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Chambers, Ephraim, 1680 (ca.)-1740 / Cyclopædia, or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences : containing the definitions of the terms, and accounts of the things signify'd thereby, in the several arts, both liberal and mechanical, and the several sciences, human and divine : the figures, kinds, properties, productions, preparations, and uses, of things natural and artificial : the rise, progress, and state of things ecclesiastical, civil, military, and commercial : with the several systems, sects, opinions, &c : among philosophers, divines, mathematicians, physicians, antiquaries, criticks, &c : the whole intended as a course of antient and modern learning

Meatus - Metal,   pp. 521-541 PDF (20.3 MB)

Page 534

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the Characer of a Principle, which is that whofe-Sub-
flance cannot be Analyzed, or reduced into Matters more
fimple; but becaufe the Analyfis has not yet been dif-
covered :  ho' it is poffible it may hereafter, there being
little doubt but that Mercury is a Compound. This is the
more probable, in regard Mercury may be deffroy'd,
which never happens to fimple Bodies. The manner of
defiroying Mercury, is, firit, by changing it into a perfect
Metal, by introducing a fufficient quantity of Light within
its Subilance ; and then expofing this Metal to a Burn-
ing-Glafs, where, in a little time, it evaporates almofl
wholly into Smoke, leaving nothing behind but a light
earthy DufI.
The Properties of MER C U R Y.
The Charaaers, or Properties of Mercury, are, I. That
of all Bodies it is the heavieff, after Gold i and fill the
purer it is, the heavier: Nay, fome of the Philofophers
even hold that Mercuwy well purged of all its Sulphur,
would be heavier than Gold itfelf. The ordinary Propor-
tion is that of 14 to 19. If any Mercury be found to weigh
more than according to this Ratio, it may be fafely con-
cluded to have Gold in it. See WEIGHT,
The ad CharaderofMercury,is to be of all Bodies the mofi
fluid; that is, its Parts feparate, and recede from each other
by the frnalleil Force. Confequently, of all Bodies it is that
whofe parts cohere the leafr, or are the leadt tenacious;
and therefore of all others the leait dudile and malleable.
The parts of Water do not divide fo readily as thofe of
Quick-Silver ; and the parts of Oil much lefs: There is
a certain Tenacity even in the parts of Spirit of Wine which
refills feparation; but there is fcarce any Cohefion at all in
the parts of Mercury. See FLUIDITY and FIRMNESS.
The 3d Property of Mercury, which, indeed, depends
on the ad, is, That of all Bodies it is divifible into the
minutedl parts. Thus, being expofed to the Fire, it re-
folves into a Fume fcarce perceivable to the Eye ; but in
whatever manner it be divided, it fill retains its Nature,
and is the fame fpecific Fluid.  For the Vapours of
diflill'd, or volatilized Mercury received in Water, or moifl
Leather, or the like, become pure Mercury; and if Mer-
cury be mixed with other Bodies, in order to fix it, for it
is fcarce fixable of itfelf, it is eafily feparable from
them again by Fire, and reducible into pure Mercury as
The 4th Charadcer is to be extremely Volatile, being
convertible into Fume, even by a Sand-heat. In effed,
it does not fuflain the Fire long enough either to boil, or
ignite. Tho' it mufi be added, if the Fire be at firft
very gentle, and increafe by eafy degrees, it may be re-
tained therein a pretty long time, and be fixed fo as at
length to become ignited in the Crucible, as we learn
from fome very tedious Experiments made at Paris. See
The Gilders are but too well acquainted with the Va-
pours of Mercury, which frequently render 'em Epileptic,
and Paralytic, and fometimes falivate them ; being of
fo penetrating a Nature, as to take away fcirrhous Tu-
mours, tho' very apt to reach and defiroy the nobler
The 5th Property is, that it eafily enters, and inti-
mately adheres to Gold, lefs eafily to the other Metals,
with difficulty to Copper, and not at all to Iron. See
Indeed we have heard much among the Adepts about
making an Amalgama with Mercury and Iron; but the
Experiment would never fucceed with that Noble Chy-
mift, Her. Boerhaave. 'Tis poffible there may be fome
way of binding thofe two Bodies together; and no doubt
an Amalgama might be made, if a large Quantity of
Gold were added to the Iron: But then, if the Com-
pound were beateninto a  Duff, in Water, the Iron would
walh away, and the Gold remain. On this Account it is,
that fuch as have Occafion to handle Quick-Silver, al-
ways make choice of Iron-Infiruments for that purpofe.
We have known Women, in a Salivation, to have their
Ear-Rings grow white and foft with the Effluvia of the
Mercury; and hence the Gilders, to lay Gold on any
other Body, difTolve it in hot Mercury, which done, they
apply the Solution on the Body to be gilt, fuppofe
Silver;  then fettiung it over the Coals, the  Mercury
flies away, and leaves the Gold adhering like a Crufl to the
Silver. Lafily, rubbing the Cruft with Lapis Hematites,
theSilver is gilt. See GILDING.
The 6th Charaaer is, That of all Fluids, it is the coldefi,
and the hotteff:  fuppofing the Circumrfances the fame.
