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Title: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure
Author: Fernie, William Thomas, 1830-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Transcribed by Ruth Hart ruthhart@twilightoracle.com

Transcriber's notes:

   While most of the book titles and non-English words are
   italicized, not all of them are, and I have left the
   non-italicized terms as is.

   Page numbers have been placed in sqare brackets to facilitate
   the use of the table of contents and the index.



Author of "Botanical Outlines," etc_

Second Edition.

"Medicine is mine; what herbs and _Simples_ grow
In fields and forests, all their powers I know."

Boericke & Tafel.

        "Jamque aderat Phoebo ante alios dilectus lapis
        Iasides: acri quondam cui captus amore
        Ipse suas artes, sua munera, laetus Apollo
        Augurium, citharamque dabat, celeresque sagittas
        Ille ut _depositi_ proferret fata _clientis,_
        Scire potestates herbarum, usumque medendi
        Maluit, et mutas agitare inglorius artes."
                            VIRGIL, _AEnid_: Libr. xii. v. 391-8.

        "And now lapis had appeared,
        Blest leech! to Phoebus'-self endeared
                Beyond all men below;
        On whom the fond, indulgent God
        His augury had fain bestowed,
                His lyre-his sounding bow!
        But he, the further to prolong
                A fellow creature's span,
        _The humbler art of Medicine chose,
        The knowledge of each plant that grows,_
        Plying a craft not known to song,
                An unambitious man!"



It may happen that one or another enquirer taking up this book will
ask, to begin with, "What is a Herbal Simple?" The English word
"Simple," composed of two Latin words, _Singula plica_ (a single
fold), means "Singleness," whether of material or purpose.

From primitive times the term "Herbal Simple" has been applied
to any homely curative remedy consisting of one ingredient only,
and that of a vegetable nature. Many such a native medicine found
favour and success with our single-minded forefathers, this being
the "reverent simplicity of ancienter times."

In our own nursery days, as we now fondly remember, it was:
"Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair; said Simple Simon
to the pieman, 'Let me taste your ware.'" That ingenuous youth had
but one idea, connected simply with his stomach; and his sole
thought was how to devour the contents of the pieman's tin. We
venture to hope our readers may be equally eager to stock their
minds with the sound knowledge of Herbal Simples which this
modest Manual seeks to provide for their use.

Healing by herbs has always been popular both [xviii] with the
classic nations of old, and with the British islanders of more recent
times. Two hundred and sixty years before the date of Hippocrates
(460 B.C.) the prophet Isaiah bade King Hezekiah, when sick unto
death, "take a lump of Figs, and lay it on the boil; and straightway
the King recovered."

Iapis, the favourite pupil of Apollo, was offered endowments of
skill in augury, music, or archery. But he preferred to acquire a
knowledge of herbs for service of cure in sickness; and, armed
with this knowledge, he saved the life of AEneas when grievously
wounded by an arrow. He averted the hero's death by applying the
plant "Dittany," smooth of leaf, and purple of blossom, as plucked
on the mountain Ida.

It is told in _Malvern Chase_ that Mary of Eldersfield (1454),
"whom some called a witch," famous for her knowledge of herbs
and medicaments, "descending the hill from her hut, with a small
phial of oil, and a bunch of the 'Danewort,' speedily enabled Lord
Edward of March, who had just then heavily sprained his knee, to
avoid danger by mounting 'Roan Roland' freed from pain, as it
were by magic, through the plant-rubbing which Mary

In Shakespeare's time there was a London street, named
Bucklersbury (near the present Mansion House), noted for its
number of druggists who sold Simples and sweet-smelling herbs.
We read, in [ix] _The Merry Wives of Windsor_, that Sir John
Falstaff flouted the effeminate fops of his day as "Lisping
hawthorn buds that smell like Bucklersbury in simple time."

Various British herbalists have produced works, more or less
learned and voluminous, about our native medicinal plants; but no
author has hitherto radically explained the why and where fore of
their ultimate curative action. In common with their early
predecessors, these several writers have recognised the healing
virtues of the herbs, but have failed to explore the chemical
principles on which such virtues depend. Some have attributed the
herbal properties to the planets which rule their growth. Others
have associated the remedial herbs with certain cognate colours,
ordaining red flowers for disorders of the blood, and yellow for
those of the liver. "The exorcised demon of jaundice," says
Conway, "was consigned to yellow parrots; that of inflammatory
disease to scarlet, or red weeds." Again, other herbalists have
selected their healing plants on the doctrine of allied signatures,
choosing, for instance, the Viper's Bugloss as effectual against
venomous bites, because of its resembling a snake; and the sweet
little English Eyebright, which shows a dark pupil in the centre
white ocular corolla, as of signal benefit for inflamed eyes.

Thus it has continued to happen that until the [x] last half-century
Herbal Physic has remained only speculative and experimental,
instead of gaining a solid foothold in the field of medical science.
Its claims have been merely empirical, and its curative methods
those of a blind art:--

        "Si vis curari, de morbo nescio quali,
        Accipias herbam; sed quale nescio; nec quâ
        Ponas; nescio quo; curabere, nescio quando."

        Your sore, I know not what, be not foreslow
        To cure with herbs, which, where, I do not know;
        Place them, well pounc't, I know not how, and then
        You shall be perfect whole, I know not when."

Happily now-a-days, as our French neighbours would say, _Nous
avons changé tout cela_, "Old things are passed away; behold all
things are become new!" Herbal Simples stand to-day safely
determined on sure ground by the help of the accurate chemist.
They hold their own with the best, and rank high for homely cures,
because of their proved constituents. Their manifest healing
virtues are shown to depend on medicinal elements plainly
disclosed by analysis. Henceforward the curtain of oblivion must
fall on cordial waters distilled mechanically from sweet herbs, and
on electuaries artlessly compounded of seeds and roots by a Lady
Monmouth, or a Countess of Arundel, as in the Stuart and Tudor
times. Our Herbal Simples are fairly entitled at last to independent
promotion from the shelves of the amateur still-room, from [xi]
the rustic ventures of the village grandam, and from the shallow
practices of self styled botanical doctors in the back streets of our

        "I do remember an apothecary,--
        And hereabouts he dwells,--whom late I noted
        In tatter'd weeds, with overwhelming brows,
        _Culling of Simples_; meagre were his looks;
        And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
        An alligator stuff'd, and other skins
        Of ill-shap'd fishes; and about his shelves
        A beggarly account of empty boxes,
        Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,
        Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses
        Were thinly scattered to make up a show."
                            _Romeo and Juliet_, Act V. Sc. 1.

Chemically assured, therefore, of the sterling curative powers
which our Herbal Simples possess, and anxious to expound them
with a competent pen, the present author approaches his task with
a zealous purpose, taking as his pattern, from the _Comus_ of

                    "A certain shepherd lad
        Of small regard to see to, yet well skilled
        In every virtuous plant, and healing herb;
                    He would beg me sing;
        Which, when I did, he on the tender grass
        Would sit, and hearken even to constancy;
        And in requital ope his leathern scrip,
        And show me _Simples_, of a thousand names,
        Telling their strange, and vigorous faculties."

Shakespeare said, three centuries ago, "throw physic to the dogs."
But prior to him, one Doctor Key, self styled Caius, had written in
the Latin [xii] tongue (_tempore_ Henry VIII.), a Medical History
of the British Canine Race. His book became popular, though
abounding in false concords; insomuch that from then until now
medical classics have been held by scholars in poor repute for
grammar, and sound construction. Notwithstanding which risk,
many a passage is quoted here of ancient Herbal lore in the past
tongues of Greece, Rome; and the Gauls. It is fondly hoped that
the apt lines thus borrowed from old faultless sources will escape
reproach for a defective modern rendering in Dog Latin, Mongrel
Greek, or the "French of Stratford atte bowe."

Lastly, quaint old Fuller shall lend an appropriate Epilogue. "I
stand ready," said he (1672), "with a pencil in one hand, and a spunge
in the other, to add, alter, insert, efface, enlarge, and delete,
according to better information. And if these my pains shall be
found worthy to passe a second Impression, my faults I will
confess with shame, and amend with thankfulnesse, to such as will
contribute clearer intelligence unto me."




On its First Reading, a Bill drafted in Parliament meets with
acquiescence from the House on both sides mainly because its
merits and demerits are to be more deliberately questioned when it
comes up again in the future for a second closer Reading,
Meanwhile, its faults can be amended, and its omissions supplied:
fresh clauses can be introduced: and the whole scheme of the Bill
can be better adapted to the spirit of the House inferred from its
first reception.

In somewhat similar fashion the Second Edition of "Herbal
Simples" is now submitted to a Parliament of readers with the
belief that its ultimate success, or failure of purpose, is to depend
on its present revised contents, and the amplified scope of its

The criticism which public journalists, not a few, thought proper to
pass on its First Edition have been attentively considered herein. It
is true their comments were in some cases so conflicting as to be
difficult of practical appliance. The fabled old man and his ass
stand always in traditional warning against futile attempts to
satisfy inconsistent objectors, or to carry into effect suggestions
made by irreconcilable censors. "_Quot homines, tot [xiv]
sententioe_," is an adage signally verified when a fresh venture is
made on the waters of chartered opinion. How shall the perplexed
navigator steer his course when monitors in office accuse him on
the one hand of lax precision throughout, and belaud him on the
other for careful observance of detail? Or how shall he trim his
sails when a contemptuous Standard-bearer, strangely uninformed
on the point, ignores, as a leader of any repute, "one Gerard," a
former famous Captain of the Herbal fleet? With the would-be
Spectator's lament that Gerard's graphic drawings are regrettedly
wanting here, the author is fain to concur. He feels that the
absence of appropriate cuts to depict the various herbs is quite a
deficiency: but the hope is inspired that a still future Edition may
serve to supply this need. Certain botanical mistakes pointed out
with authority by the _Pharmaceutical Journal _have here been
duly corrected: and as many as fifty additional Simples will be
found described in the present Enlarged Edition. At the same time
a higher claim than hitherto made for the paramount importance of
the whole subject is now courageously advanced.

To all who accept as literal truth the Scriptural account of the
Garden of Eden it must be evident how intimately man's welfare
from the first was made to depend on his uses of trees and herbs.
The labour of earning his bread in the sweat of his brow by tilling
the ground: and the penalty of [xv] and thistles produced
thereupon, were alike incurred by Eve's disobedience in plucking
the forbidden fruit: and a signified possibility of man's eventful
share in the tree of life, to "put forth his hand, and eat, and live
for ever," has been more than vaguely revealed. So that with almost a
sacred mission, and with an exalted motive of supreme usefulness,
this Manual of healing Herbs is published anew, to reach, it is
hoped, and to rescue many an ailing mortal.

Against its main principle an objection has been speciously raised,
which at first sight appears of subversive weight; though, when
further examined, it is found to be clearly fallacious. By an able
but carping critic it was alleged that the mere chemical analysis of
old-fashioned Herbal Simples makes their medicinal actions no
less empirical than before: and that a pedantic knowledge of their
constituent parts, invested with fine technical names, gives them
no more scientific a position than that which our fathers

But, taking, for instance, the herb Rue, which was formerly
brought into Court to protect a and the Bench from gaol fever, and
other infectious disease; no one knew at the time by what
particular virtue the Rue could exercise this salutary power. But
more recent research has taught, that the essential oil contained in
this, and other allied aromatic herbs, such as Elecampane, [xvi]
Rosemary, and Cinnamon, serves by its germicidal principles
(stearoptens, methyl-ethers, and camphors), to extinguish bacterial
life which underlies all contagion. In a parallel way the antiseptic
diffusible oils of Pine, Peppermint, and Thyme, are likewise
employed with marked success for inhalation into the lungs by
consumptive patients. Their volatile vapours reach remote parts of
the diseased air-passages, and heal by destroying the morbid
germs which perpetuate mischief therein. It need scarcely be said
the very existence of these causative microbes, much less any
mode of cure by their abolishment, was quite unknown to former
Herbal Simplers.

Again, in past times a large number of our native, plants acquired
a well-deserved, but purely empirical celebrity, for curing scrofula
and scurvy. But later discovery has shown that each of these
several herbs contains lime, and earthy salts, in a subtle form of
high natural sub-division: whilst, at the same time, the law of cure
by medicinal similars has established the cognate fact that to those
who inherit a strumous taint, infinitesimal doses of these earth
salts are incontestably curative. The parents had first undergone a
gradual impairment of health because of calcareous matters to
excess in their general conditions of sustenance; and the lime
proves potent to cure in the offspring what, through the parental
surfeit, was entailed as [xvii] a heritage of disease. Just in the
same way the mineral waters of Missisquoi, and Bethesda, in America,
through containing siliceous qualities so sublimated as almost to
defy the analyst, are effective to cure cancer, albuminuria, and
other organic complaints.

Nor is this by any means a new policy of cure. Its barbaric practice
has long since obtained, even in African wilds, where the native
snake doctor inoculates with his prepared snake poison to save the
life of a victim otherwise fatally bitten by another snake of the
same deadly virus. To Ovid, of Roman fame (20 B.C.), the same
sanative axiom was also indisputably known as we learn from his

        "Tunc observatas augur descendit in herbas;
        Usus et auxilio est anguis ab angue dato."

        "Then searched the Augur low mid grass close scanned
        For snake to heal a snake-envenomed hand."

And with equal cogency other arguments, which are manifold,
might be readily adduced, as of congruous force, to vindicate our
claim in favour of analytical knowledge over blind experience in
the methods of Herbal cure, especially if this be pursued on the
broad lines of enlightened practice by similars.

So now, to be brief, and to change our allegory, "on the banks of
the Nile," as Mrs. Malaprop would have pervertingly put it, with
"a nice [xviii] derangement of epitaphs," we invite our many
guests to a simple "dinner of herbs." Such was man's primitive
food in Paradise: "every green herb bearing seed, and every tree in
the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed:" "the green herb for
meat for every beast of the earth, and every fowl of the air." What
better Preface can we indite than a grace to be said before sitting
down to the meal? "Sallets," it is hoped, will be found "in the lines
to make the matter savoury." Far be it from our object to preach a
prelude of texts, or to weary those at our board I with a
meaningless long benediction. "'Tis not so plain as the old Hill of
Howth," said tender-hearted witty Tom Hood, with serio-comic
truth, "a man has got his belly full of meat, because he talks with
victuals in his mouth." Rather would we choose the "russet Yeas
and honest kersey Noes" of sturdy yeoman speech; and cheerfully
taking the head of our well-stocked table, ask in homely terms that
"God will bless these the good creatures of His Herbal Simples to
our saving uses, and us to His grateful service."




Absinthe . . . 614
Acorn . . . 15
Agaric, Fly . . . 368
Agrimony . . . 18
Alexanders . . . 313
Allspice . . . 386
Amadou . . . 378
Anemone, Wood . . . 20
Angelica . . . 23
Aniseed . . . 24
Apple . . . 26
Arsmart . . . 606
Artichoke, Globe . . . 548
    "     Jerusalem . . . 549
Arum . . . 33
Asafetida . . . 269
Ash, Mountain . . . 350
Asparagus . . . 35
Asphodel, Bog . . . 482
Avens . . . 47

Balm . . . 39
Barberry . . . 42
Barley . . . 44
Basil, Sweet . . . 45
Bean . . . 415
Bedstraw . . . 231
Bee sting . . . 260
Beet . . . 507
Belladonna . . . 388
Bennet Herb . . . 47
Betony, Water . . . 50, 198
    "    Wood . . . 42
Bilberry . . . 652
Bistort, Great . . . 607
Blackberry . . . 53
Black Pot Herb . . . 312
Blackthorn . . . 517
Bladderwrack . . . 503
Blessed Thistle . . . 557
Blue Bell . . . 57
Bog Bean . . . 58
Borage . . . 60
Bracken . . . 184
Brooklime . . . 431
Broom . . . 62
Bryony, Black . . . 68
    "    White . . . 65
Buckthorn . . . 69
Bugle . . . 510
Bullace . . . 520
Bulrush . . . 481
Burdock . . . 162
Burnet Saxifrage . . . 430
Butcher's Broom . . . 64
Butterbur . . . 119
Buttercup . . . 71

Cabbage . . . 74
    "    Sea . . . 76
Calamint . . . 343
Camphor . . . 337
Capsicum . . . 78
Caraway . . . 81
Carline Thistle . . . 558
Carraigeen Moss . . . 500
Carrot . . . 88
Cascara Sagrada . . . 70
Cat Mint . . . 344
Cat Thyme . . . 565
Cat's Tail . . . 482
[xx] Celandine, Greater . . . 92
    "    Lesser . . . 90
Celery . . . 94
Centaury . . . 96
Chamomile . . . 84
    "    Bitter . . . 86
Cherry . . . 98
Chervil . . . 100
Chestnut, Horse . . . 102
    "    Sweet . . . 104
Chickweed . . . 105
Chicory . . . 542
Christmas Rose . . . 107
Cider . . . 30
Cinnamon . . . 390
Cinquefoil, Creeping . . . 516
Clary . . . 492
Cleavers . . . 230
Clover, Meadow . . . 110
    "    Sweet . . . 112
Clovers . . . 395
Club Moss . . . 113
Colchicum . . . 483
Coltsfoot . . . 116
Comfrey . . . 120, 595
    "    Prickly . . . 122
Coriander . . . 122
Couch Grass . . . 242
Cow . . . 126
Cowslip . . . 124
Crab Apple . . . 29
Cresses . . . 127
Cress, Garden . . . 128
    "    Water . . . 129
Crowfoot . . . 71
Cuckoo Flower . . . 134
Cuckoo Pint . . . 33
Cumin . . . 135
Currants, Red, White, and Black . . . 137

Daffodil . . . 141
Daisy . . . 143
Damson . . . 520
Dandelion . . . 147
Darnel . . . 242
Date . . . 152
Dill . . . 155
Dock . . . 157
    "    Great Water . . . 164
    "    Yellow Curled . . . 163
Dodder . . . 112
Dog's Mercury . . . 332
Dropwort, Water . . . 603
Dulse . . . 501

Earthnut . . . 372
Egg . . . 150
Elder . . . 164
    "    Dwarf . . . 171
Elecampane . . . 172
Eryngo . . . 499
Eyebright . . . 175

Fairy rings . . . 374
Fennel . . . 179
    "    Water . . . 604
Ferns . . . 182
    "    Female (Bracken) . . . 184
    "    Hart's-tongue . . . 187
    "    Maidenhair . . . 188
    "    Male . . . 183
    "    Polypody . . . 189
    "    Royal . . . 186
    "    Spleenwort . . . 190
    "    Wall Rue . . . 191
Feverfew . . . 192
Fig . . . 194
Figwort . . . 54
Flag, Blue . . . 199
    "    Yellow . . . 200
    "    Stinking (Gladdon) . . . 201
    "    Sweet . . . 201, 480
Flax . . . 202
    "    Purging . . . 204
Fly Agaric . . . 368
Foxglove . . . 205
Fumitory . . . 201
Furze . . . 63

Gage, Green . . . 521
Garlic . . . 214
    "    Poor Man's . . . 222
Ginger . . . 392
Gipsy Wort (Water Hore-hound) . . . 269
[xxi] Good King Henry . . . 227
Gooseberry . . . 223
Goosefoot . . . 227
    "    Stinking . . . 229
Goosegrass . . . 230
Goutweed . . . 235
Grapes . . . 236
Grasses . . . 241
Ground Ivy . . . 283
Groundsel . . . 243

Hawthorn . . . 245
Hellebore, Stinking . . . 109
Hemlock . . . 248
    "    Water . . . 251
Hemp Agrimony . . . 19
Henbane . . . 252
Herb, Bennet . . . 47
Hoglouse . . . 564
Honey . . . 256
Hop . . . 262
Horehound, Black . . . 268
    "    White . . . 267
Horse Radish . . . 269
House Leek . . . 273
Hyssop . . . 277
    "    Hedge . . . 279

Iceland Moss . . . 500
Irish Moss . . . 500
Ivy . . . 280
    "    Ground . . . 283

John's Wort, Saint . . . 287
Juniper . . . 291

Knapweed, the Lesser . . . 296

Ladies' Mantle . . . 511
    "    Smock . . . 134
Lavender . . . 296
    "    Sea . . . 300
Laver . . . 505
Leek . . . 220
Lemon . . . 300
Lentil . . . 305
Lettuce . . . 308
Lettuce, Lamb's . . . 312
    "    Wild . . . 307
Lily of the Valley  313
Lily, Water . . . 604
Lime Tree . . . 316
Linseed . . . 202
Liquorice . . . 318
Lords and Ladies (Arum) . . . 33
Lungwort . . . 594
Lupine . . . 306

Mace . . . 395
Mace Reed . . . 482
Mallow . . . 322
    "    Marsh . . . 323
    "    Musk . . . 325
Mandrake . . . 66
Marigold . . . 327
    "    Corn . . . 326
    "    Marsh . . . 329
Marjoram . . . 331
Melancholy Thistle . . . 560
Menthol . . . 339
Mercury, Dog's . . . 332
    "    English . . . 228
Milk Thistle . . . 556
Mints . . . 333
Mistletoe . . . 345
Monk's Rhubarb . . . 159
Moon Daisy . . . 146
Moss, Club . . . 113
    "    Iceland . . . 500
    "    Irish . . . 500
Mountain Ash . . . 350
Mugwort . . . 352
Mulberry . . . 356
Mullein . . . 359
Mum . . . 581
Mushrooms . . . 362
Mustard . . . 375
    "    Hedge . . . 222, 381

Nasturtium . . . 132
Nettle . . . 382
    "    Dead . . . 387
Night Shade, Deadly . . . 388
Nutmeg . . . 393
Nuts . . . 602

[xxii] Oak Bark . . . 16
Oat . . . 397
Onion . . . 209
Orach . . . 229
Orange . . . 399
Orchids . . . 404
Orpine (Live Long) . . . 276
Ox eye Daisy . . . 146

Pansy, Wild . . . 589
Parsley . . . 407
    "    Fool's . . . 412
Parsnip . . . 413
    "    Water . . . 414
Pea . . . 416
Peach . . . 418
Pear . . . 419
Pellitory of Spain . . . 424
    "    of Wall . . . 423
Pennyroyal . . . 334
Peppermint . . . 338
Pepper, Water . . . 606
Periwinkle, Greater . . . 427
    "    Lesser . . . 428
Perry . . . 422
Pilewort . . . 90
Pimento, Allspice . . . 386
Pimpernel . . . 428
Pine . . . 576
Pink . . . 432
Plantain, Greater . . . 433
    "    Ribwort . . . 435
    "    Water . . . 435
Plum, Common . . . 520
    "    Wild . . . 520
Polypody Fern . . . 190
Poppy, Scarlet . . . 437
    "    Welsh . . . 441
    "    White . . . 438
Potato . . . 441
Primrose . . . 447
    "    Evening . . . 449
Primula . . . 449
Prune . . . 522
Prunella . . . 509
Psyllium Seeds . . . 436
Puff Ball . . . 365
Pulsatilla . . . 20

Quince . . . 452

Radish . . . 455
    "    Horse . . . 269
Ragwort . . . 457
Ransoms . . . 221
Raspberry . . . 459
Reed, Sweet Scented . . . 480
Rest Harrow . . . 320
Rhubarb, Garden . . . 159
Rice . . . 461
Rosemary . . . 470
    "    Wild . . . 474
Roses . . . 463
    "    Rock . . . 469
Rue . . . 475
Rushes . . . 479

Saffron . . . 485
    "    Meadow . . . 483
Sage . . . 489
    "    Meadow . . . 492
Sago . . . 155
Saint John's Wort . . . 287
Salep . . . 405
Saliva . . . 178
Samphire . . . 497
Sanicle . . . 508
Saucealone . . . 222
Savin . . . 493
Schalot . . . 222
Scurvy Grass . . . 133, 495
Sea Holly . . . 498
    "    Tang . . . 502
    "    Water . . . 508
    "    Weeds . . . 496
Selfheal . . . 508
Service Tree . . . 352
Shepherd's Purse . . . 511
Silverweed . . . 514
Skullcap . . . 516
    "    the Lesser . . . 517
Sloe . . . 517
Snails . . . 409
Soapwort . . . 522
Solomon's Seal . . . 524
Sorrel . . . 160
    "    Wood . . . 161
Southernwood . . . 526
Sowbread . . . 450
Sow Thistle . . . 559
Spearmint . . . 342
Speedwell . . . 527
Spinach . . . 529
    "    Sea . . . 506
Spindle Tree . . . 530
Spurge Wood . . . 532
    "    Petty . . . 602
Stitchwort . . . 535
Stonecrop (House Leek) . . . 276
Strawberry . . . 538
    "    Wild . . . 537
Succory . . . 541
Sundew . . . 543
Sunflower . . . 546

Tamarind . . . 550
Tansy . . . 552
Tar . . . 580
Tarragon . . . 554
Teasel, Fuller's . . . 559
    "    Wild . . . 559
Thistles . . . 555
Thyme . . . 560
Thymol . . . 563
Toadflax . . . 565
Toadstool . . . 372
Tomato . . . 567
Tormentil . . . 573
Truffle . . . 371
Turnip . . . 574
Turpentine . . . 576
Tutsan . . . 290

Valerian, Red . . . 585
    "    Wild . . . 583
Verbena (Vervain) . . . 586
Verguice . . . 29, 238
Vernal grass . . . 241
Vine . . . 240, 588
Violet, Sweet . . . 592
     "    Wild . . . 589
Viper's Bugloss . . . 594

Wallflower . . . 595
Walnut . . . 597
     "    American . . . 601
Wartwort . . . 602
Watercress . . . 129
Water Dropwort . . . 603
    "    Figwort . . . 198
    "    Horehound . . . 269
    "    Lily, White . . . 605
    "    Yellow . . . 605
    "    Pepper . . . 606
Whitethorn . . . 245
Whortleberry . . . 52
Woodruff, Sweet . . . 608
    "    Squinancy . . . 609
Wood Sorrel . . . 161, 610
Wormwood . . . 355, 612
Woundwort, Hedge . . . 615

Yarrow  616
Yew  619


The art of _Simpling _is as old with us as our British hills. It aims
at curing common ailments with simple remedies culled from the
soil, or got from home resources near at hand.

Since the days of the Anglo-Saxons such remedies have been
chiefly herbal; insomuch that the word "drug" came originally
from their verb _drigan_, to dry, as applied to medicinal plants.

These primitive Simplers were guided in their choice of herbs
partly by watching animals who sought them out for self-cure, and
partly by discovering for themselves the sensible properties of the
plants as revealed by their odour and taste; also by their supposed
resemblance to those diseases which nature meant them to heal.

John Evelyn relates in his _Acetaria_ (1725) that "one Signor
Faquinto, physician to Queen Anne (mother to the beloved martyr,
Charles the First), and formerly physician to one of the Popes,
observing scurvy and dropsy to be the epidemical and dominant
diseases [2] of this nation, went himself into the hundreds of
Essex, reputed the most unhealthy county of this island, and used
to follow the sheep and cattle on purpose to observe what plants
they chiefly fed upon; and of these Simples he composed an
excellent electuary of marvellous effects against these same
obnoxious infirmities." Also, in like manner, it was noticed by
others that "the dog, if out of condition, would seek for certain
grasses of an emetic or purgative sort; sheep and cows, when
ill, would devour curative plants; an animal suffering from
rheumatism would remain as much as it could in the sunshine; and
creatures infested by parasites would roll themselves frequently in
the dust." Again, William Coles in his _Nature's Paradise, or, Art
of Simpling_ (1657), wrote thus: "Though sin and Sathan have
plunged mankinde into an ocean of infirmities, jet the mercy of
God, which is over all His works, maketh grass to grow upon the
mountaines, and Herbes for the use of men; and hath not only
stamped upon them a distinct forme, but also given them particular
signatures, whereby a man may read even in legible characters the
use of them."

The present manual of our native Herbal Simples seeks rather to
justify their uses on the sound basis of accurate chemical analysis,
and precise elementary research. Hitherto medicinal herbs have
come down to us from early times as possessing only a traditional
value, and as exercising merely empirical effects. Their selection
has been commended solely by a shrewd discernment, and by the
practice of successive centuries. But to-day a closer analysis in the
laboratory, and skilled provings by experts have resolved the
several plants into their component parts, and have chemically
determined the medicinal nature of these parts, both [3] singly and
collectively. So that the study and practice of curative British
herbs may now fairly take rank as an exact science, and may
command the full confidence of the sick for supplying trustworthy
aid and succour in their times of bodily need.

Scientific reasons which are self-convincing may be readily
adduced for prescribing all our best known native herbal
medicines. Among them the Elder, Parsley, Peppermint, and
Watercress may be taken as familiar examples of this leading fact.
Almost from time immemorial in England a "rob" made from the
juice of Elderberries simmered and thickened with sugar, or
mulled Elder wine concocted from the fruit, with raisins, sugar,
and spices, has been a popular remedy in this country, if taken hot
at bedtime, for a recent cold, or for a sore throat. But only of late
has chemistry explained that Elderberries furnish "viburnic acid,"
which induces sweating, and is specially curative of inflammatory
bronchial soreness. So likewise Parsley, besides being a favourite
pot herb, and a garnish for cold meats, has been long popular in
rural districts as a tea for catarrh of the bladder or kidneys; whilst
the bruised leaves have been extolled as a poultice for swellings
and open sores. At the same time, a saying about the herb has
commonly prevailed that it "brings death to men, and salvation to
women." Not, however, until recently has it been learnt that the
sweet-smelling plant yields what chemists call "apiol," or
Parsley-Camphor, which, when given in moderation, exercises a quieting
influence on the main sensific centres of life--the head and the
spine. Thereby any feverish irritability of the urinary organs
inflicted by cold, or other nervous shock, would be subordinately
allayed. Thus likewise the Parsley-Camphor (whilst serving, [4]
when applied externally, to usefully stimulate indolent wounds)
proves especially beneficial for female irregularities of the womb,
as was first shown by certain French doctors in 1849.

Again, with respect to Peppermint, its cordial water, or its
lozenges taken as a confection, have been popular from the days of
our grandmothers for the relief of colic in the bowels, or for the
stomach-ache of flatulent indigestion. But this practice has
obtained simply because the pungent herb was found to diffuse
grateful aromatic warmth within the stomach and bowels, whilst
promoting the expulsion of wind; whereas we now know that an
active principle "menthol" contained in the plant, and which may
be extracted from it as a camphoraceous oil, possesses in a marked
degree antiseptic and sedative properties which are chemically
hostile to putrescence, and preventive of dyspeptic fermentation.

Lastly, the Watercress has for many years held credit with the
common people for curing scurvy and its allied ailments; while its
juices have been further esteemed as of especial use in arresting
tubercular consumption of the lungs; and yet it has remained for
recent analysis to show that the Watercress is chemically rich in
"antiscorbutic salts," which tend to destroy the germs of tubercular
disease, and which strike at the root of scurvy generally. These
salts and remedial principles are "sulphur," "iodine," "potash,"
"phosphatic earths," and a particular volatile essential oil known as
"sulphocyanide of allyl," which is almost identical with the
essential oil of White Mustard.

Moreover, many of the chief Herbal Simples indigenous to Great Britain
are further entitled for a still stronger reason to the fullest
confidence of both doctor [5] and patient. It has been found that
when taken experimentally in varying quantities by healthy
provers, many single medicines will produce symptoms precisely
according with those of definite recognized maladies; and the
same herbs, if administered curatively, in doses sufficiently small
to avoid producing their toxical effects, will speedily and surely
restore the patient to health by dispelling the said maladies. Good
instances of such homologous cures are afforded by the common
Buttercup, the wild Pansy, and the Sundew of our boggy marshes.
It is widely known that the field Buttercup (_Ranunculus
bulbosus_), when pulled from the ground, and carried in the palm
of the hand, will redden and inflame the skin by the acrimony of its
juices; or, if the bruised leaves are applied to any part they will
excite a blistering of the outer cuticle, with a discharge of watery
fluid from numerous small vesicles, whilst the tissues beneath
become red, hot, and swollen; and these combined symptoms
precisely represent "shingles,"--a painful skin disease given to
arise from a depraved state of the bodily system, and from a faulty
supply of nervous force. These shingles appear as a crop of sore
angry blisters, which commonly surround the walls of the chest
either in part or entirely; and modern medicine teaches that a
medicinal tincture of the Buttercup, if taken in small doses, and
applied, will promptly and effectively cure the same troublesome
ailment; whilst it will further serve to banish a neuralgic or
rheumatic stitch occurring in the side from any other cause.

And so with respect to the Wild Pansy (_Viola tricolor_), we read
in Hahnemann's commentary on the proved plant: "The Pansy
Violet excites certain cutaneous eruptions about the head and face,
a hard thick scab being formed, which is cracked here and there,
and [6] from which a tenacious yellow matter exudes, and hardens
into a substance like gum." This is an accurate picture of the
diseased state seen often affecting the scalp of unhealthy children,
as milk-crust, or, when aggravated, as a disfiguring eczema, and
concerning the same Dr. Hughes of Brighton, in his authoritative
modern treatise, says, "I have rarely needed any other medicine
than the Viola tricolor for curing milk-crust, which is the plague of
children," and "I have given it in the adult for recent impetigo (a
similar disease of the skin), with very satisfactory results."

Finally, the Sundew (_Drosera rotundifolia_), which is a common
little plant growing on our bogs, and marshy places, is found to act
in the same double fashion of cause or cure according to the
quantity taken, or administered. Farmers well know that this small
herb when devoured by sheep in their pasturage will bring about a
violent chronic cough, with waste of substance: whilst the Sundew
when given experimentally to cats has been found to stud the
surface of their lungs with morbid tubercular matter, though this is
a form of disease to which cats are not otherwise liable. In like
manner healthy human provers have become hoarse of voice
through taking the plant, and troubled with a severe cough,
accompanied with the expectoration of abundant yellow mucus,
just as in tubercular mischief beginning at the windpipe. Meantime
it has been well demonstrated (by Dr. Curie, and others) that at the
onset of pulmonary consumption in the human subject a cure may
nearly always be brought about, or the symptoms materially
improved, by giving the tincture of Sundew throughout several
weeks--from four to twenty drops in the twenty-four hours. And it
has further become an established fact that the same tincture [7]
will serve with remarkable success to allay the troublesome
spasms of Whooping Cough in its second stage, if given in small
doses, repeated several times a day.

From these several examples, therefore, which are easy to be
understood, we may fairly conclude that positive remedial actions
are equally exercised by other Herbal Simples, both because of
their chemical constituents and by reason of their curing in many
cases according to the known law of medicinal correspondence.

Until of late no such an assured position could be rightly claimed
by our native herbs, though pretentions in their favour have been
widely popular since early English times. Indeed, Herbal physic
has engaged the attention of many authors from the primitive days
of Dioscorides (A.D. 60) to those of Elizabethan Gerard, whose
exhaustive and delightful volume published in 1587 has remained
ever since in paramount favour with the English people. Its quaint
fascinating style, and its queer astrological notions, together with
its admirable woodcuts of the plants described, have combined to
make this comprehensive Herbal a standing favourite even to the
present day.

Gerard had a large physic-garden near his house in Old Bourne
(Holborn), and there is in the British Museum a letter drawn up
by his hand asking Lord Burghley, his patron, to advise the
establishment by the University of Cambridge in their grounds of
a Simpling Herbarium. Nevertheless, we are now told (H. Lee, 1883)
that Gerard's "ponderous book is little more than a translation
of Dodonoeus, from which comparatively un-read author whole
chapters have been taken verbatim without acknowledgment."

No English work on herbs and plants is met with prior to the
sixteenth century. In 1552 all books on [8] astronomy and
geography were ordered to be destroyed, because supposed to be
infected with magic. And it is more than probable that any
publications extant at that time on the virtues of herbs (then
associated by many persons with witchcraft), underwent the same
fate. In like manner King Hezekiah long ago "fearing lest the
Herbals of Solomon should come into profane hands, caused them
to be burned," as we learn from that "loyal and godly herbalist,"
Robert Turner.

During the reigns of Edward the Sixth and Mary, Dr. William
Bulleyn ranked high as a physician and botanist. He wrote the first
_Boke of Simples_, which remains among the most interesting
literary productions of that era as a record of his acuteness and
learning. It advocates the exclusive employment of our native
herbal medicines. Again, Nicholas Culpeper, "student in physick,"
whose name is still a household word with many a plain thinking
English person, published in 1652, for the benefit of the
Commonwealth, his "Compleat Method whereby a man may cure
himself being sick, for threepence charge, with such things only as
grow in England, they being most fit for English bodies."
Likewise in 1696 the Honourable Richard Boyle, F.R.S., published
"_A Collection of Choice, Safe, and Simple English Remedies_,
easily prepared, very useful in families, and fitted for
the service of country people."

Once more, the noted John Wesley gave to the world in 1769 an
admirable little treatise on _Primitive Physic, or an Easy and
Natural Method for Curing most Diseases_; the medicines on
which he chiefly relied being our native plants. For asthma, he
advised the sufferer to "live a fortnight on boiled Carrots only";
for "baldness, to wash the head with a decoction of Boxwood"; [9]
for "blood-spitting to drink the juice of Nettles"; for "an open
cancer, to take freely of Clivers, or Goosegrass, whilst covering
the sore with the bruised leaves of this herb"; and for an ague, to
swallow at stated times "six middling pills of Cobweb."

In Wesley's day tradition only, with shrewd guesses and close
observation, led him to prescribe these remedies. But now we have
learnt by patient chemical research that the Wild Carrot possesses
a particular volatile oil, which promotes copious expectoration for
the relief of asthmatic cough; that the Nettle is endowed in its
stinging hairs with "formic acid," which avails to arrest bleeding;
that Boxwood yields "buxine," a specific stimulant to those nerves
of supply which command the hair bulbs; that Goosegrass or
Clivers is of astringent benefit in cancer, because of its "tannic,"
"citric," and "rubichloric acids"; and that the Spider's Web is of
real curative value in ague, because it affords an albuminous
principle "allied to and isomeric with quinine."

Long before this middle era in medicine, during quite primitive
British times, the name and office of "Leeches" were familiar to
the people as the first doctors of physic; and their _parabilia_ or
"accessibles" were worts from the field and the garden; so that
when the Saxons obtained possession of Britain, they found it
already cultivated and improved by what the Romans knew of
agriculture and of vegetable productions. Hence it had happened
that Rue, Hyssop, Fennel, Mustard, Elecampane, Southernwood,
Celandine, Radish, Cummin, Onion, Lupin, Chervil, Fleur de
Luce, Flax (probably), Rosemary, Savory, Lovage, Parsley,
Coriander, Alexanders, or Olusatrum, the black pot herb, Savin,
and other useful herbs, were already of common growth for
kitchen uses, or for medicinal purposes.

[10] And as a remarkable incidental fact antiquity has bequeathed
to us the legend, that goats were always exceptionally wise in the
choice of these wholesome herbs; that they are, indeed, the
herbalists among quadrupeds, and known to be "cunning in
simples." From which notion has grown the idea that they are
physicians among their kind, and that their odour is wholesome to
the animals of the farmyard generally. So that in deference,
unknowingly, to this superstition, it still happens that a single
Nanny or a Betty is freakishly maintained in many a modern
farmyard, living at ease, rather than put to any real use, or kept for
any particular purpose of service. But in case of stables on fire, he
or she will face the flames to make good an escape, and then the
horses will follow.

It was through chewing the beans of Mocha, and becoming stupefied
thereby, that unsuspicious goats first drew the attention
of Mahomedan monks to the wonderful properties of the Coffee

Next, coming down to the first part of the present century, we find
that purveyors of medicinal and savoury herbs then wandered over
the whole of England in quest of such useful simples as were in
constant demand at most houses for the medicine-chest, the
store-closet, or the toilet-table. These rustic practitioners of the
healing art were known as "green men," who carried with them their
portable apparatus for distilling essences, and for preparing their
herbal extracts. In token of their having formerly officiated in this
capacity, there may yet be seen in London and elsewhere about the
country, taverns bearing the curious sign of "The Green Man and
(his) Still."

It is told of a certain French writer not long since, that whilst
complacently describing our British manners [11] customs, he
gravely translated this legend of the into "_L'homme vert, et

Passing on finally to our own times at the close of the nineteenth
century, we are able now-a-days, as has been already said, to avail
ourselves of precise chemical research by apparatus far in advance
of the untutored herbalist's still. He prepared his medicaments and
his fragrant essences, merely as a mechanical art, and without
pretending to fathom their method of physical action. But the
skilled expert of to-day resolves his herbal simples into their
ultimate elements by exact analysis in the laboratory, and has
learnt to attach its proper medicinal virtue to each of these curative
principles. It has thus come about that Herbal Physic under
competent guidance, if pursued with intelligent care, is at length a
reliable science of fixed methods, and crowned with sure results.

Moreover, in this happy way is at last vindicated the infinite
superiority felt instinctively by our forefathers of home-grown
herbs over foreign and far-fetched drugs; a superiority long since
expressed by Ovid with classic felicity in the passage:--

    "AEtas cui facimus _aurea_ nomen,
    Fructibus arbuteis, et humus quas educat herbis
    Fortunata fuit."--_Metamorphos., Lib. XV_.

    "Happy the age, to which we moderns give
    The name of 'golden,' when men chose to live
    On woodland fruits; and for their medicines took
    Herbs from the field, and simples from the brook."

or, as epitomised in the time-worn Latin adage:--

    "Qui potest mederi _simplicibus_ frustra quaerit composita."

    "If _simple_ herbs suffice to cure,
    'Tis vain to compound drugs endure."

In the following pages our leading Herbal Simples [12] are
reviewed alphabetically; whilst, to ensure accuracy, the genus and
species of each plant are particularised.

Most of these herbs may be gathered fresh in their proper season
by persons who have acquired a knowledge of their parts, and who
live in districts where such plants are to be found growing; and to
other persons who inhabit towns, or who have no practical
acquaintance with Botany, great facilities are now given by our
principal druggists for obtaining from their stores concentrated
fresh juices of the chief herbal simples.

Again, certain preparations of plants used only for their specific
curative methods are to be got exclusively from the Homoeopathic
chemist, unless gathered at first hand. These, not being officinal,
fail to find a place on the shelves of the ordinary Pharmaceutical
druggist. Nevertheless, when suitably employed, they are of
singular efficacy in curing the maladies to which they stand akin
by the law of similars. For convenience of distinction here, the
symbol H. will follow such particular preparations, which number
in all some seventy-five of the simples described. At the same time
any of the more common extracts, juices, and tinctures (or the
proper parts of the plants for making these several medicaments),
may be readily purchased at the shop of every leading druggist.

It has not been thought expedient to include among the Simples
for homely uses of cure such powerfully poisonous plants as
Monkshood (_Aconite_), Deadly Nightshade (_Belladonna_),
Foxglove (_Digitalis_), Hemlock or Henbane (except for some
outward uses), and the like dangerous herbs, these being beyond
the province of domestic medicine, whilst only to be administered
under the advice and guidance of a qualified prescriber.

[13] The chief purpose held in view has been to reconsider those
safe and sound herbal curative remedies and medicines which
were formerly most in vogue as homely simples, whether to be
taken or to be outwardly applied. And the main object has been to
show with what confidence their uses may be now resumed, or
retained under the guidance of modern chemical teachings, and of
precise scientific provings. This question equally applies, whether
the Simples be employed as auxiliaries by the physician in
attendance, or are welcomed for prompt service in a household
emergency as ready at hand when the doctor cannot be immediately had.

Moreover, such a Manual as the present of approved Herbal
Remedies need not by any means be disparaged by the busy
practitioner, when his customary medicines seem to be out of
place, or are beyond speedy reach; it being well known that a sick
person is always ready to accept with eagerness plain assistant
remedies sensibly advised from the garden, the store-closet, the
spice-box, or the field.

    "Of simple medicines, and their powers to cure,
    A wise physician makes his knowledge sure;
    Else I or the household in his healing art
    He stands ill-fitted to take useful part."

So said Oribasus (freely translated) as long ago as the fourth
century, in classic terms prophetic of later times, _Simplicium
medicamentorum et facultatum quoe in eis insunt cognitio ita
necessaria est ut sine eâ nemo rite medicari queat_.

But after all has been said and done, none the less must it be
finally acknowledged in the pathetic utterance of King Alfred's
Anglo-Saxon proverb, _Nis [14] no wurt woxen on woode ne on
felde, per enure mage be lif uphelden_.

    "No wort is waxen in wood or wold,
    Which may for ever man's life uphold."

Neither to be discovered in the quaint Herbals of primitive times,
nor to be learnt by the advanced chemical knowledge of modern
plant lore, is there any panacea for all the ills to which our flesh
is heir, or an elixir of life, which can secure for us a perpetual
immunity from sickness. _Contra vim mortis nullum medicamentum
in hortis_, says the rueful Latin distich:--

    "No healing herb can conquer death,
    And so for always give us breath."

To sum up which humiliating conclusion good George Herbert has
put the matter thus with epigrammatic conciseness:--

    "St. Luke was a saint and a physician, yet he is dead!"

But none the less bravely we may still take comfort each in his
mortal frailty, because of the hopeful promise preached to men
long since by the son of Sirach, "A faithful friend is the Medicine
of life; they that fear the Lord shall find Him."

[15] ACORN.

This is the well-known fruit of our British Oak, to Which tree it
gives the name--_Aik_, or _Eik_, Oak.

The Acorn was esteemed by Dioscorides, and other old authors,
for its supposed medicinal virtues. As an article of food it is not
known to have been habitually used at any time by the inhabitants
of Britain, though acorns furnished the chief support of the large
herds of swine on which our forefathers subsisted. The right of
maintaining these swine in the woods was called "panage," and
formed a valuable property.

The earliest inhabitants of Greece and Southern Europe who lived
in the primeval forests were supported almost wholly on the fruit
of the Oak. They were described by classic authors as fat of
person, and were called "balanophagi"--acorn eaters.

During the great dearth of 1709 the French were driven to eat
bread of acorns steeped in water to destroy the bitterness, and they
suffered therefrom injurious effects, such as obstinate
constipation, or destructive cholera.

It is worth serious notice medically that in years remarkable for a
large yield of Acorns disastrous losses have occurred among
young cattle from outbreaks of acorn poisoning, or the acorn
disease. Those up to two years old suffered most severely, but
sheep, pigs and deer were not affected by this acorn malady. Its
symptoms are progressive wasting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, sore
places inside the mouth, discharge from [16] the eyes and nostrils,
excretion of much pale urine, and no fever, but a fall of
temperature below the normal standard. Having regard to which
train of symptoms it is fair to suppose the acorn will afford in the
human subject a useful specific medicine for the marasmus, or
wasting atrophy of young children who are scrofulous. The fruit
should be given in the form of a tincture, or vegetable extract, or
even admixed (when ground) sparingly with wheaten flour in
bread. The dose should fall short of producing any of the above
symptoms, and the remedy should be steadily pursued for many

The tincture should be made of saturated strength with spirit of
wine on the bruised acorns, to stand for a fortnight before being
decanted. Then the dose will be from twenty to thirty drops with
water three or four times a day.

The Acorn contains chemically starch, a fixed oil, citric acid,
uncrystallizable sugar, and another special sugar called "quercit."

Acorns, when roasted and powdered, have been sometimes employed
as a fair substitute for coffee. By distillation they will
yield an ardent spirit.

Dr. Burnett strongly commends a "distilled spirit of acorns" as an
antidote to the effects of alcohol, where the spleen and kidneys
have already suffered, with induced dropsy. It acts on the principle
of similars, ten drops being given three times a day in water.

In certain parts of Europe it is customary to place acorns in the
hands of the newly dead; whilst in other districts an apple is put
into the palm of a child when lying in its little coffin.

The bark of an oak tree, and the galls, or apples, produced on its
leaves, or twigs, by an insect named [17] cynips, are very
astringent, by reason of the gallo-tannic acid which they furnish
abundantly. This acid, given as a drug, or the strong decoction of
oak bark which contains it, will serve to restrain bleedings if taken
internally; and finely powdered oak bark, when inhaled pretty
frequently, has proved very beneficial against consumption of the
lungs in its early stages. Working tanners are well known to be
particularly exempt from this disease, probably through their
constantly inhaling the peculiar aroma given off from the tan pits;
and a like effect may be produced by using as snuff the fresh oak
bark dried and reduced to an impalpable powder, or by inhaling
day after day the steam given off from recent oak bark infused in
boiling water.

Marble galls are formed on the back of young twigs, artichoke
galls at their extremities, and currant galls by spangles on the
under surface of the leaves. From these spangles females presently
emerge, and lay their eggs on the catkins, giving rise to the round
shining currant galls.

The Oak--_Quercus robur_--is so named from the Celtic "quer,"
beautiful; and "cuez," a tree. "Drus," another Celtic word for tree,
and particularly for the Oak, gave rise to the terms Dryads and
Druids. Among the Greeks and Romans a chaplet of oak was one
of the highest honours which could be conferred on a citizen.
Ancient oaks exist in several parts of England, which are
traditionally called Gospel oaks, because it was the practice in
times long past when beating the bounds of a parish to read a
portion of the Gospel on Ascension Day beneath an oak tree which
was growing on the boundary line of the district. Cross oaks were
planted at the juncture of cross roads, so that persons suffering
from ague might peg a lock of their hair into the [18] trunks, and
by wrenching themselves away might leave the hair and the
malady in the tree together. A strong decoction of oak bark is most
usefully applied for prolapse of the lower bowel.

Oak Apple day (May 29th) is called in Hampshire "Shikshak" day.


The Agrimony is a Simple well known to all country folk, and
abundant throughout England in the fields and woods, as a popular
domestic medicinal herb. It belongs to the Rose order of plants,
and blossoms from June to September with small yellow flowers,
which sit close along slender spikes a foot high, smelling like
apricots, and called by the rustics "Church Steeples." Botanically
it bears the names _Agrimonia Eupatoria_, of which the first is
derived from the Greek, and means "shining," because the herb is
thought to cure cataract of the eye; and the second bears reference
to the liver, as indicating the use of this plant for curing diseases
of that organ. Chemists have determined that the Agrimony possesses
a particular volatile oil, and yields nearly five per cent. of tannin,
so that its use in the cottage for gargles, and as an astringent
application to indolent wounds, is well justified. The herb does not
seem really to own any qualities for acting medicinally on the
liver. More probably the yellow colour of its flowers, which, with
the root, furnish a dye of a bright nankeen hue, has given it a
reputation in bilious disorders, according to the doctrine of
signatures, because the bile is also yellow. Nevertheless, Gerard
says: "A decoction of the leaves is good for them that have
naughty livers." By pouring a pint of boiling water on a handful of
the plant--stems, flowers and leaves--an [19] excellent gargle may
be made for a relaxed throat; and a teacupful of the same infusion
may be taken cold three or four times in the day for simple
looseness of the bowels; also for passive losses of blood. In
France, Agrimony tea is drank as a beverage at table. This herb
formed an ingredient of the genuine arquebusade water, as
prepared against wounds inflicted by an arquebus, or hand-gun,
and it was mentioned by Philip de Comines in his account of the
battle of Morat, 1476. When the Yeomen of the Guard were first
formed in England--1485--half were armed with bows and arrows,
whilst the other half carried arquebuses. In France the _eau de
arquebusade_ is still applied for sprains and bruises, being
carefully made from many aromatic herbs. Agrimony was at one
time included in the London _Materia Medica_ as a vulnerary
herb. It bears the title of Cockleburr, or Sticklewort, because its
seed vessels cling by the hooked ends of their stiff hairs to any
person or animal coming into contact with the plant. A strong
decoction of the root and leaves, sweetened with honey, has been
taken successfully to cure scrofulous sores, being administered
two or three times a day in doses of a wineglassful persistently for
several months. Perhaps the special volatile oil of the plant, in
common with that contained in other herbs similarly aromatic, is
curatively antiseptic. Pliny called it a herb "of princely

The _Hemp Agrimony_, or St. John's Herb, belongs to the Composite
order of plants, and grows on the margins of brooks, having
hemp-like leaves, which are bitter of taste and pungent of
smell, as if it were an umbelliferous herb. Because of these
hempen leaves it was formerly called "Holy Rope," being thus
named after the rope with which Jesus was bound. They contain a
volatile [20] oil, which acts on the kidneys; likewise some tannin,
and a bitter chemical principle, which will cut short the chill of
intermittent fever, or perhaps prevent it. Provers of the plant have
found it produce a "bilious fever," with severe headache, redness of
the face, nausea, soreness over the liver, constipation, and
high-coloured urine. Acting on which experience, a tincture, prepared
(H.) from the whole plant, may be confidently given in frequent
small well-diluted doses with water for influenza, or for a similar
feverish chill, with break-bone pains, prostration, hot dry skin, and
some bilious vomiting. Likewise a tea made with boiling water
poured on the dried leaves will give prompt relief if taken hot at
the onset of a bilious catarrh, or of influenza. This plant also is
named _Eupatorium_ because it refers, as Pliny says, to Eupator, a
king of Pontus. In Holland it is used for jaundice, with swollen
feet: and in America it belongs to the tribe of bone-sets. The Hemp
Agrimony grows with us in moist, shady places, with a tall reddish
stem, and with terminal crowded heads of dull lilac flowers. Its
distinctive title is _Cannabinum_, or "Hempen," whilst by some it
is known as "Thoroughwort."


The _Wood Anemone_, or medicinal English _Pulsatilla_, with its
lovely pink white petals, and drooping blossoms, is one of our best
known and most beautiful spring flowers. Herbalists do not
distinguish it virtually from the silky-haired _Anemone Pulsatilla_,
which medicinal variety is of highly valuable modern curative
use as a Herbal Simple. The active chemical principles of
each plant are "anemonin" and "anemonic acid." A tincture is
made (H.) with spirit of wine from the entire [21] plant, collected
when in flower. This tincture is remarkably beneficial in disorders
of the mucous membranes, alike of the respiratory and of the
digestive passages. For mucous indigestion following a heavy or
rich meal the tincture of Pulsatilla is almost a specific remedy.
Three or four drops thereof should be given at once with a
tablespoonful of water, hot or cold, and the same dose may be
repeated after an hour if then still needed. For catarrhal affections
of the eyes and the ears, as well as for catarrhal diarrhoea, the
tincture is very serviceable; also for female monthly difficulties its
use is always beneficial and safe. As a medicine it best suits
persons of a mild, gentle disposition, and of a lymphatic
constitution, especially females; it is less appropriate for quick,
excitable, energetic men. Anemonin, or Pulsatilla Camphor, which
is the active principle of this plant, is prepared by the chemist, and
may be given in doses of from one fiftieth to one tenth of a grain
rubbed up with dry sugar of milk. Such a dose (or a drop of the
tincture with a tablespoonful of water), given every two or three
hours, will soon relieve a swollen testicle; and the tincture still
more diluted will ease the bladder difficulties of old men.
Furthermore, the tincture, in doses of two or three drops with a
spoonful of water, will allay spasmodic cough, as of whooping
cough, or bronchitis. The vinegar of Wood Anemone made from
the leaves retains all the more acrid properties of the plant, and is
put, in France, to many rural domestic purposes. When applied in
lotions every night for five or six times consecutively, it will heal
indolent ulcers; and its rubefacient effects serve instead of those
produced externally by mustard. If a teaspoonful is sprinkled
within the palms and its volatile vapours are inhaled through the
mouth and nose, this [22] will dispel an incipient catarrh. The
name Pulsatilla is a diminutive of the Latin _puls_, a pottage, as
made from pulse, and used at sacrificial feasts. The title Anemone
signifies "wind-flower." Pliny says this flower never opens but
when the wind is blowing. The title has been misapprehended as
"an emony." Turner says gardeners call the flowers "emonies";
and Tennyson, in his "Northern Farmer," tells of the dead keeper
being found "doon in the woild _enemies_ afoor I corned to the
plaice." Other names of the plant are Wood Crowfoot, Smell Fox
(Rants), and Flawflower. Alfred Austin says, "With windflower
honey are my tresses smoothed." It is also called the Passover
Flower, because blossoming at Easter; and it belongs to the
Ranunculaceous order of plants. The flower of the Wood Anemone
tells the approach of night, or of a shower, by curling over
its petals like a tent; and it has been said that fairies nestle
within, having first pulled the curtains round them. Among the old
Romans, to gather the first Anemone of the year was deemed a
preservative against fever. The Pasque flower, also named
Bluemoney and Easter, or Dane's flower, is of a violet blue,
growing in chalky pastures, and less common than the Wood
Anemone, but each possesses equally curative virtues.

The seed of the Anemone being very light and downy, is blown
away by the first breeze of wind. A ready-witted French senator
took advantage of this fact while visiting Bacheliere, a covetous
florist, near Paris, who had long held a secret monopoly of certain
richly-coloured and splendidly handsome anemones from the East.
Vexed to see one man hoard up for himself what ought to be more
widely distributed, he walked and talked with the florist in his
garden when the anemone [23] plants were in seed. Whilst thus
occupied, he let fall his robe, as if by accident, upon the flowers,
and so swept off a number of the little feathery seed vessels which
clung to his dependent garment, and which he afterwards cultivated
at home. The petals of the Pasque flower yield a rich green
colour, which is used For staining Easter eggs, this festival
having been termed Pask time in old works, from "paske," a
crossing over. The plant is said to grow best with iron in the soil.


The wild Angelica grows commonly throughout England in wet
places as an umbelliferous plant, with a tall hollow stem, out of
which boys like to make pipes. It is purple, furrowed, and downy,
bearing white flowers tinged with pink. But the herb is not useful
as a simple until cultivated in our gardens, the larger variety being
chosen for this purpose, and bearing the name _Archangelica_.

    "Angelica, the happy counterbane,
    Sent down from heaven by some celestial scout,
    As well its name and nature both avow't."

It came to this country from northern latitudes in 1568. The
aromatic stems are grown abundantly near London in moist fields
for the use of confectioners. These stems, when candied, are sold
as a favourite sweetmeat. They are grateful to the feeble stomach,
and will relieve flatulence promptly. The roots of the garden
Angelica contain plentifully a peculiar resin called "angelicin,"
which is stimulating to the lungs, and to the skin: they smell
pleasantly of musk, being an excellent tonic and carminative. An
infusion of the plant may be made by pouring a pint of boiling
water on an ounce of the bruised root, and two tablespoonfuls [24]
of this should be given three or four times in the day; or the
powdered root may be administered in doses of from ten to thirty
grains. The infusion will relieve flatulent stomach-ache, and will
promote menstruation if retarded. It is also of use as a stimulating
bronchial tonic in the catarrh of aged and feeble persons. Angelica,
taken in either medicinal form, is said to cause a disgust for
spirituous liquors. In high Dutch it is named the root of the Holy
Ghost. The fruit is employed for flavouring some cordials, notably
Chartreuse. If an incision is made in the bark of the stems, and the
crown of the root, at the commencement of spring, a resinous gum
exudes with a special aromatic flavour as of musk or benzoin, for
either of which it can be substituted. Gerard says: "If you do but
take a piece of the root, and hold it in your mouth, or chew the
same between your teeth, it doth most certainly drive away
pestilent aire." Icelanders eat both the stem and the roots raw with
butter. These parts of the plant, if wounded, yield a yellow juice
which becomes, when dried, a valuable medicine beneficial in
chronic rheumatism and gout. Some have said the Archangelica
was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the plague; others
aver that it blooms on the day of Michael the Archangel (May 8th,
old style), and is therefore a preservative against evil spirits and


The Anise (_Pimpinella_), from "bipenella," because of its
secondary, feather-like leaflets, belongs to the umbelliferous
plants, and is cultivated in our gardens; but its aromatic seeds
chiefly come from Germany. The careful housewife will do well
always to have a [25] supply of this most useful Simple closely
bottled in her store cupboard. The herb is a variety of the Burnet
Saxifrage, and yields an essential oil of a fine blue colour. To
make the essence of Aniseed one part of the oil should be mixed
with four parts of spirit of wine. This oil, by its chemical basis,
"anethol," represents the medicinal properties of the plant. It has a
special influence on the bronchial tubes to encourage expectoration,
particularly with children. For infantile catarrh, after
its first feverish stage, Aniseed tea is very useful. It should be
made by pouring half-a-pint of boiling water on two teaspoonfuls
of the seeds, bruised in a mortar, and given when cold in doses of
one, two, or three teaspoonfuls, according to the age of the child.
For the relief of flatulent stomach-ache, whether in children or in
adults, from five to fifteen drops of the essence may be given on a
lump of sugar, or mixed with two dessertspoonfuls of hot water.
Gerard says: "The Aniseed helpeth the yeoxing, or hicket
(hiccough), and should be given to young children to eat which are
like to have the falling sickness, or to such as have it by patrimony
or succession." The odd literary mistake has been sometimes made
of regarding Aniseed as a plural noun: thus, in "The Englishman's
Doctor," it is said, "Some anny seeds be sweet, and some bitter."
An old epithet of the Anise was, _Solamen intestinorum_--"The
comforter of the bowels." The Germans have an almost superstitious
belief in the medicinal virtues of Aniseed, and all their
ordinary household bread is plentifully flavoured with the
whole seeds. The mustaceoe, or spiced cakes of the Romans,
introduced at the close of a rich entertainment, to prevent
indigestion, consisted of meal, with anise, cummin, and other
aromatics used for staying putrescence or fermentation within the
[26] intestines. Such a cake was commonly brought in at the end
of a marriage feast; and hence the bridecake of modern times has taken
its origin, though the result of eating this is rather to provoke
dyspepsia than to prevent it. Formerly, in the East, these seeds
were in use as part payment of taxes: "Ye pay tithe of mint, anise
[dill?], and cummin!" The oil destroys lice and the itch insect, for
which purpose it may be mixed with lard or spermaceti as an
ointment. The seed has been used for smoking, so as to promote

Besides containing the volatile oil, Aniseed yields phosphates,
malates, gum, and a resin. The leaves, if applied externally, will
help to remove freckles; and, "Let me tell you this," says a
practical writer of the present day, "if you are suffering from
bronchitis, with attacks of spasmodic asthma, just send for a bottle
of the liqueur called 'Anisette,' and take a dram of it with a little
water. You will find it an immediate palliative; you will cease
barking like Cerberus; you will be soothed, and go to sleep."--
_Experto crede!_ "I have been bronchitic and asthmatic for twenty
years, and have never known an alleviative so immediately
efficacious as 'Anisette.'"

For the restlessness of languid digestion, a dose of essence of
Aniseed in hot water at bedtime is much to be commended. In the
_Paregoric Elixir_, or "Compound Tincture of Camphor," prescribed
as a sedative cordial by doctors (and containing some opium),
the oil of Anise is also included--thirty drops in a pint of
the tincture. This oil is of capital service as a bait for mice.


The term "Apple" was applied by the ancients indiscriminately to
almost every kind of round fleshy fruit, [27] such as the
thornapple, the pineapple, and the loveapple. Paris gave to Venus
a golden apple; Atalanta lost her classic race by staying to pick up
an apple; the fruit of the Hesperides, guarded by a sleepless
dragon, were golden apples; and through the same fruit befell
"man's first disobedience," bringing "death into the world and all
our woe" (concerning which the old Hebrew myth runs that the
apple of Eden, as the first fermentable fruit known to mankind,
was the beginner of intoxicating drinks, which led to the
knowledge of good and evil).

Nothing need be said here about the Apple as an esculent; we have
only to deal with this eminently English, and most serviceable
fruit in its curative and remedial aspects. Chemically, the Apple is
composed of vegetable fibre, albumen, sugar, gum, chlorophyll,
malic acid, gallic acid, lime, and much water. Furthermore,
German analysts say that the Apple contains a larger percentage of
phosphorus than any other fruit or vegetable. This phosphorus is
specially adapted for renewing the essential nervous "lethicin" of
the brain and spinal cord. Old Scandinavian traditions represent
the Apple as the food of the gods, who, when they felt themselves
growing feeble and infirm, resorted to this fruit for renewing their
powers of mind and body. Also the acids of the Apple are of signal
use for men of sedentary habits, whose livers are sluggish of
action; they help to eliminate from the body noxious matters,
which, if retained, would make the brain heavy and dull, or
produce jaundice, or skin eruptions, or other allied troubles. Some
experience of this sort has led to the custom of our taking Apple
sauce with roast pork, roast goose, and similar rich dishes. The
malic acid of ripe Apples, raw or cooked, will neutralize the
chalky matter engendered in gouty subjects, particularly from [28]
an excess of meat eating. A good, ripe, raw Apple is one of the
easiest of vegetable substances for the stomach to deal with, the
whole process of its digestion being completed in eighty-five
minutes. Furthermore, a certain aromatic principle is possessed by
the Apple, on which its peculiar flavour depends, this being a
fragrant essential oil--the valerianate of amyl--in a small but
appreciable quantity. It can be made artificially by the chemist,
and used for imparting the flavour of apples to sweetmeats and
confectionery. Gerard found that "the pulp of roasted Apples,
mixed in a wine quart of faire water, and laboured together until it
comes to be as Apples and ale--which we call lambswool (Celtic,
'the day of Apple fruit')--never faileth in certain diseases of the
raines, which myself hath often proved, and gained thereby both
crownes and credit." Also, "The paring of an Apple cut somewhat
thick, and the inside whereof is laid to hot, burning or running
eyes at night when the party goes to bed, and is tied or bound to
the same, doth help the trouble very speedily, and, contrary to
expectation, an excellent secret." A poultice made of rotten Apples
is commonly used in Lincolnshire for the cure of weak, or
rheumatic eyes. Likewise in the _Hotel des Invalides_, at Paris, an
Apple poultice is employed for inflamed eyes, the apple being
roasted, and its pulp applied over the eyes without any intervening
substance To obviate constipation two or three Apples taken at
night, whether baked or raw, are admirably efficient. It was said
long ago: "They do easily and speedily pass through the belly,
therefore they do mollify the belly," and for this reason a modern
maxim teaches that:--

    "To eat an Apple going to bed
    Will make the doctor beg his bread."

[29] There was concocted in Gerard's day an ointment with the
pulpe of Apples, and swine's grease, and rosewater, which was
used to beautifie the face, and to take away the roughnesse of the
skin, and which was called in the shops "pomatum," from the
apples, "poma," whereof it was prepared. As varieties of the
Apple, mention is made in documents of the twelfth century, of
the pearmain, and the costard, from the latter of which has come
the word costardmonger, as at first a dealer in this fruit, and now
applied to our costermonger. Caracioli, an Italian writer, declared
that the only ripe fruit he met with in Britain was a _baked_ apple.
The juices of Apples are matured and lose their rawness by
keeping the fruit a certain time. These juices, together with those
of the pear, the peach, the plum, and other such fruits, if taken
without adding cane sugar, diminish acidity in the stomach rather
than provoke it: they become converted chemically into alkaline
carbonates, which correct sour fermentation. It is said in
Devonshire that apples shrump up if picked when the moon is on
the wane. From the bark of the stem and root of the apple, pear
and plum trees, a glucoside is to be obtained in small crystals,
which possesses the peculiar property of producing artificial
diabetes in animals to whom it is given.

The juice of a sour Apple, if rubbed on warts first pared away to
the quick, will serve to cure them. The wild "Scrab," or Crab
Apple, armed with thorns, grows in our fields and hedgerows,
furnishing verjuice, which is rich in tannin, and a most useful
application for old sprains. In the United States of America an
infusion of apple tree bark is given with benefit during
intermittent, remittent, and bilious fevers. We likewise prescribe
Apple water as a grateful cooling drink for [29] feverish patients.
Francatelli directs that it should be made thus: "Slice up thinly
three or four Apples without peeling them, and boil them in a very
clean saucepan, with a quart of water and a little sugar until the
slices of apple become soft; the apple water must then be strained
through a piece of muslin, or clean rag, into a jug, and drank when
cold." If desired, a small piece of the yellow rind of a lemon may
be added, just enough to give it a flavour.

About the year 1562 a certain rector of St. Ives, in Cornwall, the
Rev. Mr. Attwell, practised physic with milk and Apples so
successfully in many diseases, and so spread his reputation, that
numerous sufferers came to him from all the neighbouring
counties. In Germany ripe Apples are applied to warts for
removing them, by reason of the earthy salts, particularly the
magnesia, of the fruit. It is a fact, though not generally known, that
magnesia, as occurring in ordinary Epsom salts, will cure obstinate
warts, and the disposition thereto. Just a few grains, from three to
six, not enough to produce any sensible medicinal effect, taken
once a day for three or four weeks, will surely dispel a crop of
warts. Old cheese ameliorates Apples if eaten when crude,
probably by reason of the volatile alkali, or ammonia of the cheese
neutralizing the acids of the Apple. Many persons make a practice
of eating cheese with Apple pie. The "core" of an Apple is so
named from the French word, _coeur_, "heart."

