Multipliers

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 is't to multiply.” (Prologue to Chanouncs Tale.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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