In the past, the new man was not exactly herring milk! Utopian, fantasist. Perhaps a variation of a conspiracy? The free escape of thought. That can be used for good, creative, pleasurable things too?
Article behind paywall. So I turn to Wikipedia to find out more about this August Nordenskiöld…
“From Turku, where in 1772 he published a dissertation ‘On the nature of tin and its ores’, he went to Stockholm, where he was enrolled as an auscultant in bergskollegium and continued his studies in mineralogy and chemistry.
From an early age, he had begun the attempts to produce from gold the ‘stone of the wise’ and was increasingly transitioning to alchemy. He also became an early supporter of Emanuel Swedenborg. The purpose of goldmaking was primarily to thwart money tyranny or, through the transformation of iron into precious metals, undermine the dominion of earthly wealth and pave the way for a social reform in the philanthropic spirit.
In 1779, with the support of King Gustav III, he went to London to improve his knowledge of alchemy. He had the beginning of a thesis ‘A Plain System of Alchymy’, which, however, seems to have been interrupted and never disseminated. He also published Swedenborg’s epilogue to ‘the true Christian religion’, but the edition was seized when he tried to introduce it in Sweden. In 1780 he returned “on the king’s express orders” to Sweden and secretly set up a small alchemist workshop on Drottningholmsmalmen, where the fire burned night and day.
The article by David Dunér in SvD (October 15) can be found here.