The juice of the cultivated Apple made by fermentation into cider,
which means literally "strong drink," was pronounced by John
Evelyn, in his _Pomona_, 1729, to be "in a word the most
wholesome drink in Europe, as specially sovereign against the
scorbute, the stone, spleen, and what not." This beverage [31]
contains alcohol (on the average a little over five per cent.), gum,
sugar, mineral matters, and several acids, among which the malic
predominates. As an habitual drink, if sweet, it is apt to provoke
acid fermentation with a gouty subject, and to develop rheumatism.
Nevertheless, Dr. Nash, of Worcester, attributed to cider
great virtues in leading to longevity; and a Herefordshire
vicar bears witness to its superlative merits thus:--

    "All the Gallic wines are not so boon
    As hearty cider;--that strong son of wood
    In fullest tides refines and purges blood;
    Becomes a known Bethesda, whence arise
    Full certain cures for spit tall maladies:
    Death slowly can the citadel invade;
    A draught of this bedulls his scythe, and spade."

Medical testimony goes to show that in countries where cider--not
of the sweet sort--is the common beverage, stone, or calculus,
is unknown; and a series of enquiries among the doctors of
Normandy, a great Apple country, where cider is the principal, if
not the sole drink, brought to light the fact that not a single case
had been met with there in forty years. Cider Apples were
introduced by the Normans; and the beverage began to be brewed
in 1284. The Hereford orchards were first planted "tempore"
Charles I.

A chance case of stone in the bladder if admitted into a
Devonshire or a Herefordshire Hospital, is regarded by the
surgeons there as a sort of professional curiosity, probably
imported from a distance. So that it may be fairly surmised that the
habitual use of natural unsweetened cider keeps held in solution
materials which are otherwise liable to be separated in a solid form
by the kidneys.

Pippins are apples which have been raised from pips; [32] a
codling is an apple which requires to be "coddled," stewed, or
lightly boiled, being yet sour and unfit for eating whilst raw. The
John Apple, or Apple John, ripens on St. John's Day, December
27th. It keeps sound for two years, but becomes very shrunken. Sir
John Falstaff says (_Henry IV_., iii. 3) "Withered like an old
Apple John." The squab pie, famous in Cornwall, contains apples
and onions allied with mutton.

    "Of wheaten walls erect your paste:
    Let the round mass extend its breast;
    Next slice your apples picked so fresh;
    Let the fat sheep supply its flesh:
    Then add an onion's pungent juice--
    A sprinkling--be not too profuse!
    Well mixt, these nice ingredients--sure!
    May gratify an epicure."

In America, "Apple Slump" is a pie consisting of apples, molasses,
and bread crumbs baked in a tin pan. This is known to New
Englanders as "Pan Dowdy." An agreeable bread was at one time
made by an ingenious Frenchman which consisted of one third of
apples boiled, and two-thirds of wheaten flour.

It was through the falling of an apple in the garden of Mrs.
Conduitt at Woolthorpe, near Grantham, Sir Isaac Newton was led
to discover the great law of gravitation which regulates the whole
universe. Again, it was an apple the patriot William Tell shot from
the head of his own bright boy with one arrow, whilst reserving a
second for the heart of a tyrant. Dr. Prior says the word Apple took
its origin from the Sanskrit, _Ap_,--"water," and _Phal_,--"fruit,"
meaning "water fruit," or "juice fruit"; and with this the Latin
name _Pomum_--from _Poto_, "to drink"--precisely agrees; if
which be so, our apple must have come originally from the East
long ages back.

[33] The term "Apple-pie order" is derived from the French
phrase, _à plis_, "in plaits," folded in regular plaits; or, perhaps,
from _cap à pied_, "armed from head to foot," in perfect order.
Likewise the "Apple-pie bed" is so called from the French _à
plis_, or it may be from the Apple turnover of Devon and
Cornwall, as made with the paste turned over on itself.

The botanical name of an apple tree is Pyrus Malus, of which
schoolboys are wont to make ingenious uses by playing on the
latter word. Malo, I had rather be; Malo, in an Apple tree; Malo,
than a wicked man; Malo, in adversity. Or, again, _Mea mater
mala est sus_, which bears the easy translation, "My mother is a
wicked old sow"; but the intentional reading of which signifies
"Run, mother! the sow is eating the apples." The term "Adam's
Apple," which is applied to the most prominent part of a person's
throat in front is based on the superstition that a piece of the
forbidden fruit stuck in Adam's throat, and caused this lump to


The "lords and ladies" (_arum maculatum_) so well known to
every rustic as common throughout Spring in almost every hedge
row, has acquired its name from the colour of its erect pointed
spike enclosed within the curled hood of an upright arrow-shaped
leaf. This is purple or cream hued, according to the accredited sex
of the plant. It bears further the titles of Cuckoo Pint, Wake Robin,
Parson in the Pulpit, Rampe, Starchwort, Arrowroot, Gethsemane,
Bloody Fingers, Snake's Meat, Adam and Eve, Calfsfoot, Aaron,
and Priest's Pintle. The red spots on its glossy emerald arrow-head
leaves, are attributed to the dropping of our Saviour's blood on
[34] the plant whilst growing at the foot of the cross. Several of
the above appellations bear reference to the stimulating effects of
the herb on the sexual organs. Its tuberous root has been found to
contain a particular volatile acrid principle which exercises distinct
medicinal effects, though these are altogether dissipated if the
roots are subjected to heat by boiling or baking. When tasted, the
fresh juice causes an acrid burning irritation of the mouth and
throat; also, if swallowed it will produce a red raw state of the
palate and tongue, with cracked lips. The leaves, when applied
externally to a delicate skin will blister it. Accordingly a tincture
made (H.) from the plant and its root proves curative in diluted
doses for a chronic sore throat, with swollen mucous membrane,
and vocal hoarseness, such as is often known as "Clergyman's
Sore Throat," and likewise for a feverish sore mouth, as well as for
an irresistible tendency to sleepiness, and heaviness after a full
meal. From five to ten drops of the tincture, third decimal strength,
should be given with a tablespoonful of cold water to an adult
three times a day. An ointment made by stewing the fresh sliced
root with lard serves efficiently for the cure of ringworm.

The fresh juice yields malate of lime, whilst the plant contains
gum, sugar, starch and fat. The name Arum is derived from the
Hebrew _jaron_, "a dart," in allusion to the shape of the leaves like
spear heads; or, as some think, from _aur_, "fire," because of the
acrid juice. The adjective _maculatum _refers to the dark spots or
patches which are seen on the smooth shining leaves of the plant.
These leaves have sometimes proved fatal to children who have
mistaken them for sorrel. The brilliant scarlet coral-like berries
which are found set closely about the erect spike of the arum in the
autumn [35] are known to country lads as adder's meat--a name
corrupted from the Anglo-Saxon _attor_, "poison," as originally
applied to these berries, though it is remarkable that pheasants can
eat them with impunity.

In Queen Elizabeth's time the Arum was known as starch-wort
because the roots were then used for supplying pure white starch
to stiffen the ruffs and frills worn at that time by gallants and
ladies. This was obtained by boiling or baking the roots, and thus
dispelling their acridity. When dried and powdered the root
constitutes the French cosmetic, "Cypress Powder." Recently a
patented drug, "Tonga," has obtained considerable notoriety for
curing obstinate neuralgia of the head and face--this turning
out to be the dried scraped stem of an aroid (or arum) called
Raphidophora Vitiensis, belonging to the Fiji Islands. Acting on
the knowledge of which fact some recent experimenters have tried
the fresh juice expressed from our common Arum Maculatum in a
severe case of neuralgia which could be relieved previously only
by Tonga: and it was found that this juice in doses of a teaspoonful
gave similar relief. The British Domestic Herbal, of Sydenham's
time, describes a case of alarming dropsy, with great constitutional
exhaustion treated most successfully with a medicine composed of
Arum and Angelica, which cured in about three weeks. The
"English Passion Flower" and "Portland Sago" are other names
given to the Arum Maculatum.


The Asparagus, belonging to the Lily order of plants, occurs wild
on the coasts of Essex, Suffolk, and Cornwall. It is there a more
prickly plant than the cultivated vegetable which we grow for the
sake of the tender, [36] edible shoots. The Greeks and Romans
valued it for their tables, and boiled it so quickly that _velocius
quam asparagi coquuntur_--"faster than asparagus is cooked"--was
a proverb with them, to which our "done in a jiffy" closely
corresponds. The shoots, whether wild or cultivated, are succulent,
and contain wax, albumen, acetate of potash, phosphate of potash,
mannite, a green resin, and a fixed principle named "asparagin."
This asparagin stimulates the kidneys, and imparts a peculiar,
strong smell to the urine after taking the shoots; at the same time,
the green resin with which the asparagin is combined, exercises
gently sedative effects on the heart, calming palpitation, or
nervous excitement of that organ. Though not producing actual
sugar in the urine, asparagus forms and excretes a substance
therein which answers to the reactions used by physicians for
detecting sugar, except the fermentation test. It may fairly be given
in diabetes with a promise of useful results. In Russia it is a
domestic medicine for the arrest of flooding.

Asparagin also bears the chemical name of "althein," and occurs
in crystals, which may be reduced to powder, and which may
likewise be got from the roots of marsh mallow, and liquorice.
One grain of this given three times a day is of service for relieving
dropsy from disease of the heart. Likewise, a medicinal tincture is
made (H.) from the whole plant, of which eight or ten drops given
with a tablespoonful of water three times a day will also allay
urinary irritation, whilst serving to do good against rheumatic
gout. A syrup of asparagus is employed medicinally in France: and
at Aix-les-Bains it forms part of the cure for rheumatic patients to
eat Asparagus. The roots of Asparagus contain diuretic virtues
more abundantly than the shoots. An infusion [37] made from
these roots will assist against jaundice, and congestive torpor of
the liver. The shrubby stalks of the plant bear red, coral-like
berries which, when ripe, yield grape sugar, and spargancin.
Though generally thought to branch out into feathery leaves, these
are only ramified stalks substituted by the plant when growing on
an arid sandy soil, where no moisture could be got for the
maintenance of leaves. The berries are attractive to small birds,
who swallow them whole, and afterwards void the seeds, to
germinate when thus scattered about. Thus there is some valid
reason for the vulgar corruption of the title Asparagus into
Sparrowgrass, or Grass. Botanically the plant is a lily which has
seen better days. In the United States of America, Asparagus is
thought to be undeniably sedative, and a palliative in all heart
affections attended with excited action of the pulse. The water in
which asparagus has been boiled, if drunk, though somewhat
disagreeable, is beneficial against rheumatism. The cellular tissue
of the plant furnishes a substance similar to sago. In Venice, the
wild asparagus is served at table, but it is strong in flavour and
less succulent than the cultivated sort. Mortimer Collins makes Sir
Clare, one of his characters in _Clarisse_ say: "Liebig, or
some other scientist maintains that asparagin--the alkaloid in
asparagus-develops _form_ in the human brain: so, if you get
hold of an artistic child, and give him plenty of asparagus, he
will grow into a second Raffaelle!"

Gerard calls the plant "Sperage," "which is easily concocted when
eaten, and doth gently loose the belly." Our name, "Asparagus," is
derived from a Greek word signifying "the tearer," in allusion to
the spikes of some species; or perhaps from the Persian "Spurgas,"
a shoot.

[38] John Evelyn, in his _Book of Salads_, derives the term
Asparagus in easy fashion, _ab asperitate_, "from the sharpness of
the plant." "Nothing," says he, "next to flesh is more nourishing;
but in this country we overboil them, and dispel their volatile salts:
the water should boil before they are put in." He tells of asparagus
raised at Battersea in a natural, sweet, and well-cultivated soil,
sixteen of which (each one weighing about four ounces) were
made a present to his wife, showing what "solum, coelum, and
industry will effect." The Asparagus first came into use as a food
about 200 B.C., in the time of the elder Cato, and Augustus was
very partial to it. The wild Asparagus was called Lybicum, and by
the Athenians, Horminium. Roman cooks used to dry the shoots,
and when required these were thrown into hot water, and boiled
for a few minutes to make them look fresh and green. Gerard
advises that asparagus should be sodden in flesh broth, and eaten;
or boiled in fair water, seasoned with oil, pepper, and vinegar,
being served up as a salad. Our ancestors in Tudor times ate the
whole of the stalks with spoons. Swift's patron, Sir William
Temple, who had been British Minister at the Hague, brought the
art of Asparagus culture from Holland; and when William III.
visited Sir William at Moor Park, where young Jonathan was
domiciled as Secretary, his Majesty is said to have taught the
future Dean of St. Patrick's how to eat asparagus in the Dutch
style. Swift afterwards at his own table refused a second helping of
the vegetable to a guest until the stalks had been devoured,
alleging that "King William always ate his stalks." When the large
white asparagus first came into vogue, it was known as the "New
Vegetable." This was grown with lavish manure and was called
Dutch Asparagus. For [39] cooking the stalks should be cut of
equal lengths, and boiled standing upwards in a deep saucepan
with nearly two inches of the heads out of the water. Then the
steam will suffice to cook these tender parts, whilst the hard
stalky portions may be boiled long enough to become soft and
succulently wholesome. Two sorts of asparagus are now grown--
the one an early kind, pinkish white, cultivated in France and the
Channel Islands; the other green and English. At Kynance Cove in
Cornwall, there is an island called Asparagus Island, from the
abundance in which the plant is found there.

In connection with this popular vegetable may be quoted the
following riddle:--

    "What killed a queen to love inclined,
    What on a beggar oft we find,
    Show--to ourselves if aptly joined,
    A plant which we in bundles bind."


The herb Balm, or _Melissa_, which is cultivated quite commonly
in our cottage gardens, has its origin in the wild, or bastard Balm,
growing in our woods, especially in the South of England, and
bearing the name of "Mellitis." Each is a labiate plant, and
"Bawme," say the Arabians, "makes the heart merry and joyful."
The title, "Balm," is an abbreviation of Balsam, which signifies
"the chief of sweet-smelling oils;" Hebrew, _Bal smin_, "chief of
oils"; and the botanical suffix, _Melissa_, bears reference to the
large quantity of honey (_mel_) contained in the flowers of this

When cultivated, it yields from its leaves and tops an essential oil
which includes a chemical principle, or "stearopten." "The juice of
Balm," as Gerard tells us, "glueth together greene wounds," and
the leaves, say [40] both Pliny and Dioscorides, "being applied, do
close up woundes without any perill of inflammation." It is now
known as a scientific fact that the balsamic oils of aromatic plants
make most excellent surgical dressings. They give off ozone, and
thus exercise anti-putrescent effects. Moreover, as chemical
"hydrocarbons," they contain so little oxygen, that in wounds
dressed with the fixed balsamic herbal oils, the atomic germs of
disease are starved out. Furthermore, the resinous parts of these
balsamic oils, as they dry upon the sore or wound, seal it up, and
effectually exclude all noxious air. So the essential oils of balm,
peppermint, lavender, and the like, with pine oil, resin of
turpentine, and the balsam of benzoin (Friars' Balsam) should
serve admirably for ready application on lint or fine rag to cuts and
superficial sores. In domestic surgery, the lamentation of Jeremiah
falls to the ground: "Is there no balm in Gilead: is there no
physician there?" Concerning which "balm of Gilead," it may be
here told that it was formerly of great esteem in the East as a
medicine, and as a fragrant unguent. It was the true balsam of
Judea, which at one time grew nowhere else in the whole world
but at Jericho. But when the Turks took the Holy Land, they
transplanted this balsam to Grand Cairo, and guarded its shrubs
most jealously by Janissaries during the time the balsam was

In the "Treacle Bible," 1584, Jeremiah viii., v. 22, this passage is
rendered: "Is there not treacle at Gylead?" Venice treacle, or
triacle, was a famous antidote in the middle ages to all animal
poisons. It was named _Theriaca_ (the Latin word for our present
treacle) from the Greek word _Therion_, a small animal, in
allusion to the vipers which were added to the triacle by
Andromachus, physician to the emperor Nero.

[41] Tea made of our garden balm, by virtue of the volatile oil,
will prove restorative, and will promote perspiration if taken hot
on the access of a cold or of influenza; also, if used in like manner,
it will help effectively to bring on the delayed monthly flow with
women. But an infusion of the plant made with cold water, acts
better as a remedy for hysterical headache, and as a general
nervine stimulant because the volatile aromatic virtues are not
dispelled by heat. Formerly, a spirit of balm, combined with lemon
peel, nutmeg, and angelica-root, enjoyed a great reputation as a
restorative cordial under the name of Carmelite water. Paracelsus
thought so highly of balm that he believed it would completely
revivify a man, as _primum ens melissoe_. The London Dispensatory
of 1696 said: "The essence of balm given in Canary wine every
morning will renew youth, strengthen the brain, relieve languishing
nature, and prevent baldness." "Balm," adds John Evelyn, "is
sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and powerfully
chasing away melancholy." In France, women bruise the young shoots
of balm, and make them into cakes, with eggs, sugar, and rose
water, which they give to mothers in childbed as a strengthener.

It is fabled that the Jew Ahasuerus (who refused a cup of water to
our Saviour on His way to Golgotha, and was therefore doomed to
wander athirst until Christ should come again) on a Whitsuntide
evening, asked for a draught of small beer at the door of a
Staffordshire cottager who was far advanced in consumption. He
got the drink, and out of gratitude advised the sick man to gather
in the garden three leaves of Balm, and to put them into a cup of
beer. This was to be repeated every fourth day for twelve days, the
refilling of the cup to be continued as often as might be wished;
then "the [42] disease shall be cured and thy body altered." So
saying, the Jew departed and was never seen there again. But the
cottager obeyed the injunction, and at the end of the twelve days
had become a sound man.


The Common Barberry (_Berberis_), which gives its name to a
special order of plants, grows wild as a shrub in our English
copses and hedges, particularly about Essex, being so called from
Berberin, a pearl oyster, because the leaves are glossy like the
inside of an oyster shell. It is remarkable for the light colour of its
bark, which is yellow inside, and for its three-forked spines.
Provincially it is also termed Pipperidge-bush, from "pepin," a pip,
and "rouge," red, as descriptive of its small scarlet juiceless fruit,
of which the active chemical principles, as well as of the bark, are
"berberin" and "oxyacanthin." The sparingly-produced juice of the
berries is cooling and astringent. It was formerly held in high
esteem by the Egyptians, when diluted as a drink, in pestilential
fevers. The inner, yellow bark, which has been long believed to
exercise a medicinal effect on the liver, because of its colour, is a
true biliary purgative. An infusion of this bark, made with boiling
water, is useful in jaundice from congestive liver, with furred
tongue, lowness of spirits, and yellow complexion; also for
swollen spleen from malarious exposure. A medicinal tincture (H.)
is made of the root-branches and the root-bark, with spirit of wine;
and if given three or four times a day in doses of five drops with
one tablespoonful of cold water, it will admirably rouse the liver to
healthy and more vigorous action. Conversely the tincture when of
reduced strength will stay bilious diarrhoea. British farmers dislike
the [43] Barberry shrub because, when it grows in cornfields, the
wheat near it is blighted, even to the distance of two or three
hundred yards. This is because of a special fungus which is
common to the Barberry, and being carried by the wind reproduces
itself by its spores destructively on the ears of wheat, the
AEcidium Berberidis, which generates Puccinia.

Clusius setteth it down as a wonderful secret which he had from a
friend, "that if the yellow bark of Barberry be steeped in white
wine for three hours, and be afterwards drank, it will purge one
very marvellously."

The berries upon old Barberry shrubs are often stoneless, and this
is the best fruit for preserving or for making the jelly. They
contain malic and citric acids; and it is from these berries that the
delicious _confitures d'epine vinette_, for which Rouen is famous,
are commonly prepared. And the same berries are chosen in
England to furnish the kernel for a very nice sugar-plum. The
syrup of Barberries will make with water an excellent astringent
gargle for raw, irritable sore throat; likewise the jelly gives famous
relief for this catarrhal affection. It is prepared by boiling the
berries, when ripe, with an equal weight of sugar, and then
straining. For an attack of colic because of gravel in the kidneys,
five drops of the tincture on sugar every five minutes will
promptly relieve, as likewise when albumen is found by analysis
in the urine.

A noted modern nostrum belauds the virtues of the Barberry as
specific against bile, heartburn, and the black jaundice, this being
a remedy which was "discovered after infinite pains by one who
had studied for thirty years by candle light for the good of his
countrymen." In Gerard's time at the village of Ivor, near
Colebrooke, most of the hedges consisted solely of Barberry

[44] The following is a good old receipt for making Barberry
jam:--Pick the fruit from the stalks, and bake it in an earthen pan;
then press it through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Having mixed equal
weights of the prepared fruit, and of powdered sugar, put these
together in pots, and cover the mixture up, setting them in a dry
place, and having sifted some powdered sugar over the top of each
pot. Among the Italians the Barberry bears the name of Holy
Thorn, because thought to have formed part of the crown of thorns
made for our Saviour.


Hordeum Vulgare--common Barley--is chiefly used in Great Britain
for brewing and distilling; but, it has dietetic and medicinal
virtues which entitle it to be considered among serviceable
simples. Roman gladiators who depended for their strength and
prowess chiefly on Barley, were called Hordearii. Nevertheless,
this cereal is less nourishing than wheat, and when prepared as
food is apt to purge; therefore it is not made into bread, except
when wheat is scarce and dear, though in Scotland poor people eat
Barley bread. In India Barley meal is made into balls of dough for
the oxen and camels. Pearl Barley is prepared in Holland and
Germany by first shelling the grain, and then grinding it into round
white granules. The ancients fed their horses upon Barley, and we
fatten swine on this grain made into meal. Among the Greeks beer
was known as barley wine, which was brewed without hops, these
dating only from the fourteenth century.

A decoction of barley with gum arabic, one ounce of the gum
dissolved in a pint of the hot decoction, is a very useful drink to
soothe irritation of the bladder, [45] and of the urinary passages.
The chemical constituents of Barley are starch, gluten, albumen,
oil, and hordeic acid. From the earliest times it has been employed
to prepare drinks for the sick, especially in feverish disorders, and
for sore lining membranes of the chest. Honey may be added
beneficially to the decoction of barley for bronchial coughs. The
French make "Orgeat" of barley boiled in successive waters, and
sweetened at length as a cooling drink: though this name is now
applied in France to a liqueur concocted from almonds.


The herb Sweet Basil (_Ocymum Basilicum_) is so called because
"the smell thereof is fit for a king's house." It grows commonly in
our kitchen gardens, but in England it dies down every year, and
the seeds have to be sown annually. Botanically, it is named
"basilicon," or royal, probably because used of old in some regal
unguent, or bath, or medicine.

This, and the wild Basil, belong to the Labiate order of plants. The
leaves of the Sweet Basil, when slightly bruised, exhale a
delightful odour; they gave the distinctive flavour to the original
Fetter-Lane sausages.

The Wild Basil (_Calamintha clinopodium_) or Basil thyme, or
Horse thyme, is a hairy plant growing in bushy places, also about
hedges and roadsides, and bearing whorls of purple flowers with
a strong odour of cloves. The term _Clinopodium_ signifies "bed's-foot
flower," because "the branches dooe resemble the foot of a
bed." In common with the other labiates, Basil, both the wild and
the sweet, furnishes an aromatic volatile camphoraceous oil. On
this account it is much employed in France for flavouring soups
(especially mock turtle) and [46] sauces; and the dry leaves, in the
form of snuff, are used for relieving nervous headaches. A tea,
made by pouring boiling water on the garden basil, when green,
gently but effectually helps on the retarded monthly flow with
women. The Bush Basil is _Ocymum minimum_, of which the leafy
tops are used for seasoning, and in salads.

The Sweet Basil has been immortalised by Keats in his tender,
pathetic poem of _Isabella and the Pot of Basil_, founded on
a  story from Boccaccio. She reverently possessed herself of
the  decapitated head of her lover, Lorenzo, who had been
treacherously slain:--

    "She wrapped it up, and for its tomb did choose
    A garden pot, wherein she laid it by,
    And covered it with mould, and o'er it set
    Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet."

The herb was used at funerals in Persia. Its seeds were sown by the
Romans with maledictions and curses through the belief that the
more it was abused the better it would prosper. When desiring a
good crop they trod it down with their feet, and prayed the gods it
might not vegetate. The Greeks likewise supposed Basil to thrive
best when sown with swearing; and this fact explains the French
saying, _Semer la Basilic_, as signifying "to slander." It was told
in Elizabeth's time that the hand of a fair lady made Basil flourish;
and this was then planted in pots as an act of gallantry. "Basil,"
says John Evelyn, "imparts a grateful flavour to sallets if not too
strong, but is somewhat offensive to the eyes." Shenstone, in his
_School Mistress's Garden_, tells of "the tufted Basil," and
Culpeper quaintly says: "Something is the matter; Basil and Rue
will never grow together: no, nor near one another." It is related
[47] that a certain advocate of Genoa was once sent as an
ambassador to treat for conditions with the Duke of Milan; but the
Duke harshly refused to hear the message, or to grant the
conditions. Then the Ambassador offered him a handful of Basil.
Demanding what this meant, the Duke was told that the properties
of the herb were, if gently handled, to give out a pleasant odour;
but that, if bruised, and hardly wrung, it would breed scorpions.
Moved by this witty answer, the Duke confirmed the conditions,
and sent the Ambassador honourably home.

BEAN (_see_ Pea and Bean).

BELLADONNA (_see_ Night Shade).


This, the _Herba Benedicta_, or Blessed Herb, or Avens (_Geum
Urbanum_) is a very common plant of the Rose tribe, in our
woods, hedges, and shady places. It has an erect hairy stem, red at
the base, with terminal bright yellow drooping flowers. The
ordinary name Avens--or Avance, Anancia, Enancia--signifies an
antidote, because it was formerly thought to ward off the Devil,
and evil spirits, and venomous beasts. Where the root is in a house
Satan can do nothing, and flies from it: "therefore" (says Ortus
Sanitatis) "it is blessed before all other herbs; and if a man carries
the root about him no venomous beast can harm him." The herb
is sometimes called Way Bennet, and Wild Rye. Its graceful
trefoiled loaf, and the fine golden petals of its flowers,
symbolising the five wounds of Christ, were sculptured by the
monks of the thirteenth century on their Church architecture. The
botanical title of this [48] plant, _Geum_, is got from _Geuo_, "to
yield an agreeable fragrance," in allusion to the roots. Hence also
has been derived another appellation of the Avens--_Radix
Caryophyllata_, or "clove root," because when freshly dug out of
the ground the roots smell like cloves. They yield tannin freely,
with mucilage, resin, and muriate of lime, together with a heavy
volatile oil. The roots are astringent and antiseptic, having been
given in infusion for ague, and as an excellent cordial sudorific in
chills, or for fresh catarrh. To make this a pint of boiling water
should be poured on half an ounce of the dried root, or rather more
of the fresh root, sliced. Half a wineglassful will be the dose, or
ten grains of the powdered root. An extract is further made. When
the petals of the flower fall off, a small round prickly ball is to be


Few, if any, herbal plants have been more praised for their
supposed curative virtues than the Wood Betony (_Stachys
Betonica_), belonging to the order of Labiates. By the common
people it is often called Bitny. The name _Betonica_ is from the
Celtic "ben," head, and "tonic," good, in allusion to the usefulness
of the herb against infirmities of the head. It is of frequent growth
in shady woods and meadows, having aromatic leaves, and spikes
(stakoi) of light purple flowers. Formerly it was held in the very
highest esteem as a leading herbal simple. The Greeks loudly
extolled its good qualities. Pliny, in downright raptures, styled it
_ante cunctas laudatissima_! An old Italian proverb ran thus:
_Vende la tunica en compra la Betonia_, "Sell your coat, and buy
Betony;" whilst modern Italians, when speaking of a most
excellent man, say, [49] "He has as many virtues as Betony"--_He
piu virtù che Bettonica_.

In the _Medicina Britannica_, 1666, we read: "I have known the
most obstinate headaches cured by daily breakfasting for a month
or six weeks on a decoction of Betony, made with new milk, and

Antonius Musa, chief physician to the Emperor Augustus, wrote a
book entirely on the virtues of this herb. Meyrick says, inveterate
headaches after resisting every other remedy, have been cured by
taking daily at breakfast a decoction made from the leaves and
tops of the Wood Betony. Culpeper wrote: "This is a precious herb
well worth keeping in your house." Gerard tells that "Betony
maketh a man have a good appetite to his meat, and is commended
against ache of the knuckle bones" (sciatica).

A pinch of the powdered herb will provoke violent sneezing. The
dried leaves formed an ingredient in Rowley's British Herb Snuff,
which was at one time quite famous against headaches.

And yet, notwithstanding all this concensus of praise from writers
of different epochs, it does not appear that the Betony, under
chemical analysis and research, shows itself as containing any
special medicinal or curative constituents. It only affords the
fragrant aromatic principles common to most of the labiate plants.

Parkinson, who enlarged the _Herbal_ of Gerard, pronounced the
leaves and flowers of Wood Betony, "by their sweet and spicy
taste, comfortable both in meate and medicine." Anyhow, Betony
tea, made with boiling water poured on the plant, is a safe drink,
and likely to prove of benefit against languid nervous headaches;
and the dried herb may be smoked as tobacco for relieving the
same ailment. To make Betony tea, put two ounces of [50] the
herb to a quart of water over the fire, and let this gradually simmer
to three half-pints. Give a wine-glassful of the decoction three
times a day. A conserve may be made from the flowers for similar
purposes. The Poet Laureate, A. Austin, mentions "lye of Betony
to soothe the brow." Both this plant, and the _Water Betony_--so
called from its similarity of leaf--bear the name of Kernel-wort,
from having tubers or kernels attached to the roots, and from being
therefore supposed, on the doctrine of signatures, to cure diseased
kernels or scrofulous glands in the neck; also to banish piles from
the fundament.

But the Water Betony (Figwort) belongs not to the labiates, but to
the _Scrophulariaceoe_, or scrofula-curing order of plants. It
is called in some counties "brown-wort," and in Yorkshire
"bishopsleaves," or, _l'herbe du siège_, which term has a double
meaning--in allusion both to the seat in the temple of Cloacina
(W.C.) and to the ailments of the lower body in connection
therewith, as well as to the more exalted "See" of a Right
Reverend Prelate. In old times the Water figwort was famous as
a vulnerary, both when used externally, and when taken in
decoction. The name "brown-wort" has been got either from the
brown colour of the stems and flowers, or, more probably, from its
growing abundantly about the "brunnen," or public German
fountains. Wasps and bees are fond of the flowers. In former days
this herb was relied on for the cure of toothache, and for expelling
the particular disembodied spirit, or "mare," which visited our
Saxon ancestors during their sleep after supper, being familiarly
known to them as the "nightmare." The "Echo" was in like manner
thought by the Saxons to be due to a spectre, or mare, which
they called the "wood mare." The Water [51] Betony is said to
make one of the ingredients in Count Mattaei's noted remedy,
"anti-scrofuloso." The Figwort is named in Somersetshire "crowdy-kit"
(the word kit meaning a fiddle), "or fiddlewood," because if two of
the stalks are rubbed together, they make a noise like the scraping
of the bow on violin strings. In Devonshire, also, the plant is
known as "fiddler."

An allied Figwort--which is botanically called _nodosa_, or
knotted--is considered, when an ointment is made with it, using
the whole plant bruised and treated with unsalted lard, a sovereign
remedy against "burnt holes" or gangrenous chicken-pox, such as
often attacks the Irish peasantry, who subsist on a meagre and
exclusively vegetable diet, being half starved, and pent up in
wretched foul hovels. This herb is said to be certainly curative of
hydrophobia, by taking every morning whilst fasting a slice of
bread and butter on which the powdered knots of the roots have
been spread, following it up with two tumblers of fresh spring
water. Then let the patient be well clad in woollen garments and
made to take a long fast walk until in a profuse perspiration. The
treatment should be continued for nine days. Again, the botanical
name of a fig, _ficus_, has been commonly applied to a sore or
scab appearing on a part of the body where hair is, or to a red sore
in the fundament, i.e., to a pile. And the Figwort is so named in
allusion to its curative virtues against piles, when the plant is made
into an ointment for outward use, and when the tincture is taken
internally. It is specially visited by wasps.

BILBERRY (Whortleberry, or Whinberry).

This fruit, which belongs to the Cranberry order of plants, grows
abundantly throughout England in heathy [52] and mountainous
districts. The small-branched shrub bears globular, wax-like
flowers, and black berries, which are covered, when quite fresh,
with a grey bloom. In the West of England they are popularly
called "whorts," and they ripen about the time of St. James' Feast,
July 25th. Other names for the fruit are Blueberry, Bulberry,
Hurtleberry, and Huckleberry. The title Whinberry has been
acquired from its growing on Whins, or Heaths; and Bilberry
signifies dark coloured; whence likewise comes Blackwort as
distinguished in its aspect from the Cowberry and the Cranberry.
By a corruption the original word Myrtleberry has suffered change
of its initial M into W. (Whortlebery.) In the middle ages the
Myrtleberry was used in medicine and cookery, to which berry the
Whortleberry bears a strong resemblance. It is agreeable to the
taste, and may be made into tarts, but proves mawkish unless
mixed with some more acid fruit.

The Bilberry (_Vaccinium Myrtillus_) is an admirable astringent,
and should be included as such among the domestic medicines of
the housewife. If some good brandy be poured over two handfuls
of the fruit in a bottle, this will make an extract which continually
improves by being kept. Obstinate diarrhoea may be cured by
giving doses of a tablespoonful of this extract taken with a
wineglassful of warm water, and repeated at intervals of two hours
whilst needed, even for the more severe cases of dysenteric
diarrhoea. The berries contain chemically much tannin. Their stain
on the lips may be quickly effaced by sucking at a lemon. In
Devonshire they are eaten at table with cream. The Irish call them
"frawns." If the first tender leaves are properly gathered and dried,
they can scarcely be [53] distinguished from good tea. Moor game
live on these berries in the autumn. Their juice will stain paper or
linen purple:--

    "Sanguineo splendore rosas vaccinia nigro,
    Induit, et dulci violas ferrugine pingit."

They are also called in some counties, Blaeberries, Truckleberries,
and Blackhearts.

The extract of Bilberry is found to be a very useful application for
curing such skin diseases as scaly eczema, and other eczema
which is not moist or pustulous; also for burns and scalds. Some of
the extract is to be laid thickly on the cleansed skin with a camel
hairbrush, and a thin layer of cotton wool to be spread over it, the
whole being fastened with a calico or gauze bandage. This should
be changed gently once a day.

Another Vaccinium (oxycoccos), the Marsh Whortleberry, or
Cranberry, or Fenberry--from growing in fens--is found in peat
bogs, chiefly in the North. This is a low plant with straggling wiry
stems, and solitary terminal bright red flowers, of which the
segments are bent back in a singular manner. Its fruit likewise
makes excellent tarts, and forms a considerable article of
commerce at Langtown, on the borders of Cumberland. The fruit
stalks are crooked at the top, and before the blossom expands they
resemble the head and neck of a crane.


This is the well-known fruit of the Common Bramble (_Rubus
fructicosus_), which grows in every English hedgerow, and which
belongs to the Rose order of plants. It has long been esteemed for
its bark and leaves as a [54] capital astringent, these containing
much tannin; also for its fruit, which is supplied with malic and
citric acids, pectin, and albumen. Blackberries go often by the
name of "bumblekites," from "bumble," the cry of the bittern, and
kyte, a Scotch word for belly; the name bumblekite being applied,
says Dr. Prior, "from the rumbling and bumbling caused in the
bellies of children who eat the fruit too greedily." "Rubus" is from
the Latin _ruber_, red.

The blackberry has likewise acquired the name of scaldberry, from
producing, as some say, the eruption known as scaldhead in
children who eat the fruit to excess; or, as others suppose, from the
curative effects of the leaves and berries in this malady of the
scalp; or, again, from the remedial effects of the leaves when
applied externally to scalds.

It has been said that the young shoots, eaten as a salad, will fasten
loose teeth. If the leaves are gathered in the Spring and dried, then,
when required, a handful of them may be infused in a pint of
boiling water, and the infusion, when cool, may be taken, a
teacupful at a time, to stay diarrhoea, and for some bleedings.
Similarly, if an ounce of the bruised root is boiled in three
half-pints of water, down to a pint, a teacupful of this may be given
every three or four hours. The decoction is also useful against
whooping-cough in its spasmodic stage. The bark contains tannin;
and if an ounce of the same be boiled in a pint and a half of water,
or of milk, down to a pint, half a teacupful of the decoction may be
given every hour or two for staying relaxed bowels. Likewise the
fruit, if desiccated in a moderately hot oven, and afterwards
reduced to powder (which should be kept ill a well corked bottle)
will prove an efficacious remedy for dysentery.

[55] Gerard says: "Bramble leaves heal the eyes that hang out, and
stay the haemorrhoides [piles] if they can be laid thereunto." The
London _Pharmacopoeia_ (1696) declared the ripe berries of the
bramble to be a great cordial, and to contain a notable restorative
spirit. In Cruso's _Treasury of Easy Medicines_ (1771), it is
directed for old inveterate ulcers: "Take a decoction of blackberry
leaves made in wine, and foment the ulcers with this whilst hot
each night and morning, which will heal them, however difficult to
be cured." The name of the bush is derived from brambel, or
brymbyll, signifying prickly; its blossom as well as the fruit, ripe
and unripe, in all stages, may be seen on the bush at the same time.
With the ancient Greeks Blackberries were a popular remedy for

As soon as blackberries are over-ripe, they become quite
indigestible. Country folk say in Somersetshire and Sussex: "The
devil goes round on Old Michaelmas Day, October 11th, to spite
the Saint, and spits on the blackberries, so that they who eat them
after that date fall sick, or have trouble before the year is out."
Blackberry wine and blackberry jam are taken for sore throats in
many rustic homes. Blackberry jelly is useful for dropsy from
feeble ineffective circulation. To make "blackberry cordial," the
juice should be expressed from the fresh ripe fruit, adding half a
pound of white sugar to each quart thereof, together with half an
ounce of both nutmeg and cloves; then boil these together for a
short time, and add a little brandy to the mixture when cold.

In Devonshire the peasantry still think that if anyone is troubled
with "blackheads," _i.e._, small pimples, or boils, he may be cured
by creeping from East to West on the hands and knees nine times
beneath an arched [56] bramble bush. This is evidently a relic of
an old Dryad superstition when the angry deities who inhabited
particular trees had to be appeased before the special diseases
which they inflicted could be cured. It is worthy of remark that the
Bramble forms the subject of the oldest known apologue. When
Jonathan upbraided the men of Shechem for their base ingratitude
to his father's house, he related to them the parable of the trees
choosing a king, by whom the Bramble was finally elected, after
the olive, the fig tree, and the vine had excused themselves from
accepting this dignity.

In the Roxburghe Ballad of "The Children in the Wood," occurs
the verse--

    "Their pretty lips with Blackberries
        Were all besmeared and dyed;
    And when they saw the darksome night
        They sat them down, and cryed."

The French name for blackberries is _mûres sauvages_, also
_mûres de haie_; and in some of our provincial districts they are
known as "winterpicks," growing on the Blag.

Blackberry wine, which is a trustworthy cordial astringent remedy
for looseness of the bowels, may be made thus: Measure your
berries, and bruise them, and to every gallon of the fruit add a
quart of boiling water. Let the mixture stand for twenty-four hours,
occasionally stirring; then strain off the liquid, adding to every
gallon a couple of pounds of refined sugar, and keep it in a cask
tightly corked till the following October, when it will be ripe and

A noted hair-dye is said to be made by boiling the leaves of the
bramble in strong lye, which then imparts permanently to the hair
a soft, black colour. Tom Hood, in his humorous way, described a
negro funeral [57] as "going a black burying." An American poet
graphically tell us:--

            "Earth's full of Heaven,
    And every common bush afire with God!
    But only they who see take off their shoes;
    The rest sit round it, and--pluck blackberries."

BLUEBELL (Wild Hyacinth).

This,--the _Agraphis mutans_,--of the Lily tribe--is so abundant in
English woods and pastures, whilst so widely known, and popular
with young and old, as to need no description. Hyacinth petals
are marked in general with dark spots, resembling in their
arrangement the Greek word AI, alas! because a youth, beloved by
Apollo, and killed by an ill-wind, was changed into this flower.
But the wild Hyacinth bears no such character on its petals, and is
therefore called "non-scriptus." The graceful curl of the petals, not
their dark violet colour, has suggested to the poets "hyacinthine

In Walton's _Angler_ the Bluebell is mentioned as Culverkeys, the
same as "Calverkeys" in Wiltshire. No particular medicinal uses
have attached themselves to the wild Hyacinth flower as a herbal
simple. The root is round, and was formerly prized for its
abundant clammy juice given out when bruised, and employed as
starch. Miss Pratt refers to this as poisonous; and our Poet
Laureate teaches:--

    "In the month when earth and sky are one,
    To squeeze the blue bell 'gainst the adder's bite."

When dried and powdered, the root as a styptic is of special virtue
to cure the whites of women: in doses of not more than three
grains at a time. "There is [58] hardly," says Sir John Hill, "a more
powerful remedy." Tennyson has termed the woodland abundance
of Hyacinths in full spring time as "The heavens upbreaking
through the earth." On the day of St. George, the Patron Saint of
England, these wild hyacinths tinge the meadows and pastures
with their deep blue colour--an emblem of the ocean empire, over
which England assumes the rule.

But the chief charms of the Bluebell are its beauty and early
appearance. Now is "the winter past; the rain is over and gone; the
flowers appear on the earth; the time for the singing of birds is
come; and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land."

    "This earth is one great temple, made
        For worship everywhere;
    The bells are flowers in sun and shade
        Which ring the heart to prayer."

    "The city bell takes seven days
        To reach the townsman's ear;
    But he who kneels in Nature's ways.
        Has Sabbath all the year."

The Hairbell (_Campanula rotundifolia_) is the Bluebell of
Scotland; and nothing rouses a Scot to anger more surely than to
exhibit the wild Hyacinth as the true Bluebell.

BOG BEAN (or Marsh-trefoil).

The Buck-bean, or Bog-bean, which is common enough in stagnant
pools, and on our spongy bogs, is the most serviceable of
all known herbal tonics. It may be easily recognised growing in
water by its large leaves overtopping the surface, each being
composed of three leaflets, and resembling the leaf of a Windsor
Broad Bean. The flowers when in bud are of a bright rose [59]
color, and when fully blown they have the inner surface of their
petals thickly covered with a white fringe, on which account the
plant is known also as "white fluff." The name Buckbean is
perhaps a corruption of _scorbutus_, scurvy; this giving it another
title, "scurvy bean." And it is termed "goat's bean," perhaps from
the French _le bouc_, "a he-goat." The plant flowers for a month
and therefore bears the botanical designation, "Menyanthes"
(_trifoliata_) from _meen_, "a month," and _anthos_, "a flower." It
belongs to the Gentian tribe, each of which is distinguished by a
tonic and appetizing bitterness of taste. The root of the Bog Bean
is the most bitter part, and is therefore selected for medicinal use.
It contains a chemical glucoside, "Menyanthin," which consists of
glucose and a volatile product, "Menyanthol." For curative
purposes druggists supply an infusion of the herb, and a liquid
extract in combination with liquorice. These preparations are in
moderate doses, strengthening and antiscorbutic; but when given
more largely they are purgative and emetic. Gerard says if the
plant "be taken with mead, or honied water, it is of use against a
cough"; in which respect it is closely allied to the Sundew (another
plant of the bogs) for relieving whooping-cough after the first
feverish stage, or any similar hacking, spasmodic cough. A
tincture is made (H.) from the whole plant with spirit of wine, and
this proves most useful for clearing obscuration of the sight, when
there is a sense, especially in the open-air, of a white vibrating
mist before the eyes; and therefore it has been given with marked
success in early stages of amaurotic paralysis of the retina. The
dose should be three or four drops of the tincture with a
tablespoonful of cold water three times in the day for a week at a

[60] BORAGE.

The Borage, with its gallant blue flower, is cultivated in our
gardens as a pot herb, and is associated in our minds with bees and
claret cup. It grows wild in abundance on open plains where the
soil is favourable, and it has a long-established reputation for
cheering the spirits. Botanically, it is the _Borago officinalis_, this
title being a corruption of _cor-ago_, i.e., _cor_, the heart, _ago_,
I stimulate--_quia cordis affectibus medetur_, because it cures weak
conditions of the heart. An old Latin adage says: _Borago ego
gaudia semper ago_--"I, Borage, bring always courage"; or the
name may be derived from the Celtic, _Borrach_, "a noble
person." This plant was the Bugloss of the older botanists, and it
corresponds to our Common Bugloss, so called from the shape and
bristly surface of its leaves, which resemble _bous-glossa_, the
tongue of an ox. Chemically, the plant Borage contains potassium
and calcium combined with mineral acids. The fresh juice affords
thirty per cent., and the dried herb three per cent. of nitrate of
potash. The stems and leaves supply much saline mucilage, which,
when boiled and cooled, likewise deposits nitre and common salt.
These crystals, when ignited, will burn with a succession of small
sparkling explosions, to the great delight of the schoolboy. And it
is to such saline qualities the wholesome, invigorating effects and
the specially refreshing properties of the Borage are supposed to
be mainly due. For which reason, the plant, "when taken in
sallets," as says an old herbalist, "doth exhilarate, and make the
mind glad," almost in the same way as a bracing sojourn by the
seaside during an autumn holiday. The flowers possess cordial
virtues which are very revivifying, and have been much commended
against melancholic depression of the nervous system. Burton,
in his [61] _Anatomy of Melancholy_ (1676), wrote with reference
to the frontispiece of that book:--

    "Borage and Hellebore fill two scenes,
    Sovereign plants to purge the veins
    Of melancholy, and cheer the heart
    Of those black fumes which make it smart;
    The best medicine that God e'er made
    For this malady, if well assaid."

"The sprigs of Borage," wrote John Evelyn, "are of known virtue
to revive the hypochondriac and cheer the hard student."

According to Dioscorides and Pliny, the Borage was that famous
nepenthe of Homer which Polydamas sent to Helen for a token "of
such rare virtue that when taken steep'd in wine, if wife and
children, father and mother, brother and sister, and all thy dearest
friends should die before thy face, thou could'st not grieve, or shed
a tear for them." "The bowl of Helen had no other ingredient, as
most criticks do conjecture, than this of borage." And it was
declared of the herb by another ancient author: _Vinum potatum
quo sit macerata buglossa moerorum cerebri dicunt auferre

    "To enliven the sad with the joy of a joke,
    Give them wine with some borage put in it to soak."

The Romans named the Borage _Euphrosynon_, because when put
into a cup of wine it made the drinkers of the same merry and

Parkinson says, "The seed of Borage helpeth nurses to have more
store of milk, for which purpose its leaves are most conducing." Its
saline constituents promote activity of the kidneys, and for this
reason the plant is used in France to carry off catarrhs which are
feverish. The fresh herb has a cucumber-like odour, and when
compounded with lemon and sugar, added to wine and [62] water,
it makes a delicious "cool tankard," as a summer drink. "A syrup
concocted of the floures," said Gerard, "quieteth the lunatick
person, and the leaves eaten raw do engender good blood." Of all
nectar-loving insects, bees alone know how to pronounce the
"open sesame" of admission to the honey pots of the Borage.


The Broom, or Link (_Cytisus scoparius_) is a leguminous shrub
which is well known as growing abundantly on open places in our
rural districts. The prefix "cytisus" is derived from the name of a
Greek island where Broom abounded. It formerly bore the name of
_Planta Genista_, and gave rise to the historic title, "Plantagenet."
A sprig of its golden blossom was borne by Geoffrey of Anjou in
his bonnet when going into battle, making him conspicuous
throughout the strife. In the _Ingoldsby Legends_ it is said of our
second King Henry's headdress:--

    "With a great sprig of broom, which he bore as a badge in it,
    He was named from this circumstance, Henry Plantagenet."

The stalks of the Broom, and especially the topmost young twigs,
are purgative, and act powerfully on the kidneys to increase the
flow of urine. They contain chemically an acid principle,
"scoparin," and an alkaloid, "sparteine." For medical purposes
these terminal twigs are used (whether fresh or dried) to make a
decoction which is of great use in dropsy from a weak heart, but it
should not be given where congestion of the lungs is present. From
half to one ounce by weight of the tops should be boiled down in a
pint of water to half this quantity, and a wineglassful may be taken
as a dose every four or six hours. For more chronic dropsy,
a compound decoction of broom may be given with much [63]
benefit. To make this, use broom-tops and dandelion roots, of each
half an ounce, boiling them in a pint of water down to half a pint,
and towards the last adding half an ounce of bruised juniper
berries. When cold, the decoction should be strained and a
wineglassful may be had three or four times a day. "Henry the
Eighth, a prince of famous memory, was wonte to drinke the
distilled water of broome flowers against surfeits and diseases
therefrom arising." The flower-buds, pickled in vinegar, are
sometimes used as capers; and the roasted seeds have been
substituted for coffee. Sheep become stupefied or excited when by
chance constrained to eat broom-tops.

The generic name, _Scoparius_, is derived from the Latin word
_scopa_, a besom, this signifying "a shrub to sweep with." It has
been long represented that witches delight to ride thereon: and in
Holland, if a vessel lying in dock has a besom tied to the top of its
mast, this advertises it as in search of a new owner. Hence has
arisen the saying about a woman when seeking a second husband,
_Zij steetk't dem bezen_, "She hangs out the broom."

There is a tradition in Suffolk and Sussex:--

    "If you sweep the house with Broom in May,
    You'll sweep the head of the house away."

Allied to the Broom, and likewise belonging to the Papilionaceous
order of leguminous plants, though not affording any known
medicinal principle, the Yellow Gorse (_Ulex_) or Furze grows
commonly throughout England on dry exposed plains. It covers
these during the flowering season with a gorgeous sheet of yellow
blossoms, orange perfumed, and which entirely conceals the
rugged brown unsightly branches beneath. Its elastic seed vessels
burst with a crackling noise in hot [64] weather, and scatter the
seeds on all sides. "Some," says Parkinson, "have used the flowers
against the jaundice," but probably only because of their yellow
colour. "The seeds," adds Gerard, "are employed in medicines
against the stone, and the staying of the laske" (_laxitas_,
looseness). They are certainly astringent, and contain tannin. In
Devonshire the bush is called "Vuzz," and in Sussex "Hawth."

The Gorse is rare in Scotland, thriving best in our cool humid
climate. In England it is really never out of blossom, not even after
a severe frost, giving rise to the well-known saying "Love is never
out of season except when the Furze is out of bloom." It is also
known as Fursbush, Furrs and Whins, being crushed and given as
fodder to cattle. The tender shoots are protected from being eaten
by herbivorous animals in the same way as are the thistles and the
holly, by the angles of the leaves having grown together so as to
constitute prickles.

    "'Twere to cut off an epigram's point,
    Or disfurnish a knight of his spurs,
    If we foolishly tried to disjoint
    Its arms from the lance-bearing Furze."

Linnoeus "knelt before it on the sod: and for its beauty thanked his

The _Butcher's Broom, Ruscus (or Bruscus) aculeatus_, or prickly,
is a plant of the Lily order, which grows chiefly in the South of
England, on heathy places and in woods. It bears sharp-pointed,
stiff leaves (each of which produces a small solitary flower on its
upper surface), and scarlet berries. The shrub is also known as
Knee Hulyer, Knee Holly (confused with the Latin _cneorum_),
Prickly Pettigrue and Jews' Myrtle. Butchers make besoms of its
twigs, with which to sweep their stalls or [65] blocks: and these
twigs are called "pungi topi," "prickrats," from being used to
preserve meat from rats. Jews buy the same for service during the
Feast of Tabernacles; and the boughs have been employed for
flogging chilblains. The Butcher's Broom has been claimed by the
Earls of Sutherland as the distinguishing badge of their followers
and Clan, every Sutherland volunteer wearing a sprig of the bush
in his bonnet on field days. This shrub is highly extolled as a free
promoter of urine in dropsy and obstructions of the kidneys; a pint
of boiling water should be poured on an ounce of the fresh twigs,
or on half-an-ounce of the bruised root, to make an infusion,
which may be taken as tea. The root is at first sweet to the taste,
and afterwards bitter.


English hedgerows exhibit Bryony of two distinct sorts--the white
and the black--which differ much, the one from the other, as to
medicinal properties, and which belong to separate orders of
plants. The White Bryony is botanically a cucumber, being of
common growth at our roadsides, and often called the White Vine;
it also bears the name of Tetterberry, from curing a disease of the
skin known as tetters. It climbs about with long straggling stalks,
which attach themselves by spiral tendrils, and which produce
rough, palmated leaves. Insignificant pale-green flowers spring in
small clusters from the bottom of these leaves. The round berries
are at first green, and afterwards brilliantly red. Chemically, the
plant contains "bryonin," a medicinal substance which is intensely
bitter; also malate and phosphate of lime, with gum, starch, and

A tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root collected before the
plant flowers, which is found to [66] be of superlative use for the
relief of chronic rheumatism (especially when aggravated by
moving), and for subduing active congestions of the serous
membranes which line the heart-bag, the ribs, the outer coat of the
brain, and which cover the bowels. In the treatment of pleurisy,
this tincture is invaluable. Four drops should be given in a
tablespoonful of cold water every three or four hours. Also for any
contused bruising of the skin, and especially for a black eye, to
promptly bathe the injured part with a decoction of White
Bryony root will speedily subdue the swelling, and will prevent
discoloration far better than a piece of raw beef applied outside as
the remedy most approved in the Ring.

In France, the White Bryony is deemed so potent and perilous, that
its root is named the devil's turnip--_navet du diable_.

Our English plant, the _Bryonia dioica_, purges as actively as
colocynth, if too freely administered.

The name Bryony is two thousand years old, and comes from a
Greek word _bruein_, "to shoot forth rapidly."

From the incised root of the White Bryony exudes a milky juice
which is aperient of action, and which has been commended for
epilepsy, as well as for obstructed liver and dropsy; also its
tincture for chronic constipation.

The popular herbal drink known as Hop Bitters is said to owe
many of its supposed virtues to the bryony root, substituted for the
mandrake which it is alleged to contain. The true mandrake is a
gruesome herb, which was held in superstitious awe by the Greeks
and the Romans. Its root was forked, and bears some resemblance
to the legs of a man; for which reason the moneymakers [67] of
the past increased the likeness, and attributed supernatural powers
to the plant. It was said to grow only beneath a murderer's gibbet,
and when torn from the earth by its root to utter a shriek which
none might hear and live. From earliest times, in the East, a notion
prevailed that the mandrake would remove sterility. With which
purpose in view, Rachel said to Leah: "Give me, I pray thee, of thy
son's mandrakes" (Genesis xxx. v. 14). In later times the Bryony
has come into use instead of the true mandrake, and it has
continued to form a profitable spurious article with mountebank
doctors. In Henry the Eighth's day, ridiculous little images made
from Bryony roots, cut into the figure of a man, and with grains of
millet inserted into the face as eyes, the same being known as
pappettes or mammettes, were accredited with magical powers,
and fetched high prices with simple folk. Italian ladies have been
known to pay as much as thirty golden ducats for one of these
artificial mandrakes. Readers of Thalaba (Southey) will remember
the fine scene in which Khawla procures this plant to form part of
the waxen figure of the Destroyer. Unscrupulous vendors of the
fraudulent articles used to seek out a thriving young Bryony plant,
and to open the earth round it. Then being prepared with a mould
such as is used for making Plaster of Paris figures, they fixed it
close to the root, and fastened it with wire to keep it in place.
Afterwards, by filling the earth up to the root they left it to assume
the required shape, which was generally accomplished in a single

The medicinal tincture (H.) of White Bryony (_Bryonia alba_) is
of special service to persons of dark hair and complexion, with
firm fibre of flesh, and of a bilious cross-grained temperament.
Also it is of [68] particular use for relieving coughs, and colds of a
feverish bronchial sort, caught by exposure to the east wind. On
the contrary, the catarrhal troubles of sensitive females, and of
young children, are better met by Ipecacuanha:--

    "Coughing in a shady grove
        Sat my Juliana,
    Lozenges I gave my love,
    Full twenty from the lozenge box
        The greedy nymph did pick;
    Then, sighing sadly, said to me--
        My Damon, I am sick."
            _George Canning._

    In nemore umbroso Phyllis mea forte sedebat,
    Cui mollem exhausit tussis anhela sinum:
    Nec mora: de loculo deprompsi pyxida loevo,
    Ipecacuaneos, exhibuique trochos:
    Illa quidem imprudens medicatos leniter orbes
    Absorpsit numero bisque quaterque decem:
    Tum tenero ducens suspiria pectore dixit,
    "Thyrsi! Mihi stomachum nausea tristis habet."

The _Black Bryony _(Lady's-seal, or Oxberry), which likewise
grows freely in our hedges, is quite a different plant from its
nominal congener. It bears the name of _Tamus Vulgaris_, and
belongs to the natural order of Yams. It is also called the Wild
Hop, and Tetterberry or Tetterwort (in common with the greater
Celandine), because curing the skin disease known as tetters; and
further, Blackbindweed. It has smooth heart-shaped leaves, and
produces scarlet, elliptical berries larger than those of the White
Bryony. A tincture is made (H.) from the root-stock, with spirit of
wine, which proves a most useful application to unbroken
chilblains, when [69] made into a lotion with water, one part to
twenty. The plant is called Black Bryony (_Bryonia nigra_) from
its dark leaves and black root. It is not given at all internally, but
the acrid pulp of the root has been used as a stimulating plaster.


The common Buckthorn grows in our woods and thickets, and
used to be popularly known because of the purgative syrup made
from its juice and berries. It bears dense branches of small green
flowers, followed by the black berries, which purge violently. If
gathered before they are ripe they furnish a yellow dye. When
ripe, if mixed with gum arabic and lime water, they form the
pigment called "Bladder Green." Until late in the present century--
_O dura ilia messorum!_--English rustics, when requiring an
aperient dose for themselves or their children, had recourse to the
syrup of Buckthorn. But its action was so severe, and attended
with such painful gripings, that as time went on the medicine was
discarded, and it is now employed in this respect almost
exclusively by the cattle doctor. Dodoeus taught about Buckthorn
berries: "They be not meet to be administered but to young and
lusty people of the country, which do set more store of their
money than their lives." The shrub grows chiefly on chalk, and
near brooks. The name Buckthorn is from the German _buxdorn_,
boxthorn, hartshorn. In Anglo-Saxon it was Heorot-bremble. It is
also known as Waythorn, Rainberry Thorn, Highway Thorn and
Rhineberries. Each of the berries contains four seeds: and the flesh
of birds which eat thereof is said to be purgative. When the juice is
given medicinally it causes a bad stomach-ache, with much
dryness of the throat: for which reason Sydenham [70] always
ordered a basin of soup to be given after it. Chemically the active
principle of the Buckthorn is "rhamno-cathartine." Likewise a
milder kind of Buckthorn, which is much more useful as a Simple,
grows freely in England, the _Rhamnus frangula_ or so-called
"black berry-bearing Alder," though this appellation is a mistake,
because botanically the Alder never bears any berries. This black
Buckthorn is a slender shrub, which occurs in our woods and
thickets. The juice of its berries is aperient, without being
irritating, and is well suited as a laxative for persons of delicate
constitution. It possesses the merit of continuing to answer in
smaller doses after the patient has become habituated to its
use. The berry of the _Rhamnus frangula _may be known by its
containing only two seeds. Country people give the bark boiled in
ale for jaundice; and this bark is the black dogwood of gunpowder
makers. Lately a certain aperient medicine has become highly
popular with both doctors and patients in this country, the same
being known as Cascara Sagrada. It is really an American
Buckthorn, the _Rhamnus Persiana_, and it possesses no true
advantage over our black Alder Buckthorn, though the bark of this
latter must be used a year old, or it will cause griping. A fluid
extract of the English mild Buckthorn, or of the American
Cascara, is made by our leading druggists, of which from half to
one teaspoonful may be given for a dose. This is likewise a tonic
to the intestines, and is especially useful for relieving piles.
Lozenges also of the Alder Buckthorn are dispensed under the
name of "Aperient Fruit Lozenges;" one, or perhaps two, being
taken for a dose as required.

There is a Sea Buckthorn, _Hippophoe_, which belongs to a
different natural order, _Eloeagnaceoe_, a low shrubby tree, [71]
growing on sandhills and cliffs, and called also Sallowthorn. The
fruit is made (in Tartary) into a pleasant jelly, because of its acid
flavour, and used in the Gulf of Bothnia for concocting a fish

The name signifies "giving light to a horse," being conferred
because of a supposed power to cure equine blindness; or it may
mean "shining underneath," in allusion to the silvery underside of
the leaf.

The old-fashioned Cathartic Buckthorn of our hedges and woods
has spinous thorny branchlets, from which its name, _Rhamnus_,
is thought to be derived, because the shrub is set with thorns like
as the ram. At one time this Buckthorn was a botanical puzzle,
even to Royalty, as the following lines assure us:--

    "Hicum, peridicum; all clothed in green;
    The King could not tell it, no more could the Queen;
    So they sent to consult wise men from the East.
    Who said it had horns, though it was not a beast."

BURNET SAXIFRAGE (_see_ Pimpernel).


The most common Buttercup of our fields (_Ranunculus bulbosis_)
needs no detailed description. It belongs to the order termed
_Ranunculaceoe_, so-called from the Latin _rana_, a frog,
because the several varieties of this genus grow in moist places
where frogs abound. Under the general name of Buttercups
are included the creeping Ranunculus, of moist meadows; the
_Ranunculus acris_, Hunger Weed, or Meadow Crowfoot, so named
from the shape of the leaf (each of these two being also
called King Cup), and the _Ranunculus bulbosus_ mentioned
above. "King-Cob" signifies a resemblance between the unexpanded
flowerbud and [72] a stud of gold, such as a king would
wear; so likewise the folded calyx is named Goldcup, Goldknob
and Cuckoobud. The term Buttercup has become conferred through
a mistaken notion that this flower gives butter a yellow
colour through the cows feeding on it (which is not the case),
or, perhaps, from the polished, oily surface of the petals.
The designation really signifies "button cop," or _bouton d'or_;
"the batchelor's button"; this terminal syllable, _cup_, being
corrupted from the old English word "cop," a head. It really means
"button head." The Buttercup generally is known in Wiltshire and
the adjoining counties as Crazy, or Crazies, being reckoned by
some as an insane plant calculated to produce madness; or as a
corruption of Christseye (which was the medieval name of the

A burning acridity of taste is the common characteristic of the
several varieties of the Buttercup. In its fresh state the ordinary
field Buttercup is so acrimonious that by merely pulling up the
plant by its root, and carrying it some little distance in the hand,
the palm becomes reddened and inflamed. Cows will not eat it
unless very hungry, and then the mouth of the animal becomes
sore and blistered. The leaves of the Buttercup, when bruised and
applied to the skin, produce a blistering of the outer cuticle, with a
discharge of a watery fluid, and with heat, redness, and swelling.
If these leaves are masticated in the mouth they will induce pains
like a stitch between the ribs at the side, with the sharp catchings
of neuralgic rheumatism. A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from
the bulbous Buttercup with spirit of wine, which will, as a similar,
cure _shingles_ very expeditiously, both the outbreak of
small watery pimples clustered together at the side, and the
accompanying sharp pains between the ribs. Also this tincture will
[73] promptly relieve neuralgic side-ache, and pleurisy which is of
a passive sort. From six to eight drops of the tincture may be taken
with a tablespoonful of cold water by an adult three or four times a
day for either of the aforesaid purposes. In France, this plant is
called "jaunet." Buttercups are most probably the "Cuckoo Buds"
immortalised by Shakespeare. The fresh leaves of the Crowfoot
(_Ranunculus acris_) formed a part of the famous cancer cure of
Mr. Plunkett in 1794. This cure comprised Crowfoot leaves,
freshly gathered, and dog's-foot fennel leaves, of each an ounce,
with one drachm of white arsenic levigated, and with five scruples
of flowers of sulphur, all beaten together into a paste, and dried by
the sun in balls, which were then powdered, and, being mixed with
yolk of egg, were applied on pieces of pig's bladder. The juice of
the common Buttercup (_Bulbosus_), known sometimes as "St.
Anthony's Turnip," if applied to the nostrils, will provoke
sneezing, and will relieve passive headache in this way. The leaves
have been applied as a blister to the wrists in rheumatism, and
when infused in boiling water as a poultice over the pit of the
stomach as a counter-irritant. For sciatica the tincture of the
bulbous buttercup has proved very helpful.

The _Ranunculus flammata_, Spearwort, has been used to produce
a slight blistering effect by being put under a limpet shell against
the skin of the part to be relieved, until some smarting and burning
have been sensibly produced, with incipient vesication of the
outermost skin.

The _Ranunculus Sceleratus_, Marsh Crowfoot, or Celery-leaved
Buttercup, called in France "_herbe sardonique_," and "_grenouillette
d'eau_," when made into a tincture (H.) with spirit of wine,
and given in small diluted doses, proves curative of stitch
in the side, and of neuralgic pains between the ribs, likewise of
pleurisy without [74] feverishness. The dose should be five drops
of the third decimal tincture with a spoonful of water every three
or four hours. This plant grows commonly at the sides of our
pools, and in wet ditches, bearing numerous small yellow flowers,
with petals scarcely longer than the calyx.


"The time has come," as the walrus said in _Alice and the Looking
Glass_, "to talk of many things"--

    "Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax; of _Cabbages_, and

The Cabbage, which is fabled to have sprung from the tears of the
Spartan lawgiver, Lycurgus, began as the Colewort, and was for
six hundred years, according to Pliny and Cato, the only internal
remedy used by the Romans. The Ionians had such a veneration
for Cabbages that they swore by them, just as the Egyptians did by
the onion. With ourselves, the wild Cabbage, growing on our
English sea cliffs, is the true Collet, or Colewort, from which have
sprung all our varieties of Cabbage--cauliflower, greens, broccoli,
etc. No vegetables were grown for the table in England before the
time of Henry the Eighth. In the thirteenth century it was the
custom to salt vegetables because they were so scarce; and in the
sixteenth century a Cabbage from Holland was deemed a choice

The whole tribe of Cabbages is named botanically _Brassicaceoe--
apo tou brassein_--because they heat, or ferment.

By natural order they are cruciferous plants; and all contain much
nitrogen, or vegetable albumen, with a considerable quantity of
sulphur; hence they tend strongly to putrefaction, and when
decomposed their odour is very offensive. Being cut into pieces,
and pressed close in a tub with aromatic herbs and salt, so as to
undergo an acescent fermentation (which is [75] arrested at that
stage), Cabbages form the German _Saurkraut_, which is strongly
recommended against scurvy. The white Cabbage is most putrescible;
the red most emollient and pectoral. The juice of the red
cabbage made into syrup, without any condiments, is useful in
chronic coughs, and in bronchial asthma. The leaves of the
common white Cabbage, when gently bruised and applied to a
blistered surface, will promote a free discharge, as also when laid
next the skin in dropsy of the ankles. All the Coleworts are called
"Crambe," from _krambos_, dry, because they dispel drunkenness.

"There is," says an old author, "a natural enmitie between the
Colewort and the vine, which is such that the vine, if growing near
unto it, withereth and perisheth; yea, if wine be poured into the
Colewort while it is boiling, it will not be any more boiled, and the
colour thereof will be quite altered." The generic term Colewort is
derived from _caulis_, a stalk, and _wourte_, as applied to all
kinds of herbs that "do serve for the potte." "Good worts,"
exclaimed Falstaff, catching at Evans' faulty pronunciation of
_words_,--"good worts,"--"good cabbages." An Irish cure for sore
throat is to tie Cabbage leaves round it; and the same remedy is
applied in England with hot Cabbage leaves for a swollen face. In
the Island of Jersey coarse Cabbages are grown abundantly on
patches of roadside ground, and in corners of fields, the stalks of
which attain the height of eight, ten, or more feet, and are used for
making walking sticks or _cannes en tiges de choux_. These are in
great demand on the island, and are largely exported. It may be
that a specially tall cabbage of this sort gave rise to the Fairy tale
of "Jack and the bean stalk." The word Cabbage bears reference
[76] to _caba (caput)_, a head, as signifying a Colewort which
forms a round head. _Kohl rabi_, from _caulo-rapum_, cabbage
turnip, is a name given to the _Brassica oleracea_. In 1595 the sum
of twenty shillings was paid for six Cabbages and a few carrots, at
the port of Hull, by the purveyor to the Clifford family.

The red Cabbage is thought in France to be highly anti-scorbutic;
and a syrup is made from it with this purpose in view. The juice of
white Cabbage leaves will cure warts.

The _Brassica oleracea_ is one of the plants used in Count
Mattaei's vaunted nostrum, "anti-scrofuloso." This, the sea
Cabbage, with its pale clusters of handsome yellow flowers, is
very ornamental to our cliffs. Its leaves, which are conspicuously
purple, have a bitter taste when uncooked, but become palatable
for boiling if first repeatedly washed; and they are sold at Dover as
a market vegetable. These should be boiled in two waters, of
which the first will be made laxative, and the second, or thicker
decoction, astringent, which fact was known to Hippocrates, who
said "_jus caulis solvit cujus substantia stringit_."