Boerbaae ffhews, that Fire is equally diffufed through
all Bodies ;  and that there is in reality the fame  degree
thereof in Mercury, as in Spirit of Wine ; and yet if you
try with your Finger, Mercury in the Cold, is much colder,
and, over the fame    Fire, confiderably hotter, than the
Spirit. This property depends on the great Weight of
4derpry: for the Heat and Cold of all Bodies is ceteris
paribus as their Weights. Now, Mercury being 14 times
heavier than Water; if both of them   be expofed in a
Winter's Night to the fame Cold, the Mercurymutt be fo
much colder than Water, as it is heavier. So, alfo, if
they be both apply'd to the fame degree of Hear, while
the Water becomes warm, the Mercury will be hot enough
to burn the Hands. See HEAT and CoiD.
The 7th Property is, that it is diffoluble by almofi all
Acids, and unites itfelf with them ; at leaft with all
fuffil Acids. Thus it is diffolved in Oil of Vitriol, Spirit
of Sulphur per Camnpazan., Spirit of Nitre, and Aqua regial
It is prepared with Oil of Vitriol, into Tzwbitb Mineral;
with Spirit of Sulphur, into Cinnalbar ; with 4jua regia, or
Spirit of Sea-Salt or Sal gemma, into corrofive Sublimate.
Only Vinegar does not diffolve it; and hence we are
furnilhed with a Method of detecding the Frauds of Drug-
gills, Fic. who make a pradice of fophiflicating Quick-
Silver with Lead. Do but take a Mortar, and pound the
Mercury, with Vinegar therein; if the Vinegargrow fwee-
tiflL, it is a Proof there is a Mixture of Lead: If Copper
have been mix'd with it, the Mercury will turn greenidhi
orbluilh; if there be no Adulteration, the Mercury and
Vinegar will both remain as before.
The 8th Property is, that it is the mofi Simple of all
Bodies, next after Gold: Accordingly, we find it the
fame in all its parts, fo far as our Obfervation goes. If a.
fingle Grain of Mercuiry he diifolved in Spirit of Nitre,
a proportionable part of the Gr.hin will be diftributed
into every minute Particlc thereof; and L;y diluting the
whole with an Ounce of Alqua Stygia, the whole Grain of
Mercury will be revived. Had we the Mercury of the Phi-
lofophers called alfo Vital Mercury, Mercuiy of Metals, &c.
fo much talked of; it is afflerted it would be fill vafily
fimpler than Gold: For, from Gold, we can fometimes
feparate Mercury, and fometimes Sulphur ; but from pure
Mercury nothing befide itfelf can be Separated.
The 9th Property of Mercury is, not to be in any
meafure Sbarp, for it fliews no Acrimony in the TafIe, nor
does it corrode any Body; and if a Carcafe were to lbe
buried in Quick-Silver, it would there remnain without be-
ing any way hurt. The extraordinary EfTe as, however;
it produces in the Body, have given People a Notion of
its being Acrid. But the Cafe is, that when received into
the Blood, it aas by its Weight and Velocity; whence
it tears and defsroys the Vefrels, and thus occafions thofe
great Alterations, which lead the Chymifis into their
In effet, all its medicinal Operations are to be accoun-
ted for from the Properties already enumerated.
Mines of MER CURY.
The Chief Quick-Silver Mines, are thofe of Hungary,
Spain, Friuli, and Peru. The greateft part of our Quick-
Silver is brought us from Friuli, where there are abun-
dance of Mines belonging to the Emperor, tho' now mort-
gaged to the Dutcb. It is found   under three feveral
Forms. I. In ruddy Glebes or Clods, call'd Cinnabar.
a. In hard flony Glebes, or a mineral Subfiance of a
faffron, and fometimes a blackifh Colour. 5. It is alfo
found pure : For upon opening Holes in the Beds of
Stones, 'ic. there fomertimes gufhes a Vein or Stream of
pure Mercury, call'd Virgin-Mercury. This laft fort is moff
valued: Paracelfus and Bafil Valentine prefer it far to any
other fort, for Chymical Operations. Dr. Brown affures
us in his Travels, that enquiring of one of the Direcors
of the Quick-Silver Mines, wherein the Difference be-
tween this and common Mercury confified ; he was an-
fwered, That Virgin-Mercury, mix'd, and amalgamated
with Gold, render'd the Sulphur of the Gold volatile
but this has been feveral times try'd without fuccefs.
Metbod of procuring or feparating MERcuRy from   the
Ore, or Eartb.
They firfi grind the mineral Glebe into Powder; this
done, they pour a great Quantity of Water upon it, fir.
ring and working the whole briskly about till the Water
becomes exceeding thick, and turbid. This Water ha-
ving flood till it be fettled, they pour it off, and fupply
its place with frefh, which they flir, and work as before.
This they repeat, and continue to do, till the Water at
length comes away perfedly clear; then, all remaining
at the bottom of the Veffel, is Mercury, and other me-
talline Matter.
To this Mercury, &c. they add the Scoria of Iron, put-
ting the whole in large Iron Retorts, and fo diffilling it ;
by which means all the heterogeneous, metallic and flony
Part, is feparated therefrom  ; and the Mercury left Pure.
As to the Mercury in Cinnabar, they don't find it worth
while to diflil, and get it out ; Cinnabar felling for a better
Price than Mercury itfelf. SeeCINNABAR.
The miferable People condemn'd or hir'd to workin
thofe Mines, all die in alittle time.  They are firfi affeaed
with Tremors, and proceed to falivate ; then their Teeth

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