Toads & the Vision of Sir George Ripley

Hunting the Black Toad

This is my favourite on Toads & alchemy …

When busie at my Book I was upon a certain Night,
This Vision here exprest appear’d unto my dimmed sight:
A Toad full Ruddy I saw, did drink the juice of Grapes so fast,
Till over-charged with the broth, his Bowels all to brast:
And after that, from poyson’d Bulk he cast his Venom fell,
For Grief and Pain whereof his Members all began to swell;
With drops of Poysoned sweat approaching thus his secret Den,
His Cave with blasts of fumous Air he all bewhited then:
And from the which in space a Golden Humour did ensue,
Whose falling drops from high did stain the soyl with ruddy hue.
And when his Corps the force of vital breath began to lack,
This dying Toad became forthwith like Coal for colour Black:
Thus drowned in his proper veins of poysoned flood;
For term of Eighty days and Four he rotting stood
By Tryal then this Venom to expel I did desire;
For which I did commit his Carkass to a gentle Fire:
Which done, a Wonder to the sight, but more to be rehearst;
The Toad with Colours rare through every side was pierc’d;
And White appear’d when all the sundry hews were past:
Which after being tincted Ruddy, for evermore did last.
Then of the Venom handled thus a Medicine I did make;
Which Venom kills, and saveth such as Venom chance to take:
Glory be to him the granter of such secret ways,
Dominion, and Honour both, with Worship, and with Praise.

The point of this whole “work” (as alchemy is called) is …

Then of the Venom handled thus a Medicine I did make;
Which Venom kills, and saveth such as Venom chance to take:

a homepathic-like idea … like cures like … and that what we at first consider evil contains the beginnings of the good that will heal us.

From Wiki – Sir George Ripley was a famous 15th century English alchemist, second only to Roger Bacon.[citation needed]

Ripley studied for twenty years in Italy where he became a great favourite of Pope Innocent VIII. He returned to England in the year of 1477 and wrote his famous work “The Compound of Alchymy; or, the Twelve Gates leading to the Discovery of the Philosopher’s Stone”, dedicated to King Edward IV and highly appreciated by him. His twenty-five volume work upon Alchemy, of which the Liber Duodecem Portarum was the most important, brought him considerable fame.

Being particularly rich, he gave the general public some cause to believe in his ability to change base metal into gold. For example, Thomas Fuller in his Worthies of England describes a reputable English gentleman who reported having seen a record in the island of Malta which stated that Ripley gave the enormous sum of one hundred thousand pounds sterling annually to the Knights of that island and of Rhodes to support their war against the Turks.

Ripley was at some time ‘Canon of Bridlington‘. He spent his elder years as an anchorite near Boston (Yorkshire).

This is an excellent alchemy site if you’d like to explore further.

Elen Sentier
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