Sir Anthony Ashley brought the Cabbage into English cultivation.
It is said a Cabbage is sculptured at his feet on his monument in
Wimbourne Minster, Dorset. He imported the Cabbage (Cale)
from Cadiz (Cales), where he held a command, and grew rich by
seizing other men's possessions, notably by appropriating some
jewels entrusted to his care by a lady. Hence he is said to have got
more by Cales (Cadiz) than by Cale (Cabbage); and this is,
perhaps, the origin of our term "to cabbage." Among tailors, this
phrase "to cabbage" is a cant saying which means to filch the cloth
when cutting out for a customer. Arbuthnot writes "Your [77]
tailor, instead of shreds, cabbages whole yards of cloth." Perhaps
the word comes from the French _cabasser_, to put into a basket.

From the seed of the wild Cabbage (Rape, or Navew) rape-seed oil
is extracted, and the residue is called rape-cake, or oil-cake.

Some years ago it was customary to bake bread-rolls wrapped in
Cabbage leaves, for imparting what was considered an agreeable
flavour. John Evelyn said: "In general, Cabbages are thought to
allay fumes, and to prevent intoxication; but some will have them
noxious to the sight." After all it must be confessed the Cabbage is
greatly to be accused for lying undigested in the stomach, and for
provoking eructations; which makes one wonder at the veneration
the ancients had for it, calling the tribe divine, and swearing _per
brassicam_, which was for six hundred years held by the Romans
a panacea: though "_Dis crambee thanatos_"--"Death by twice
Cabbage"--was a Greek proverb. Gerard says the Greeks called
the Cabbage Amethustos, "not only because it driveth away
drunkennesse; but also for that it is like in colour to the pretious
stone called the amethyst." The Cabbage was Pompey's best
beloved dish. To make a winter salad it is customary in America to
choose a firm white Cabbage, and to shred it very fine, serving it
with a dressing of plain oil and vinegar. This goes by the name of
"slaw," which has a Dutch origin.

The free presence of hydrogen and sulphur causes a very strong
and unpleasant smell to pervade the house during the cooking of
Cabbages. Nevertheless, this sulphur is a very salutary constituent
of the vegetable, most useful in scurvy and scrofula. Partridge and
Cabbage suit the patrician table; bacon and Cabbage [78] better
please the taste and the requirements of the proletarian. The
nitrogen of this and other cruciferous plants serves to make them
emit offensive stinks when they lie out of doors and rot.

For the purulent scrofulous ophthalmic inflammation of infants, by
cleansing the eyes thoroughly every half-hour with warm water,
and then packing the sockets each time with fresh Cabbage leaves
cleaned and bruised to a soft pulp, the flow of matter will be
increased for a few days, but a cure will be soon effected. Pliny
commended the juice of the raw Cabbage with a little honey for
sore and inflamed eyes which were moist and weeping, but not for
those which were dry and dull.

In Kent and Sussex, when a Cabbage is cut and the stalk left in the
ground to produce "greens" for the table, a cottager will carve an x
on the top flat surface of the upright stalk, and thus protect it
against mischievous garden sprites and demons.

Some half a century ago medical apprentices were taught the art of
blood-letting by practising with a lancet on the prominent veins of
a Cabbage leaf.

Carlyle said "of all plants the Cabbage grows fastest to
completion." His parable of the oak and the Cabbage conveys the
lesson that those things which are most richly endowed when they
come to perfection, are the slowest in their production and


The _Capsicum_, or Bird Pepper, or Guinea Pepper, is a native of
tropical countries; but it has been cultivated throughout Great
Britain as a stove plant for so many years (since the time
of Gerard, 1636) as to have become practically indigenous.
Moreover, its fruit-pods are so highly useful, whether as a
condiment, or as a medicine, [79] no apology is needed for
including it among serviceable Herbal Simples. The Cayenne
pepper of our tables is the powdered fruit of Bird Pepper, a variety
of the Capsicum plant, and belonging likewise to the order of
Solanums; whilst the customary "hot" pickle which we take with
our cold meats is prepared from another variety of the Capsicum
plant called "Chilies." This plant--the Bird Pepper--exercises an
important medicinal action, which has only been recently
recognized by doctors. The remarkable success which has attended
the use of Cayenne pepper as a substitute for alcohol with hard
drinkers, and as a valuable drug in _delirium tremens_, has lately
led physicians to regard the Capsicum as a highly useful,
stimulating, and restorative medicine. For an intemperate person,
who really desires to wean himself from taking spirituous liquors,
and yet feels to need a substitute at first, a mixture of tincture of
Capsicum with tincture of orange peel and water will answer very
effectually, the doses being reduced in strength and frequency
from day to day. In _delirium tremens_, if the tincture of
Capsicum be given in doses of half-a-dram well diluted with
water, it will reduce the tremor and agitation in a few hours,
inducing presently a calm prolonged sleep. At the same time the
skin will become warm, and will perspire naturally; the pulse will
fall in quickness, but whilst regaining fulness and volume; and the
kidneys, together with the bowels, will act freely.

Chemically the plant furnishes an essential oil with a crystalline
principle, "capsicin," of great power. This oil may be taken
remedially in doses of from half to one drop rubbed up with some
powdered white sugar, and mixed with a wineglassful of hot

The medicinal tincture is made with sixteen grains of [80] the
powdered Capsicum to a fluid ounce of spirit of wine; and the
dose of this tincture is from five to twenty drops with one or two
tablespoonfuls of water. In the smaller doses it serves admirably to
relieve pains in the loins when depending on a sluggish inactivity
of the kidneys. Unbroken chilblains may be readily cured by
rubbing them once a day with a piece of sponge saturated with the
tincture of Capsicum until a strong tingling is induced. In the early
part of the present century, a medicine of Capsicum with salt was
famous for curing severe influenza with putrid sore throat. Two
dessert spoonfuls of small red pepper; or three of ordinary cayenne
pepper, were beaten together with two of fine salt, into a paste,
and with half-a-pint of boiling water added thereto. Then the
liquor was strained off when cold, and half-a-pint of very sharp
vinegar was mixed with it, a tablespoonful of the united mixture
being given to an adult every half, or full hour, diluted with water
if too strong. For inflammation of the eyes, with a relaxed state of
the membranes covering the eyeballs and lining the lids, the
diluted juice of the Capsicum is a sovereign remedy. Again, for
toothache from a decayed molar, a small quantity of cayenne
pepper introduced into the cavity will often give immediate relief.
The tincture or infusion given in small doses has proved useful to
determine outwardly the eruption of measles and scarlet fever,
when imperfectly developed because of weakness. Also for a
scrofulous discharge of matter from the ears, Capsicum tincture, of
a weak strength, four drops with a tablespoonful of cold water
three times a day, to a child, will prove curative.

A Capsicum ointment, or "Chili paste," scarcely ever fails to
relieve chronic rheumatism when rubbed in [81] topically for ten
minutes at a time with a gloved hand; and an application
afterwards of dry heat will increase the redness and warmth, which
persist for some while, and are renewed by walking. This ointment,
or paste, is made of the Oleo-resin--Capsicin--half-an-ounce,
and Lanolin five ounces, the unguent being melted, and, after
adding the Capsicin, letting them be stirred together until
cold. The powder or tincture of Capsicum will give energy to a
languid digestion, and will correct the flatulency often incidental
to a vegetable diet. Again, a gargle containing Capsicum in a
proper measure will afford prompt relief in many forms of sore
throat, both by its stimulating action, and by virtue of its special
affinities (H.); this particularly holds good for a relaxed state of
the throat, the uvula, and the tonsils. Cayenne pepper is employed
in the adulteration of gin.

The "Peter Piper" of our young memories took pickled pepper by
the peck. He must have been a Homoeopathic prover with a
vengeance; but has left no useful record of his experiments--the
more's the pity--for our guidance when prescribing its diluted


The common Caraway is a herb of the umbelliferous order found
growing on many waste places in England, though not a true
native of Great Britain. Its well-known aromatic seeds should be
always at hand in the cupboard of every British housewife. The
plant got its name from inhabiting Caria, a province of Asia
Minor. It is now cultivated for commerce in Kent and Essex; and
the essential oil distilled from the home grown fruit is preferred in
this country. The medicinal properties of the Caraway are cordial
and comforting to [82] the stomach in colic and in flatulent
indigestion; for which troubles a dose of from two to four drops of
the essential oil of Caraway may be given on a lump of sugar, or
in a teaspoonful of hot water.

For earache, in some districts the country people pound up the
crumb of a loaf hot from the oven, together with a handful of
bruised Caraway seeds; then wetting the whole with some spirit,
they apply it to the affected part. The plant has been long
naturalised in England, and was known here in Shakespeare's time,
who mentions it in the second part of _Henry IV_. thus: "Come,
cousin Silence! we will eat a pippin of last year's graffing, with a
dish of Caraways; and then to bed!" The seeds grow numerously
in the small flat flowers placed thickly together on each floral
plateau, or umbel, and are best known to us in seed cake, and in
Caraway comfits. They are really the dried fruit, and possess,
when rubbed in a mortar, a warm aromatic taste, with a fragrant
spicy smell. Caraway comfits consist of these fruits encrusted with
white sugar; but why the wife of a comfit maker should be given
to swearing, as Shakespeare avers, it is not easy to see. The young
roots of Caraway plants may be sent to table like parsnips; they
warm and stimulate a cold languid stomach. These mixed with
milk and made into bread, formed the _chara_ of Julius Caesar,
eaten by the soldiers of Valerius. Chemically the volatile
oil obtained from Caraway seeds consists of "carvol," and a
hydro-carbon, "carvene," which is a sort of "camphor." Dioscorides
long ago advised the oil for pale-faced girls; and modern ladies
have not disregarded the counsel.

From six pounds of the unbruised seeds, four ounces of the pure
essential oil can be expressed. In Germany the peasants flavour
their cheese, soups, and household [83] bread--jager--with the
Caraway; and this is not a modern custom, for an old Latin author
says: _Semina carui satis communiter adhibentur ad condiendum
panem; et rustica nostrates estant jusculum e pane, seminibus
carui, et cerevisâ coctum_.

The Russians and Germans make from Caraways a favourite
liqueur "Kummel," and the Germans add them as a flavouring
condiment to their sawerkraut. In France Caraways enter into the
composition of _l'huile de Venus_, and of other renowned

An ounce of the bruised seeds infused for six hours in a pint of
cold water makes a good Caraway julep for infants, from one to
three teaspoonfuls for a dose, It "consumeth winde, and is
delightful to the stomack; the powdered seed put into a poultice
taketh away blacke and blew spots of blows and bruises." "The oil,
or seeds of Caraway do sharpen vision, and promote the secretion
of milk." Therefore dimsighted men and nursing mothers may
courageously indulge in seed cake!

The name Caraway comes from the Gaelic _Caroh_, a ship, because
of the shape which the fruit takes. By cultivation the root
becomes more succulent, and the fruit larger, whilst more oily, and
therefore acquiring an increase of aromatic taste and odour. In
Germany the seeds are given for hysterical affections, being finely
powdered and mixed with ginger and salt to spread with butter on
bread. As a draught for flatulent colic twenty grains of the
powdered seeds may be taken with two teaspoonfuls of sugar in a
wineglassful of hot water. Caraway-seed cake was formerly a
standing institution at the feasts given by farmers to their labourers
at the end of wheat sowing. But narcotic effects have been known
to follow the chewing of Caraway seeds in a large quantity, such
as three ounces at a time.

[84] As regards its stock of honey the Caraway may be termed,
like Uriah Heep, and in a double sense, "truly umbel." The
diminutive florets on its flat disk are so shallow that lepidopterous
and hymenopterous insects, with their long proboses, stand no
chance of getting a meal. They fare as poorly as the stork did in
the fable, whom the fox invited to dinner served on a soup plate.
As Sir John Lubbock has shown, out of fifty-five visitants to the
Caraway plant for nectar, one moth, nine bees, twenty-one flies,
and twenty-four miscellaneous midges constituted the dinner


No Simple in the whole catalogue of herbal medicines is possessed
of a quality more friendly and beneficial to the intestines than
"Chamomile flowers." This herb was well known to the Greeks,
who thought it had an odour like that of apples, and therefore they
named it "Earth Apple," from two of their words, _kamai_--on the
ground, and _melon_--an apple. The Spaniards call it _Manzanilla_,
from a little apple, and they give the same name to one of
their lightest sherries flavoured with this plant. The flowers,
or "blows" of the Chamomile belong to the daisy genus, having an
outer fringe of white ray florets, with a central yellow disk, in
which lies the chief medicinal virtue of the plant. In the cultivated
Chamomile the white petals increase, while the yellow centre
diminishes; thus it is that the curative properties of the wild
Chamomile are the more powerful. The true Chamomile is to be
distinguished from the bitter Chamomile (_matricaria chamomilla_)
which has weaker properties, and grows erect, with several
flowers at a level on the same stalk. The true Chamomile
grows prostrate, and produces but [85] one flower (with a convex,
not conical, yellow disk) from each stem, whilst its leaves are
divided into hair-like segments. The flowers exhale a powerful
aromatic smell, and present a peculiar bitter to the taste. When
distilled with water they yield a small quantity of most useful
essential oil, which, if fresh and good, is always of a bluish colour.
It should be green or blue, and not faded to yellow. This oil is a
mixture of ethers, among which "chamomilline," or the valerianate
of butyl, predominates. Medicinally it serves to lower nervous
excitability reflected from some organ in trouble, but remote from
the part where the pain is actually felt; so it is very useful for
such spasmodic coughs as are due to indigestion; also for distal
neuralgia, pains in the head or limbs from the same cause, and for
nervous colic bowels. The oil may be given in doses of from two
to four drops on a lump of sugar, or in a dessert-spoonful of milk.
An officinal tincture (_Tinctura anthemidis_) is made from the
flowers of the true Chamomile (_Anthemis nobilis_) with rectified
spirit of wine. The dose of this is from three to ten drops with a
spoonful of water. It serves usefully to correct the summer
diarrhoea of children, or that which occurs during teething, when
the stools are green, slimy and particoloured. The true Chamomile,
the bitter Chamomile, and the Feverfew, are most obnoxious to
flies and mosquitoes. An infusion of their respective leaves in
spirit will, if used as a wash to the face, arms, or any exposed part
of the body, protect effectually from all attack by these petty foes,
which are quaintly described in an old version of our Bible as "the
pestilence that walketh in the darkness, and the bug that destroyeth
at noonday." Chamomile tea is an excellent stomachic when taken
in moderate doses of half-a-teacupful at a [86] time. It should be
made by pouring half-a-pint of boiling water on half-an-ounce of
the dried flower heads, and letting this stand for fifteen minutes, A
special tincture (H.) of Chammomilla is made from the bitter
Chamomile (_Matricaria_), which, when given in small doses of
three or four drops in a dessertspoonful of cold water every hour,
will signally relieve severe neuralgic pains, particularly if they are
aggravated at night. Likewise this remedy will quickly cure
restlessness and fretfulness in children from teething, and who
refuse to be soothed save by being carried about.

The name, _Matricaria_, of the bitter Chamomile is derived from
_mater cara_, "beloved mother," because the herb is dedicated to
St. Anne, the reputed mother of the Virgin Mary, or from matrix,
as meaning "the womb." This herb may be known from the true
Chamomile because having a large, yellow, conical disk, and no
scales on the receptacles.

Chamomile tea is also an excellent drink for giving to aged
persons an hour or more before dinner. Francatelli directs that it
should be made thus: "Put about thirty flowers into a jug, and pour
a pint of boiling water on them; cover up the tea, and when it has
stood for about ten minutes pour it off from the flowers into
another jug, and sweeten with sugar or honey." A teacupful of this
Chamomile tea, into which is stirred a large dessertspoonful of
moist sugar, with a little grated ginger added, will answer the
purpose now indicated. For outward application, to relieve
inflammatory pains, or congestive neuralgia, hot fomentations
made of the infused Chamomile "blows" are invaluable. Bags may
be loosely stuffed with the flowers, and steeped well in boiling
water before being applied. But for internal use the infusion and
the extract of the herb are comparatively [87] useless, because
much of the volatile essential oil is dissipated by boiling, or by dry
heat. This oil made into pills with bread crumbs, and given whilst
fasting two hours before a meal, will effectually dispel intestinal
worms. True Chamomile flowers may be known from spurious
ones (of the Feverfew) which have no bracts on the receptacle
when the florets are removed.

It is remarkable that each Chamomile is a plant Physician, as
nothing contributes so much to the health of a garden as a number
of Chamomile herbs dispersed about it. Singularly enough, if
another plant is drooping, and apparently dying, in nine cases out
of ten it will recover if you place a herb of Chamomile near it.

The stinking Chamomile (_Anthemis cotula_) or Mayweed, grows
in cornfields, having a foetid smell, and often blistering the hand
which gathers it. Another name which it bears is "dog's fennel,"
because of the disagreeable odour, and the leaf resembling fennel.
Similar uses may be made of it as with the other Chamomiles, but
less effectively. It has solitary flowers with erect stems.

Dr. Schall declares that the Chamomile is not only a preventive of
nightmare, but the sole certain remedy for this complaint. As a
carminative injection for tiresome flatulence, it has been found
eminently beneficial to employ Chamomile flowers boiled in tripe
broth, and strained through a cloth, and with a few drops of the oil
of Aniseed added to the decoction.

Falstaffe says in _Henry IV_.: "Though Chamomile, the more it is
trodden on the faster it grows; yet youth, the more it is wasted the
sooner it wears." For coarse feeders and drunkards Chamomile is
peculiarly suitable. Its infusion will cut short an attack of delirium
tremens in the early stage. Gerard found the oil of the flowers [88]
a remedy against all weariness; and quaint old Culpeper reminds
us that the Egyptians dedicated the Chamomile to the sun because
it cured agues. He slyly adds: "They were like enough to do it, for
they were the arrantest apes in their religion I ever read of."


Our garden Carrot, or Dauke, is a cultivated variety of the
_Dalucus sylvestris_, or wild carrot, an umbelliferous plant, which
groweth of itself in untoiled places, and is called _philtron_,
because it serveth for love matters. This wild Carrot may be found
abundantly in our fields and on the sea shore; the term Carrot
being Celtic, and signifying "red of colour," or perhaps derived
from caro, flesh, because this is a fleshy vegetable. Daucus is from
the Greek _daio_, to burn, on account of the pungent and
stimulating qualities. It is common also on our roadsides, being
popularly known as "Bee's nest," because the stems of its
flowering head, or umbel, form a concave semi-circle, or nest,
which bees, when belated from the hive will use as a dormitory.
The small purple flower which grows in the middle of the umbel
has been found beneficial for the cure of epilepsy. The juice of the
Carrot contains "carotine" in red crystals; also pectin, albumen,
and a particular volatile oil, on which the medicinal properties of
the root depend. The seeds are warm and aromatic to the taste,
whilst they are slightly diuretic. A tea made from the whole plant,
and taken each night and morning, is excellent when the lithic
acid, or gouty disposition prevails, with the deposit of a brick-dust
sediment in the urine on its becoming cool.

The chief virtues of Carrots lie in the strong antiseptic qualities
they possess, which prevent all putrescent [89] changes within the
body. In Suffolk they were given long since as a secret specific for
preserving and restoring the wind of horses, but cows if fed long
on them will make bloody urine. Wild Carrots are superior
medicinally to those of the cultivated kind. Carrot sugar got from
the inspissated juice of the roots may be used at table, and is good
for the coughs of consumptive children. The seeds of the wild
Carrot were formerly esteemed as a specific remedy for jaundice;
and in Savoy the peasants now give an infusion of the roots for the
same purpose; whilst this infusion has served to prevent stone in
the bladder throughout several years when the patient had been
previously subject to frequent attacks.

Carrots boiled sufficiently, and mashed into a pulp, when applied
directly to a putrid, indolent sore, will sweeten and heal it. The
Carrot poultice was first used by Sulzer for mitigating the pain,
and correcting the stench of foul ulcers. Raw scraped Carrot is
an excellent plaster for chapped nipples. At Vichy, where
derangements of the liver and of the biliary digestion are
particularly treated, Carrots in one or another form are served at
every meal, whether in soup, or as a vegetable; and considerable
efficacy of cure is attributed to them. In the time of Parkinson
(1640) the leaves of the Carrot were thought to be so ornamental
that ladies wore them as a head-dress instead of feathers. A good
British wine may be brewed from the roots of the Carrot; and very
tolerable bread may be prepared for travellers from these roots
when dried and powdered. Pectic acid can be extracted by the
chemist from Carrots, which will solidify plain sugared water into
a wholesome appetising jelly. One part of this pectic acid
dissolved in a little hot water, and added to make three hundred
parts of warm water, [90] is soon converted into a mass of
trembling jelly. The yellow core of the Carrot is the part which is
difficult of digestion with some persons, not the outer red layer.
Before the French Revolution the sale of Carrots and oranges was
prohibited in the Dutch markets, because of the unpopular
aristocratic colour of these commodities. In one thousand parts of
a Carrot there are ninety-five of sugar, and (according to some
chemists) only three of starch. In country districts raw Carrots are
sometimes given to children for expelling worms, probably
because the vegetable matter passes mechanically through the
body unchanged, and scours it. "Remember, William," says Sir
Hugh Evans in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, "Focative is
Caret," "and that" replies Mrs. Quickly, "is a good root."

    "The man in the moon drinks claret,
        But he is a dull Jack-a-dandy;
    Would he know a sheep's head from a Carrot
        He should learn to drink cider and brandy."
            Song of Mad Tom in _Midsummer Night's Dream_.

CELANDINE (Greater, and Lesser).

This latter flower is a conspicuous herald of spring, which is
strikingly welcome to everyone living in the country throughout
England, and a stranger to none. The Pilewort, or lesser Celandine,
bespangles all our banks with its brilliant, glossy, golden stars,
coming into blossom on or about March 7th, St. Perpetua's day.
They are a timely tocsin for five o'clock tea, because punctually at
that hour they shut up their showy petals until 9.0 a.m. on the
following morning. The well-known little herb, with its heart-shaped
leaves, is a Ranunculus, and bears the affix _ficaria_ from
its curative value in the malady called _ficus_--a "red sore in the
fundament". (Littleton, 1684).

[91] The popular title, Pilewort, from _Pila_, a ball, was probably
first acquired because, after the doctrine of signatures, the small
oval tubercles attached to its stringy roots were supposed to
resemble and to cure piles. Nevertheless, it has been since proved
practically that the whole plant, when bruised and made into an
ointment with fresh lard, is really useful for healing piles; as
likewise when applied to the part in the form of a poultice or hot
fomentation. "There be those also who thinke that if the herbe be
but carried about by one that hath the piles the paine forthwith
ceaseth." It has sometimes happened that the small white tubercles
collected about the roots of the plant, when washed bare by heavy
rains, and lying free on the ground, have given rise to a supposed
shower of wheat. After flowering the Pilewort withdraws its
substance of leaf and stem into a small rounded tube underground,
so as to withstand the heat of summer, and the cold of the
subsequent winter.

With the acrid juice of this herb, and of others belonging to the
same Ranunculous order, beggars in England used to produce
sores about their body for the sake of exciting pity, and getting
alms. They afterwards cured these sores by applying fresh mullein
leaves to heal them. The lesser Celandine furnishes a golden
yellow volatile oil, which is readily converted into anemonic acid.

Wordsworth specially loved this lesser Celandine, and turned his
lyre to sing its praises:--

    "There is a flower that shall be mine,
    'Tis the little Celandine;
    I will sing as doth behove
    Hymns in praise of what I love."

In token of which affectionate regard these flowers have been
carved on the white marble of his tomb.

[92] The greater Celandine, or _Coeli donum_ (_Chelidonium
majus_), though growing freely in our waste places and hedgerows,
is, perhaps, scarcely so well known as its diminutive namesake.
Yet most persons acquainted with our ordinary rural plants
have repeatedly come across this conspicuous herb, which
exudes a bright yellow juice when bruised. It has sharply cut vivid
leaves of a dull green, with a small blossom of brilliant yellow,
and is not altogether unlike a buttercup, though growing to the
height of a couple of feet. But this Celandine belongs to the Poppy
tribe, whilst the Buttercup is a Ranunculus. The technical name of
the greater Celandine (_Chelidonium_) comes from the Greek
word _Chelidon_, a swallow, because of an ancient tradition that
the bird makes use of this herb to open the eyes of its young, or to
restore their sight when it has been lost:--

    "Caecatis pullis hâc lumina mater hirundo
    (Plinius ut scripsit) quamvis sint eruta, reddit."

The ancients entertained a strong belief that birds are gifted with a
knowledge of herbs; the woodpecker, for instance, seeking out the
Springwort to remove obstructions, and the linnet making use of
the Eyebright to restore its vision.

Queen Elizabeth in the forty-sixth year of her age was attacked
with such a grievous toothache that she could obtain no rest by
night or day because of the torture she endured. The lords of her
council decided on sending for an "outlandish physician" named
Penatus, who was famous for curing this agonising pain. He
advised that when all was said and done, if the tooth was hollow, it
were best to have it drawn; but as Her Majesty could not bring
herself to submit to the use of [93] chirugical instruments, he
suggested that the _Chelidonius major_--our greater Celandine--
should be put into the tooth, and this stopped with wax, which
would so loosen the tooth that in a short time it might be pulled
out with the fingers. Aylmer, Bishop of London, tried to
encourage the Queen by telling her that though he was an old man,
and had not many teeth to spare, she should see a practical
experiment made on himself. Thereupon he bade the surgeon who
was in attendance extract one of his teeth in Her Majesty's

This plant, the _Chelidonium majus_, is still used in Suffolk for
toothache by way of fomentation. It goes also by the name of
"Fenugreek" (_Foenum Groecum_), Yellow Spit, Grecian Hay,
and by that of Tetterwort. The root contains chemically "chelidonin"
and "sanguinarin."

On the doctrine of signatures the herb, because of its bright
orange-coloured juice, was formerly believed to be curative of
jaundice. A medicinal tincture (H.) made from the entire plant
with spirit of wine is at the present time held in high esteem by
many physicians for overcoming torpid conditions of the liver. Eight
or ten drops of this tincture, or of the fresh juice of the plant,
may be given for a dose three times in the day in sweetened water
when bilious yellowness of the skin is present, with itching, and
with clayey stools, dark thick urine, constipation, and a pain in the
right shoulder; also for neuralgia of the head and face on the right
side. It is certainly remarkable that though the fanciful theory of
choosing curative plants by their signatures has been long since
exploded, yet doctors of to-day select several yellow medicines for
treating biliary disorders--to wit, this greater Celandine with its
ochreous juice; the Yellow Barberry; the Dandelion; [94] the
Golden Seal (Hydrastis); the Marigold; Orange; Saffron; and
Tomato. Animals poisoned by the greater Celandine have developed
active and pernicious congestion of the lungs and liver.
Clusius found by experience that the juice of the greater
Celandine, when squeezed into small green wounds of what sort
so ever, wonderfully cured them. "If the juice to the bigness of a
pin's head be dropped into the eye in the morning in bed, it takes
away outward specks, and stops incipient suffusions." Also if the
yellow juice is applied to warts, or to corns, first gently scraped,
it will cure them promptly and painlessly. The greater Celandine is
by genus closely allied to the horned Poppy which grows so
abundantly on our coasts. Its tincture given in small doses proves
of considerable service in whooping-cough when very spasmodic.

Curious remedies for this complaint have found rustic favour: in
Yorkshire owl broth is considered to be a specific; again in
Gloucestershire a roasted mouse is given to be eaten by the
patient; and in Staffordshire the child is made to look at the new
moon whilst the right hand of the nurse is rubbed up and down its
bare belly.


The Parsleys are botanically named _Selinon_, and by some verbal
accident, through the middle letter "n" in this word being changed
into "r," making it _Seliron_, or, in the Italian, Celeri, our Celery
(which is a Parsley) obtained its title. It is a cultivated variety of
the common Smallage (_Small ache_) or wild Celery (_Apium
graveolens_), which grows abundantly in moist English ditches, or
in water. This is an umbelliferous herb, unwholesome as a food,
and having a coarse root, with [95] a fetid smell. But, like many
others of the same natural order, when transplanted into the
garden, and bleached, it becomes aromatic and healthful, making
an excellent condimentary vegetable. But more than this, the
cultivated Celery may well take rank as a curative Herbal Simple.
Dr. Pereira has shown us that it contains sulphur (a known
preventive of rheumatism) as freely as do the cruciferous plants,
Mustard, and the Cresses. In 1879, Mr. Gibson Ward, then
President of the Vegetarian Society, wrote some letters to the
Times, which commanded much attention, about Celery as a food
and a medicament. "Celery," said he, "when cooked, is a very fine
dish, both as a nutriment and as a purifier of the blood; I will not
attempt to enumerate all the marvellous cures I have made with
Celery, lest medical men should be worrying me _en masse_. Let
me fearlessly say that rheumatism is impossible on this diet; and
yet English doctors in 1876 allowed rheumatism to kill three
thousand six hundred and forty human beings, every death being
as unnecessary as is a dirty face."

The seeds of our Sweet Celery are carminative, and act on the
kidneys. An admirable tincture is made from these seeds, when
bruised, with spirit of wine; of which a teaspoonful may be taken
three times a day, with a spoonful or two of water. The root of the
Wild Celery, Smallage, or Marsh Parsley, was reckoned, by the
ancients, one of the five great aperient roots, and was employed in
their diet drinks. The Great Parsley is the Large Age, or Large
Ache; as a strange inconsistency the Romans adorned the heads of
their guests, and the tombs of their dead with crowns of the
Smallage. Our cultivated Celery is a capital instance of fact that
most of the poisonous plants call, by [96] human ingenuity, be so
altered in character as to become eminently serviceable for food or
medicine. Thus, the Wild Celery, which is certainly poisonous
when growing exposed to daylight, becomes most palatable, and
even beneficial, by having its edible leaf stalks earthed up and
bleached during their time of cultivation.

Dr. Pereira says the digestibility of Celery is increased by its
maceration in vinegar. As taken at table, Celery possesses certain
qualities which tend to soothe nervous irritability, and to relieve
sick headaches. "This herb Celery [Sellery] is for its high and
grateful taste," says John Evelyn, in his _Acetaria_, "ever placed
in the middle of the grand sallet at our great men's tables, and our
Praetor's feasts, as the grace of the whole board." It contains some
sugar and a volatile odorous principle, which in the wild plant
smells and tastes strongly and disagreeably. The characteristic
odour and flavour of the cultivated plant are due to this essential
oil, which has now become of modified strength and qualities; also
when freshly cut it affords albumen, starch, mucilage, and mineral
matter. Why Celery accompanies cheese at the end of dinner it is
not easy to see. This is as much a puzzle as why sucking pig and
prune sauce should be taken in combination,--of which delicacies
James Bloomfield Rush, the Norwich murderer, desired that plenty
should be served for his supper the night before he was hanged, on
April 20th, 1849.


Of all the bitter appetising herbs which grow in our fields and
hedgerows, and which serve as excellent simple tonics, the
Centaury, particularly its white flowered variety, belonging to the
Gentian order of [97] plants, is the most efficacious. It shares in an
abundant measure the restorative antiseptic virtues of the Field
Gentian and the Buckbean. There are four wild varieties of the
Centaury, square stemmed, and each bearing flat tufts of flowers
which are more or less rose coloured. The ancients named this
bitter plant the Gall of the Earth, and it is now known as Christ's
Ladder, or Felwort.

Though growing commonly in dry pastures, in woods, and on
chalky cliffs, yet the Centaury cannot be reared in a garden. Of old
its tribe was called "Chironia," after Chiron, the Greek Centaur,
well skilled in herbal physic; and most probably the name of our
English plant was thus originated. But the Germans call the Centaury
_Tausendgulden kraut_--"the herb of a thousand florins,"--either
because of its medicinal value, or as a corruption of _Centum
aureum_, "a hundred golden sovereigns." Centaury has become
popularly reduced in Worcestershire to Centre of the Sun.
Its generic adjective "erythroea" signifies red. The flowers
open only in fine weather, and not after twelve o'clock (noon) in
the day. Chemically the herb contains erythrocentaurin--a bitter
principle of compound character,--together with the usual herbal
constituents, but with scarcely any tannin. The tops of the
Centaury, especially of that _flore albo_--with the light coloured
petals--are given in infusion, or in powder, or when made into an
extract. For languid digestion, with heartburn after food, and a
want of appetite, the infusion prepared with cold water, an ounce
of the herb to a pint is best; but for muscular rheumatism the
infusion should be made with boiling water. A wineglass of either
will be the proper dose, two or three times a day.

[98] CHERRY.

The wild Cherry (_Cerasus_), which occurs of two distinct kinds,
has by budding and grafting begotten most of our finest garden
fruits of its genus. The name _Cerasus _was derived from
Kerasous, a city of Cappadocia, where the fruit was plentiful.
According to Pliny, Cherries were first brought to Rome by
Lucullus after his great victory over Mithridates, 89 B.C. The
cultivated Cherry disappeared in this country during the Saxon
period, and was not re-introduced until the reign of Henry VIII.
The _Cerasus sylvestris _is a wild Cherry tree rising to the height
of thirty or forty feet, and producing innumerable small globose
fruits; whilst the _Cerasus vulgaris_, another wild Cherry, is a
mere shrub, called _Cerevisier_ in France, of which the fruit is
sour and bitter. Cherry stones have been found in the primitive
lake dwellings of Western Switzerland. There is a tradition that
Christ gave a Cherry to St. Peter, admonishing him not to despise
little things. In the time of Charles the First, Herrick, the
clergyman poet, wrote a simple song, to which our well-known
pretty "Cherry Ripe" has been adapted:--

    "Cherry ripe! ripe! I cry,
    Full and fair ones I come, and buy!
    If so be you ask me where
    They do grow: I answer there
    Where my Julia's lips do smile,
    There's the land: a cherry isle."

"Cherries on the ryse" (or, on twigs) was well known as a London
street cry in the fifteenth century; but these were probably the
fruit of the wild Cherry, or Gean tree. In France soup made from
Cherries, and taken with bread, is the common sustenance of the
wood cutters and charcoal burners of the forest during the [99]
winter. The French distil from Cherries a liqueur named _Eau de
Cerises_, or, in German, _Kirschwasser_; whilst the Italians
prepare from a Cherry called _Marusca_ the liqueur noted as
_Marasquin_. Cherries termed as Mazzards are grown in Devon
and Cornwall, A gum exudes from the bark of the Cherry tree
which is equal in value to gum arabic. A caravan going from
Ethiopia to Egypt, says Husselquist, and a garrison of more than
two hundred men during a siege which lasted two months, were
kept alive with no other food than this gum, "which they sucked
often and slowly." It is known chemically as "cerasin," and differs
from gum acacia in being less soluble.

The leaves of the tree and the kernels of the fruit contain a basis
of prussic acid.

The American wild Cherry (_Prunus virginiana_) yields from its
bark a larger quantity of the prussic acid principle, which is
sedative to the nervous centres, and also some considerable tannin.
As an infusion, or syrup, or vegetable extract, it will allay nervous
palpitation of the heart, and will quiet the irritative hectic cough of
consumption, whilst tending to ameliorate the impaired digestion.
Its preparations can be readily had from our leading druggists, and
are found to be highly useful. A teaspoonful of the syrup, with one
or two tablespoonfuls of cold water, is a dose for an adult every
three or four hours. The oozing of the gum-tears from the trunk
and boughs is due to the operation of a minute parasitic fungus.
Helena, in the _Midsummer Night's Dream_, paints a charming
picture of the close affection between Hermia and herself--

            "So we grew together
    Like to a double Cherry-seeming parted,
    But yet a union in partition:
    Two lovely berries moulded on one stem."


"There is found," writes Parkinson, "during June and July, in almost
every English hedge, a certain plant called _Choerophyllum_,
in show very like unto Hemlockes, of a good and pleasant
smell and taste, which have caused us to term it 'Sweet Chervill.'"
And in modern times this plant has taken rank as a pot herb
in our gardens, though its virtues and uses are not sufficiently
known. "The root is great, thick and long, exceedingly sweet
in smell, and tasting like unto anise seeds. This root is much
used among the Dutch people in a kind of loblolly or hotchpot,
which they do eat, calling it _warmus_. The seeds taken as a salad
whilst they are yet green, exceed all other salads by many degrees
in pleasantness of taste, sweetness of smell, and wholesomeness
for the cold and feeble stomach." In common with other camphoraceous
and strongly aromatic herbs, by reason of its volatile oil
and its terebinthine properties, the Scandix, or Sweet Chervil,
was entitled to make one of the choice spices used for composing
the holy oil with which the sacred vessels of the Tabernacle
were anointed by Moses. It belongs to the particular group
of umbelliferous plants which is endowed with balsamic gums,
and with carminative essences appealing powerfully to the
sense of smell.

The herb Chervil was in the mind of Roman Catullus when discoursing
sweet verses of old to his friend Fabullus:--

    "Nam unguentum dabo quod meoe puelloe
    Donârunt veneres, cupidinesque.
    Quod tu quum olfacies deo rogabis
    Totum ut te faciat. Fabulle! nasum."

    "I will give you a perfume my damsels gave me,
    Sweet daughters of Venus, sad hoydens are ye!
    Which the moment you smell will incite you to pray
    My Fabullus! to live as 'all nose' from that day."

Evelyn taught (1565) that "the tender tops of Cherville should
never be wanting in our sallets, being exceeding wholesome, and
chearing the spirits; also that the roots boiled and cold are to be
much commended for aged persons." But in 1745 several Dutch
soldiers were poisoned by eating the rough wild Chervil, from
which the cultivated sweet variety is to be distinguished by its
having its stems swollen beneath the joints--much as our
blue-blooded patricians are signalised by gouty knuckles and
bunioned feet.

The botanical name of the Sweet Chervil (_Choerophyllum_)
signifies a plant which rejoices the heart--_Kairei-phyllum_. "The
roots," said an old writer, "are very good for old people that are
dull and without courage; they gladden and comfort the spirits,
and do increase their lusty strength." The juice is slightly aperient,
and abundantly lacteal when mixed with goat's milk, or in gruel.
Physicians formerly held this herb in high esteem, as capable of
curing most chronic disorders connected with the urinary
passages, and gravel. Some have even asserted that if these
distempers will not yield to a constant use of Chervil, they win be
scarcely curable by any other medicine. The Wild Chervil will
"help to dissolve any tumours or swellings in all parts of the body
speedily, if applied to the place, as also to take away the spots and
marks in the flesh and skin, of congealed blood by blows or
bruises." The feathery leaves of Chervil, which are of a bright
emerald hue in the spring, become of a rich purple in the
autumn, just as the objectionably carroty locks of Tittlebat
Titmouse, in _Ten Thousand a Year_, became vividly green under
"Cyanochaitanthropopoin," and were afterwards strangely empurpled
by "Tetragmenon abracadabra," at nine and sixpence the bottle.

[102] CHESTNUTS (Horse, and Sweet).

Ever since 1633 the Horse Chestnut tree has grown and flourished
in England, having been brought at first from the mountains of
Northern Asia. For the most part it is rather known and admired
for its wealth of shade, its large handsome floral spikes of creamy,
pink-tinted blossom, and its white, soft wood, than supposed to
exercise useful medicinal properties. But none the less is this tree
remarkable for the curative virtues contained in its large nuts of
mahogany polish, its broad palmate leaves, and its smooth silvery
bark. These virtues have been discovered and made public
especially by physicians and chemists of the homoeopathic school.
From the large digitated leaves an extract is made which has
proved of service in whooping-cough, and of which from one-third
to half a teaspoonful may be given for a dose. On the Continent
the bark is held in estimation for cutting short attacks of
intermittent fever and ague by acting in the same way as Peruvian
bark, though it is much more astringent. But the nuts are chiefly to
be regarded as the medicinal belongings of the Horse Chestnut
tree; and their bodily sphere of action is the rectum, or lower
bowel, in cases of piles, and of obstinate constipation. Their use is
particularly indicated when the bottom of the back gives out on
walking, with aching and a sense of weariness in that region.
Likewise, signal relief is found to be wrought by the same remedy
when the throat is duskily red and dry, in conjunction with
costiveness, and piles. A tincture is made (H.) from the ripe nuts
with spirit of wine, for the purposes described above, or the nuts
themselves are finely powdered and given in that form. These nuts
are starchy, and contain so much potash, that they may be
used when boiled for washing purposes. [103] In France and
Switzerland they are employed for cleansing wool and bleaching
linen, on account of their "saponin." Botanically, the Horse
Chestnut is named _AEsculus hippocastanea_--the first word
coming from _esca_, food; and the second from _hippos_, a horse;
and _Castana_, the city, so called. The epithet "horse" does not
imply any remedial use in diseases of that animal, but rather the
size and coarseness of this species as compared with the Sweet
Spanish Chestnut. In the same way we talk of the horse radish, the
horse daisy, and the horse leech. In Turkey the fruit is given to
horses touched or broken in the wind, but in this country horses
will not eat it. Nevertheless, Horse Chestnuts may be used for
fattening cattle, particularly sheep, the nuts being cut up, and
mixed with oats, or beans. Their bitterness can be removed by first
washing the Chestnuts in lime water. Medicinally, the ripe nut of
this tree is employed, being collected in September or October,
and deprived of its shell. The odour of the flowers is powerful and
peculiar. No chemical analysis of them, or of the nuts, has been
made, but they are found to contain tannin freely. Rich-coloured,
of a reddish brown, and glossy, these nuts have given their name
to a certain shade of mellow dark auburn hair. Rosalind, in _As
You Like It_, says "Orlando's locks are of a good colour: I' faith
your Chestnut was ever the only colour."

Of the Horse Chestnut tincture, two or three drops, with a spoonful
of water, taken before meals and at bedtime, will cure almost any
simple case of piles in a week. Also, carrying a Horse Chestnut
about the person, is said to obviate giddiness, and to prevent piles.

Taken altogether, the Horse Chestnut, for its splendour of
blossom, and wealth of umbrageous leaf, [104] its polished
mahogany fruit, and its special medicinal virtues, is _facile
princeps_ the belle of our English trees. But, like many a
ball-room beauty, when the time comes for putting aside the gay leafy
attire, it is sadly untidy, and makes a great litter of its cast-off

It has been ingeniously suggested that the cicatrix of the leaf
resembles a horse-shoe, with all its nails evenly placed.

The Sweet Spanish Chestnut tree is grown much less commonly in
this country, and its fruit affords only material for food, without
possessing medicinal properties; though, in the United States of
America, an infusion of the leaves is thought to be useful for
staying the paroxysms of whooping-cough. Of all known nuts, this
(the Sweet Chestnut, Stover Nut, or Meat Nut) is the most
farinaceous and least oily; hence it is more easy of digestion than
any other. To mountaineers it is invaluable, so that on the
Apennines and the Pyrenees the Chestnut harvest is the event of
the year. The Italian Chestnut-cakes, called _necci_, contain forty
per cent. of nutritious matter soluble in cold water; and Chestnut
flour, when properly prepared, is a capital food for children.

To be harvested the Chestnuts are spread on a frame of lattice-work
overhead, and a fire is kept burning underneath. When dry the
fruit is boiled, or steamed, or roasted, or ground into a kind of
flour, with which puddings are made, or an excellent kind of bread
is produced. The ripe Chestnut possesses a fine creamy flavour,
and when roasted it becomes almost aromatic. A good way to cook
Chestnuts is to boil them for twenty minutes, and then place them
for five minutes more in a Dutch oven.

It was about the fruit of the Spanish tree Shakespeare [105] said:
"A woman's tongue gives not half so great a blow to the ear as will
a Chestnut in a farmer's fire." In the United States of America an
old time-worn story, or oft repeated tale, is called in banter a
"Chestnut," and a stale joker is told "not to rattle the Chestnuts."

For convalescents, after a long serious illness, the French make a
chocolate of sweet Chestnuts, which is highly restorative. The nuts
are first cooked in _eau de vie_ until their shells and the pellicle
of the kernels can be peeled off; then they are beaten into a pulp
together with sufficient milk and sugar, with some cinnamon
added. The mixture is afterwards boiled with more milk, and
frothed up in a chocolate pot.


Chickweed--called _Alsine_ or _Stellaria media_, a floral star of
middle magnitude--belongs to the Clove-pink order of plants, and,
despite the most severe weather, grows with us all the year round,
in waste places by the roadsides, and as a garden weed. It is easily
known by its fresh-looking, juicy, verdant little leaves, and by its
tiny white star-like flowers; also by a line of small stiff hairs,
which runs up one side of the stalk like a vegetable hog-mane, and
when it reaches a pair of leaves immediately shifts its position, and
runs up higher on the opposite side.

The fact of our finding Chickweed (and Groundsel) in England, as
well as on the mainland of Europe, affords a proof that Britain,
when repeopled after the great Ice age, must have been united
somewhere to the continent; and its having lasted from earliest
times throughout Europe, North America, and Siberia, seems to
show that this modest plant must be possessed of some universal
utility which has enabled it to hold its own [106] until now in the
great evolutionary struggle. It grows wild allover the earth, and
serves as food for small birds, such as finches, linnets, and other
feathered songsters of the woods. Moreover, we read in the old
herbal of Turner: _Qui alunt aviculas caveis inclusas hoc solent
illas si quando cibos fastigiant recreare_--or, as Gerard translates
this: "Little birds in cages are refreshed with Chickweed when
they loath their meat."

The Chickweed is termed _Alsine--quia lucos, vel alsous amat_--
because it loves to grow in shady places This small herb abounds
with the earthy salts of potash, which are admirable against
scurvy when thus found in nature's laboratory, and a continued
deprivation from which always proves disastrous to mankind.
"The water of Chickweed," says an old writer, "is given to
children for their fits, and its juice is used for their gripes." When
boiled, the plant may be eaten instead of Spinach. Its fresh juice if
rubbed on warts, first pared to the quick, will presently cause them
to fall off.

Fresh Chickweed juice, as proved medicinally in 1893, produced
sharp rheumatic pains and stitches in the head and eyes, with a
general feeling of being bruised; also pressure about the liver and
soreness there, with sensations of burning, and of bilious
indigestion. Subsequently, the herb, when given in quite small
doses of tincture, or fresh juice, or infusion, has been found by its
affinity to remove the train of symptoms just described, and to act
most reliably in curing obstinate rheumatism allied therewith.
Furthermore, a poultice prepared from the fresh green juicy leaves,
is emollient and cooling, whilst an ointment made from them with
hog's lard, is manifestly healing.

When rain is impending, the flowers remain closed; [107] and the
plant teaches an exemplary matrimonial lesson, seeing that at night
its leaves approach one another in loving pairs, and sleep with the
tender buds protected between them. Culpeper says: "Chickweed
is a fine, soft, pleasing herb, under the dominion of the moon, and
good for many things." Parkinson orders thus: "To make a salve fit
to heal sore legs, boil a handful of Chickweed with a handful of
red rose leaves in a pint of the oil of trotters or sheep's feet, and
anoint the grieved places therewith against a fire each evening and
morning; then bind some of the herb, if ye will, to the sore, and so
shall ye find help, if God will."


This well-known plant, a native of Southern Europe, and belonging
to the Ranunculus order, is grown commonly in our gardens
for the sake of its showy white flowers, conspicuous in winter,
from December to February. The root has been famous since
time immemorial as a remedy for insanity. From its abundant
growth in the Grecian island of Anticyra arose the proverb:
_Naviget Anticyram_--"Take a voyage to Anticyra," as applied
by way of advice to a man who has lost his reason.

When fresh the root is very acrid, and will blister the skin. If dried
and given as powder it will cause vomiting and purging, also
provoking sneezing when smelt, and inducing the monthly flow of
a woman. This root contains a chemical glucoside--"helleborin,"
which, if given in full doses, stimulates the kidneys to such an
excess that their function becomes temporarily paralyzed. It
therefore happens that a medicinal tincture (H.) made from the
fresh root collected at Christmas, just before the plant would
flower, when [108] taken in small doses, will promptly relieve
dropsy, especially a sudden dropsical swelling of the skin, with
passive venous congestion of the kidneys, as in scrofulous

A former method of administering the root was by sticking a
particularly sweet apple full of its fibres, and roasting this under
hot embers; then the fibres were withdrawn, and the apple was
eaten by the patient.

Taken by mischance in any quantity the root is highly poisonous:
one ounce of a watery decoction has caused death in eight hours,
with vomiting, giddiness, insensibility, and palsy. Passive dropsy
in children after scarlet fever may be effectually cured by small
doses of the tincture, third decimal strength.

The name Hellebore, as applied to the plant, comes from the
Greek _Elein_--to injure, and _Bora_--fodder. It is also known as
_Melampodium_, being thus designated because Melampus, a
physician in the Peloponnesus (B.C. 1530) watched the effect on
his goats when they had eaten the leaves, and cured therewith the
insane daughters of Proetus, King of Argos.

It was famous among the Egyptian and Greek doctors of old as the
most effectual remedy for the diseases of mania, epilepsy,
apoplexy, dropsy, and gout. The tincture is very useful in mental
stupor, with functional impairment of the hearing and sight;
likewise for strumous water on the brain.

The original reputation of this herb was acquired because of its
purgative properties, which enabled it to carry off black bile which
was causing insanity.

No tannin is contained in the root. A few drops of the juice
obtained therefrom, if dropped warm into the ear each night and
morning, will cure singing and noises in the ears. A proper dose of
the powdered root [109] is from five to ten grains. Snuff made
with this powder has cured night blindness, as among the French
prisoners at Norman Cross in 1806. The Gauls used to rub the
points of their hunting spears with Hellebore, believing the game
they killed was thus rendered more tender. Hahnemann said that at
least one third of the cases of insanity occurring in lunatic asylums
may be cured by this and the white Hellebore (an allied plant) in
such small doses as of the tincture twelfth dilution, given in the
patient's drink.

A bastard Hellebore, which is _foetidus_, or, "stinking," and is
known to rustics as Bearsfoot, because of its digitate leaves, grows
frequently near houses in this country, though a doubtful native.
The sepals of its flowers are purple, and the leaves are evergreen;
the petals are green and leaf-like, whilst the nectaries are large and
tubular, often containing small flies. The nectar is reputed to be
poisonous. Again, this plant bears the names Pegroots, Oxbeel,
Oxheal, and Setterwort, because used for "settering" cattle. A
piece of the root is inserted as a seton (so-called from _seta_--a
hank of silk) into the dewlap, and this is termed "pegging," or,
"settering," for the benefit of diseased lungs. "The root," says
Gerard, "consists of many small black strings, involved or wrapped
one within another very intricately." The smell of the fresh plant is
extremely fetid, and, when taken, it will purge, or provoke
vomiting. The leaves are very useful for expelling worms. Dr.
Woodville says their juice made into a syrup, with coarse sugar, is
almost the only vermifuge he had used against round worms for
three years past. "If these leaves be dried in an oven after the bread
is drawne out, and the powder thereof be taken in a figge, or raisin,
or strewed upon a piece of [110] bread spread with honey, and
eaten, it killeth worms in children exceedingly." A decoction made
with one drachm of the green leaves, or about fifteen grains of the
dried leaves in powder, is the usual dose for a child between four
and six years of age; but a larger dose will provoke sickness, or
diarrhoea. The medicine should be repeated on two or three
consecutive mornings; and it will be found that the second dose
acts more powerfully than the first, "never failing to expel round
worms by stool, if there be any lodged in the alimentary tube."


In this country we possess about twenty species of the trefoil, or
Clover, which is a plant so well known in its general features by
its abundance in every field and on every grass plot, as not to need
any detailed description. The special variety endowed with
medicinal and curative virtues, is the Meadow Clover (_Trifolium
pratense_), or red clover, called by some, Cocksheads, and
familiar to children as Suckles, or Honey-suckles, because of the
abundant nectar in the long tubes of its corollae. Other names for it
are Bee-bread, and Smere. An extract of this red clover is now
confidently said to have the power of healing scrofulous sores, and
of curing cancer. The _New York Tribune_ of September, 1884,
related a case of indisputable cancer of the breast of six years'
standing, with an open fetid sore, which had penetrated the
chest-wall between the ribs, and which was radically healed by a
prolonged internal use of the extract of red clover. Four years
afterwards, in September, 1888, "the breast was found to be
restored to its normal condition, all but a small place the size of
half a dollar, which will in every probability become absorbed like
[111] the rest, so that the patient is considered by her physicians to
be absolutely cured."

The likelihood is that whatever virtue the red clover can boast for
counteracting a scrofulous disposition, and as antidotal to cancer,
resides in its highly-elaborated lime, silica, and other earthy salts.
Moreover, this experience is not new. Sir Spencer Wells, twenty
years ago, recorded some cases of confirmed cancer cured by
taking powdered and triturated oyster shells; whilst egg shells
similarly reduced to a fine dust have proved equally efficacious. It
is remarkable that if the moorlands in the North of England, and in
some parts of Ireland, are turned up for the first time, and strewed
with lime, white clover springs up there in abundance.

Again, a syrup is made from the flowers of the red clover, which
has a trustworthy reputation for curing whooping-cough, and of
which a teaspoonful may be taken three or four times in the day.
Also stress is laid on the healing of skin eruptions in children, by a
decoction of the purple and white meadow trefoils.

The word clover is a corruption of the Latin _clava_ a club; and
the "clubs" on our playing cards are representations of clover
leaves; whilst in France the same black suit is called _trefle_.

A conventional trefoil is figured on our coins, both Irish and
English, this plant being the National Badge of Ireland. Its charm
has been ever supposed there as an unfailing protection against
evil influences, as is attested by the spray in the workman's cap,
and in the bosom of the cotter's wife.

The clover trefoil is in some measure a sensitive plant; "its
leaves," said Pliny, "do start up as if afraid of an assault when
tempestuous weather is at hand."

[112] The phrase, "living in clover," alludes to cattle being put to
feed in rich pasturage.

A sworn foe to the purple clover cultivated by farmers, is the
Dodder (_Cuscuta trifolii_), a destructive vegetable parasite which
strangles the plants in a crafty fashion, and which goes by the
name of "hellweed," or "devil's guts." It lies in ambush like a
pigmy field octopus, with deadly suckers for draining the sap of its
victims. These it mats together in its wiry, sinuous coils, and
chokes relentlessly by the acre. Nevertheless, the petty garotter--
like a toad, "ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in its
head." "If boiled," says Hill, "with a little ginger, the dodder in
decoction works briskly as a purge. Also, the thievish herb, when
bruised and applied externally to scrofulous tumours, is an
excellent remedy."

The word "dodder" signifies the plural of "dodd," a bunch of
threads. The parasite is sometimes called "Red tangle" and "Lady's

Its botanical name _Cuscuta_ comes from the Greek _Kassuo_--to
sew together. If the piece of land infested with it is closely mown
(and the cut material carried away unshaken), being next covered
with deal saw-dust, on which a ten per cent. solution of sulphate of
iron is freely poured, then by combining with the tannin contained
in the stems of the Dodder, this will serve to kill the parasite
without doing any injury to the clover or lucerne. Although a
parasite the plant springs every year from seed. It is a remedy for
swooning or fainting fits.

The Sweet Clover (or yellow Melilot), when prepared as a tincture
(H.), with spirit of wine, and given as a medicine in material
doses, causes, in sensitive persons, a severe headache, sometimes
with a determination of [113] blood to the head, and bleeding from
the nose. When administered, on the principle of curative affinity,
in much smaller doses, it is singularly beneficial against nervous
headaches, with oppression of the brain, acting helpfully within
five minutes. Dr. Hughes (Brighton) writes: "I value this medicine
much in nervous headaches, and I always carry it in my pocket-case--
as the mother tincture--which I generally administer _by olfaction_."
For epilepsy, it is said in the United States of America
to be "the one grand master-remedy," by giving a drop of the
tincture every five minutes during the attack, and five drops five
times a day in water, for some weeks afterwards.

The Melilot (from _mel_, honey, and _lotus_, because much liked
by bees) is known as Plaster Clover from its use since Galen's time
in plasters for dispersing tumours. Continental physicians still
employ the same made of melilot, wax, resin, and olive oil. The
plant contains, "Coumarin" in common with the Sweet Woodruff,
and the Tonquin Bean. Other names for it are "Harts' Clover,"
because deer delight to feed on it and "King's Clover" or "Corona
Regis," because "the yellow flouers doe crown the top of the
stalkes as with a chaplet of gold." It is an herbaceous plant
common in waste places, and having light green leaves; when
dried it smells like Woodruff, or new hay.


Though not generally thought worth more than a passing notice, or
to possess any claims of a medicinal sort, yet the Club Moss,
which is of common growth in Great Britain on heaths and hilly
pastures, exerts by its spores very remarkable curative effects, and
[114] therefore it should be favourably regarded as a Herbal
Simple. It is exclusively due to homoeopathic provings and
practice, that the _Lycopodium clavatum _(Club Moss) takes an
important position amongst the most curative vegetable remedies
of the present day.

The word _lycopodium_ means "wolf's claw," because of the
claw-like ends to the trailing stems of this moss; and the word
clavatum signifies that its inflorescence resembles a club. The
spores of Club Moss constitute a fine pale-yellow, dusty powder
which is unctuous, tasteless, inodorous, and only medicinal when
pounded in all agate mortar until the individual spores, or nuts, are

By being thus triturated, the nuts give out their contents, which are
shown to be oil globules, wherein the curative virtues of the moss
reside. Sugar of milk is then rubbed up for two hours or more with
the broken spores, so as to compose a medicinal powder, which is
afterwards to be further diluted; or a tincture is made from the
fractured spores, with spirit of ether, which will develop their
specific medicinal properties. The Club Moss, thus prepared,
has been experimentally taken by provers in varying material
doses; and is found through its toxical affinities in this way
to be remarkably useful for chronic mucous indigestion and
mal-nutrition, attended with sallow complexion, slow, difficult
digestion, flatulence, waterbrash, heartburn, decay of bodily
strength, and mental depression. It is said that whenever a fan-like
movement of the wings of the nostrils can be observed during the
breathing, the whole group of symptoms thus detailed is _specially_
curable by Club Moss.

As a dose of the triturated powder, reduced to a weaker
dilution, ten grains may be taken twice a day [115] mixed with a
dessertspoonful of water; or of the tincture largely reduced in
strength, ten drops twice a day in like manner. Chemically, the oil
globules extracted from the spores contain "alumina" and
"phosphoric acid." The diluted powder has proved practically
beneficial for reducing the swelling and for diminishing the
pulsation of aneurism when affecting a main blood-vessel of the

In Cornwall the Club Moss is considered good against most
diseases of the eyes, provided it be gathered on the third day of the
moon when first seen; being shown the knife whilst the gatherer
repeats these words:--

    "As Christ healed the issue of blood,
    Do thou cut what thou cut test for good."

"Then at sundown the Club Moss should be cut by the operator
whilst kneeling, and with carefully washed hands. It is to be
tenderly wrapped in a fair white cloth, and afterwards boiled in
water procured from the spring nearest the spot where it grew,"
and the liquor is to be applied as a fomentation; or the Club Moss
may be "made into an ointment with butter from the milk of a new
cow." Such superstitious customs had without doubt a Druidic
origin, and they identify the Club Moss with the Selago, or golden
herb, "Cloth of Gold" of the Druids. This was reputed to confer the
power of understanding the language of birds and beasts, and was
intimately connected with some of their mysterious rites; though
by others it is thought to have been a sort of Hedge Hyssop

The Common Lycopodium bears in some, districts the name of
"Robin Hood's hatband." Its unmoistenable powder from the
spores is a capital absorbing application to weeping, raw surfaces.
At the shops, this [116] powder of the Club Moss spores is sold as
"witch meal," or "vegetable sulphur." For trade purposes it is
obtained from the ears of a Wolfsfoot Moss, the Lycopodium
clavatum, which grows in the forests of Russia and Finland. The
powder is yellow of colour, dust-like and smooth to the touch.
Half a drachm of it given during July in any proper vehicle has
been esteemed "a noble remedy to cure stone in the bladder."
Being mixed with black pepper, it was recognized by the College
of Physicians in 1721 as a medicine of singular value for
preventing and curing hydrophobia. Dr. Mead, who had repeated
experience of its worth, declared that he never knew it to fail when
combined with cold bathing.

Club Moss powder ignites with a flicker, and is used for stage
lightning. It is the _Blitzmehl_, or lightning-meal of the Germans,
who give it in doses of from fifteen to twenty grains for the cure of
epilepsy in children.

When the "Mortal Struggle" was produced (see _Nicholas Nickleby_)
by Mr. Vincent Crummles at Portsmouth, with the aid of Miss
Snevelicci, and the Infant Phenomenon, lurid lightning was
much in request to astonish the natives; and this was sufficiently
well simulated by igniting, with a sudden flash and a hiss,
highly inflammable spores of the Club Moss projected against
burning tow within a hollow cone, producing weird scenic effects.


The Coltsfoot, which grows abundantly throughout England in
places of moist, heavy soil, especially along the sides of our raised
railway banks, has been justly termed "nature's best herb for the
lungs, and her most eminent thoracic." Its seeds are supposed to
have lain [117] dormant from primitive times, where our railway
cuttings now upturn them and set them growing anew; and the
rotting foliage of the primeval herb by retaining its juices, is
thought to have promoted the development and growth of our
common earthworm.

The botanical name of Coltsfoot is _Tussilago farfara_, signifying
_tussis ago_, "I drive away a cold"; and _farfar_, the white poplar
tree, which has a similar leaf. It is one of the Composite order, and
the older authors named this plant, _Filius ante patrem_--"the son
before the father," because the flowers appear and wither before
the leaves are produced. These flowers, at the very beginning of
Spring, stud the banks with gay, golden, leafless blossoms, each
growing on a stiff scaly stalk, and resembling a dandelion in
miniature. The leaves, which follow later on, are made often into
cigars, or are smoked as British herbal tobacco, being mixed for
this purpose with the dried leaves and flowers of the eye-bright,
buckbean, betony, thyme, and lavender, to which some persons
add rose leaves, and chamomile flowers. All these are rubbed
together by the hands into a coarse powder, Coltsfoot forming
quite one-half of the same; and this powder may be very
beneficially smoked for asthma, or for spasmodic bronchial cough.
Linnoeus said, "_Et adhuc hodie plebs in Sueciâ, instar tabaci
contra tussim fugit_"--"Even to-day the Swiss people cure their
coughs with Coltsfoot employed like tobacco." When the flowers
are fully blown and fall off, the seeds with their "clock" form a
beautiful head of white flossy silk, and if this flies away when
there is no wind it is said to be a sure sign of coming rain. The
Goldfinch often lines her nest with the soft pappus of the
Coltsfoot. In Paris the Coltsfoot flower is painted on the doorposts
of an apothecary's house.

[118] From earliest times, the plant has been found helpful in
maladies of the chest. Hippocrates advised it with honey for
"ulcerations of the lungs." Dioscorides, Pliny, and Galen, severally
commended the use of its smoke, conducted into the mouth
through a funnel or reed, for giving ease to cough and difficult
breathing; they named it _breechion_, from _breex_, a cough.

In taste, the leaves are harsh, bitter, and mucilaginous. They
appear late in March, being green above, with an undersurface
which is white, and cottony. Sussex peasants esteem the white
down of the leaves as a most valuable medicine.

All parts of the plant contain chemically tannin, with a special
bitter principle, and free mucilage; so that the herb is to be
considered emollient, demulcent, and tonic. Dr. Cullen employed a
decoction of the leaves with much benefit in scrofula, where the
use of sea water had failed. And Dr. Fuller tells about a girl cured
of twelve scrofulous sores, by drinking daily, for four months, as
much as she could of Coltsfoot tea, made so strong from the leaves
as to be sweet and glutinous. A modern decoction is prepared from
the herb with boiling water poured on the leaves, and with
liquorice root and honey added.

But, "hark! I hear the pancake bell," said Poor Richard in his
almanack, 1684; alluding to pancakes then made with Coltsfoot,
like tansies, and fried with saged butter.

A century later it was still the fashion to treat consumptive young
women with quaint remedies. Mrs. Delaney writes in 1758, "Does
Mary cough in the Night? two or three snails boiled in her barley
water may be of great service to her."

Again, the confectioner provides Coltsfoot rock, [119] concocted
in fluted sticks of a brown colour, as a sweetmeat, and flavoured
with some essential oil--as aniseed, or dill--these sticks being well
beloved by most schoolboys. The dried leaves, when soaked out in
warm water, will serve as an excellent emollient poultice. A
certain preparation, called "Essence of Coltsfoot," found great
favour with our grand sires for treating their colds. This consisted
of Balsam of Tolu and Friar's Balsam in equal parts, together with
double the quantity of Spirit of Wine. It did not really contain
a trace of Coltsfoot, and the nostrum was provocative of
inflammation, because of the spirit in excess. Dr. Paris said: "And
this, forsooth, is a pectoral for coughs! If a patient with a catarrh
should recover whilst using such a remedy, I should certainly
designate it a lucky escape, rather than a skilful cure." Gerard
wrote about Coltsfoot: "The fume of the dried leaves, burned upon
coles, effectually helpeth those that fetch their winde thicke, and
breaketh without peril the impostumes of the brest"; also "the
green leaves do heal the hot inflammation called Saint Anthony's

The names of the herb--Coltsfoot, and Horsehoof--are derived
from the shape of the leaf. It is likewise known as Asses' foot, and
Cough wort; also as Foal's foot, and Bull's foot, Hoofs, and (in
Yorkshire) Cleats.

To make an infusion or decoction of the plant for a confirmed
cough, or for chronic bronchitis, pour a pint of boiling water on an
ounce of the dried leaves and flowers, and take half a teacupful of
it when cold three or four times in the day. The silky down of the
seed-heads is used in the Highlands for stuffing pillows, and the
presence of coal is said to be indicated by an abundant growth of
the herb.

Another species, the Butter bur (_Tussilago petasites_), [120] is
named from _petasus_, an umbrella, or a broad covering for the
head. It produces the largest leaves of any plant in Great Britain,
which sometimes measure three feet in breadth. This plant was
thought to be of great use in the time of the plague, and thus got
the names of Pestilent wort, Plague flower and Bog Rhubarb. Both
it, and the Coltsfoot, are specific remedies (H.) for severe and
obstinate neuralgia in the small of the back, and the loins, a
medicinal tincture being prepared from each herb.


The Comfrey of our river banks, and moist watery places, is the
_Consound_, or Knit-back, or Bone-set, and Blackwort of country
folk; and the old _Symphytum_ of Dioscorides. It has derived
these names from the consolidating and vulnerary qualities
attributed to the plant, from _confirmo_, to strengthen together, or
the French, _comfrie_. This herb is of the Borage tribe, and is
conspicuous by its height of from one to two feet, its large rough
leaves, which provoke itching when handled, and its drooping
white or purple flowers growing on short stalks. Chemically, the
most important part of the plant is its "mucilage." This contains
tannin, asparagin, sugar, and starch granules. The roots are sweet,
sticky, and without any odour. "_Quia tanta proestantia est_," says
Pliny, "_ut si carnes duroe coquuntur conglutinet addita; unde
nomen!_"--"and the roots be so glutinative that they will solder or
glew together meat that is chopt in pieces, seething in a pot, and
make it into one lump: the same bruysed, and lay'd in the manner
of a plaister, doth heale all fresh and green wounds." These roots
are very brittle, and the least bit of them will start growing afresh.

[121] The whole plant, beaten to a cataplasm, and applied hot as a
poultice, has always been deemed excellent for soothing pain in
any tender, inflamed or suppurating part. It was formerly applied
to raw indolent ulcers as a glutinous astringent, and most useful
vulnerary. Pauli recommended it for broken bones, and externally
for wounds of the nerves, tendons, and arteries. More recently
surgeons have declared that the powdered root (which, when
broken, is white within, and full of a slimy juice), if dissolved in
water to a mucilage, is far from contemptible for bleedings,
fractures, and luxations, whilst it hastens the callus of bones under
repair. Its strong decoction has been found very useful in Germany
for tanning leather. The leaves were formerly employed for giving
a flavour to cakes and panada.

A modern medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the root-stock with
spirit of wine; and ten drops of this should be taken three or four
times a day with a tablespoonful of cold water. French nurses treat
cracked nipples by applying a hollow section of the fresh root over
the sore caruncle; and a decoction of the root made by boiling
from two to four drachms in a pint of water, is given for bleedings
from the lungs or bladder.

The name _Consound_, owned by the Common Comfrey, was given
likewise to the daisy and the bugle, in the middle ages. "It
joyeth," says Gerard, "in watery ditches, in fat and fruitful
meadows." A solve concocted from the fresh herb will certainly
tend to promote the healing of bruised and broken parts,
suggesting as an appropriate motto for the salve box: "Behold how
good and pleasant a thing it is to dwell together in unity! It is
like the precious ointment which ran down Aaron's beard." Some
foreknowledge [122] of the Comfrey perhaps inspired the Prophet
Isaiah to predict that after a time "the heart should rejoice and the
bones flourish like a herb." The Poet Laureate tells of

            "This, the Consound,
    Whereby the lungs are eased of their grief."

About a century ago, the _Prickly Comfrey_--a variety of our
Consound--was naturalised in this country from the Caucasus, and
has since proved itself amazingly productive to farmers, as, when
cultivated, it will grow six crops in the year; and the plant is both
preventive and curative of foot and mouth disease in cattle. It
bears flowers of a rich blue colour.

