doctors now know this highest secret.


To cure the Leprosy that is caused by rotten humours.

  The þridde medicyn is to cure þe lepre þat is causid of corrupcioun and putrifaccioun of ony of þe principal humouris of man; but not þe lepre þat comeþ to man of kynde of þe fadir and of þe modir leprous,—for it is callid morbus hereditus,—ne þe lepre þat is sent of god by his plage, but þat þat is causid oonly of rotun humouris / ‘3a. Me.’
take oure 5 essence aforeseid, wiþ þe quinte essence of goold and peerl, a litil quantite at oonys, and vse it in maner as I seide afore / and wiþinne a fewe daies he schal be partily hool þerof. and if ȝe haue non preparate redy oure 5 essence, þanne take in þe stide þerof fyn brennynge watir / but þat oþer is bettere. Use our Quinte Essence, with those of Gold and Pearl;
(or Burning Water, if you have no Quinte Essence.)
[* Fol. 20.] Also, drawe a water of þe fruyȝt of strawbery or mulbery tree, whanne it is ripe, and waische þe lepre þerwiþ. þis watir is of so greet vertu; for a souereyn maistir took it a leprous *womman, þat wiþ þe waischinge oonly of þis watir, withynne schort tyme was maad al hool / but sikirly þe vertu þerof is myche worth if it be meyngid with oure 5 essence, or ellis brennyng watir; and þanne it schal be no nede to vse in þis perilous cure, venemys, as summe lechis doon. Wash the leper with strawberry or mulberry water; this is of great virtue, but is much encreased by our Quinte Essence.

To cure Palsy, which comes from viscous humours closing the passages of motive power.

  The 4 medicyn is to cure palsie vniuersel. Forsoþe alle philosophoris seyn þat þe palesye vniuersel comeþ of haboundaunce of viscous humouris closynge þe metis of vertu animale, sensityue, and motyue. And þerfore it is necessarie þat þo þingis þat schal cure þis sijknes be temperate, hoot, and moist, and a litil attractyue, and to þe synous confortatyue / 4a. Me.
Therfore, blessid be god, makere of kynde, þat ordeynede for þe man paralitike oure 5 essence aforseid, þat souereynly to him comfortynge, restorynge, and temperatly worchynge / Blessed be God, our Quinte Essence will restore the paralitic.
þerfore fixe þerinne þe 5 essence of þo laxatyues þat purgen flewme & viscous humouris, as a litil of euforbie, or turbit, or sambucy. & þanne wiþoute doute, if god wole, þe paralitik man schal be hool wiþ comfortynge and restorynge of kynde, if ȝe make him a stewe hoot and moist with herbis, þat is to seye, eerbe yue, & sauge, þat haue an heuenly strenkþe to comforte þe joynctis, & þe senewis, and þe vertu motyue. Fix in it the Quinte Essence of euphorbium and the like; and, if God will, the palsied man shall be whole, if you make him a stew of ivy and sage.

‘Nota / yue / sauge.’

and if ȝe haue not redi preparate oure 5 essence, þanne take fyn brennynge watir til it 17 be redy, and lete þe pacient drynke þerof a litil in fyn wiyn. and also he schal waische al his body and his extremytees wiþ brennynge watir ofte tymes. and lete him vse þis a good while, & he schal be hool. / Failing Quinte Essence, let him drink Burning Water in fine wine, and wash all over with burning water.


To fatten lean and consumptive men.

[* Fol. 20b.] *The .5 medicyn for a man þat is almoost al consumed, & waastid in al his body, and riȝt leene, as þat man þat hath þe tisik & þe etik / Forsoþe þe verry cure to heele him is oure 5 essence / Forwhi. it comfortiþ þe feble nature; and þe nature þat is lost it restoriþ, & so restorid it preserueþ / ‘5. Me.’
And þerfore if ȝe wol restore þe fleisch of a leene mannys body almoost consumed awey, drawe þanne a watir of celidoyne, and take þerof a litil quantite, and meynge wiþ oure 5 essence if ȝe haue it redy, or brennynge watir in stide þerof, and ȝeue it him to drinke; and wiþinne fewe dayes he schal be wondirfully restorid and fat. Mix with our Quinte Essence a little celandine water;


give it the patient, and he shall soon be wonderfully fat.

To cure Frensy, Gout, and troubles from Devils.

  The .6. medicyn for passiouns of frenesie, foly, ymagynaciouns and noyous vexaciouns of deuelis, and also for þe goute als weel hoot as coold. certeyn experience techiþ þat colerik men ȝeueþ to summe ymagynaciouns; and sangueyn men ben ocupied aboute summe oþere ymagynaciouns; & ȝitt flewmatik men aboute oþere / but þo men þat habounde in blak coler, þat is, malencoly, ben occupied a þousand part wiþ mo þouȝtis þan ben men of ony oþer complexioun / ‘.6. Me.’
‘blake coler.’
Forwhi. þat humour of blak coler is so noyous, þat if it a-bounde and a-sende vp to þe heed, it troubliþ alle þe myȝtis of þe brayn, engendrynge noyous ymagynaciouns, bryngynge yn horrible þouȝtis boþe wakynge and slepinge; and siche maner of men ben born vndir þe constillacioun of saturne, the wickide planete / Dark melancholy men are troubled more with anxieties than any others,

‘Nota sequentia.’

being born under ‘Saturne, a wykyd planete.’


