"as if the proposed result had been the Elixir of Life"
White rabbit making the elixir of immortality
Public DomainWhite rabbit making the elixir of immortality - Credit: From an 18th-century embroidered Chinese emperor's robe.

The elixir of life is a fabulous potion believed to confer immortality on whoever drinks it. Alchemists from Asia to Europe strove to discover a recipe for this magical liquid in tandem with their quest for the philosopher’s stone. This often had disastrous consequences: many of the ingredients used were highly toxic and it was not unknown for people to usher themselves to an early grave by drinking these supposed elixirs.

Hawthorne was enchanted by the notion of such marvelous medicines. In his short story ‘Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment’ (1837), he wrote of an elixir that returned its imbibers to their youth. Read it below.