Lat every man be war by me for evere!
What maner man that casteth hym therto,
If he continue, I holde his thrift ydo.
For so helpe me God, therby shal he nat wynne,
But empte his purs, and make his wittes thynne.
And whan he thurgh his madnesse and folye
Hath lost his owene good thurgh jupartye,
Thanne he exciteth oother folk therto,
To lesen hir good as he hymself hath do.
For unto shrewes joye it is and ese
To have hir felawes in peyne and disese.

– Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales, The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale. The Yeoman warns the pilgrims against the false magic of alchemy. From his own experience he says that it will empty a person’s purse and make their wits thin. And when through madness and folly they have lost their possessions, they will incite other folk to lose theirs. To scoundrels it is joy and ease to have their fellows in pain and hardship.