John Clayton to Sir Robert Paston, 8th April 1663, Florence

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These for the honourable Sir Robert Paston knight and barronet at Parsons Green.

Deare brother, sorrow comes over night but joy comes in the mourning, this good news assaulted me: but never so pleasing could ever have arrived, this will make me come and give you joy sooner then I designed, now all places are tedious to me, till I see England againe; as soon as the snow is dessolved on the Alpes I intend to cros them for France, & so directly to Paris where I will spend my time till next winter and then for England, there I hope to serve you with gusto. Letters I expect none till you hear that I am at Paris, but as I remove I will write continually to you. My course I think to steer by Vienna, for wee hear that the French army is so far advanced towards the confines of Ittaly that there will be no returning that way, I am sorry that I cannot stay so long as to have your comands here, however I shall bring some few knacks with me, that will please you very well. I am so shut up with joy for your great hapynes that I am not able to expres myselfe as I desire, by this time you will certainly find two or three letters which were very large so I can say but little more of my travels than what I have told you, only the entertainement of the Holy Week at Rome where Nox cursed us sufficiently, if you know any frind of yours what has carruncles I have some of the wax of the candle which Nox threw at us on Holy Thursday with these words extinguantur sicut lumen.

I have some thing befallen me hear that will keep up the chores of alchimy, and as strange as ever you heard – the person I have it from is a monck of the right order, a Benedictine, the whole story is miraculous, the stone he tells me he has made, and the proces I have at length fished of him, so as I think I cannot erre in the practise. Just as your letters came, wee were giving fire to the worke but now I shall not stay much longer here, the whole buissines is grounded upon the purrifieing of common mercury which he does in forty dayes and after makes the sal naturae or sulp. philosophorum, which reduced to a water radically dissolves gold and silver. This great secret he found in a book hidden in the bottome of a wel[l], inclosed in soadred10 lead and after that a marble cover, the title of the book Phoenix Hermetica with a clavis & six wedges, three of gold, three of silver made by the same process: This I am master of: and so are you: if all faile, by Eugenius, this will serve to pass away the time five months longer, that is the uttmost of this proces. I had designed to have rambled long, but now you are in hapynes12 my jurny ends: long and tedious shall I think the minutes till I arrive at Paris, then I hope you will be large in your commands, for I am, dearest brother,

Your most affectionate & overjoyed friend, J Clayton

Your mourning I shall wear with thanks & gusto.

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