[* Fol. 21.] Forsoþe, to siche men deuelis wole gladly appere, & minister to hem10 her priuy temptaciouns wiþinne þe cours of her þouȝtis; Devils gladly appear to them and tempt them,
and þese men þus *turmentid wiþ þe passiouns of malencoly comounly speke wiþ hem, stryue and dispute wiþ hem silf whanne þei be a-loone, þat ofte tymes oþere folk may heere it / These maner of men þat ben þus turmentid, as weel by passioun of malencoly as of deuelis, ofte tymes falle in dispeir, and at þe laste sle hem silf / so that they often fall into despair and kill themselves.
þe perfiȝt cure of alle þese is oure 5 essencie auri et 18 perelarum, or ellis brennynge watir in stide þerof, in þe whiche ȝe fixe gold as it is aforeseid, wherinne be putt a litil of sen̅ē or watir of f[u]miter, or poudre of lapis lasuly, or ellis medullam ebuli, and vse it discreetly. forwhy. not al oonly oure quinte essence auri et perelarum heelith þese disesis. / The cure is our Quinte Essence of Gold and Pearls, with a little senna or lapis lazuli.
but also brennynge watir in þe which gold is fixid, heeliþ hem, wiþ a litil of þo þingis þat purgen and casten out blak coler superflue, & heliþ þe splene. Burning Water, with a purge, will also cure these diseases.
Forsoþe þese medicyns puttiþ awey wickid þouȝtis and an heuy herte malencolious; þei gladith and clense þe brayn and alle hise myȝtis, and brynge yn gladnes and merye þouȝtis. þei putte awey also þe craft of þe feendis temptaciouns, and ymagynaciouns of dispeir. þei distroie, & make a man to forȝete almaner of yueles, and naturaly bryngiþ him aȝen to resonable witt. These medicines put away wicked thoughts, and bring in merry ones; they dispel devils’ temptations and despair, and bring a man to reason.
and for as myche as saturne þe planete naturaly ys coold and drye, and is enemye to al kynde / Forwhy, euery snow, euery hayl, euery tempest, & also þe humour of malencoly comeþ of him. & he haþ his influence vpon derk leed, &

‘Saturne. γ.’

Saturn is an enemy to all creatures, and has power over foul solitary places, as Vitas Patrum says.
[* Fol. 21b.] vpon derk *placis vnder þe erf11, foule and stynkynge, and derke wodis, and vpon foule, horrible, solitarie placis, as it is preued in vitas patrum, þat is to seye, in lyues & colaciouns of fadris /
And also þe moone, naturely coold and moist, haþ his influence vpon þe nyȝt, and vpon myche moisture, and vpon þe placis whanne 4. weyes metiþ togidere. forsoþe in alle siche placis þei wole a-bide and schewe hem to her foloweris / The Moon too is full of bane.
but forsoþe þo þingis þat ben of þe nature of Iubiter and of sol, goode planetis, arne displesynge to him, and contrarie, and naturaly deuelis fle awei fro hem, for þei haue greet abhominacioun of þer vertuous influence /

‘Jubiter and Sol | .B.’

Jupiter and Sol, on the other hand, make devils flee,
þerfore it schewiþ weel þat þo þingis þat ben in þis world, summe þer ben þat bitokene þe glorious yoie of heuene, and summe þing þat figure þe derknesse of euerlastynge peynes of helle / Forsoþe þe sunne and iubiter, goode planetis, & gold, pure metal, and alle pure þingis þat gladen a man, figurynge by resoun þe ioie of heuene / and betoken the joy of heaven,
and blak Saturne, and þe spotty moone, figure & bitokene þe condicioun of helle / as Saturn and the Moon do hell.


  and siþ þat deuelis be dampned, & ful of wreche of helle, þerfore þei hate þe clennesse & þe ioie of oure lord god & of hise seyntis / also þei haten þe sunne and his cleernes, and pure þingis þat maken a man glad. and naturaly it plesiþ hem to dwelle in derk, & in blak, orrible, stynkynge placis, in heuynesse, wreche, & malencoly, & in þo þingis þat pretende þe condicioun of helle / Devils hate the joys of God and the brightness of the sun; they delight in stinking places, and melancholy and hell-like things.
[* Fol. 22.] And siþ oure 5. essence aforeseid is so heuenly a þing, & by sotil craft *brouȝt to so myche swetnes, it is so souereyn a medicyn þat it may weel be lijkned to þe ioie of paradice. forwhi, it makiþ a man liȝt, iocunde, glad, and merie, & puttiþ awey heuynesse12, angre, melencoly, & wraþþe, þe whiche þat deuelis loue / et ideo nostra 5 essencia digne vocatur celum humanum / But our Quinte Essence is heavenly, like the joy of Paradise, and drives away anger and all that devils love, so that it is fitly called ‘Man’s Heaven.’
Also if a man be traueylid wiþ a feend, and may not be delyuerid fro him, lete him drinke a litil quantite of oure 5 essence, wiþ 5 essence of gold & peerl, and wiþ an eerbe callid ypericon, i.[e.] fuga demonum, and þe seed þerof grounden & aftirward distillid, & þe watir þerof a litil quantite medlid wiþ þe oþere 5tis essenciis; and anoon þe deuel wole fle awey fro him & fro his hous. To deliver a man from a devil,—give him some of our Quinte Essence with that of gold and pearl, and St. John’s Wort water: at once the devil will flee away.