From our Common Comfrey a sort of glue is got in Angora, which
is used for spinning the famous fleeces of that country. Mr.
Cockayne relates that the locksman at Teddington informed him
how the bone of his little finger being broken, was grinding and
grunching so sadly for two months, that sometimes he felt quite
wrong in his head. One day he saw a doctor go by, and told him
about the distress. The doctor said: "You see that Comfrey
growing there? Take a piece of its root, and champ it, and put it
about your finger, and wrap it up." The man did so, and in four
days his finger was well.


Coriander comfits, sold by the confectioner as admirably warming
to the stomach, and corrective of flatulence, consist of small
aromatic seeds coated with white sugar. These are produced by the
Coriander, an umbelliferous herb cultivated in England from early
times for medicinal and culinary uses, though introduced at first
from the Mediterranean. It has now [123] become wild as an
escape, growing freely in our fields and waste places. Farmers
produce it, especially about Essex, under the name of Col, the
crops being mown down when ripe, and the fruits being then
thrashed out to procure the seeds. The generic name has been
derived from _koros_, a bug; alluding to the stinking odour of the
bruised leaves, though these, when dried, are fragrant, and
pleasant of smell. In some countries, as Egypt and Peru, they are
taken in soups. The seeds are cordial, but become narcotic if used
too freely. When distilled with water they yield a yellow essential
oil of a very aromatic and strong odour.

Coriander water was formerly much esteemed as a carminative for
windy colic. Being so aromatic and comfortably stimulating, the
fruit is commended for aiding the digestion of savoury pastry, and
to correct the griping tendencies of such medicines as senna and
rhubarb. It contains malic acid, tannin, the special volatile oil of
the herb, and some fatty matter.

Distillers of gin make use of this fruit, and veterinary surgeons
employ it as a drug for cattle and horses. Alston says, "The green
herb--seeds and all--stinks intolerably of bugs"; and Hoffman
admonishes, "_Si largius sumptura fuerit semen non sine periculo
e suâ sede et statu demovet, et qui sumpsere varia dictu pudenda
blaterant_." The fruits are blended with curry powder, and are
chosen to flavour several liquors. By the Chinese a power of
conferring immortality is thought to be possessed by the seeds.
From a passage in the Book of Numbers where manna is likened
to Coriander seed, it would seem that this seed was familiar to the
Israelites and used by them for domestic purposes. Robert Turner
says when taken in wine it stimulates the animal passions.

[124] COWSLIP.

Our English pastures and meadows, especially where the soil is of
blue lias clay, become brilliantly gay, "with gaudy cowslips drest,"
quite early in the spring. But it is a mistake to suppose that these
flowers are a favourite food with cows, who, in fact, never eat
them if they can help it. The name Cowslip is really derived, says
Dr. Prior, from the Flemish words, _kous loppe_, meaning "hose
flap," a humble part of woollen nether garments. But Skeat thinks
it arose from the fact that the plant was supposed to spring up
where a patch of cow dung had fallen.

Originally, the Mullein--which has large, oval, woolly leaves--
and the Cowslip were included under one common Latin name,
_Verbascum_; for which reason the attributes of the Mullein still
remain accredited by mistake to the second plant. Former medical
writers called the Cowslip _herba paralysis_, or, "palsywort,"
because of its supposed efficacy in relieving paralysis. The whole
plant is known to be gently narcotic and somniferous. Pope
praised the herb and its flowers on account of their sedative

            "For want of rest,
    Lettuce and Cowslip wine--_Probatum est_."

Whilst Coleridge makes his _Christabel_ declare with reference to
the fragrant brew concocted from its petals, with lemons and

    "It is a wine of virtuous powers,
    My mother made it of wild flowers."

Physicians for the last two centuries have used the powdered roots
of the Cowslip (and the Primrose) for wakefulness, hysterical
attacks, and muscular rheumatism; and the cowslip root was
named of old both [124] _radix paralyseos_, and _radix arthritica_.
This root, and the flowers, have an odour of anise, which
is due to their containing some volatile oil identical with
mannite. Their more acrid principle is "saponin." Hill tells us that
when boiled in ale, the roots are taken by country persons for
giddiness, with no little success. "They be likewise in great request
among those that use to hunt after goats and roebucks on high
mountains, for the strengthening of the head when they pass by
fearful precipices and steep places, in following their game, so that
giddiness and swimming of the brain may not seize upon them."
The dose of the dried and powdered flowers is from fifteen to
twenty grains. A syrup of a fine yellow colour may also be made
from the petals, which answers the same purposes. Three pounds
of the fresh blossoms should be infused in five pints of boiling
water, and then simmered down to a proper consistence with

Herbals of the Elizabethan date, say that an ointment made from
cowslip flowers "taketh away the spots and wrinkles of the skin,
and doth add beauty exceedingly, as divers ladies, gentlewomen,
and she citizens--whether wives or widows--know well enough."

The tiny people were then supposed to be fond of nestling in the
drooping bells of Cowslips, and hence the flowers were called
fairy cups; and, in accordance with the doctrine of signatures, they
were thought effective for removing freckles from the face.

    "In their gold coats spots you see,
    These be rubies: fairy favours.
    In these freckles live their savours."

The cluster of blossoms on a single stalk sometimes bears the
name of "lady's keys" or "St. Peter's wort," either because it
resembles a bunch of keys as St. [126] Peter's badge, or because as
_primula veris_ it unlocks the treasures of spring.

Cowslip flowers are frequently done up by playful children into
balls, which they call tisty tosty, or simply a tosty. For this
purpose the umbels of blossoms fully blown are strung closely
together, and tied into a firm ball.

The leaves were at one time eaten in salad, and mixed with other
herbs to stuff meat, whilst the flowers were made into a delicate

Yorkshire people call this plant the Cowstripling; and in
Devonshire, where it is scarcely to be found, because of the red
marl, it has come about that the foxglove goes by the name of
Cowslip. Again, in some provincial districts, the Cowslip is known
as Petty Mullein, and in others as Paigle (Palsywort). The old
English proverb, "As blake as a paigle," means, "As yellow as a

One word may be said here in medicinal favour of the poor cow, whose
association with the flower now under discussion has been so
unceremoniously disproved. The breath and smell of this sweet-odoured
animal are thought in Flintshire to be good against consumption.
Henderson tells of a blacksmith's apprentice who was restored
to health when far advanced in a decline, by taking the milk
of cows fed in a kirkyard. In the south of Hampshire, a useful
plaster of fresh cow-dung is applied to open wounds. And
even in its evolutionary development, the homely animal reads us
a lesson; for _Dat Deus immiti cornua curta bovi_, says the Latin
proverb--"Savage cattle have only short horns." So was it in "the
House that Jack built," where the fretful creature that tossed the
dog had but one horn, and this grew crumpled.

[127] CRESSES.

The Cress of the herbalist is a noun of multitude: it comprises
several sorts, differing in kind but possessing the common
properties of wholesomeness and pungency. Here "order in variety
we see"; and here, "though all things differ, all agree." The name
is thought by some to be derived from the Latin verb _crescere_,
to grow fast.

Each kind of Cress belongs to the Cruciferous genus of plants;
whence comes, perhaps, the common name The several varieties
of Cress are stimulating and anti-scorbutic, whilst each contains a
particular essential principle, of acrid flavour, and of sharp biting
qualities. The whole tribe is termed _lepidium_, or "siliquose,"
scaly, with reference to the shape of the seed-pouches. It includes
"Land Cress (formerly dedicated to St. Barbara); Broad-leaved
Cress (or the Poor-man's pepper); Penny Cress (_thlapsus_);
Garden, or Town Cress; and the well known edible Water Cress."
Formerly the Greeks attached much value to the whole order of
Cresses, which they thought very beneficial to the brain. A
favourite maxim with them was, "Eat Cresses, and get wit."

In England these plants have long been cultivated as a source of
profit; whence arose the saying that a graceless fellow is not worth
a "kurse" or cress--in German, _kers_. Thus Chaucer speaks about
a character in the _Canterbury Tales_, "Of paramours ne fraught
he not a kers." But some writers have referred this saying rather to
the wild cherry or kerse, making it of the same significance as our
common phrase, "Not worth a fig."

As Curative Herbal Simples we need only consider the Garden or
Town Cress, and the Water Cress: whilst regarding the other
varieties rather as condiments, and [128] salad herbs to be taken
by way of pleasant wholesome appetisers at table. These
aromatic herbs were employed to season the homely dishes of our
forefathers, before commerce had brought the spices of the East at
a cheap rate to our doors; and Cresses were held in common
favour by peasants for such a purpose. The black, or white pepper
of to-day, was then so costly that "to promise a saint yearly a
pound of it was considered a liberal bequest." And therefore the
leaves of wild Cresses were eaten as a substitute for giving
pungency to the food. Remarkable among these was the _Dittander
Sativus_, a species found chiefly near the sea, with foliage
so hot and acrid, that the plant then went by the name of
"Poor-man's Pepper," or "Pepper Wort." Pliny said, "It is of the
number of scorching and blistering Simples." "This herbe," says
Lyte, "is fondly and unlearnedly called in English Dittany. It were
better in following the Dutchmen to name it Pepperwort."

The _Garden Cress_, called _Sativum_ (from _satum_, a pasture),
is the sort commonly coupled with the herb Mustard in our
familiar "Mustard and Cress." It has been grown in England since
the middle of the sixteenth century, and its other name _Town_
Cress refers to its cultivation in "tounes," or enclosures. It was
also known as Passerage; from _passer_, to drive away--rage, or
madness, because of its reputed power to expel hydrophobia. "This
Garden Cress," said Wm. Coles in his _Paradise of Plants_, 1650,
"being green, and therefore more qualified by reason of its
humidity, is eaten by country people, either alone with butter, or
with lettice and purslane, in Sallets, or otherwise."

It contains sulphur, and a special ardent volatile medicinal oil. The
small leaves combined with those of [129] our white garden
Mustard are excellent against rheumatism and gout. Likewise it is
a preventive of scurvy by reason of its mineral salts. In which
salutary respects the twin plants, Mustard and Cress, are happily
consorted, and well play a capital common part, like the "two
single gentlemen rolled into one" of George Colman, the younger.

The _Water Cress_ (_Nasturtium officinale_) is among cresses, to
use an American simile, the "finest toad in the puddle." This is
because of its superlative medicinal worth, and its great popularity
at table. Early writers called the herb "Shamrock," and common
folk now-a-days term it the "Stertion." Zenophon advised the
Persians to feed their children on Water-cresses (_kardamon
esthie_) that they might grow in stature and have active minds.

The Latin name _Nasturtium_ was given to the Watercress because
of its volatile pungency when bruised and smelt; from _nasus_,
a nose, and _tortus_, turned away, it being so to say, "a herb
that wriths or twists the nose." For the same reason it is called
_Nasitord_ in France. When bruised its leaves affect the eyes and
nose almost like mustard. They have been usefully applied to the
scald head and tetters of children. In New Zealand the stems grow
as thick as a man's wrist, and nearly choke some of the rivers. Like
an oyster, the Water-cress is in proper season only when there is
an "r" in the month.

According to an analysis made recently in the School of Pharmacy
at Paris, the Water-cress contains a sulpho-nitrogenous oil, iodine,
iron, phosphates, potash, certain other earthy salts, a bitter extract,
and water. Its volatile oil which is rich in nitrogen and sulphur
(problematical) is the sulpho-cyanide of allyl. Anyhow [130] there
is much sulphur possessed by the whole plant in one form or
another, together with a considerable quantity of mineral matter.
Thus the popular plant is so constituted as to be particularly
curative of scrofulous affections, especially in the spring time,
when the bodily humours are on the ferment. Dr. King Chambers
writes (_Diet in Health and Disease_), "I feel sure that the
infertility, pallor, fetid breath, and bad teeth which characterise
some of our town populations are to a great extent due to their
inability to get fresh anti-scorbutic vegetables as articles of diet:
therefore I regard the Water-cress seller as one of the saviours of
her country." Culpeper said pithily long ago: "They that will live
in health may eat Water-cress if they please; and if they won't, I
cannot help it."

The scrofula to which the Water-cress and its allied plants are
antidotal, got its name from _scrofa_, "a burrowing pig,"
signifying the radical destruction of important glands in the body
by this undermining constitutional disease. Possibly the quaint
lines which nurses have long been given to repeat for the
amusement of babies while fondling their infantine fingers bear a
hidden meaning which pointedly imports the scrofulous taint. This
nursery distich, as we remember, personates the fingers one by one
as five little fabulous pigs:--the first small piggy doesn't feel well;
and the second one threatens the doctor to tell; the third little pig
has to linger at home; and the fourth small porker of meat has
none; then the fifth little pig, with a querulous note, cries "weak,
weak, weak" from its poor little throat.

    "oegrotat multis doloribus porculus ille:
    Ille rogat fratri medicum proferre salutem:
    Debilis ille domi mansit vetitus abire;
    Carnem digessit nunquam miser porculus ille;
    'Eheu!' ter repetens, 'eheu!' perporculus, 'eheu!'
    Vires exiguas luget plorante susurro."

[131] On account of its medicinal constituents the herb has
been deservedly extolled as a specific remedy for tubercular
consumption of the lungs. Haller says: "We have seen patients in
deep declines cured by living almost entirely on this plant;" and it
forms the chief ingredient of the _Sirop Antiscorbutique _given so
successfully by the French faculty in scrofula and other allied
diseases. Its active principles are at their best when the plant is in
flower; and the amount of essential oil increases according to the
quantity of sunlight which the leaves obtain, the proportion of iron
being determined according to the quality of the water, and the
measure of phosphates by the supply of dressing afforded. The
leaves remain green when grown in the shade, but become of a
purple brown because of their iron when exposed to the sun. The
expressed juice, which contains the peculiar taste and pungency of
the herb, may be taken in doses of from one to two fluid ounces at
each of the three principal meals, and it should always be had
fresh. When combined with the juice of Scurvy grass and of
Seville oranges it makes the popular antiscorbutic medicine known
as "Spring juices."

A Water-cress cataplasm applied cold in a single layer, and with a
pinch of salt sprinkled thereupon makes a most useful poultice to
heal foul scrofulous ulcers; and will also help to resolve glandular

Water-cresses squeezed and laid against warts were said by the
Saxon leeches to work a certain cure on these excrescences. In
France the Water-cress is dipped in oil and vinegar to be eaten at
table with chicken or a steak. The Englishman takes it at his
morning or evening meal, with bread and butter, or at dinner in a
salad. It loses some of its pungent flavour and of its curative
qualities [132] when cultivated; and therefore it is more appetising
and useful when freshly gathered from natural streams. But these
streams ought to be free from contamination by sewage matter, or
any drainage which might convey the germs of fever, or other
blood poison: for, as we are admonished, the Water-cress plant
acts as a brush in impure running brooks to detain around its stalks
and leaves any dirty disease-bringing flocculi.

Some of our leading druggists now make for medicinal use a
liquid extract of the _Nasturtium officinale_, and a spirituous juice
(or _succus_) of the plant. These preparations are of marked
service in scorbutic cases, where weakness exists without wasting,
and often with spongy gums, or some skin eruption. They are best
when taken with lemon juice.

The leaf of the unwholesome Water parsnep, or Fool's Cress,
resembles that of the Water-cress, and grows near it not infrequently:
but the leaves of the true Water-cress never embrace the stem
of the plant as do the leaf stalks of its injurious imitators.
Herrick the joyous poet of "dull Devonshire" dearly loved the
Water-cress, and its kindred herbs. He piously and pleasantly
made them the subject of a quaint grace before meat:--

    "Lord, I confess too when I dine
        The pulse is Thine:
    And all those other bits that be
        There placed by Thee:
    The wurts, the perslane, and the mess
        of Water-cress."

The true _Nasturtium_ (_Tropoeolum majus_), or greater Indian
Cress grows and is cultivated in our flower gardens as a brilliant
ornamental creeper. It was brought from Peru to France in 1684, and
was called _La grande Capucine_, whilst the botanical title
_tropoeolum_, [133] a trophy, was conferred because of its
shield-like leaves, and its flowers resembling a golden helmet.
An old English name for the same plant was Yellow Lark's heels.

Two years later it was introduced into England. This partakes of
the sensible and useful qualities of the other cresses. The fresh
plant and the dark yellow flowers have an odour like that of the
Water-cress, and its bruised leaves emit a pungent smell. An
infusion made with water will bring out the antiscorbutic virtues of
the plant which are specially aromatic, and cordial. The flowers
make a pretty and palatable addition to salads, and the nuts or
capsules (which resemble the "cheeses" of Mallow) are esteemed
as a pickle, or as a substitute for Capers. Invalids have often
preferred this plant to the Scurvy grass as an antiscorbutic remedy.
In the warm summer months the flowers have been observed about
the time of sunset to give out sparks, as of an electrical kind,
which were first noticed by a daughter of Linnoeus.

The _Water-cress_ is justly popular with persons who drink freely
overnight, for its power of dissipating the fumes of the liquor, and
of clearing away lethargic inaptitude for work in the morning: also
for dispelling the tremors, and the foul taste induced by excessive
tobacco smoking.

Closely allied thereto is another cruciferous plant, the Scurvy
grass (_Cochleare_), named also "Spoon-wort" from its leaves
resembling in shape the bowl of an old-fashioned spoon. This is
thought to be the famous _Herba Britannica_ of the ancients. Our
great navigators have borne testimony to its never failing use in
scurvy, and, though often growing many miles from the sea, yet
the taste of the herb is always [134] found to be salt. If eaten in
its fresh state, as a salad, it is the most effectual of all the
antiscorbutic plants, the leaves being admirable also to cure
swollen and spongy gums. It grows along the muddy banks of the
Avon, likewise in Wales, and is found in Cumberland, more
commonly near the coast; and again on the mountains of Scotland.
It may be readily cultivated in the garden for medicinal use.

The Cuckoo flower, or "Ladies' Smock" (Cardamine) from _Cardia
damao_, "I strengthen the heart," is another wholesome Cress
with the same sensible properties as the Water-cress, only in
an inferior degree, while the strong pungency of its flavour
prevents it from being equally popular. This plant bears also the
names of "Lucy Locket," and "Smell Smocks." In Cornwall the
flowering tops have been employed for the cure of epilepsy
throughout several generations with singular success; though the
use of the leaves only for this purpose has caused disappointment.
From one to three drams of these flowering tops are to be taken
two or three times a day.

By the Rev. Mr. Gregor (1793) and by his descendants this
remedy was given for inveterate epilepsy with much benefit.
Lady Holt, and her sister Lady Bracebridge, of Aston Hall,
Warwickshire, were long famous for curing severe cases of the
same infirmity by administering this herb. They gave the
powdered heads of the flowers when in full bloom-twelve grains
three times a day for many weeks together.

Sir George Baker in 1767 read a paper before the London College
of Physicians on the value of these flowers in convulsive
disorders. He related five cures of St. Vitus' dance, spasmodic
convulsions, and spasmodic asthma. Formerly the flowers were
admitted into the [135] London Pharmacopoeia. The herb was
named Ladies' Smock in honour of the Virgin Mary, because it
comes first into flower about Lady Day, being abundant with its
delicate lilac blossoms in our moist meadows and marshes:

    "Lady Smocks all silver white
    Do paint the meadows with delight."

This plant is also named--"Milk Maids," "Bread and Milk," and
"Mayflower." Gerard says "it flowers in April and May when
the Cuckoo cloth begin to sing her pleasant notes without
stammering." One of his characters is made by the Poet Laureate

    "Steep for Danewulf leaves of Lady Smock,
    For they keep strong the heart."

"And so much," as says William Cole, herbalist, in his _Paradise
of Plants_, 1650, "for such Plants as cure the Scurvy."


Cumin (_Cuminum cyminum_) is not half sufficiently known, or
esteemed as a domestic condiment of medicinal value, and
culinary uses; whilst withal of ready access as one of our
commonest importations from Malta and Sicily for flavouring
purposes, and veterinary preparations. It is an umbelliferous plant,
and large quantities of its seeds are brought every year to England.
The herb has been cultivated in the East from early days, being
called "Cuminum" by the Greeks in classic times. The seeds
possess a strong aromatic odour with a penetrating and bitter taste;
when distilled they yield a pungent powerful essential oil. The
older herbalists esteemed them superior in comforting carminative
[136] qualities to those of the fennel or caraway. They are
eminently useful to correct the flatulence of languid digestion,
serving also to relieve dyspeptic headache, to allay colic of the
bowels, and to promote the monthly flow of women.

In Holland and Switzerland they are employed for flavouring
cheese; whilst in Germany they are added to bread as a condiment.

Here the seeds are introduced in the making of curry powder, and
are compounded to form a stimulating liniment; likewise a
warming plaster for quickening the sluggish congestions of
indolent parts. The odorous volatile oil of the fruit contains the
hydro-carbons "Cymol," and "Cuminol," which are redolent of
lemon and caraway odours. A dose of the seeds is from fifteen to
thirty grains. Cumin symbolised cupidity among the Greeks:
wherefore Marcus Antoninus was so nick-named because of his
avarice; and misers were jocularly said to have eaten Cumin.

The herb was thought to specially confer the gift of retention,
preventing the theft of any object which contained it, and holding
the thief in custody within the invaded house; also keeping fowls
and pigeons from straying, and lovers from proving fickle. If a
swain was going off as a soldier, or to work a long way from his
home, his sweetheart would give him a loaf seasoned with Cumin,
or a cup of wine in which some of the herb had been mixed.

The ancients were acquainted with the power of Cumin to cause
the human countenance to become pallid; and as a medicine the
herb is well calculated to cure such pallor of the face when
occurring as an illness. Partridges and pigeons [137] are extremely
fond of the seeds: respecting the scriptural use of which in the
payment of taxes we are reminded (Luke xi. v. 42)--"ye pay tithe
of mint, and anise, and cummin." It has been discovered by Grisar
that Cumin oil exercises a special action which gives it importance
as a medicine. This is to signally depress nervous reflex
excitability when administered in full doses, as of from two to
eight drops of the oil on sugar. And when the aim is to stimulate
such reflex sensibility as impaired by disease, small diluted doses
of the oil serve admirably to promote this purpose.


The original Currants in times past were small grapes, grown in
Greece at Zante, near Corinth, and termed Corinthians; then they
became Corantes, and eventually Currants. But, as an old Roman
proverb pertinently said: _Non cuivis homini contingit adire
Corinthum_, "It was not for everyone to visit fashionable
Corinth." And therefore the name of Currants became transferred
in the Epirus to certain small fruit of the Gooseberry order which
closely resembled the grapes of Zante, but were identical rather
with the Currants of our modern kitchen gardens, such as we now
use for making puddings, pies, jams, and jellies. The bushes which
produce this fruit grow wild in the Northern part, of Great Britain,
and belong to the Saxifrage order of plants. The wild Red Currant
bears small berries which are intensely acid. In modern Italy
basketsful are gathered in the woods of the Apennines, and the

Currants are not mentioned in former Greek or Roman literature,
nor do they seem to have been cultivated by the Anglo-Saxons, or
the Normans. Our several sorts [138] of Currants afford a striking
illustration of the mode which their parent bushes have learnt to
adopt so as to attract by their highly coloured fruits the birds
which shall disperse their seeds. These colours are not developed
until the seed is ripe for germination; because if birds devoured
them prematurely the seed would fall inert. But simultaneously
come the ripeness and the soft sweet pulp, and the rich colouring,
so that the birds may be attracted to eat the fruit, and spread the
seed in their droppings. Zeuxis, a famous Sicilian painter four
hundred years before Christ, depicted currants and grapes with
such fidelity that birds came and tried to peck them out from his

White Currants are the most simple in kind; and the Red are a step
in advance. If equal parts of either fruit and of sugar are put over
the fire, the liquid which separates spontaneously will make a very
agreeable jelly because of the "pectin" with which it is chemically
furnished. Nitric acid will convert this pectin into oxalic acid, or
salts of sorrel. The juice of Red Currants also contains malic and
citric acids, which are cooling and wholesome. In the Northern
counties this red Currant is called Wineberry, or Garnetberry, from
its rich ruddy colour, and transparency. Its sweetened juice is a
favourable drink in Paris, being preferred there to the syrup of
_orgeat _(almonds). When made into a jelly with sugar the juice of
red Currants is excellent in fevers, and acts as an anti-putrescent;
as likewise if taken at table with venison, or hare, or other "high"
meats. This fruit especially suits persons of sanguine temperament.
Both red and white Currants are without doubt trustworthy
remedies in most forms of obstinate visceral obstruction, and they
correct impurities of the blood, being certainly antiseptic.

[139] The black Currant is found growing wild in England, for the
most part by the edges of brooks, and in moist grounds, from
mid-Scotland southwards. Throughout Sussex and Kent the shrub is
called "Gazles" as corrupted from the French _Groseilles_
(Gooseberries). The fruit is cooling, laxative, and anodyne. Its
thickened juice concocted over the fire, with, or without sugar,
formed a "rob" of Old English times. The black Currant is often
named by our peasantry "Squinancy," or "Quinsyberry," because a
jelly prepared therefrom has been long employed for sore throat
and quinsy. The leaf glands of its young leaves secrete from their
under surface a fragrant odorous fluid. Therefore if newly
gathered, and infused for a moment in very hot water and then
dried, the leaves make an excellent substitute for tea; also these
fresh leaves when applied to a gouty part will assuage pain, and
inflammation. They are used to impart the flavour of brandy to
common spirit. Bergius called the leaf, _mundans, pellens, et
diuretica_. Botanically the black Currant, _Ribes nigrum_, belongs
to the Saxifrage tribe, this generic term Ribes being applied to all
fresh currants, as of Arabian origin, and signifying acidity.
Grocers' currants come from the Morea, being small grapes dried
in the sun, and put in heaps to cake together. Then they are dug out
with a crow-bar, and trodden into casks for exportation. Our
national plum pudding can no more be made without these currants
than "little Tom Tucker who for his supper, could cut his
bread without any knife or could find himself married without any
wife." Former cooks made an odd use of grocers' currants,
according to King, a poet of the middle ages, who says:--

    "They buttered currants on fat veal bestowed,
    And rumps of beef with virgin honey strewed."

[140] On the kitchen Currant a riddling rhyme was long ago to be
found in the _Children's Book of Conundrums_:--

    "Higgledy-piggledy, here I lie
    Picked and plucked, and put in a pie;
    My first is snapping, snarling, growling;
    My second noisy, ramping, prowling."

Eccles cakes are delicious Currant sandwiches which are very
popular in Manchester.

Black Currant jelly should not be made with too much sugar, else
its medicinal-virtues will be impaired. A teaspoonful of this jelly
may be given three or four times in the day to a child with thrush.
In Russia the leaves of the black Currant are employed to fabricate
brandy made with a coarse spirit. These leaves and the fruit are
often combined by our herbalists with the seeds of the wild carrot
for stimulating the kidneys in passive dropsy. A medicinal wine is
also brewed from the fruit together with honey. In this country we
use a decoction of the leaf, or of the bark as a gargle. In Siberia
black Currants grow as large as hazel nuts. Both the black and the
red Currants afford a pleasant home-made wine. _Ex eo optimum
vinum fieri potest non deterius vinis vetioribus viteis_, wrote
Haller in 1750. White Currants, however, yield the best wine, and
this may be improved by keeping, even for twenty years. Dr.
Thornton says: "I have used old wine of white Currants for
calculous affections, and it has surpassed all expectation."

A delicate jelly is made from the red Currant at Bas-le-duc; and a
well-known nursery rhyme tells of the tempting qualities of
"cherry pie, and currant wine." A rob of black Currant jam is taken
in Scotland with whiskey toddy. Shakespeare in the _Winter's
Tale_ makes Antolycus, the shrewd "picker-up of unconsidered
[141] trifles" talk of buying for the sheep-shearing feast "three
pounds of sugar, five pounds of currants, and rice." In France a
cordial called _Liqueur de cassis_ is made from black Currants;
and a refreshing drink, _Eau de groseilles_, from the red.

Some forty years ago, at the time of the Crimean war a patriotic
song in praise of the French flag was most popular in our streets,
and had for its refrain, "Hurrah for the Red, White, and Blue!" So
valuable for food and physics are our tricoloured Currants that the
same argot may be justly paraphrased in their favour, with a
well-merited eulogium of "Hurrah for the White, Red, Black!"


The yellow Daffodil, which is such a favourite flower of our early
Spring because of its large size, and showy yellow color, grows
commonly in English woods, fields, and orchards. Its popular
names, Daffodowndilly, Daffodily, and Affodily, bear reference to
the Asphodel, with which blossom of the ancient Greeks this is
identical. It further owns the botanical name of Narcissus
(pseudo-narcissus)--not after the classical youth who met with his
death through vainly trying to embrace his image reflected in a clear
stream because of its exquisite beauty, and who is fabled to have
been therefore changed into flower--but by reason of the narcotic
properties which the plant possesses, as signified by the Greek
word, _Narkao_, "to benumb." Pliny described it as a _Narce
narcisswm dictum, non a fabuloso puero_. An extract of the bulbs
when applied to open wounds has produced staggering, numbness
of the whole nervous system, and paralysis of the heart. Socrates
called this plant the "Chaplet of the Infernal Gods," because of its
[142] narcotic effects. Nevertheless, the roots of the asphodel were
thought by the ancient Greeks to be edible, and they were
therefore laid in tombs as food for the dead. Lucian tells us that
Charon, the ferryman who rowed the souls of the departed over the
river Styx, said: "I know why Mercury keeps us waiting here so
long. Down in these regions there is nothing to be had but,
asphodel, and oblations, in the midst of mist and darkness;
whereas up in heaven he finds it all bright and clear, with
ambrosia there, and nectar in plenty."

In the Middle Ages the roots of the Daffodil were called _Cibi
regis_, "food for a king,"; but his Majesty must have had a
disturbed night after partaking thereof, as they are highly
stimulating to the kidneys: indeed, there is strong reason for
supposing that these roots have a prior claim to those of the
dandelion for lectimingous fame, (_lectus_, "the bed"; _mingo_, to

The brilliant yellow blossom of the Daffodil possesses, as is well
known, a bell-shaped crown in the midst of its petals, which is
strikingly characteristic. The flower-stalk is hollow, bearing on its
summit a membranous sheath, which envelops a single flower of
an unpleasant odour. But the Jonquil, which is a cultivated variety
of the Daffodil, having white petals with a yellow crown, yields a
delicious perfume, which modern chemistry can closely imitate by
a hydrocarbon compound. If "naphthalin," a product of coal tar oil,
has but the smallest particle of its scent diffused in a room, the
special aroma of jonquil and narcissus is at once perceived.

When the flowers of the Daffodil are dried in the sun, if a
decoction of them is made, from fifteen to thirty grains will prove
emetic like that of Ipecacuanha. From five to six ounces of boiling
water should be poured on this quantity of the dried [143] flowers,
and should stand for twenty minutes. It will then serve most
usefully for relieving the congestive bronchial catarrh of children,
being sweetened, and given one third at a time every ten or fifteen
minutes until it provokes vomiting. It is also beneficial in this way,
but when given less often, for epidemic dysentery.

The chemical principles of the Daffodil have not been investigated;
but a yellow volatile oil of disagreeable odour, and a brown
colouring matter, have been got from the flowers.

Arabians commended this oil to be applied for curing baldness,
and for stimulating the sexual organs.

Herrick alludes in his _Hesperides_ to the Daffodil as death:--

    "When a Daffodil I see
    Hanging down its head towards me,
    Guess I may what I must be--
    First I shall decline my head;
    Secondly I shall be dead;
    Lastly, safely buried."

Daffodils, popularly known in this country as Lent Lilies, are
called by the French _Pauvres filles de Sainte Clare_. The name
_Junquillo_ is the Spanish diminutive of _Junco_, "the rush," and
is given to the jonquil because of its slender rush-like stem. From
its fragrant flowers a sweet-smelling yellow oil is obtained.

The medicinal influence of the daffodil on the nervous System has
led to giving its flowers and its bulb for Hysterical affections, and
even epilepsy, with benefit.


Our English Daisy is a composite flower which is called in the
glossaries "gowan," or Yellow flower. Botanically [144] it is
named _Bellis perennis_, probably from _bellis_, "in fields of
battle," because of its fame in healing the wounds of soldiers; and
perennis as implying that though "the rose has but a summer reign,
the daisy never dies," The flower is likewise known as "Bainwort,"
"beloved by children," and "the lesser Consound." The whole plant
has been carefully and exhaustively proved for curative purposes;
and a medicinal tincture (H.) is now made from it with spirit of
wine. Gerard says: "Daisies do mitigate all kinds of pain,
especially in the joints, and gout proceeding from a hot humour, if
stamped with new butter and applied upon the pained place." And,
"The leaves of Daisies used among pot herbs do make the belly
soluble." Pliny tells us the Daisy was used in his time with
Mugwort as a resolvent to scrofulous tumours.

The leaves are acrid and pungent, being ungrateful to cattle, and
even rejected by geese. These and the flowers, when chewed
experimentally, have provoked giddiness and pains in the arms as
if from coming boils: also a development of boils, "dark, fiery, and
very sore," on the back of the neck, and outside the jaws. For
preventing, or aborting these same distressing formations when
they begin to occur spontaneously, the tincture of Daisies should
be taken in doses of five drops three times a day in water.
Likewise this medicine should be given curatively on the principle
of affinity between it and the symptoms induced in provers who
have taken the same in material toxic doses, "when the brain is
muddled, the sight dim, the spirits soon depressed, the temper
irritable, the skin pimply, the heart apt to flutter, and the whole
aspect careworn; as if from early excesses." Then the infusion of
the plant in tablespoonful doses, or the diluted tincture, will
answer admirably [145] to renovate and re-establish the health and
strength of the sufferer.

The flowers and leaves are found to afford a considerable quantity
of oil and of ammoniacal salts. The root was named _Consolida
minima _by older physicians. Fabricius speaks of its efficacy in
curing wounds and contusions. A decoction of the leaves and
flowers was given internally, and the bruised herb blended with
lard was applied outside. "The leaves stamped do take away
bruises and swellings, whereupon, it was called in old time
Bruisewort." If eaten as a spring salad, or boiled like spinach, the
leaves are pungent, and slightly laxative.

Being a diminutive plant with roots to correspond, the Daisy, on
the doctrine of signatures, was formerly thought to arrest the
bodily growth if taken with this view. Therefore its roots boiled in
broth were given to young puppies so as to keep them of a small
size. For the same reason the fairy Milkah fed her foster child on
this plant, "that his height might not exceed that of a pigmy":--

    "She robbed dwarf elders of their fragrant fruit,
    And fed him early with the daisy-root,
    Whence through his veins the powerful juices ran,
    And formed the beauteous miniature of man."

"Daisy-roots and cream" were prescribed by the fairy godmothers
of our childhood to stay the stature of those gawky youngsters
who were shooting up into an ungainly development like "ill
weeds growing apace."

Daisies were said of old to be under the dominion of Venus, and
later on they were dedicated to St. Margaret of Cortona. Therefore
they were reputed good for the special-illnesses of females. It is
remarkable there is no [146] Greek word for this plant, or flower.
Ossian the Gaelic poet feigns that the Daisy, whose white
investments figure innocence, was first "sown above a baby's
grave by the dimpled hands of infantine angels."

During mediaeval times the Daisy was worn by knights at a
tournament as an emblem of fidelity. In his poem the _Flower and
the Leaf_, Chaucer, who was ever loud in his praises of the "Eye
of Day"--"empresse and floure of floures all," thus pursues his

    "And at the laste there began anon
    A lady for to sing right womanly
    A bargaret in praising the Daisie:
    For--as methought among her notes sweet,
    She said, '_Si doucet est la Margarete_.'"

The French name _Marguerite _is derived from a supposed resemblance
of the Daisy to a pearl; and in Germany this flower is known
as the Meadow Pearl. Likewise the Greek word for a pearl is

A saying goes that it is not Spring until a person can put his foot
on twelve of these flowers. In the cultivated red Daisies used for
bordering our gardens, the yellow central boss of each compound
flower has given place to strap-shaped florets like the outer rays,
and without pollen, so that the entire flower consists of this purple
inflorescence. But such aristocratic culture has made the blossom
unproductive of seed. Like many a proud and belted Earl, each of
the pampered and richly coloured Daisies pays the penalty of its
privileged luxuriance by a disability from perpetuating its species.

The Moon Daisy, or Oxeye Daisy (_Leucanthemum Orysanthemum_),
St. John's flower, belonging to the same tribe of plants,
grows commonly with an erect stem about two feet high, in
dry pastures and roads, bearing large solitary flowers which are
balsamic and make a [147] useful infusion for relieving chronic
coughs, and for bronchial catarrhs. Boiled with some of the leaves
and stalks they form, if sweetened with honey, or barley sugar, an
excellent posset drink for the same purpose. In America the root is
employed successfully for checking the night sweats of pulmonary
consumption, a fluid extract thereof being made for this object, the
dose of which is from fifteen to sixty drops in water.

The Moon Daisy is named Maudlin-wort from St. Mary Magdalene,
and bears its lunar name from the Grecian goddess of the
moon, Artemis, who particularly governed the female health.
Similarly, our bright little Daisy, "the constellated flower that
never sets," owns the name Herb Margaret. The Moon Daisy is
also called Bull Daisy, Gipsies' Daisy, Goldings, Midsummer
Daisy, Mace Flinwort, and Espilawn. Its young leaves are
sometimes used as a flavouring in soups and stews. The flower
was compared to the representation of a full moon, and was
formerly dedicated to the Isis of the Egyptians. Tom Hood wrote
of a traveller estranged far from his native shores, and walking
despondently in a distant land:--

    "When lo! he starts with glad surprise,
        Home thoughts come rushing o'er him,
    For, modest, wee, and crimson-tipped
        A flower he sees before him.
    With eager haste he stoops him down,
        His eyes with moisture hazy;
    And as he plucks the simple bloom
        He murmurs, 'Lawk, a Daisy'"!


Owing to long years of particular evolutionary sagacity in
developing winged seeds to be wafted from the silky pappus of its
ripe flowerheads over wide areas of land, [148] the Dandelion
exhibits its handsome golden flowers in every field and on every
ground plot throughout the whole of our country. They are to be
distinguished from the numerous hawkweeds, by having the
outermost leaves of their exterior cup bent downwards whilst the
stalk is coloured and shining. The plant-leaves have jagged edges
which resemble the angular jaw of a lion fully supplied with teeth;
or, some writers say, the herb has been named from the heraldic
lion which is vividly yellow, with teeth of gold-in fact, a dandy
lion! Again, the flower closely resembles the sun, which a lion
represents. It is called by some Blowball, Time Table, and Milk
"Gowan" (or golden).

    "How like a prodigal does Nature seem,
    When thou with all thy gold so common art."

In some of our provinces the herb is known as Wiggers, and
Swinesnout; whilst again in Devon and Cornwall it is called the
Dashelflower. Botanically it belongs to the composite order, and is
named _Taraxacum Leontodon_, or eatable, and lion-toothed. This
latter when Latinised is _dens leonis_, and in French _dent de
lion_. The title Taraxacum is an Arabian corruption of the Greek
_trogimon_, "edible"; or it may have been derived from the Greek
_taraxos_, "disorder," and _akos_, "remedy." It once happened
that a plague of insects destroyed the harvest in the island of
Minorca, so that the inhabitants had to eat the wild produce of the
country; and many of them then subsisted for some while entirely
on this plant. The Dandelion, which is a wild sort of Succory, was
known to Arabian physicians, since Avicenna of the eleventh
century mentions it as _taraxacon_. It is found throughout Europe,
Asia, and North America; possessing a root which abounds with
milky juice, and [149] this varying in character according to the
time of year in which the plant is gathered.

During the winter the sap is thick, sweet, and albuminous; but in
summer time it is bitter and acrid. Frost causes the bitterness to
diminish, and sweetness to take its place; but after the frost this
bitterness returns, and is intensified. The root is at its best for
yielding juice about November. Chemically the active ingredients
of the herb are taraxacin, and taraxacerine, with inulin (a sort of
sugar), gluten, gum, albumen, potash, and an odorous resin, which
is commonly supposed to stimulate the liver, and the biliary
organs. Probably this reputed virtue was assigned at first to the
plant largely on the doctrine of signatures, because of its bright
yellow flowers of a bilious hue. But skilled medical provers who
have experimentally tested the toxical effects of the Dandelion
plant have found it to produce, when taken in excess, troublesome
indigestion, characterized by a tongue coated with a white skin
which peels off in patches, leaving a raw surface, whilst the
kidneys become unusually active, with profuse night sweats and
an itching nettle rash. For these several symptoms when occurring
of themselves, a combination of the decoction, and the medicinal
tincture will be invariably curative.

To make a decoction of the root, one part of this dried, and sliced,
should be gently boiled for fifteen minutes in twenty parts of
water, and strained off when cool. It may be sweetened with
brown sugar, or honey, if unpalatable when taken alone, several
teacupfuls being given during the day. Dandelion roots as
collected for the market are often adulterated with those of the
common Hawkbit (_Leontodon hispidus_); but these are more
tough and do not give out any milky juice.

[150] The tops of the roots dug out of the ground, with the tufts of
the leaves remaining thereon, and blanched by being covered in
the earth as they grow, if gathered in the spring, are justly
esteemed as an excellent vernal salad. It was with this homely fare
the good wise Hecate entertained Theseus, as we read in Evelyn's
_Acetaria_. Bergius says he has seen intractable cases of liver
congestion cured, after many other remedies had failed, by the
patients taking daily for some months, a broth made from
Dandelion roots stewed in boiling water, with leaves of Sorrel, and
the yelk of an egg; though (he adds) they swallowed at the same
time cream of tartar to keep their bodies open.

Incidentally with respect to the yelk of an egg, as prescribed here,
it is an established fact that patients have been cured of obstinate
jaundice by taking a raw egg on one or more mornings while
fasting. Dr. Paris tells us a special oil is to be extracted from the
yelks (only) of hard boiled eggs, roasted in pieces in a frying pan
until the oil begins to exude, and then pressed hard. Fifty eggs well
fried will yield about five ounces of this oil, which is acrid, and so
enduringly liquid that watch-makers use it for lubricating the axles
and pivots of their most delicate wheels. Old eggs furnish the oil
most abundantly, and it certainly acts as a very useful medicine for
an obstructed liver. Furthermore the shell, when finely triturated,
has served by its potentialised lime to cure some forms of cancer.
Sweet are the uses of adversity! even such as befell the egg
symbolised by Humpty-Dumpty:--

    "Humptius in muro requievit Dumptius alto,
    Humptius e muro Dumptius--heu! cecidit!
    Sed non Regis equi, Reginae exercitus omnis
    Humpti, te, Dumpti, restituere loco."

[151] The medicinal tincture of Dandelion is made from the entire
plant, gathered in summer, employing proof spirit which dissolves
also the resinous parts not soluble in water. From ten to fifteen
drops of this tincture may be taken with a spoonful of water three
times in the day.

Of the freshly prepared juice, which should not be kept long as it
quickly ferments, from two to three teaspoonfuls are a proper
dose. The leaves when tender and white in the spring are taken on
the Continent in salads or they are blanched, and eaten with bread
and butter. Parkinson says: "Whoso is drawing towards a
consumption, or ready to fall into a cachexy, shall find a
wonderful help from the use thereof, for some time together."
Officially, according to the London College, are prepared from the
fresh dried roots collected in the autumn, a decoction (one ounce
to a pint of boiling water), a juice, a fresh extract, and an
inspissated liquid extract.

Because of its tendency to provoke involuntary urination at night,
the Dandelion has acquired a vulgar suggestive appellation which
expresses this fact in most homey terms: _quasi herba lectiminga,
et urinaria dicitur_: and this not only in our vernacular, but in most
of the European tongues: _quia plus lotii in vesicam derivat quam
puerulis retineatur proesertim inter dormiendum, eoque tunc
imprudentes et inviti stragula permingunt_.

At Gottingen, the roots are roasted and used instead of coffee by
the poorer folk; and in Derbyshire the juice of the stalk is applied
to remove warts. The flower of the Dandelion when fully blown is
named Priest's Crown (_Caput monachi_), from the resemblance
of its naked receptacle after the winged seeds have been all blown
away, to the smooth shorn head of a Roman [152] cleric. So
Hurdis sings in his poem _The Village Curate_:--

    "The Dandelion this:
    A college youth that flashes for a day
    All gold: anon he doffs his gaudy suit,
    Touched by the magic hand of Bishop grave,
    And all at once by commutation strange
    Becomes a reverend priest: and then how sleek!
    How full of grace! with silvery wig at first
    So nicely trimmed, which presently grows bald.
    But let me tell you, in the pompous globe
    Which rounds the Dandelion's head is fitly couched
    Divinity most rare."

Boys gather the flower when ripe, and blow away the hall of its
silky seed vessels at the crown, to learn the time of day, thus
sportively making:--

    "Dandelion with globe of down
    The school-boy's clock in every town."


Dates are the most wholesome and nourishing of all our imported
fruits. Children especially appreciate their luscious sweetness, as
afforded by an abundant sugar which is easily digested, and which
quickly repairs waste of heat and fat. With such a view, likewise,
doctors now advise dates for consumptive patients; also because
they soothe an irritable chest, and promote expectoration; whilst,
furthermore, they prevent costiveness. Dates are the fruit of the
Date palm (_Phoenix dactylifera_), or, Tree of Life.

In old English Bibles of the sixteenth century, the name Date-tree
is constantly given to the Palm, and the fruit thereof was the first
found by the Israelites when wandering in the Wilderness.

Oriental writers have attributed to this tree a certain semi-human
consciousness. The name _Phoenix_ was [153] bestowed on the
Date palm because a young shoot springs always from the withered
stump of an old decayed Date tree, taking the place of the
dead parent; and the specific term _Dactylifera_ refers to a fancied
resemblance between clusters of the fruit and the human fingers.

The Date palm is remarkably fond of water, and will not thrive
unless growing near it, so that the Arabs say: "In order to flourish,
its feet must be in the water, and its head in the fire (of a hot sun)."
Travellers across the desert, when seeing palm Dates in the
horizon, know that wells of water will be found near at hand: at
the same time they sustain themselves with Date jam.

In some parts of the East this Date palm is thought been the tree of
the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It is mystically
represented as the tree of life in the sculptured foliage of early
French churches, and on the primitive mosaics found in the apses
of Roman Basilicas. Branches of this tree are carried about in
Catholic countries on Palm Sunday. Formerly Dates were sent to
England and elsewhere packed in mats from the Persian gulf; but
now they arrive in clean boxes, neatly laid, and free from duty; so
that a wholesome, sustaining, and palatable meal may be had for
one penny, if they are eaten with bread.

The Egyptian Dates are superior, being succulent and luscious
when new, but apt to become somewhat hard after Christmas.

The Dates, however, which surpass all others in their general
excellence, are grown with great care at Tafilat, two or three
hundred miles inland from Morocco, a region to which Europeans
seldom penetrate.

These Dates travel in small packages by camel, rail, and steamer,
being of the best quality, and highly valued. Their exportation is
prohibited by the African [154] authorities at Tafilat, unless the
fruit crop has been large enough to allow thereof after gathering
the harvest with much religious ceremony.

Dates of a second quality are brought from Tunis, being intermixed
with fragments of stalk and branch; whilst the inferior sorts
come in the form of a cake, or paste (_adjoue!_), being pressed
into baskets. In this shape they were tolerably common with us
in Tudor times, and were then used for medicinal purposes. Strutt
mentions a grocer's bill delivered in 1581, in which occurs
the item of six pounds of dates supplied at a funeral for
two shillings; and we read that in 1821 the best kind of dates
cost five shillings a pound.

If taken as a portable refection by jurymen and others who may be
kept from their customary food Dates will prevent exhaustion, and
will serve to keep active the energies of mind and body. The fruit
should be selected when large and soft, being moist, and of a
reddish yellow colour outside, and not much wrinkled, whilst
having within a white membrane between the flesh and the stone.

Beads for rosaries are made in Barbary from Date stones turned in
a lathe; or when soaked in water for a couple of days the stones
may be given to cattle as a nutritious food, being first ground in a
mill. The fodder being astringent will serve by its tannin, which is
abundant, to cure or prevent looseness.

In a clever parody on Bret Harte's "Heathen Chinee," an undergraduate
is detected in having primed himself before examination thus:--

    "Inscribed on his cuffs were the Furies, and Fates,
    With a delicate map of the Dorian States:
    Whilst they found in his palms, which were hollow,
    What are common in Palms--namely, Dates."

[155] Again, a conserve is prepared by the Egyptians from unripe
Dates whole with sugar. The soft stones are edible: and this jam,
though tasteless, is very nourishing. The Arabs say that Adam
when driven out of Paradise took with him three things--the Date,
chief of all fruits, Myrtle, and an ear of Wheat.

Another Palm--the _Sagus_, or, _Cycus revolute_,--which grows
naturally in Japan and the East Indian Islands, being also
cultivated in English hot-houses, yields by its gummy pith our
highly nutritious sago. This when cooked is one of the best and
most sustaining foods for children and infirm old persons. The
Indians reserve their finest sago for the aged and afflicted. A
fecula is washed from the abundant pith, which is chemically a
starch, very demulcent, and more digestible than that of rice. It
never ferments in the stomach, and is very suitable for hectic
persons. By the Arabs the pith of the Date-bearing Palm is eaten in
like manner. The simple wholesome virtues of this domestic
substance have been told of from childhood in the well-known
nursery rhyme, which has been playfully rendered into Latin and

    "There was an old man of Iago
    Whom they kept upon nothing but sago;
    Oh! how he did jump when the doctor said plump:
    'To a roast leg of mutton you may go.'"

    "Jamdudum senior quidam de rure Tobagus
    Invito mad das carpserat ore dapes;
    Sed medicus tandem non injucunda locutus:
    'Assoe' dixit 'oves sunt tibi coena, senex.'"

    "J'ai entendu parler d'un veillard de Tobag
    Qui ne mangea longtemps que du ris et du sague;
    Mais enfin le medecin lui dit ces mots:
    'Allez vous en, mon ami, au gigot.'"

[156] DILL.

Cordial waters distilled from the fragrant herb called Dill are, as
every mother and monthly nurse well know, a sovereign remedy
for wind in the infant; whilst they serve equally well to correct
flatulence in the grown up "gourmet." This highly scented plant
(_Anethum graveolens_) is of Asiatic origin, growing wild also in
some parts of England, and commonly cultivated in our gardens
for kitchen or medicinal uses.

It "hath a little stalk of a cubit high, round, and joyned, whereupon
do grow leaves very finely cut, like to those of Fennel, but much
smaller." The herb is of the umbelliferous order, and its fruit
chemically furnishes "anethol," a volatile empyreumatic oil similar
to that contained in the Anise, and Caraway. Virgil speaks of the
Dill in his _Second Eclogue _as the _bene olens anethum_, "a
pleasant and fragrant plant." Its seeds were formerly directed to be
used by the _Pharmacopoeias_ of London and Edinburgh. Forestus
extols them for allaying sickness and hiccough. Gerard says:
"Dill stayeth the yeox, or hicquet, as Dioscorides has taught."

The name _Anethum _was a radical Greek term (_aitho_--to
burn), and the herb is still called Anet in some of our country
districts. The pungent essential oil which it yields consists of a
hydrocarbon, "carvene," together with an oxygenated oil; It is a
"gallant expeller of the wind, and provoker of the terms." "Limbs
that are swollen and cold if rubbed with the oil of Dill are much
eased; if not cured thereby."

A dose of the essential oil if given for flatulent indigestion should
be from two to four drops, on sugar, or with a tablespoonful of
milk. Of the distilled water sweetened, one or two teaspoonfuls
may be given to an infant.

[157] The name Dill is derived from the Saxon verb _dilla_, to
lull, because of its tranquillizing properties, and its causing
children to sleep. This word occurs in the vocabulary of Oelfric,
Archbishop of Canterbury, tenth century. Dioscorides gave the oil
got from the flowers for rheumatic pains, and sciatica; also a
carminative water distilled from the fruit, for increasing the milk
of wet nurses, and for appeasing the windy belly-aches of babies.
He teaches that a teaspoonful of the bruised seeds if boiled in
water and taken hot with bread soaked therein, wonderfully helps
such as are languishing from hardened excrements, even though
they may have vomited up their faeces.

The plant is largely grown in the East Indies, where is known as
_Soyah_. Its fruit and leaves are used for flavouring pickles, and
its water is given to parturient women.

Drayton speaks of the Dill as a magic ingredient in Love potions;
and the weird gipsy, Meg Merrilies, crooned a cradle song at the
birth of Harry Bertram in it was said:--

    "Trefoil, vervain, John's wort, _Dill_,
    Hinder witches of their will."


The term Dock is botanically a noun of multitude, meaning originally
a bundle of hemp, and corresponding to a similar word signifying a
flock. It became in early times applied to a wide-spread tribe of
broad-leaved wayside weeds. They all belong to the botanical order
of _Polygonaceoe_, or "many kneed" plants, because, like the wife
of Yankee Doodle, famous in song, they are "double-jointed;"
though he, poor man! expecting to find Mistress Doodle doubly
active in her household [158] duties, was, as the rhyme says,
"disappointed." The name "Dock" was first applied to the _Arctium
Lappa_, or Bur-dock, so called because of its seed-vessels
becoming frequently entangled by their small hooked spines
in the wool of sheep passing along by the hedge-rows. Then
the title got to include other broad-leaved herbs, all of the Sorrel
kind, and used in pottage, or in medicine.

Of the Docks which are here recognized, some are cultivated, such
as Garden Rhubarb, and the Monk's Rhubarb, or herb Patience, an
excellent pot herb; whilst others grow wild in meadows, and by
river sides, such as the round-leafed Dock (_Rumex obtusifolius_),
the sharp-pointed Dock (_Rumex acutus_), the sour Dock (_Rumex
acetosus_), the great water Dock (_Rumex hydrolapathum_),
and the bloody-veined Dock (_Rumex sanguineus_).

All these resemble our garden rhubarb more or less in their general
characteristics, and in possessing much tannin. Most of them
chemically furnish "rumicin," or crysophanic acid, which is highly
useful in several chronic diseases of the skin among scrofulous
patients. The generic name of several Docks is _rumex_, from the
Hebrew _rumach_, a "spear"; others arc called _lapathum_, from
the Greek verb _lapazein_, to cleanse, because they act medicinally
as purgatives.

The common wayside Dock (_Rumex obtusifolius_) is the most
ordinary of all the Docks, being large and spreading, and so coarse
that cattle refuse to eat it. The leaves are often applied as a rustic
remedy to burns and scalds, and are used for dressing blisters.
Likewise a popular cure for nettle stings is to rub them with a
Dock leaf, saying at the same time:--

    "Out nettle: in Dock;
    Dock shall have a new smock."

[159] or:

    "Nettle out: Dock in;
    Dock remove the nettle sting."

A tea made from the root was formerly given for the cure of boils,
and the plant is frequently called Butterdock, because its leaves
are put into use for wrapping up butter. This Dock will not thrive
in poor worthless soil; but its broad foliage serves to lodge the
destructive turnip fly. The root when dried maybe added to tooth

It was under the broad leaf of a roadside Dock that Hop o' My
Thumb, famous in nursery lore, sought refuge from a storm, and
was unfortunately swallowed whilst still beneath the leaf by a
passing hungry cow.

The herb Patience, or Monk's Rhubarb (_Rumex alpinus_), a
Griselda among herbs, may be given with admirable effect in
pottage, as a domestic aperient, "loosening the belly, helping the
jaundice, and dispersing the tympany." This grows wild in some
parts, by roadsides, and near cottages, but is not common except as
a cultivated herb ill the kitchen-garden, known as "Patience-dock."
It is a remarkable fact that the toughest flesh-meat, if boiled with
the herb, or with other kindred docks, will become quite tender.
The name Patience, or Passions, was probably from the Italian
_Lapazio_, a corruption of _Lapathum_, which was mistaken for
_la passio_, the passion of Christ.

Our _Garden Rhubarb_ is a true Dock, and belongs to the "many-kneed,"
buckwheat order of plants. Its brilliant colouring is due to
varying states of its natural pigment (_chlorophyll_), in
combination with oxygen. For culinary purposes the stalk, or
petiole of the broad leaf, is used. Its chief nutrient property is
glucose, which is identical with grape-sugar. The agreeable taste
and odour of the [160] plant are not brought out until the leaf
stalks are cooked. It came originally from the Volga, and has been
grown in this country since 1573. The sour taste of the stalks is
due to oxalic acid, or rather to the acid oxalate of potash. This
combines with the lime elaborated in the system of a gouty person
(having an "oxalic acid" disposition), and makes insoluble and
injurious products which have to be thrown off by the kidneys as
oxalate crystals, with much attendant irritation of the general
system. Sorrel (_Rumex acetosus_) acts with such a person in just
the same way, because of the acid oxalate of potash which it

Garden Rhubarb also possesses albumen, gum, and mineral matters,
with a small quantity of some volatile essence. The proportion
of nutritive substance to the water and vegetable fibre is
very small. As an article of food it is objectionable for gouty
persons liable to the passage of highly coloured urine, which
deposits lithates and urates as crystals after it has cooled; and this
especially holds good if hard water, which contains lime, is drunk
at the same time.

The round-leaved Dock, and the sharp-pointed Dock, together
with the bloody-veined Dock (which is very conspicuous because
of its veins and petioles abounding in a blood-coloured juice),
make respectively with their astringent roots a useful infusion
against bleedings and fluxes; also with their leaves a decoction
curative of several chronic skin diseases.

The _Rumex acetosus_ (Sour Dock, or Sorrel), though likely to
disagree with gouty persons, nevertheless supplies its leaves as the
chief constituent of the _Soupe aux herbes_, which a French lady
will order for herself after a long and tiring journey. Its title is
derived as some think, from struma, because curative [161]
thereof. This Dock further bears the names of Sour sabs, Sour
grabs, Soursuds, Soursauce, Cuckoo sorrow, and Greensauce.
Because of their acidity the leaves make a capital dressing with
stewed lamb, veal, or sweetbread. Country people beat the herb to
a mash, and take it mixed with vinegar and sugar as a green sauce
with cold meat. When boiled by itself without water it serves as an
excellent accompaniment to roast goose or pork instead of apple
sauce. The root of Sorrel when dried has the singular property of
imparting a fine red colour to boiling water, and it is therefore
used by the French for making barley water look like red wine
when they wish to avoid giving anything of a vinous character to
the sick. In Ireland Sorrel leaves are eaten with fish, and with other
alkalescent foods. Because corrective of scrofulous deposits,
Sorrel is specially beneficial towards the cure of scurvy. Applied
externally the bruised leaves will purify foul ulcers. Says John
Evelyn in his noted _Acetaria _(1720), "Sorrel sharpens the
appetite, assuages heat, cools the liver and strengthens the heart; it
is an antiscorbutic, resisting putrefaction, and in the making of
sallets imparts a grateful quickness to the rest as supplying the
want of oranges and lemons. Together with salt it gives both the
name and the relish to sallets from the sapidity which renders not
plants and herbs only, but men themselves, and their conversations
pleasant and agreeable. But of this enough, and perhaps too much!
lest while I write of salts and sallets I appear myself insipid."

The Wood Sorrel (_Oxalis acetosella_) is a distinct plant from the
Dock Sorrel, and is not one of the _Polygonaceoe_, but a
geranium, having a triple leaf which is often employed to
symbolise the Trinity. Painters of old [162] placed it in the
foreground of their pictures when representing the crucifixion. The
leaves are sharply acid through oxalate of potash, commonly
called "Salts of Lemon," which is quite a misleading name in its
apparent innocence as applied to so strong a poison. The petals are
bluish coloured, veined with purple. Formerly, on account of its
grateful acidity, a conserve was ordered by the London College to
be made from the leaves and petals of Wood Sorrel, with sugar
and orange peel, and it was called _Conserva lujuoe_.

The Burdock (_Arctium lappa_) grows very commonly in our
waste places, with wavy leaves, and round heads of purple
flowers, and hooked scales. From the seeds a medicinal tincture
(H.) is made, and a fluid extract, of which from ten to thirty drops,
given three times a day, with two tablespoonfuls of cold water,
will materially benefit certain chronic skin diseases (such as
psoriasis), if taken steadily for several weeks, or months. Dr.
Reiter of Pittsburg, U.S.A., says the Burdock feed has proved in
his hands almost a specific for psoriasis and for obstinate syphilis.
The tincture is of special curative value for treating that depressed
state of the general health which is associated with milky
phosphates in the urine, and much nervous debility. Eight or ten
drops of the reduced tincture should be given in water three times
a day.

The root in decoction is an excellent remedy for other skin
diseases of the scaly, itching, vesicular, pimply and ulcerative
characters. Many persons think it superior to Sarsaparilla. The
burs of this Dock are sometimes called "Cocklebuttons," or
"Cucklebuttons," and "Beggarsbuttons." Its Anglo-Saxon name
was "Fox's clote."

Boys throw them into the air at dusk to catch bats, which dart at
the Bur in mistake for a moth or fly; [163] then becoming
entangled with the thorny spines they fall helplessly to the ground.
Of the botanical names, _Arctium_ derived from _arktos_, a bear, in
allusion to the roughness of the burs; and _Lappa_ is from
_labein_, to seize. Other appellations of the herb are Clot-bur
(from sticking to clouts, or clothes), Clithe, Hurbur, and Hardock.
The leaves when applied externally are highly resolvent for
tumours, bruises, and gouty swellings. In the _Philadelphia
Recorder_ for January, 1893, a striking case is given of a fallen
womb cured after twenty years' duration by a decoction of
Burdock roots. The liquid extract acts as an admirable remedy in
some forms (strumous) of longstanding indigestion. The roots
contain starch; and the ashes of the plant burnt when green yield
carbonate of potash abundantly, with nitre, and inulin.

The Yellow Curled Dock (_Rumex crispus_), so called because its
leaves are crisped at their edges, grows freely in our roadside
ditches, and waste places, as a common plant; and a medicinal
tincture which is very useful (H.) is made from it before it flowers.
This is of particular service for giving relief to an irritable
tickling cough of the upper air-tubes, and the throat, when these
passages are rough and sore, and sensitive to the cold atmosphere,
with a dry cough occurring in paroxysms. It is likewise excellent for
dispelling any obstinate itching of the skin, in which respect it was
singularly beneficial against the contagious army-itch which
prevailed during the last American war. It acts like Sarsaparilla
chiefly, for curing scrofulous skin affections and glandular
swellings. To be applied externally an ointment may be made by
boiling the root in vinegar until the fibre is softened, and by then
mixing the pulp with lard (to which some sulphur is [164] added at
times). In all such cases of a scrofulous sort from five to ten drops
of the tincture should be given two or three times a day with a
spoonful of cold water.

Rumicin is the active principle of the Yellow Curled Dock; and
from the root, containing chrysarobin, a dried extract is prepared
officinally, of which from one to four grains may be given for a
dose in a pill. This is useful for relieving a congested liver, as
well as for scrofulous skin diseases.

"Huds," or the great Water Dock (_Rumex hydrolapathum_) is of
frequent growth on our river banks, bearing numerous green
flowers in leafless whorls, and being identical with the famous
_Herba Britannica_ of Pliny. This name does not denote British
origin, but is derived from three Teuton words, _brit_, to tighten:
_tan_, a tooth; and _ica_, loose; thus expressing its power of
bracing up loose teeth and spongy gums. Swedish ladies employ
the powdered root as a dentifrice; and gargles prepared therefrom
are excellent for sore throat and relaxed uvula. The fresh root must
be used, as it quickly turns yellow and brown in the air. The green
leaves make a capital application for ulcers of the legs. They
possess considerable acidity, and are laxative. Horace was aware
of this fact, as we learn by his _Sermonum, Libr_. ii., _Satir_ 4:--

    "Si dura morabitur alvus,
    Mytulus, et viles pellent, obstantia conchae,
    Et Lapathi brevis herba, sed albo non sine Coo."


"'Arn,' or the common Elder," says Gerard, "groweth everywhere;
and it is planted about cony burrows, for the shadow of the
conies." Formerly it was much [165] cultivated near our English
cottages, because supposed to afford protection against witches.
Hence it is that the Elder tree may be so often seen immediately
near old village houses. It acquired its name from the Saxon word
_eller_ or _kindler_, because its hollow branches were made into
tubes to blow through for brightening up a dull fire. By the Greeks
it was called _Aktee_. The botanical name of the Elder is
_Sambucus nigra_, from _sambukee_, a sackbut, because the
young branches, with their pith removed, were brought into
requisition for making the pipes of this, and other musical

It was probably introduced as a medicinal plant at the time of the
Monasteries. The adjective term _nigra_ refers to the colour of the
berries. These are without odour, rather acid, and sweetish to the
taste. The French put layers of the flowers among apples, to which
they impart, an agreeable odour and flavour like muscatel. A tract
on _Elder and Juniper Berries, showing how useful they may be in
our Coffee Houses_, is published with the _Natural History of
Coffee_, 1682. Elder flowers are fatal to turkeys.

Hippocrates gave the bark as a purgative; and from his time the
whole tree has possessed a medicinal celebrity, whilst its fame in
the hands of the herbalist is immemorial. German writers have
declared it contains within itself a magazine of physic, and a
complete chest of medicaments.

The leaves when bruised, if worn in the hat, or rubbed on the face,
will prevent flies from settling on the person. Likewise turnips,
cabbages, fruit trees, or corn, if whipped with the branches and
green leaves of Elder, will gain an immunity from all depredations
of blight; but moths are fond of the blossom.

Dried Elder flowers have a dull yellow colour, being [166]
shrivelled, and possessing a sweet faint smell, unlike the repulsive
odour of the fresh leaves and bark. They have a somewhat bitter,
gummy taste, and are sold in entire cymes, with the stalks. An
open space now seen in Malvern Chase was formerly called
Eldersfield, from the abundance of Elder trees which grew there.
"The flowers were noted," says Mr. Symonds, "for eye ointments,
and the berries for honey rob and black pigments. Mary of
Eldersfield, the daughter of Bolingbroke, was famous for her
knowledge of herb pharmacy, and for the efficacy of her nostrums."

Chemically the flowers contain a yellow, odorous, buttery oil, with
tannin, and malates of potash and lime, whilst the berries furnish
viburnic acid. On expression they yield a fine purple juice, which
proves a useful laxative, and a resolvent in recent colds. Anointed
on the hair they make it black.

A medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the fresh inner bark of the
young branches. This, when given in toxical quantities, will induce
profuse sweating, and will cause asthmatic symptoms to present
themselves. When used in a diluted form it is highly beneficial for
relieving the same symptoms, if they come on as an attack of
illness, particularly for the spurious croup of children, which
wakes them at night with a suffocative cough and wheezing. A
dose of four or five drops, if given at once, and perhaps repeated
in fifteen minutes, will straightway prove of singular service.

Sir Thomas Browne said that in his day the Elder had become a
famous medicine for quinsies, sore throats, and strangulations.

The inspissated juice or "rob" extracted from the crushed berries,
and simmered with white sugar, is cordial, aperient, and diuretic.
This has long been a [167] popular English remedy, taken hot at
bed-time, when a cold is caught. One or two tablespoonfuls
are mixed with a tumblerful of very hot water. It promotes
perspiration, and is demulcent to the chest. Five pounds of the
fresh berries are to be used with one pound of loaf sugar, and the
juice should be evaporated to the thickness of honey.

"The recent rob of the Elder spread thick upon a slice of bread and
eaten before other dishes," says Dr. Blochwich, 1760, "is our
wives' domestic medicine, which they use likewise in their infants
and children whose bellies are stop't longer than ordinary; for this
juice is most pleasant and familiar to children; or to loosen the
belly drink a draught of the wine at your breakfast, or use the
conserve of the buds."

Also a capital wine, which may well pass for Frontignac, is
commonly made from the fresh berries, with raisins, sugar, and
spices. When well brewed, and three years' old, it constitutes
English port. "A cup of mulled Elder wine, served with nutmeg
and sippets of toast, just before going to bed on a cold wintry
night, is a thing," as Cobbet said, "to be run for." The juice of
Elder root, if taken in a dose of one or two tablespoonfuls when
fasting, acts as a strong aperient, being "the most excellent purger
of watery humours in the world, and very singular against dropsy,
if taken once in the week."

John Evelyn, in his _Sylva_ (1729), said of the Elder: "If the
medicinal properties of its leaves, bark, and berries, were fully
known, I cannot tell what our countrymen could ail, for which he
might not fetch a remedy from every hedge, either for sickness or
wounds." "The buds boiled in water gruel have effected wonders in a
fever," "and an extract composed [168] of the berries greatly
assists longevity. Indeed,"--so famous is the story of Neander--
"this is a catholicum against all infirmities whatever." "The leaves,
though somewhat rank of smell, are otherwise, as indeed is the
entire shrub, of a very sovereign virtue. The springbuds are
excellently wholesome in pottage; and small ale, in which Elder
flowers have been infused, are esteemed by many so salubrious,
that this is to be had in most of the eating houses about our town."

