The Story of Chemistry by Harold W. Picton


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Isbister and company, 1889. First Edition. Rare title. Minor darkening to boards, corners slightly rubbed. Internally very good with no markings or inscriptions. 

'A study of historical chemistry starting with pre-alchemy science, alchemical mysticism, and the origins of science from Hermes to the medical mysticism of Paracelsus, moving through the ages to Atomic Theory.

The early history of chemistry sounds more like fiction than fact. A romance clings to the stories of old alchemists which lends their irresistible charm. We may perhaps best get a notion of their character by paying an imaginary visit to an alchemistic laboratory of, say, the fourteenth century. 

It is a winters evening and the wind moans melancholically. We are in a gloomy room. Above us age-grimed oak rafters stretch away into the dim shadows of the roof. Glowing eyes seem to gleam at us through chinks in furnace doors. Strange distorted alchemistic vessels stand silently working out their secret wonders, or lie carelessly neglected on their shelves. Phials filled with deep-coloured liquids stand here and there picturesquely tinged by fitful gleams of fire-light. Open folios lie scattered here and there the pages covered with mystic writings and cabalistic signs. And there, standing over a heated crucible and watching its contents with grave concern, stands the alchemist himself.'