The Argument Betweene Morien The Father, & Merline The Sonne


Transcribed by F. Sherwood Taylor from MS Ashmole 1445 in Chymia, Vol. 1 (1948), pp. 23-35

A fragment was published in Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum.

The Argument Betweene Morien The Father
& Merline The Sonne
How The Philosophers' Stone Should Be Wrought.

Son: As the Child Merlin sat on hys father's knee.
Blesse me Father he said for love and Charitie
For I have sought divers Countryes to and fro
And so will I yet do many mo,
To seeke Philosophy that Clarkes do reade
If I coude of the perfect knowledge thereof spede
And ther for ffather for charite
Som good comfort herin give thou me.
Fa: Son seech goodnes that grace thereof mai spryng
For fortune may be with thee by vertuous lyvyng.
Son: Quoth Merlyn wyth grace Father we must bigyn
Or else good end can we non ever wyn
Nowe dere Father for Chariti saye the
In thys Scyence now help thou me
I have sought and enquired ther for mani a day
But yet my purpose therein I coude never get I say
And ther for in mani wildsome Cuntrys have I gon
But as yet perfeit Elixir coude I find non.
Fa: What sekest thou therefor sayd Morien
All thie tyme therein thou spendest in vayne
Much Philosophy thou maist finde in Scripture
Son: Alle to mych quoth Merlyn for therin is but lytle sure
And therfor Father myne a vowe to mani have I made
That I will have one point therin that never was yet had.
Fa: It ys ympossible quoth Morien I wynn
For as good Philosophers bifor hath bynn
As ever was, or any other since thou wert borne
Wher for thy labor is alle forlorne
For reason would that he shoulde have the best
And ther for desyne thou now but that or the next.
Son: Never none quoth Merlyn as yet coude I fynde
For all they worketh agaynst nature and kynde
ffor they that Salte and Corasives do take
No cleane mettall can they ever make
ffor yt hath so much of saltnes
That yt swelleth it sone and makyth it full of rankness
Worke yt by nature and it shall not be soe
For thus thie work would alwayes be do.
Fa: Wythout Salte quoth Morien thou canst nought doe
Son: Naye quoth Merlyn ther schale come non therto
For yt ys but a poesie of Phylosofrys words derke
What weene ye ffurther that God wyll miracle warke.
Weene ye to graff good Peres upon an Elder tree
Or Cheryes on a Cole Stock nay nay father yt wyl not be
For brambles wyl beare no grapes greene
Nor the Walnut tre bear good Aples I weene
And ther for graff kyndly yee that graffers be
And then ye schale have good frute, prove and se
Braunches that be graff on stoke good and sure
The frute therof schale never rott but ever endure.
And yt schalbe the sweter of swete savour
And more comly of fresh colour
And thus worke by Nature kynde and cunning
For every nature by kynde hys nature wyll forthbring
And there for I preve the work all contrary
For God never made thynge but one naturally
And that was mankynde alone
For in all other thyngs, nature is none.
Fa: Yes quoth Morien and that schale I preve
Son: Not by Astronomi quoth Merlyn I doe beleve
For Man was made of one Nature I se
Fa: One nature quoth Moryen what mai yt be
Son: Of fowle corruption quoth Merlyn I weene
And of a fowle matter that was unclene
And that matter was tempered with the Elementes alle
Wythout wych Elements no man mai live and yt prove I schale
For God made the Elements hymselfe
And so he dyd the Planets and sygnes twelfe
And alsoe God made Man after hys owne lyknesse
And Planets and Sygnes more and lesse
In the mould of Man ther place thei tooke
And of the figure of the shape of Chryst as sath the booke.
Fa: What are planets and sygnes quoth Moryen.
The Sun the Moone and Starrs quoth Merlyn agen
The wych lightened unto Man as he on th'erth laye
ffor he hath the similitude of our lord I saye
And of the Man the woman was wrought
And so much fruite forth they brought
To multipli the worke of our heaven and kynge
And yet come thei alle but of on only thyng
Fa: Of on thyng quoth Moryen what mai yt be
Son: The slipth or skyn of the Erth so saie I
Fa: And Erth it was som men would saie
Son: And yet yt was neyther clene erth sand nor clay
