Robert Boyle (1627-91): Work-diary XXIII ('A Continuation of C[hemical] Notes')

Content: Chymical recipes from the late 1660s, with additional notes and alterations by Boyle, some substantially changing the nature of the recipes and giving them possible alchemical significance

General Information

Work-diary entries

/BP 25, p. 71/

[Authorial heading]:
Chemical Notes
Sept. the 29th.

Entry 1: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take of good vitrioll calcined to yellowness what quantity you please, and wett it throughly with strong spirit of <vinegar i> , and abstract the liquor which will be very flegmatique, ad siccitatem. Then without takeing the <matter> out of the retort poure on as much <fresh> Spirit as before which <in> distillation will come over flegmatique almost as at the first.

This doe in all about four times, and at last press the matter left dry after the last operation, with a strong fire in a sand furnace, and Reserve carefully the Spirit, <which will be of {vitriol} & very sulphureous.>

Entry 2: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Fill halfe a dozen barrells with <W: (or other fermented> lyquor) soe that one third may remaine empty and each of the Barrells may have a pretty large hole to stand still open in the upper <parte> , these vessells being kept in a [stove], or some such warme place for some dayes, a pretty quantity of liquor is by the tapp to be taken out of the first and without stiring the vessells to be putt into the second, and some out of that into the third, and soe onwards, this must bee done from time to time with some intervall, for the space of about sixe weekes, within which time the operation may be compleated.

Entry 3: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Remember that Crystalls [d] may be obtained in great plenty from the <liquid> <Lees of Wine.>

Entry 4: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

There was taken a dramm, of Zahab which being mixt with four partes of the other ingredient was afterwards by the fire [d] freed from it, and then was very well mixt with about three times its weight of <Orpiment> , from which being alsoe freed there remained a dramm and a halfe of fine powder which being putt per se in a crucible under a muffle and kept in a strong heat for two houres instead of looseing in weight encreased a full <Drachm> , (though nothing fell into the crucible) for when it was taken out it weighed <twoo> dramms and a halfe. [d]

/BP 25, p. 72/

Entry 5: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Haveing digested one part of <{gold}> amalgam'd with <4 of> {mercury} for about a fortnight, (perhaps the longer the better) if you afterwards drive away the {mercury} and melt downe the remaineing calxe into a body, the mettall will bee much paleer then before, nor will easily recover its colour <by {antimony}, or> otherwise then by the addition of a little, (and there needs but a very little) rose Copper.

Entry 6: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take two parts of <good> sugar [d] and one of Camphire, powder them and mix them together as well as you can then distillill them over in Balneo, haveing a care to preserve very well stopt the liquor that comes over, <which often, (tho not alwayes) will be an Oile.>

Entry 7: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take one parte of oyle <of Albada,> and two of pure {spirit of wine} and without digesting them cohobate them five or sixe times at least, [d] distilling onely ad melaginem or very little beyond it; but drawing it somewhat dryer at the last distillation. then dissolve the almost dry Caput mortuum, in aqua Regis, filtre it and reduce it to a thicker consistence, and by some subsequent filtrations and coagulations ad melaginem bring it to bee very pure <&> high colour'd.

Entry 8: Editorial notes:

Take of good <Miniere de Banasis> one pound, and imbibe it at two or three times with two pound of oyle of Tartar per deliquium, keeping it each time stirring in an earthen platter till it bee dry. Then take one pound of Crystalls of Tartar and mix them very well together, and distill them for eighteen or twenty houres by degrees of fire [d] (makeing it strong at the last) into a receiver halfe filld with water, to receive the runing mercury, which will be very pure and genuine.

Entry 9: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take the Caput mortuum of our <Ens veneris> and haveing suffer'd it to run per deliquium, and coagulated the salt drive it over with a strong fire, and then takeing out the Caput mortuum, suffer that also to run per deliquium into a [d] liquor < of a deep lovely greene>

Entry 10: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take good Spirit of Salt and putt to it a little good oyle of vitrioll unite by cohobations, and by the same way bring over with this mixture the <Butyrum antimonii>

Entry 11: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Dr Faustus's disciple assur'd me that by the helpe of the Engine to which belong the accumilated receivers, he had drawne in 18 houres /BP 25, p. 73/ from quick coales fourscore pound of flegmatick spirit of salt which by rectification afforded him halfe the weight of good and strong spirit, but which would not worke upon crude gold.