‘fuga demonum

To cure the Gout.

  Also for þe goute, hoot or cold, þe pacient schal drynke oure 5. essence wiþ a litil quantite at oonys of þe letuarie de succo rosarum. and lete him vse þis letuarie a litil at oonys ech oþere day, til superflue humouris be purgid / but he schal vse euery day a litil of oure 5. essence with 5 essence of gold & peerle; & wiþinne a fewe dayes þe pacient schal be hool. // Take a little Quinte Essence and Rose-juice electuary, and use daily our Quinte Essence with that of Gold and Pearl.

To cure the Itch and destroy Lice.

  The .7. medicyn, for to heele ycche, & for to distrie lies13 þat ben engendrid of corrupt humouris. take oure 5 essence bi him silf a-loone, and vse to drynke þerof a litil quantite at oonys / and take also a litil quantite of Mer[curie?]. & mortifie it wiþ fastynge spotil, & medle it wiþ a good quantite 20 of poudre of stafi-sagre, & þanne put it in to a greet quantite of brennynge water,

‘.7. Me.’

Drink Quinte Essence.
Mix Mercury with spittle, Stavesacre and Burning Water.
[* Fol. 22b.] & þanne waische al his body, or ellis þe heed where þe icche & þe lies ben. & vse þis medicyn .2. or 3. & þe sijk *man schal be hool. Wash the body or head where the itch and lice are.


To cure Quartan Fever.

  The .8. medicyn for to cure the quarteyn and alle þe passiouns þat comeþ of malencoly in mannys body; and þe maistrie to purge malencoly. ‘.8ua. Me.’
‘feuer quartene.’
and ȝe schal vndirstonde þat þe quarteyn is gendrid of myche haboundaunce of malencolye þat is corrumpid withynne þe body. and for þis humour is erþely, coold, & drie, of þe nature of slowe saturne, þerfore þe accesse of þis sijknes ben slowe, and it duriþ comounly yn a man a ȝeer or more, and it puttiþ fro him gladnesse, & bryngiþ yn heuynes more þan oþere feueris do /

‘ye quarten is ingendyrd of Malyncoly.’

The Quartan arises from too much black choler, and lasts a year or more.
If ȝe wole heele þis sijknes in schort tyme, lete þe pacient vse to drynke oon14 5 essence, and he schal be al hool hastily / forwhi; it consumeþ þe corrupt superflue humouris, & reducit nature to equalite, and bryngiþ yn gladnesse, & chasiþ a-wey heuynes & malencolie. To cure it soon, drink our Quinte Essence;
and if it so be þat ȝe haue nouȝt oure 5 essence / þanne take j of þe beste brennynge watir, and þerinne putte medullam ebuli, and namely þe white, if ȝe may may haue it / of þis watir ȝeue to þe pacient, morowe and euen, a walnot-schelle ful at oonys. and he schal be al hool / if you have it not, put pith of white dwarf elder in Burning Water, and take a walnut-shell full morning and evening.
or ellis þus: take what þing ȝe wole þat purgiþ malencolye, and putte a litil þerof into brennynge watir, & vse þat laxatif maad into smale pelotis, wijsly resceyuyng riȝt a litil at oonys, as oon litil pelot, and preue þerby how it worchiþ, þanne anoþer tyme .ij. at oonys, if it be nede / so þat þe mater be a litil digestid and a litil egestid. for bettere it is to worche a litil & a litil at oonys, þan sodeynly greue þe nature. Or, take whatever purges black choler, put it into Burning Water; make small pellets of it, and take one, and then two, gradually.
[* Fol. 23.] forwhi, two litil pelotis laxatif meyngid wiþ brennynge watir *wole worche more myȝtily þan .8. pelotis wole do bi hem silf /
Also philosophoris seyn þat a tooþ drawe out from a quyk beest, born vpon a man, delyueriþ fro þe quarteyn / Also þei seyn þat if þe yuis of þe eerbe þat is callid morsus galline rubri be putt in hise nose-þrillis whanne he bigynneth to suffre þe accesse of þe quarteyn, he schal be hool, wiþ þe grace of god.

‘Nota for ye quartene.’

It is said that a tooth from a live beast heals the Quartan, and the juice of Hen-bit or Chickweed put in a man’s nostrils.


To cure continual Fever.

  The medicyn to heele þe feuere contynuele. alle philosophoris seyn þat þe feuere contynuele is gendrid of putrifaccioun of blood and of corrupcieun of humouris in it / þerfore þe cure þerof is to purge blood, and to putte awey þe corrupcioun of it, & þe humoris vneuene to make euene, þe nature lost to restore, and so restorid to kepe /

‘9a. Me.’

