Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds
Vol. III - Philosophical Delusions 2
Chapter 40 - Augurello
Among the alchymists who were born in the fifteenth, and distinguished themselves in the sixteenth century, the first, in point of date, is John Aurelio Augurello. He was born at Rimini in 1441, and became Professor of the belles lettres at Venice and Trevisa. He was early convinced of the truth of the hermetic science, and used to pray to God that he might be happy enough to discover the philosopher's stone. He was continually surrounded by the paraphernalia of chemistry, and expended all his wealth in the purchase of drugs and metals. He was also a poet, but of less merit than pretensions. His "Chrysopeia," in which lie pretended to teach the art of making gold, he dedicated to Pope Leo X, in the hope that the Pontiff would reward him handsomely for the compliment; but the Pope was too good a judge of poetry to be pleased with the worse than mediocrity of his poem, and too good a philosopher to approve of the strange doctrines which it inculcated: he was, therefore, far from gratified at the dedication. It is said, that when Augurello applied to him for a reward, the Pope, with great ceremony and much apparent kindness and cordiality, drew an empty purse from his pocket, and presented it to the alchymist, saying, that since he was able to make gold, the most appropriate present that could be made him, was a purse to put it in. This scurvy reward was all that the poor alchymist ever got either for his poetry or his alchymy. He died in a state of extreme poverty, in the eighty-third year of his age.