RAIN, Janez Friderik (1612-late 17th

RAIN, Janez Friderik (1612-late 17th. century)
Praeservativum universale naturale. A natura et arte depromptum
in omni morborum genere, est Lapis philosophorum. Cujus
possibilitas, realitas, existentia & praeparatio, quantum licet,
quodq[ue] is solus sit unicus morborum debellator Hercules. /
contra Jacobum Joannem Wenceslaum Dobrzenski, de Nigro Ponte ...
Lapidem philosophorum ... negantem, remonstratur editore Joanne
Friderico à Rain, ad Stermoll & Radelsegch ... - Labaci : typis
Joannis Baptistae Mayr, 1680. - [4], 83, [1] p, [1] leaf of plates
(frontispiece) ; 8° (15 cm)
J. F. Rain is a representative of the alchemy “scientists” from the 17th century.
Around the mid 18th century, alchemy had to make way for scientifically
founded chemistry, whose predecessor it was. Some of alchemy’s findings were
however put to good use by other sciences, especially metallurgy and medicine.
Rain was a castle lord and landowner, as well as a citizen of Ljubljana. He
devoted much of his time and money to alchemy. His only printed work,
Praeservativum naturale universale…, was published by the printer Mayr in
Ljubljana in 1680. The front page illustration shows an allegoric celebration of
mercury. The image was drawn and etched into copper by Peter Mungersdorff,
as assistant in Valvasor’s paintworks in Bogenšperk (Wagensberg) Castle. Rain
complains in the introduction that there is little interest in the noble art of
alchemy and that many people ridicule it. The introduction is addressed to the
Carniolan Provincial Estates. It is followed by a treatise on the liquid “alchaest”
and on “aurum potabile”. The liquid alchaest was first mentioned by Paracelsus
as an excellent medicine for all diseases of the liver. Unfortunately, he forgot to
mention its composition. Alchemists later fervently tried to make the liquid that
was supposed to return all substances into original matter The principal aim of
Rain’s discussion was to prove that this miraculous alchaest was a kind of fluid
“lapis philosophorum”. It was supposed to turn all substances into gold and to be
the best medicine for all diseases. It was thought to consist of philosophical
sulphur and philosophical mercury, which were not ordinary sulphur and
mercury, but “spiritual” elements, which, when joined, would produce the great
mysterious “magisterium”. Rain is reported to have sought mercurius
philosophorum in mercury that was purified carefully and through complex
procedures, and sulphur philosophorum in gold.
The main section of the book strives to prove that it is possible and realistic to
make lapis philosophorum. In support of his theory, Rain quotes numerous
excerpts from alchemy books and various historical events; he passionately
attacks the thesis of the Czech alchemist Dobrzensky, who rejected the existence
and possibility of lapis philosophorum.
Rain dedicated Praeservativum to the emperor Leopold, who awarded him a
grant of 36 guilder as a contribution to his efforts in 1686. Rain’s second work
on alchemy existed only as a single-copy manuscript; it was said to be an
exceptional work of calligraphy with splendid illustrations, including figural
ones. Rain dedicated it to Empress Eleonore and Emperor Leopold and delivered
it in person to them. They had it transferred to the Augustine monastery to be
kept there. Nowadays, the manuscript is deemed to be lost, but its title De
chymia suggest that Rain may have gone beyond the phase of alchemy which
strove to produce artificial gold, and that he may have become aware how useful
the procedures, substances and devices were, which led to the origin of
chemistry in the modern sense in the following period.