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Theatrum Chemicum

Britannicum
Containing Severall Poetical! Pieces of our
Famous English Philosophers, who have
written the Hermetique Mysteries in
their owne Ancient Language
Faithfully Collected into one Volume
with Annotations thereon by

Elias Ashmole, Esq_.


A Reprint of the London Edition 1652
With a new Introduction by

Allen G. Debus
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

The Sources of Science, No. 39

Johnson Reprint Corporation


New York and London
1967

EXP ERIEN CE
AND

<P HI L 0 SO THY.

Ave you not heard yee Princes great.you Lords & Ladies all,
Of the mifhap and heavy chaunce that now of late did fall?
A wofull Talc to tell
Who could exprefle it well:
Oh that fome learned Poet had byne
With me, to fe that I have fene :
Or elfe fome other ftanding by,
That well could writes Tragidy
Of lafting fame and memory.
For yet not fince this World began,
Such cry, fuch clamour as was than
Heard never any earthly Man.

Experience that Princefle greate,! faw her in her Throne


Of glory, where her Majefty delightes to fitt upon ;
And on her wayting by
A blefled Company
Of Virgins pure, that as I gefle,
Were Children to that great Goddefle :
Their Princely port, their Comly grace,
Their pierles teatur'd hands and face
Did {hew them of moft Noble race:
But of their prudent skill to tell,
In Artes wherein they did excell,
No earthly Tonguecan do it well.
And

ttnJThilofcphj.

CE

r.

337

And as I gazed thus upon that ftrange and dreadful! fight,


I faw how that fxperieme did teach thefe Ladies right,
The feven Ants Divine,
With defent difcipline,
By divers rules and orders grave,
As fhe thought good for them to have.
But for to fee how diligent
And buifily their time they fpent
To learne thofe Ant s moft excellent,
The endlefle travells that they tooke
From place to place, from booke to booke,
Amazed me on them to looke.

Ladies all,
' late did fall?

For fome in divers Languages did reafon and difpute,


And other fome did fing and play on Organ.Harpe and Flute j
And fome with Compafle found
All Meafnres fquare and round:
And fome by Cyphering could cell
Infinite Summes and Numbers well:
And fome with Eloquence began
As Poets and Orators to fcan
The Caufes betweene Man and Man .*
And fome upon the Stars did gaze,
And other fome fat in a Maze,
To judge of Scacrets that there was.

irone

Soe that nothing created was under the Firmament,


That hath a Being or Life by any Element,
No Simple nor Compound
In all the World is found
Under the Sky, or Clouds that fly,
But they fought out the privity :
This Rocky Earth, this heavy Mafle,
This Articke Virgin, this let not pafls
To feeke the thing that therein was:
But put themfelves in prefle to crcepe
Into the Center of the Deepe,'
Where fundry Soules and Spirits doe fleep.
And

Yy

TWi

Experience
i

This thing Experience gan prudently to debate,


(ftite.
With cheerefulllooke and voycefall mylde, ai feemed to her
And fo one decreed {he
Of her benignity

Then fyl
Where s

Not for their fundry psines I take,


But only for her Glory fake,
That all thefe Lidies in a row
Should further of her Secrets know,
That from her Majtfty did grow ;
Wherewith to Councell called ftiee
A Lady grave ofgreate degree,
That named was
And after their difcourfe and talke, that Lady fell downs flatt
O0 hands & knees before the gueene in heaven where (he fatt.
And looking upon her face
Did fay unto her grace :
Blefled be thou Experience,
Full mighty is thy Influence 5
Thy wondrous workcs records full well
In wordell of wordels where thou doelt dwell,
JnEarth,in Heaven, and in Hell
That thou art now the very fame,
That of Nothing All things did frame,
Wherefore now blefled be thy Name.

