Preface 2, no date (1580), John Hester to the Reader (BP184)

From Theatrum Paracelsicum
Author: John Hester
Recipient: Reader
Type: Preface
Date: no date [1580]
Pages: 6
Language: English
Quote as:
Editor: Edited by Julian Paulus
John Hester, The first part of the Key of Philosophie, London: Richard Daye 1580, sig. D6v-E1r [BP184]
CP: Not in Kühlmann/Telle, Corpus Paracelsisticum
Translation: Raw translation see below
Back to Paratexts
Back to Texts by John Hester

[sig. D6v] In this present booke welbeloued Reader, I haue taken vpon me to set forthe the trew and worthie cunning of the distillation of Mineralles, that is, of those thinges the which are founde in the Mines, as all maner of Saltes, Allomes, Vitrioll, Sulfur, Mercurie, and suche like Metalles as Saturnus, Iupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, Venus. And how you shall get the licour or moysture out of them. And all that whiche appertaineth to the health of man. The whiche I meane by the grace of God to set forthe in this booke, with a number of Alchymistes preparations of the saied thinges, the whiche worketh wonderfully in mans bodie: so that i seemeth to diuers persones miraculous.

Thereforme gentle Reader peruse this booke with discretion, and the if thou seest it stande to thy mynde, set thy hande to the Plough & be diligent in the worke, so that thou maiest knowe the proofe, and feele the readie commoditie thereof for [sig. D7r] ye shall vnderstand that there is no medicine in the world that can be founde of so quicke operation as the Mineralles are, if thei be truly prepared and as I will shew you hereafter[c1]: But if thei be not well prepared thei are very hurtfull, and not to be allowed. Therefore looke that ye prepare them as I shal shewe you, and then you shall wonder at their workyng.

And although the worthie science of Alchymie is come in suche disdaine through leude persones, that it seemeth lyes and fables, and no true science: Yet that ought not to hinder or derrogate any thyng to our purpose, as long as our matter is against the abuse of it, as for example

The Alchymistes haue wrought in this worke, to the intent that they might haue of leade and copper, golde and siluer, or the meane to make them of all other simples or sleight Metalles. But whether god hath giuen them that gifte I knowe not: therefore I leaue it to the maisters of that arte. And albeit we haue seen many wonderfull thinges in that arte: yet will I not affirme that it is possible to be doen, for it [sig. D7v] seemeth vnreasonable, that a man in so shorte tyme should dooe that thing, the whiche nature nature doeth in many yeres. And that men should presume to do that which God doeth onely him self, and not any of his creatues. We therfore will not affirme it to bee true or possible, nor yet denie it vtterly, or condemne it as vntruth. But we will leaue the aunswere vnto those that take it to be doen.

But here in this treatise we wil set forth that whiche we haue seene and wrought, and proued, and are experte therein. And although it bee sprong out of the arte of Alchymie, yet it is not to that intente, for it serueth not to transmute Mettalles, but it serueth to helpe those diseased bothe inwardly and outwardly: who of the common Chyrurgions are counted vncurable, and also giuen ouer of the Phisitions. Those pacients shalbe holpen through the hidden misteries and heauenly secretes of this science.

And for as muche as it is vnpossible to prepare these thinges withouth the arte of Alchymie: therefore we must praise this [sig. D8r] arte through our preparations aboue al other sciences, that maketh for the health of man, for thei preserue a man onely touched & afflichted with slight woundes and griefes on his bodie, and that with muche paine and muche adoe. But this arte giueth vnto man his health againe in shorte tyme, and with small paine vnto the pacient, be he neuer so desparatly sicke, and to mans thinking past cure: for I haue seene miracles therein.

And in so muche that it is all prepared with fire: the meane man calleth it Alchymia. How beit the intent of the Alchymiste os farre from our intent. But call it what you will, it maketh not miche matter of the name. For I am sure there is nothyng in alle Phisicke that ministreth either better or readier helpe to cure mans bodie, then this science of preparing Mettalles with fire rightly. I saie rightly prepared, not as the vnskilfull Apoticaries haue ordred them: or as the vnlearned Phisition haue occupied them, for the Apothecarie is no other then a seruaunt in the kitchin (as I maie tearme him) and no Maiser [sig. D8v] Cooke, so long as he knoweth not these preparations, whiche I will shewe you.