But the feces of the Erth and yt was of Colour gray
And it turned into Erth, as yt on the Erth laie
And the water torned into blud to make men strong
The Air and the Fire was medled these among
Fa: How Air and Fire quoth Moryen
Son: Through the worke of God quoth Merlyn.
The brightness of the holy Ghost ys Air
And the light that he gevith of lyfe in any lyvyng thyng ys fyr.
Fa: Where hast thou gon to lerne all thes
For the thyng thou sayest is very true I wysse
Son sayd Moryen who hath thi Master bee
That thys high wysdome hath tought to the.
Son: No other quoth Merlyn but our heavenly King
And my symple wytt theron ever studyeing
Fa: Yea but in thys Craft thou studyest and spedest nought
And yet wyth foure spirits yt must be wrought.
Son: Your Spyryts are to wyld quoth Merlyn againe.
And therefore I will not have to do with them certaine
ffor I would have to do wyth a spirit made by kynde naturally
that wyll abyde with any body kyndly.
Fa: Such a Spyryt coulde I make quoth Moryen
But yet neer would hold yt but in vayne;
And yet of alle worke yt ys the best
And lest of Cost and most assurest
ffor yf that fayle then have we don alle
ffor the most perfit work we yt cale
ffor yt ys so rych when yt ys wrought
That if alle the worlde were turn'd to nought
As mani bodies would again make he
As ever was or ever should be
But I wyl teach yt to no manner of Creature
Except he be of Condicicion good and sure
Son: Why so quoth Merlyn I you pray.
Fa: ffor soth son quoth Moryen I shall to thee say
Who so could thys work perfectly know and see
The avayle thereof so great might be
That some men thereof should be so proude and stoute
That thei would not know the pore people that came them about
And somme of them would be soe full of Joy and delight
That thei would forget the Lord God that ys so full of myght
And then their sowles were lorne and yt were great pittie
And therfore yt shall not be tought for me.
Son: That ys well don quoth Merlyn that it so be
But for chariti father teach yow yt me.
Fa: My son quoth Moryen yt shall I not
Nor no man els that ever yet had wrought
Son: Yes truli father that must you do
Or els my heart will soone burst in two
Father of manners I am both stable and good
And I am of your flesh and also of your blood
Father to whome should you teach it but unto me.
Fa: Nay my der Son yt schale never be
Son: Alas father that ever I was borne
ffor well I know that I am now forlorne
Except there for that I this cunning have
My lyfe truly can you not save.
 Then he fell downe ded short tale for to make
 And his father then did him up take.
Fa: And said son upon condicicon I shall thee leare
So that thou wylt on the Sacrament sweare.
That thou shalt never write it in scripture
Nor teach yt to no man except thou be sure
That he is a perfeit man to God and also full of chariti.
Doing alle waies good deede and that he be full of humilitie
And that you know him not in lowde words but alwaies soft & still
And alie so preve whether his life be good or yll
And alle this shal thou sweare and alle so make a vow
If thou wylt have thys Cunning of me now
And the same Oath on booke they make to thee
Ere thou them let them any parte of thys scyence know or see
Son: That Oath Father I am now ready to take
And therein my vow to Jesus Christ I will make
Fa: Yet soe I will not teach thee properli
Of the measure the tyme wherefore and why.
Son: And so likewise will I do said Merlyn truly.
Fa: And upon thys Condicion I wyl tech thee Son be of good cheere
Then Merlyn made this Oath the sooth for to say me
And then the Science of thys Father he began to frame.
Son: And saie ffather how shall we begyn
Fa: In principio Son begin
With the helpe and grace of Jhesus
The begynnying shalbe thus.
First a father and a mother you must have beforne
And a Chyld of them shall be conceived and borne
For without a woman this thyng canot be doe
But hyr helpe and worke must be ther unto
Son: Quoth Merlyn to me yt ys gret mervel
That womans helpe should there unto avail.
Fa: May a Chyld wythout a woman into the world be brought
Son: Nay truly quoth Merlyn that maye yt nought.
Fa: Truly Son no more canst thou the Elixir make