"It were likewise profitable for the scabby if they made a sallet of
those young buds, who in the beginning of the spring doe bud
forth together with those outbreakings and pustules of the skin,
which by the singular favour of nature is contemporaneous; these
being sometimes macerated a little in hot water, together with
oyle, salt, and vinegar, and sometimes eaten. It purgeth the belly,
and freeth the blood from salt and serous humours" (1760).
Further, "there be nothing more excellent to ease the pains of the
haemorrhoids than a fomentation made of the flowers of the Elder
and _Verbusie_, or Honeysuckle, in water or milk, for in a short
time it easeth the greatest pain."

If the green leaves are warmed between two hot tiles, and applied
to the forehead, they will promptly relieve nervous headache. In
Germany the Elder is regarded with much respect. From its leaves
a fever drink is made; from its berries a sour preserve, and a
wonder-working electuary; whilst the moon-shaped clusters of its
aromatic flowers, being somewhat narcotic, are of service in
baking small cakes.

The Romans made use of the black Elder juice as a hair dye. From
the flowers a fragrant water is now distilled as a perfume; and a
gently stimulating ointment is prepared with lard for dressing
burns and [169] scalds. Another ointment, concocted from the
green berries, with camphor and lard, is ordered by the London
College as curative of piles. "The leaves of Elder boiled soft, and
with a little linseed oil added thereto, if then laid upon a piece of
scarlet or red cloth, and applied to piles as hot as this can be
suffered, being removed when cold, and replaced by one such
cloth after another upon the diseased part by the space of an hour,
and in the end some bound to the place, and the patient put warm
to bed. This hath not yet failed at the first dressing to cure the
disease, but if the patient be dressed twice, it must needs cure them
if the first fail." The Elder was named _Eldrun_ and _Burtre_ by
the Anglo-Saxons. It is now called _Bourtree_ in Scotland, from
the central pith in the younger branches which children bore out so
as to make pop guns:--

    "Bour tree--Bour tree: crooked rung,
    Never straight, and never strong;
    Ever bush, and never tree
    Since our Lord was nailed on thee."

The Elder is specially abundant in Kent around Folkestone. By the
Gauls it was called "Scovies," and by the Britons "Iscaw."

This is the tree upon which the legend represents Judas as having
hanged himself, or of which the cross was made at the crucifixion.
In _Pier's Plowman's Vision_ it is said:--

    "Judas he japed with Jewen silver,
    And sithen an eller hanged hymselve."

Gerard says "the gelly of the Elder, otherwise called Jew's ear,
taketh away inflammations of the mouth and throat if they be
washed therewith, and doth in like Manner help the uvula." He
refers here to a fungus [170] which grows often from the trunk of
the Elder, and the shape of which resembles the human ear.
Alluding to this fungus, and to the supposed fact that the berries of
the Elder are poisonous to peacocks, a quaint old rhyme runs

    "For the coughe take Judas' eare,
    With the paring of a peare,
    And drynke them without feare
        If you will have remedy."

    "Three syppes for the hycocke,
    And six more for the chycocke:
    Thus will my pretty pycocke
        Recover bye and bye."

Various superstitions have attached themselves in England to the
Elder bush. The Tree-Mother has been thought to inhabit it; and it
has been long believed that refuge may be safely taken under an
Elder tree in a thunderstorm, because the cross was made
therefrom, and so the lightning never strikes it. Elder was formerly
buried with a corpse to protect it from witches, and even now at a
funeral the driver of the hearse commonly has his whip handle
made of Elder wood. Lord Bacon commended the rubbing of warts
with a green Elder stick, and then burying the stick to rot in
the mud. Brand says it is thought in some parts that beating with
an Elder rod will check the growth of boys. A cross made of the
wood if affixed to cow-houses and stables was supposed to protect
cattle from all possible harm.

Belonging to the order of _Caprifoliaceous_ (with leaves eaten by
goats) plants, the Elder bush grows to the size of a small tree,
bearing many white flowers in large flat umbels at the ends of the
branches. It gives off an unpleasant soporific smell, which is said
to prove harmful to those that sleep under its shade. Our summer
is [171] not here until the Elder is fully in flower, and it ends when
the berries are ripe. When taken together with the berries of Herb
Paris (four-leaved Paris) they have been found very useful in
epilepsy. "Mark by the way," says _Anatomie of the Elder_
(1760), "the berries of Herb Paris, called by some Bear, or Wolfe
Grapes, is held by certain matrons as a great secret against
epilepsie; and they give them ever in an unequal number, as three,
five, seven, or nine, in the water of Linden tree flowers. Others also
do hang a cross made of the Elder and Sallow, mutually inwrapping
one another, about the children's neck as anti-epileptick."
"I learned the certainty of this experiment (Dr. Blochwich)
from a friend in Leipsick, who no sooner erred in diet but
he was seized on by this disease; yet after he used the Elder
wood as an amulet cut into little pieces, and sewn in a knot against
him, he was free." Sheep suffering from the foot-rot, if able to get
at the bark and young shoots of an Elder tree, will thereby cure
themselves of this affection. The great Boerhaave always took off
his hat when passing an Elder bush. Douglas Jerrold once, at a
well-known tavern, ordered a bottle of port wine, which should be
"old, but not _Elder_."

The _Dwarf Elder_ (_Sambucus ebulus_) is quite a different
shrub, which grows not infrequently in hedges and bushy places,
with a herbaceous stem from two to three feet high. It possesses a
smell which is less aromatic than that of the true Elder, and it
seldom brings its fruit to ripeness. A rob made therefrom is
actively purgative; one tablespoonful for a dose. The root, which
has a nauseous bitter taste, was formerly used in dropsies. A
decoction made from it, as well as from the inner bark, purges, and
promotes free urination.

[172] The leaves made into a poultice will resolve swellings and
relieve contusions. The odour of the green leaves will drive away
mice from granaries. To the Dwarf Elder have been given the
names Danewort, Danesweed, and Danesblood, probably because
it brings about a loss of blood called the "Danes," or perhaps as a
corruption of its stated use _contra quotidianam_. The plant is also
known as Walewort, from _wal_--slanghter. It grows in great
plenty about Slaughterford, Wilts, where there was a noted
fight with the Danes; and a patch of it thrives on ground in
Worcestershire, where the first blood was drawn in the civil war
between the Parliament and the Royalists. Rumour says it will
only prosper where blood has been shed either in battle, or in


"Elecampane," writes William Coles, "is one of the plants whereof
England may boast as much as any, for there grows none better in
the world than in England, let apothecaries and druggists say what
they will." It is a tall, stout, downy plant, from three to five feet
high, of the Composite order, with broad leaves, and bright,
yellow flowers. Campania is the original source of the plant
(_Enula campana_), which is called also Elf-wort, and Elf-dock.
Its botanical title is _Helenium inula_, to commemorate Helen of
Troy, from whose tears the herb was thought to have sprung, or
whose hands were full of the leaves when Paris carried her off
from Menelaus. This title has become corrupted in some districts
to Horse-heal, or Horse-hele, or Horse-heel, through a double,
blunder, the word _inula_ being misunderstood for _hinnula_, a
colt; and the term _Hellenium_ being thought to have something
to do with healing, or [173] heels; and solely on this account the
Elecampane has been employed by farriers to cure horses of scabs
and sore heels. Though found wild only seldom, and as a local
production in our copses and meadows, it is cultivated in our
gardens as a medicinal and culinary herb. The name _inula_ is
only a corruption of the Greek _elenium_; and the herb is of
ancient repute, having been described by Dioscorides. An old
Latin distich thus celebrates its virtues: _Enula campana reddit
proecordia sana_--"Elecampane will the spirits sustain." "Julia
Augusta," said Pliny, "let no day pass without eating some of the
roots of _Enula_ condired, to help digestion, and cause mirth."

The _inula_ was noticed by Horace, _Satire_ viii., 51:--

    "Erucos virides inulas ego primus amaras
    Monstravi incoquere."

Also the _Enula campana_ has been identified with the herb Moly
(of Homer), "_apo tou moleuein_, from its mitigating pain."

Prior to the Norman Conquest, and during the Middle Ages, the
root of Elecampane was much employed in Great Britain as a
medicine; and likewise it was candied and eaten as a sweetmeat.
Some fifty years ago the candy was sold commonly in London, as
flat, round cakes, being composed largely of sugar, and coloured
with cochineal. A piece was eaten each night and morning for
asthmatical complaints, whilst it was customary when travelling
by a river to suck a bit of the root against poisonous exhalations
and bad air. The candy may be still had from our confectioners,
but now containing no more of the plant Elecampane than there is
of barley in barley sugar.

Gerard says: "The flowers of this herb are in all [174] their
bravery during June and July; the roots should be gathered in the
autumn. The plant is good for an old cough, and for such as cannot
breathe freely unless they hold their necks upright; also it is of
great value when given in a loch, which is a medicine to be licked
on. It voids out thick clammy humors, which stick in the chest and
lungs." Galen says further: "It is good for passions of the
huckle-bones, called sciatica." The root is thick and substantial,
having, when sliced, a fragrant aromatic odour.

Chemically, it contains a crystalline principle, resembling
camphor, and called "helenin"; also a starch, named "inulin,"
which is peculiar as not being soluble in water, alcohol, or ether;
and conjointly a volatile oil, a resin, albumen, and acetic acid.
Inulin is allied to starch, and its crystallized camphor is separable
into true helenin, and alantin camphor. The former is a powerful
antiseptic to arrest putrefaction. In Spain it is much used as a
surgical dressing, and is said to be more destructive than any other
agent to the bacillus of cholera. Helenin is very useful in
ulceration within the nose (_ozoena_), and in chronic bronchitis to
lessen the expectoration. The dose is from a third of a grain to two

Furthermore, Elecampane counteracts the acidity of gouty
indigestion, and regulates the monthly illnesses of women. The
French use it in the distillation of absinthe, and term it _l'aulnee,
d'un lieu planté d'aulnes ou elle se plait_. To make a decoction,
half-an-ounce of the root should be gently boiled for ten minutes
in a pint of water, and then allowed to cool. From one to two
ounces of this may be taken three times in the day. Of the
powdered root, from half to one teaspoonful may be given for a

[175] A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared from the root, of
which thirty or forty drops may be taken for a dose, with two
tablespoonfuls of cold water; but too large a dose will induce
sickness. Elecampane is specifically curative of a sharp pain
affecting the right elbow joint, and recurring daily; also of a
congestive headache coming on through costiveness of the lowest
bowel. Moreover, at the present time, when there is so much talk
about the inoculative treatment of pulmonary consumption by the
cultivated virus of its special microbe, it is highly interesting to
know that the helenin of Elecampane is said to be peculiarly
destructive to the bacillus of tubercular disease.

In classic times the poet Horace told how Fundanius first taught
the making of a delicate sauce, by boiling in it the bitter _Inula_
(Elecampane); and how the Roman stomach, when surfeited with
an excess of rich viands, pined for turnips, and the appetising
_Enulas acidas_ from frugal Campania:--

    "Quum rapula plenus
    Atque acidas mavult inulas."


Found in abundance in summer time on our heaths, and on mountains
near the sea, this delicate little plant, the _Euphrasia
officinalis_, has been famous from earliest times for restoring and
preserving the eyesight. The Greeks named the herb originally
from the linnet, which first made use of the leaf for clearing its
vision, and which passed on the knowledge to mankind. The
Greek word, _euphrosunee_, signifies joy and gladness. The elegant
little herb grows from two to six inches high, with deeply-cut
leaves, and numerous white or [176] purplish tiny flowers
variegated with yellow; being partially a parasite, and preying on
the roots of other plants. It belongs to the order of scrofula-curing
plants; and, as proved by positive experiment (H.), the Eyebright
has been recently found to possess a distinct sphere of curative
operation, within which it manifests virtues which are as
unvarying as they are truly potential. It acts specifically on the
mucous lining of the eyes and nose, and the uppermost throat to
the top of the windpipe, causing, when given so largely as to be
injurious, a profuse secretion from these parts; and, if given of
reduced strength, it cures the same troublesome symptoms when
due to catarrh.

An attack of cold in the head, with copious running from the eyes
and nose, may be aborted straightway by giving a dose of the
infusion (made with an ounce of the herb to a pint of boiling
water) every two hours; as, likewise, for hay fever. A medicinal
tincture (H.) is prepared from the whole plant with spirit of wine,
of which an admirably useful lotion may be made together with
rose water for simple inflammation of the eyes, with a bloodshot
condition of their outer coats. Thirty drops of the tincture should
be mixed with a wineglassful of rosewater for making this lotion,
which may be used several times in the day.

What precise chemical constituents occur in the Eyebright beyond
tannin, mannite, and glucose, are not yet recorded. In Iceland its
expressed juice is put into requisition for most ailments of the
eyes. Likewise, in Scotland, the Highlanders infuse the herb in
milk, and employ this for bathing weak, or inflamed eyes. In
France, the plant is named _Casse lunettes_; and in Germany,
_Augen trost_, or, consolation of the eye.

[177] Surely the same little herb must have been growing freely in
the hedge made famous by ancient nursery tradition:--

    "Thessalus acer erat sapiens proe civibus unus
    Qui medium insiluit spinets per horrida sepem.
    Effoditque oculos sibi crudelissimus ambos.
    Cum vero effosos orbes sine lumine vidit
    Viribus enisum totis illum altera sepes
    Accipit, et raptos oculos cito reddit egenti."

    "There was a man of Thessuly, and he was wondrous wise;
    He jumped into a quick set hedge, and scratched out both his eyes;
    Then, when he found his eyes were out, with all his might and main
    He jumped into the quick set hedge, and scratched them in again."

Old herbals pronounced it "cephalic, ophthalmic, and good for a
weak memory." Hildamus relates that it restored the sight of many
persons at the age of seventy or eighty years. "Eyebright made into
a powder, and then into an electuary with sugar, hath," says
Culpeper, "powerful effect to help and to restore the sight decayed
through years; and if the herb were but as much used as it is
neglected, it would have spoilt the trade of the maker."

On the whole it is probable that the Eyebright will succeed best for
eyes weakened by long-continued straining, and for those which
are dim and watery from old age. Shenstone declared, "Famed
Euphrasy may not be left unsung, which grants dim eyes to
wander leagues around"; and Milton has told us in _Paradise
Lost_, Book XI:--

    "To nobler sights
    Michael from Adam's eyes the film removed,
    Then purged with _Euphrasy_ and rue
    The visual nerve, for he had much to see."

[178] The Arabians I mew the herb Eyebright under the name
_Adhil_, It now makes an ingredient in British herbal tobacco,
which is smoked most usefully for chronic bronchial colds.
Some sceptics do not hesitate to say that the Eyebright owes its
reputation solely to the fact that the tiny flower bears in its centre
a yellow spot, which is darker towards the middle, and gives a close
resemblance to the human eye; wherefore, on the doctrine of
signatures, it was pronounced curative of ocular derangements. The
present Poet Laureate speaks of the herb as:--

                 "The Eyebright this.
     Whereof when steeped in wine I now must eat
     Because it strengthens mindfulness."

Grandmother Cooper, a gipsy of note for skill in healing, practised
the cure of inflamed and scrofulous eyes, by anointing them with
clay, rubbed up with her spittle, which proved highly successful.
Outside was applied a piece of rag kept wet with water in which a
cabbage had been boiled. As confirmatory of this cure, we read
reverently in the _Gospel of St. John_ about the man "which was
blind from his birth," and for whose restoration to sight our Saviour
"spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the
eyes of the blind man with the clay." More than one eminent oculist
has similarly advised that weak, ailing eyes should be daily wetted
on waking with the fasting saliva. And it is well known that
"mothers' marks" of a superficial character, but even of a
considerable size, become dissipated by a daily licking with the
mother's tongue. Old Mizaldus taught that "the fasting spittle of a
whole and sound person both quite taketh away all scurviness, or
redness of the face, ringworms, tetters, and all kinds [179] of
pustules, by smearing or rubbing the infected place therewith; and
likewise it clean puts away thereby all painful swelling by the
means of any venomous thing as hornets, spiders, toads, and such
like." Healthy saliva is slightly alkaline, and contains sulphocyanate
of potassium.


We all know the pleasant taste of Fennel sauce when eaten with
boiled mackerel. This culinary condiment is made with Sweet
Fennel, cultivated in our kitchen gardens, and which is a variety of
the wild Fennel growing commonly in England as the Finkel,
especially in Cornwall and Devon, on chalky cliffs near the sea. It is
then an aromatic plant of the umbelliferous order, but differing from
the rest of its tribe in producing bright yellow flowers.

Botanically, it is the _Anethum foeniculum_, or "small fragrant
hay" of the Romans, and the _Marathron_ of the Greeks. The whole
plant has a warm carminative taste, and the old Greeks esteemed it
highly for promoting the secretion of milk in nursing mothers.
Macer alleged that the use of Fennel was first taught to man by
serpents. His classical lines on the subject when translated run

     "By eating herb of Fennel, for the eyes
     A cure for blindness had the serpent wise;
     Man tried the plant; and, trusting that his sight
     Might thus be healed, rejoiced to find him right."

     "Hac mansâ serpens oculos caligine purgat;
     Indeque compertum est humanis posse mederi
     Illum hominibus: atque experiendo probatum est."

Pliny also asserts that the ophidia, when they cast their skins, have
recourse to this plant for restoring their [180] sight. Others have
averred that serpents wax young again by eating of the herb;
"Wherefore the use of it is very meet for aged folk."

Fennel powder may be employed for making an eyewash: half-a-teaspoonful
infused in a wineglassful of cold water, and decanted when
clear. A former physician to the Emperor of Germany saw a
monk cured by his tutor in nine days of a cataract by only applying
the roots of Fennel with the decoction to his eyes.

In the Elizabethan age the herb was quoted as an emblem of flattery;
and Lily wrote, "Little things catch light minds; and fancie is a
worm that feedeth first upon Fennel." Again, Milton says, in
_Paradise Lost_, Book XI:--

                 "The savoury odour blown,
     Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense
     Than smell of sweetest Fennel."

Shakespeare makes the sister of Laertes say to the King, in
_Hamlet_, when wishing to prick the royal conscience, "There's
Fennel for you." And Falstaff commends Poins thus, in _Henry the
Fourth_, "He plays at quoits well, and eats conger, and Fennel."

The Italians take blanched stalks of the cultivated Fennel (which
they call _Cartucci_) as a salad; and in Germany its seeds are added
to bread as a condiment, much as we put caraways in some of our
cakes. The leaves are eaten raw with pickled fish to correct its oily
indigestibility. Evelyn says the peeled stalks, soft and white, when
"dressed like salery," exercise a pleasant action conducive to sleep.
Roman bakers put the herb under their loaves in the oven to make
the bread taste agreeably.

Chemically, the cultivated Fennel plant furnishes a volatile aromatic
oil, a fixed fatty principle, sugar, and some [181] in the root; also a
bitter resinous extract. It is an admirable corrective of flatulence;
and yields an essential oil, of which from two to four drops taken on
a lump of sugar will promptly relieve griping of the bowels with
distension. Likewise a hot infusion, made by pouring half-a-pint of
boiling water on a teaspoonful of the bruised seeds will comfort
belly ache in the infant, if given in teaspoonful doses sweetened
with sugar, and will prove an active remedy in promoting female
monthly regularity, if taken at the periodical times, in doses of a
wineglassful three times in the day. Gerard says, "The green leaves
of the Fennel eaten, or the seed made into a ptisan, and drunk, do fill
women's brestes with milk; also the seed if drunk asswageath the
wambling of the stomacke, and breaketh the winde." The essential
oil corresponds in composition to that of anise, but contains a
special camphoraceous body of its own; whilst its vapour will cause
the tears and the saliva to flow. A syrup prepared from the
expressed juice was formerly given for chronic coughs.

W. Coles teaches in _Nature's Paradise_, that "both the leaves,
seeds, and roots, are much used in drinks and broths for those that
are grown fat, to abate their unwieldinesse, and make them more
gaunt and lank." The ancient Greek name of the herb, _Marathron_,
from _maraino_, to grow thin, probably embodied the same notion.
"In warm climates," said Matthiolus, "the stems are cut, and there
exudes a resinous liquid, which is collected under the name of
fennel gum."

The Edinburgh _Pharmacopoeia_ orders "Sweet Fennel seeds,
combined with juniper berries and caraway seeds, for making with
spirit of wine, the 'compound spirit of juniper,' which is noted for
promoting a copious flow of urine in dropsy." The bruised plant, if
applied [182] externally, will speedily relieve toothache or earache.
This likewise proves of service as a poultice to resolve chronic
swellings. Powdered Fennel is an ingredient in the modern laxative
"compound liquorice powder" with senna. The flower, surrounded
by its four leaves, is called in the South of England, "Devil in a
bush." An old proverb of ours, which is still believed in New
England, says, that "Sowing Fennel is sowing sorrow." A modern
distilled water is now obtained from the cultivated plant, and
dispensed by the druggist. The whole herb has been supposed to
confer longevity, strength and courage. Longfellow wrote a poem
about it to this effect.

The fine-leaved Hemlock Water Dropwort (_Oenanthe Phellandrium_),
is the Water Fennel.


Only some few of our native Ferns are known to possess medicinal
virtues, though they may all be happily pronounced devoid of
poisonous or deleterious properties. As curative simples, a brief
consideration will be given here to the common male and female
Ferns, the Royal Fern, the Hart's Tongue, the Maidenhair, the
common Polypody, the Spleenwort, and the Wall Rue. Generically,
the term "fern" has been referred to the word "feather," because of
the pinnate leaves, or to _farr_, a bullock, from the use of the plants
as litter for cattle. Ferns are termed _Filices_, from the Latin word
_filum_, a thread, because of their filamentary fronds. Each of those
now particularized owes its respective usefulness chiefly to its
tannin; while the few more specially endowed with healing powers
yield also a peculiar chemical acid "filicic," which is fatal to worms.
In an old charter, A.D. 855, the [183] right of pasturage on the
common Ferns was called "fearnleswe," or _Pascua procorum_, the
pasturage of swine (from _fearrh_, a pig). Matthiolus when writing
of the ferns, male and female, says, _Utriusque radice sues
pinguescunt_. In some parts of England Ferns at large are known as
"Devil's brushes"; and to bite off close to the ground the first Fern
which appears in the Spring, is said, in Cornwall, to cure toothache,
and to prevent its return during the remainder of the year.

The common Male Fern (_Filix mas_) or Shield Fern, grows
abundantly in all parts of Great Britain, and has been known from
the times of Theophrastus and Dioscorides, as a specific remedy for
intestinal worms, particularly the tape worm. For medicinal
purposes, the green part of the rhizome is kept and dried; this is then
powdered, and its oleo-resin is extracted by ether. The green fixed
oil thus obtained; which is poisonous to worms, consists of the
glycerides of filocylic and filosmylic acids, with tannin, starch,
gum, and sugar. The English oil of Male Fern is more reliable than
that which is imported from the Continent. Twenty drops made into
an emulsion with mucilage should be given every half-hour on an
empty stomach, until sixty or eighty drops have been taken. It is
imprudent to administer the full quantity in a single dose. The
treatment should be thus pursued when the vigour of the parasite has
been first reduced by a low diet for a couple of days, and is lying
within the intestines free from alimentary matter; a purgative being
said to assist the action of the plant, though it is, independently,
quite efficacious. The knowledge of this remedy had become lost,
until it was repurchased for fifteen thousand francs, in 1775, by the
French king, under the advice of his principal physicians, from
Madame Nouffer, [184] a surgeon's widow in Switzerland, who
employed it as a secret mode of cure with infallible success. Her
method consisted in giving from one to three drams of the powdered
root, after using a clyster, and following the dose up with a purge of
scammony and calomel. The rhizome should not be used medicinally
if more than a year old. A medicinal tincture (H.) is now
prepared from the root-stock with proof spirit, in the autumn
when the fronds are dying.

The young shoots and curled leaves of the Male Fern, which is
distinguished by having one main rib, are sometimes eaten like
asparagus; whilst the fronds make an excellent litter for horses and
cattle. The seed of this and some other species of Fern is so minute
(one frond producing more than a million) as not to be visible to the
naked eye. Hence, on the doctrine of signatures, the plant--like the
ring of Gyges, found in a brazen horse--has been thought to confer
invisibility. Thus Shakespeare says, _Henry IV_., Act II., Scene 1,
"We have the receipt of Fern seed; we walk invisible."

Bracken or Brakes, which grows more freely than any other of the
Fern tribe throughout England, is the _Filix foemina_, or common
Female Fern. The fronds of this are branched, whilst the male plant
having only one main rib, is more powerful as an astringent, and
antiseptic; "the powder thereof freely beaten healeth the galled
necks of oxen and other cattell." Bracken is also named botanically,
_Pteris aquilina_, because the figure which appears in its succulent
stem when cut obliquely across at the base, has been thought to
resemble a spread eagle; and, therefore, Linnaeus termed the Fern
_Aquilina_. Some call it, for the same reason, "King Charles in the
oak tree"; and in Scotland the symbol is said to be an impression of
the Devil's foot. [185] Again, witches are reputed to detest this Fern,
since it bears on its cut root the Greek letter X, which is the initial
of _Christos_.

In Ireland it is called the Fern of God, because of the belief that if
the stem be cut into three sections, on the first of these will be seen
the letter G; on the second O; and on the third D.

An old popular proverb says about this Bracken:--

     "When the Fern is as high as a spoon
     You may sleep an hour at noon,
     When the Fern is as high as a ladle
     You may sleep as long as you're able,
     When the Fern is looking red
     Milk is good with faire brown bread."

The Bracken grows almost exclusively on waste places and
uncultivated ground; or, as Horace testified in Roman days,
_Neglectis urenda filix innascitur agris_. It contains much potash;
and its ashes were formerly employed in the manufacture of soap.
The young tops of the plant are boiled in Hampshire for hogs' food,
and the peculiar flavour of Hampshire bacon has been attributed to
this custom. The root affords much starch, and is used medicinally.
"For thigh aches" [sciatica], says an old writer, "smoke the legs
thoroughly with Fern braken."

During the Seventeenth Century it was customary to set growing
Brakes on fire with the belief that this would produce rain. A like
custom of "firing the Bracken" still prevails to-day on the
Devonshire moors. By an official letter the Earl of Pembroke
admonished the High Sheriff of Stafford to forbear the burning of
Ferns during a visit of Charles I., as "His Majesty desired that the
country and himself may enjoy fair weather as long as he should
remain in those parts."

In northern climates a coarse kind of bread is made [186] from the
roots of the Brake Fern; whilst in the south the young shoots are
often sold in bundles as a salad. (Some writers give the name of
Lady Fern, not to the Bracken, but to the _Asplenium filix
foemina_, because of its delicate and graceful foliage.) The Bracken
has branched riblets, and is more viscid, mucilaginous, and diuretic,
than the Male Fern.

Its ashes when burnt contain much vegetable alkali which has been
used freely in making glass.

It was customary to "watch the Fern" on Midsummer eve, when the
plant put forth at dusk a blue flower, and a wonderful seed at
midnight, which was carefully collected, and known as "wish seed."
This gave the power to discover hidden treasures, whilst to drink the
sap conferred perpetual youth.

The Royal Fern (_Osmunda regalis_), grows abundantly in many
parts of Great Britain, and is the stateliest of Ferns in its favourite
watery haunts. It heeds a soil of bog earth, and is incorrectly styled
"the flowering Fern," from its handsome spikes of fructification.
One of its old English names is "Osmund, the Waterman"; and the
white centre of its root has been called the heart of Osmund. This
middle part boiled in some kind of liquor was supposed good for
persons wounded, dry-beaten, and bruised, or that have fallen from
some high place. The name "Osmund" is thought to be derived from
_os_, the mouth, or _os_, bone, and _mundare_, to cleanse, or from
_gross mond kraut_, the Greater Moonwort; but others refer it to
Saint Osmund wading a river, whilst bearing the Christ on his
shoulders. The root or rhizome has a mucilaginous slightly bitter
taste. The tender sprigs of the plant at their first coming are "good
to be put into balmes, oyles, and healing plasters." Dodonoeus says,
"the harte of the root of [187] Osmonde is good against squattes,
and bruises, heavie and grievous falles, and whatever hurte or
dislocation soever it be." "A conserve of these buds," said Dr. Short
of Sheffield, 1746, "is a specific in the rickets; and the roots
stamped in water or gin till the liquor becometh a stiff mucilage, has
cured many most deplorable pains of the back, that have confined
the distracted sufferers close to bed for several weeks." This
mucilage was to be rubbed over the vertebrae of the back each night
and morning for five or six days together. Also for rickets, "take of
the powdered roots with the whitest sugar, and sprinkle some
thereof on the child's pap, and on all his liquid foods." "It maketh a
noble remedy," said Dr. Bowles, "without any other medicine." The
actual curative virtues of this Fern are most probably due to the salts
of lime, potash, and other earths, which it derives in solution from
the bog soil, and from the water in which it grows. On July 25th it is
specially dedicated to St. Christopher, its patron saint.

The Hart's Tongue or Hind's Tongue, is a Fern of common English
growth in shady copses on moist banks, it being the _Lingua cervina_
of the apothecaries, and its name expressing the shape of its fronds.
This, the _Scolopendrium vulgare_, is also named "Button-hole,"
"Horse tongue;" and in the Channel Islands "Godshair." The older
physicians esteemed it as a very valuable medicine; and Galen gave
it for diarrhoea or dysentery. By reason of its tannin it will restrain
bleedings, "being commended," says Gerard, "against the bloody
flux." People in rural districts make an ointment from its leaves for
burns and scalds. It was formerly, in company with the common
Maidenhair Fern, one of the five great capillary herbs. Dr. Tuthill
Massy advises the drinking, in Bright's disease, of as much as three
[188] half-pints daily of an infusion of this Fern, whilst always
taking care to gather the young shoots. Also, in combination (H.)
with the American Golden Seal (_Hydrastis canadensis_). the Hart's
Tongue has served in not a few authenticated cases to arrest the
progress of that formidable disease, diabetes mellitus. Its distilled
water will quiet any palpitations of the heart, and will stay the
hiccough; it will likewise help the falling of the palate (relaxed
throat), or stop bleeding of the gums if the mouth be gargled

From the _Ophioglossum vulgatum_, "'Adder's tongue,' or 'Christ's
Spear,' when boiled in olive oil is produced a most excellent greene
oyle. Or rather a balsam for greene wounds, comparable to oyle of
St. John's Wort; if it doth not far surpasse it." A preparation from
this plant known as the "green oil of charity," is still in request as
a vulnerary, and remedy for wounds.

The true Maidenhair Fern (_Adiantum capillus veneris_), of
exquisite foliage, and of a dark crimson colour, is a stranger in
England, except in the West country. But we have in greater
abundance the common Maidenhair (_Asplenium trichomanes_),
which grows on old walls, and which will act as a laxative
medicine; whilst idiots are said to have taken it remedially, so as to
recover their senses. The true Maidenhair is named _Adiantum_,
from the Greek: _Quod denso imbre cadente destillans foliis tenuis
non insidet humor_, "Because the leaves are not wetted even by a
heavily falling shower of rain." "In vain," saith Pliny, "do you plunge
the Adiantum into water, it always remains dry." This veracious
plant doth "strengthen and embellish the hair." It, occurs but rarely
with us; on damp rocks, and walls near the sea. The Maidenhair is
called _Polytrichon_ because it brings forth a multitude of hairs;
[189] _Calitrichon_ because it produces black and faire hair;
_Capillus veneris_ because it fosters grace and love.

From its fine hairlike stems, and perhaps from its attributed virtues
in toilet use, this Fern has acquired the name of "Our Lady's Hair"
and "Maria's Fern." "The true Maidenhair," says Gerard, "maketh
the hair of the head and beard to grow that is fallen and pulled off."
From this graceful Fern a famous elegant syrup is made in France
called _Capillaire_; which is given as a favourite medicine in
pulmonary catarrh. It is flavoured with orange flowers, and acts as a
demulcent with slightly stimulating effects. One part of the plant is
gently boiled with ten parts of water, and with nineteen parts of
white sugar. Dr. Johnson says Boswell used to put _Capillaire_ into
his port wine. Sir John Hill instructed us that (as we cannot get the
true Maidenhair fresh in England) the fine syrup made in France
from their Fern in perfection, concocted with pure Narbonne honey,
is not by any means to be thought a trifle, because barley water,
sweetened with this, is one of the very best remedies for a violent
cold. But a tea brewed from our more common Maidenhair will
answer the same purpose for tedious coughs. Its leaves are sweet,
mucilaginous, and expectorant, being, therefore, highly useful in
many pulmonary disorders.

The common Polypody Fern, or "rheum-purging Polypody" grows plentifully
in this country on old walls and stumps of trees, in shady places.
In Hampshire it is called "Adder's Tongue," as derived from the
word _attor_, poison; also Wall-fern, and formerly in Anglo-Saxon
Ever-fern, or Boar-fern. In Germany it is said to have sprung
from the Virgin's milk, and is named _Marie bregue_. The fresh root
has been used successfully in decoction, or powdered, for
melancholia; [190] also of late for general rheumatic swelling of the
joints. By the ancients it was employed as a purgative. Six drachms
by weight of the root should be infused for two hours in a pint of
boiling water, and given in two doses. This is the Oak Fern of the
herbalists; not that of modern botanists (_Polypodium dryopteris_);
it being held that such Fern plants as grew upon the roots of an oak
tree were of special medicinal powers, _Quod nascit super radices
quercûs est efficacius_. The true Oak Fern (_Dryopteris_) grows
chiefly in mountainous districts among the mossy roots of old oak
trees, and sometimes in marshy places. If its root is bruised and
applied to the skin of any hairy part, whilst the person is sweating,
this will cause the hair to come away. Dioscorides said, "The root of
Polypody is very good for chaps between the fingers." "It serveth,"
writes Gerard, "to make the belly soluble, being boiled in the broth
of an old cock, with beets or mallows, or other like things, that
move to the stool by their slipperiness." Parkinson says: "A dram or
two, it need be, of the powdered dry roots taken fasting, in a cupful
of honeyed water, worketh gently as a purge, being a safe medicine,
fit for all persons and seasons, which daily experience confirmeth."
"Applied also to the nose it cureth the disease called polypus, which
by time and sufferance stoppeth the nostrils." The leaves of the
Polypody when burnt furnish a large proportion of carbonate of

The Spleenwort (_Asplenium ceterach_--an Arabian term), or Scaly
Fern, or Finger Fern, grows on old walls, and in the clefts of moist
rocks. It is also called "Miltwaste," because supposed to cure
disorders of the milt, or spleen:--

     "The Finger Fern, which being given to swine,
     It makes their milt to melt away in fine."

[191] Very probably this reputed virtue has mainly become attributed
to the plant, because the lobular milt-like shape of its leaf
resembles the form of the spleen. "No herbe maie be compared
therewith," says one of the oldest Herbals, "for his singular virtue to
help the sicknesse or grief of the splene." Pliny ordered: "It should
not be given to women, because it bringeth barrenness." Vitruvius
alleged that in Crete the flocks and herds were found to be without
spleens, because they browsed on this fern. The plant was supposed
when given medicinally to diminish the size of the enlarged spleen
or "ague-cake."

The Wall Rue (_Ruta muraria_) is a white Maidenhair Fern, and is
named by some _Salvia vitoe_. It is a small herb, somewhat nearly
of the colour of Garden Rue, and is likewise good for them that
have a cough, or are shortwinded, or be troubled with stitches in the
sides. It stayeth the falling or shedding of the hair, and causeth them
to grow thick, fair, and well coloured. This plant is held by those of
judgment and experience, to be as effectual a capillary herb as any
whatever. Also, it helpeth ruptures in children. Matthiolus "hath
known of divers holpen therein by taking the powder of the herb in
drink for forty days together." Its leaves are like those of Rue, and
the Fern has been called Tentwort from its use as a specific or
sovereign remedy for the cure of rickets, a disease once known as
"the taint."

The generic appellations of the several species of Ferns are derived
thus: _Aspidium_, from _aspis_, a shield, because the spores are
enclosed in bosses; _Pteris_, from _pteerux_, a wing, having doubly
pinnate fronds; or from _pteron_, a feather, having feathery fronds;
_Scolopendrium_, because the fructification is supposed to
resemble the feet of _Scoltpendra_, a genus of mydrapods; and
_Polypody_, many footed, by reason of the pectinate fronds.

[192] There grows in Tartary a singular polypody Fern, of which the
hairy foot is easily made to simulate in form a small sheep. It rises
above the ground with excrescences resembling a head and tail,
whilst having four leg-like fronds. Fabulous stories are told about
this remarkable Fern root; and in China its hairy down is so highly
valued as a styptic for fresh bleeding cuts and wounds, that few
families will be without it. Dr. Darwin, in his _Loves of the Plants_,
says about this curious natural production, the _Polypodium

    "Cradled in snow, and fanned by Arctic air
    Shines, gentle Barometz, thy golden hair;
    Rooted in earth each cloven hoof descends,
    And found and round her flexile neck she bends:
    Crops the green coral moss, and hoary thyme,
    Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime;
    Eyes with mute tenderness her distant dam,
    Or seems to bleat--a vegetable Lamb."


The Feverfew is one of the wild Chamomiles (_Pyrethrum Parthenium_),
or _Matricaria_, so called because especially useful for
motherhood. Its botanical names come from the Latin _febrifugus_,
putting fever to flight, and _parthenos_, a virgin. The herb
is a Composite plant, and grows in every hedgerow, with numerous
small heads of yellow flowers, having outermost white rays,
but with an upright stem; whereas that of the true garden
Chamomile is procumbent. The whole plant has a pungent odour,
and is particularly disliked by bees. A double variety is cultivated
in gardens for ornamental purposes.

The herb Feverfew is strengthening to the stomach, preventing
hysteria and promoting the monthly functions of women. It is much
used by country mediciners, though insufficiently esteemed by the
doctors of to-day.

[193] In Devonshire the plant is known as "Bachelor's buttons," and
at Torquay as "Flirtwort," being also sometimes spoken of as
"Feathyfew," or "Featherfull."

Gerard says it may be used both in drinks, and bound on the wrists,
as of singular virtue against the ague.

As "Feverfue," it was ordered, by the Magi of old, "to be pulled
from the ground with the left hand, and the fevered patient's name
must be spoken forth, and the herbarist must not look behind him."
Country persons have long been accustomed to make curative uses
of this herb very commonly, which grows abundantly throughout
England. Its leaves are feathery and of a delicate green colour, being
conspicuous even in mid-winter. Chemically, the Feverfew
furnishes a blue volatile oil; containing a camphoraceous stearopten,
and a liquid hydrocarbon, together with some tannin, and a bitter

The essential oil is medicinally useful for correcting female
irregularities, as well as for obviating cold indigestion. The herb is
also known as "Maydeweed," because useful against hysterical
distempers, to which young women are subject. Taken generally it
is a positive tonic to the digestive and nervous systems. Out
chemists make a medicinal tincture of Feverfew, the dose of which
is from ten to twenty drops, with a spoonful of water, three times a
day. This tincture, if dabbed oil the parts with a small sponge, will
immediately relieve the pain and swelling caused by bites of insects
or vermin. In the official guide to Switzerland directions are given
to take "a little powder of the plant called _Pyrethrum roseum_ and
make it into a paste with a few drops of spirit, then apply this to the
hands and face, or any exposed part of the body, and let it [194] dry:
no mosquito or fly will then touch you." Or if two teaspoonfuls of
the tincture are mixed with half a pint of cold water, and if all parts
of the body likely to be exposed to the bites of insects are freely
sponged therewith they will remain unassailed. Feverfew is
manifestly the progenitor of the true Chamomilla (_Anthemis
nobilis_), from which the highly useful Camomile "blows," so
commonly employed in domestic medicine, are obtained, and its
flowers, when dried, may be applied to the same purposes. An
infusion of them made with boiling water and allowed to become
cold, will allay any distressing sensitiveness to pain in a highly
nervous subject, and will afford relief to the faceache or earache of a
dyspeptic or rheumatic person. This Feverfew (_Chrysanthemum
parthenium_), is best calculated to pacify those who are liable to
sudden, spiteful, rude irascibility, of which they are conscious, but
say they cannot help it, and to soothe fretful children. "Better is a
dinner or such herbs, where love is; than a stalled ox, and hatred


"In the name of the Prophet 'Figs'" was the pompous utterance
ascribed to Dr. Johnson, whose solemn magniloquent style was
simulated as Eastern cant applied to common business in _Rejected
Addresses_, by the clever humorists, Horace and James Smith,
1812. The tree which produces this fruit belongs to the history of
mankind. In Paradise Adam partook of figs, and covered his
nakedness with the leaves.

Though indigenous to Western Asia, Figs have been cultivated in
most countries from a remote period, and will ripen in England
during a warm summer if screened from north-east winds. The fig
tree flourishes best with [195] us on our sea coasts, bathed by the
English Channel, by reason of the salt-laden atmosphere. Near
Gosport, and at Fig Valleys, in the neighbourhood of Worthing,
there are orchards of figtrees; but they remain barren in this country
as far as affording seed to be raised anew from the ripened fruit. The
first figtrees introduced into England are still alive and productive
in the gardens of the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth, having
been planted there by Cardinal Pole in the time of Henry the Eighth.
We call the Sunday before Easter "Fig Sunday," probably because
of our Saviour's quest of the fruit when going from Bethany the next

By the Jews a want of blossom on the Fig tree was considered a
grievous calamity. On the Saturday preceding Palm Sunday (says
Miss Baker), the market at Northampton is abundantly supplied
with figs, and more of the fruit is purchased at this time than
throughout the rest of the year. Even charity children are regaled in
some parts with figs on the said Sunday; whilst in Lancashire fig
pies made of dried figs with sugar and treacle are eaten beforehand
in Lent.

In order to become fertilised, figs (of which the sexual apparatus lies
within the fruit) must have their outer skin perforated by certain
gnats of the Cynips tribe, which then penetrate to the interior whilst
carrying with them the fertilising pollen; but these gnats are not
found in this country. Producers of the fruit abroad bearing the said
fact in view tie some of the wild fruit when tenanted by the Culex
fly to the young cultivated figs.

Foreign figs are dried in the oven so as to destroy the larvae of the
Cynips insect, and are then compressed into small boxes. They
consist in this state almost exclusively of mucilage and sugar.

[196] Only one kind of Fig comes to ripeness with us in England,
the great blue Fig, as large as a Catherine pear. "It should be
grown," says Gerard, "under a hot wall, and eaten when newly
gathered, with bread, pepper, and salt; or it is excellent in tarts."
This fruit is soft, easily digested, and corrective of strumous
disease. Dried Turkey Figs, as imported, contain glucose (sugar),
starch, fat, pectose, gum, albumen, mineral matter, collulose, and
water. They are used by our druggists as an ingredient in confection
of senna for a gentle laxative effect. When split open, and applied
as hot as they can be borne against gumboils, and similar suppurative
gatherings, they afford ease, and promote maturation of the abscess;
and likewise they will help raw, unhealthy sores to heal. The first
poultice of Figs on record is that employed by King Hezekiah 260
years before Christ, at the instance of the prophet Isaiah, who
ordered to "take a lump of Figs; and they took it, and laid it on the
boil, and the King recovered" (2 Kings xx. 7).

The Fig is said to have been the first fruit, eaten as food by man.
Among the Greeks it formed part of the ordinary Spartan fare, and
the Athenians forbade exportation of the best Figs, which were
highly valued at table. Informers against those who offended in this
respect were called _Suko phantai_, or Fig discoverers--our

Bacchus was thought to have acquired his vigour and corpulency
from eating Figs, such as the Romans gave to professed wrestlers
and champions for strength and good sustenance.

Dodonoeus said concerning Figs, _Alimentum amplius quam coeteri
proebent_; and Pliny spoke of them as the best restorative
for those brought low by languishing [197] disease, with loss of
their colour. It was under the Perpul tree (_Ficus religiosa_) Buddha
attained Nirvada.

The botanical name _ficus_ has been derived from the Greek verb
_phuo_ to generate, and the husbandry of Figs was called by the
Latins "caprification." The little fig-bird of the Roman Campagna
pays a yearly visit in September to the fig orchards on our Sussex

When eaten raw, dried Figs prove somewhat aperient, and they are
apt to make the mouth sore whilst masticating them. Their seeds
operate mechanically against constipation, though sometimes
irritating the lining membrane of the stomach and bowels. Grocers
prepare from the pulp of these foreign dried figs, when mixed with
honey, a jam called "figuine," which is wholesome, and will prevent
costiveness if eaten at breakfast with bread.

The pulp of Turkey Figs is mucilaginous, and has been long
esteemed as a pectoral emollient for coughs: also when stewed and,
added to ptisans, for catarrhal troubles of the air passages, and of
other mucous canals.

In its fresh green state the fruit secretes a mildly acrid juice, which
will destroy warts; this afterwards becomes saccharine and oily. The
dried Figs of the shops give no idea of the fresh fruit as enjoyed in
Italy at breakfast, which then seem indeed a fruit of paradise, and
which contain a considerable quantity of grape sugar. In the
_Regimen of the School of Salerno_ (eleventh century) we read:--

     "Scrofa, tumor, glandes, ficus cataplasma sedet,
     Swines' evil, swellings, kernels, a plaster of figs will heal."

Barley water boiled with dried Figs (split open), liquorice root, and
raisins, forms the compound decoction of barley prescribed by
doctors as a capital demulcent; [198] and an admirable gargle for
inflamed sore throat may be made by boiling two ounces of the Figs
in half-a-pint of water, which is to be strained when cool. Figs
cooked in milk make an excellent drink for costive persons.

In the French codex a favourite pectoral medicine is composed of
Figs, stoned dates, raisins, and jujubes.

Formerly the poisoned Fig was used in Spain as a secret means for
getting rid of an enemy. The fruit was so common there that to say
"a fig for you!" and "I give you the fig" became proverbial
expressions of contempt. _In fiocchi_ (in gala costome), is an Italian
phrase which we now render as "in full fig."

The _Water Figwort_, a common English plant which grows by the
sides of ditches, and belongs to the scrofula-curing order, has
acquired its name because supposed to heal sores in the fundament
when applied like figs as a poultice. It further bears the name of
_Water Betony_ (_page_ 50), under which title its curative
excellence against piles, and for scrofulous glands in the neck has
been already described. The whole plant, yielding its juice, may be
blended with lard to be used as an ointment; and an infusion of the
roots, made with boiling water, an ounce to a pint, may be taken as a
medicine--a wineglassful three times in the day.

In Ireland it is known as "Rose noble," also as Kernelwort, because
the kernels, or tubers attached to the roots have been thought to
resemble scrofulous glands in the neck. "Divers do rashly teach that
if it be hanged about the necke, or else carried about one it keepeth a
man in health." In France the sobriquet _herbe du seige_, given to
this plant, is said to have been derived from its famous use in
healing all sorts of wounds during the long siege of Rochelle under
Louis XIII.

[199] The Water Figwort may be readily known by the winged
corners of its stems, which, though hollow and succulent, are rigid
when dead, and prove very troublesome to anglers. The flowers are
much frequented by wasps: and the leaves are employed to correct
the taste of senna.

FLAG (Common).

Our English water Flags are true whigs of the old school, and get
their generic name because hanging out their banners respectively of
dark blue and yellow.

Each is also called Iris, as resembling the rainbow in beauty of
colour. The land Flag (_Iris versicolor_) is well known as growing
in swamps and moist meadows, with sword-shaped leaves, and large
purple heads of flowers, bearing petals chiefly dark blue, and veined
with green, yellow, or white. The water Flag (_Iris pseudacorus_) is
similar of growth, and equally well known by its brilliant heads of
yellow flowers, with blade-like leaves, being found in wet places
and water courses. The root of the Blue Flag, "Dragon Flower," or
"Dagger Flower," contains chemically an "oleo-resin," which is
purgative to the liver in material doses, and specially alleviative
against bilious sickness when taken of much reduced strength by reason
of its acting as a similar. The official dose of this "iridin" is
from one to three grains. A liability to the formation of gall stones
may be remedied by giving one grain of the oleoresin (iridin) every
night for twelve nights.

A medicinal tincture (H.) is made which holds this Iris in solution;
and if three or four drops are taken immediately, with a spoonful of
water, and the same dose is repeated in half-an-hour if still
necessary, an attack of bilious vomiting, with sick headache, and a
[200] film before the eyes, will be prevented, or cut short. The
remedy is, under such circumstances, a trustworthy substitute for
calomel, or blue pill. Orris powder, which is so popular in the
nursery, and for the toilet table with ladies, on account of its fresh
"violet" scent, is made from the root of this Iris, being named from
the genitive _ireos_.

Louis VII. of France chose this Blue Flag as his heraldic emblem,
and hence its name, _fleur de lys_, has been subsequently borne on
the arms of France. The flower was said to have been figured on a
shield sent down from heaven to King Louis at Clovis, when
fighting against the Saracens. Fleur de Louis has become corrupted
to _fleur de lys_, or _fleur de lis_.

The Purple Flag was formerly dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A
certain knight more devout than learned could never remember
more than two words of the Latin prayer addressed to the Holy
Mother; these were _Ave Maria_, which the good old man repeated
day and night until he died. Then a plant of the blue Iris sprang up
over his grave, displaying on every flower in golden letters these
words, _Ave Maria_. When the monks opened the tomb they found
the root of the plant resting on the lips of the holy knight whose
body lay buried below.

The Yellow Flag, or Water Flag, is called in the north, "Seggs." Its
flowers afford a beautiful yellow dye; and, its seeds, when roasted,
can be used instead of coffee. The juice of the root is very acrid
when sniffed up the nostrils, and causes a copious flow of water
therefrom, thus giving marked relief for obstinate congestive
headache of a dull, passive sort. The root is very astringent, and will
check diarrhoea by its infusion; also it is of service for making ink.
In the [201] south of England the plant is named "Levers." It
contains much tannin.

The "Stinking Flag," or "Gladdon," or "Roast Beef," because having
the odour of this viand, is another British species of Flag, abundant
in southern England, where it grows in woods and, shady places. Its
leaves, when bruised, emit a strong smell like that of carrion, which
is very loathsome. The plant bears the appellations, _Iris
foetidissima_, _Spatual foetida_, and "Spurgewort," having long,
narrow leaves, which stink when rubbed. Country folk in Somersetshire
purge themselves to good purpose with a decoction made from
the root. The term "glad," or "smooth," refers to the surface
of the leaves, or to their sword-like shape, from _gladiolus_
(a small sword), and the plant bears flowers of a dull, livid purple,
smaller than those of the other flags.

Lastly, there is the Sweet Flag (_Acorus calamus_), though this is
not an Iris, but belongs botanically to the family of _Arums_. It
grows on the edges of lakes and streams allover Europe, as a highly
aromatic, reedy plant, with an erect flowering stem of yellowish
green colour. Its name comes from the Greek, _koree_, or "pupil of
the eye," because of its being used in ailments of that organ.

_Calamus_ was the Roman term for a reed; and formerly this sweet
Flag, by reason of its pleasant odour like that of violets, was freely
strewn on the floor of a cathedral at times of church festivals, and in
many private houses instead of rushes. The root is a powerful cordial
against flatulence, and passive indigestion, with headache. It contains
a volatile oil, and a bitter principle, "acorin;" so that a fluid
extract is made by the chemists, of which from thirty to forty drops
may be given as a dose, with a [202] tablespoonful, of water, every
half-hour for several consecutive times. The candied root is much
employed for like uses in Turkey and India. It is sold as a favourite
medicine in every Indian Bazaar; and Ainslie says it is reckoned so
valuable in the bowel complaints of children, that there is a penalty
incurred by every druggist who will not open his door in the middle
of the night to sell it if demanded.

The root stocks are brought to this country from Germany, being
used by mastication to cleat the urine when it is thick and loaded
with dyspeptic products; also for flavouring beer, and scenting

Their ash contains potash, soda, zinc, phosphoric Acid, silica, and
peroxide of iron. In the _Times_ April 24th, 1856, Dr. Graves wrote
commending for the soldiers when landing at Galipoli, and notable
to obtain costly quinine, the Sweet Flag--_acorus calamas_--as their
sheet anchor against ague and allied maladies arising from _marsh
miasmata_. The infusion of the root should be given, or the
powdered root in doses of from ten to sixty grains. (_See_ RUSHES.)


The common Flax plant, from which we get our Linseed, is of great
antiquity, dating from the twenty-third century before Christ, and
having been cultivated in all countries down to the present time. But
it is exhausting to the soil in England, and therefore not favoured in
home growth for commercial uses. The seeds come to us chiefly
from the Baltic. Nevertheless, the plant (_Linum usitatissimum_) is
by no means uncommon in our cornfields, flowering in June, and
ripening its seed in September. Provincially it is called "Lint" and
"Lyne." A rustic proverb says "if put in the shoes it preserves [203]
from poverty"; wherever found it is probably an escape from

The word "flax" is derived from _filare_, to spin, or, _filum_, a
thread; and the botanical title, _linum_, is got from the Celtic _lin_
also signifying thread. The fibres of the bark are separated from the
woody matter by soaking it in water, and they then form tow, which
is afterwards spun into yarn, and woven into cloth. This water
becomes poisonous, so that Henry the Eighth prohibited the
washing of flax in any running stream.

The seeds ate very rich in linseed oil, after expressing which, the
refuse is oil-cake, a well-known fattening food for cattle. The oil
exists chiefly in the outer skins of the seeds, and is easily extracted
by boiling water, as in the making a linseed poultice. These seeds
contain gum, acetic acid, acetate and muriate of potash, and other
salts, with twenty-two parts per cent. of the oil. They were taken as
food by the ancient Greeks and Romans, whilst Hippocrates knew
the demulcent properties of linseed. An infusion of the seeds has
long been given as Linseed tea for soothing a sore chest or throat in
severe catarrh, or pulmonary complaints; also the crushed seed is
used for making poultices. Linseed oil has laxative properties, and
forms, when mixed with lime water, or with spirit of turpentine, a
capital external application to recent burns or scalds.

Tumours of a simple nature, and sprains, may be usefully rubbed
with Linseed oil; and another principal service to which the oil is
put is for mixing the paints of artists. To make Linseed tea, wash
two ounces of Linseed by putting them into a small strainer, and
pouring cold water through it; then pare off as thinly as possible the
yellow rind of half a lemon; to the Linseed and lemon rind add a
quart of cold water, [204] and allow them to simmer over the fire for
an hour-and-a-half; strain away the seeds, and to each half-pint of
the tea add a teaspoonful of sugar, or sugar candy, with some lemon
juice, in the proportion of the juice of one lemon to each pint of tea.

The seeds afford but little actual nourishment, and are difficult of
digestion; they provoke troublesome flatulence, though sometimes
used fraudulently for adulterating pepper. Flax seed has been mixed
with corn for making bread, but it proved indigestible and hurtful to
the stomach. In the sixteenth century during a scarcity of wheat, the
inhabitants of Middleburgh had recourse to Linseed for making
cakes, but the death of many citizens was caused thereby, it bringing
about in those who partook of the cakes dreadful swellings on the
body and face. There is an Act of Parliament still in force which
forbids the steeping of Flax in rivers, or any waters which cattle are
accustomed to drink, as it is found to communicate a poison
destructive to cattle and to the fish inhabiting such waters. In
Dundee a hank of yarn is worn round the loins as a cure for
lumbago, and girls may be seen with a single thread of yarn round
the head as an infallible specific for tic douloureux.

The Purging Flax (_Linum catharticum_), or Mill Mountain
(_Kamailinon_), or Ground Flax, is a variety of the Flax common
on our heaths and pastures, being called also Fairy Flax from its
delicacy, and Dwarf Flax. It contains a resinous, purgative principle,
and is known to country folk as a safe, active purge. They infuse the
herb in water, which they afterwards take medicinally. Also a
tincture is made (H.) from the entire fresh plant, which may be
given curatively for frequent, wattery, painless diarrhoea, two or
three [205] drops for a dose with water every hour or two until the
flux is stayed.


The purple Foxglove (_Digitalis purpurea_) which every one knows
and admires for its long graceful spikes of elegant bell-shaped
brilliant blossoms seen in our woods and hedges, is also called the
Thimble Flower, or the Finger Flower, from the resemblance of
these blossoms to a thimble or to the fingers of a glove. The word
digitalis refers likewise to the digits, or fingers of a gauntlet. In
France the title is _Gants de Notre Dame_, the gloves of our Lady
the Virgin. Some writers give Folks' Glove, or Fairies' Glove as the
proper English orthography, but this is wrong. Our name of the
plant comes really from the Anglo-Saxon, Foxesglew or Fox music,
in allusion to an ancient musical instrument composed of bells
which were hanging from an arched support, _a tintinnabulum_,
which this plant with its pendent bell-shaped flowers so exactly

In Ireland the Foxglove is known as the Great Herb, and Lusmore,
also the Fairy Cap; and in Wales it is the Goblin's Gloves; whilst in
the North of Scotland it is the Dead men's Bells. We read in the
_Lady of the Lake_ there grew by Loch Katrine:--

    "Night shade and Foxglove side by side,
    Emblems of punishment and pride."

In Devonshire the plant is termed Poppy, because when one of the
bell-shaped flowers is inflated by the breath whilst the top edges are
held firmly together; the wind bag thus formed, if struck smartly
against the other hand, goes off with a sounding pop. The peasantry
also call it "Flop a dock." Strangely enough, the Foxglove, so
handsome and striking in a landscape, is not [206] mentioned by
Shakespeare, or by either of the old English poets. The "long
purples" of Shakespeare refers to the _orchis mascula_.

Chemically, the Foxglove contains a dangerous, active, medicinal
principle _digitalin_, which acts powerfully on the heart, and on the
kidneys, but this should never be given in any preparation of the
plant except under medical guidance, and then only with much
caution. Parkinson speaks highly of the bruised herb, or of its
expressed juice, for scrofulous swellings when applied outwardly in
the form of an ointment. An officinal tincture is made from the
plants collected in the spring, when two years old; also, in some
villages the infusion is employed as a homely remedy to cure a cold,
the herb being known as "Throttle Wort;" but this is not a safe thing
to do, for medical experience shows that the watery infusion of
Foxglove acts much more powerfully than the spirituous tincture,
which is eight times stronger, and from this fact it may fairly be
inferred that the presence of alcohol, as in the tincture, directly
opposes the specific action of the plant. This herb bears further in
some districts the names "Flop Top," "Cow Flop," and "Flabby
Dock." It was stated in the _Times Telescope_, 1822, "the women
of the poorer class in Derbyshire used to indulge in copious
draughts of Foxglove tea, as a cheap means of obtaining the
pleasures of intoxication. This was found to produce a great
exhilaration of the spirits, with other singular effects on the
system." So true is the maxim, _ubi virus, ibi virtus_.

No animal will touch the plant, which is biennial, and will only
develop its active principle _digitalin_, when getting some sunshine,
but remains inert when grown altogether in the shade. Therefore its
source of production for medicinal purposes is very important.


The common Fumitory (_Fumaria officinalis_) is a small grey-green
plant, bearing well known little flowers, rose coloured, and tipped
with purple, whilst standing erect in every cornfield, vineyard, or
such-like manured place throughout Great Britain. It is so named
from the Latin _fumus terroe_, earth smoke, which refers either to
the appearance of its pretty glaucous foliage on a dewy summer
morning, or to the belief that it was produced not from seed but
from vapours rising out of the earth. The plant continues to flower
throughout the year, and was formerly much favoured for making
cosmetic washes to purify the skin of rustic maidens in the spring

     "Whose red and purpled mottled flowers
         Are cropped by maids in weeding hours
     To boil in water, milk, or whey,
         For washes on a holiday;
     To make their beauty fair and sleek,
         And scare the tan from summer's cheek."

In many parts of Kent the Fumitory bears the name of "Wax Dolls,"
because its rose coloured flowers, with their little, dark, purple
heads, are by no means unlike the small waxen toys given as
nurslings to children.

Dioscorides affirmed: "The juice of Fumitory, of that which
groweth among barley, with gum arabic, doth take away unprofitable
hairs that prick, being first plucked away, for it will not
suffer others to grow in their places." "It helpeth," says Gerard, "in
the summer time those that are troubled with scabs."

Pliny said it is named because causing the eyes to water as smoke
does. In Shakespeare the name is written Fumiter. It continues to
flower throughout the year, and its presence is thought to indicate
good deep rich land. There is also a "ramping" Fumitory [208]
(_capreolata_) which climbs; being found likewise in fields and
waste places, but its infusion produces purgative effects.

The whole plant has a saline, bitter, and somewhat acrid taste. It
contains "fumaric acid," and the alkaloid "fumarina," which are
specially useful for scrofulous diseases of the skin. A decoction of
the herb makes a curative lotion for the milk-crust which disfigures
the scalp of an infant, and for grown up persons troubled with
chronic eruptions on the face, or freckles.

The fresh juice may be given as a medicine; or an infusion made
with an ounce of the plant to a pint of boiling water, one
wineglassful for a dose twice or three times in the day.

By the ancients Fumitory was named _Capnos_, smoke: Pliny wrote
"_Claritatem facit inunctis oculis delachrymationemque, ceu fumus,
unde nomen_." They esteemed the herb specially useful for
dispelling dimness of the sight, and for curing other infirmities of
the eyes.

The leaves, which have no particular odour, throw up crystals of
nitre on their surface when cool. The juice may be mixed with
whey, and taken as a common drink, or as a medicinal beverage for
curing obstinate skin eruptions, and for overcoming obstructions of
the liver and digestive organs. Dr. Cullen found it most useful in
leprous skin disease. The juice from the fresh herb may be given
two ounces in the day, but the virtues remain equally in the dried
plant. Its smoke was said by the ancient exorcists to have the power
of expelling evil spirits. The famous physician, John of Milan,
extolled Fumitory as a sovereign remedy against malarious fever.

It is a remarkable fact, that the colour of the hair and the complexion
seem to determine the liability, or [209] otherwise, of a European to
West Coast fever in Africa. A man with harsh, bright-coloured red
hair, such as is common in Scotland, has a complete immunity,
though running the same risks as another mall, dark and with a dry
skin, who seems absolutely doomed. A red-haired European will, as
a rule, keep his health where even the natives are attacked. Old
negresses have secret methods of cure which can, undoubtedly, save
life even in cases which have become hopeless to European medical


Seeming at first sight out of place among the lilies of the field, yet
Garlic, the Leek, and the Onion are true members of that noble
order, and may be correctly classified together with the favoured
tribe, "Clothed more grandly than Solomon in all his glory." They
possess alike the same properties and characteristics, though in
varying degrees, and they severally belong to the genus _Allium_,
each containing "allyl," which is a radical rich in sulphur.

The homely Onion may be taken first as the best illustration of the
family. This is named technically _Allium cepa_, from _cep_, a
head (of bunched florets which it bears). Lucilius called it _Flebile
coepe_, because the pungency of its odour will provoke a flow of
tears from the eyes. As Shakespeare says, in _Taming of the

     "Mine eyes smell onions;
     I shall weep anon."

The Egyptians were devoted to Onions, which they ate more than
two thousand years before the time of Christ. They were given to
swear by the Onion and [210] Garlic in their gardens. Herodotus
tells us that during the building of the pyramids nine tons of gold
were spent in buying onions for the workmen. But it is to be noted
that in Egypt the Onion is sweet and soft; whereas, in other
countries it grows hard, and nauseous, and strong.

By the Greeks this bulb was called Krommuon, "_apo tau Meuein
tas koras_," because of shutting the eyes when eating it. In Latin its
name _unio_, signified a single root without offsets.

Raw Onions contain an acrid volatile oil, sulphur, phosphorus,
alkaline earthy salts, phosphoric and acetic acids, with phosphate
and citrate of lime, starch, free uncrystallized sugar, and lignine.
The fresh juice is colourless, but by exposure to the air becomes red.
A syrup made from the juice with honey is an excellent medicine
for old phlegmatic persons in cold weather, when their lungs are
stuffed, and the breathing is hindered.

Raw Onions increase the flow of urine, and promote perspiration,
insomuch, that a diet of them, with bread, has many a time cured
dropsy coming on through a chill at first, or from exposure to cold.
They contain the volatile principle, "sulphide of allyl," which is
acrid and stimulating. If taken in small quantities, Onions quicken
the circulation, and assist digestion; but when eaten more prodigally
they disagree.

In making curative Simples, the Onion (and Garlic) should not be
boiled, else the volatile essential oil, on which its virtues chiefly
depend, will escape during the process.

The principal internal effects of the Onion, the Leek, and Garlic, are
stimulation and warmth, so that they are of more salutary use when
the subject is of a cold [211] temperament, and when the vital
powers are feeble, than when the body is feverish, and the
constitution ardently excitable. "They be naught," says Gerard, "for
those that be cholericke; but good for such as are replete with raw
and phlegmatick humors." _Vous tous qui etes gros, et gras, et
lymphatiques, avec l'estomac paresseux, mangez l'oignon cru; c'est
pour vous que le bon Dieu l'a fait_.

Onions, when eaten at night by those who are not feverish, will
promote sleep, and induce perspiration. The late Frank Buckland
confirmed this statement. He said, "I am sure the essential oil of
Onions has soporific powers. In my own case it never fails. If I am
much pressed with work, and feel that I am not disposed to sleep, I
eat two or three small Onions, and the effect is magical." The Onion
has a very sensitive organism, and absorbs all morbid matter that
comes in its way. During our last epidemic of cholera it puzzled the
sanitary inspectors of a northern town why the tenants of one
cottage in an infected row were not touched by the plague. At last
some one noticed a net of onions hanging in the fortunate house,
and on examination all these proved to have become diseased. But
whilst welcoming this protective quality, the danger must be
remembered of eating an onion which shows signs of decay, for it
cannot be told what may have caused this distemper.

When sliced, and applied externally, the raw Onion serves by its
pungent and essential oil to quicken the circulation, and to redden
the skin of the particular surface treated in this way; very usefully
so in the case of an unbroken chilblain, or to counteract neuralgic
pain; but in its crude state the bulb is not emollient or demulcent. If
employed as a poultice for ear-ache, or broken chilblains, the Onion
should be roasted, so as to [212] modify its acrid oil. When there is
a constant arid painful discharge of fetid matter from the ear, or
where an abscess is threatened, with pain, heat, and swelling, a hot
poultice of roasted Onions will be found very useful, and will
mitigate the pain. The juice of a sliced raw Onion is alkaline, and
will quickly relieve the acid venom of a sting from a wasp, or bee, if
applied immediately to the part.

A tincture is made (H.) from large, red, strong Onions for medicinal
purposes. As a warming expectorant in chronic bronchitis, or
asthma, or for a cold which is not of a feverish character, from half
to one teaspoonful of this tincture may be given with benefit three
or four times in the day in a wineglassful of hot water, or hot milk.
Likewise, a jorum (_i.e._, an earthen bowl) of hot Onion broth taken
at bedtime, serves admirably to soothe the air passages, and to
promote perspiration; after the first feverish stage of catarrh or
influenza has passed by. To make this, peel a large Spanish Onion,
and divide it into four parts; then put them into a saucepan, with half
a saltspoonful of salt, and two ounces of butter, and a pint of cold
water; let them simmer gently until quite tender; next pour all into a
bowl which has been made hot, dredging a little pepper over; and let
the porridge be eaten as hot as it can be taken.

The allyl and sulphur in the bulbs, together with their mucilaginous
parts, relieve the sore mucous membranes, and quicken perspiration,
whilst other medicinal virtues are exercised at the same time on the
animal economy.

By eating a few raw parsley sprigs immediately afterwards, the
strong smell which onions communicates to the breath may be
removed and dispelled. Lord [213] Bacon averred "the rose will be
sweeter if planted in a bed of onions." So nutritious does the
Highlander find this vegetable, that, if having a few raw bulbs in his
pocket, with oat-cake, or a crust of bread, he can travel for two or
three days together without any other food. Dean Swift said:--

     "This is every cook's opinion,
     No savoury dish without an onion,
     But lest your kissing should be spoiled,
     Your onions must be fully boiled."

Provings have been made by medical experts of the ordinary red
Onion in order to ascertain what its toxical effects are when pushed
to an excessive degree, and it has been found that Onions, Leeks,
or Garlic, when taken immoderately, induce melancholy and
depression, with severe catarrh. They dispose to sopor, lethargy, and
even insanity. The immediate symptoms are extreme watering of the
eyes after frequent sneezing, confusion of the head, and heavy
defluxion from the nose, with pains in the throat extending to the
ears; in a word, all the accompaniments of a bad cold, sneezings,
lacrymation, pains in the forehead, and a hoarse, hacking cough.
These being the effects of taking Onions in a harmful quantity, it is
easy to understand that when the like morbid symptoms have arisen
spontaneously from other causes, as from a sharp catarrh of the head
and chest, then modified forms of the Onion are calculated to
counteract them on the law of similars, so that a cure is promptly
produced. On which principle the Onion porridge is a scientific
remedy, as food, and as Physic, during the first progress of a
catarrhal attack, and _pari passu_ the medicinal tincture of the red
Onion may be likewise curatively given.

[214] Spanish Onions, which are imported into this country in the
winter, are sweet and mucilaginous. A peasant in Spain will munch
an onion just as an English labourer eats an apple.

