Basil Valentine's Last Will and Testament, 1670-71.
The Last Will and Testament of Basil Valentine, Monke of the Order of St. Bennet. Which being alone, He hid under a Table of Marble, behind the High-Altar of the Cathedral Church, in the Imperial City of Erford: leaving it there to be found by him, whom Gods Providence should make worthy of it. To which is added Two Treatises. The First declareth his Manual Operations. The Second sheweth things Natural and Supernatural. Never before Published in English.
London, Printed by S.G. & B.G. for Edward Brewster, 1670.
I seem to remember reading an article which touch on this, but cannot now locate it.
It would be interesting to read some exploration of the
reasons for the construction of this work.
I am not sure if it is entirely derived from
Letzes Testament. Darinnen die geheime Bücher vom grossen Stein der uralten Weisen, und andern verborgenen Geheimnüssen der Natur. Auss dem Original... nachgeschrieben: und nunmehr... neben angehenten XII. Schlüssen, und in Kupffer gebrachten Figuren etc... zum Andermahl ans Liecht gebracht.
Strassburg: In verlägung C. Dietzel, 1645.
I have not explored whether there is any earlier manuscript.
In the last chapter of his Metallographia (1671; p.356, ch. XXIX : ‘Of the Transmutation of Metals’), John Webster extols the natural process by which animal and vegetable matter are ‘stonified’ by ‘lapidescent Juyces’, as related by Olaus Magnus, “an Author of good credit and reputation”, or more convincingly as witnessed by more recent authors at the Dropping Well in Knaresborough,Yorkshire.
He argues that when the ‘Adeptists’ write about the Philosophick Transmutation of metals, they should rather use the terms of maturation and melioration, (p.364 ff.), for the changes do occur in the same proximate genus; “they do but understand a bettering, exalting, and graduating of them, the metallick root still remaining : so that there is no such great difference as many ignorantly do conceive and imagine.”
This is the first time I read such a view, that the (natural) petrification of organic matter is to be regarded as a far more wonderful phenomenon than the (artificial) ‘transmutations’ of metals of the Hermetic philosophers.
Is this a mere rhetorical device of his, wrought upon the reader so he’ll accept the possibility of the metallic transmutations?