The Corpuscular Transmutational Theory of Eirenaeus Philalethes
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Among the most influential works of seventeenth-century alchemy the treatises attributed to “Eirenaeus Philalethes Cosmopolita” surely deserve a prominent place. As I have shown elsewhere, several works attributed to this Philalethes were actually written by an American alchemist educated at Harvard, George Starkey.1 Starkey was born in 1628 in Bermuda, then considered part of “America”: he entered Harvard College in 1643 and graduated with an A.B. in 1646.2 In 1650 Starkey immigrated to London, where he became a member of the scientific circle centred around Samuel Hartlib. In the early 1650’s he performed a series of experiments with Robert Boyle, who was also a member of the Hartlib group. During this same period, Starkey wrote a number of works of major importance under the pseudonym of Eirenaeus Philalethes—among these were the Introitus apertus ad occlusum regis palatium and the closely related Tractatus de metallorum metamorphosi: both texts were published after Starkey’s death during the great London plague of 1665.
KeywordsBase Metal Specific Weight Pure Substance Natural Gold Water Particle
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