At the present day Egyptians take onions, roasted, and each cut into
four pieces, with small bits of baked meat, and slices of an acid
apple, which the Turks call kebobs. With this sweet and savoury dish
they are so delighted, that they trust to enjoy it in paradise. The
Israelites were willing to return to slavery and brick-making for
their love of the Onion; and we read that Hecamedes presented
some of the bulbs to Patrochus, in _Homer_, as a regala. These are
supplied liberally to the antelopes and giraffes in our Zoological
Gardens, which animals dote on the Onion.

A clever paraprase of the word Onion may be read in the lines:--

     "Charge! Stanley, charge! On! Stanley, on!
     Were the last words of Marmion.
     If _I_ had been in Stanley's place
     When Marmion urged him to the chase,
     In me you quickly would descry
     What draws a tear from many an eye."

For chilblains apply onions with salt pounded together, and for
inflamed or protruding piles, raw Onion pulp, made by bruising the
bulb, if kept bound to the parts by a compress, and renewed as
needed, will afford certain relief.

The Garlic (_Allium sativum_), Skorodon of the Greeks, which was
first cultivated in English gardens in 1540, takes its name, from
_gar_, a spear; and _leac_, a plant, either because of its sharp
tapering leaves, or perhaps as "the war plant," by reason of its
nutritive and stimulating qualities for those who do battle. It is
known also [215] to many as "Poor-man's Treacle," or "Churls
Treacle," from being regarded by rustics as a treacle, or antidote to
the bite of any venomous reptile.

The bulb, consisting of several combined cloves, is stimulating,
antispasmodic, expectorant, and diuretic. Its active properties
depend on an essential oil which may be readily obtained by
distillation. A medicinal tincture is made (H.) with spirit of wine, of
which from ten to twenty drops may be taken in water several times
a day. Garlic proves useful in asthma, whooping-cough, and other
spasmodic affections of the chest. For all adult, one or more cloves
may be eaten at a time. The odour of the bulb is very diffusible,
even when it is applied to the soles of the feet its odour is exhaled
by the lungs.

When bruised and mixed with lard, it makes a most useful opbdeldoc
to be rubbed in for irritable spines of indolent scrofulous
tumours or gout, until the skin surface becomes red and glowing. If
employed thus over the chest (back and front) of a child with
whooping-cough, it proves eminently helpful.

Raw Garlic, when applied to the skin, reddens it, and the odour
sniffed into the nostrils will revive an hysterical sufferer. It formed
the principal ingredient in the "Four thieves' vinegar," which was
adopted so successfully at Marseilles for protection against the
plague, when prevailing there. This originated with four thieves,
who confessed that, whilst protected by the liberal use of aromatic
vinegar during the plague, they plundered the dead bodies of its
victims with complete security. Or, according to another
explanation of the name, an old tract, printed in 1749, testifies that
one, Richard Forthave, who lived in Bishopsgate Street, invented
and sold a vinegar which had such a run that [216] he soon grew
famous, and that his surname became thus corrupted in the course of

But long before the plague at Marseilles (1722) vinegar was
employed as a disinfectant. With Cardinal Wolsey it was a constant
custom to carry in his hand an orange emptied of its pulp, and
containing a sponge soaked in vinegar made aromatic with spices,
so as to protect himself from infection when passing through the
crowds which his splendour and his office attracted.

It is related that during a former outbreak of infectious fever in
Somer's Town and St. Giles's, the French priests, who constantly used
Garlic in all their dishes, visited the worst cases in the dirtiest
hovels with impunity, while the English clergy, who were similarly
engaged, but who did not eat onions in like fashion, caught the
infection in many instances, and fell victims to the disease.

For toothache and earache, a clove of Garlic stripped of its skin, and
cut in the form of a suppository, if thrust in the ear of the aching
side, will soon assuage the pain. If introduced into the lower bowel,
it will help to destroy thread worms, and when swallowed it
abolishes round worms.

As a condiment, Garlic undoubtedly aids digestion by stimulating
the circulation, with a consequent increase of saliva and gastric
juice. The juice from the bulbs can be employed for cementing
broken glass or china, by means of its mucilage.

Dr. Bowles, a noted English physician of former times, made use of
Garlic with much success as a secret remedy for asthma. He
concocted a preserve from the boiled cloves with vinegar and sugar,
to be kept in an earthen jar. The dose was a bulb or two with some
of the syrup, each morning when fasting. [217] The pain of
rheumatic parts may be much relieved by simply rubbing them with
cut Garlic.

Garlic emits the most acrimonious smell of all the onion tribe.
When leprosy prevailed in this country, Garlic was a prime specific
for its relief, and as the victims had to "pil," or peel their own
garlic, they were nicknamed "Pil Garlics," and hence it came about that
anyone shunned like a leper had this epithet applied to him. Stow
says, concerning a man growing old: "He will soon be a peeled
garlic like myself."

The strong penetrating odour and taste of this plant, though
offensive to most English palates, are much relished by Russians,
Poles, and Spaniards, and especially by the Jews. But the Greeks
detested Garlic. It is true the Attic husbandmen ate it from remote
times, probably in part to drive away by its odour venomous
creatures from assailing them; but persons who partook of it were
not allowed to enter the temples of Cybele, says Athenaeus; and so
hated was garlic, that to have to eat it was a punishment for those
that had committed the most horrid crimes; Horace, among the
Romans, was made ill by eating garlic at the table of Maecenas; and
afterwards (in his third _Epode_) he reviled the plant as, _Cicutis
allium nocentius_, "Garlic more poisonous than hemlock." Sir
Theodore Martin has thus spiritedly translated the passage:--

     "If his old father's throat any impious sinner,
         Has cut with unnatural hand to the bone:
     Give him garlick--more noxious than hemlock--at dinner;
         Ye gods! what strong stomachs the reapers must own!"

The singular property is attributed to Garlic, that if a morsel of the
bulb is chewed by a man running a race, it will prevent his
competitors from getting ahead of him. Hungarian jockeys sometimes
fasten a clove of [218] garlic to the bits of their racers; and
it is said that the horses which run against those thus baited, fall
back the moment they smell the offensive odour. If a leg of mutton,
before being roasted, has a small clove of Garlic inserted into the
knuckle, and the joint is afterwards served with haricot beans
(soaked for twenty-four hours before being boiled), it is rendered
doubly delicious. In Greece snails dressed with Garlic are now a
favourite dish.

A well known _chef_ is said to have chewed a small clove of Garlic
when he wished to impart its delicate flavour to a choice _plât_,
over which he then breathed lightly. Dumas relates that the whole
atmosphere of Provence is impregnated with the perfume of Garlic,
and is exceedingly wholesome to inhale.

As an instance of lunar influences (which undoubtedly affect our
bodily welfare), it is remarkable that if Garlic is planted when the
moon is in the full, the bulb will be round like an onion, instead of
being composed, as it usually is, of several distinct cloves.

Homer says it was to the virtues of the Yellow Garlic (Moly?)
Ulysses owed his escape from being changed by Circe into a pig,
like each of his companions.

The Crow Garlic, _vineale_, and the purple striped, _oleraceum_,
grow wild in this country. When the former of these is eaten by
birds it so stupefies them that they may be taken with the hand.

Concerning the cure of nervous headache by Garlic (and its kindred
medicinal herb _Asafoetida_), an old charm reads thus:--

     "Give onyons to Saynt Cutlake,
     And Garlycke to Saynt Cyryake;
     If ye will shun the headake,
         Ye shall have them at Queenhyth."

The Asafoetida (_Ferula Asafoetida_) grows in Western Thibet, and
exudes a gum which is used medicinally, coming as a milky juice
from the incised root and soon coagulating; it is then exported,
having a very powerful odour of garlic which may be perceived a
long distance away. Phosphorus and sulphur are among its
constituent elements, and, because of the latter, says Dr. Garrod
after much observation, he regards Asafoetida as one of the most
valuable remedies known to the physician. From three to five grains
of the gum in a pill, or half-a-teaspoonful of the tincture, with a
small wineglassful of warm milk, may be given for a dose.

Some of the older writers esteemed it highly as an aromatic
flavouring spice, and termed it _cibus deorum_, food of the gods.
John Evelyn says (in his _Acetaria_) "the ancient Silphium thought
by many to be none other than the fetid asa, was so highly prized for
its taste and virtues, that it was dedicated to Apollo at Delphi, and
stamped upon African coins as a sacred plant."

Aristophanes extolled its juice as a restorer of masculine vigour, and
the Indians at this day sauce their viands with it. Nor are some of
our skilful cooks ignorant how to condite it, with the applause of
those who are unaware of the secret. The Silphium, or _laserpitium_
of the Romans, yielded what was a famous restorative, the
"Cyrenaic juice." Pareira tells us he was assured by a noted gourmet
that the finest relish which a beef steak can possess, may be
communicated to it by rubbing the gridiron on which the steak is to
be cooked, with Asafoetida.

The gum when given in moderate doses, acts on all parts of the
body as a wholesome stimulant, leading among other good results,
to improvement of the vision, [220] and enlivening the spirits. But
its use is apt to produce eructations smacking of garlic, which may
persist for several hours; and, if it be given in over doses, the
effects are headache and giddiness. When suitably administered, it
quickens the appetite and improves the digestion, chiefly with those
of a cold temperament, and languid habit. Smollet says the Romans
stuffed their fowls for the table with Asafoetida. In Germany,
Sweden, and Italy, it is known as "Devil's Dung."

The Leek (_Allium porrium_) bears an Anglo-Saxon name corrupted
from Porleac, and it is also called the Porret, having been
the Prason of the Greeks. It was first made use of in England during
1562. This was a food of the poor in ancient Egypt, as is shown by
an inscription on one of the Pyramids, whence was derived the
phrase, "to eat the Leek"; and its loss was bewailed by the Israelites
in their journey through the Desert. It was said by the Romans to be
prolific of virtue, because Latona, the mother of Apollo, longed
after leeks. The Welsh, who take them much, are observed to be
very fruitful. They dedicate these plants to St. David, on whose day,
March 1st, in 640, the Britons (who were known to each other by
displaying in their caps, at the inspiration of St. David, some leeks,
"the fairest emblym that is worne," plucked in a garden near the
field of action) gained a complete victory over the Saxons.

The bulb contains some sulphur, and is, in its raw state, a
stimulating expectorant. Its juice acts energetically on the kidneys,
and dissolves the calculous formations of earthy phosphates which
frequently form in the bladder.

For chilblains, chapped hands, and sore eyes, the juice of a leek
squeezed out, and mixed with cream, [221] has been found curative.
Old Tusser tells us, in his _Husbandry for March_:--

     "Now leeks are in season, for pottage full good,
     That spareth the milch cow, and purgeth the blood,"

and a trite proverb of former times bids us:--

     "Eat leeks in Lide [March] and ramsons in May,
    Then all the year after physicians can play."

Ramsons, or the Wild Garlic (_Allium ursinum_), is broad leaved,
and grows abundantly on our moist meadow banks, with a strong smell
of onions when crushed or bruised. It is perennial, having egg-shaped
or lance-like leaves, whilst bearing large, pearly-white
blossoms with acute petals. The name is the plural of "Ramse," or
"Ram," which signifies strong-smelling, or rank. And the plant is
also called "Buck Rams," or "Buck Rampe," in allusion to its spadix
or spathe. "The leaves of Ramsons," says Gerard, "are stamped and
eaten with fish, even as we do eat greene sauce made with sorrell."
This is "Bear's Garlic," and the Star Flower of florists.

Leeks were so highly esteemed by the Emperor Nero, that his
subjects gave him the sobriquet of "Porrophagus." He took them
with oil for several days in each month to clear his voice, eating
no bread on those days. _Un remede d'Empereur (Neron) pour se
debarrasser d'un rhume,--et de commère pour attendre le meme but--
fut envelopper un oignon dans une feuille de chou et le faire cuire
sous la cendre; puis l'ecrasser, le reduire en pulpe, le mettre dans
une tasse de lait, ou une decoction chaude de redisse; se coucher; et
se tenir chaudement, au besoin recidiver matin et soir_.

The Scotch leek is more hardy and pungent than that [222] grown in
England. It was formerly a favourite ingredient in the Cock-a-Leekie
soup of Caledonia, which is so graphically described by Sir
Walter Scott, in the _Fortunes of Nigel_.

A "Herby" pie, peculiar to Cornwall, is made of leeks and pilchards,
or of nettles, pepper cress, parsley, mustard, and spinach, with thin
slices of pork. At the bottom of the Squab pie mentioned before was
a Squab, or young Cormorant, "which diffused," says Charles
Kingsley, "through the pie, and through the ambient air, a delicate
odour of mingled guano and polecat." That "lovers live by love, as
larks by leeks," is an old saying; and in the classic story of Pyramus
and Thisbe, reference is made to the beautiful emerald green which
the leaves of the leek exhibit. "His eyes were as green as leeks."
Among the Welsh farmers, it is a neighbourly custom to attend on a
certain day and plough the land of a poor proprietor whose means
are limited--each bringing with him one or more leeks for making the
soup or broth.

The _Schalot_, or _Eschalotte_, is another variety of the onion tribe,
which was introduced into England by the Crusaders, who found it
growing at Ascalon. And Chives (_Allium schoenoprasum_) are an
ever green perennial herb of the onion tribe, having only a mild,
alliaceous flavour. Epicures consider the Schalot to be the best
seasoning for beef steaks, either by taking the actual bulb, or by
rubbing the plates therewith.

Again, as a most common plant in all our hedgerows, is found the
Poor Man's Garlic, or Sauce-alone (_Erisymum alliaria_), from
_eruo_, to cure, a somewhat coarse and most ordinary member of
the onion tribe, which goes also by the names of "Jack by the
hedge" and "Garlick-wort," and belongs to the cruciferous order
[223] of plants. When bruised, it gives out a strong smell of garlic,
and when eaten by cows it makes their milk taste powerfully of
onions. The Ancients, says John Evelyn, used "Jack by the hedge"
as a succedaneum to their Scordium, or cultivated Garlic.

This herb grows luxuriantly, bearing green, shining, heart-shaped
leaves, and headpieces of small, white-flowering bunches. It was
named "Saucealone," from being eaten in the Springtime with meat,
whilst having so strong a flavour of onions, that it served alone of
itself for sauce. Perhaps (says Dr. Prior) the title "Jack by the
hedge" is derived from "jack," or "jakes," an old English word
denoting a privy, or house of office, and this in allusion to
the fetid smell of the plant, and the usual place of its growth.

When gathered and eaten with boiled mutton, after having been first
separately boiled, it makes an excellent vegetable, if picked as it
approaches the flowering state. Formerly this herb was highly
valued as an antiscorbutic, and was thought a most desirable pot

(The _Erysimum officinale_ (Hedge Mustard) and the _Vervain_
(Verbena) make Count Mattaei's empirical nostrum _Febrifugo_: but
this _Erysimum_ is not the same plant as the Jack by the hedge.)


The Gooseberry (_Ribes grossularia_) gets its name from _krüsbar_,
which signifies a cross, in allusion to the triple spine of the fruit
or berry, which is commonly cruciform. This is a relic of its first
floral days, preserved like the apron of the blacksmith at Persia,
when he came to the throne. The term _grossularia_ implies a
resemblance of the fruit to _grossuli_, small unripe figs.

[224] Frequently the shrub, which belongs to the same natural order
as the Currant (_Ribes_), grows wild in the hedges and thickets of
our Eastern counties, bearing then only a small, poor berry, and not
supposed to be of native origin.

In East Anglia it is named Fabe, Feap, Thape, or Theab berry,
probably by reason of a mistake which arose through an incorrect
picture. The Melon, in a well-known book of Tabernaemontanus,
was figured to look like a large gooseberry, and was headed,
_Pfebe_. And this name was supposed by some wiseacre to be that
of the gooseberry, and thus became attached to the said fruit.
Loudon thinks it signifies Feverberry, because of the cooling
properties possessed by the gooseberry, which is scarcely probable.

In Norfolk, the green, unripe fruit is called Thape, and the
schoolboys in that county well know Thape pie, made from green
Gooseberries. The French call the fruit _Groseille_, and the Scotch,
Grosert. It contains, chemically, citric acid, pectose, gum, sugar,
cellulose, albumen, mineral matter, and water. The quantity of
flesh-forming constituents is insignificant. Its pectose, under
heat, makes a capital jelly.

In this country, the Gooseberry was first cultivated at the time of the
Reformation, and it grows better in Great Britain than elsewhere,
because of the moist climate. The original fruit occurred of the hairy
sort, like Esau, as the _Uva crispa_ of Fuschius, in Henry the
Eighth's reign; and there are now red, white, and yellow cultivated
varieties of the berry.

When green and unripe, Gooseberries are employed in a sauce,
together with bechamel, and aromatic spices, this being taken with
mackerel and other rich fish, as an acid corrective condiment. Also,
from the juice of the [225] green fruit, "which cureth all
inflammations," may be concocted an excellent vinegar.

Gooseberry-fool, which comes to our tables so acceptably in early
summer, consists of the unripe fruit _foulé_ (that is, crushed or
beaten up) with cream and milk. Similarly the French have a _foulé
des pommes_, and a_ foulé des raisins_. To "play old Gooseberry"
with another man's property is conjectured to mean smashing it up,
and reducing it, as it were, to Gooseberry-fool.

The young and tender leaves of the shrub, if eaten raw in a salad;
drive forth the gravel. And from the red Gooseberry may be
prepared an excellent light jelly, which is beneficial for sedentary,
plethoric, and bilious subjects. This variety of the fruit, whether
hairy or smooth, is grown largely in Scotland, but in France it is
little cared for.

The yellow Gooseberry is richer and more vinous of taste, suiting
admirably, when of the smooth sort, for making Gooseberry wine;
which is choice, sparkling, and wholesome, such as that wherewith
Goldsmith's popular _Vicar of Wakefield_ used to regale Farmer
Flamborough and the blind piper, having "lost neither the recipe nor
the reputation." They were soothed in return by the touching ballads
of _Johnny Armstrong's Last Good Night_, and _Cruel Barbara

Gooseberry Shows are held annually in Lancashire, and excite keen
competition; but after exhibition, the successful berries are "topped
and tailed," so as to disqualify them from being shown elsewhere.
Southey, in _The Doctor_, speaks about an obituary notice in a
former Manchester newspaper, of a man who "bore a severe illness
with Christian fortitude, and was much esteemed among Gooseberry
growers." Prizes are given for the [226] biggest and heaviest berries,
which are produced with immense pains as to manuring, and the
growth of cool chickweed around the roots of the bushes. At the
same time each promising berry is kept submerged in a shallow
vessel of water placed beneath it so as to compel absorption of
moisture, and thus to enlarge its size. Whimsical names, such as
"Golden Lion," "The Jolly Angler," and "Crown Bob," etc., are
bestowed on the prize fruit. Cuttings from the parent plant of a prize
Gooseberry become in great request; and thus the pedigree scions of
a single bush have been known to yield as much as thirty-two
pounds sterling to their possessor. The _Gooseberry Book_ is a
regular Manchester annual.

A berry weighing as heavy as thirty-seven penny-weight has been
exhibited; and a story is told of a Middleton weaver, who, when a
thunder-storm was gathering, lay awake as if for his life, and at the
first patter of rain against the window panes, rushed to the rescue of
his Gooseberry bushes with his bed quilt. Green Gooseberries will
help to abate the strange longings which sometimes beset pregnant

In Devon the rustics call Gooseberries "Deberries," and in Sussex
they are familiarly known to village lads as Goosegogs.

An Irish cure for warts is to prick them with a Gooseberry thorn
passed through a wedding ring.

By some subtle bodily action wrought through a suggestion made to
the mind, warts undoubtedly disappear as the result of this and
many another equally trivial proceeding; which being so, why not
the more serious skin affections, and larger morbid growths?

The poet Southey wrote a _Pindaric Ode upon a Gooseberry_ [227]
Pie, beginning "Gooseberry Pie is best," with the refrain:--

     "And didst thou scratch thy tender arms,
     Oh, Jane I that I should dine"?


Among Curative Simples, the Goosefoot, or Chenopod order of
British plants, contributes two useful herbs, the _Chenopodium
bonus Henricus_ (Good King Henry), and the _Chenopodium
vulvaria_ (Stinking Goosefoot).

This tribe derives its distinctive title from the Greek words,
_cheen_, a goose, and _pous_, a foot, in allusion to the resemblance
borne by its leaves to the webbed members of that waddling bird
which raw recruits are wont to bless for their irksome drill of the
goose-step. Incidentally, it may be said that goosegrease, got from
the roasted bird, is highly emollient, and very useful in clysters;
it also proves easily emetic.

The Goosefoot herbs are common weeds in most temperate climates,
and grow chiefly in salt marshes, or on the sea-shore. Other plants
of this tribe are esculent vegetables, as the Spinach, Beet,
and Orach. They all afford "soda" in abundance.

The _Good King Henry_ (Goosefoot) grows abundantly in waste
places near villages, being a dark green, succulent plant, about a
foot high, with thickish arrow-shaped leaves, which are cooked as
spinach, especially in Lincolnshire. It is sometimes called Blite,
from the Greek _bliton_, insipid; and, as Evelyn says, in his
_Acetaria_, "it is well named, being insipid enough."

Why the said Goosefoot has been named "Good King Henry," or,
"Good King Harry," is a disputed point. A French writer declares
"this humble plant which grows on our plains without culture will
confer a more lasting [228] duration on the memory of _Henri
Quatre_ than the statue of bronze placed on the Pont Neuf, though
fenced with iron, and guarded by soldiers." Dodoeus says the
appellation was given to distinguish the plant from another, a
poisonous one, called _Malus Henricus_, "Bad Henry." Other
authors have referred it to our Harry the Eighth, and his sore legs,
for which the leaves were applied as a remedy; but this idea does
not seem of probable correctness. Frowde tells us "the constant
irritation of his festering legs made his terrible temper still more
dreadful. Warned of his approaching dissolution; and consumed
with the death-thirst, he called for a cup of white wine, and, turning
to one of his attendants; cried, 'All is lost!'--and these were his
last words." The substantive title, _Henricus_, is more likely derived
from "heinrich," an elf or goblin, as indicating certain magical
virtues in the herb.

It is further known as English Marquery, or Mercury, and _Tota bona_;
or, Allgood, the latter from a conceit of the rustics that it will
cure all hurts; "wherefore the leaves are now a constant plaster
among them for every green wound." It bears small flowers of
sepals only, and is grown by cottagers as a pot herb. The young
shoots peeled and boiled may be eaten as asparagus, and are gently
laxative. The leaves are often made into broth, being applied also
externally by country folk to heal old ulcers; and the roots are given
to sheep having a cough.

Both here and in Germany this Goosefoot is used for feeding
poultry, and it has hence acquired the sobriquet of Fat-hen.

The term, English Mercury, has been given because of its excellent
remedial qualities against indigestion, and bears out the proverb:
"Be thou sick or whole, put [229] Mercury in thy koole." Poultices
made from the herb are applied to cleanse and heal chronic sores,
which, as Gerard teaches, "they do scour and mundify." Certain
writers associate it with our _good_ King Henry the Sixth. There is
made in America, from an allied plant, the oak-leaved Goosefoot
(_Chenopodium glaucum_), or from the aphis which infests it, a
medicinal tincture used for expelling round worms.

The Stinking Goosefoot, called therefore, _Vulvaria_, and _Garosmus_,
grows often on roadsides in England, and is known as Dog's
Orach. It is of a dull, glaucous, or greyish-green aspect, and
invested with a greasy mealiness which when touched exhales a
very odious and enduring smell like that of stale salt fish, this being
particularly attractive to dogs, though swine refuse the plant. It has
been found very useful in hysteria, the leaves being made into a
conserve with sugar; or Dr. Fuller's famous _Electuarium
hystericum_ may be compounded by adding forty-eight drops of oil
of amber (_Oleum succini_) to four ounces of the conserve. Then a
piece of the size of a chestnut should be taken when needed, and
repeated more or less often as required. It further promotes the
monthly flow of women. But the herb is possessed _odoris virosi
intolerabilis_, of a stink which remains long on the hands after
touching it. The whole plant is sprinkled over with the white,
pellucid meal, and contains much "trimethylamine," together with
osmazome, and nitrate of potash; also it gives off free ammonia.
The title, Orach, given to the Stinking Goosefoot, a simple of a
"most ancient, fish-like smell," and to others of the same tribe, is a
corruption of _aurum_, gold, because their seeds were supposed to
cure the ailment known popularly as the "yellow jaundice." These
plants afford no nutriment, [230] and, therefore, each bears the
name, _atriplex_, not, _trephein_, to nourish:--

     "Atriplicem tritum cum nitro, melle, et aceto
     Dicunt appositum calidum sedare podagram
     _Ictericis_ dicitque Galenus tollere morbum
     Illius semen cum vino saepius haustum."

     "With vinegar, honey, and salt, the Orach
     Made hot, and applied, cures a gouty attack;
     Whilst its seeds for the jaundice, if mingled with wine,
     --As Galen has said--are a remedy fine."

"Orach is cooling," writes Evelyn, "and allays the pituit humors."
"Being set over the fire, neither this nor the lettuce needs any other
water than their own moisture to boil them in." The Orach hails
from Tartary, and is much esteemed in France. It was introduced
about 1548.


"Goosey, goosey, gander, whither do ye wander?" says an old
nursery rhyme by way of warning to the silly waddling birds not to
venture into hedgerows, else will they become helplessly fettered by
the tough, straggling coils of the Clivers, Goosegrass, or,
Hedgeheriff, growing so freely there, and a sad despoiler of

The medicinal Goosegrass (_Galium aparine_), which is a highly
useful curative Simple, springs up luxuriantly about fields and waste
places in most English districts. It belongs to the Rubiaceous order
of plants, all of which have a root like madder, affording a red dye.
This hardy Goosegrass climbs courageously by its slender, hairy
stems through the dense vegetation of our hedges into open
daylight, having sharp, serrated leaves, and producing small white
flowers, "pearking on the tops of the sprigs." It is one of the
Bedstraw tribe, and bears [231] a number of popular titles, such as
Cleavers, Clithers, Robin run in the grass, Burweed, Loveman,
Gooseherriff, Mutton chops, Clite, Clide, Clitheren, and Goosebill,
from the sharp, serrated leaves, like the rough-edged mandibles of a

Its stalks and leaves are covered with little hooked bristles, which
attach themselves to passing objects, and by which it fastens itself in
a ladder-like manner to adjacent shrubs, so as to push its way
upwards in the hedgerows.

Goosegrass has obtained the sobriquet of Beggar's lice, from
clinging closely to the garments of passers by, as well as because
the small burs resemble these disgusting vermin; again it is known
to some as Harriff, or, Erriff, from the Anglo-Saxon "hedge rife," a
taxgather, or robber, because it plucks the wool from the sheep as
they pass through a hedge; also Grip-grass, Catchweed, and
Scratchweed. Furthermore, this Bedstraw has been called Goose-grease,
from a mistaken belief that obstructive ailments of geese can
be cured therewith. It is really a fact that goslings are extremely
fond of the herb.

The botanical name, _Aparine_, bears the same meaning, being
derived from the Greek verb, _apairo_, to lay hold of. The generic
term, _Galium_, comes from the Greek word _gala_, milk, which
the herb was formerly employed to curdle, instead of rennet.

The flowers of this Bedstraw bloom towards August, about the time
of the Feast of the Annunciation, and a legend says they first burst
into blossom at the birth of our Saviour. Bedstraw is, according to
some, a corruption of Beadstraw. It is certain that Irish peasant girls
often repeat their "aves" from the round seeds of the Bedstraw,
using them for beads in the absence of a rosary; [232] and hence,
perhaps, has been derived the name Our Lady's Be(a)dstraw. But
straw (so called from the Latin _sterno_, to strew, or, scatter about)
was formerly employed as bedding, even by ladies of rank: whence
came the expression of a woman recently confined being "in the
straw." Children style the _Galium Aparine_ Whip tongue, and
Tongue-bleed, making use of it in play to draw blood from their

This herb has a special curative reputation with reference to
cancerous growths and allied tumours. For open cancers an
ointment is made from the leaves and stems wherewith to dress the
ulcerated parts, and at the same time the expressed juice of the plant
is given internally. Dr. Tuthill Massy avers that it often produces a
cure in from six to twelve months, and advises that the decoction
shall be drank regularly afterwards in the Springtime.

Dr. Quinlan, at St. Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, successfully
employed poultices made with the fresh juice, and applied three
times in the day, to heal chronic ulcers on the legs. Its effects, he
says, in the most unlikely cases, were decisive and plain to all. He
gave directions that whilst a bundle of ten or twelve stalks is
grasped with the left hand, this bundle should be cut into pieces of
about half-an-inch long, by a pair of scissors held in the right hand.
The segments are then to be bruised thoroughly in a mortar, and
applied in the mass as a poultice beneath a bandage.

Dr. Thornton, in his excellent _Herbal_ (1810), says: "After some
eminent surgeons had failed, he ordered the juice of Cleavers, mixed
with linseed, to be applied to the breast, in cases of supposed cancer
of that part, with a teaspoonful of the juice to be taken every night
and morning whilst fasting; by which plan, after a short [233] time,
he dispersed very frightful tumours in the breast."

The herb is found, on analysis, to contain three distinct acids--the
tannic acid (of galls), the citric acid (of lemons), and the special
rubichloric acid of the plant.

"In cancer," says Dr. Boyce, "five fluid ounces of the fresh juice of
the plant are to be taken twice a day, whilst constantly applying the
bruised leaves, or their ointment, to the sore."

Some of our leading druggists now furnish curative preparations
made from the fresh herb. These include the _succus_, or juice, to
be swallowed; the decoction, to be applied as a lotion; and the
ointment, for curative external use. Both in England and elsewhere
the juice of this Goosegrass constitutes one of the Spring juices
taken by country people for scorbutic complaints. And not only for
cancerous disease, but for many other foul, illconditioned ulcers,
whether scrofulous or of the scurvy nature, this Goosegrass has
proved itself of the utmost service, its external application being at
all times greatly assisted by the internal use of the juice, or of a
decoction made from the whole herb.

By reason of its acid nature; this Galium is astringent, and therefore
of service in some bleedings, as well as in diarrhoea, and for

Gerard writes: "The herb, stamped with swine's grease, wasteth
away the kernels by the throat; and women do usually make pottage
of Cleavers with a little mutton and oatmeal, to cause leanness, and
to keep them from fatness." Dioscorides reported that: "Shepherds
do use the herb to take hairs out of the milk, if any remain therein."

Considered generally, the _Galium aparine_ exercises acid, astringent,
and diuretic effects, whilst it is of [234] special value
against epilepsy, and cancerous sores, as already declared;
being curative likewise of psoriasis, eczema, lepra, and other
cutaneous diseases. The dose of the authorised officinal juice
is from one to two teaspoonfuls, and from five to twenty grains of
the prepared extract.

The title _Galium_ borne by Bedstraws has been derived from the
Greek _gala_, milk, because they all possess to some extent the
power of curdling milk when added to it. Similarly the appellation
"Cheese rennet," or, Cheese running (from _gerinnen_, to
coagulate), is given to these plants. Highlanders make special use of
the common Yellow Bedstraw for this purpose, and to colour their

From the Yellow Bedstraw (_Galium verum_), which is abundant
on dry banks chiefly near the sea, and which may be known by its
diminutive, puffy stems, and its small golden flowers, closely
clustered together in dense panicles, "an ointment," says Gerard, "is
prepared, which is good for anointing the weary traveller."

Because of its bright yellow blossoms, this herb is also named
"Maid's hair," resembling the loose, unsnooded, golden hair of
maidens. In Henry VIII's reign "maydens did wear silken callis to
keep in order their hayre made yellow with dye." For a like reason
the Yellow Bedstraw has become known as "Petty mugget," from
the French _petit muguet_, a little dandy, as applied in ridicule to
effeminate young men, the _Jemmy Jessamies_, or "mashers" of the
period. Old herbalists affirmed that the root of this same Bedstraw,
if drunk in wine, stimulates amorous desires, and that the flowers, if
long smelt at, will produce a similar effect.

This is, _par excellence_, the Bedstraw of _our Lady_, who [235]
gave birth to her son, says the legend, in a stable, with nothing but
wild flowers for the bedding.

Thus, in the old Latin hymn, she sings right sweetly:--

    "Lectum stravi tibi soli: dormi, nate bellule!
        Stravi lectum foeno molli: dormi, mi animule!
    Ne quid desit sternam rosis: sternam foenum violis,
        Pavimentum hyacinthis; et praesepe liliis."

    "Sleep, sweet little babe, on the bed I have spread thee;
        Sleep, fond little life, on the straw scattered o'er!
    'Mid the petals of roses, and pansies I've laid thee,
        In crib of white lilies; blue bells on the floor."


A passing word should certainly be given to the Goutweed, or,
Goatweed, among Herbal Simples. It is, though but little regarded,
nevertheless, a common and troublesome garden weed, of the
Umbelliferous tribe, and thought to possess certain curative virtues.
Botanically it is the _OEgopodium podagraria_, signifying, by the
first of these names, Goatsfoot, and by the second, a specific power
against gout. The plant is also known as Herb Gerard, because
dedicated to St. Gerard, who was formerly invoked to cure gout,
against which this herb was employed. Also it has been named Ashweed,
wild Master-wort, and Gout-wort. The herb grows about a foot high,
with white flowers in umbels, having large, thrice-ternate,
aromatic leaves, and a creeping root. These leaves are sometimes
boiled, and eaten, but they possess a strong, disagreeable
flavour. Culpeper says: "It is not to be supposed that Goutweed hath
its name for nothing; but upon experiment to heal the gout, and
sciatica; as also joint aches, and other cold griefs; _the very bearing
it about one_ [236] _easeth the pains of the gout, and defends him
that bears it from disease_." Hill recommends the root and fresh
buds of the leaves as excellent in fomentations and poultices for
pains; and the leaves, when boiled soft, together with the roots, for
application about the hip in sciatica.

No chemical analysis of the Goutweed is yet on record.

"Herbe Gerard groweth of itself in gardens without setting, or
sowing; and is so fruitful in his increase that where once it hath
taken root, it will hardly be gotten out again, spoiling and getting
every yeere more ground--to the annoying of better herbes."

GRAPES (see also VINE).

Grapes, the luscious and refreshing fruit of the Vine, possess certain
medicinal properties and virtues which give them a proper place
among Herbal Simples. The name Vine comes from _viere_, to
twist, being applied with reference to the twining habits of the
parent stock; as likewise to "with," and "withy."

The fruit consists of pulp, stones, and skin. Within the pulp is
contained the grape sugar, which differs in some respects
chemically from cane sugar, and which is taken up straightway into
our circulation when eaten, without having to be changed slowly by
the saliva, as is the case with cane sugar. Therefore it happens that
the grape sugar warms and fattens speedily, with a quick repair of
waste, when the strength and the structures are consumed by fever,
Grapes then being most grateful to the sufferer. But they do not suit
inflammatory subjects at other times, or gouty persons at any time,
as well as cane sugar, which has to undergo slower chemical
conversion before it furnishes heat and [237] sustenance. And in this
respect, grape sugar closely resembles the glucose, or sweet
principle of honey.

The fruit also contains a certain quantity of "fruit sugar," which is
chemically identical with cane sugar; and, because of the special
syrupy juice of its pulp, the Grape adapts itself to quick alcoholic

The important ingredients of Grapes are sugar (grape and fruit), gum,
tannin, bitartrate of potash, sulphate of potash, tartrate of lime,
magnesia, alum, iron, chlorides of potassium and sodium, tartaric,
citric, racemic, and malic acids, some albumen, and azotized
matters, with water.

But the wine grower is glad to see his _must_ deposit the greater
part of these chemical ingredients in the "tartar," a product much
disliked, and therefore named _Sal Tartari_, or Hell Salt; and
_Cremor Tartari_, Hell Scum (Cream of Tartar).

In Italy, the vine furnishes oil as well as wine, this being extracted
from the grape stones, and reckoned superior to any other sort,
whether for the table or for purposes of lighting. It has no odour,
and burns without smoke. The stones also yield volatile essences,
which are developed by crushing, and which give bouquet to the
several wines, whilst the skin affords colouring matter and tannin,
of more or less astringency.

Grapes supply but little actual nutritious matter for building up the
solid structures of the body; they act as gentle laxatives; though
their stones, and the leaves of the vine, are astringent. These latter
were formerly employed to stop bleedings, and when dried and
powdered, for arresting dysentery in cattle.

In Egypt the leaves are used, when young and tender, for enveloping
balls of hashed meat, at good tables. The [238] sap of the vine,
named _lacryma_, "a tear," is an excellent application to weak eyes,
and for specs of the cornea. The juice of the unripe fruit, which is
verjuice (as well as that of the wild crabapple), was much esteemed
by the ancients, and is still in good repute for applying to bruises
and sprains.

When taken in any quantity, Grapes act freely on the kidneys, and
promote a flow of urine. The vegetable acids of the fruit become
used up as such, and are neutralised in the system by combining
with the earthy salts found therein, and they pass off in the urine as
alkaline carbonates. With full-blooded, excitable persons, grapes in
any quantity are apt to produce palpitation, and to quicken the
circulation for a time. Also with persons of slow and feeble
energies, having a languid digestion (and especially if predisposed
to acid fermentation in the stomach), Grapes are apt to disagree.
They send their glucose straightway into the circulation combined
with acids found in the stomach, and create considerable distress of
heartburn and dyspepsia. "Thus," says Dr. King Chambers, "is
generated acidity of the stomach, parent of gout, and of all its
hideous crew." Likewise wine, especially if sweet, new, or
full-bodied, when taken by such persons at a meal, is absorbed but
slowly by the stomach, and much of the sugar, with some alcohol,
becomes converted by fermentation into acetic acid, which further
causes the oily ingredients in the food which has been swallowed to
turn rancid. "Things sweet to taste prove to digestion sour." But
otherwise, with a person in good health, and not given to gout or
rheumatism, Grapes are an excellent food for supplying warmth as
combustion material, by their ready-made sugar; whilst the essential
flavours of the fruit are cordial, and [239] whilst a surplus of the
glucose serves to form fat for storage.

What is known as the _Grape-cure_, is pursued in the Tyrol, in
Bavaria, on the banks of the Rhine, and elsewhere--the sick person
being ordered to eat from three to six pounds of grapes a day. But
the relative proportions of the sugar and acids in the various kinds
of grapes have important practical bearings on the results obtained,
determining whether wholesome purgation shall follow, or whether
tonic and fattening effects shall be produced. In the former case,
sufferers from sluggish liver and torpid biliary functions, with
passive local congestions, will benefit most by taking the grapes not
fully ripe, and not completely sweet; whilst in the latter instance,
those invalids will gain special help from ripe and sweet grapes,
who require quick supplies of animal heat and support to resist rapid
waste of tissue, as in chronic catarrh of the lungs, or mucous catarrh
of the bowels.

The most important constituent to be determined is the quantity of
grape sugar, which varies according to the greater or less warmth of
the climate. Tokay Grapes are the sweetest; next are those of
southern France; then of Moselle, Bohemia, and Heidelberg; whilst
the fruit of the Vine in Spain, Italy, and Madeira, is not commended
for curative purposes. The Grapes are eaten three, four, or five times
a day, during the promenade; those which are not sweet produce a
diuretic and laxative effect; seeing, moreover, that their reaction is
alkaline, the "cure" thereby is particularly suitable for persons
troubled with gravel and acid gout.

After losses of blood, and in allied states of exhaustion, the
restorative powers of the grape-cure are often [240] strikingly
exhibited. Formerly, the German doctors kept their patients, when
under this mode of treatment, almost entirely without other food.
But it is now found that light, wholesome nourishment, properly
chosen, and taken at regular times, even with some moderate
allowance of Bordeaux wine, may be permitted in useful conjunction
with the grapes. Children do not, as a rule, bear the grape-cure
well. One sort of grape, the Bourdelas, or Verjus, being
intensely sour when green, is never allowed to ripen, but its large
berries are made to yield their acid liquor for use instead of vinegar
or lemon juice, in sauces, drinks, and medicinal preparations.

A vinegar poultice, applied cold, is an effectual remedy for sprains
and bruises, and will arrest the progress of scrofulous enlargements
of bones. It may be made with vinegar and oatmeal, or with the
addition of bread crumb."--_Pharmacopoeia Chirurgica_, 1794.

"Other fruits may please the palate equally well, but it is the
proud prerogative of the kingly grape to minister also to the mind."
This served to provide one of the earliest offerings to the Deity,
seeing that "Bread and wine were brought forth to Abraham by
Melchisedec, the Priest of the Most High God."

The Vine (_Vitis vinifera_) was almost always to the front in the
designs drawn by the ancients. Thus, miniatures and dainty little
pictures were originally encircled with representations of its foliage,
and we still name such small exquisite illustrations, "vignettes,"
from the French word, _vigne_.

The large family of Muscat grapes get their distinctive title not
because of any flavour of musk attached to them, but because the
sweet berries are particularly attractive to flies (muscre), a reason
which [241] induced the Romans to name this variety, Vitis apiaria.
"_On attrape plus de mouches avec le miel qu' avec le vinaigre_"--
say the French.

In Portugal, grape juice is boiled down with quinces into a sort of
jam--the progenitor of all marmalades. The original grape vine is
supposed to have been indigenous to the shores of the Caspian Sea.

If eaten to excess, especially by young persons, grapes will make
the tongue and the lining membrane of the mouth sore, just as honey
often acts. For this reason, both grapes and honey do good to the
affection known as thrush, with sore raw mouth, and tongue in
ulcerative white patches, coming on as a derangement of the health.


Our abundant English grasses furnish nutritious herbage and
farinaceous seeds, whilst their stems and leaves prove useful for
textile purposes. Furthermore, some few of them possess distinctive
medicinal virtues, with mucilaginous roots, and may be properly
classed among Herbal Simples.

The Sweet-scented Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum, with Yellow
Anthers) gives its delightfully characteristic odour to newly mown
meadow hay, and has a pleasant aroma of Woodruff. But it is
specially provocative of hay fever and hay asthma with persons
liable to suffer from these distressing ailments. Accordingly, a
medicinal tincture is made (H.) from this grass with spirit of wine,
and if some of the same is poured into the open hand-palms for the
volatile aroma to be sniffed well into the nose and throat, immediate
relief is afforded during an attack. At the same time three or four
drops of the tincture should be taken as a dose with water, and [242]
repeated at intervals of twenty or thirty minutes, as needed.

The flowers contain "coumarin," and their volatile pollen
impregnates the atmosphere in early summer. The sweet perfume is
due chiefly to benzoic acid, such as is used for making scented
pastilles, or Ribbon of Bruges for fumigation.

Again, the Couch Grass, Dog Grass, or Quilch (_Triticum repens_)
found freely in road-sides, fields, and waste places, has been
employed from remote times as a vulnerary, and to relieve
difficulties of urination. Our English wheat has been evolved

In modern days its infusion--of the root--is generally regarded as a
soothing diuretic, helpful to the bladder and kidneys. Formerly, this
was a popular drink to purify the blood in the Spring. But no special
constituents have been discovered in the root besides a peculiar
sugar, a gum-like principle, _triticin_, and some lactic acid. The
decoction may be made from the whole fresh plant, or from the
dried root sliced, two to four ounces being put in a quart of water,
reduced to a pint by boiling. A wineglassful of this may be given for
a dose. It certainly palliates irritation of the urinary passages, and
helps to relieve against gravel. A liquid extract is also dispensed by
the druggists, of which from one to two teaspoonfuls are given in

The French specially value this grass for its stimulating fragrancy of
vanilla and rose perfumes in the decoction. They use the Cocksfoot
Grass (_Dactylis_), or _pied de poule_, in a similar way, and for the
same purposes.

Also the "bearded Darnel," _Lolium temulentum_ ("intoxicated"), a
common grass-weed in English cornfields, will produce medicinally
all the symptoms of drunkenness. The French call it _Ivraie_ for this
reason, and [243] with us it is known as Ray Grass, or in some
provincial districts as "Cheat." The old Sages supposed it to cause
blindness, hence with the Romans, _lolio victitare_, to live on
Darnel, was a phrase applied to a dim-sighted person. Gerard says,
"the new bread wherein Darnell is eaten hot, causeth drunkenness."

From _lolium_ the term Lollard given in reproach to the Waldenses,
and the followers of Wickliffe, indicated that they were pernicious
weeds choking and destroying the pure wheat of the gospel. Milne
says the expression in Matthew xiii. v. 25, would have been better
translated "darnel" than "tares."

A general trembling, followed by inability to walk, hindered speech,
and presently profound sleep, with subsequent headache and
vomiting, are the symptoms produced by Darnel when taken in a
harmful quantity. So that medicinally a tincture of the plant may be
expected, if given in small diluted doses, to quickly dispel
intoxication from alcoholic drinks; also to prove useful for
analogous congestion of the brain coming on as an illness, and for
dimness of vision. Chemically, it contains an acrid fixed oil, and a
yellow glucoside.

There is some reason to suspect that the old custom of using Darnel
to adulterate malt and distilled liquors has not been wholly
abandoned. Farmers in Devonshire are fond of the Ray Grass, which
they call "Eaver" or "Iver"; and "Devon-ever" is noted likewise in


Common Groundsel is so well known throughout Great Britain, that
it needs scarcely any description. It is very prolific, and found in
every sort of cultivated ground, being a small plant of the Daisy
tribe, but without any [244] outer white rays to its yellow
flower-heads. These are compact little bundles, at first of a dull
yellow colour, until presently the florets fall off and leave the
white woolly pappus of the seeds collected together, somewhat
resembling the hoary hairs of age. They have suggested the name
of the genus "senecio," from the Latin _senex_, an old man:--

    "Quod canis simili videatur flore capillis;
    Cura facit canos quamvis vir non habet annos."

    "With venerable locks the Groundsel grows;
    Hard care more quick than years white head-gear shows."

In the fifteenth century this herb went by the name of Grondeswyle,
from _grund_, ground, and _swelgun_, to swallow, and to this day it
is called in Scotland Grundy Swallow, or Ground Glutton.

Not being attractive to insects or visited by them the Groundsel is
fertilized by the wind. It flowers throughout the whole year, and is
the favourite food of many small birds, being thus given to canaries,
and to other domesticated songsters.

The weed, named at first "Ascension," is called in the Eastern
counties by corruption "Senshon" and "Simson." Its leaves are fleshy,
with a bitter saline taste, whilst the juice is slightly acrid, but
emollient. In this country farriers give it to horses for bot-worms,
and in Germany it is employed as a vermifuge for children. A weak
infusion of the whole plant with boiling water makes a simple and
easy purgative dose, but a strong infusion will act as an emetic. For
the former purpose two drachms by weight of the fresh plant should
be boiled in four fluid ounces of water, and the same decoction
serves as a useful gargle for a [245] sore throat from catarrh.
Chemically it contains senecin and seniocine.

In the hands of Simplers the Groundsel formerly held high rank as a
herb of power. Au old herbal prescribes against toothache to "dig up
Groundsel with a tool that hath no iron in it, and touch the tooth five
times with the plant, then spit thrice after each touch, and the cure
will be complete." Hill says "the fresh roots if smelled when first
taken out of the ground, are an immediate cure for many forms of
headache." To apply the bruised leaves will serve for preventing
boils, and the plant, if taken as a sallet with vinegar, is good for
sadness of the heart. Gerard says "Women troubled with the mother
(womb) are much eased by baths made of the leaves, and flowers of
this, and the kindred Ragworts."

A decoction of Groundsel serves as a famous application for healing
chapped hands. In Cornwall if the herb is to be used as an emetic
they strip it upwards, if for a purgative downwards. "Lay by your
learned receipts," writes Culpeper, "this herb alone shall do the deed
for you in all hot diseases, first safely, second speedily."

HAWTHORN (Whitethorn).

The Hawthorn, or Whitethorn, is so welcome year by year as a
harbinger of Summer, by showing its wealth of sweet-scented,
milk-white blossoms, in our English hedgerows, that everyone rejoices
when the Mayflower comes into bloom. Its brilliant haws, or fruit,
later on are a botanical advance on the blackberry and wild
raspberry, which belong to the same natural order. It has promoted
itself to the possession of a single carpel or seed-vessel to each
blossom, producing a [246] separate fruit, this being a stony apple in

But the word "haw" is misapplied, because it really means a
"hedge," and not a fruit; whilst "hips," which are popularly
connected with "haws," are the fruit-capsules of the wild Dog-rose.
Haws, when dried, make an infusion which will act on the kidneys;
they are astringent, and serve, as well as the flowers, in decoction,
to cure a sore throat.

The Hawthorn bush was chosen by Henry the Seventh for his
device, because a small crown from the helmet of Richard the Third
was discovered hanging thereon. Hence arose the legend "Cleve to
thy crown though it hangs on a bush." In some districts it is called
Hazels, Gazels, and Halves; and in many country places the
villagers believe that the blossom of the Hawthorn still bears the
smell of the great plague of London. It was formerly thought to be
scathless--a tree too sacred to be touched.

Botanically, the Hawthorn is called _Cratoegus oxyacantha_, these
names signifying _kratos_, strength or hardness (of the wood); and
_oxus_, sharp--_akantha_, a thorn. It is the German _Hage-dorn_ or
Hedge thorn, showing that from a very early period in the history of
the Germanic races, their land was divided into plots by means of

The Hawthorn is also named Whitethorn, from the whiteness of its
rind; and Quickset from its growing in a hedge as a "quick" or living
shrub, when contrasted with a paling of dead wood. An old English
name for the buds of the Hawthorn when just expanding, was
Ladies' Meat; and in Sussex it is called the Bread and Cheese tree.

In many parts of England charms or incantations are [247]
employed to prevent a thorn from festering in the flesh, as:--

    "Happy the man that Christ was born,
    He was crowned with a thorn,
    He was pierced through the skin
    For to let the poison in;
    But His five wounds, so they say,
    Closed before He passed away;
    In with healing, out with thorn!
    Happy man that Christ was born."

The flowers are fertilised for the most part by carrion insects, and a
certain undertone of decomposition may be detected (says Grant
Allen) by keen nostrils in the scent of the Mayflower. It is this
curious element, in what seems otherwise a pure and delicious
perfume, which attracts the meat-eating insects, or rather those
insects which lay their eggs and hatch out their larvae in decaying
animal matter. The meat-fly comes first abroad just at the time when
the Mayblossom breaks into bloom.

A Greek bride was sometimes decked with a sprig of Hawthorn, as
emblematic of a flowery future, with thorns intermingled. It is
supposed that "the Jewes maden," for our Saviour, "a croune of the
branches of Albespyne, that is, Whitethorn, that grew in the same
garden, and therefore hath the Whitethorn many vertues" being
called in France _l'epine noble_.

The shadows in the moon are popularly thought to represent a man
laden with a bundle of thorns in punishment of theft:--

    "Rusticus in lunâ quem sarcina deprimit una,
    Monstrat per spinas nulli prodesse rapinas."

    "A thievish clown by cruel thorns opprest
    Shows in the moon that honesty pays best."


The Spotted Hemlock (_Conium maculatum_), and the Sickly-smelling
Henbane (_Hyoscyamus niger_), are plants of common wild growth
throughout England, especially the former, and are well known
to everyone familiar with our Herbal Simples. But each is so
highly narcotic as a medicine, and yet withal so safely useful
externally to allay pain, as well as to promote healing, that their
outward remedial forms of application must not be overlooked
among our serviceable herbs. Nevertheless, for internal
administration, these herbs lie altogether beyond the pale of
domestic uses, except in the hands of a doctor.

The Hemlock is an umbelliferous plant of frequent growth in our
hedges and roadsides, with tall, hollow stalks, powdered blue at the
bottom, whilst smooth and splashed about with spotty streaks of a
reddish purple. It possesses foliage resembling that of the garden
carrot, but feathery and more delicately divided.

The name has been got from _healm_, or _haulm_, straw, and _leac_,
a plant, because of the dry hollow stalks which remain after
flowering is done. In Kent and Essex, the Hemlock is called
Kecksies, and the stalks are spoken of as Hollow Kecksies.

Keckis, or Kickes, of Humblelockis are mentioned by our oldest
herbalists. In a book about herbs, of the fourteenth century, two
sorts of Hemlock are specified--one being the Grete Homeloc,
which is called "Kex," or "Wode Whistle," being of no use except
for poor men's fuel, and children's play.

Botanically, it bears the name of _Conium maculatum_ (spotted),
the first of these words coming from the Greek, _konos_, a top, and
having reference to the giddiness which the juice of hemlock causes
toxically in the [249] human brain. The unripe fruit of this plant
possesses its peculiar medicinal properties in a greater degree than
any other part, and the juice expressed therefrom is more reliably
medicinal than the tincture made with spirit of wine, from the whole

Soil, situation, and the time of year, materially affect the potency of
Hemlock. Being a biennial plant, it is not poisonous in this country
to cattle during the first year, if they eat its leaves.

The herb is always uncertain of action unless gathered of the true
"maculatum" sort, when beginning to flower. Its juice should be
thickened in a water bath, or the leaves carefully dried, and kept in a
well-stoppered bottle, not exposed to the light. Cole says, "if asses
chance to feed on Hemlock, they will fall so fast asleep that they
seem to be dead, insomuch that some, thinking them to be dead
indeed, have flayed off their skins; yet after the Hemlock had done
operating they had stirred and wakened out of their sleep."

The dried leaves of the plant, if put into a small bag, and steeped in
boiling water for a few minutes, and then applied hot to a gouty
part, will quickly relieve the pain; also, they will help to soften the
hard concretions which form about gouty joints. If the fresh juice of
the Hemlock is evaporated to a thick syrup, and mixed with lanoline
(the fat of sheep's wool), to make an ointment, it will afford
wonderful relief to severe itching within and around the fundament;
but it must be thoroughly applied. For a poultice some of this
thickened juice may be added to linseed meal and boiling water,
previously mixed well together.

Conium plasters were formerly employed to dry up the breast milk,
and are now found of service to subdue palpitations of the heart.

[250] An extract of Hemlock, blended with potash, is kept by the
chemists, to be mixed with boiling water, for inhalation to ease a
troublesome spasmodic cough, or an asthmatic attack. In Russia and
the Crimea, this plant is so inert as to be edible; whereas in the
South of Europe it is highly poisonous.

Chemically, the toxic action of Hemlock depends on its alkaloids,
"coniine," and "methyl-coniine."

Vinegar has proved useful in neutralising the poisonous effects of
Hemlock, and it is said if the plant is macerated or boiled in vinegar
it becomes altogether inert.

For inhalation to subdue whooping-cough, three or four grains of
the extract should be mixed with a pint of boiling water in a suitable
inhaler, so that the medicated vapour may be inspired through the
mouth and nostrils.

To make a Hemlock poultice, when the fresh plant cannot be
procured, mix an ounce of powdered hemlock leaves (from the
druggist) with three ounces of linseed meal; then gradually add half
a pint of boiling water whilst constantly stirring.

Herb gatherers sometimes mistake the wild Cicely (_Myrrhis
odorata_) for the Hemlock; but this Cicely has a furrowed stem
without spots, and is hairy, with a highly aromatic flavour. The
bracts of Hemlock, at the base of the umbels, go only half way
round the stem. The rough Chervil is also spotted, but hairy, and its
stem is swollen below each joint. Under proper medical advice, the
extract and the juice of Hemlock may be most beneficially given
internally in cancer, and as a nervine sedative.

The Hemlock was esteemed of old as _Herba Benedicta_, a blessed
herb, because "where the root is in the house [251] the devil can do
no harm, and if anyone should carry the plant about on his person
no venomous beast can harm him." The Eleusinian priests who were
required to remain chaste all their lives, had the wisdom to rub
themselves with Hemlock.

Poultices may be made exclusively with the fresh leaves (which
should be gathered in June) or with the dried leaflets when
powdered, for easing and healing cancerous sores. Baron Stoerck
first brought the plant into repute (1760) as a medicine of
extraordinary efficacy for curing inveterate scirrhus, cancer, and
ulcers, such as were hitherto deemed irremediable.

Likewise the _Cicuta virosa_, or Water Hemlock, has proved
curative to many similar glandular swellings. This is also an
umbelliferous plant, which grows commonly on the margins of
ditches and rivers in many parts of England. It gets its name from
_cicuta_ (a shepherd's pipe made from a reed), because of its hollow
stems. Being hurtful to cows it has acquired the title of Cowbane.

The root when incised secretes from its wounded bark a yellow
juice of a narcotic odour and acrid taste. This has been applied
externally with benefit for scirrhous cancer, and to ease the pain of
nervous gout. But when taken internally it is dangerous, being likely
to provoke convulsions, or to produce serious narcotic effects.
Nevertheless, goats eat the herb with impunity:--

    "Nam videre licet pinguescere soepe cicutam,
    Barbigeras pecudes; hominique est acre venenum."

The leaves smell like celery or parsley, these being most toxical in
summer, and the root in spring. The potency of the plant depends on
its cicutoxin, a principle derived from the resinous constituents, and
[252] which powerfully affects the organic functions through the
spinal cord. It was either this or the Spotted Hemlock, which was
used as the State poison of the Greeks for causing the death of

For a fomentation with the Water Hemlock half-a-pound of the fresh
leaves, or three ounces of the dried leaves should be boiled in three
pints of water down to a quart; and this will be found very helpful
for soothing and healing painful cancerous, or scrofulous sores.
Also the juice of the herb mixed with hot lard, and strained, will
serve a like useful purpose.

For pills of the herb take of its inspissated juice half-an-ounce, and
of the finely powdered plant enough when mixed together to make
from forty to sixty pills. Then for curing cancer, severe scrofula,
or syphilitic sores, give from one to twenty of these pills in
twenty-four hours (_Pharmacopeia Chirurgica_, 1794).

An infusion of the plant will serve when carefully used, to relieve
nervous and sick headache. If the fresh, young, tender leaves are
worn under the soles of the feet, next the skin, and are renewed once
during the day, they will similarly assuage the discomfort of a
nervous headache. The oil with which the herb abounds is not

The _Black Henbane_ grew almost everywhere about England, in
Gerard's day, by highways, in the borders of fields, on dunghills,
and in untoiled places. But now it has become much less common as
a rustic herb in this country. We find it occasionally in railway
cuttings, and in rubbish on waste places, chiefly on chalky ground,
and particularly near the sea. The plant is biennial, rather large,
and dull of aspect, with woolly sea-green leaves, and bearing
bell-shaped flowers of a lurid, creamy colour, streaked and spotted
with purple. It [253] is one of the Night-shade tribe, having a heavy,
oppressive, sub-fetid odour, and being rather clammy to the touch.
This herb is also called Hogsbean, and its botanical name,
_Hyoscyamus_, signifies "the bean of the hog," which animal eats it
with impunity, though to mankind it is a poisonous plant. It has
been noticed in Sherwood Forest, that directly the turf is pared
Henbane springs up.

"To wash the feet," said Gerard, "in a decoction of Henbane, as also
the often smelling to the flowers, causeth sleep." Similarly famous
anodyne necklaces were made from the root, and were hung about
the necks of children to prevent fits, and to cause an easy breeding
of the teeth. From the leaves again was prepared a famous sorcerer's
ointment. "These, the seeds, and the juice," says Gerard, "when
taken internally, cause an unquiet sleep, like unto the sleep of
drunkenness, which continueth long, and is deadly to the patient."

The herb was known to the ancients, being described by Dioscorides
and Celsus. Internally, it should only be prescribed by a physician,
and is then of special service for relieving irritation of the bladder,
and to allay maniacal excitement, as well as to subdue spasm.

The fresh leaves crushed, and applied as a poultice, will quickly
relieve local pains, as of gout or neuralgia. In France the plant is
called _Jusquiame_, and in Germany it is nicknamed Devil's-eye.

The chemical constituents of Henbane are "hyoscyamine," a volatile
alkaloid, with a bitter principle, "hyoscypricin" (especially just
before flowering), also nitrate of potash, which causes the leaves,
when burnt, to sparkle with a deflagration, and other inorganic salts.
The seeds contain a whitish, oily albumen.

The leaves and viscid stem are produced only in [254] each second
year. The juice when dropped into the eye will dilate the pupil.

Druggists prepare this juice of the herb, and an extract; also, they
dispense a compound liniment of Henbane, which, when applied to
the skin-surface on piline, is of great service for relieving obstinate
rheumatic pains.

In some rural districts the cottony leaves of Henbane are smoked for
toothache, like tobacco, but this practice is not free from risk of
provoking convulsions, and even of causing insanity.

Gerard writes, with regard to the use of the seed of Henbane by
mountebanks, for obstinate toothache: "Drawers of teeth who run
about the country and pretend they cause worms to come forth from
the teeth by burning the seed in a chafing dish of coals, the party
holding his mouth over the fume thereof, do have some crafty
companions who convey small lute strings into the water,
persuading the patient that those little creepers came out of his
mouth, or other parts which it was intended to ease." Forestus says:
"These pretended worms are no more than an appearance of worms
which is always seen in the smoak of Henbane seed."

    "Sic dentes serva; porrorum collige grana:
    No careas thure; cum _hyoscyamo_ ure:
    Sic que per embotum fumun cape dente remotum."
            _Regimen sanitatis salernitanum_ (Translated 1607).

    "If in your teeth you happen to be tormented,
        By means some little worms therein do brede,
    Which pain (if need be tane) may be prevented
        By keeping cleane your teeth when as ye fead.
    Burn Frankonsence (a gum not evil scented),
        Put Henbane into this, and onyon seed,
    And with a tunnel to the tooth that's hollow,
        Convey the smoke thereof, and ease shall follow."

[255] By older writers, the Henbane was called Henbell and
Symphonica, as implying its resemblance to a ring of bells
(_Symphonia_), which is struck with a hammer. It has also been
named _Faba Jovis_ (Jupiter's bean). Only within recent times has
the suffix "bell" given place to "bane," because the seeds are fatal to
poultry and fish. In some districts horsedealers mix the seed of
Henbane with their oats, in order to fatten the animals.

An instance is narrated where the roots of Henbane were cooked by
mistake at a monastery for the supper of its inmates, and produced
most strange results. One monk would insist on ringing the large
bell at midnight, to the alarm of the neighbourhood; whilst of those
who came to prayers at the summons, several could not read at all,
and others read anything but what was contained in their breviaries.

Some authors suppose that this is the noxious herb intended by
Shakespeare, in the play of _Hamlet_, when the ghost of the
murdered king makes plaint, that:

    "Sleeping within mine orchard,
    My custom always of the afternoon,
    Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
    With juice of cursed _hebenon_ in a vial,
    And in the porches of mine ear did pour
    The leprous distilment."

But others argue more correctly that the name used here is a varied
form of that by which the yew is known in at least five of the Gothic
languages, and which appears in Marlow and other Elizabethan
writers, as "hebon." "This tree," says Lyte, "is altogether venomous
and against man's nature; such as do but only sleepe under the
shadow thereof, become sicke, and sometimes they die."

[256] HONEY.

Being essentially of floral origin, and a vegetable product endowed
with curative properties, Honey may be fairly ranked among Herbal
Simples. Indeed, it is the nectar of flowers, partaking closely of
their flavours and odours, whilst varying in taste, colour, scent,
and medicinal attributes, according to the species of the plant from
which it is produced.

The name Honey has been derived from a Hebrew word _ghoneg_,
which means literally "delight." Historically, this substance dates
from the oldest times of the known world. We read in the book of
Genesis, that the land of Canaan where Abraham dwelt, was
flowing with milk and honey; and in the Mosaic law were statutes
regulating the ownership of bees.

Among the ancients Honey was used for embalming the dead, and it
is still found contained in their preserved coffins.

Aristoeus, a pupil of Chiron, first gathered Honey from the comb,
and it was the basis of the seasoning of Apicius: whilst Pythagoras,
who lived to be ninety, took latterly only bread and Honey.
"Whoever wishes," said an old classic maxim, "to preserve his
health, should eat every morning before breakfast young onions
with honey."

Tacitus informs us that our German ancestors gave credit for their
great strength and their long lives to the Mead, or Honey-beer, on
which they regaled themselves. Pliny tells of Rumilius Pollio, who
enjoyed marvellous health arid vitality, when over a hundred years
old. On being presented to the Emperor Augustus, who enquired
what was the secret of his wondrous longevity, Pollio answered,
"_Interus melle, exterus oleo_, the eating of Honey, and anointing
with oil."

[257] At the feasts of the gods, described by Ovid, the delicious
Honey-cakes were never wanting, these being made of meal, Honey,
and oil, whilst corresponding in number to the years of the devout

Pure Honey contains chemically about seventy per cent. of glucose
(analogous to grape sugar) or the crystallizable part which sinks
to the bottom of the jar, whilst the other portion above, which is
non-crystallizable, is levulose, or fruit sugar, almost identical with
the brown syrup of the sugar cane, but less easy of digestion. Hence,
the proverb has arisen "of oil the top, of wine the middle, of Honey
the bottom."

The odour of Honey is due to a volatile oil associated with a yellow
colouring matter _melichroin_, which is separated by the floral
nectaries, and becomes bleached on exposure to the sunlight. A
minute quantity of an animal acid lends additional curative value for
sore throat, and some other ailments.

Honey has certain claims as a food which cane sugar does not
possess. It is a heat former, and a producer of vital energy, both in
the human subject, and in the industrious little insect which collects
the luscious fodder. Moreover, it is all ready for absorption
straightway into the blood after being eaten, whereas cane sugar
must be first masticated with the saliva, or spittle, and converted
somewhat slowly into honey sugar before it can be utilised for the
wants of the body. In this way the superiority of Honey over cane
sugar is manifested, and it may be readily understood why grapes,
the equivalent of Honey in the matter of their sugar, have an
immediate effect in relieving fatigue by straightway contributing
power and caloric.

Aged persons who are toothless may be supported almost exclusively
on sugar. The great Duke of [258] Beaufort, whose teeth were
white and sound at seventy, whilst his general health was likewise
excellent, had for forty years before his death a pound of sugar
daily in his wine, chocolate, and sweetmeats. A relish for sugar
lessens the inclination for alcohol, and seldom accompanies the
love of strong drink.

With young children, cane sugar is apt to form acids in the stomach,
chiefly acetic, by a process of fermentation which causes pain, and
flatulence, so that milk sugar should be given instead to those of
tender years who are delicate, as this produces only lactic acid,
which is the main constituent of digestive gastric juice.

When examined under a microscope Honey exhibits in addition to
its crystals (representing glucose, or grape sugar), pollen-granules of
various forms, often so perfect that they may be referred to the
particular plants from which the nectar has been gathered.

As good Honey contains sugar in a form suitable for such quick
assimilation, it should be taken generally in some combination less
easily absorbed, otherwise the digestion may be upset by too speedy
a glut of heat production, and of energy. Therefore the bread and
Honey of time-honoured memory is a sound form of sustenance, as
likewise, the proverbial milk and Honey of the Old Testament. This
may be prepared by taking a bowl of new milk, and breaking into it
some light wheaten bread, together with some fresh white
Honeycomb. The mixture will be found both pleasant and easy of

Our forefathers concocted from Honey boiled with water and
exposed to the sun (after adding chopped raisins, lemon peel, and
other matters) a famous fermented drink, called mead, and this was
termed metheglin (_methu_, wine, and _aglaion_, splendid) when
the finer [261] Honey was used, and certain herbs were added so as
to confer special flavours.

    "Who drank very hard the whole night through
    Cups of strong mead, made from honey when new,
    Metheglin they called it, a mighty strong brew,
    Their whistles to wet for the morrow."

Likewise, the old Teutons prepared a Honey wine, (hydromel), and
made it the practice to drink this for the first thirty days after
marriage; from which custom has been derived the familiar
Honeymoon, or the month after a wedding.

Queen Elizabeth was particularly fond of mead, and had it made
every year according to a special recipe of her own, which included
the leaves of sweet briar, with rosemary, cloves, and mace.

Honey derived from cruciferous plants, such as rape, ladies' smock,
and the wallflower, crystallizes quickly, often, indeed, within the
comb before it is removed from the hive; whilst Honey from labiate
plants, and from fruit trees in general, remains unchanged for
several months after being extracted from the comb.

As a heat producer, if taken by way of food, one pound of Honey is
equal to two pounds of butter; and when cod liver oil is indicated,
but cannot be tolerated by the patient, Honey may sometimes be
most beneficially substituted.

In former times it was employed largely as a medicine, and applied
externally for the healing of wounds. When mixed with flour, and
spread on linen, or leather, it has long been a simple remedy for
bringing boils to maturity. In coughs and colds it makes a
serviceable adjunct to expectorant medicines, whilst acting at the
same time as sufficiently laxative. For sore throats it may be used in
gargles with remarkable benefit; and [260] when mixed with
vinegar it forms the old-fashioned oxymel, always popular against
colds of the chest and throat.

"Honeywater" distilled from Honey, incorporated with sand, is an
excellent wash for promoting the growth of the hair, either by itself,
or when mixed with spirit of rosemary. Rose Honey (_rhodomel_)
made from the expressed juice of rose petals with Honey, was
formerly held in high esteem for the sick.

Bee propolis, or the glutinous resin manufactured by bees for fixing
the foundations of their combs, will afford relief to the asthmatic by
its fumes when burnt. It consists largely of resin, and yields benzoic

Basilicon, kingly ointment, or resin ointment, is composed of bees
wax, olive oil, resin, Burgundy pitch, and turpentine. This is said to
be identical with the famous "Holloway's Ointment," and is highly
useful when the stimulation of indolent sores is desired.