In like maner it is to be thought of the Phisition that hath no skill in these preparations. For we haue seene and proued diuers tymes, that the first vapour or smoke of any Hearbe or Spice is the beste that is therein, and yet our learned Phisitions commaunde it to be boyled vntill halfe be consumed, &c. Then note if the beste flye awaie in the boyling, what strength can the medicine haue. Therefore I saie that the Phisition without this arte of preparation is little or nothyng worthe, although they take the pacientes money. For he goeth to worke blindly with a blinde leader whiche is the Apoticarie. But the Phisition that is experte in this science, and doeth prepare his medicines truely, he is to be praised aboue all other. For a man can not buye with any money that whiche is got by long carefull trauaile. Therefore is the arte of Alkimie worthie to be praised, and the Alchymiste to be praised also, although thei attaine not to their first intention, yet thei haue opened the way, through [sig. E1r] the whiche this excellent cunnyng of preparation was knowne and founde, and through the which there are a number of wonderfull secretes opened, the whiche without this arte were all vnknowne, to the great hinderaunce of the sicke and diseased persones. Therfore I will not speake against it, but holde it in greate estimation to our intention, that is to the helpe of the sicke and diseased person, and to prepare the Minneralles wherewith you may doe that whiche can not be done with any other Hearbes, or simples, or Spices. And hearewith will we finish this preface, and wright of the names of the simples, the whiche are occupied in this arte.



  1. hereafter] corrected from: hereafrer

Modernized English

Generated by ChatGPT-4 on 2 April 2023. Attention: This translation is a machine translation by artificial intelligence. The translation has not been checked and should not be cited without additional human verification.

In this present book, well-beloved reader, I have taken upon me to set forth the true and worthy knowledge of the distillation of minerals, that is, of those things which are found in the mines, such as all manner of salts, alums, vitriol, sulfur, mercury, and metals like Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sol, Luna, and Venus. And how you shall get the liquid or moisture out of them, and all that which pertains to the health of man. I mean, by the grace of God, to set forth in this book a number of alchemist preparations of the said things, which work wonderfully in man's body, so that it seems miraculous to various persons.

Therefore, gentle reader, peruse this book with discretion, and if you see it stands to your mind, set your hand to the plow and be diligent in the work, so that you may know the proof and feel the ready commodity of it. For you shall understand that there is no medicine in the world that can be found as quick in operation as minerals are if they are truly prepared, as I will show you hereafter. But if they are not well prepared, they can be very harmful and not to be allowed. Therefore, look that you prepare them as I shall show you, and then you shall wonder at their working.

Although the worthy science of alchemy has come into such disdain through unlearned persons that it seems like lies and fables and no true science, this should not hinder or derogate anything from our purpose, as long as our matter is against the abuse of it. For example, alchemists have worked in this field intending to create gold and silver from lead and copper or find the means to make them from other simple or base metals. But whether God has given them that gift, I know not; therefore, I leave it to the masters of that art. And although we have seen many wonderful things in that art, I will not affirm that it is possible to be done, for it seems unreasonable that a man, in such a short time, should do that which nature does in many years. And that men should presume to do what only God does and not any of his creatures. We, therefore, will not affirm it to be true or possible, nor yet deny it utterly or condemn it as untruth. But we will leave the answer to those who take it to be done.

In this treatise, we will set forth that which we have seen and worked and proved, and are experts therein. And although it has sprung out of the art of alchemy, it is not for that intent, for it does not serve to transmute metals but to help those diseased both inwardly and outwardly, who by common surgeons are deemed incurable and also given up by physicians. These patients shall be helped through the hidden mysteries and heavenly secrets of this science.

As it is impossible to prepare these things without the art of alchemy, we must praise this art through our preparations above all other sciences that make for the health of man, for they preserve a man only when touched and afflicted with slight wounds and griefs on his body, and that with much pain and trouble. But this art gives man his health again in a short time and with little pain to the patient, even if he is desperately sick and thought to be past cure; for I have seen miracles in it.

And inasmuch as it is all prepared with fire, the average person calls it Alchemy. However, the intent of the alchemist is far from our intent. But call it what you will, it does not make much difference in the name. For I am sure there is nothing in all of medicine that ministers either better or readier help to cure a person's body than this science of preparing metals with fire properly. I say properly prepared, not as the unskilled apothecaries have ordered them, or as the unlearned physicians have used them, for the apothecary is no more than a servant in the kitchen (as I may term him) and not a master cook, as long as he knows not these preparations, which I will show you.

In like manner, it is to be thought of the physician who has no skill in these preparations. For we have seen and proved various times that the first vapor or smoke of any herb or spice is the best that is in it, and yet our learned physicians command it to be boiled until half is consumed, etc. Then note if the best flies away in the boiling, what strength can the medicine have? Therefore, I say that the physician without this art of preparation is little or nothing worth, although they take the patient's money. For he goes to work blindly with a blind leader, which is the apothecary. But the physician who is an expert in this science and prepares his medicines truly, he is to be praised above all others. For a person cannot buy with any money that which is acquired through long, careful labor. Therefore, the art of alchemy is worthy to be praised, and the alchemist to be praised also, although they do not attain their first intention, yet they have opened the way through which this excellent knowledge of preparation was known and found, and through which there are a number of wonderful secrets opened, which without this art would all be unknown, to the great hindrance of the sick and diseased persons. Therefore, I will not speak against it but hold it in great esteem for our intention, which is to help the sick and diseased person and to prepare the minerals with which you may do that which cannot be done with any other herbs, simples, or spices. And herewith, we will finish this preface and write of the names of the simples which are used in this art.