Entry 12: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take vitrioll calcined to whiteness 2 lb decripitated salt lb 1 ;, Nitre (very dry) lb 1; ; reduce all to a fine powder and haveing mixt it exactly with lb 2 of Antimony proceed to your distillation <of Butyr antimonii without sublimate>

Entry 13: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take Brandy two quarts, good Sea Salt lb 2 oyle [d] lb 1 distill them together <To clarify oyles & make it swimme over {spirit of wine}>

Entry 14: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

I found that putting the same Ingredients in the same proportion of them, whereof I obtaind a Past greene like an Emerald, I could not by the Addition of a Reasonable proportion of zaphora obtaine a zaphinine color, but a greene, which seem'd to be ascribable to the color of the Lead &c

Entry 15: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

(The yellowish greene grasse, called Turtle grows at the Canana Islands & near Jamaica & thither the Turtles resort)

Entry 16: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} 5 handfulls of the Inner Barke of Elder or of the <greene> Leaves, & boyle it in 5 pints of water boyle them away till a 5th be consumd then take a peice of Castle soape {ounce} 2, & stir it about in the Liquor till the Lather as water dos with a wash Ball, in this Liquor wet a cloth throughly & wring it out againe, & lay it warme upon the part for about ½ an hower twice a day. Tis an often approvd Remedy against the Erisipilas

Entry 17: Editorial notes:

A lb 1; of Salt of {tartar} to a Gallon of Brandy & proceede <to rectify it>

/BP 25, p. 74/

Entry 18: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} 2 parts of the Menstruum Siccum, & one of the Body to be dissolvd <(viz. cheefly Talc> let the first be reducd to finer parts by farr then the second, which <ought> to be <[d] beaten or pounded> but negligently, more solito & when the first begins to boyle then put in the second by degrees, & as soone as you have left putting all) in, have [d] a care to stirr it about very nimbly & througly, to make an Exact mixture, which being cold, must be taken, & powdred & dissolvd in the Italian menstruum validum <viz {aqua fortis}> .

Entry 19: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} Magnesia Philosophica well calcind among quick [d] coals, & dissolve it in {aqua regia} or <rather in our Polyra of Albada> The Blood-red solution evaporate ad siccitatem dissolve it in our spirit of Bread rectyfyd, evaporate that ad siccitatem, & dissolve 15 gr. or a {scruple} 1 of the Powder in {ounce} 4 of our aqua sicca, & let them be decocted together <with> a good fire, for about 4 or 5 howers <(q an non Dayes)>

Entry 20: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Dr. S. affirm'd to me that Barnet water sent to my Lady G. stunck & recovering againe [re]taind its <Minerall> Tast [...] the drink with successe.

Entry 21: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} <our Dersinum> , & haveing heated it red hot quench it in a strong Lixivium of Potashes, then pouring off the Liquor dry the remaining powder, heat it againe, quench it as before, this repeat 30 times the oftner the better then grinding the minerall upon a Porphyry to an impalpable powder, which then will not be difficult it will be fit <to be easily melted> .

Entry 22: Editorial notes:

The same minerall being alchoalizd upon a Porphire, & mixt with twice its weight of fine Potashes <may be> thereby brought to fusion [d].

/BP 25, p. 87/

Entry 23: Editorial notes:

Calcine <{gold}> with {sulphur} & {mercury}, dissolve it in spirit of manna of Calabria, 3 or 4 times rectifyd 'tis <happily> administred in malignant Feavers. < This <Spirit of Manna> a French Dr that comm to me he saw bring the Calx {gold} over the helme> .

Entry 24: Editorial notes:

To obtaine a Regulus antimonii simplex wee tooke 2 pound of {antimony}, Nitre & Tartar {ana} lb 1, <&> Charcoale {ounce} 2 <ad {ounce} 9; of good Regulus>

Entry 25: Editorial notes:

To obtaine the red sulphur of {antimony}, we tooke {antimony} lb 2 nitre [d] three pound, sea salt {ounce} 6, & one Ounce & a halfe of charcoale, these were exactly mixed by parcells & put in about 1 spoonefull <at a> time, & after kept in a strong fire, for about one hower & a halfe. The red sulphur is usually in the middle, & sometimes also a small Reg[ulus] < This {sulphur} is gently vomitive &, if rightly made, an excelle[nt] [...]>

Entry 26: Editorial notes:

{Rx} aqua sicca <i.e. vitri contusi)> {ounce} 8, plumbi {ounce} 5, nitri {ounce} 3 misce <[d] keep it a (short) while in fusion till it looke like an Amethist This is an almost universal matter for gems>

Entry 27: Editorial notes:

one of the best & most Esteemd Surgions of London, affirmd to me that he & others had cured as many as had yet come to their hands of the falling sicknes, if they were such that their fit sensibly began at any certaine place, as at the Toe [?e], by makeing (permissis præmittendis) an Issue in the next convenient place.