Except thou the helpe of a woman thereto take
For thou mayst see in Scripture thee beforne
How a Child of a Mother ys conceived and borne
By a token thereof thou cannot misse
For when the matrix of a woman receiving the sperme of Man
The Chylde ys conceived soone and than
The matrix of a woman closeth truly soe
That no foule matter cometh then thereto
And therfore take thou heede of thys ensample in the beginning,
To close well the vessell, from any maner of thynge
For if any Corrupcon come where the chylde ys
It might never ingender then to be a man I wys
No more shale truli thy work yf ani evil ayre come thereto
And therefore close thy vessel well as thou shouldst doe
That alle thie matter may therein abyde
And not to go oute on never a side.
Forty two dayes so let yt stand
And then undoe it with thy hand
For then ys the chyld borne and so forth brought.
Son: Then sayde Merlyn thys understand I nought
Who shall the chyldes father be.
Fa: Silos son thus reade me
And the moder Anul shalbe hyr name
Son: And no Moder els quoth Merlyn but the same.
Fa: Truly quoth Morien yt wyle non other be
And theie schale dwelle in a lowe Cuntrie
And in a stronge Citty welle walled aboute
That theie of there Enimyes thereof schale have no doubt
The Cuntrie ys full good ingresse
The wych ys called Homogenes
Artevallo thus call me the Citty [marg: Vitreolla]
And the chylds name must be Mercury
Son: How high be the walles of the saide Citte
And what wydenes wyth in them maye be
Fa: Five Sitigid it may be of wydenesse
And but lide narrower thereto I gesse
And one sedep of hight sediprimus [marg: 1½ height]
And of the wydeness of five setigiderus.
Son: Whereby live they quoth Merlyn
Fa: Redrosman ys their meate and their drinke quoth Morien
Whiles they dwelle in that Citte
Those vittuals should wyth them be
The Father in that Cittee shal dye
But the moder shall live alway
And when the Chyld ys borne of the Moder free
Hee shalbe then brought out of the Cittee
And then he shalbe washed wyth water warme
So that the Chylde shalle take no harme
Looke that thou wash hym in waters twelve [marg: 12 imbib]
And keepe each water by yt selfe
And the last water wilbe then cleere
Without any foule matter
And then hast thou a chylde fayre and bryght
But then yt ys younge and hath no myght
And then to make the Chyld hardy and stronge
I shall thee teach ere yt be longe
Fyrst thou must put hym to nourishying
Yet know her well that schale have hym in keeping
That she be of meane stature
And alsoe bryght of Colour
And looke that she be of body cleane and pure
And also perfeit good and sure
And looke that she be of a longe stature
And not massy but in a meane measure
And then take unto hyr Mercury the chylde
And she shalle hym tayme if he be wylde
And wyth hyr mylke she shalle make him white
And then ys the Chylde of grete myght
Untyll he hath byne where he was borne
Wyth hys Moder let hym be alle naked
[Space in MS indicating lacuna, confirmed by missing rhyme]
And leave with hym both meate and drynke
For default of famishing
Soe by that tyme theie have dwelt there a long tyme
The Son schale by his Moder lyen
So that manie chyldren there schalbe borne
That through default of hunger they schalbe forlorne
And then take hym out of the Citty
And wash them as cleane as they may be
Untyll they be both faire and cleare
Wyth fayre lukewarme water as I said whileere
And thou put them to theire Gume and to none other
The wych wyth Mercuryes fathers brother
Twenty chyldren and foure and there ys the fyrst
And altogether him list
And so him XXV forth beare
And put then to nourish as I sayde whileere
And she schale keepe them faire and cleane
As young children ought to byn
Wyth her mylke wythin the towne wall
Tyll death comyth and slayeth them all
What is death quoth Merlyn I you pray
It ys a change quothe Morien in fay
Warme fire, What ys the towne wherein the chyld doth dwell.
It ys fusion Son I doe the tell
And yt would be full hygh in hyghnes
From the grounde to sedeprions and no lesse
ffor the hygher that she be
The Kinder mylke have shall he
ffor the mylke cometh out of the Ayre full sweete
What is yt quoth Merlyn that would I faine weete
