APPENDIX B. 609
Theophilus was a Monk and the author of a most illuminating work, largely upon
working metal and its decoration for ecclesiastical purposes. An excellent translation, with
the Latin text, was published by Robert Hendrie, London, 1847, under the title " An Essay
upon various Arts, in three books, by Theophilus, called also Rugerus, Priest and Monk.
Hendrie, for many sufficient reasons, places the period of Theophilus as the latter half of the
nth century. The work is mainly devoted to preparing pigments, making glass, and working
metals, and their conversion into ecclesiastical paraphernalia, such as mural decoration,
pictures, windows, chalices, censers, bells, organs, etc. However, he incidentally describes
the making of metallurgical furnaces, cupellation, parting gold and silver by cementation
with salt, and by melting with sulphur, the smelting of copper, liquating lead from it, and the
refining of copper under a blast with poling.
Geber was until recent years considered to be an Arab alchemist of a period somewhere
between the 7th and 12th centuries. A mere bibliography of the very considerable literature
which exists in discussion of who, where, and at what time the author was, would fill pages.
Those who are interested may obtain a start upon such references from Hermann Kopp's Beiträge zur Geschichte der Chemie, Braunschweig, 1875, and in John Ferguson's Bibliotheca Chemien,
Glasgow, 1906. Berthelot, in his Chimie au Moyen Age, Paris, 1893, considers the works under
the name of Geber were not in the main of Arabic origin, but composed by some Latin scholar
in the 13th century. In any event, certain works were, under this name, printed in Latin as
early as 1470-80, and have passed innumerable editions since. They were first translated into
English by Richard Russell, London, 1678, and we have relied upon this and the Nuremberg
edition in Latin of 1541. This work, even assuming Berthelot's view, is one of the most
important in the history of chemistry and metallurgy, and is characterised by a directness
of statement unique among alchemists. The making of the mineral acids—certainly nitric and
aqua regia, and perhaps hydrochloric and sulphuric—are here first described. ' The author
was familiar with saltpetre, sal-ammoniac, and alkali, and with the acids he prepared many
salts for the first time. He was familiar with amalgamation, cupellation, the separation of
gold and silver by cementation with salt and by nitric acid. His views on the primary composition of bodies dominated the alchemistic world for centuries. He contended that all
metals were composed of " spiritual " sulphur (or arsenic, which he seems to consider a special
form of sulphur) and quicksilver, varying proportions and qualities yielding different metals.
The more the quicksilver, the more " perfect " the metal.
Albertus Magnus (Albert von Bollstadt) was a Dominican Monk, afterwards Bishop,
born about 1205, and died about 1280. He was rated the most learned man of his time, and
evidence of his literary activities lies in the complete edition of his works issued by Pierre
Jammy, Lyons, 1651, which comprises 21 folio volumes. However, there is little doubt that
a great number of works attributed to him, especially upon alchemy, are spurious. He
covered a wide range of theology, logic, alchemy, and natural science, and of the latter the
following works which concern our subject are considered genuine :—De Rebus Metallicis et
Mineralibus, De Generatione et Corruptione, and De Meteoris. They are little more than
compilations and expositions of the classics muddled with the writings of the Arabs, and in
general an attempt to conciliate the Peripatetic and Alchemistic schools. His position in the
history of science has been greatly over-estimated. However, his mineralogy is, except for
books on gems, the only writing of any consequence at all on the subject between Pliny and
Agricola, and while there are but two or three minerals mentioned which are not to be found
in the ancient authors, this work, nevertheless, deserves some place in the history of science,
especially as some attempt at classification is made. Agricola devotes some thousands of
words to the refutation of his " errors."
Roger Bacon (1214-1294) was a Franciscan Friar, a lecturer at Oxford, and a man of
considerable scientific attainments for his time. He was the author of a large number of
mathematical, philosophical, and alchemistic treatises. The latter are of some importance
in the history of chemistry, but have only minute bearing upon metallurgy, and this chiefly
as being one of the earliest to mention saltpetre.
Basil Valentine is the reputed author of a number of alchemistic works, of which none
appeared in print until early in the 17th century. Internal evidence seems to indicate that
the " Triumphant Chariot of Antimony" is the only one which may possibly be authentic,
and could not have been written prior to the end of the 15th or early 16th century, although
it has been variously placed as early as 1350. To this work has been accredited the first
mention of sulphuric and hydrochloric acid, the separation of gold and silver by the use of
antimony (sulphide), the reduction of the antimony sulphide to the metal, the extraction of
copper by the precipitation of the sulphate with iron, and the discovery of various antimonial
salts. At the time of the publication of works ascribed to Valentine practically all these
things were well known, and had been previously described. We are, therefore, in much doubt
as to whether this author really deserves any notice in the history of metallurgy.
EARLY i6th CENTURY WORKS. During the 16th century, and prior to De Re
Metallica, there are only three works of importance from the point of view of mining technology—the Nützlich Bergbüchlin, the Probierbüchlein, and Biringuccio's De La Pirotechnia.
There are also some minor works by the alchemists of some interest for isolated statements,
particularly those of Paracelsus. The three works mentioned, however, represent such a