Anonymous Adept
Alchemist alluded to in the two-volume work entitled
Mundus subterraneus (Amsterdam, 1665), published by the
learned German Jesuit of the seventeenth century with Athanasius
Kircher (1602–1680).
This alchemist long endeavored to discover the philosophers’
stone and met with no success. One day he encountered
a venerable individual who said to him ‘‘I see by these glasses
and this furnace that you are engaged in search after something
very great in chemistry, but, believe me, you will never attain
your object by working as you are doing.’’ These words led
the alchemist to suspect that his visitor was learned in alchemy,
so he begged him to display his knowledge. The unknown took
a quill and wrote down a formula for making a transmutatory
powder, including specific directions for using it.
‘‘Let us proceed together,’’ said the great unknown, and in
a little while a fragment of gold was made; however, the wise
teacher disappeared immediately afterward. The alchemist
now believed himself on the verge of a dazzling fortune, and
he immediately tried to manufacture nuggets, but his solo attempts
proved futile.
Enraged, he went to the inn where the unknown teacher was
staying, but the teacher was gone.
‘‘We see by this true history,’’ remarked Athanasius, ‘‘how
the devil seeks to deceive men who are led by a lust of riches.’’
He related further that, as a result of this incident, the alchemist
destroyed his scientific equipment and renounced alchemy
forever.

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