Whit th ;
Wherew:

Wherewith the Heavens opened, and fiery dames did fall


Downe from the Throne of endles Joy and feate impeiiaU,
Where Angels infinite
Like glittering Starrs didfitt:
So pure and fen pie was the Light,
As all the World had burnt bright ;
The flames and floods began to roars,
And did prefent their hidden ftore,
Of Spirits that ling for evermore,
All glory and magnificence,
All humble thankes and reverence
Be given to EXPSRISNCS.

And froi
Whom I

Then

and Thilofophy.
Then fyfence fell upon the face of Heaven Chriftaliine
Where all the Powers muttered full ready ro encline
To that moft Sipient,
The high Omnipotent ;
That faid bt it, and it was don,
Our Earth, our Heaven were begun
I am faid ic the tnoft of might,
In worde in lyfe and eke in light.
I am Mercy and Judgment right,
The Depth is myne fo is the Hight:
The Cold, the Hot, the MoyfytheDry,
Where All in All is there am I.
What thing can tell when I beg*n,or when Imake an end?
Wherewith I wrought, and what I mought, or what I did intend?
To doe when I had done
Theworke I had begun.
For when my Being was alone
One thing I made when there was none,
A Mule confufed darkely clad
That in it felfe all Nature had
To form and ihipc the good and bad;
And then as Tyme began to fall,
It pleafed me the fame to call
The#/? ^Matter, Mother of aH.
And from that Lumpe divided 1 foure fundry Element*,
Whom I commanded for to raigne in divers Regimcnti:
In Kinde they did agree,
But not in Quality.
Whofe fimple Subftance I did take,
My feate invifible to make:
And oftheQuaiites compound,
I made the Starry Sky fo round
VVith living Bodyes on the ground j
And blefled them infinitely,
VVith lyfe and long profperity,
And bad then grow sod Multiply.
Yya

Re-

Exp
xerence
Refpefting thefe divided things fo created by me,
Their light and lively fpreading forth of them in their degree
Retourning to the Made,
Where there begining was,
And faw the rcfufe of the fame,
How Voyd and Empty it became,
All darke,and nothing toremaine,
I put with wrath and greate difdaine,
My only Curfe there for to raygne ;
For I the Auchor of all Light
Did banifh Darknes from my fight,
And blefled all things chat fliined bright,
So that I mard nothing I made, for that I made is flili,
And fo flialbe unto the end, only to worke my will:
One thing wasnrftimpioyd,
And (hall not be deftroid,
It compafleth the World fo round,
A Matter eafy to be found:
And yet mo ft hardeft to come by:
A Secret of Secrets pardyey
That is rnoft vile and leaft fes by,
And it my Love and my Darling,
Conceived with all living thing,
And travdls to the Worlds ending.

What neede have I of mans Devife of Peny or of Pound,


Of Cold or Silver, Lead or Tynn,or Copper in the ground,
Iron or Silver Quick,
Whereat (the blind do prick;
Of Cankered Corofives that raft.
By Salts and fulphurs all to duft ?
Seeke out therefore my darling deare j
For unto me it is moft neere,
My fpoufe my Love and my Compeare:
And unto it looke thou direcl
My feaven Children long elecl,
That all things clfe they ittwght tsfrQ,

and *PhiIofophy.
A ChiId

.
. !efe"inS his OW(le Fher, and bearing his Mother,
Killing himfelfe to-tve lyfe, and light to all otherIs yt that I do meane,
Mofl myld and moft extreame.
Did not the Word that dwelt in me'
Take forme and walked vifibly .
And did not I then dwell in it,'
That dwelt in me for to unite '
Three powers in one feate to fit ?
And then Experience did fay
Now knoweft thou all, heere lyes the Key
And then (he vaniflit cleane away.
There with txok'Phjkfopkj as one filled with grace
Whofe looks did (hew that (he had bync in fome Heavenly placeFor oft (he wjpt her Eyes,
And oft {he bowd her knees.
And oft fhekift the Steps with dread,
Whereon Experience did tread
And oft (he caft her Head on high*
And oft full low fhe caft her Eye
Experience for to efpy:

But when (he faw that /he was gon,


And that her felfe was left alone:

I never hread thing make foch