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SENDIVOGIUS, PARACELSUS AND DORN TRANSLATED BY JOHN FRENCH

SEDZIWÓJ, Michal, or SENDIVOGIUS (c. 1556'–c. 1646)

A new light of alchymie : taken out of the fountaine of nature, and manuall experience. To which is added a treatise of sulphur: written by Micheel Sandivogius ... Also nine books of the nature of things, written by Paracelsus ... Also a chymicall dictionary explaining hard places and words met withall in the writings of Paracelsus, and other obscure authors. All which are faithfully translated out of the Latin into the English tongue, by J.F. M.D

London: printed by Richard Cotes, for Thomas Williams, at the Bible in Little-Britain, 1650
4to: πA4 A–V4; π2A 2A–2S4; 3A–3F4, 184 leaves, pp. [16] 147 [5]; [8] 145 (i.e. 143, 105–106 omitted) [1]; [48]. Dated titlepage ‘Of the nature of things’ on π2A1 but LACKING THE TITLEPAGE TO THE LAST SECTION (an inset single leaf). Woodcut headpieces and initials.
Condition: 177 x 133mm. Titlepage soiled and chipped in lower corner; π2A4 cropped with loss of a line at the foot of the verso (removing the words ‘Dated at Villacum in the yeare, 1537’); paper browned and brittle with some isolated in
Binding: Eighteenth-century half calf, flat gilt tooled spine. Joints cracked but sound, spine and corners worn.
Provenance: Underlining and a few annotations in an early hand in the first part, also some pencil annotations; later ink annotations in the last part. Nineteenth-century bookseller's ticket of W. Booth, Manchester; cancelled Cambridge University Library stamp dated 1 Jan [18]72 and shelf mark 19.10.76 on verso of title and pencil note on free endleaf, 'duplicate see L.6.5'; Walter Pagel (1896–1983); B. E. J. Pagel (1930–2007).
First edition in English. The Thomason copy is annotated 26 June. Another edition was published in 1674.
Bibliography: Wing S2506; ESTC R203736; Duveen p. 544; Neville II. p. 455; Pritchard 432.1.
£1,250

The three parts of this work, taken respectively from Sendivogius, Paracelsus and Gerhard Dorn, are all compiled and translated by ‘J.F. M.D.’ who is generally identified as John French (1616–1657), author of The art of distillation (London, 1651).
The first part is taken from one of the later editions of Sendivogius Novum lumen chymicum (first edition 1604) with the appended treatise on sulphur, for example the Geneva edition of 1639, a copy of which was in Newton's library. The second part is a translation of part of Paracelsus’ Metamorphosis. The third part is based on Gerhard Dorn, Dictionarium Theophrasti Paracelsi.
Newton owned copies of the Latin edition of Sendivogius of 1639 and this edition of the translation, both books showing characteristic dog-earing. It was in the 1670s that Newton began his intensive study of alchemy.
The separate titlepage to the dictionary is missing in this copy. It was printed on a single leaf so would have required extra care from the binder to secure it properly – if it was ever present.
Literature: For Newton's study of Sendivogius, see John Harrison, The Library of Isaac Newton (1978), nos 1192 and 1485; Richard Westfall, Never at Rest (1980), p. 292; and Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, The Foundations of Newton's Alchemy (1975), p. 152ff.
Keywords:     chemistry    alchemy