It arises from putrefaction of blood and corruptions of humours.
Forsoþe alle þese þingis worcheþ oure quinte essence; and þerfore it curiþ perfiȝtly þe feuere contynuele / and þouȝ brennynge watir caste out fro blood watry humouris and corrupt, ȝitt take it nouȝt in þis cure / forwhi; þouȝ brennynge watir be .7. tymes distillid, ȝitt it is [not] fully depurid fro his brennynge heete, & þe .4. elementis / but siþ oure 5. essence is not hoot, ne moist, coold, ne drie, as ben þe 4. elementis / Our Quinte Essence cures this, (tho’ Burning Water does not,)
þerfore it heeliþ perfiȝtly þe contynuel feuere; namely wiþ commixtioun of þe 5 essence of gold & peerle / and if ȝe wole strenkþe ȝoure medicyn, þanne putte yn oure 5. essence a litil quantite of pulpa cassie fistule / or ellis þe iuys of þe eerbe mercuriale. if mixed with Quinte Essence of Gold and Pearl,
and a little Cassia or Herb Mercury.
[* Fol. 23b.] & if it so be þat oþere humouris habounde to myche with blood, þanne take þo laxatyues þat kyndely wole *purge hem, as comoun bookis of fisik declareþ.

To cure Tertian Fever.

  The 10. medicyn to cure þe feuere tercian, þe which is causid of putrifaccioun, or reed coler to myche haboundynge / to cure þees sijknes, tak oure 5 essence, or ellis fyn brennynge watir,—but þe firste is bettere,—and putte þerinne a litil of rubarbe or of summe oþer laxatiue þat purgiþ reed coler, and a greet quantite of watir of endyue; and vse þis medicyn at morowe & euen. and þe pacient schal be hool wiþoute doute.

‘10. Me.’
‘feuer tercyane.’

Take Quinte Essence, with Rhubarb and Endive water, morn and eve.

‘water of endyue.’

To cure Daily Fever.

  The 11. medicyn is for to heele þe feuere cotidian, þe which is causid of putrifaccioun of flewme to haboundynge / and siþ flewme is coold and moist. oure 5 essence (and in his absence take good brennynge watir.) haþ strenkþe and vertu to consume þe rotun watery inordinat, and to myche coold humidite / ‘.11. Me.’
‘feuer cotydyan.’
þerfore take oure 5 essence or brennynge watir, and putte þerinne a litil of euforbij, turbit, or sambuci, or sum oþir þing þat purgiþ flewme; and vse it morowe and eue, & þe pacient schal be hool. Take our Quinte Essence, and a little Euphorbium, &c.


To cure Ague Fever and Lunacy.

  The .12. medicyn for to cure þe feuere agu, and þe lunatik man and womman / discreet maistris seyn, þat þe feuere agu comounly is causid of a uyolent reed coler adust, and of blood adust, and of blak coler adust; and sumtyme of oon of þese adust, and sumtyme of two togidere, and sumtyme of .3. togidere /

‘.12. Me.’
‘lunatyke persons.’

This fever comes of choler inflamed,
and þerfore þe feuere agu is þe posityue degree, and in þe superlatyue degree, comparatif gree & superlatif gree / For þe feuere agu haþ comounly alienacioun of witt, & schewynge of þingis of fantasy / and is accompanied by lightheadedness.
[* Fol. 24.] And ȝe schal knowe weel whiche ben þe humouris adust þat causen þe feuere, be þese *tokenes / Forwhi, if þe pacient seiþ þat he seeþ blak þingis, þanne blak coler, þat is, malencolie, is adust / & if he se þingis of gold / reed coler is adust / if reed þingis, and schewynge of bloodt þanne blood is adust / And if he seiþ þat he seeþ alle þese .iij, þingis, þanne alle þe humouris ben adust / For as myche as brennynge watir ascendiþ to þe heed, and gladly wole a man drynke /

‘Nota bene.’

As the patient sees black, gold, or red things, so the different humours are inflamed.
And siþ þat feuere agu regneþ in þe regioun of þe heed / þe philosophoris counceilis þat þe pacient schal not resceyue it in þis sijknes / Burning Water should not be taken,
but it is nedeful þat he take oure 5 essence of gold and of peerl, meynging þe 6 part of 5 essence of watir of rose, violet, borage, and letuse15 / and þanne ȝe schulen haue an heuenly medicyn to cure perfiȝtly þis sijknesse. but Quinte Essence of Gold and Pearl should, with that of Rose water, Violet, &c.

To cure or assuage Frenzy and Madness.

  For to cure þe frenesye and woodnes, or ellis at þe leeste to swage it / take a greet quantite of popilion, and þe beste vynegre þat ȝe may haue, and a good quantite of rewe domestik, weel brayed, and meyngid wiþ þese forseid þingis; ‘for ye frenesye & wodnesse.’
and biclippe þe heed and þe feet of þe pacient with þis medicyn; and sum þerof putte to his nose-þrillis. þis medicyn anoon puttiþ awey þe frenesye & þe schewynge of fantasies / it curiþ also wode men & lunatike men. and it restoriþ aȝen witt and discrecioun, & makiþ al hool and weel at eese. Wrap the head and feet in, and smell at, Popilion (with Vinegar mixed), and Rue.

To cure Cramp.

[* Fol. 24b.] The .13. medicyn is to put a-wey þe craumpe fro a man. for as myche as wise men seyn þat þe craumpe cometh of þe hurtynge & þe febilnes of þe senewis, as it schewiþ sumtyme yn medicyns maad of elebore, þer is no þing þat puttiþ awey þe 23 craumpe as doiþ oure 5 essence aforeseid, or ellis *brennynge watir in stede of it.

‘13a. Me.’

Use our Quinte Essence or Burning Water.


To cast poison out of a man’s body.

