Busardier (ca. seventeenth century)

views updated

Busardier (ca. seventeenth century)

A practitioner of alchemy of whom few particulars are recorded. He is said to have lived at Prague with a noble courtier. Falling sick and feeling the approach of death, he sent a letter to his friend Richtausen at Vienna, asking him to come and stay with him during his last moments. Richtausen set out at once but on arriving at Prague found that Busardier was dead.

On inquiring if the adept had left anything behind him, the steward of the nobleman with whom he had lived stated that only some powder had been left which the nobleman desired to preserve. Richtausen by some means got possession of the powder and took his departure. On discovering this, the nobleman threatened to hang his steward if he did not recover the powder. The steward, surmising that no one but Richtausen could have taken the powder, armed himself and set out in pursuit.

Overtaking him on the road, he drew a pistol on Richtausen and made him hand over the powder. Richtausen, however, contrived to keep a considerable quantity. Knowing the value of the powder, Richtausen presented himself to Emperor Ferdinand, himself an alchemist, and gave him a quantity of the powder. The emperor, assisted by his mine master Count Russe, succeeded in converting three pounds of mercury into gold by means of one grain of the powder. The emperor is said to have commemorated the event by having a medal struck bearing the effigy of Apollo with the caduceus of Mercury and an appropriate motto.

Richtausen was ennobled under the title of "Baron Chaos." A. E. Waite, in his Lives of Alchemistical Philosophers (1888), stated:

"Among many transformations performed by the same powder was one by the Elector of Mayence, in 1651. He made projections with all the precautions possible to a learned and skilful philosopher. The powder enclosed in gum tragacanth to retain it effectually, was put into the wax of a taper, which was lighted, the wax being then placed at the bottom of a cruet. These preparations were undertaken by the Elector himself. He poured four ounces of quicksilver on the wax, and put the whole into a fire covered with charcoal above, below and around. Then they began blowing to the utmost, and in about half an hour on removing the coals, they saw that the melted gold was over red, the proper colour being green. The baron said the matter was yet too high and it was necessary to put some silver into it. The Elector took some coins out of his pocket, put them into the melting pot, combined the liquefied silver with the matter in the cruet, and having poured out the whole when in perfect fusion into a lingot, he found after cooling, that it was very fine gold, but rather hard, which was attributed to the lingot. On again melting, it became exceedingly soft and the Master of the Mint declared to His Highness that it was more than twenty-four carats and that he had never seen so fine a quality of the precious metal."


Waite, A. E. Lives of the Alchemical Philosophers. London: George Redway, 1888. Reprinted as Alchemists through the Ages. Blauvelt, N.Y.: Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1970.