Agricola, Georgius, De re metallica, 1912/1950

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this subject, but all are difficult to follow, because the writers upon these
things use strange names, which do not properly belong to the metals, and
because some of them employ now one name and now another, invented by
themselves, though the thing itself changes not.
These masters teach their
disciples that the base metals, when smelted, are broken up; also they teach
the methods by which they reduce them to the primary parts and
remove whatever is superfluous in them, and by supplying what is
wanted make out of them the precious metals—that is, gold and silver,—
all of which they carry out in a crucible.
Whether they can do these things
or not I cannot decide; but, seeing that so many writers assure us with all
earnestness that they have reached that goal for which they aimed, it would
seem that faith might be placed in them; yet also seeing that we do not
read of any of them ever having become rich by this art, nor do we now see
them growing rich, although so many nations everywhere have produced, and
are producing, alchemists, and all of them are straining every nerve night and
day to the end that they may heap a great quantity of gold and silver, I should
say the matter is dubious.
But although it may be due to the carelessness
of the writers that they have not transmitted to us the names of the masters
who acquired great wealth through this occupation, certainly it is clear that
their disciples either do not understand their precepts or, if they do under-
stand them, do not follow them; for if they do comprehend them, seeing that
these disciples have been and are so numerous, they would have by to-day filled

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