  The .14. medicyn, to caste out venym fro mannys body / take oure 5 essence, and putte þerine fleisch of a cok, neysch soden & sotilly brayed, note kirnelis, fyn triacle, radisch, & garleek smal brayed, and oþere þingis þat ben goode to caste out venym, as comoun bookis of fisik declariþ / And also, to comforte þe herte, putte yn oure foreseid 5. essence, þe 5. essence of gold and of peerl. and he schal be delyuerid þerof & be hool.

‘14a. Me.’

Take our Quinte Essence, with cock’s flesh, nut-kernels, &c., and Quinte Essence of Gold and Pearls.

To make a Coward bold and strong.

  The .15. medicyn, to make a man þat is a coward, hardy and strong, and putte a-wey almaner of cowardise and drede / I seye ȝou forsoþe þat no þing may telle alle þe myraclis vertues þat god haþ maad in oure 5 essence, and not al oonly in him, but also in to his modir, þat is to seye, fyn brennynge watir. ‘15a. Me.’
for to cure þis sijknesse, take a litil quantite of oure 5 essence, & putte þerto double so myche of brennynge watir, and a litil quantite of þe iuys of eerbe pione and of saffron distillid togidere, and a litil of 5 essence of gold and of peerl; and ȝeue it him to drinke. and aftir sodeynly, as it were by myracle, þe coward man schal lese al maner drede and feyntnes of herte, and he schal recouere strenkþe þat ys lost by drede, and take to him hardynesse, and he schal dispise deeþ; he schal drede no perelis, and passyngly he schal be maad hardy. þis is trewe, for it haþ ofte tymes by oolde philosophoris [bene] preued / Give him our Quinte Essence with twice as much Burning Water, and a little Peony juice and saffron, and Quinte Essence of Gold and Pearl. The coward shall lose all faintness of heart, despise death, and dread no perils.
[* Fol. 25.] þerfore it were a greet wisdom þat cristen princis, in bateilis aȝen heþene men, hadde wiþ hem in tonnes brennynge watir, þat þei myȝt take to euery fiȝtynge man half a riȝt litil cuppe ful þerof to drynke in þe bigynnynge of þe batel. & þis priuyte owith to be hid from alle enemyes of þe chirche; and also *princis and lordis ministringe þese þingis schulde not telle what it is. Therefore Christian Princes should have tuns of Burning Water, and give every fighting man a cup before battle with the heathen.


To cure Pestilential Fever (when not sent as a punishment by God).

  The .16. medicyn aȝens þe feuere pestilenciale, and þe maistrie to cure it. forsoþe holy scripture seiþ þat summe tymes oure lord god sendiþ pestilence to sle summe maner of peple, as it is seid deutronomium 28 in þis maner “Si 24 audire nolueris16 vocem domini dei tui, ut custodias et facias omnia mandata eius, veniant super te omnes maledicciones; iste maledictus eris in ciuitate &c.” et infra; “ad-iungat tibi pestilenciam donec consumat te de terra, percuciat te dominus egestate, febre, et frigore, ardore et estu, et aere corrupto ac rubigine, et persequatur donec pereas” hec ibidem; et infra “percuciat te dominus vlcere egipti, et partem corporis per quam stercora egerantur. scabie quoque, et prurigine, ita ut curari nequeas; percuciat te dominus necessitate ac furore mentis” //

‘16a. Me.’

God says in Deuteronomy xxviii. that if men will not hear His voice and obey His commandments, pestilences shall come on them.
Therfore a gret fool were he þat wolde presume to cure þese plagis of pestilence þat ben vncurable, þat ben sent of god to ponysche synne // Also ȝe schal vndirstonde þat men may die in .iij. maners. in oon maner by naturel deeþ, in þe teerme þat is sett of god / In anoþir maner bi violent deeþ, and also in þe .iij. maner occasionaly wiþinne þe teerme þat is sett of god; as þo men þat to myche replecioun, or to greet abstynence or by disperacioun, or ellis by necligence, sle him silf / These plagues a man would be a great fool to presume to cure,
but sikirly alle oþere maner of feueris pestilence þat god suffriþ to come to mankynde by perilous influence of yuele planetis, by þe grace of god & good gouernaunce may be curid partialy wiþ oure 5. essence. but all other pestilences from evil planets may be cured by our Quinte Essence with Aloes, Euphorbium, &c.,
[* Fol. 25b.] and þerinne putte a litil of aloes epatik & euforbij, & a litil of ierapigra galieni & of 5 essence, of þe rote of lilie and also of gold & peerle, capilli veneris *and ysope; for þese þingis ben nedeful to siche feueris & apostemes / ‘Nota bene.’
it is nedeful also þat wiþ þese þingis þer be sich a quinta essencia laxatyue þat wole purge þe superflue humouris þat abounde; and þat þe pacient so myche resceyue in a natural day þerof þat he may go weel oonys to sege; and so lete him vse þis laxatif .3. in þe woke; and a laxative Quinte Essence that will send the patient to stool once a day.
But be weel war þat he take wiþ oure quinta essencia but riȝt a litil quantite of þe laxatif at oonys, as I tolde ȝou tofore, for peril þat miȝte bifalle. ‘Caueas.’
& euery day take he by þe morowe an eye-schelle ful of good brennynge watir, and þe corrupt eyr schal not noye him; & also vse in þe dayes, two or þre smale pelotis pestilenciales in oure 5 essencia, or in brennynge watir; & al þe hous of þe pacient schal be encensid 25 strongly .iij in þe day wiþ frank-encense, mirre, & rosyn, terbentyn & rewe. He must also take every morning an egg-shell-full of Burning Water, and 2 or 3 pestilence pills in our Quinte Essence, and smoke his house with frankincense, &c.