A medicinal tincture of superlative worth is prepared by
Homoeopathic practitioners from the sting of the Honey bee. This
makes a most valuable and approved medicine for obviating
erysipelas, especially of the head and face; likewise, for a puffy sore
throat with much swelling about the tonsils; also for dropsy of the
limbs which has followed a chill, or is connected with passive
inactivity of the kidneys. Ten drops of the diluted tincture, first
decimal strength, should be given three or four times in the day,
with a tablespoonful of cold water. This remedy is known as the
tincture of _Apis mellifica_. For making it the bees are seized when
emerging from the hive, and they thus become irritated, being ready
to sting. They are put to death with a few drops of chloroform, and
then have their Honey-bags severed. These are bruised in a mortar
[261] with glycerine, and bottled in spirit of wine, shaking them for
several days, and lastly filtering the tincture.

Boiling water poured on bees (workers) when newly killed makes
bee-tea, which may be taken to relieve strangury, and a difficult
passage of urine, as likewise for dropsy of the heart and kidneys.
Also of such bees when dried and powdered, thirty grains will act as
a dose to promote a free flow of the urine.

Honey, especially if old, will cause indigestion when eaten by some
persons, through an excessive production of lactic acid in the
stomach; and a superficial ulceration of the mouth and tongue,
resembling thrush, will ensue; it being at the same time a known
popular fact, that Honey by itself, or when mixed with powdered
borax (which is alkaline) will speedily cure a similar sore state
within the mouth arising through deranged health.

As long ago as when Soranus lived, the contemporary of Galen (160
A.D.) Honey was declared to be "an easy remedy for the thrush of
children," but he gravely attributed its virtues in this respect to the
circumstance that bees collected the Honey from flowers growing
over the tomb of Hippocrates, in the vale of Tempe.

The sting venom of bees has been found helpful for relieving
rheumatic gout in the hands, and elsewhere through toxicating the
tender and swollen limbs by means of lively bees placed over the
parts in an inverted tumbler, and then irritating the insects so as to
make them sting. A custom prevails in Malta of inoculation by
frequent bee stinging, so as to impart at length a protective
immunity against rheumatism, this being confirmatory of the fact
known to beekeepers elsewhere, that after exposure to attacks from
bees, often repeated [262] throughout a length of time, most persons
will acquire a convenient freedom from all future disagreeable
effects. An Austrian physician has based on these methods an
infallible cure for acute rheumatism.

In Shakespeare's _Twelfth Night_, Sir Toby Belch asks to have a
"song for sixpence," the third verse of which has been thought to
run thus:--

    "The King was in his counting house
    Counting out his money,
    The Queen was in the parlour
    Eating bread and Honey."

    "Mel mandit, panemque, morans regina culinâ,
    Dulcia plebeiâ non comedenda nuru."

A plain cake, currant or seed, made with Honey in place of sugar is
a pleasant addition to the tea-table and a capital preventive of

"All kinds of precious stones cast into Honey become more brilliant
thereby," says St. Francis de Sales in _The Devout Life_, 1708,
"and all persons become more acceptable when they join devotion
to their graces."


The Hop (_Humulus lupulus_) belongs to the Nettle tribe (_Cannabineoe_)
of plants, and grows wild in our English hedges and copses; but
then it bears only male flowers. When cultivated it produces
the female catkins, or strobiles which are so well known as
Hops, and are so largely used for brewing purposes.

The plant gets its first name _Humulus_ from _humus_, the rich
moist ground in which it chooses to grow, and its affix _lupulus_
from the Latin _lupus_ a wolf, because (as Pliny explained), when
produced among osiers, it [263] strangles them by its light climbing
embraces as the wolf does a sheep.

The word Hop comes from the Anglo-saxon _hoppan_ to climb.
The leaves and the flowers afford a fine brown dye, and paper has
been made from the bine, or stalk, which sprouts in May, and soon
grows luxuriantly; as said old Tusser (1557):--

    "Get into thy Hop-yard, for now it is time
    To teach Robin Hop on his pole how to climb."

The Hop, says Cockayne, was known to the Saxons, and they called
it the _Hymele_, a name enquired-for in vain among Hop growers
in Worcestershire and Kent.

Hops were first brought to this country from Flanders, in 1524:--

    "Turkeys, Carp, Hops, Pickerel, and Beer,
    Came into England all in one year."

So writes old Izaak Walton! Before Hops were used for improving
and preserving beer our Saxon ancestors drank a beverage made
from malt, but clarified in a measure with Ground Ivy which is
hence named Ale-hoof. This was a thick liquor about which it was

    "Nil spissius est dum bibitur; nil clarius dum mingitur,
    Unde constat multas faeces in ventre relinqui."

The Picts made beer from heather, but the secret of its manufacture
was lost when they became exterminated, since it had never been
divulged to strangers. Kenneth offered to spare the life of a father,
whose son had been just slain, if he would reveal the method; but,
though pardoned, he refused persistently. The inhabitants of Tola,
Jura, and other outlying districts, now brew a potable beer by
mixing two-thirds of heath tops with one of malt. Highlanders think
it very lucky to [264] find the white heather, which is the badge of
the Captain of Clan Ronald.

At first Hops were unpopular, and were supposed to engender
melancholy. Therefore Henry the Eighth issued an injunction to
brewers not to use them. "Hops," says John Evelyn in his
_Pomona_, 1670, "transmuted our wholesome ale into beer, which
doubtless much altered our constitutions. This one ingredient, by
some suspected not unworthily, preserves the drink indeed, but
repays the pleasure with tormenting diseases, and a shorter life."

Hops, such as come into the market, are the chaffy capsules of the
seeds, and turn brown early in the autumn. They possess a heavy
fragrant aromatic odour, and a very bitter pungent taste. The yellow
glands at the base of the scales afford a volatile strong-smelling oil,
and an abundant yellow powder which possesses most of the virtues
of the plant. Our druggists prepare a tincture from the strobiles with
spirit of wine, and likewise a thickened extract.

Again, a decoction of the root is esteemed by some as of equal
benefit with Sarsaparilla.

The lassitude felt in hot weather at its first access, or in early
spring, may be well met by an infusion of the leaves, strobiles and
stalks as Hop tea, taken by the wineglassful two or three times in
the day, whilst sluggish derangements of the liver and spleen may be
benefited thereby.

_Lupulin_, the golden dust from the scales (but not the pollen of the
anthers, as some erroneously suppose), is given in powder, and acts
as a gentle sedative if taken at bedtime. This is specific against
sexual irritability and its attendant train of morbid symptoms, with
mental depression and vital exhaustion. It contains [265] "lupulite,"
a volatile oil, and a peculiar resin, which is somewhat acrid, and
penetrating of taste.

Each of the Simples got from the Hop will allay pain and conduce to
sleep; they increase the firmness of the pulse, and reduce its

Also if applied externally, Hops as a poultice, or when steeped in a
bag, in very hot water as a stupe, will relieve muscular rheumatism,
spasm, and bruises.

Hop tea, when made from the flowers only, is to be brewed by
pouring a pint of boiling water on an ounce of the Hops, and letting
it stand until cool. This is an excellent drink in delirium tremens,
and will give prompt ease to an irritable bladder. Sherry in which
some Hops have been steeped makes a capital stomachic cordial. A
pillow, _Pulvinar Humuli_, stuffed with newly dried Hops was
successfully prescribed by Dr. Willis for George the Third, when
sedative medicines had failed to give him sleep; and again for our
Prince of Wales at the time of his severe typhoid fever, 1871, in
conjunction then with a most grateful draught of ale which had been
heretofore withheld. The crackling of dry Hop flowers when put
into a pillow may be prevented by first sprinkling them with a little

Persons have fallen into a deep slumber after remaining for some
time in a storehouse full of hops; and in certain northern districts a
watery extract from the flowers is given instead of opium. It is
useful to know that for sound reasons a moderate supper of bread
and butter, with crisp fresh lettuces, and light home-brewed ale
which contains Hops, is admirably calculated to promote sleep,
except in a full-blooded plethoric person. _Lupulin_, the glandular
powder from the dried strobiles, will induce sleep without causing
constipation, or headache. The dose is from two to four grains at
bedtime [266] on a small piece of bread and butter, or mixed with a
spoonful of milk.

The year 1855 produced a larger crop of cultivated Hops than has
been known before or since. When Hop poles are shaken by the
wind there is a distant electrical murmur like thunder.

Hop tea in the leaf is now sold by grocers, made from a mixture of
the Kentish and Indian plants, so as to combine in its infusion, the
refreshment of the one herb with the sleep-inducing virtues of the
other. The hops are brought direct from the farmers, just as they are
picked. They are then laid for a few hours to wither, after which
they are put under a rolling apparatus, which ill half-an-hour makes
them look like tea leaves, both in shape and colour. They are finally
mixed with Indian and Ceylon teas.

The young tops of the Hop plant if gathered in the spring and
boiled, may be eaten as asparagus, and make a good pot-herb: they
were formerly brought to market tied up in small bundles for table

A popular notion has, in some places, associated the Hop and the
Nightingale together as frequenting the same districts.

Medicinally the Hop is tonic, stomachic, and diuretic, with
antiseptic effects; it prevents worms, and allays the disquietude of
nervous indigestion. The popular nostrum "Hop Bitters" is thus
made: Buchu leaves, two ounces; Hops, half-a-pound; boil in five
quarts of water, in an iron vessel, for an hour; when lukewarm add
essence of Winter-green (_Pyrola_), two ounces, and one pint of
alcohol. Take one tablespoonful three times in the day, before
eating. White Bryony root is likewise used in making the Bitters.

[267] HOREHOUND (White and Black).

The herb Horehound occurs of two sorts, white and black, in our
hedge-rows, and on the sides of banks, each getting its generic
name, which was originally Harehune, from _hara_, hoary, and
_hune_, honey; or, possibly, the name Horehound may be a
corruption of the Latin _Urinaria_, since the herb has been found
efficacious in cases of strangury, or difficult making of water.

The White Horehound (_Marrubium_) is a common square-stemmed
herb of the Labiate order, growing in waste places, and of
popular use for coughs and colds, whether in a medicinal form, or as
a candied sweetmeat. Its botanical title is of Hebrew derivation,
from _marrob_, a bitter juice. The plant is distinguished by the
white woolly down on its stems, by its wrinkled leaves, and small
white flowers.

It has a musky odour, and a bitter taste, being a much esteemed
Herbal Simple, but very often spuriously imitated. It affords
chemically a fragrant volatile oil, a bitter extractive "marrubin,"
and gallic acid.

As a homely remedy it is especially given for coughs accompanied
with abundant thick expectoration, and for chronic asthma. In
Norfolk scarcely a cottage garden can be found without its
Horehound corner; and Horehound beer is much drunk there by the
natives. Horehound tea may be made by pouring boiling water on
the fresh leaves, an ounce to a pint, and sweetening this with honey:
then a wineglassful should be taken three or four times in the day.
Or from two to three teaspoonfuls of the expressed juice of the herb
may be given for a dose.

Candied Horehound is best made from the fresh plant by boiling it
down until the juice is extracted, [268] and then adding sugar before
boiling this again until it has become thick enough of consistence to
pour into a paper case, and to be cut into squares when cool. Gerard
said: "Syrup made from the greene fresh leaves and sugar is a most
singular remedy against the cough and wheezing of the lungs. It
doth wonderfully, and above credit, ease such as have been long
sicke of any consumption of the lungs; as hath been often proved by
the learned physicians of our London College."

When given in full doses, an infusion of the herb is laxative. If the
plant be put in new milk and set in a place pestered with flies, it
will speedily kill them all. And according to Columella, the Horehound
is a serviceable remedy against the Cankerworm in trees: _Profuit et
plantis latices infundere amaros marrubii_.

The Marrubium was called by the Egyptian Priests the "Seed of
Horus" or "the Bull's Blood" and "the Eye of the Star." It was a
principal remedy in the Negro Caesar's Antidote for vegetable

The Black Horehound (_Ballota nigra_), so called from its dark
purple-coloured flowers, is likewise of common growth about our
roadsides and waste places. Its botanical title comes from the Greek
_ballo_, to reject, because of its disagreeable odour, particularly
when burnt. The herb is sometimes known as Madwort, being
supposed to act as an antidote to the bite of a mad dog. In Beaumont
and Fletcher's _Faithful Shepherdess_, we read of:--

        "Black Horehound, good
    For Sheep, or Shepherd bitten by a wood-dog's venomed tooth."

If its leaves are applied externally as a poultice, they will relieve
the pain of gout, and will mollify angry [269] boils. In Gotha the
plant is valued for curing chronic skin diseases, particularly of a
fungoid character, such as ringworm; also for diseases of cattle.
"This," says Meyrick "is one of those neglected English herbs which are
possessed of great virtues, though they are but little known, and still
less regarded. It is superior to most things as a remedy in hysteria,
and for low spirits." Drayton said (_Polybion_, 1613):--

    "For comforting the spleen and liver--get for juice,
    Pale Horehound."

The Water Horehound (_Lycopus_), or Gipsy wort, which grows
frequently in our damp meadows and on the sides of streams, yields
a black dye used for wool, or silk, and with which gipsies stain their
skins, as well as with Walnut juice. "This is called Gipsy Wort,"
says Lyte, "because the rogues and runagates, which name
themselves Egyptians, do colour themselves black with this herbe."
Each of the Horehounds is a labiate plant; and this, the water
variety, bears flesh coloured flowers, whilst containing a volatile
oil, a resin, a bitter principle, and tannin. Its medicinal action is
astringent, with a reduced frequency of the pulse, and some gentle
sedative effects, so that any tendency to coughing, etc., will be
allayed. Half-an-ounce of the plant to a pint of boiling water will
make the infusion.

HORSE RADISH (_Radix_, a Root).

The Horse Radish of our gardens is a cultivated cruciferous plant of
which the fresh root is eaten, when scraped, as a condiment to
correct the richness of our national roast beef. This plant grows wild
in many parts of the country, particularly about rubbish, and the
sides of ditches; yet it is probably an introduction, [270] and not a
native. Its botanical name, _Cochlearia armoracia_, implies a
resemblance between its leaves and an old-fashioned spoon,
_cochleare_; also that the most common place of its growth is _ar_,
near, _mor_, the sea.

Our English vernacular styles the plant "a coarse root," or a "Horse
radish," as distinguished from the eatable radish (root), the
_Raphanus sativus_. Formerly it was named Mountain Radish, and
Great Raifort. This is said to be one of the five bitter herbs ordered
to be eaten by the Jews during the Feast of the Passover, the other
four being Coriander, Horehound, Lettuce, and Nettle.

Not a few fatal cases have occurred of persons being poisoned by
taking Aconite root in mistake for a stick of Horse radish, and eating
it when scraped. But the two roots differ materially in shape, colour,
and taste, so as to be easily discriminated: furthermore the leaves of
the Aconite--supposing them to be attached to the root--are not to be
mistaken for those of any other plant, being completely divided to
their base into five wedge-shaped lobes, which are again sub-divided
into three. Squire says it seems incredible that the Aconite
Root should be mistaken for Horse Radish unless we remember that
country folk are in the habit of putting back again into the ground
Horse Radish which has been scraped, until there remain only the
crown and a remnant of the root vanishing to a point, these bearing
resemblance to the tap root of Aconite.

The fresh root of the Horse radish is a powerful stimulant by reason
of its ardent and pungent volatile principle, whether it be taken as a
medicament, or be applied externally to any part of the body. When
scraped it exhales a nose-provoking odour, and possesses [271] a
hot biting taste, combined with a certain sweetness: but on exposure
to the air it quickly turns colour, and loses its volatile strength;
likewise, it becomes vapid, and inert by being boiled. The root is
expectorant, antiscorbutic, and, if taken at all freely, emetic. It
contains a somewhat large proportion of sulphur, as shown by the
black colour assumed by metals with which it comes into touch.
Hence it promises to be of signal use for relieving chronic
rheumatism, and for remedying scurvy.

Taken in sauce with oily fish or rich fatty viands, scraped Horse
radish acts as a corrective spur to complete digestion, and at the
same time it will benefit a relaxed sore throat, by contact during the
swallowing. In facial neuralgia scraped Horse radish applied as a
poultice, proves usefully beneficial: and for the same purpose some
of the fresh scrapings may be profitably held in the hand of the
affected side, which hand will become in a short time bloodlessly
benumbed, and white.

When sliced across with a knife the root of the Horse radish will
exude some drops of a sweet juice which may be rubbed with
advantage on rheumatic, or palsied limbs. Also an infusion of the
sliced root in milk, almost boiling, and allowed to cool, makes an
excellent and safe cosmetic; or the root may be infused for a longer
time in cold milk, if preferred, for use with a like purpose in view.
Towards the end of the last century Horse radish was known in
England as Red cole, and in the previous century it was eaten
habitually at table, sliced, with vinegar.

Infused in wine the root stimulates the whole nervous system, and
promotes perspiration, whilst acting likewise as a diuretic. For
rheumatic neuralgia [272] it is almost a specific, and for palsy it has
often proved of service. Our druggists prepare a "compound spirit of
Horse radish," made with the sliced fresh root, orange peel, nutmeg,
and spirit of wine. This proves of effective use in strengthless,
languid indigestion, as well as for chronic rheumatism; it stimulates
the stomach, and promotes the digestive secretions. From one to two
teaspoonfuls may be taken two or three times in the day, with half a
wineglassful of water, at the end of a principal meal, or a few
minutes after the meal. An infusion of the root made with boiling
water and taken hot readily proves a stimulating emetic. Until cut or
bruised the root is inodorous; but fermentation then begins, and
develops from the essential oil an ammoniacal odour and a pungent
hot bitter taste which were not pre-existing.

Chemically the Horse radish contains a volatile oil, identical with
that of mustard, being highly diffusible and pungent by reason of its
"myrosin." One drop of this volatile oil will suffice to odorise the
atmosphere of a whole room, and, if swallowed with any freedom, it
excites vomiting. Other constituents of the root are a bitter resin,
sugar, starch, gum, albumen, and acetates.

A mixture of the fresh juice, with vinegar, if applied externally,
will prove generally of service for removing freckles.

Bergius alleges that by cutting the root into very small pieces
without bruising it, and then swallowing a tablespoonful of these
fragments every morning without chewing them, for a month, a cure
has been effected in chronic rheumatism, which had seemed
otherwise intractable.

For loss of the voice and relaxed sore throat the [273] infusion of
Horse radish makes an excellent gargle; or it may be concentrated in
the form of a syrup, and mixed for the same use--a teaspoonful, with
a wine-glassful of cold water.

Gerard said of the root: "If bruised and laid to the part grieved with
the sciatica, gout, joyntache, or the hard swellings of the spleen and
liver, it doth wonderfully help them all." If the scraped root be
macerated in vinegar, it will form a mixture (which may be
sweetened with glycerine to the taste) very effective against
whooping cough. In pimply acne of the skin, to touch each papula
with some of the Compound Spirit of Horse Radish now and again
will soon effect a general cure of the ailment.

HOUSE LEEK (Crassulaceoe).

The House Leek (_Sempervivum tectorum_), or "never dying"
flower of our cottage roofs, which is commonly known also as
Stone-crop, grows plentifully on walls and the tops of small
buildings throughout Great Britain, in all country districts. It is
distinguished by its compact rose-shaped arrangement of seagreen
succulent leaves lying sessile in a somewhat flattened manner, and
by its popularity among country folk on account of these bland juicy
leaves, and its reputed protective virtues. It possesses a remarkable
tenacity of life, _quem sempervivam dicunt quoniam omni tempore
viret_, this being in allusion to its prolonged vitality; for which
reason it is likewise called Ayegreen, and Sengreen (_semper_,

History relates that a botanist tried hard for eighteen months to dry a
plant of the House Leek for his herbarium, but failed in this object.
He afterwards restored it to its first site when it grew again as if
nothing had interfered with its ordinary life.

[274] The plant was dedicated of old to Thor, or Jupiter, and
sometimes to the Devil. It bore the titles of Thor's beard, Jupiter's
eye, Joubarb, and Jupiter's beard, from its massive inflorescence
which resembles the sculptured beard of Jove; though a more recent
designation is St. George's beard.

    "Quem sempervivam dicunt quoniam viret omni
    Tempore--'Barba Jovis' vulgari more vocatur,
    Esse refert similem predictoe Plinius istam."

The Romans took great pleasure in the House Leek, and grew it in
vases set before the windows of their houses. They termed it
_Buphthalmon_, _Zoophthalmon_, and _Stergethron_, as one of the
love medicines; it being further called _Hypogeson_, from growing
under the eaves; likewise _Ambrosia_ and _Ameramnos_. The plant
is indigenous to the Greek Islands, being sometimes spoken of as
"Imbreke" and "Home Wort."

It has been largely planted about the roofs of small houses
throughout the country, particularly in Scotland, because supposed
to guard against lightning and thunderstorms; likewise as protective
against the enchantments of sorcerers; and, in a more utilitarian
spirit, as preservative against decay. Hence the House Leek
is known as Thunderbeard, and in Germany _Donnersbart_ or
_Donderbloem_, from "Jupiter the thunderer."

The English name House Leek denotes _leac_ (Anglo-Saxon) a
plant growing on the house; and another appellation of its genus,
sedum, comes from the Latin _sedare_, to soothe, and subdue
inflammations, etc.

The thick leaves contain an abundant acidulous astringent juice,
which is mucilaginous, and affords malic acid, identical with that of
the Apple. This juice, in a dose of from one to three drams, has
proved [275] useful in dysentery, and in some convulsive diseases.
Galen extolled it as a capital application for erysipelas and shingles.
Dioscorides praised it for weak and inflamed eyes, but in large
doses it is emetic and purgative.

In rural districts the bruised leaves of the fresh plant or its juice
are often applied to burns, scalds, contusions, and sore legs, or to
scrofulous ulcers; as likewise for chronic skin diseases, and
enlarged or cancerous lymphatic glands. By the Dutch the leaves are
cultivated with a dietetic purpose for mixing in their salads.

With honey the juice assuages the soreness and ulcerated condition
within the mouth in thrush. Gerard says: "The juice being gently
rubbed on any place stung by nettles, or bees, or bitten by any
venomous creature, doth presently take away the pain. Being
applied to the temples and forehead it easeth also the headache and
distempered heat of the brain through want of sleep."

The juice, moreover, is excellently helpful for curing corns and
warts, if applied from day to day after they have been scraped. As
Parkinson teaches, "the juice takes away cornes from the toes and
feet if they be bathed therewith every day, and at night emplastered
as it were with the skin of the same House Leek."

The plant may be readily made to cover all the roof of a building by
sticking on the offsets with a little moist earth, or cowdung. It bears
purple flowers, and its leaves are fringed at their edges, being
succulent and pulpy. Thus the erect gay-looking blossoms, in
contrast to the light green foliage arranged in the form of full blown
double roses, lend a picturesque appearance to the roof of even a
cow-byre, or a hovel.

[276] The House Leek (_Sedum majus_), and the Persicaria Water-pepper
(Arsmart), if their juices be boiled together, will cure a
diarrhoea, however obstinate, or inveterate. The famous empirical
_anti-Canceroso nostrum_ of Count Mattaei is authoritatively said to
consist of the _Sedum acre_ (Betony stone-crop), the _Sempervivum
tectorum_ (House Leek), _Sedum telephium_ (Livelong), the
_Matricaria_ (Feverfew), and the _Nasturtium Sisymbrium_ (Water-cress).

The _Sedum Telephium_ (Livelong, or Orpine), called also
Roseroot and Midsummer Men, is the largest British species of
Stone-crop. Being a plant of augury its leaves are laid out in pairs
on St. John's Eve, these being named after courting couples. When
the leaves are freshly assorted those which keep together promise
well for their namesakes, and those which fall apart, the reverse.

The special virtues of this _Sedum_ are supposed to have been
discovered by Telephus, the son of Hercules. Napoleon, at St.
Helena, was aware of its anti-cancerous reputation, which was
firmly believed in Corsica. The plant contains lime, sulphur,
ammonia, and (perhaps) mercury. It remains long alive when hung
up in a room. The designation Orpine has become perversely
applied to this plant which bears pink blossoms, the word having
been derived from _Orpin_, gold pigment, a yellow sulphuret of the
metal arsenic, and it should appertain exclusively to yellow flowers.
The Livelong _Sedum_ was formerly named Life Everlasting. It
serves to keep away moths.

Doctors have found that the expulsive vomiting provoked by doses
of the _Sedum acre_ (Betony stone-crop), will serve in diphtheria to
remove such false membrane clinging in patches to the throat and
tonsils, [277] as threatens suffocation: and after this release
afforded by copious vomiting, the diphtheritic foci are prevented
from forming again.

The _Sedum Acre_ (or Biting Stone-crop) is also named Pepper
crop, being a cyme, or head of flowers, which furnishes a pungent
taste like that of pepper. This further bears the names of Ginger (in
Norfolk), Jack of the Buttery, Gold Dust, Creeping Tom, Wall
Pepper, Pricket or Prick Madam, Gold Chain, and Biting Mouse
Tail. It was formerly said "the savages of Caledonia use this plant
for removing the sloughs of cancer."

The herb serves admirably to make a gargle for scurvy of the gums,
and a lotion for scrofulous, or syphilitic ulcers. The leaves are thick
and very acrid, being crowded together. This and the _Sedums
album_ and _reflexum_ were ingredients in a famous worm-expelling
medicine, or _theriac_ (treacle), which conferred the title
"Jack of the Buttery," as a corruption of "_Bot. theriaque_."

The several Stone-crops are so named from _crop_, a top, or bunch
of flowers, these plants being found chiefly in tufts upon walls or
roofs. From their close growth originally on their native rocks they
have acquired the generic title of _Sedum_, from _sedere_ (to sit).


The cultivated Hyssop, now of frequent occurrence in the herb-bed,
and a favourite plant there because of its fragrance, belongs to the
labiate order, and possesses cordial qualities which give it rank as a
Simple. It has pleasantly odorous striped leaves which vary in
colour, and possess a camphoraceous odour, with a warm aromatic
bitter taste. This is of comparatively recent introduction into our
gardens, not having been [278] cultivated until Gerard's time, about
1568, and not being a native English herb.

The _Ussopos_ of Dioscorides, was named from _azob_, a holy
herb, because used for cleansing sacred places. Hence it is alluded
to in this sense scripturally: "Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be
clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm li. 7).
Solomon wrote "of all trees, from the Cedar in Lebanon to the
Hyssop that springeth out of the wall." The healing virtues of the
plant are due to a particular volatile oil which admirably promotes
expectoration in bronchial catarrh and asthma. Hyssop tea is a
grateful drink well adapted to improve the tone of a feeble stomach,
being brewed with the green tops of the herb. The same parts of the
plant are sometimes boiled in soup to be given for asthma. The
leaves and flowers are of a warm pungent taste, and of an agreeable
aromatic smell; therefore if the tops and blossoms are reduced to a
powder and added to cold salad herbs they give a comforting cordial

There was formerly made a distilled water of Hyssop, which may
still be had from some druggists, it being deemed a good pectoral
medicine. In America an infusion of the leaves is used externally for
the relief of muscular rheumatism, as also for bruises and
discoloured contusions. The herb was sometimes called Rosemary
in the East, and was hung up to afford protection from the evil eye,
as well as to guard against witches.

To make Hyssop tea, one drachm of the herb should be infused in a
pint of boiling water, and allowed to become cool. Then a
wineglassful is to be given as a dose two or three times in the day.

Of the essential oil of Hyssop, from one to two drops [279] should
be the dose. Pliny said: "Hyssop mixed with figs, purges; with
honey, vomits." If the herb be steeped in boiling water and applied
hot to the part, it will quickly remove the blackness consequent
upon a bruise or blow, especially in the case of "black" or
blood-shot eyes.

Parkinson says that in his day "the golden hyssop was of so pleasant
a colour that it provoked every gentlewoman to wear them in their
heads, and on their arms with as much delight as many fine flowers
can give." The leaves are striped conspicuously with white or
yellow; for which reason, and because of their fragrance, the herb is
often chosen to be planted on graves. The green herb, bruised and
applied, will heal cuts promptly. Its tea will assist in promoting the
monthly courses for women. Hyssop grows wild in middle and
southern Europe.

The Hedge Hyssop (_Gratiola officinalis_), or Water Hyssop, is
quite a different plant from the garden pot-herb, and belongs to the
scrofula-curing order, with far more active medicinal properties than
the Hyssop proper. The commonly recognized Hedge Hyssop bears
a pale yellow, or a pale purple flower, like that of the Foxglove; and
the whole plant has a very bitter taste. A medicinal tincture (H.) is
made from the entire herb, of which from eight to ten drops may be
taken with a tablespoonful of cold water three times in the day. It
will afford relief against nervous weakness and shakiness, such as
occur after an excessive use of coffee or tobacco. The title
"gratiola," is from _dei gratiâ_, "by the grace of God."

The juice of the plant purges briskly, and may be usefully employed
in some forms of dropsy. Its decoction is milder of action, and
proves beneficial [280] in cases of jaundice. In France the plant is
cultivated as a perfume, and it is said to be an active ingredient in
the famous _Eau médicinale_ for gout.

Of the dried leaves from five to twenty-five grains will act as a
drastic vermifuge to expel worms. The root resembles ipecacuanha
in its effects, and in moderate quantities, as a powder or decoction,
helps to stay bloody fluxes and purgings. The flowers are sometimes
of a blood-red hue, and the whole plant contains a special essential

"Whoso taketh," says Parkinson, "but one scruple of _Gratiola_
(Hedge Hyssop) bruised, shall perceive evidently his effectual
operation and virtue in purging mightily, and that in great
abundance, watery, gross, and slimy tumours." _Caveat qui
sumpserit_. On the principle of affinities, small diluted doses of the
tincture, or decoction, or of the dried leaves, prove curative in cases
of fluxes from the lower bowels, where irritation within the
fundament is frequent, and where there is considerable nervous
exhaustion, especially in chronic cases of this sort.

IVY, Common (_Araliaceoe_).

The clergyman of fiction in the sixth chapter of Dickens' memorable
_Pickwick_, sings certain verses which he styles "indifferent" (the
only verse, by the way, to be found in all that great writer's
stories), and which relate to the Ivy, beginning thus:--

    "Oh! a dainty plant is the Ivy green,
    That creepeth o'er ruins old."

The well known common Ivy (_Hedera helix_), which clothes the
trunks of trees and the walls of old buildings so picturesquely
throughout Great Britain, gets its botanical name most probably
from the Celtic word _hoedra _[281] "a cord," or from the Greek
_hedra_ "a seat," because sitting close, and its vernacular title from
_iw_ "green," which is also the parent of "yew." In Latin it is termed
_abiga_, easily corrupted to "iva"; and the Danes knew it as
Winter-grunt, or Winter-green, to which appellation it may still lay a
rightful claim, being so conspicuously green at the coldest times of
the year when trees are of themselves bare and brown.

By the ancients the Ivy was dedicated to Bacchus, whose statues
were crowned with a wreath of the plant, under the name Kissos,
and whose worshippers decorated themselves with its garlands. The
leaves have a peculiar faintly nauseous odour, whilst they are
somewhat bitter, and rough of taste. The fresh berries are rather
acid, and become bitter when dried. They are much eaten by our
woodland birds in the spring.

A crown of Ivy was likewise given to the classic poets of
distinction, and the Greek priests presented a wreath of the same to
newly married persons. The custom of decorating houses and
churches with Ivy at Christmastide, was forbidden by one of the
early councils on account of its Pagan associations. Prynne wrote
with reference to this decree:--

    "At Christmas men do always Ivy get,
    And in each corner of the house it set,
    But why make use then of that Bacchus weed?
    Because they purpose Bacchus-like to feed."

The Ivy, though sending out innumerable small rootlets, like
suckers, in every direction (which are really for support) is not a
parasite. The plant is rooted in the soil and gets its sustenance

Chemically, its medicinal principles depend on the special balsamic
resin contained in the leaves and stems, as well as constituting the
aromatic gum.

[282] Ivy flowers have little or no scent, but their yield of nectar is
particularly abundant.

When the bark of the main stems is wounded, a gum will exude, and
may be collected: it possesses astringent and mildly aperient
properties. This was at one time included as a medicine in the
Edinburgh _Pharmacopoeia_, but it has now fallen out of such
authoritative use. Its chemical principle is "hederin." The gum is
anti-spasmodic, and promotes the monthly flow of women.

An infusion of the berries will relieve rheumatism, and a decoction
of the leaves applied externally will destroy vermin in the heads of

Fresh Ivy leaves will afford signal relief to corns when they shoot,
and are painful. Good John Wesley, who dabbled in "domestic
medicine," and with much sagacity of observation, taught that
having bathed the feet, and cut the corns, and having mashed some
fresh Ivy leaves, these are to be applied: then by repeating the
remedial process for fifteen days the corns will be cured.

During the Great Plague of London, Ivy berries were given with
some success as possessing antiseptic virtues, and to induce
perspiration, thus effecting a remission of the symptoms. Cups made
from Ivywood have been employed from which to drink for disorders
of the spleen, and for whooping cough, their method of use
being to be kept refilled from time to time with water (cold or
hot), which the patient is to constantly sip.

Ivy gum dissolved in vinegar is a good filling for a hollow tooth
which is causing neuralgic toothache: and an infusion of the leaves
made with cold water, will, after standing for twenty-four hours,
relieve sore and smarting eyes if used rather frequently as a lotion.
A decoction of the leaves and berries will mitigate a [283] severe
headache, such as that which follows hard drinking over night. And
it may have come about that from some rude acquaintance with this
fact the bacchanals adopted goblets carved out of Ivywood.

This plant is especially hardy, and suffers but little from the smoke
and the vitiated air of a manufacturing town. Chemically, such
medicinal principles as the Ivy possesses depend on the special
balsamic resin contained in its leaves and stems; as well as on its
particular gum. Bibulous old Bacchus was always represented in
classic sculpture with a wreath of Ivy round his laughing brows; and
it has been said that if the foreheads of those whose potations run
deep were bound with frontlets of Ivy the nemesis of headache
would be prevented thereby. But legendary lore teaches rather that
the infant Bacchus was an object of vengeance to Juno, and that the
nymphs of Nisa concealed him from her wrath, with trails of Ivy as
he lay in his cradle.

At one time our taverns bore over their doors the sign of an Ivybush,
to indicate the excellence of the liquor supplied within. From which
fact arose the saying that "good wine needs no bush," "_Vinum
vendibile hederâ non est opus_." And of this text Rosalind cleverly
avails herself in _As You Like It_, "If it be true" says she, "that
good wine needs no bush,"--"'tis true that a good play needs no

IVY (Ground).

This common, and very familiar little herb, with its small Ivy-like
aromatic leaves, and its striking whorls of dark blue blossoms
conspicuous in early spring time, comes into flower pretty
punctually about the third or fourth of April, however late or early
the season may be. Its name is attributed to the resemblance borne
[284] by its foliage to that of the true Ivy (_Hedera helix_). The
whole plant possesses a balsamic odour, and an aromatic taste, due
to its particular volatile oil, and its characteristic resin, as a
fragrant labiate herb. It remaineth green not only in summer, but
also in winter, at all times of the year.

From the earliest days it has been thought endowed with singular
curative virtues chiefly against nervous headaches, and for the relief
of chronic bronchitis. Ray tells of a remarkable instance in the
person of a Mr. Oldacre who was cured of an obstinate chronic
headache by using the juice or the powdered leaves of the Ground
Ivy as snuff: _Succus hujus plantoe naribus attractus cephalalgiam
etiam vehementissimam et inveteratam non lenit tantum, sed et
penitus aufert_; and he adds in further praise of the herb:
_Medicamentum hoc non satis potest laudari; si res ex usu
oestimarentur, auro oequiparandum_. An infusion of the fresh herb,
or, if made in winter, from its dried leaves, and drank under the
name of Gill tea, is a favourite remedy with the poor for coughs of
long standing, accompanied with much phlegm. One ounce of the
herb should be infused in a pint of boiling water, and a wineglassful
of this when cool is to be taken three or four times in the day. The
botanical name of the plant is _Nepeta glechoma_, from _Nepet_, in
Tuscany, and the Greek _gleechon_, a mint.

Resembling Ivy in miniature, the leaves have been used in weaving
chaplets for the dead, as well as for adorning the Alestake erected as
a sign at taverns. For this reason, and because formerly in vogue for
clearing the ale drank by our Saxon ancestors, the herb acquired the
names of Ale hoof, and Tun hoof ("tun" signifying a garden, and
"hoof" or "hufe" a coronal or chaplet), [285] or Hove, "because,"
says Parkinson, "it spreadeth as a garland upon the ground." Other
titles which have a like meaning are borne by the herb, such as "Gill
go by the ground," and Haymaids, or Hedgemaids; the word "gill"
not only relating to the fermentation of beer, but meaning also a
maid. This is shown in the saying, "Every Jack should have his Gill,
or Jill"; and the same notion was conveyed by the sobriquet
"haymaids." Again in some districts the Ground Ivy is called "Lizzy
run up the hedge," "Cat's-foot" (from the soft flower heads), "Devil's
candlesticks," "Aller," and in Germltny "Thundervine," also in the
old English manuscripts "Hayhouse," "Halehouse," and "Horshone."
The whole plant was employed by our Saxon progenitors to clarify
their so-called beer, before hops had been introduced for this
purpose; and the place of refreshment where the beverage was sold
bore the name of a "Gill house."

In _A Thousand Notable Things_, it is stated, "The juice of Ground
Ivy sniffed up into the nostrils out of a spoon, or a saucer, purgeth
the head marvellously, and taketh away the greatest and oldest pain
thereof that is: the medicine is worth gold, though it is very cheap."

Small hairy tumours may often be seen in the autumn on the leaves
of the Ground Ivy occasioned (says Miss Pratt) by the punctures of
the _cynips glechomoe_ from which these galls spring. They have a
strong flavour of the plant, and are sometimes eaten by the
peasantry of France. The volatile oil on which the special virtues of
the Ground Ivy depend exudes from small glandular dots on the
under surface of the leaves. This is the active ingredient of Gill tea
made by country persons, and sweetened with honey, sugar, or
liquorice. Also the expressed juice of the herb is [286] equally
effectual, being diaphoretic, diuretic, and somewhat astringent
against bleedings.

Gerard says that in his day "the Ground Ivy was commended against
the humming sound, and ringing noises of the ears by being put into
them, and for those that are hard of hearing. Also boiled in mutton
broth it helpeth weak and aching backs." Dr. Thornton tells us in his
_Herbal _(1810) that "Ground Ivy was at one time amongst the
'cries' of London, for making a tea to purify the blood," and Dr.
Pitcairn extolled this plant before all other vegetable medicines for
the cure of consumption. Perhaps the name Ground Ivy was
transferred at first to the _Nepeta_ from the Periwinkle, about which
we read in an old distich of Stockholm:--

    "Parvenke is an erbe green of colour,
    In time of May he bereth blo flour,
    His stalkes are so feynt and feye
    That nevermore groweth he heye:
    On the grounde he rynneth and growe
    As doth the erbe that _hyth tunhowe_;
    The lef is thicke, schinende and styf
    As is the grene Ivy leef:
    Uniche brod, and nerhand rownde;
    Men call it the _Ivy of the grounde_."

In the _Organic Materia Medica_ of Detroit, U.S.A., 1890, it is
stated, "Painters use the Ground Ivy (_Nepeta glechoma_) as a
remedy for, and a preventive of lead colic." An infusion is given
(the ounce to a pint of boiling water)--one wineglassful for a dose
repeatedly. In the relief which it affords as a snuff made from the
dried leaves to congestive headache of a passive continued sort, this
benefit is most probably due partly to the special titillating aroma of
the plant, and partly to the copious defluxion of mucus and tears
from the nasal passages, and the eyes.

[287] JOHN'S WORT.

The wild Saint John's Wort (_Hypericum peiforatum_) is a frequent
plant in our woods and hedgebanks, having leaves studded with
minute translucent vesicles, which seem to perforate their structure,
and which contain a terebinthinate oil of fragrant medicinal virtues.

The name _Hypericum_ is derived from the two Greek words,
_huper eikon_, "over an apparition," because of its supposed power
to exorcise evil spirits, or influences; whence it was also formerly
called _Fuga doemoniorum_, "the Devil's Scourge," "the Grace of
God," "the Lord God's Wonder Plant." and some other names of a
like import, probably too, because found to be of curative use
against insanity. Again, it used to be entitled _Hexenkraut_, and
"Witch's Herb," on account of its reputed magical powers.
Matthiolus said, _Scripsere quidam Hypericum adeo odisse
doemones, ut ejus suffitu statim avolent_, "Certain writers have said
that the St. John's Wort is so detested by evil spirits that they fly
off at a whiff of its odour."

Further names of the herb are "Amber," "Hundred Holes," and _Sol
terrestris_, the "Terrestrial Sun," because it was believed that all
the spirits of darkness vanish in its presence, as at the rising of
the sun.

For children troubled with incontinence of urine at night, and who
wet their beds, an infusion, or tea, of the St. John's Wort is an
admirable preventive medicine, which will stop this untoward

The title St. John's Wort is given, either because the plant blossoms
about St. John's day, June 24th, or because the red-coloured sap
which it furnishes was thought to resemble and signalise the blood
of St. John the Baptist. Ancient writers certainly attributed a host of
virtues to this plant, especially for the cure of hypochondriasis, and
insanity. The red juice, or "red [288] oil," of _Hypericum_ made
effective by hanging for some months in a glass vessel exposed to
the sun, is esteemed as one of the most popular and curative
applications in Europe for excoriations, wounds, and bruises.

The flowers also when rubbed together between the fingers yield a
red juice, so that the plant has obtained the title of _Sanguis
hominis_, human blood. Furthermore, this herb is _Medicamentum
in mansâ intus sumptum_, "to be chewed for its curative effects."

And for making a medicinal infusion, an ounce of the herb should
be used to a pint of boiling water. This may be given beneficially
for chronic catarrhs of the lungs, the bowels, or the urinary
passages, Dr. Tuthill Massy considered the St. John's Wort, by virtue
of its healing properties for injuries of the spinal cord, and its
dependencies, the vulnerary "arnica" of the organic nervous system.
On the doctrine of signatures, because of its perforated leaves, and
because of the blood-red juice contained in the capsules which it
bears, this plant was formerly deemed a most excellent specific for
healing wounds, and for stopping a flow of blood:--

    "Hypericon was there--the herb of war,
    Pierced through with wounds, and seamed with many a scar."

For lacerated nerves, and injuries by violence to the spinal cord, a
warm lotion should be employed, made with one part of the tincture
to twenty parts of water, comfortably hot. A salve compounded
from the flowers, and known as St. John's Wort Salve, is still much
used and valued in English villages. And in several countries the
dew which has fallen on vegetation before daybreak on St. John's
morning, is gathered with great care. It is thought to protect the eyes
from all harm throughout the ensuing year, and the Venetians [289]
say it renews the roots of the hair on the baldest of heads. Peasants
in the Isle of Man, are wont to think that if anyone treads on the St.
John's Wort after sunset, a fairy horse will arise from the earth, and
will carry him about all night, leaving him at sunrise wherever he
may chance to be.

The plant has a somewhat aromatic odour; and from the leaves and
flowers, when crushed, a lemon-like scent is exhaled, whilst their
taste is bitter and astringent. The flowers furnish for fabrics of silk
or wool a dye of deep yellow. Those parts of the plant were alone
ordered by the London _Pharmacopoeia_ to be used for supplying
in chief the medicinal, oily, resinous extractive of the plant.

The juice gives a red colour to the spirit of wine with which it is
mixed, and to expressed oils, being then known as the _Hypericum_
"red oil" mentioned above. The flowers contain tannin, and
"_Hypericum_ red."

Moreover, this _Hypericum_ oil made from the tops is highly useful
for healing bed sores, and is commended as excellent for ulcers. A
medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared with spirit of wine from the
entire fresh plant, collected when flowering, or in seed, and this
proves of capital service for remedying injuries to the spinal cord,
both by being given internally, and by its external use. It has been
employed in like manner with benefit for lock-jaw. The dose of the
tincture is from five to eight drops with a spoonful of water two or
three times a day.

This plant may be readily distinguished from others of the
Hypericaceous order by its decidedly two edged stem. Sprigs of it
are stuck at the present time in Wales over every outer door on the
eve of St. John's day; [290] and in Scotland, milking is done on the
herb to dispel the malignant enchantments which cause ropy milk.

Among the Christian saints St. John represents light; and the flowers
of this plant were taken as a reminder of the beneficent sun.

Tutsan is a large flowered variety (_Hypericum androsoemum_) of
the St. John's Wort, named from the French _toute saine_, or "heal
all," because of its many curative virtues; and is common in Devon
and Cornwall. It possesses the same properties as the perforate sort,
but yields a stronger and more camphoraceous odour when the
flowers and the seed vessels are bruised. A tincture made from this
plant, as well as that made from the perforate St. John's Wort, has
been used with success to cure melancholia, and its allied forms of
insanity. The seed-capsules of the Tutsan are glossy and berry-like;
the leaves retain their strong resinous odour after being dried.

Tutsan is called also provincially "Woman's Tongue," once set
g(r)owing it never stops; and by country folk in Ireland the "Rose of
Sharon." Its botanical name Androsoemum, _andros aima_, man's
blood, derived from the red juice and oil, probably suggested the
popular title of Tutsan, "heal all," often corrupted to "Touchen leaf."

Gerard gives a receipt, as a great secret, for making a compound oil
of _Hypericum_, "than which," he says, "I know that in the world
there is no better; no, not the natural balsam itself." "The plant," he
adds, "is a singular remedy for the sciatica, provided that the patient
drink water for a day or two after purging." "The leaves laid upon
broken shins and scabbed legs do heal them."

The whole plant is of a special value for healing [291] punctured
wounds; and its leaves are diuretic. It is handsome and shrubby,
growing to a height of two or three feet.


The Juniper shrub (Arkenthos of the ancients), which is widely
distributed about the world, grows not uncommonly in England as a
stiff evergreen conifer on heathy ground, and bears bluish purple
berries. These have a sweet, juicy, and, presently, bitter, brown
pulp, containing three seeds, and they do not ripen until the second
year. The flowers blossom in May and June. Probably the shrub gets
its name from the Celtic _jeneprus_, "rude or rough." Gerard notes
that "it grows most commonly very low, like unto our ground
furzes." Gum Sandarach, or Pounce, is the product of this tree.

Medicinally, the berries and the fragrant tops are employed. They
contain "juniperin," sugar, resins, wax, fat, formic and acetic acids,
and malates. The fresh tops have a balsamic odour, and a
carminative, bitterish taste. The berries afford a yellow aromatic oil,
which acts on the kidneys, and gives cordial warmth to the stomach.
Forty berries should yield an ounce of the oil. Steeped in alcohol the
berries make a capital _ratafia_; they are used in several
confections, as well as for flavouring gin, being put into a spirit
more common than the true geneva of Holland. The French obtain
from these berries the _Genièvre_ (_Anglice_ "geneva"), from
which we have taken our English word "gin." In France, Savoy, and
Italy, the berries are largely collected, and are sometimes eaten as
such, fifteen or twenty at a time, to stimulate the kidneys; or they
are taken in powder for the same [292] purpose. Being fragrant of
smell, they have a warm, sweet, pungent flavour, which becomes
bitter on further mastication.

Our British _Pharmacopoeia_ orders a spirit of Juniper to be made
for producing the like diuretic action in some forms of dropsy, so as
to carry off the effused fluid by the kidneys. A teaspoonful of this
spirit may be taken, well diluted with water, several times in the
day. Of the essential oil the dose is from two to three drops on
sugar, or with a tablespoonful of milk. These remedies are of service
also in catarrh of the urinary passages; and if applied externally to
painful local swellings, whether rheumatic, or neuralgic, the bruised
berries afford prompt and lasting relief.

An infusion or decoction of the Juniper wood is sometimes given
for the same affections, but less usefully, because the volatile oil
becomes dissipated by the boiling heat. A "rob," or inspissated juice
of the berries, is likewise often employed. Gerard said: "A decoction
thereof is singular against an old cough." Gin is an ordinary malt
spirit distilled a second time, with the addition of some Juniper
berries. Formerly these berries were added to the malt in grinding,
so that the spirit obtained therefrom was flavoured with the berries
from the first, and surpassed all that could be made by any other
method. At present gin is cheaply manufactured by leaving out the
berries altogether, and giving the spirit a flavour by distilling it
with a proportion of oil of turpentine, which resembles the Juniper
berries in taste; and as this sophistication is less practised in
Holland than elsewhere, it is best to order "Hollands," with water,
as a drink for dropsical persons. By the use of Juniper berries Dr.
Mayern cured some patients who were deplorably ill with [293] epilepsy
when all other remedies had failed. "Let the patient carry a bag of
these berries about with him, and eat from ten to twenty every
morning for a month or more, whilst fasting. Similarly for flatulent
indigestion the berries may be most usefully given; on the first day,
four berries; on the second, five; on the third, six; on the fourth,
seven; and so on until twelve days, and fifteen berries are reached;
after this the daily dose should be reduced by one berry until only
five are taken in the day; which makes an admirable 'berry-cure.'"
The berries are to be well masticated, and the husks may be
afterwards either rejected or swallowed.

Juniper oil, used officinally, is distilled from the full-grown,
unripe, green fruit. The Laplanders almost adore the tree, and they
make a decoction of its ripe berries, when dried, to be drunk as tea,
or coffee; whilst the Swedish peasantry prepare from the fresh berries
a fermented beverage, which they drink cold, and an extract, which
they eat with their bread for breakfast as we do butter.

Simon Pauli assures us these berries have performed wonders in
curing the stone, he having personally treated cases thus, with
incredible success. Schroder knew a nobleman of Germany, who
freed himself from the intolerable symptoms of stone, by a constant
use of these berries. Evelyn called them the "Forester's Panacea,"
"one of the most universal remedies in the world to our crazy
Forester." Astrological botanists advise to pull the berries when the
sun is in Virgo.

We read in an old tract (London, 1682) on _The use of Juniper and
Elder berries in our Publick Houses_: "The simple decoction of
these berries, sweetened with a little sugar candy, will afford liquors
so pleasant to the eye, so grateful to the palate, and so beneficial to
the [294] body, that the wonder is they have not been courted and
ushered into our Publick Houses, so great are the extraordinary
beauty and vertues of these berries." "One ounce, well cleansed,
bruised, and mashed, will be enough for almost a pint of water.
When they are boiled together the vessel must be carefully stopt,
and after the boiling is over one tablespoonful of sugar candy must
be put in."

From rifts which occur spontaneously in the bark of the shrubs in
warm countries issues a gum resembling frankincense. This gum, as
Gerard teaches, "drieth ulcers which are hollow, and filleth them
with flesh if they be cast thereon." "Being mixed with oil of roses, it
healeth chaps of the hands and feet." Bergius said "the lignum
(wood) of Juniper is _diureticum, sudorificum, mundificans_; the
_bacca_ (berry), _diuretica, nutriens, diaphoretica_." In Germany
the berries are added to _sauerkraut_ for flavouring it.

Virgil thought the odour exhaled by the Juniper tree noxious, and he
speaks of the _Juniperis gravis umbra_:--

    "Surgamus! solet esse gravis cantantibus umbra;
    Juniperis gravis umbra; nocent et frugibus umbrae."
        _Eclog. X. v._ 75.

But it is more scientific to suppose that the growth of Juniper trees
should be encouraged near dwellings, because of the balsamic and
antiseptic odours which they constantly exhale. The smoke of the
leaves and wood was formerly believed to drive away "all infection
and corruption of the aire which bringeth the plague, and such like
contagious diseases."

Sprays of Juniper are frequently strewn over floors of apartments, so
as to give out when trodden down, their agreeable odour which is
supposed to promote [295] sleep. Queen Elizabeth's bedchamber
was sweetened with their fumes. In the French hospitals it is
customary to burn Juniper berries with Rosemary for correcting
vitiated air, and to prevent infection.

On the Continent the Juniper is regarded with much veneration,
because it is thought to have saved the life of the Madonna, and of
the infant Jesus, whom she hid under a Juniper bush when flying
into Egypt from the assassins of Herod.

Virgil alludes to the Juniper as Cedar:--

    "Disce et odoratam stabulis accendere cedrum."

    "But learn to burn within your sheltering rooms
    Sweet Juniper."

Its powerful odour is thought to defeat the keen scent of the hound;
and a hunted hare when put to extremities will seek a safe retreat
under cover of its branches. Elijah was sheltered from the
persecutions of King Ahab by the Juniper tree; since which time it
has been always regarded as an asylum, and a symbol of succour.

From the wood of the _Juniperus oxycoedrus_; an empyreumatic oil
resembling liquid pitch, is obtained by dry distillation, this being
named officinally, _Huile de cade_, or _Oleum cadinum_, otherwise
"Juniper tar." It is found to be most useful as an external stimulant
for curing psoriasis and chronic eczema of the skin. A recognised
ointment is made with this and yellow wax, _Unguentum olei

In Italy stables are popularly thought to be protected by a sprig of
Juniper from demons and thunderbolts, just as we suppose the
magic horseshoe to be protective to our houses and offices.

[296] KNAPWEED (The Lesser).

Black Knapweed, the _Centaurea nigra_, is a common tough-stemmed
composite weed growing in our meadows and cornfields, being
well known by its heads of dull purple flowers, with brown,
or almost black scales of the outer floral encasement. It is popularly
called Hard heads, Loggerheads, Iron heads, Horse knob, and Bull

Dr. Withering relates that a decoction made from these hard heads
has afforded at least a temporary relief in cases of diabetes mellitus,
"by diminishing the quantity of urine, and dispelling the sweetness."

Its chief chemical constituent _enicin_, is identical with that of the
Blessed thistle, and the Blue bottle, and closely resembles that of the
Dandelion. It has been found useful in strengthless indigestion,
especially when this is complicated with sluggish torpor of the liver.
From half to one ounce of the herb may be boiled in eight fluid
ounces of water, and a small wineglassful be taken for a dose twice
or three times a day. In Bucks young women make use of this
Knapweed for love divination:--

    "They pull the little blossom threads
    From out the Knotweed's button beads,
    And put the husk with many a smile
    In their white bosoms for a while;
    Then, if they guess aright, the swain
    Their love's sweet fancies try to gain,
    'Tis said that ere it lies an hour
    'Twill blossom with a second flower."


The Lavender of our gardens, called also Lavender Spike, is a
well-known sweet-smelling shrub, of the Labiate order. It grows wild
in Spain, Piedmont, and [297] the south of France, on waysides,
mountains, and in barren places. The plant was propagated by slips,
or cuttings, and has been cultivated in England since about 1568.
It is produced largely for commercial purposes in Surrey,
Hertfordshire, and Lincoln. The shrub is set in long rows occupying
fields, and yields a profitable fragrant essential oil from the
flowering tops, about one ounce of the oil from sixty terminal
flowering spikes. From these tops also the popular cosmetic
lavender water is distilled. They contain tannin, and a resinous
camphire, which is common to most of the mints affording essential
oils. If a hank of cotton is steeped in the oil of Lavender, and
drained off so as to be hung dry about the neck, it will prevent bugs
and other noxious insects from attacking that part. When mixed with
three-fourths of spirit of turpentine, or spirit of wine, this oil
makes the famous _Oleum spicoe_, formerly much celebrated for curing
old sprains and stiff joints. Lavender oil is likewise of service when
rubbed in externally, for stimulating paralysed limbs--preferring the
sort distilled from the flowering tops to that which is obtained from
the stalks. Internally, the essential oil, or a spirit of Lavender made
therefrom, proves admirably restorative and tonic against faintness,
palpitations of a nervous sort, weak giddiness, spasms, and colic. It
is agreeable to the taste and smell, provokes appetite, raises the
spirits, and dispels flatulence; but the infusion of Lavender tops, if
taken too freely, will cause griping, and colic. In hysteria, palsy, and
similar disorders of debility, and lack of nerve power, the spirit of
Lavender will act as a powerful stimulant; and fomentations with
Lavender in bags, applied hot, will speedily relieve local pains. "It
profiteth them much," says Gerard, "that have the palsy if they be
washed with the distilled water [298] from the Lavender flowers; or
are anointed with the oil made from the flowers and olive oil, in
such manner as oil of roses is used." A dose of the oil is from one to
four drops on sugar, or on a small piece of bread crumb, or in a
spoonful or two of milk. And of the spirit, from half to one
teaspoonful may be taken with two tablespoonfuls of water, hot or
cold, or of milk. The spirit of Lavender is made with one part of the
essential oil to forty-nine parts of spirit of wine. For preparing
distilled Lavender water, the addition of a small quantity of musk
does much to develop the strength of the Lavender's odour and
fragrance. The essential oil of _Lavandula latifolia_, admirably
promotes the growth of the hair when weakly, or falling off.

By the Greeks the name Nardus is given to Lavender, from Naarda,
a city of Syria, near the Euphrates; and many persons call the plant
"Nard." St. Mark mentions this as Spikenard, a thing of great value
The woman who came to Christ having an alabaster box of ointment
of Spikenard, very precious "brake the box, and poured it on His
head." In Pliny's time blossoms of the nardus sold for a hundred
Roman denarii (or £3 2s. 6d.) the pound. This Lavender or
_Nardus_, was likewise called Asarum by the Romans, because not
used in garlands or chaplets. It was formerly believed that the asp, a
dangerous kind of viper, made Lavender its habitual place of abode,
so that the plant had to be approached with great caution.

Conserves of Lavender were much used in the time of Gerard, and
desserts may be most pleasantly brought to the table on a service of
Lavender spikes. It is said, on good authority, that the lions and
tigers in our Zoological gardens, are powerfully affected by the
smell of Lavender-water and become docile under its influence.

[299] The Lavender shrub takes its name from the Latin _lavare_,
"to wash," because the ancients employed it as a perfume. Lavender
tops, when dried, and placed with linen, will preserve it from moths
and other insects.

The whole plant was at one time considered indispensable in Africa,
_ubi lavandis corporibus Lybes eâ utuntur; nec nisi decocto ejus
abluti mane domo egrediuntur_, "where the Libyans make use of it
for washing their bodies, nor ever leave their houses of a morning
until purified by a decoction of the plant."

In this country the sweet-smelling herb is often introduced for
scenting newly washed linen when it is put by; from which custom
has arisen the expression, "To be laid up in Lavender." During the
twelfth century a washerwoman was called "Lavender," in the North
of England.

A tea brewed from the flowers is an excellent remedy for headache
from fatigue, or weakness. But Lavender oil is, in too large a dose, a
narcotic poison, and causes death by convulsions. The tincture of
red Lavender is a popular medicinal cordial; and is composed of the
oils of Lavender and rosemary, with cinnamon bark, nutmeg, and
red sandal wood, macerated in spirit of wine for seven days; then a
teaspoonful may be given for a dose in a little water, with excellent
effect, after an indigestible meal, taking the dose immediately when
feeling uneasy, and repeating it after half-an-hour if needed. An old
form of this compound tincture was formerly famous as "Palsy
Drops," it being made from the Lavender, with rosemary, cinnamon,
nutmeg, red sandal wood, and spirit. In some cases of mental
depression and delusions the oil of Lavender proves of real service;
and a few drops of it rubbed on the temples will cure nervous

[300] Shakespeare makes Perdita (_Winter's Tale_) class Lavender
among the flowers denoting middle age:

    "Here's flowers for you,
    Hot Lavender: Mints: Savory: Marjoram;
    The Marigold that goes to bed with the sun,
    And with him rises, weeping: these are the flowers
    Of middle summer, and I think they are given
    To men of middle age."

There is a broad-leaved variety of the Lavender shrub in France,
which yields three times as much of the essential oil as can be got
from our narrow-leaved plant, but of a second rate quality.

The Sea Lavender, or Thrift (_Statice limonium_) grows near the
sea, or in salt marshes. It gets its name Statice from the Greek word
_isteemi_ (to stop, or stay), because of its medicinal power to arrest
bleeding. This is the marsh Rosemary, or Ink Root, which contains
(if the root be dried in the air) from fourteen to fifteen per cent. of
tannin. Therefore, its infusion or tincture will prove highly useful to
control bleeding from the lungs or kidneys, as also against
dysentery; and when made into a gargle, for curing an ulcerated sore


The Lemon (_Citrus Limonum_) is so common of use in admixing
refreshing drinks, and for its fragrancy of peel, whether for culinary
flavour, or as a delightful perfume, that it may well find a place
among the Simples of a sagacious housewife. Moreover, the
imported fruit, which abounds in our markets, as if to the manner
born, is endowed with valuable medicinal properties which
additionally qualify it for the domestic _Herbarium_. The Lemons
brought to England come chiefly from Sicily, [301] through
Messina and Palermo. Flowers may be found on the lemon tree all
the year round.

In making lemonade it is a mistake to pour boiling water upon
sliced Lemons, because thus brewing an infusion of the peel, which
is medicinal. The juice should be squeezed into cold water
(previously boiled), adding to a quart of the same the juice of three
lemons, a few crushed strawberries, and the cut up rind of one

This fruit grows specially at Mentone, in the south of France; and a
legend runs that Eve carried two or three Lemons with her away
from Paradise, wandering about until she came to Mentone, which
she found to be so like the Garden of Eden that she settled there, and
planted her fruit.

The special dietetic value of Lemons consists in their potash
salts, the citrate, malate, and tartrate, which are respectively
antiscorbutic, and of assistance in promoting biliary digestion.
Each fluid ounce of the fresh juice contains about forty-four
grains of citric acid, with gum, sugar, and a residuum, which yields,
when incinerated, potash, lime, and phosphoric acid. But the
citric acid of the shops is not nearly so preventive or curative
of scurvy as the juice itself.

The exterior rind furnishes a grateful aromatic bitter; and our word
"zest" signifies really a chip of lemon peel or orange peel used for
giving flavour to liquor. It comes from the Greek verb, "_skizein_,"
to divide, or cut up.

The juice has certain sedative properties whereby it allays hysterical
palpitation of the heart, and alleviates pain caused by cancerous
ulceration of the tongue. Dr. Brandini, of Florence, discovered this
latter property of fresh Lemon juice, through a patient who, when
suffering [302] grievously from that dire disease, found marvellous
relief to the part by casually sucking a lemon to slake his feverish
thirst. But it is a remarkable fact that the acid of Lemons is harmful
and obnoxious to cats, rabbits, and other small animals, because it
lowers the heart's action in these creatures, and liquifies the blood;
whereas, in man it does not diminish the coagulability of the blood,
but proves more useful than any other agent in correcting that thin
impoverished liquidity thereof which constitutes scurvy. Rapin
extols lemons, or citrons, for discomfort of the heart:--

    "Into an oval form the citrons rolled
    Beneath thick coats their juicy pulp unfold:
    From some the palate feels a poignant smart,
    Which, though they wound the tongue, _yet heal the heart_."

Throughout Italy, and at Rome, a decoction of fresh Lemons is
extolled as a specific against intermittent fever; for which purpose a
fresh unpeeled Lemon is cut into thin slices, and put into an
earthenware jar with three breakfastcupfuls of cold water, and
boiled down to one cupful, which is strained, the lemon being
squeezed, and the decoction being given shortly before the access of
fever is expected.

For a restless person of ardent temperament and active plethoric
circulation, a Lemon squash (unsweetened) of not more than half a
tumblerful is a capital sedative; or, a whole lemon may be made hot
on the oven top, being turned from time to time, and being put
presently when soft and moist into a teacup, then by stabbing it
about the juice will be made to escape, and should be drunk hot. If
bruised together with a sufficient quantity of sugar the pips of a
fresh Lemon or Orange will serve admirably against worms in [303]
children. Cut in slices and put into the morning bath, a Lemon
makes it fragrant and doubly refreshing.

Professor Wilhelm Schmole, a German doctor, has published a work
of some note, in which he advances the theory that fresh Lemon
juice is a kind of _elixir vitae_; and that if a sufficient number of
Lemons be taken daily, life may be indefinitely prolonged. Lemon
juice is decidedly beneficial against jaundice from passive
sluggishness of the biliary functions; it will often serve to stay
bleedings, when ice and astringent styptics have failed; it will prove
useful when swallowed freely against immoderately active monthly
fluxes in women; and when applied externally it signally relieves
cutaneous itching, especially of the genitals.

Prize-fighters refresh themselves with a fresh cut Lemon between
the rounds when competing in the Ring. Hence has arisen the
common saying, "Take a suck of the Lemon, and at him again."

For a relaxed sore throat, Lemon juice will help to make a
serviceable gargle. By the heat of the sun it may be reduced to a
solid state. For a cold in the head, if the juice of a ripe Lemon be
squeezed into the palm of the hand, and strongly sniffed into the
nostrils at two or three separate times, a cure will be promoted.
Roast fillet of veal, with stuffing and lemon juice, was beloved by
Oliver Cromwell.

For heartburn which comes on without having eaten sweet things, it
is helpful to suck a thin slice of fresh Lemon dipped in salt just
after each meal.

The Chinese practice of rubbing parts severely neuralgic with the
wet surface of a cut Lemon is highly useful. This fruit has been sold
within present recollection at half-a-crown each, and during the
American war at five shillings.

[304] The hands may be made white, soft, and supple by daily
sponging them with fresh Lemon juice, which further keeps the
nails in good order; and the same may be usefully applied to the
roots of the hair for removing dandriff from the scalp.

The Candied Peel which we employ as a confection is got from one of
the citrons (a variety of the lemon); whilst another of this tribe is
esteemed for religious purposes in Jewish synagogues. These citrons
are imported into England from the East; and for unblemished
specimens of the latter which reach London, high prices are paid.
One pound sterling is a common sum, and not infrequently as much
as seventy shillings are given for a single "Citron of Law." The fruit
is used at the Feast of Tabernacles according to a command given in
the Book of the Law; it is not of an edible nature, but is handed
round and smelt by the worshippers as they go out, when they
"thank God for all good things, and for the sweet odours He has
given to men." This citron is considered to be almost miraculously
restorative, especially by those who regard it as the "tappnach,"
intended in the text, "Comfort me with apples." Ladies of the Orient,
even now, carry a piece of its rind about them in a vinaigrette.

The citron which furnishes Candied Peel resembles a large juicy
lemon, but without a nipple.

Virgil said of the fruit generally:--

    "Media fert tristes succos, tardumque saporem
    Felicis mali."

Fresh Lemon juice will not keep because of its mucilage, which
soon ferments.

Sidney Smith, in writing about Foston, his remote Country Cure in
Yorkshire, said it is "twelve miles from a Lemon."

[305] LENTIL.

Among the leguminous plants which supply food for the invalid,
and are endowed with certain qualifications for correcting the
health, may be justly placed the Lentil, though we have to import it
because our moist, cold climate is not favourable for its growth.
Nevertheless, it closely resembles the small purple vetch of our
summer hedgerows at home. In France its pulse is much eaten
during Lent--which season takes its name, as some authors suppose,
from this penitential plant. Men become under its subduing dietary
influence, "_lenti et lenes_." The plant is cultivated freely in Egypt
for the sake of the seeds, which are flat on both sides, growing in
numerous pods.

The botanical name is _Ervum lens_; and about the year 1840 a Mr.
Wharton sold the flour of Lentils under the name of Ervalenta, this
being then of a primrose colour. He failed in his enterprise, and Du
Barry took up the business, but substituting the red Arabian Lentil
for the yellow German pulse.

Joseph's mess of pottage which he sold to Esau for his birthright
was a preparation of the red Lentil: and the same food was the bread
of Ezekiel.

The legumin contained in this vegetable is very light and sustaining,
but it is apt to form unwholesome combinations with any earthy
salts taken in other articles of food, or in the water used in cooking;
therefore Lemon juice or vinegar is a desirable addition to Lentils at
table. This is because of the phosphates contained so abundantly,
and liable to become deposited in the urine. "Lentils," says Gerard,
"are singular good to stay the menses." They are traditionally
regarded as funeral plants, and formerly they were forbidden at
sacrifices and feasts.

[306] Parkinson said, "The country people sow it in the fields as
food for their cattle, and call it 'tills', leaving out the 'lent', as
thinking that word agreeth not with the matter." "_Ita sus
Minervam_." In Hampshire the plant is known as "tils," and in
Oxfordshire as "dills." The Romans supposed it made people
indolent and torpid, therefore they named the plant from _lentus_,

Allied to the Lentil as likewise a leguminous plant is the LUPINE,
grown now only as an ornament to our flower beds, but formerly
cultivated by the Romans as an article of food, and still capable of
usefulness in this capacity for the invalid. Pliny said, "No kind of
fodder is more wholesome and light of digestion than the white
Lupine when eaten dry." If taken commonly at meals it will
contribute a fresh colour and a cheerful countenance. When thus
formerly used neither trouble nor expense was needed in sowing the
seed, since it had merely to be scattered over the ground without
ploughing or digging. But Virgil designated it _tristis Lupinus_, "the
sad Lupine," probably because when the pulse of this plant was
eaten without being first cooked in any way so as to modify its bitter
taste, it had a tendency to contract the muscles of the face, and to
give a sorrowful appearance to the countenance. It was said the
Lupine was cursed by the Virgin Mary, because when she fled with
the child Christ from the assassins of Herod, plants of this species
by the noise they made attracted the attention of the soldiers.