Entry 28: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Calcine {gold} by amalgamating it with 6 parts of mercury, & driveing the {mercury} [...] [a]way & sprinkle this præcipitate upon the [...] tis in fusion.

Entry 29: Editorial notes:

The Glasse Master [infor]md me that ordinarily [he] mingled <about> 60 weight [of] good Borellia (for the [...] loe 10 pound more with 100 pound of sand [...] [wei]ght of glasse. <And he usually reckons [...] the 100 in the operation.>

/BP 25, p. 88/

Entry 30: Editorial notes:

{Rx} Caput Mortuum of {aqua fortis} & crude {nitre} ana, flux them together, pour out the Mixture, dissolve it in faire {water}, & then expose it to <to the light & [twilhow] changeable Colors almost like the Lignum Nephreticum> &c. Frequently dissolve {sal ammoniac} in {water}, filtrate it & [d] coagulate it againe.

Entry 31: Editorial notes:

{Rx} minium, pumice-stone {nitre} ana <& they will quickly> melt [d] together. To <harden> glass adde to [d] 3 parts of it, one of the Madagascar stone. {Rx} Potashes 2 parts, the Madag. stone calcin'd 1 part <& the flux will melt it.>

Entry 32: Editorial notes:

{Rx} 1 pound of the Republican salt, & 4 times it weight of Tilma distill of the Liquor from the other Ingredients at medietatem or a litle beyond, then pour back the abstracted Liquor upon the remaining one & when they are reconjoynd [d] againe about ½ as formerly, this doe in all 6 or 7 times, then draw off what what come with a moderate fire & keepe it by itselfe, & if the two remaining Liquors that will swime above one another seperate by a Funnell the Supernatant, whereof make a soft past by imbodying it with powderd Brick, & haveing with a good fire gradually administred brought it over into a red Liquor proceede there with according to the authors directions. The Dose is from 20 to about 30 drops. By the same operation [d] you'l find, that the spirit that first came over & is colourlesse, is much of the same nature with the insipid Tirsus of <Dr Pelagius> & by the same you will also find the filtrated salt to be much purifyd.

Entry 33: Editorial notes:

Take salt of {tartar} & calcind pebbles {ana} {ounce} 1, of salt of {antimony} gr. 10. & this salt which alone will yeild in good {spirit of wine} a red Tincture that is only a sudorifick, without purging other way. This salt I say in this mixture gives a lovely & intense greene.

Entry 34: Editorial notes:

Mr H. answerd me that he manifestly found the fritta that [d] is kept till be 3 or 4 months old to worke better as they call it: ie: to melt more easily & make more clearer glasse then the Fr[itta that] is recently made

Entry 35: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by hole in page and bottom of page torn off][...] Lump of Valla, & in a very large vessell [...] Charcoale make a Cavity cap [...] of re [...] t, then covering this Cavity with [...] [co]ale & the great charcoale with other coal [...] Kindle them at the furthe [...] the fire comes near the [...] [re]duce the Coals into [...] what was put into [...]

/BP 25, p. 89/

Entry 36: Editorial notes:

An Excellent medicine to bring away
what remaines after a false Conception or

Tis only to give the Patient Cawdles made of Rye meale.

Entry 37: Editorial notes:

{Rx} Albana, & with a strong & pure Lixivium præcipitate out of it as much as you can, which you must then dulcify by Ablutions, & calcine, sublime the Calcinatum with an æquall part of pure sal Armoniack, & [...] need be dissolve the Sublimate in Alchool of wine

Entry 38: Editorial notes:

An Ingenious Friend of mine has a myne o [...] extent under ground, which invited me to ask his [...] son (an Inquisitive young Gentleman) whether he did observe some subterraneall springs. that is, some that so run under ground as not to be taken notice of to appear above ground, to which he Answerd affirmatively

Entry 39: Editorial notes:

Both he & his Father also apart inform'd me that they had observ'd in their owne mine that [d] a subterraneall Spring did [d] usually grow turpid upon a westerly wind & run very clear upon an easterly; [d]

Entry 40: Editorial notes:

They also both of them informd that they had lately opend a mine wherein as soone as the Diggers began to worke, the steames of the Oar or stone [d] that their instruments stricke upon, doe in a short time make them so sick, as to force them (for a while) out of the mine, workeing [vi]olently with them both upwards & downwards.