  and þis is perfiȝt cure for þe feuere pestilence / And þus ȝe may, wiþ þis 5 essencijs, cure alle þese sijknesses aforeseid, and manye oþere, as it were by myracle, if ȝe worche disc[r]eetly as I haue toold ȝou tofore /
Now here I make an eende of þis tretis þat is clepid þe mooste & þe souereyneste secrete of alle secretis, and a passynge tresour þat may nouȝt fayle // Here is an end of this most sovereign of all secrets.
O quantum malum foret, si hic liber perueniret ad manus hominum mundanorum, ad noticiam tirannorum, et ad seruicium reproborum! quia, sicut sancti per hunc librum poterunt continuare opera vite christiani diucius et vehemencius, ita et reprobi possent peruerso vsi diucius perseuerare in malo. ego autem, quantum in me est, propter solos sanctos librum hunc constituo, et ipsum custod[iæ] ihesu Christi commendo nunc et in eternum //=// What ills will befall if it gets into tyrants’ and reprobates’ hands and prolongs their life in evil. I will keep it for holy men alone; and I commend it to Christ’s keeping now and ever.

Explicit librum de maximis secretis essencie quinte &c.


Notes 1, 5, 10 and 14 were printed as sidenotes. Note 14 is absent from the 1866 edition.

1. practise, MS. Harl.

2. ? MS. meant for ‘man.’

3. MS. ‘siff.’

4. then, MS. Harl.

5. 5 for fifth, or quinte.

6. MS. Harl. reads ‘and this fifte beinge so nighe kinde it is most to haue.’

7. of vnkinde natuer. Harl. 853.

8. of glasse made. Harl. 853.

9. ? ‘be so hool.’ Or is hool a verb, become whole, recover?

10. MS. hom

11. Erf = erþe.

12. houynesse MS.

13. “A lous is a worme with manye fete, & it commeth out of the filthi and onclene skynne, & oftentymes for faute of atendaunce they come out of the flesshe through the skynne or swet holes.

To withdryue them / The best is for to wasshe the oftentimes, and to chaunge oftentymes clene lynen.”—The noble lyfe and nature of man, Of bestes, serpentys, fowles, and fisshes yt be moste knowen. Capitulo. C. xix.

14. ? our

15. in margin, ‘Rose / violett / Borage / lutuse /’

In the 1889 re-edition this note was printed in the space at the end of its paragraph:
partial page image
It is absent in the 1866 edition.

16. MS. volueris.



[leaf 26]

¶ Philosofirs puttyn 9 speris vndirewritten; but Diuinis puttin þe tenþe spere, where is heuyn empire, in þe whiche, angelis & sowlis1 of seyntis seruen god; in þe whiche is crist, in þe same forme that he walkid in erþe, and also owre lady, & seyntis that arosen with criste.

¶ Þe first spere of þe 9 is clepid ‘primum mobile,’ þe first mevabil thyng.

¶ Þe .ij. spere of sterris: Aries .1. þe rame. ¶ the secund hows of Mars, þe bool, ¶ þe secund hows of Venus, Gemini, ¶ þe secund hows of Mercuri, Cancer. ¶ þe hows of þe mone, leo. þe hows of þe sonne, Virgo. // þe first hows of Mercury, Libra // þe first hows of Venus, Scorpio // þe first hows of Mars, Sagittarius // þe first hows of Iubiter, Capricornus // þe first hows of Saturne, Aquarius // þe secund hows of Saturne, Piscis. / þe secunde hows of Iubiter

[no more].

¶ Saturn is a planete evel-willid and ful of sekenes. Wherfore he is peyntid with an hooke, for he repeþ dow{n)} grene thyngis / he fulfilliþ his course in xxx ȝeere.

¶ Iubiter is a planete wele willyng to alle thingis to be gendrid, plent[i]ful & plesyng; therfor he is y-seid Iubiter as helpyn. in xij [ȝ]eere he filliþ his course.

¶ Mars is an enemy to alle thyngis to be gendrid; wherfor he is clepid god of batel, for he is ful of tempest. he fulfilliþ his course in .ij. ȝeere.

[leaf 26, back]

¶ Þe sonne is þe worthiest planet, y-set in myddis. he fulfilliþ his course in CCClxv dayes & vj. howris, þe whiche causen bisext.

¶ Venus is apte to alle thyngis to be gendrid. he fulfilliþ his course in CCCxxxvj daies.

¶ Mercuri swyft is y-seid a messenger of daies [? heuene]. he fulfilliþ his course in CCCxxxvj daies.

¶ Þe mone is a planete ny þe erþe.


1. lis is the MS. l with a line at right angles to it.



By C. H. GILL, Esq., of University College, London

P. 4. Direction to submit any wine that is not sour to distillation. (Sour wine is deficient in alcohol; that body having been changed into acetic acid by oxidation.) In the language of the mystical ideas which prevailed in the dawn of Chemistry, the colouring matters, sugar, &c. of the wine are called ‘the .4. elementis,’ or as it were the ‘rotten fæces of wine’??

