That alchemy has been studied in modern times therecan be no doubt. M. figuier in his "L'Alchimie et les Alchimistes",dealing with the subject of modern alchemy, as expressed by theinitiates of the first half of the nineteenth century, states that manyFrench alchemists of his time regarded the discoveries of modern scienceas merely so many evidences of the truth of the doctrines they embraced. Throughout Europe, he says, the positive alchemical doctrine had manyadherents at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of thenineteenth. Thus a "vast association of alchemists", founded inWestphalia in 1790, continued to flourish in the year 1819, under thename of the "Hermetic Society". In 1837, an alchemist of Thuringiapresented to the Societe Industrielle of Weimar a tincture which heaverred would effect metallic transmutation. About the same timeseveral French journals announced a public course of lectures onhermetic philosophy by a professor of the University of Munich. Hefurther states that many Honoverian and Bavarian families pursued incommon the search for the grand arcanum. Paris, however, was regardedas the alchemical Mecca. There dwelt many theoretical alchemists and"empirical adepts". The first pursued and arcanum through the medium ofbooks, the other engaged in practical efforts to effect transmutation. M. Figuier states that in the forties of the last century hefrequented the laboratory of a certain Monsieur L., which was therendezvous of the alchemists in Paris. When Monsieur L`s pupils leftthe laboratory for the day, the modern adepts dropped in one by one, andFiguier relates how deeply impressed he was by the appearance andcostumes of these strange men. In the daytime, he frequentlyencountered them in the public libraries, buried in gigantic folios, andin the evening they might be seen pacing the solitary bridges with eyesfixed in vague contemplation upon the first pale stars of night. A longcloak usually covered the meager limbs, and their untrimmed beards andmatted locks lent them a wild appearance. They walked with a solemn andmeasured gait, and used the figures of speech employed by the medievalillumines. Their expression was generally a mixture of the most ardenthope and fixed despair. Among the adepts who sought the laboratory of Monsieur L., Figuier remarked especially a young man, in whose habitsand language he could nothing in common with those of his strangecompanions. He confounded the wisdom of the alchemical adept with thetenets of the modern scientist in the most singular fashion, and meetinghim one day at the gate of the Observatory, M. Figuier renewed thesubject of their last discussion, deploring that " a man of his giftscould pursue the semblance of a chimera." Without replying, the youngadept led him into the Observatory garden, and proceeded to reveal tohim the mysteries of modern alchemical science. The young man proceeded to fix a limit to the researches of the modernalchemists. Gold, he said, according to the ancient authors, as threedistinct properties: (1) that of resolving the baser metals into itself,and interchanging and metamorphosing all metals into one another; (2)the curing of afflictions and the prolongation of life; (3), as a'spiritus mundi' to bring mankind into rapport with the supermundanespheres. Modern alchemists, he continued, reject the greater part ofthese ideas, especially those connected with spiritual contact. Theobject of modern alchemy might be reduced to the search for a substancehaving the power to transform and transmute all other substances intoone another - in short, to discover that medium so well known to thealchemists of old and lost to us. This was a perfectly feasibleproposition. In the four principal substances of oxygen, hydrogen,carbon, and azote, we have the tetractus of Pythagoras and the tetragramof the Chaldeans and Egyptians. All the sixty elements are referable tothese original four. The ancient alchemical theory established the factthat all the metals are the same in their composition, that all areformed from sulphur and mercury, and that the difference between them isaccording to the proportion of these substances in their composition. Further, all the products of minerals present in their compositioncomplete identity with those substances most opposed to them. Thusfulminating acid contains precisely the same quantity of carbon, oxygen,and azote as cyanic acid, and "cyanhydric" acid does not differ fromformate ammoniac. This new property of matter is known as "isomerism". M. Figuier's friend then proceeds to quote support of his thesis and operations and experiments of M. Dumas, a celebrated French savant, asis well known to thous of Prout, and other English chemists of