Entry 41: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by bottom of page torn off]{Rx} of the [d] Calx <of [...] Valla> of the Republican salt [d] [...] of each one part, of sal Armoniack two parts of [...] [pa]rts, mingle the 3 first of these Bodys very well [...] moderately in a glasse at the fire [...] times thus hot, put to it the fourth [...] them in a Retort in a Sand Furnace

/BP 25, p. 90/

Entry 42: Editorial notes:

{Rx} Zaphora & Tabdala, or else Tacola about æquall parts melt them together well, & then cast them upon plumbum Philosophicum, which will be thereby made more hard & compact.

Entry 43: Editorial notes:

Take Tin fil'd to a very fine powder, & mingle it with an æquall weight of Barachide also reducd into very minute Parts mix these powders together, & melt them downe into a Masse which you may use with Vitrum Saturni.

Entry 44: Editorial notes:

Sir W. S. told me that in his Tin mines he found the Tin oar of difficulter fusion in his Furnace then Iron oar [...] for [d]

Entry 45: Editorial notes:

Both he & his son likewise answerd me that the Ashes of the fuell they use sometimes runs by the force of the fire into a black glasse; of which they promisd [me] a sample.

Entry 46: Editorial notes:

With powderd & crude Tin make an æquall mixture with the Powder of Quatrum, made by Calcination or otherwise, & mix one part of each of these with 2 parts of Adarum, melt them very well together & the masse will be exceeding black.

Entry 47: Editorial notes:

{Rx} pibble stones & haveing reducd them to [d] powder, mix them with an æquall weight of finely pulverizd sulphur then burne the sulphur quite [d] [away] & mix the remaining Calx with an æquall weight of fresh sulphur, which burne away againe as before this doe in all 4 [d] times, giveing the last time a smart fire at the end of the operation & then reserve the remaining powder for use

Entry 48: Editorial notes:

Remember the proportion of a dram to a pound & [...] depends upon it

Entry 49: Editorial notes:

Remember also the shortning of the 3 days cal[cination] by the help of charcoale in an op[en] [...]

Entry 50: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by bottom of page torn off]The [Cacovian] [...] sulphur as form[ed] [...] were [d] [...] wardly & in [...]

/BP 25, p. 91/

Entry 51: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} good Venereall Vitrioll & haveing dissolvd it in faire water & filtrated it, præcipitate what you can with a strong & clear Lixivium. This præcipitate you must filter, but not dulcifie, & when 'tis very dry, & very finely powderd, elevate as much as you can with the sweet sublimate <(I suppose Barâca)> , & then digesting it with Alchool of wine abstract the Liquor [d] & if need be the sweet sublimate from the remaining substance.

Entry 52: Editorial notes:

The Christalline Calx <I suppose that of English Valla> will last long, & not be impair'd but rather Advantagd by some sorts of open Aire, three days & night will make it very good, but the longer t'is kept in the fire the more saline & strongly Alchalizate it grows, & yeilds a Cremor almost like Tartar, & by often putting water on it, & after Digestion & Decantation renewing it, it will dissolve & wash almost all away.

Entry 53: Editorial notes:

{Rx} vitriol calcin'd ad flavedinem, & have in readynes, a well heated mortar & Pestle to receive it as soone as so calcind, & haveing in this mortar reducd it to very fine Powder put that hot as it is into a Bolt head, & presently pour upon it a sufficient quantity of Alchool of wine Digest them together for 12 or 24 howers: <& you will have a red (or reddish) Tincture of Vitriol, Anodyne, & of great vertu.>

Entry 54: Editorial notes:

For the supression of Urine give about as [...] time of Mustard seed Bruisd in any [convenient ve]hicle.

Entry 55: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by bottom of page torn off][...] [...]le Retort you may put 2 po[unds] [...] <for to make Ens veneris> [...]cture, & have near a lb. [...] done with a ver[y] [...]

/BP 25, p. 92/

Entry 56: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} good Lead oar finely powderd, & haveing well mixd it with thrice its weight of Common sublimate distill it in a Retort, & observe what proportion of the oar will be elevated, & what changes will be producd therein.

Entry 57: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} Caput mortuum of Vertdigres, & haveing abstracted from it some common sublimate leave the remainng matter very finely powderd to run in a Celler per deliquium, which you may cast upon afterwards Japan Copper actually in fusion.

Entry 58: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

For the makeing of the Sylver Pills the proportion is {drachm} 5; of flower to {ounce} 1 {scruple} 2; of the Salt of Lune. If the Pills be dexterously made of these Ingredients two of them about the bignes of Peas will weigh about 9 or 10 graines.

Entry 59: Editorial notes:
Marginal notes integral to entry text

(Memorandum That N N's famous medicine for coughs & colds is nothing but hyssop water sweetned with Hony)

Entry 60: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take salt of tartar salt petre & calcind Christalline Talk {ana}, mix them exquisitely & proceede according to Art.

Entry 61: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

The Bohemian Garnets as strongly as they resist the fire; yet if they be brought to fusion & united into one Masse, they loose their Native colour.

Entry 62: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Mix minium Antimony, glasse & Talk in a certaine propo[rtion] [...] by fusion reduce them into a Regul[us] [...] ards easy, to proceede; [d]

Entry 63: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by bottom of page torn off]Take the saline [...] <of {nitre}> [wit]h raine water, & haveing [...] [ti]ll [d] dren[ch]d [...] <[...]ung> [...] bd it

Entry 64: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by bottom of p. 92 torn off][...] not so [...] the [...] /BP 25, p. 93/ the [d] Dung a <Beane (or other Seed)> to which apply a moderate heat, & then observe the Event.

Entry 65: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

An Ingenious Person of my Acquaintance assurd me that he & a Friend of his did by meanes of a certaine Imbibition & other helps obteine from one graine of [blank space in MS, 5 characters] 4 stalkes, & some of them had Ears.

Entry 66: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Remember the <Bâcalis> imbued by Copper & Lapis Calaminaris, remember also the Result of one part of Talk two parts of <Adarum> & a proportion of salt petre to facilitate their intimate Union: < for hereby the Talk may be brought to fusion & made dissoluble in {aqua fortis}>

Entry 67: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

(Onobrichys is that which in France they call <La> Lucerne & grows well in poore & sandy grounds, wherein it shoots its root very deepe, but it ought to be renewd within 10 or 12 year, because the stalkes <doe at last> grow too stiffe & woody for the Cattle to feed [on] with appetite, But what the french call Cinfoine & preferre before the Lalucerne is the Trifolium calld in Latin fænum Burgundiacum, which will continue 15 or 20 years in the same ground, but requires richer & fatter soyle then the other)

Entry 68: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Remember the sp mundi: as also the history of spittle & the production of a good medicine <for the Stone> out of it.

Entry 69: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by bottom of p. 93 torn off]Dr Morrison being askd by me what he thought [...] Plants assignd by Bauhinus in [...]/BP 25, p. 94/ by an Ingenious Friend to make some Tryalls, & that these [marets] haveing been before sowne in a very leane & sandy soyle being by the Dr. made to grow in a rich soyle, & very plentifully dungd became 10 or 15 times bigger then his Friends [Marets], in so much that when the Dr showd him them, he would not believe them to be of the same kind.

Entry 70: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

{Rx} æq. parts of Lead & Tin, & putting them together into a strong Crucible give them a vehement fire, & observe what will follow

Entry 71: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Remember the Ianian parting water made of salt of {tartar}, sal Armoniack, & one or two Ingredients more reducd to a Viscous Liquor

Entry 72: Editorial notes:
Later marginal endorsements:

Take of Venice <glass & pumice-Stone> æq. parts (or else 2 of the latter to one of the former) & keepe them 2 or 3 days in a glasse house fire, till they be colliquated into an Opacous masse.

Entry 73: Editorial notes:

{Rx} æq. parts of calcin'd Tin & Minium, & melt them together by various Degrees of fire. <To [d] exhibit variety of Colors. [d] A calcind metall employd first & then the same Metall crude lively variss colors.>

Entry 74: Editorial notes:

Dr Morrison told me he had by some Industry & watching a right season, been able both to gather the seeds of divers Plants that some call Turgifoetæ (as [Fer][...] & some other Plants of [...] &c that are [...] ceed, & also [...]

Entry 75: Editorial notes:

[largely illegible due to damage caused by bottom of page torn off][...] < turne into a red præcipitate, of this red powder take 2 parts, of <saccharum saturni> [...] well mixd into a Bolthead, & that into a sand Furnace, where giveing them such a heat as well serve to ma[ke] [...] infusion for 8 or 10 days.>

Entry 76: Editorial notes:

{Rx} sylver & Tin reduc'd to fine powder, (but without Calcination) mix equall pa[rts] [...] which you may afterwards imploy in the Art of Dyeing.

Entry 77: Editorial notes:

{Rx} 2 parts of [...] with one part of [d] nitre, & put into this mixture one part of <Valla> very finely powde[red] [...] about 3 days, & minerall will dissolve in the menstruum, & tinge [...] with a faint but pleasant blew.

Entry 78: Editorial notes:

[...]ium of {tartar} & {nitre} to be well purifyd, & that divers Operations of Alcalys [especia]ally that of the [rake]) & varying the [...]

Entry 79: Editorial notes:

Remember the Addition of {ounce} 1 of Magnesia to the other Ingred[ients] [...] the swift Flux powder.