The direction to distill the wine seven times is a good practical suggestion for the obtaining of strong alcohol which will burn well. Then follows a description of the distilling apparatus, which seems to have been arranged to ensure a very slow distillation, so as to obtain a product as colourless and scentless as possible.

P. 5. The second way to make the Quinte essence depends on distillation of alcohol by means of the heat of fermenting horse-dung; also the fifth manner.

P. 6. The directions for gilding burning water are all nonsense; but as the writer had no means of testing the truth of his statements, they may have been made in good faith.

P. 7. The idea which he expresses, that this gilt burning water will make you well and young, is difficult to explain, except on the assumption that, it being the strongest of alcohol, a very little served to produce that elevation of spirits which seemed to bring back the spring of youth.

P. 7, l. 6 from the bottom. The word liquibles in the text does not mean liquids, for a liquid cannot be made hot enough to be quenched. If 28 the original liquibles cannot be retained I should substitute the word liquiables, meaning those things which can be liquefied by heat. Indeed in the next passage we find stated that if Saturn (the alchemists’ mystical name for Lead) be quenched, &c., and that if then Mars (Iron) be quenched in the same liquid, it will acquire the softness of Saturn. Or if you quench lead in spirit which has had iron first cooled in it, it becomes hard.

Of course there is no truth whatever in the above statements.

P. 8. The fire without coals, &c., is ‘corrosive sublimate,’ most probably containing an excess of Sulphuric acid (vitriol) as an impurity. If Copper (Venus) or Tin (Jupiter) be dipt into this solution of mercury they will have a deposit of mercury formed on their surface, which will give them a pearly appearance.

P. 8. To bring Gold into calx. When gold is treated in the way directed, a fine powder of gold of a brown or yellow colour is left. This might readily have been mistaken for a calx by those who had no clear ideas of what calx really was.

P. 9. The departing of gold from silver is essentially the same as the plan practised at the present day.

To get the Quintessence of Gold. I can make nothing of the directions, that is, I cannot see that they (the directions) hide any real truth.

P. 10. How to get the Quintessence of Antimony. I can make nothing of this part, and can only suggest that the vinegar used contained hydrochloric acid, and when distilled with ‘Myn Antimony’ (native sulphide of antimony) gave a distillate of Chloride of Antimony containing some ‘kermes’ which is red.

From this point onward there is little or nothing that can be explained by a Chemist.



Agu, p. 22, l. 1, ‘Intermittent Feaver, commonly called an Ague, has certain times of Intermission or ceasing; it begins for the most part with Cold or Shivering, ends in Heat, and returns exactly at set Periods.’ Phillips.

Aischin, p. 4, l. 10, ashes.

Amphora, p. 11, &c., ‘a large vessel which derived its name from its being made with a handle on each side of the neck, from ἀμφί on both sides, and φέρω I carry.’ Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Ant.

Anele, p. 6, l. 26, &c., heat?

Apostemes, p. 24, l. 24, imposthumes, boils.

Appeire, p. 3, l. 12, impair, worsen.

Arreins, p. 2, l. 25, spiders.

Cassia Fistula (Lat.), Cassia in the Pipe or Cane, a kind of Reed or Shrub that grows in India and Africa, bearing black, round, and long Cods, in which is contain’d a soft black Substance, sweet like Honey, and of a purging Quality.’ Phillips.

Colaciouns, p. 18, l. 21, ? comments, homilies.

Comounne, p. 3, l. 35, communicate.

Continual Feaver is that whose Fit is continu’d for many Days; having its times of Abatement, and of more Fierceness; altho’ it never intermits, or leaves off.’ Phillips.

Deedly, p. 3, l. 24, liable to death, mortal.

Departynge, p. 5, l. 14, parting, separating.

Depurid, p. 9, l. 27, purified, purged.

Distillatorie, p. 10, l. 24, a still. Randle Holme, (Academy, p. 422, col. 2,) speaks of ‘a Still or Distillatory Instrument,’ and further on, iv., ‘He beareth Sable, the Head of a Distillatory with 3 pipes; having as many Receivers or Bottles set to them.’

Ebulum or Ebulus (Lat.), the Herb Wall-wort, Dane-wort, or Dwarf-elder.’ Phillips.

Encorpere, p. 13, l. 4, mix, incorporate.

Euforbii, p. 21, l. 3 bot., ‘Euphorbia, the Libyan Ferula, a Tree or Shrub first found by King Juba, and so call’d from the Name of his Physician Euphorbus.’ Phillips.

Euphorbium, ‘the gummy Juice or Sap of that Tree much us’d in Physick and Surgery.’ Phillips.

Extremities, p. 17, l. 2, ends of the limbs.

Fecis, p. 4, l. 7; p. 9, dregs.

Fire of hell, p. 8, l. 23, a disease.

Fumiter, p. 18, l. 3, fumitory.

Fyme, p. 10, l. 2 bot., mud, clay.

Gerapigra galieni, p. 3, l. 29, ἱερα πικρα Γαληνου.

Giltid, p. 7, l. 3, having the properties of gold communicated by it.

Groste, p. 5, ll. 9, 29, grossness, heavy particles, residuum.

Hide, p. 13, l. 18, ? for hideus; compare the Harleian reading ‘unkinde.’

Hool, p. 15, l. 10, recover, improve.

Incombustible, p. 10, l. 2.