standing. Passing to consider the possibility of isomerism in elementary as wellas in compound substances, the points out to M. Figuier that id thetheory of isomerism can apply to such bodies, the transmutation ofmetals ceases to be a wild, unpractical dream, and becomes a scientificpossibility, the transformation being brought about by a molecularrearrangement. Isomerism can be established in the case of compoundsubstances by chemical analysis. showing the identity of theirconstituent parts. In the case of metals it can be proved by thecomparison of the properties of isometric bodies with the properties ofmetals, in order to discover whether they have any commoncharacteristics. Such experiments, he continued, had been conducted byM. Dumas, with the result the isometric substances were to be found tohave equal equivalents, or equivalents which were exact multiples of oneanother. This characteristic is also a feature of metals. Gold andosmium have identical equivalents, as have platinum and iridium. Theequivalent of cobalt is almost the same as that of nickel, and thesemi-equivalent of tin is equal to the equivalent of the two precedingmetals. M. Dumas. speaking before the British Association, had shown that whenthree simple bodies displayed great analogies in their properties, suchas chlorine, bromide, and iodine, barium, strontium, and calcium, the chemical equivalent of the intermediate body is represented by thearithmetical mean between the equivalents of the other two. Such astatement well showed the isomerism of elementary substances, and provedthat metals, however dissimilar in outward appearance, were composed ofthe same matter differently arranged and proportioned. This theorysuccessfully demolishes the difficulties in the way of transmutation. Again, Dr. Prout says that the chemical equivalents of nearly allelemental substances are the multiples of one among them. Thus, if theequivalent of hydrogen be taken for the unit, the equivalent of everyother substance will be an exact multiple of it - carbon will berepresented by six, axote by fourteen, oxygen by sixteen, zink bythirty-two. But, pointed out M. Figuier's friend, if the molecularmasses in compound substances have so simple a connection, does it notgo to prove the all natural bodies are formed of one principle,differently arranged and condensed to produce all known compounds? If transmutation is thus theoretically possible, it only remains toshow by practical experiment that it is strictly in accordance withchemical laws, and by no means inclines to the supernatural. At thisjuncture the young alchemist proceeded to liken the action of thePhilosopher`s Stone on metals to that of a ferment on organic matter. When metals are melted and brought to red heat, a molecular change maybe produced analogous to fermentation. Just as sugar, under theinfluence of a ferment, may be changed into lactic acid without alteringits constituents, so metals can alter their character under theinfluence of the Philosopher`s Stone. The explanation of the lattercase is no more difficult than that of the former. The ferment does nottake any part in the chemical changes it brings about, and nosatisfactory explanation of its effects can be found either in the lawsof affinity or in the forces of electricity, light, or heat. As withthe ferment, the required quantity of the Philosopher`s Stone isinfinitesimal. Medicine, philosophy, every modern science was at onetime a source of such errors and extravagances as are associated withmedieval alchemy, but they are not therefore neglected and despised. Wherefore, then, should we be blind tot he scientific nature oftransmutation? One of the foundations of alchemical theories was that minerals grewand developed in the earth, like organic things. It was always the aimof nature to produce gold, the most precious metal, but whencircumstances were not favorable the baser metals resulted. The desireof the old alchemists was to surprise nature`s secrets, and thus attainthe ability to do in a short period what nature takes years toaccomplish. Nevertheless, the medieval alchemists appreciated the valueof time in their experiments as modern alchemists never do. M.Figuier`s friend urged him not to condemn these exponents of thehermetic philosophy for their metaphysical tendencies, for, he said,there are facts in our sciences that can only be explained in thatlight. If, for instance, copper be placed in air or water, there willbe no result, but if a touch of some acid be added, it will oxidize. The explanation is that "the acid provokes oxidation of the metalbecause it has an affinity for the oxide which tends to form." - amaterial fact most metaphysical in its production, and only explicablethereby.