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The lost knowledge of Alchemy

The Hermetic Tracts comprised in this volume are printed from a quarto manuscript (itself a transcript from an older but now untraceable work) belonging to the celebrated collection of the late Mr. Frederick Hockley, who was well known among modern students of the secret sciences, not only for the resources of his Hermetic library, but for his practical acquaintance with many branches of esoteric lore, and for his real or reputed connection with the numerous but unavowed associations which now, as at anterior periods, are supposed to dispense initiation into occult knowledge. While practically the reprint is verbatim, it would have been a needless source of confusion, in a subject which is already sufficiently confused, to have reproduced the obsolete orthography, the superfluous capitals, the perplexing parentheses, the unnecessary italics, and the chaotic punctuation of the original. These, therefore, have been abandoned in favour of a simpler method. But the flavour of antiquity is sometimes valued for its age rather than its excellence; and partly in deference to this prejudice, there has been no attempt to reconstruct the style of these old writings.

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