Incorruptibility, p. 7, l. 2.

Kynde, p. 1, l. 12, all creatures; l. 13, nature.

Lapis Lazuli a kind of Azure or Sky-colour’d Stone, of which the Blew Colour call’d Ultramarine is made .. much us’d in Physick.’ Phillips.

Lembike, p. 9, l. 2, ‘Alembick or Limbeck (Arab.), a Still, a Chymical Vessel used in Distilling, shaped like a Helmet, and towards the Bottom having a Beak or Nose, about a Foot and a half long, by which the Vapours descend. They are commonly made of Copper tinn’d over on the inside, and often of Glass.’ Phillips.

Liquibles, p. 7, l. 6 bot., meltable metals.

Lymayl, p. 8, l. 6 bot., Fr. ‘limaille: f. File-dust, pinne-dust.’ Cotgrave.

Marien Bath, p. 12, l. 7 bot., Balneum Mariæ, a Chemist’s bath. ‘Bain de Marie. Maries bath; a cauldron, or kettle full of hot water.’ Cotgrave.

Medle, p. 19 last line, mix.

Medulla, p. 18, l. 3, pith.

Mercasite, p. 10, l. 14, ‘a kind of Mineral Stone, hard and brittle, partaking of the Nature and Colour of the Metal it is mixed with; some call it a Fire-Stone.’ Phillips.

Mercuriale, mercurie, p. 21, 19, &c., ‘Mercury .. among Chymists .. signifies Quick-silver; and is also taken for one of their active Principles, commonly call’d Spirit .. Also the Name of a purging Herb, of which there are two sorts, viz. Good Harry and Dog’s Mercury.’

Metis, p. 16, l. 22, meatus, passages.

Mon, p. 13, l. 19. ?

Morsus Gallinæ, the Herb Henbit or Chick-weed. Phillips.

Mortifie, p. 19 last line, ‘Among Chymists to change the outward Form or Shape of a Mixt Body; as when Quicksilver, or any other Metal, is dissolved in an acid Menstruum.’ Phillips.

Neischede, p. 7, l. 2 bot., neshness, softness, pliancy.

Oo, p. 4, one.

Popilion, p. 22, l. 24; ‘Populeum, an Ointment made of Poplar buds, of a cooling and allaying Quality.’ Phillips. Fr. ‘Populeon. Popilion, a Pompillion; an ointment made of blacke Poplar buds.’ Cot.

Preparate, p. 8, l. 21, prepare.

Quartan Ague is that whose Fit returns every fourth Day.’ Phillips.

Quenchour, p. 6 at foot, cooling the florin ?

Quintessence is defined by Phillips as ‘the purest Substance drawn out of any Natural Body; a Medicine made of the efficacious active Particles of its Ingredients separated from all Fæces or Dregs; the Spirit, chief Force, or Virtue of any thing.’

Reme, p. 9, l. 5 bot., A.S. reoma, a strap, thong.

Reparale, p. 8, l. 21, make, compound.

Respire, p. 4, l. 5 from foot, exhale.

Restreyne, p. 7, l. 8, retain.

Reward, p. 2, l. 4, 7, regard.

Rotombe, p. 10, l. 3 bot., a retort.

Sambucy, p. 16, l. 7 bot., ‘Sambucus, the Elder-Tree; a Shrub of very great use in Physic.’ Phillips.

Stafisagre, p. 20, l. 1, ‘Staphis agria, the Herb Staves-acre, or Lice-bane.’ Phillips.

Tertian Ague or Feaver is that which intermits entirely, and returns again every third Day with its several Symptoms at a set Time.’ Phillips.

To, p. 1, l. 16, too.

Triacle, p. 23, l. 5, cordial, ‘Treacle, a Physical Composition, made of Vipers and other Ingredients.’ Phillips.

Turbit, p. 16, l. 7 bot., ‘Turbit, Tripoly, an Herb called Turbith, or blew Camomel.’

‘Turbith, an Herb so call’d by the Arabians, which grows in Cambaya, Surat, and other parts of Asia; a dangerous Drug upon account of its violent purging Quality.’ Phillips.

Vapoure, p. 8, l. 5 from foot; p. 9 at foot, evaporate.

Woodnes, p. 22, l. 23, wildness, madness.

Ypericon, p. 19, l. 16, ‘Hypericon, St. John’s-Wort, an excellent Herb for Wounds, and to provoke Urine.’ Phillips.

Notes and Corrections

The title page of the 1866 edition ends like this (the “16” refers to EETS series numbering):





The loss of my sweet, bright, only child, Eena, and other distress
[The 1866 edition has “The loss of our sweet, bright, only child, and other distress”. There are no other changes in the body text of the introduction.]

Mr. M. A. Tarkhad has been for many years ...
[This footnote was added in 1889. It isn’t clear whether “Tarkhad” is an honorific, or whether Furnivall has only just learned his friend’s surname. The Bombay Civil List for 1877 offers a Moreshwar Atmaram Tarkhedar, identified as vice-principal of Rajkumar College.]

[Table of Contents]
Two entries in the Table of Contents were merged in the printed book (1889 only), apparently for reasons of space. The original form was:


With þe myȝt, wisdom, and grace
[The 1866 edition renders the initial letter as U.]

The original of this text has been in the public domain for years
in the U.S. and most other parts of the world.
All I’ve done is put it online.