E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Alchemists, who pretended to multiply gold and silver. An act was passed (2 Henry IV., c. iv.) making the art of multiplication felony. In the Canterbury Tales, the Chanoun Yeman says he was reduced to poverty by alchemy, adding: Lo, such advantage ist to multiply. (Prologue to Chanounes Tale.)