Thomas Henshaw to Sir Robert Paston, 5th November 1663

Late 17th Century
Location of Original:
Norfolk Record Office
Side By Side:

For my most honoured freind Sir Robert Paston knight and baronet at Oxnet Halle neare Norwich, this

My honoured patrone, I doe from my heart congratulate your safe arrivall at your owne Oxnet which must now bee the center of your content and the theater of your happines, and well may you rest satisfied with your lot, if you please to compute, to how few of mankinde God hath given so faire a groundworke of earthly happines; and doe not doubt but when you have seriously relished the advantages of that felicity which yet seems to you but a dull quiet, above the troubles, turmoiles, disquiets, and subjections of the grande monde, you will dayly give God thankes on your knees for his accumulating so extraordinary favours uppon you; for you are yet but one of the felices nimium bona si sua norint., That wee enjoyed our selves in our returne homewards as much as the trouble for parting with such freinds would give us leave, you will I know receive from other pens: therfore I will onely tell you that since I came to towne I have been extreamly delighted with reading a chimicall manuscript poeme of one Edward Noell one of those I brought from Swallowfield, who to my judgement understood the whole busines of chymistry as well as any that ever writ, who though hee sayes you must gaine the knowledge of the first matter somewhere else, yet in above a dousen places describes it so plainly that you will easily finde hee meanes no other but what wee have been so long uppon unlesse perhaps hee rather make choyce of some clay or loame.

There are in him three processes which though perhaps are not so plaine as a litterall lineall processe being written in verse, yet I am confident you will thinke them the most perspicuous of any of that kind you have met with. If I have so much leisure before this day senight I will transcribe them and send them you though they bee something long. That which yet occurres to mee on the reading of them, is somewhat like what wee have indeavoured but failed in. You are first by a strong graduated fire to draw out all the humid part of your subject: in the rectifiying of which you will have first a strong armoniacke spirit which by his discription is just ours, then change your receivour and take the middle part of this humidity by it self and likewise the phlegme by it selfe. Then take the feces remaining in your retort, grinde them very small in a marble, put them into a body with a blind head, powre on them of your middle parts till it swim two fingers over, set them on warme ashes for 24 or 48 houres till you see your liquour tinged, then decant neatly and powre on fresh till you see the liquour no more tinged. When you have good store of this tinged liquour, digest it in balneo for four dayes, then distille per-gradus in sand and you will bring over the sulphur, which must bee seven times rectified a part, next take the feces again and calcine them till they bee whitish or gray, then with your flegm dissolve and filter till you have made a christalline salt which will bee very fixed, uppon this put in a blind body of your first cleare rectified spirit till it swim a finger over, digest in balneo three or four dayes then put on distilling head and draw of the humidity which will bee insipid, repeat this till your fixed salt be increased three times the weight, then in a sand furnace by degrees force your fire and you will find the greatest part of your salt ascended in the head of your limbecke in a volatile pearly terra foliata, which being used ut scis will all turn into a liquour. Then on your remaining fixed salt by degrees poure on your rectified sulphur or anima which is medium conjugendi corpus et spiritum, and digest between till they are incorporated, and in the same manner lastly of the spirit, then digest for eight days then distille ☿ philosophorum which radically dissolves all mettle, though the authour goes on from thence to the great worke without adding any mettall at all as many others beside him teach to doe. I suppose the reason why wee missed both the sulphur and fixed salt was that excessive Ghehennall fire at the doctor’s for uppon my fayth when I wrote it in my furnace at home I had always some fixed salt and have had of it by mee 4 ℥ of it at a time, and it was a sandy gritty salt just as this author describes it. You need not bee curious of great quantities of it for hee says on common ☿ it will multiply in infinitum and that there is a sulphur in it. I am the more confirmed since Jacke Clayton told mee last night at the Colledge that our doctor tells him that bye grinding sall armoniacke with the cap[ut] mort[uum] of our subject hee can sublime a sulphure as red as rubies. The squirecame but yesterday from Windsor and the doctor tells him now you are gone it will bee impossible to communicate the dispensation to you, and indeavours to draw in the squire who will not smell of the chouse.41 Hee sais it has cost the doctor already £1,500.

The squire last night made mee very solemne protestations how much he had loved you beyond all men living and is much troubled after those kinde promises of freindship you made him at Oxnet last whence this extraordinary dislike should arise; I tould him I did find you had received some dissatisfaction from him, but that it was never my custome to inquire into the particulars of disgusto’s between so neare relations. I was yesterday with Mr Love and gave him your letter; hee shewed mee that you promised I should speake to the lord chamberlaines brother for him. I wondered at it you having never spoken one word to mee of it nor I doe I knowe his brother so well as to dare to move him to a courtesy for my self. I tould him I thought it was a mistake in putting my name for Mr Cheeke’s44 who was botth willing and able to doe it for him, and so to him I sent him. The King shall bee shewed your inventory of red deare at the first opportunity if Bowles have not yet shewed it to him. Lege perlege combure.

Signed: Je suis sans aucune reserve, dear Sir Robert, your faythfull old servant, Halophilus

Postscript: I shall not faile by the fit time to provide som scions for you against the time which is February: only let me know your number. There is shortly a curious discourse of Mr Evelyn’s by order of the Colledge to com out concerning timber trees; sider trees and Sir Paul Neale’s and other wayes of making of sider presented to them are to bee added at the end. As soon as it comes out I will take care you shall have one of them. I am just now going to Whitehall to meet Mr Clayton to shew the King the shining diamond.

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