It ys called Alkade without blame
And Auaruse ys the Nurses name
What shall alle the Chyldren dien
Yea but one quoth Moryen shall tourne to lyfe againe
Hoy may that be yt is marvel quoth Merlyn y wis
Son quoth Moryen I shale thee say at this
Thou shalt take the Chyldren from the Nurse true
And thou shalt leade them to a Maister newe
I but say me quoth Merlyn at this tyde
How longe shale they wyth the Nurse abide
Till they have eate their Gumme I reade
And they shall dye for that same deede
And when they are deade take them againe
And put them unto a Master Physitian
And ere nyne dayes be all ygone
He schale make one chylde of alle them
And the Maister shall give hym a new name
The wych ys called or said foresiall in fame
Son: What schale the Masters name be then quoth Merlyn
Fa: Acoravenesa is a right wyse man [marg: vasa arenosa]
And the towne wherein he doth dwell
Ys called Scaforusa truly to tell [marg: furnace]
Son: Yt ys a wonderous Medcen quoth Merlyn so mought I thryve
That maketh againe the chylde to live
Fa: It is Trofie a good monument
Jesus to the chylde did sende
Son: How longe schale thys Chyld with hys Master be
Fa: Tyll he waxen nygh as hygh as he
And then schale the chyld be wondrous bryght
Faire and strong and of great myght
He shalbe so furious and so strong and myghty
That of bodyes he shall get the victory
And turne them alle unto hys beames
For he schalbe Kyng of seaven Realmes
And also he schalbe a conqueror wyth the best
Wherever that he goe either by East or West
Hys fathers death recover shall he
And tourne them unto the sayd degree
Also all bodyes he wyll convert
Into hys fadyr & modyr being in desert
A thousand he wyll causen to be yelden in fyre
And make them of hys fathers power
Hee schall them make so strong of myght
Against 2000 that they mought well fight
And thus 3000 schalbe turned as I gesse
Unto the Emperor Osmura hys on likeness
Son: What ys that Emperour they lyken alle
Fa: Mercury he hyght fryst and after forisiall [or "Soresiall"]
and now ys called Osmura the Emperour
For of alle bodyes he beareth the flower
Son: Why maie not then the Emperour have a Queene
Yes truly Almaga hyr name shall been
And yet yt may be wrought as the other was
And of the said matter and in the said place
Thee same the besse a cage and do make deane
And then unto the Emperour thou hast a Queene
Of alle weomen she ys the flower
And the most bryghtest of faire Colour
And as the Emperour doeth so wyl she
And be as good in hyr degree
And thus much fruite of them may spring
And yet all thys ys but on thyng
Son: Yes quoth Merlyn fadyr and modyr ys two
Fa: I quoth Moryen but I meane not so
For truly thou maist change Silos in Anul sure
And also you maist change Anul into Silos with a liquor
Son: What is the liquor the fadyr I pray you tel me
Fa: Vinagras Son thus call yt me
Son: It ys marvell quoth Merlyn that yt should so doe
Fa: Yet upon the fire white and red yt will be so
Son: Then understand I amiss quoth Merlyn.
Fa: Whie what meanest thou by Silos and anul Son.
Son: Sol and Luna fadyr and non other
Fa: Nay my son Sol ys but Silos brother
Son: Aha quoth Merlyn now have I understanding
ffor in thys ys more naturall workying
ffadyr now thys Elixer ys illered
May it not be multiplyed
Fa: Yes quoth Moryen that yt maie
Twelve tymes even in one day
Take one parte he said of sorifiall
And ten of sephider, ground small
And XIII of Osmura or Almuya
And do them together into a Arocamybusa
and make Alcagi fire stronge and mighti power
Arochite and more continually the space of an hower
Then merke the lyon yt ys of collour sable
Fie on hym for he ys nothing able
And therefore set thyne heart and thie delight
To gett the lyon that ys Collour white
But most intyrely above every each one
Take him that Colloured like the Carbuncle stone
For that noble Lyon in especiall
Of all other beasts he ys most Emperiall.


Some possible anagrammatical readings of words in this poem:

Form in textAnagram ofMarginal Annotation
ArtevalloOlla vetra [vitrea]Vitreolla
SetigiderusDigiti (?)
SedeprionsSedes proni (?)
SoresiallSol realis (?)
AcoravenesaVasa arenoceVasa arenos

No comments: