Numerous less distinguished adepts also practised the art, and sometimes were so successful in their deceptions that they gained the ear of kings, whose desire to profit by the achievements of science was in several instances rewarded by an abundant crop of counterfeit coins.
Though he lived in an atmosphere of alchemy, he derided the notion of the alkahest or universal solvent, and denounced the deceptions of the adepts who pretended to effect the transmutation of metals; but he believed mercury to be a constituent of all metals and heavy minerals, though he held there was no proof of the presence of "sulphur comburens."
It is not difficult to lay one's finger upon very many obliquities, self-deceptions and sophisms in Tertullian in matters of detail, for he struggled for years to reconcile things that were in themselves irreconcilable; yet in each case the perversities and sophisms were rather the outcome of the peculiarly difficult circumstances in which he stood.
We allow the faults and crimes of his early manhood, his cruelties and deceptions, his readiness to sacrifice everything that came between him and the end he had in view.
But its shortcomings are to be supplied and its deceptions to be corrected.
Moment by moment the event is imperceptibly shaping itself, and at every moment of this continuous, uninterrupted shaping of events the commander-in-chief is in the midst of a most complex play of intrigues, worries, contingencies, authorities, projects, counsels, threats, and deceptions and is continually obliged to reply to innumerable questions addressed to him, which constantly conflict with one another.