The Lupine was originally named from _lupus_, a wolf, because of
its voracious nature. The seeds were used as pieces of money by
Roman actors in their plays and comedies, whence came the saying,
"_nummus lupinus_," "a spurious bit of money."

[307] LETTUCE.

Our garden Lettuce is a cultivated variety of the wild, or
strong-scented Lettuce (_Lactuca virosa_), which grows, with prickly
leaves, on banks and waysides in chalky districts throughout
England and Wales. It belongs to the Composite order of plants, and
contains the medicinal properties of the plant more actively than
does the Lettuce produced for the kitchen. An older form of the
name is _Lettouce_, which is still retained in Scotland.

Chemically the wild Lettuce contains lactucin, lactucopricin,
asparagin, mannite, albumen, gum, and resin, together with oxalic,
malic, and citric acids; thus possessing virtues for easing pain, and
inducing sleep. The cultivated Lettuce which comes to our tables
retains these same properties, but in a very modified degree, since
the formidable principles have become as completely toned down
and guileless in the garden product as were the child-like manners
and the pensive smile of Bret Harte's Heathen Chinee.

Each plant derives its name, _lactuca_, from its milky juice; in Latin
_lactis_; and in Greek, _galaktos_ (taking the genitive case). This
juice, when withdrawn from the cut or incised stalks and stems of
the wild Lettuce, is milky at first, and afterwards becomes brown,
like opium, being then known (when dried into a kind of gum) as
_lactucarium_. From three to eight grains of this gum, if taken at
bedtime, will allay the wakefulness which follows over-excitement
of brain. A similar _lactucarium_, got from the dried milk of the
cultivated garden Lettuce, is so mild a sedative as to be suitable for
restless infants; and two grains thereof may be safely given to a
young child for soothing it to sleep.

The wild Lettuce is rather laxative; with which view a decoction of
the leaves is sometimes taken as a drink [308] to remedy
constipation, and intestinal difficulties, as also to allay feverish
pains. The plant was mentioned as acting thus in an epigram by
Martial (_Libr. VI., Sq_.).

    "Prima tibi dabitur ventro lactuca movendo
    Utilis, et porris fila resecta suis."

Gerard said: "Being in some degree laxative and aperient, the
cultivated Lettuce is very proper for hot bilious dispositions;" and
Parkinson adds (1640): "Lettuce eaten raw or boyled, helpeth to
loosen the belly, and the boyled more than the raw." It was known
as the "Milk Plant" to Dioscorides and Theophrastus, and was much
esteemed by the Romans to be eaten after a debauch of wine, or as a
sedative for inducing sleep. But a prejudice against it was
entertained for a time as _venerem enervans_, and therefore
_mortuorum cibi_, "food for the dead."

Apuleius says, that when the eagle desires to fly to a great height,
and to get a clear view of the extensive prospect below him, he first
plucks a leaf of the wild Lettuce and touches his eyes with the juice
thereof, by which means he obtains the widest perspicuity of vision.
"Dicunt aquilam quum in altum volare voluerit ut prospiciat rerum
naturas lactucoe sylvaticoe folium evellere et succo ejus sibi oculos
tangere, et maximam inde claritudinem accipere."

After the death of Adonis, Venus is related to have thrown herself
on a bed of lettuces to assuage her grief. "In lactucâ occultatum a
Venere Adonin--cecinit Callimachus--quod allegoricé interpretatus
Athenoeus illuc referendum putat quod in venerem hebetiores fiunt
lactucas vescentes assidue."

The Pythagoreans called this plant "the Eunuch"; and there is a
saying in Surrey, "O'er much Lettuce in [309] the garden will stop a
young wife's bearing." During the middle ages it was thought an evil
spirit lurked among the Lettuces adverse to mothers, and causing
grievous ills to new-born infants.

The Romans, in the reign of Domitian, had the lettuce prepared with
eggs, and served with the last course at their tables, so as to
stimulate their appetites afresh. Martial wonders that it had since
then become customary to take it rather at the beginning of the

    "Claudere quae caenas lactuca solebat avorum
    Dic mihi cur nostras inchoat illa dapes."

Antoninus Musa cured Caesar Augustus of hypochondriasis by
means of this plant.

The most common variety of the wild Lettuce, improved by
frequent cultivation, is the Cabbage Lettuce, or Roman, "which is
the best to boil, stew, or put into hodge-podge." Different sorts of
the Cos Lettuce follow next onwards. The _Lactuca sylvatica_ is a
variety of the wild Lettuce producing similar effects. From this a
medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared, and an extract from the
flowering herb is given in doses of from five to fifteen grains. No
attempt was made to cultivate the Lettuce in this country until the
fourth year of Elizabeth's reign.

When bleached by gardeners the lettuce becomes tender, sweet, and
succulent, being easily digested, even by dyspeptic persons, as to its
crisp, leafy parts, but not its hard stalk. It now contains but little
nutriment of any sort, but supplies some mineral salts, especially
nitre. In the stem there still lingers a small quantity of the
sleep-inducing principle, "lactucarin," particularly when the plant is
flowering. Galen, when sleepless from [310] advanced age and
infirmities, with hard study, took decoction of the Lettuce at night;
and Pope says, with reference to our garden sort:--

    "If you want rest,
    Lettuce, and cowslip wine:--'probatum est.'"

But if Lettuces are taken at supper with this view of promoting
sleep, they should be had without any vinegar, which neutralises
their soporific qualities. "Sleep," said Sir Thomas Brown, "is so like
death that I dare not trust it without my prayers."

Some persons suppose that when artificially blanched the plant is
less wholesome than if left to grow naturally in the garden,
especially if its ready digestibility by those of sensitive stomachs be
correctly attributed to the slightly narcotic principle. It was taken
uncooked by the Hebrews with the Paschal lamb.

John Evelyn writes enthusiastically about it in his _Book of
Sallets_: "So harmless is it that it may safely be eaten raw in fevers;
it allays heat, bridles choler, extinguishes thirst, excites appetite,
kindly nourishes, and, above all, represses vapours, conciliates
sleep, and mitigates pain, besides the effect it has upon the morals--
temperance and chastity."

"Galen (whose beloved sallet it was) says it breeds the most
laudable blood. No marvel, then, that Lettuces were by the ancients
called _sanoe_ by way of eminency, and were so highly valued by
the great Augustus that, attributing to them his recovery from a
dangerous sickness, it is reported he erected a statue and built an
altar to this noble plant." Likewise, "Tacitus, spending almost
nothing at his frugal table in other dainties, was yet so great a
friend to the Lettuce that he used to say of his prodigality in its
purchase, _Summi se mercari_ [311] _illas sumitus effusione_."
Probably the Lettuce of Greece was more active than our indigenous,
or cultivated plant.

By way of admonition as to care in preparing the Lettuce for table,
Dr. King Chambers has said (_Diet in Health and Disease_), "The
consumption of Lettuce by the working man with his tea is an
increasing habit worthy of all encouragement. But the said working
man must be warned of the importance of washing the material of
his meal. This hint is given in view of the frequent occurrence of the
large round worm in the labouring population of some agricultural
counties, Oxfordshire for instance, where unwashed Lettuce is
largely eaten." Young Lettuces may be raised in forty-eight-hours
by first steeping the seed in brandy and then sowing it in a

The seeds of the garden Lettuce are emollient, and when rubbed up
with water make a pleasant emulsion, which contains nothing of the
milky, laxative bitterness furnished by the leaves and stalk. This
emulsion resembles that of almonds, but is even more cooling, and
therefore a better medicine in disorders arising from acrimony and

From the _Lactuca virosa_, or strong-scented wild Lettuce, a
medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared, using the whole plant. On the
principle of treating with this tincture, when diluted, such toxic
effects as too large doses of the juice would bring about, a slow
pulse, with a disposition to stupor, and sleepy weakness, are
successfully met by its use. Also a medicinal extract is made by
druggists from the wild Lettuce, and given in doses of from three to
ten grains for the medicinal purposes which have been particularised,
and to remove a dull, heavy headache.

"The garden Lettuce is good," as Pliny said, "for [312] burnings and
scaldings if the leaves be laid thereon, with salt (_sic_), before the
blisters do appear." "By reason," concludes Evelyn, "too, of its
soporiferous quality, the Lettuce ever was, and still continues, the
principal foundation of the universal tribe of Sallets, which cools
and refreshes, besides its other properties, and therefore was held in
such high esteem by the ancients, that divers of the Valerian family
dignified and ennobled their name with that of _Lactucinii_." It is
botanically distinguished as the _Lactuca sativa_, "from the plenty
of milk," says "Adam in Eden" (W. Coles), "that it hath, and

Lambs' Lettuce, or Corn Salad, is a distinct plant, one of the
Valerian tribe, which was formerly classed as a Lettuce, by name,
_Lactuca agnina_, either because it appears about the time when
lambs (_agni_) are dropped, or because it is a favourite food of

The French call this _salade de Prètre_, "monks' salad," and in
reference thereto an old writer has said: "It certainly deserves a
place among the _penitential_ herbs, for the stomach that admits it
is apt to cry _peccavi_."

The same plant is also known by the title of the White Pot Herb, in
contrast to the _Olus atrum_, or Black Pot Herb. It grows wild in the
banks of hedges and waste cornfields, and is cultivated in our
kitchen gardens as a salad herb, the Milk Grass, being called
botanically the _Valerianella olitoria_, and having been in request as
a spring medicine among country folk in former days. By genus it is
a _Fedia_, and bears diminutive white flowers resembling glass.
Gerard says: "We know the Lambs' Lettuce as _Loblollie_; and it
serves in winter as a salad herb, among others none of the worst." In
France it goes by the names _manche_ and _broussette_. A
medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root.

[313] The black pot-herb--so called from the dark colour of its
fruit--is an umbelliferous plant, (_Smyrnium olusatrum_) or Alexanders,
often found in the vicinity of abbeys, and probably therefore held in
former repute by the Monks. Its names are derived from _Smyrna_,
myrrh, in allusion to the odour of the plant; and from _Macedonicum_,
or the parsley of Macedon, Alexander's country. The herb
was also known as Stanmarch. It grows on waste places by
rivers near the sea, having been formerly cultivated like celery,
which has now supplanted it. When boiled it is eaten with avidity by
sailors returning from long voyages, who happen to land at the
South Western corner of Anglesea.


The Lily of the Valley grows wild in many of our English woods,
and possesses special curative virtues, which give it, according to
modern knowledge, a just place among Herbal Simples of repute.
This is the parent flower of our graceful, sweet-scented scape of
pendent, milk-white little floral bells, enshrined within two broad
leafy blades of dark green, and finding general favour for the
_jardinière_, or the button-hole.

Its name _Convallaria majalis_ is derived from _convallis_, "a
valley," and _majalis_, "belonging to the month of May," when this
Lily comes into flower.

Rustics corrupt the double title to "Liry Confancy," and provincially
the plant is known as "Wood Lily," "May Lily," and "May
Blossom." Also it bears the name of Mugget, and is said to have
grown up after the bloody combat of St. Leonard with the Dragon.
The French call it _Muguet_, or "little musk." The taste of the
flowers is acrid and bitter; they have been [314] employed with
benefit, when dried and powdered, as snuff, for headache, and
giddiness arising from weakness. A tincture of the plant is made,
and can be procured from any leading druggist. The active
medicinal principle is "convallarin," which slows the disturbed
action of a weak, irritable heart, whilst at the same time increasing
its power. Happily the remedy is a perfectly safe one, and no harm
has been known to occur from taking it experimentally in full and
frequent doses; so that, in this respect, it is far preferable to the
Fox Glove, which is apt to accumulate in the blood with poisonous
results. To make the tincture of _Convallaria_, one part of the
flowers is treated with eight parts of spirit of wine (proof); and the
dose is from five to fifteen drops, with a tablespoonful of water,
three times in the twenty-four hours.

Also an infusion may be made with boiling water poured over the
whole plant-root, stems, and flowers; and this infusion may be given
continuously for from five to ten days; but it should be left off for a
time as soon as the irritability of the heart is subdued, and the pulse
steady and stronger. If taken during an attack of palpitation and
laboured breathing from a weak heart, the benefit of the infusion in
tablespoonful doses is felt at once.

Ten grains of the dried flowers may be infused in six ounces of
boiling water; and a tablespoonful of this be given three times a day
with perfect safety, and with a most soothing effect for a weak,
sensitive, palpitating heart; but it does not suit a fatty heart
equally well. Nevertheless, even for insufficiency of the valves, when
dangerous, or distressing symptoms of heart disease have set in, an
infusion of the flowers has proved very helpful. The _rhizome_,
root, exhales a pleasant odour, [315] different from that of the
flowers; it tastes sweet at first but afterwards bitter.

A fluid extract is further prepared, and may be mixed in doses of
from five to twenty drops with water. The Russian peasants have
long employed the Lily of the Valley for certain forms of dropsy,
when proceeding from a faulty heart.

In the summer, when the flowers are in bloom, two drachms, by
weight, of the leaves should be steeped in a pint of water, either cold
or boiling; and the whole of this may be taken, if needed, during the
twenty-four hours. It will promote a free flow of urine. Culpeper
commended the Lily of the Valley for weak memory, loss of speech,
and apoplexy; whilst Gerard advised it for gout. In Devonshire it is
thought unlucky to plant a bed of these Lilies, as the person who
does so will probably die within the next twelve months.

In the _Apocrypha_, Canticles ii, I, "I am the Lily of the Valley,"
this flower is apparently brought under notice, but some other plant
must be intended here, because the Lily Convally does not grow in
Palestine. The word Lily is used in Oriental languages for a flower
in general.

Distilled water from the flowers was formerly in great repute against
nervous affections, and for many troubles of the head, insomuch
that it was treasured in vessels of gold and silver. Matthiolus named
it _Aqua aurea_, "golden water"; and Etmuller said of the virtues of
the plant, _Quod specifice armabit impotentes maritos ad bellum

A spirit made from the petals is excellent as an outward
embrocation for rheumatism and sprains; and in some parts of
Germany, a wine is prepared from the flowers mixed with raisins.
Old Gerard adopted an [316] unaccountable method for extracting
these virtues of the Lilies. He ordered that, "The flowers being close
stopped up in a glass vessel, should be put into an ant hill, and taken
away again a month after, when ye shall find a liquor in the glass
which, being outwardly applied, will help the cure of the gout."

After the blossom has fallen off a berry is formed, which assumes in
the autumn a bright scarlet colour, and proves attractive to birds.

LIME TREE, Flowers of (_Tiliaceoe_).

Though not a native of Great Britain, yet, because of its common
growth in our roadways and along the front of terraced houses, and
in suburban avenues, the Lime Tree has become almost indigenous.

In the old _Herbals_ it is called Lyne or Line, Tillet, Till tree, and
Tilia, each of these names bearing reference to the bast or inner bark
of the tree, which is used in the North for cordage. Others say the
name is an alteration of Telia, from _telum_, a dart, alluding to the
use of the wood. Tilia is more probably derived from _ptilon_, a
feather, because of the feathery appearance of the floral leaves.

Shakespeare says:--

    "Now, tell me thy name, good fellow," said he,
    "Under the leaves of lyne."

The "n" in later writers has been changed into "m."

Its sweet-smelling and highly fragrant flowers blossom in May, and
are much sought after by bees, because abounding with honied
nectar. A medicinal tincture (H.) is made from them with spirit of
wine; and when given in doses of from five to ten drops with water,
three times in the day, it serves to relieve sick [317] bilious
giddiness, with depression of spirits, and a tendency to loose
bowels, with nervous headache. The sap of the Lime Tree (_Tilia
Europoea_) abounds in mucilage, from which sugar can be elaborated.
A tea made from the blossoms and leaves with boiling water,
is admirable for promoting perspiration. It is because of a
long established reputation for giving relief in chronic epilepsy or
the falling sickness, and of curing epileptiform headaches, whilst
proving of indisputable usefulness in allied nervous disorders, that
the flowers and leaves of the Lime or Linden Tree occupy a true
place among modern medicinal Simples. Gilbert White made some
Lime-blossom tea, and pronounced it a very soft, well-flavoured,
pleasant saccharine julep, much resembling the juice of liquorice.
This tea has been found efficacious for quieting hard coughs and for
relieving hoarseness.

The flowers easily ferment, and being so fragrant may be used for
making wine: likewise a fine flavoured brandy has been distilled
from them. The fruit contains an oily substance, and has been
proposed, when roasted, as a domestic substitute for chocolate. The
sap may be procured by making incisions in the trunk, and branches.
The flowers are sedative, and anti-spasmodic. Fenelon decorates his
enchanted Isle of Calypso with flowering Lime trees. Hoffman says
_Tilioe ad mille usus petendoe_.

The inner bark furnishes a soft mucilage, which may be applied
externally with healing effect to burns, scalds, and inflammatory
swellings. Gerard taught, "that the flowers are commended by divers
persons against pain of the head proceeding from a cold cause;
against dizziness, apoplexy, and the falling sickness; and not only
the flowers, but the distilled water thereof." [318] Hoffman knew a
case of chronic epilepsy recovered by a use of the flowers in infusion
drunk as tea. Such, indeed, was the former exalted anti-epileptic
reputation of the Lime Tree, that epileptic persons sitting
under its shade were reported to be cured.

A famous "Lind" or Lime Tree, which grew in his ancestral place,
gave to the celebrated Linnaeus his significant name. The well-known
street, _unter den Lïnden_ in Berlin, is a favourite resort,
because of its pleasant, balmy shade; and when Heine lay beneath
the Lindens, he "thought his own sweet nothing-at-all thoughts."
The wood of the Lime Tree is preferred before every other wood fur
masterly carving. Grinling Gibbons executed his best and most
noted work in this material; and the finely-cut details still remain
sharp, delicate, and beautiful.

Chemically, the Linden flowers contain a particular light, fragrant,
volatile oil, which is soluble in alcohol. They are used in warm
baths with much success to allay nervous irritability; or a strong
infusion of them is administered by enema for the same purpose.

LIQUORICE, English (_Leguminous_).

The common Liquorice plant, a native of the warmer European
countries, was first cultivated in Britain about 1562, in Turner's
time. It has been chiefly grown at Pontefract (Pomfret) in Yorkshire,
Worksop in Nottinghamshire, and Godalming in Surrey; whilst at
the present time it is produced abundantly at Mitcham, near London,
and the roots are dug up after a three years' growth, to be supplied to
the shops. The use of the Liquorice plant was first learnt by the
Hellenes from the Scythians; and the root was named _adipson_,
being thought from the time of Theophrastus to [319] powerfully
extinguish thirst. But Dr. Cullen says his experience has not
confirmed this as a true effect of chewing the root. When lightly
boiled in a little water it yields all its sweetness, together with
some mucilage.

A favourite pastime of school boys at the beginning of the present
century, was to carry in the pocket a small phial of water containing
bits of this "Spanish juice," and to shake it continually so as to make
a solution, valued the more the darker and thicker it became.

The juice is commonly employed as a pectoral in coughs or
hoarseness, when thickened to the consistence of a lozenge, or to
that of a solid mass, which hardens in the form of a stick. It is also
added to nauseous medicines, for masking their taste. Towards
obtaining this juice the underground stem or root of the plant is the
part employed.

The search of Diogenes for an honest man was scarcely more
difficult than would be that of an average person for genuine
Liquorice; since the juice is adulterated to any extent, and there is
no definite standard of purity for this article so commonly used.
Potato starch, miller's sweepings mixed with sugar, and any kind of
rubbish are added to it.

In China, the roots of _Glycyrrhiza echinata _and _Glycyrrhiza
glabra_, are used in a variety of medicinal preparations as
possessing tonic, alterative, and expectorant properties, and as a
mild aperient. Thereto are attributed rejuvenating and highly
nutritive qualities. English Liquorice root occurs in pieces three or
four inches long, and about as thick as a finger.

The extract of Liquorice must be prepared from the _dried_ root,
else it cannot be strained bright, and would be liable to
fermentation. Chemically, the root [320] contains a special kind of
sugar, glycyrrhizine, a demulcent starch, asparagin, phosphate and
malate of lime and magnesia, a resinous oil, albumen, and woody
fibre. Old Fuller says concerning Nottingham, "This county
affordeth the first and best Liquorice in England: great is the use
thereof in physick. A stick of the same is commonly the spoon
prescribed to patients to use in any Loaches. If (as the men of
oeneas were forced to eat their own trenchers), these chance to eat
their spoons, their danger is none at all." The Loach, or Lingence,
from _ekleigma_, a substance licked-up, has become our modern
lozenge. Extract of Liquorice is largely imported as "Spanish" or
"Italian" juice, the Solazzi juice being most esteemed, which comes
in cylindrical or flattened rolls, enveloped in bay leaves; but the
pipe Liquorice of the sweetstuff shops is adulterated. Pontefract
lozenges are made of refined Liquorice, and are justly popular. The
sugar of Liquorice may be safely taken by diabetic patients.

Officinally, the root and stolons (underground stems) of the
_Glycyrrhiza glabra_ (smooth) are variously employed; for making
an extract, for mixing with linseed in a tea, for combination with
powdered senna, sugar, and fennel, to form a favourite mild laxative
medicine, known as "Compound Liquorice Powder," and for other
uses. The solid juice is put into porter and stout, because giving
sweetness, thickness, and blackness to those beverages, without
making them fermentative; but Liquorice, like gum, supplies
scant aliment to the body. Black Liquorice is employed in the
manufacture of tobacco, for smoking and chewing.

The Rest Harrow (_Ononis arvensis_), a troublesome weed, very
common in our ploughed fields, has a root [321] which affords a
sweet viscid juice, and hence it is popularly known as "Wild

This is a leguminous plant, called also "Ground Furze," which is a
favourite food of the donkey, and therefore gets its botanical title
from the Greek word _onos_, an ass. Its long and thickly matted
roots will arrest the progress of the harrow, or plough. Medicinally,
the plant has been given with success to subdue delirium. It is
obnoxious to snakes, and they will not come near it.

Other appellations of the herb are Cammock, Stinking Tommy,
_Arréte boeuf_, _Remora aratri_, _Resta bovis_, and Land Whin
(which from the Latin _guindolum_, signifies a kind of cherry). The
plant was formerly much extolled for obviating stone in the bladder.
It is seen to be covered with spines; and a tradition exists that it
was the Rest harrow which furnished the crown of thorns plaited by
the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion of our Saviour. This plant has
been long-used as a culinary vegetable, its young shoots being
boiled, or taken in salad, or pickled.

The French know it as _Bugrane_, beloved by goats, and the chief
delight of donkeys, who rejoice to roll themselves amid its prickles.
Simon Pauli _ne connait pas de meilleur remède contre le calcul des
reins, et de la vessie_. "_Anjourdhui l'arr éte boeuf est à peu pres
abandonné_." "_On y reviendra!_" The plant contains "ononin," a
chemical glucoside, which is demulcent to the urinary organs.

Its botanical name of _Glycyrrhiza_ comes from the Greek words,
_glukus_, "sweet," and _riza_, "a root." English Liquorice root,
when dried, is commercially used in two forms, the peeled and the
unpeeled. By far and away the best lozenges are those of our [322]
boyhood, still attributed to one "Smith," in the Borough of London.


All the Mallows (_Malvaceoe_) to the number of a thousand, agree
in containing mucilage freely, and in possessing no unwholesome

Their family name "Mallow" is derived from the Greek _malassein_,
"to soften," as alluding to the demulcent qualities of these
mucilaginous plants. The Common Mallow is a well-known roadside
plant, with large downy leaves, and streaked trumpet-shaped
purple flowers, which later on furnish round button-like
seeds, known to the rustics as "pickcheeses" in Norfolk and
elsewhere, whilst beloved by schoolboys, because of their nutty
flavour, and called by them "Bread and Cheese."

Clare tells playfully of the fairies, borne by mice at a gallop:--

    "In chariots lolling at their ease,
    Made of whate'er their fancies please,
    With wheels at hand of Mallow seeds,
    Which childish sport had strung as beads."

And recalls the time when he sat as a boy:--

    "Picking from Mallows, sport to please,
    The crumpled seed we called a cheese."

Both this plant and its twin sister, the Marsh Mallow (_Althoea
hibiscus_, from _altho_, to cure), possess medicinal virtues, which
entitle them to take rank as curative Herbal Simples. The Sussex
peasant knows the Common Mallow as "Maller," so that "aller and
maller" means with him Alehoof (Ground Ivy) and Mallow. Pliny
said: "Whosoever shall take a spoonful of the [323] Mallows shall
that day be free from all diseases that may come to him."

This plant is often named "Round Dock," and was formerly called
"Hock Herb": our Hollyhock being of the Mallow tribe, and first
brought to us from China. Pythagoras held _Malvoe folium
sanctissimum_; and we read of Epimenides in _Plato_, "at his
Mallows and Asphodels." The Romans esteemed the plant _in deliciis_
among their dainties, and placed it of old as the first dish at
their tables. The laxative properties of the Mallow, both as regards
its emollient leaves, and its _radix altheoe efficacior_, were told of
by Cicero and Horace.

The _Marsh Mallow_ grows wild abundantly in many parts of England,
especially in marshes near the sea coast. It gets its generic
name _althoea_, from the Greek _althos_, "a remedy," because
exercising so many curative virtues. Its old appellations were
_Vismalva_, _Bismalva_, _Malvaviscus_, being twice as medicinally
efficacious as the ordinary Mallow (_Sylvestris_).

Virgil in one of his eclogues teaches how to coax goats with the
Marsh Mallow:--

    "Haedorumque gregem viridi compellere hibisco."

The root is sweet and very mucilaginous when chewed, containing
more than half its weight of saccharine viscous mucilage. It is,
therefore, emollient, demulcent, pain-soothing, and lubricating;
serving to subdue heat and irritation, whilst, if applied externally,
diminishing the painful soreness of inflamed parts. It is, for these
reasons, much employed in domestic poultices, and in decoction as
a medicine for pulmonary catarrhs, hoarseness, and irritative
diarrhoea or dysentery. Also the decoction acts well as a bland
soothing collyrium for [324] bathing inflamed eyes. Gerard says:
"The leaves be with good effect mixed with fomentations and
poultices against pains of the sides, of the stone, and of the bladder;
also in a bath they serve to take away any manner of pain."

The mucilaginous matter with which the Marsh Mallow abounds is
the medicinal part of the plant; the roots of the Common Mallow
being useless to yield it for such purposes, whilst those of the Marsh
Mallow are of singular efficacy. A decoction of Marsh Mallow is
made by adding five pints of water to a quarter-of-a-pound of the
dried root, then boiling down to three pints, and straining through
calico. Also Marsh Mallow ointment is a popular remedy, especially
for mollifying heat, and hence it was thought invaluable by those
who had to undergo the ordeal of holding red hot iron in their hands,
to rapidly test their moral integrity. The sap of the Marsh Mallow
was combined together with seeds of Fleabane, and the white of an
hen's egg, to make a paste which was so adhesive that the hands
when coated with it were safe from harm through holding for a few
moments the glowing iron.

French druggists prepare a famous medicinal sweet-meat, known as
_Pate de gimauve_ from the root of the Marsh Mallow. In Palestine,
the plant is employed by the poor to eke out their food; thus we read
in the book of Job (chap. xxx. ver. 4), "Who cut up Mallows by the
bushes, and juniper roots for their meat."

In France, the young tops and tender leaves of the Marsh Mallow
are added to spring salads, as stimulating the kidneys healthily, for
which purpose is likewise prepared a syrup of Marsh Mallows
(_Syrupus Althoeus_) from the roots with cold water, to which the
[325] sugar is afterwards added. The leaves, flowers, and roots, are
employed for making ptisans. In Devonshire, this plant is termed by
the farmers, "Meshmellish," also "Drunkards," because growing
close by the water; and in the West of England, "Bulls-eyes"; whilst
being known in Somerset as "Bull Flowers" (pool flowers). The root
of the Marsh Mallow contains starch, mucilage, pectin, oil, sugar,
asparagin, phosphate of lime, glutinous matter and cellulose. An
infusion made with cold water takes up the mucilage, sugar, and
asparagin, then the hot water dissolves the starch.

The flowers were used formerly on May-day by country people for
strewing before their doors, and weaving into garlands.

The Geranium is said to have been originally a Mallow. Mahomet
having washed his shirt while on a journey, hung it on a Mallow to
dry, and the plant became therefore promoted to be a Geranium.

Most probably, the modern French _Pate de gimauve_ contains
actually nothing of the plant or its constituents; but the root is
given in France to infants, on which they may try their teeth
during dentition, much as Orris root is used elsewhere.

The laxative quality of the common Mallow was mentioned by

    "Exoneraturas ventrem mihi villica malvas
    Attulit, et varias quas habet hortus opes."

The Musk Mallow (_Malva moschata_) is another common variety
of this plant, which emits from its leaves a faint musky odour,
especially in warm weather, or when they are drawn lightly through
the hand. Its virtues are similar in kind, but less powerful in
degree, to those of the Marsh Mallow.


In the _Grete Herball_ this plant was called Mary Gowles. Three
varieties of the Marigold exercise medicinal virtues which constitute
them Herbal Simples of a useful nature--the Corn Marigold
(_Chrysanthemum segetum_), found in our cornfields; the cultivated
garden Marigold (_Calendula officinalis_); and the Marsh
Marigold (_Caltha palustris_), growing in moist grass lands, and
popularly known as "Mareblobs."

The Corn Marigold, a Composite flower, called also Bigold, and the
Yellow Oxeye, grows freely, though locally, in English cornfields,
its brilliant yellow flowers contrasting handsomely with adjacent
Scarlet-hued Poppies and Bluebottles (_Centaurea cyanus_). It is
also named Buddle or Boodle, from _buidel_, a purse, because it
bears _gools_ or _goldins_, representing gold coins, in the form of
the flat, round, brightly yellow blossoms, which were formerly
known, too, as _Ruddes_ (red flowers). The botanical title of the
species, _Chrysanthemum segetum_, signifies "golden flower."

Hill named this Marigold, "the husbandman's dyall." In common
with the larger Oxeye Daisy (_Chrysanthemum leucanthemum_) it
has proved of late very successful in checking the night sweats of
pulmonary consumption. A tincture and an infusion of the herb have
been made; from five to ten drops of the former being given for a
dose, and from two to three tablespoonfuls of the latter.

The garden Marigold, often called African Marigold, came
originally from Southern France, and has been cultivated in England
since 1570. It is a Composite plant, and bears the name _Calendula_
from the Latin _calendoe_, the first days of each month, because it
flowers all the year round. Whittier styles it "the grateful and [327]
obsequious Marigold." The leaves are somewhat thick and sapid;
when chewed, they communicate straightway a viscid sweetness,
which is followed by a sharp, penetrating taste, very persistent in the
mouth, and not of the warm, aromatic kind, but of an acrid, saline
nature. This Marigold has always been grown, chiefly for its
flowers, which were esteemed of old as a cordial to cheer the spirits,
and when dried were put into broths as a condiment: Charles Lamb
(Elia) says, in his _Essay on Christ's Hospital_: "In lieu of our
half-pickled Sundays, or quite fresh boiled beef on Tuesdays (strong as
_caro equina_), with detestable Marigolds floating in the pail to
poison the broth." The strap-like florets of the rays are the parts of
the flowers used for such a purpose. They should be gathered on a
fine day when the blossoms are fully expanded, which having been
divested of their outer green leaves, should be next spread on a cloth
in an airy room to become dry. After having been turned frequently
for a few days, they may be put by in paper bags or in drawers.

Gerard says: "The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept
throughout Dutch-land against winter, to put into broths and
physical potions, and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that
the stores of some grocers or spice-sellers contain barrels filled with
them, and to be retailed by the penny, more or less; insomuch, that
no broths are well made without dried Marigolds"; and, "The herb
drank after the coming forth from the bath of them that hath the
yellow jaundice doth in short time make them well coloured." (This
is probably conjectured on the doctrine of signatures.)

A decoction of the flowers is employed by country people as a
posset drink in measles and small-pox; and the expressed fresh juice
proves a useful remedy against [328] costiveness, as well as for
jaundice and suppression of the monthly flow--from one to two
tablespoonfuls being taken as a dose.

The plant has been considered also of service for scrofulous
children, when given to them as a salad. One of the flowers if
rubbed on any part recently stung by a bee or wasp, will quickly
relieve it.

Buttercups and Marigolds, when growing close to each other, are
called in Devonshire, "publicans and sinners." The active, bitter
principle of the Marigold is "callendulin," which is yellow and
tasteless, whilst swelling in water into a transparent jelly. Druggists
now make a medicinal tincture (H.) of the common Marigold, using
four ounces of the dried florets to a pint of proof spirit, the dose
being from half a teaspoonful to two teaspoonfuls in water, twice or
three times in the day. It is advised as a sudorific stimulant in low
fevers, and to relieve spasms. Also, the Marigold has been
employed both as a medicine and externally in treating cancer,
being thought to "dispose cancerous sores to heal." A saturated
tincture of the flowers when mixed with water, promotes the cure of
contusions, wounds, and simple sores or ulcers; also the extract will
allay chronic vomiting, if given in doses of two grains, several times
a day. One drop of the tincture with two grains of powdered borax
when sprayed into the ear, is very useful if a discharge has become
established therefrom.

The plant, especially its flowers, was used on a large scale by the
American surgeons, to treat wounds and injuries sustained during
the last civil war; and obtained their warmest commendation. It
quite prevented all exhausting suppurative discharges and drainings.
_Succus Calenduloe_ (the fresh juice) is the best form--say
American surgeons--in which the _Calendula_ [329] is obtainable
for ready practice. Just sufficient alcohol should be added to the
juice as will prevent fermentation. For these purposes as a
vulnerary, the _Calendula_ owes its introduction and first use
altogether to homoeopathic methods, as signally valuable for
healing wounds, ulcers, burns, and other breaches of the skin
surface. Dr. Hughes (Brighton) says: "The Marigold is a precious
vulnerary. You will find it invaluable in surgical practice."

On exposure to the sun the yellow colour of the garden Marigold
becomes bleached. Some writers spell the name "Marygold," as if it,
and its synonyms bore reference to the Virgin Mary; but this is a
mistake, though there is a fancied resemblance of the disc's florets
to rays of glory. It comes into blossom about March 25th (the
Annunciation of the Virgin Mary).

    "What flower is this which bears the Virgin's name,
    And richest metal joined with the same?"

In the chancel of Burynarbon Church, Devonshire, is an epitaph
containing a quaint allusion to this old idea respecting the
Marigold:--"To the pretious memory of Mary, ye dear, and only
daughter of George Westwood. January 31st, 1648."

    "This Mary Gold, lo! here doth show
        Mari's worth gold lies here below;
    The Marigold in sunshine spread,
        When cloudie closed doth bow the head."

Margaret of Orleans had for her device a Marigold turning towards
the sun, with the motto, "_je ne veux suivre que lui seul_."

Dairy women used to churn the petals of the Marigold with their
cream for giving to their butter a yellow colour.

The Marsh Marigold (_Caltha poetarum_) or the Marsh [330]
Horsegowl of old writers, grows commonly in our wet meadows,
and resembles a gigantic buttercup, being of the same order of
plants (_Ranunculaceoe_). The term, Marsh Marigold, is a
pleonasm for Marigold, which means of itself the Marsh Gowl or
Marsh Golden Flower, being an abbreviation of the old Saxon
_mear-gealla_. So that the term "Marsh" has become prefixed
unnecessarily. Presently, the name "Marigold," "Marsh Gowl," was
passed on to the _Calendula_ of the corn fields of Southern Europe,
and to the garden Marigold. Furthermore, the botanical title, Caltha,
of the Mare Blob, is got from _calathus_, a small round basket of
twigs or osiers made two thousand years and more ago, which the
concave golden bowl of the Marsh Marigold was thought to
resemble. Persephone was collecting wild flowers in a _Calathus_
when carried off by the admiring Pluto. The earliest use of the floral
name _Caltha_ occurs in Virgil's second Pastoral, "_Mollia luteolâ
pingit vaccinia Calthâ_." The title Mare Blob comes from the
Anglo-Saxon, "_mere_" (a marsh), and "_bleb_" or "_blob_" (a
bladder). These flowers were the _flaventia lumina Calthoe_ of
Columella, described by Shakespeare in the _Winter's Tale_. They
are also known as "Bublicans," "Meadowbrights," "Crazies,"
"Christ's Eyes," "Bull's Eyes," "May Blobs," "Drunkards," "Water
Caltrops," and wild "Batchelor's Buttons." A tincture is made (H.)
from the whole plant when in flower, and may be given with
success for that form of bloodlessness with great impairment of the
whole health, known as pernicious anaemia. In toxic quantities the
marsh Marigold has produced in its provers, a pallid, yellow,
swollen state of the face, constant headache and giddiness, a
thickly-coated tongue, diarrhoea, a small rapid pulse sometimes
intermittent, heaviness of the limbs, and an [331] unhealthy,
eruptive state of the skin; so that the tincture of the plant in small,
well-diluted doses will slowly overcome this totality of symptoms,
and serve to establish a sound state of restored health. Five drops of
the tincture diluted to the third strength should be given three times
a day with water. Dr. Withering tells that on a large quantity of the
flowers being put in the bed-room of a girl subject to fits, the
attacks ceased; and an infusion of the flowers has been since given
with success for similar fits.

The Marsh Marigold has been called _Verrucaria_, because
efficacious in curing warts; also _Solsequia_, or _Solsequium_; and
Sponsa Solis, since the flower opens at the rising, and shuts at the
setting of the sun.


The common Marjoram (_Origanum_) grows frequently as a wild
labiate plant on dry, bushy places, especially in chalky districts
throughout Britain, the whole herb being fragrantly aromatic, and
bearing flowers of a deep red colour. When cultivated in our kitchen
gardens it becomes a favourite pot herb, as "Sweet Marjoram," with
thin compact spikes, and more elliptical leaves than the wild
Marjoram. Its generic title, _Origanum_, means in Greek, the joy of
the mountains (_oros-ganos_) on which it grows.

This plant and the Pennyroyal are often called "Organ." Its dried
leaves are put as a pleasant condiment into soups and stuffings,
being also sometimes substituted for tea. Together with the
flowering tops they contain an essential volatile fragrant oil, which
is carminative, warming, and tonic. An infusion made from the fresh
plant will excellently relieve nervous headaches by virtue of the
camphoraceous principle [332] contained in the oil; and externally
the herb may be applied with benefit in bags as a hot fomentation to
painful swellings and rheumatism, as likewise for colic. "Organy,"
says Gerard, "is very good against the wambling of the stomacke,
and stayeth the desire to vomit, especially at sea. It may be used to
good purpose for such as cannot brooke their meate."

The sweet Marjoram has also been successfully employed externally
for healing scirrhous tumours of the breast. Murray says: "Tumores
mammarum dolentes scirrhosos herba recens, viridis, per tempus
applicata feliciter dissipavit." The essential oil, when long kept,
assumes a solid form, and was at one time much esteemed for being
rubbed into stiff joints. The Greeks and Romans crowned young
couples with Marjoram, which is in some countries the symbol of
honour. Probably the name was originally, "Majoram," in Latin,
_Majorana_. Our forefathers scoured their furniture with its odorous
juice. In the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, Act v, Scene 5, we read:--

    "The several chairs of order look you scour
    With juice of balm, and every precious flower."

MERCURY-DOG'S (_Euphorbiaceoe_).

The _Mercuriallis perennis_ (Dog's Mercury) grows commonly in
our hedges and ditches, occurring in large patches, with egg-shaped
pointed leaves, square stems, and light green flowers, developed in
spikes. The old herbalists called it Smerewort, and gave it for agues,
as well as to cure melancholy humours. It has been eaten in mistake
for Good King Henry, which is sometimes called Mercury Goosefoot;
but it is decidedly poisonous, even when cooked. Some persons
style it "Kentish Balsam."

[333] The name Dog's Mercury or Dog's Cole was given either
because of its supposed worthlessness, or to distinguish it from the
Mercury Goosefoot aforesaid. A medicinal tincture is made (H.)
from the whole plant freshly collected when in flower and fruit,
with spirit of wine; and the dose of this in a diluted form is from
five to ten drops, of the third decimal strength, two or three times a
day, with a spoonful of water. The condition which indicates its
medicinal use, is that of a severe catarrh, with chilliness, a heavy
head, sneezing, a dry mouth, and general aching, lassitude, with
stupor, and heat of face. Its chemical constituents have not been
ascertained. In the Isle of Skye it is used for causing salivation, as
a vegetable mercury; and _per contra_ for curing a sore mouth.

Such virtues as the herb possesses were thought to have been taught
by the god Mercury. The Greeks called it Mercury's Grass (_Ermou
poa_). When boiled and eaten with fried bacon in error for the
English spinach, Good King Henry, it has produced sickness,
drowsiness, and convulsive twitchings. The root affords both a blue
and a crimson colour for dyeing.

MINTS. (Pennyroyal, Peppermint, and Spearmint).

Several kinds of the Mints have been used medicinally from the
earliest times, such as Balm, Basil, Ground Ivy, Horehound,
Marjoram, Pennyroyal, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Savory,
Spearmint, and Thyme, some being esteemed rather as pot herbs,
than as exercising positive medicinal effects. The most useful as
Herbal Simples which have yet to be considered are Pennyroyal,
Peppermint, and Spearmint. The Cat Mint (_Nepeta cataria_) and
Horse Mint are of minor importance.

[334] All the Mints are severally provided with leaves of a familiar
fragrant character, it having been observed that this aromatic
vegetation is a feature of deserts, and of other hot, dry places,
allover the world. Tyndall showed the power exercised by a spray of
perfume when diffused through a room to cool it, or in other words
to exclude the passage of the heat rays; and it has been suggested
that the presence of essential oils in the leaves of these plants
serves to protect them against the intense dry heat of a desert sun
all effectively as if they were partly under shelter. Nevertheless
Mints, with the exception of "Arvensis," are the inhabitants of wet
and marshy wastes.

They have acquired their common name _Mentha_ from Minthes
(according to Ovid) who was changed into a plant of this sort by
Proserpina, the wife of Pluto, in a fit of jealousy. Their flowering
tops are all found to contain a certain portion of camphor. Pliny
said: "As for the garden Mint, the very smell of it alone recovers
and refreshes the spirits, as the taste stirs up the appetite for meat,
which is the reason that it is so general in our acid sauces, wherein
we are accustomed to dip our meat." The Mints for paying tithes,
with respect to which the Pharisees were condemned for their
extravagance by our Saviour, included the Horse Mint (_Sylvestris_),
the round-leaved Mint, the hairy Mint (_Aquatica_), the Corn
Mint (_Arvensis_), the Bergamot Mint, and some others, besides
the "Mint, Rue, and Anise," specially mentioned. "Woe unto
you Pharisees; for ye tithe Mint and Rue, and all manner of herbs.
Ye pay tithe of Mint, and Anise, and Cummin."

The Mint Pennyroyal (_Mentha Pulegium_) gets its name from the
Latin _puleium regium_, because of its royal efficacy in destroying
fleas (_pulices_). The French call [335] this similarly, _Pouliot_. It
grows on moist heaths and pastures, and by the margins of brooks,
being cultivated further in our herb gardens, for kitchen and market
uses. Also, it is produced largely about Mitcham, and is mostly sold
in a dry state. The herb was formerly named Pudding Grass, from its
being used to make the stuffing for meat, in days when this was
termed a pudding. Thus we read in an old play, _The Ordinary_:--

        "Let the corporal
     Come sweating under a breast of mutton stuffed with

The Pennyroyal was named by the Greeks _Bleekon_ and _Gleekon_,
being often used by them as a condiment for seasoning different
viands. Formerly it was known in England as "Lurk in ditch,"
and "Run by the ground," from its creeping nature, arid love
of a damp soil. Its first titles were "Puliall Royall," and "Hop
Marjoram." A chaplet of Pennyroyal was considered admirable for
clearing the brain. Treadwell says, the Pennyroyal was especially
put into hog's puddings, which were made of flour, currants, and
spice, and stuffed into the entrail of a hog.

The oil of Pennyroyal is used commercially in France and Germany.
Its distilled water is carminative and anti-spasmodic; whilst the
whole plant is essentially stimulating. The fresh herb yields about
one per cent. of a volatile oil containing oxygen, but of which the
exact composition has not been ascertained. From two to eight drops
may be given as a dose in suitable cases, but not where feverish or
inflammatory symptoms are present.

If added to an ordinary embrocation the oil of [336] Pennyroyal
increases the reddening and the benumbing (anodyne) effects, acting
in the same way as, menthol (oil of Peppermint) for promptly
dispelling severe neuralgic pain. With respect to the Pennyroyal,
folk speak in Devonshire of "Organs," "Organ Tea," and "Organ
Broth." An essence is made of the oil, mixed and diluted with spirit
of wine. The Pennyroyal has proved useful in whooping cough; but
the chief purpose to which it has long been devoted, is that of
promoting, the monthly flow with women. Haller says he never
knew an infusion of the herb in white wine, with steel, to fail of
success; _Quod me nunquam fefellit_. It is certain that in some parts
of England preparations of Pennyroyal are in considerable demand,
and a great number of women ascribe _emmenagogue_ properties to
it, that is, the power of inducing the periodical monthly flux. Many
married women of intelligence and close observation, assert as a
positive fact, that Pennyroyal will bring on the periodical flow when
suppressed; and yet the eminent jurisprudist, Dr. Taylor, was
explicit in declaring that Pennyroyal has no such properties. He
stated that it has no more effect on the womb than peppermint or
camphor water. So there is difficulty in collecting evidence as
regards the real action of Pennyroyal in such respect. Chemists
supply the medicine in the full belief of this eminent opinion just
quoted: at the same time they know it is not wanted for "catarrh of
the chest," as alleged. The purchaser keeps her secret to herself, and
does not communicate her experience to anyone. Dr. Taylor
evidently supposed Peppermint water and Camphor water to be
almost inert, especially as exercising any toxical effect on the
womb. The medicinal basis of the latter is certainly a powerful
agent, and its stimulating volatile principles [337] are found to exist
in most of the aromatic herbs; in fact, Camphor is a concrete volatile
vegetable oil, and camphoraceous properties signalise all the
essences derived from carminative Herbal Simples.

The Camphor of commerce is secreted by trees of the laurel sort
native to China and Japan, whilst coming also from the West Indies.
Everyone knows by sight and smell the white crystalline granular
semi-translucent gum, strongly odorous, and having a warm
pungent characteristic taste. Branches, leaves, and chips of the trees
are soaked in water until it is saturated with the extract, which is
then turned out into an earthen basin to coagulate. This is
completely soluble in spirit of wine, but scarcely at all in water;
nevertheless, if a lump of the Camphor be kept in a bottle of fresh
water, to be drawn off from time to time as required, it will
constitute Camphor julep. A wineglassful of it serves to relieve
nervous headache and hysterical depression.

The domestic uses of Camphor are multiple, and within moderate
limits perfectly safe; but a measure of caution should be exercised,
as was shown a while ago by the school-boy, whom his mother
furnished affectionately after the holidays with a bottle of
supersaturated pilules to be taken one or two at a time against any
incipient catarrh or cold. The whole bottleful was devoured at once
as a sweetmeat, and the lad's life was rescued with difficulty
because of intense nervous shock occasioned thereby.

An old Latin adage declares that _Camphora per nares emasculat
mares_, "Camphor in excess makes men eunuchs," even when
imbibed only through the air as a continuous practice. And,
therefore, as a "similar" the odorous gum, in small repeated doses, is
an excellent sexual restorative. Likewise, persons who have taken
poisonous, or large [338] probative quantities of Camphor found
themselves quickly affected by exhausting choleraic diarrhoea; and
Hahnemann therefore advised, with much success, to give (in doses
of from one to three or four drops on sugar), repeatedly for cholera,
a tincture of Camphor (Rubini's) made with spirit of wine above
proof. This absorbs as much as is possibly soluble of the drug.

Physiologically Camphor acts by reducing reflex nervous irritability.
Externally its spirit makes an admirable warming liniment,
either by itself, or when conjoined with other rubefacients.
In persons poisoned by the drug, all the superficial blood vessels of
the bodily skin have been found immensely dilated; acting on a
knowledge of which fact anyone wishing to produce copious
general sweating, may do so by sitting over a plate on which
Camphor is heated, whilst a blanket envelops the body loosely, and
is pinned round the neck so that the fumes do not get down the

In medical books of the last century this substance was called
"Camphire." To a certain extent its effluvium is noxious to insects,
and it may therefore be employed for preserving specimens, as well
as for protecting fabrics against moths. But its volatile odours
swiftly evaporate, and become even offensively diffused about the
room. In a moderate measure Camphor is antiseptic, and lessens
urinary irritation. Recently a dose of ninety-six grains, taken
toxically, produced giddiness, then epileptic convulsions, with
dilated pupils, and stertor of breathing.

The Peppermint (_Mentha piperita_), or "Brandy Mint," so called
because having a pungent smell, and taste of a peppery (_piper_)
nature, is a labiate plant, found not uncommonly in moist places
throughout Britain, and occurring of several varieties. Both it and
the Spearmint [390] probably escaped from cultivation at first, and
then became our wild plants. Its leaves and stems exhale a powerful,
refreshing, characteristic aroma, and give a taste which, whilst
delicate at first, is quickly followed by a sense of numbness and
coldness, increased by inspiring strongly. Preparations of
Peppermint, when swallowed, diffuse warmth in the stomach and
mouth, acting as a stimulating carminative, with some amount of
anodyne power to allay the pain of colic, flatulence, spasm, or
indigestion. This is through the powerful volatile oil, of which the
herb yields one per cent.

Its bruised fresh leaves, if applied, will relieve local pains and
headache. A hot infusion, taken as tea, soothes stomach ache, allays
sickness, and stays colicky diarrhoea. This will also subdue
menstrual colic in the female. The essential oil owes its virtues to
the menthol, or mint camphor, which it contains.

The Peppermint is largely grown at Mitcham, and is distilled on the
ground at a low temperature, the water which comes away with the
oil not being re-distilled, but allowed for the most part to run off.

Chinese oil of Peppermint (_Po Ho Yo_) yields menthol in a solid
crystalline form, which, when rubbed over the surface of a painful
neuralgic part, will afford speedy and marked relief, as also for
neuralgic tooth-ache, tic douloureux, and the like grievous troubles.
It is sold in diminutive bottles and cases labelled with Chinese
characters. An ethereal tincture of menthol is made officinally with
one part of menthol to eight parts of pure ether. If some of this is
inhaled by vaporisation from a mouthpiece inhaler, or is sprayed
into the nostrils and hindermost throat, it will relieve acute
affections thereof, and of the nose, by making the blood vessels
contract, and by arresting the flow of mucous discharge, [340]
thus diminishing the congestion, and quieting the pain. This
camphoraceous oil was formerly applied by the Romans to the
temples for the cure of headache. In local rheumatic affections the
skin may be painted beneficially with oil of Peppermint. For internal
use, from one to three drops of the oil may be given as a dose on
sugar, or in a spoonful of milk; but the diluted essence, made from
some of the oil admixed with spirit of wine, is to be preferred. Put
on cotton wool into the hollow of a carious tooth, a drop or two of
the essential oil will often ease the pain speedily. The fresh plant,
bruised, and applied against the pit of the stomach over the navel,
will allay sickness, and is useful to stay the diarrhoeic purging of
young children. From half to one teaspoonful of the spirituous
essence of Peppermint may be given for a dose with two tablespoonfuls
of hot water; or, if Peppermint water be chosen, the dose
of this should be from half to one wineglassful. Distilled
Peppermint water should be preferred to that prepared by adding the
essence to common water. Lozenges made of the oil, or the essence,
are admirable for affording ease in colic, flatulence, and nausea.
They will also prevent or relieve sea-sickness.

When Tom Hood lay a dying he turned his eyes feebly towards the
window on hearing it rattle in the night, whereupon his wife, who
was watching him, said softly. "It's only the wind, dear"; to which
he replied, with a sense of humour indomitable to the last, "Then put
a Peppermint lozenge on the sill."

Two sorts of this herb are cultivated for the market--black and white
Peppermint, the first of which furnishes the most, but not the best
oil. The former has purple stems, and the latter green. As an
antiseptic, and destroyer of disease germs, this oil is signally
efficacious, [341] on which important account it is now used for
inhalation by consumptive patients as a volatile vapour to reach
remote diseased parts of the lung passages, and to heal by
destroying the morbid germs which are keeping up mischief therein.
Towards proving this preservative power exercised by the oil of
Peppermint, pieces of meat, and of fat, wrapped in several layers of
gauze medicated with the oil have been kept for seven months
sweet, and free from putrescent changes. A simple respirator for
inhaling the oil is made from a piece of thin perforated zinc plate
adapted to the shape of the mouth and nostrils like a small open
funnel, within the narrow end of which is fitted a pledget of cotton
wool saturated with twenty drops of the oil, or from twenty to thirty
drops of the spirituous essence. This should be renewed each night
and morning, whilst the apparatus is to be worn nearly all day. At
the same time the oil is agreeable of odour, and is altogether
harmless. It may be serviceably admixed with liniments for use to
rheumatic parts.

"Peppermint," says Dr. Hughes (Brighton), "should be more largely
employed than it is in coughs, especially in a dry cough, however
caused, when it seems to act specifically as a cure, just as arnica
does for injuries, or aconite for febrile inflammation. It will relieve
even the irritative hectic cough of consumptive patients. Eight or ten
drops of the essence should be given for this purpose as a dose with
a tablespoonful of water. In France continuous inhalations of
Peppermint oil combined with creasote and glycerine, have become
used most successfully, even when cavities exist in the lungs, with
copious bacillary expectoration. The cough, the night sweats, and
the heavy phlegm have been arrested, whilst the nutrition and the
weight have steadily increased."

[342] A solution of menthol one grain, spirit of wine fifty drops, and
oil of cloves ten drops, if painted over the seat of pain, will relieve
neuralgia of the face, or sciatica promptly. Unhealthy sores may be
cleansed, and their healing promoted, by being dressed with strips
of soft rag dipped in sweet oil, to each ounce of which one or two
drops of the oil of Peppermint has been added. For diphtheria,
Peppermint oil has been of marked use when applied freely twice or
three times in the day to the ulcerated parts of the throat. This oil,
or the essence, can be used of any strength, in any quantity, without
the least harm to the patient. It checks suppuration when applied to a
sore or wound, whilst exercising an independent antiseptic
influence. "Altogether," says Dr. Braddon, "the oil of Peppermint
forms the best, safest, and most agreeable of known antiseptics."
Pliny tells that the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with the
Peppermint at their feasts, and adorned their _al fresco_ tables with
its sprays. The "chefs" introduced this herb into all their sauces, and
scented their wines with its essence. The Roman housewives made a
paste of the Peppermint with honey, which they esteemed highly,
partaking of it to sweeten their breath, and to conceal their passion
for wine at a time when the law punished with death every woman
convicted of quaffing the ruby seductive liquor. Seneca perished in
a bath scented with woolly mint.

The Spearmint (_Mentha viridis_) is found growing apparently wild
in England, but is probably not an indigenous herb. It occurs in
watery places, and on the banks of rivers, such as the Thames, and
the Exe. If used externally, its strong decoction will heal chaps and
indolent eruptions.

It possesses a warm, aromatic odour and taste, much [343]
resembling those of Peppermint, but not so pungent. Its volatile oil,
and its essence, made with spirit of wine, contain a similar
stimulating principle, but are less intense, and therefore better
adapted for children's maladies.

The Spearmint is called "Mackerel Mint," and in Germany "Lady's
Mint," with a pun on the word munze. Its name, Spear, or Spire,
indicates the spiry form of its floral blossoming. When the leaves of
the herb are macerated in milk, this curdles much less quickly than
it otherwise would; and therefore the essence is to be commended
for use with milk diets by delicate persons, or for young children of
feeble digestive powers, though not when feverishness is present.
"Spearmint," says John Evelyn, "is friendly to the weak stomach,
and powerful against all nervous crudities." "This is the Spearmint
that steadies giddiness," writes Alfred Austin, Poet Laureate.

Our cooks employ it with vinegar for making the mint sauce which
we eat with roast lamb, because of its condimentary virtues as a
spice to the immature meat, whilst the acetic acid of the vinegar
serves to help dissolve the crude albuminous fibre.

The oil is less used than that of Peppermint. From two to five drops
may be given on sugar; or from half to one teaspoonful of the spirit
of Spearmint with two tablespoonfuls of water. Also a distilled
water of Spearmint is made, which will relieve hiccough, and
flatulence, as well as the giddiness of indigestion. The tincture
prepared from the dried herb looks of a bright dark green by day,
but of a deep red colour by night. Martial called the Spearmint
_Rutctatrix mentha_. "_Nec deest ructatrix mentha_."

The Calamint, or Basil Thyme, grows frequently in [344] our
waysides and hedges, a labiate plant, with downy stems and leaves,
whilst bearing light purple flowers. The whole herb has a sweet,
aromatic odour, and makes a pleasant cordial tea. It is named from
the Greek kalos, "excellent," because thought useful against
serpents; "There is made hereof," said Galen, "An antidote
marvellous good for young women that want their courses."

The stem of this pretty slender herb is seldom more than five or six
inches high, and its blossoms are so inconspicuous as to be often
overlooked. The flowers droop gracefully before expansion. In
country places it is often called Mill Mountain, and its infusion is an
old remedy for rheumatism. If bruised, and applied externally, it
reddens the skin, and will sometimes even blister it. In this way it
acts well when judiciously used for lumbago, and rheumatic pains.
The Calamint contains a camphoraceous, volatile, stimulating oil, in
common with the other mints; this is distilled by water, but its
virtues are better extracted by rectified spirit. The lesser Calamint
is a variety of the herb possessing almost superior virtues, with a
stronger odour resembling that of Pennyroyal. "Apple Mint" is the
"_Mentha rotundifolia_."

"Many robust men and women among our peasantry," says Dr.
George Moore, "from notions of their own, use infusions of Balm,
Sage, or even a little Rue, or wild Thyme, as a common drink, with
satisfaction to their stomachs, and advantage to their health, instead
of infusing the Chinese herb." The Calamint is a favourite herb with
such persons. About the Cat mint there is an old saying, "If you set
it the cats will eat it: if you sow it the cats won't know it." This,
the _Nepeta cataria_, or _herbe aux chats_, is as much beloved by cats
as _Valerian_, [345] and the common _Marum_, for which herbs
they have a frenzied passion. They roll themselves over the plants,
which they lick, tear with their teeth, and bathe with their urine. But
the Cat mint is the detestation of rats, insomuch that with its leaves
a small barricade may be constructed which the vermin will never
pass however hungry they may be. It is sometimes called "Nep," as
contracted from _Nepeta_. Hoffman said, "The root of the Cat
mint, if chewed, will make the most gentle person fierce and
quarrelsome"; and there is a legend of a certain hangman who could
never find courage to exercise his gruesome task until he had
masticated some of this aromatic root.


The Mistletoe, which we all associate so happily with the festivities
of Christmas, is an evergreen parasite, growing on the branches of
deciduous trees, and penetrating with simple roots through the bark
into the wood. It belongs to the _Loranthaceoe_, and has the
botanical name of _Viscum_, or "sticky," because of its glutinous
juices. The Mistletoe contains mucilage, sugar, a fixed oil, resin, an
odorous principle, some tannin, and various salts. Its most
interesting constituent is the "viscin," or bird glue, which is mainly
developed by fermentation, and becomes a yellowish, sticky,
resinous mass, such as can be used with success as a bird-lime.

The dried young twigs, and the leaves, are chiefly the medicinal
parts, though young children have been attacked with convulsions
after eating freely of the berries.

The name (in Anglo-Saxon, _Mistiltan_) is derived, says Dr. Prior,
from _mistil_, "different," and _tan_, "a twig," [346] because so
unlike the tree it grows upon; or, perhaps, _mist_ may refer to
excrement, and the adjective, _viscum_, bear some collateral
reference to viscera, "entrails." Probably our _viscum_ plant differs
from that of the Latin writers in their accounts of the Druids, which
would be the _Loranthus_ growing on the _Quercus pubescens_ (an
oak indigenous to the south of France). They knew it by a name
answering to "all-heal." It is of a larger and thicker sort than our
common Mistletoe, which, however, possesses the same virtues in a
lesser degree. The Germans call the plant _Vogellein_, and the
French _Gui_, which is probably Celtic.

The plant is given powdered, or as an infusion, or made into a
tincture (H.) with spirit of wine. From ten to sixty grains of the
powder may be taken for a dose, or a decoction may be made by
boiling two ounces of the bruised plant with half-a-pint of water,
and giving one tablespoonful for a dose several times in the day; or
from five to ten drops of the tincture (which is prepared almost
exclusively by the homoeopathic chemists) are a dose, with one or
two tablespoonfuls of cold water.

Sir John Colebatch published in 1720 a pamphlet, on _The
Treatment of Epilepsy by Mistletoe_, regarding it, and with much
justice, as a specific. He procured the parasite from the lime trees at
Hampton Court. The powdered leaves were ordered to be given (in
black cherry water), as much of these as will lie on a sixpence every

Sir John says, "This beautiful plant must have been designed by the
Almighty for further and more noble purposes than barely to feed
thrushes, or to be hung up superstitiously in houses to drive away
evil spirits." His treatise was entitled, _A Dissertation concerning
the Misseltoe--A most wonderful Specifick Remedy for the Cure of
Convulsive Distempers_. The physiological effect of the [347] plant
is that of lessening, and temporarily benumbing such nervous action
as is reflected to distant organs of the body from some central organ
which is the actual seat of trouble. In this way the spasms of
epilepsy and of other convulsive distempers, are allayed. Large
doses of the plant, or of its berries, would, on the contrary,
aggravate these convulsive disorders.

In a French "_Recueil de Remedes domestiques_," 1682, _Avec
privilege du Roy_, we read, de l'epilepsie: "Il est certain que contre
ce deplorable mal le veritable Guy de Chêne (Mistletoe) est un
remede excellent, curatif, preservatif, et qui soulage beaucoup dans
l'accident. Il le faut secher au four apres qu'on aura tiré le pain: le
mettre en poudre fort subtile; passer cette poudre par un tamis de
foye, et la conserver pour le besoin. Il faut prendre les poids dun ecu
d'or de cette poudre chaque matin dans vin blanc tous les trois
derniers jours de la lune vieille. Il est encore bon que la personne
affligée de ce mal porte toujours un morceau de Guy de Chêne
pendu à son col; mais ce morceau doit etre toujours frais, et sans
avoir ete mis au four." The active part of the plant is its resin
(_viscin_), which is yielded to spirit of wine in making a tincture.
This is prepared (H.) with proof spirit from the leaves and ripe
berries of our Mistletoe in equal quantities, but it is difficult of
manufacture owing to the viscidity of the sap. A special process is
employed of passing the material twice through a sausage machine,
and then mixing the mass with powdered glass before its percolation
with the spirit. A trituration made from the leaves, berries, and
tender twigs, is given for epilepsy, in doses of twenty grains, twice
or three times a day.

Nowadays the berries are taken by country people when finding
themselves troubled with severe stitches, [348] and they obtain
almost instantaneous relief. In accordance with which experience
Johnson says it was creditably reported to him, "That a few of the
berries of the Misseltoe, bruised and strained into oyle and drunken,
hath presently and forthwith rid a grievous and sore stitch." The
tincture, moreover, is put to a modern use as a heart tonic in place of
the foxglove. It lessens reflex irritability, and strengthens the
heart's beat, whilst raising the frequency of a slow pulse. Dr. J.
Wilde has shown that the Mistletoe possesses a high repute in rural
Hampshire for the cure of St. Vitus's dance, and similar spasmodic
nervous complaints. In the United States the leaves have been
successfully employed as an infusion to check female fluxes, and
haemorrhages, also to hasten childbirth by stimulating the womb when
labour is protracted to the exhaustion of the mother. In Scotland
the plant is almost unknown, and is restricted to one locality only.

The Druids regarded the Mistletoe as the soul of their sacred tree--
the oak; and they taught the people to believe that oaks on which it
was seen growing were to be respected, because of the wonderful
cures which the priests were then able to effect with it, particularly
of the falling sickness. The parasite was cut from the tree with a
golden sickle at a high and solemn festival, using much ceremonial
display, it being then credited with a special power of "giving
fertility to all animals." Ovid said, "Ad viscum cantare Druidoe

Shakespeare calls it "The baleful Mistletoe," in allusion to the
Scandinavian legend, that Balder, the god of peace, was slain with
an arrow made of Mistletoe. He was restored to life at the request of
the other gods and goddesses. The mistletoe was afterwards given to
[349] be kept by the goddess of love; and it was ordained in
Olympus that everyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to
show that the branch was the emblem of love, and not of death.

Persons in Sweden afflicted with epilepsy carry with them a
knife having a handle of oak mistletoe, which plant they call
Thunder-besom, connecting it with lightning and fire. The thrush is
the great disseminator of the parasite. He devours the berries
eagerly, and soils, or "missels" his feet with their viscid seeds,
conveying them thus from tree to tree, and getting thence the name
of missel thrush.

In Brittany the plant is named _Herbe de la croix_, and, because the
crucifix was made from its wood when a tree, it is thought to have
become degraded to a parasite.

When Norwood, in Surrey, was really a forest the Mistletoe grew
there on the oak, and, being held as medicinal, it was abstracted for
apothecaries in London. But the men who meddled with it were said
to become lame, or to fall blind with an eye, and a rash fellow who
ventured to cut down the oak itself broke his leg very shortly
afterwards. One teaspoonful of the dried leaves, in powder, from the
appletree Mistletoe, taken in acidulated water twice a day, will cure
chronic giddiness. Sculptured sprays and berries, with leaves of
Mistletoe, fill the spandrils of the tomb of one of the Berkeleys in
Bristol Cathedral--a very rare adornment, because for some
unknown reason the parasite has been always excluded from the
decorations of churches. In some districts it is called Devil's-fuge,
also the Spectre's Wand, from a belief that with due incantations a
branch held in the hand will compel the appearance of a spectre, and
require it to speak.


A somewhat common, and handsomely conspicuous tree in many
parts of England, especially about high lands, is the Rowan, or
Mountain Ash. In May and June it attracts attention by its bright
green feathery foliage set off by cream-coloured bloom, whilst in
September it bears a brilliant fruitage of berries, richly orange in
colour at first, but presently of a clear ripe vermilion. Popularly
this abundant fruit is supposed to be poisonous, but such is far from
being the case. A most excellent and wholesome jelly may be
prepared therefrom, which is slightly tonic by its salutary bitterness,
and is an admirable antiseptic accompaniment to certain roast meats,
such as venison and mutton. To make this jelly, boil the berries in
water (cold at first) in an enamelled preserving pan; when the fruit
has become sufficiently soft, run the contents of the pan through a
flannel bag without pressure; tie the bag between two chairs, with a
basin below, and let the juice strain leisurely through so as to come
out clear. Then to each pint of the juice add a pound of sugar, and
boil this from ten to twenty minutes; pour off into warm dry jars,
and cover them securely when cool. After the juice has dripped off
the fruit a pleasant refreshing drink may be made for children by
pouring a kettleful of boiling water through the flannel bag. Some
persons mix with the fruit an equal quantity of green apples when
making the jelly. Birds, especially field fares, eat the berries with
avidity; and a botanical designation of the tree is _aucuparia_, as
signifying fruit used by the _auceps_, or bird catcher, with which to
bait his snares.

"There is," says an old writer, "in every berry the exhilaration of
wine, and the satisfying of old mead; and whosoever shall eat three
berries of them, if he has [351] completed a hundred years, he will
return to the age of thirty years."

At the same time it must be noted that the _leaves_ of the Mountain
Ash are of a poisonous quality, and contain prussic acid like those
of the laurel. But, as already shown, the berries, when ripe, may be
eaten freely without fear. Chemically they contain tartaric acid when
unripe, and both malic and citric acids when ripe. They also furnish
sorbin, and parasorbic acid. The unripe fruit and the bark are
extremely astringent, being useful in decoction, or infusion, to
check diarrhoea; and externally in poultices or lotions, to constringe
such relaxed parts as the throat, and lower bowel.

The title Rowan tree has affixed itself to the Mountain Ash, as
derived from the Norse, _Runa_ (a charm), because it is supposed to
have the power of averting the evil eye.

    "Rowan tree and red thread
    Hold the witches a' in dread."

"Ruma" was really a magician, or whisperer, from _ru_, to murmur,
and in olden times runes, or mystical secrets, were carved
exclusively on the Mountain Ash tree in Scandinavia and the British

Crosses made of the twigs, and tied with red thread were sewn by
Highlandmen into their clothes. Dame Sludge fastened a piece of
the wood into Flibbertigibbet's collar as a protection against
Wayland Smith's sorceries.--(Kenilworth). Other folk-names of the
tree are Quicken tree, Quick Beam, Wiggen, and Witcher.

The Mountain Ash is botanically a connecting link between the dog
rose of our hedges and the apple tree of our orchards. Its flowers
exactly resemble apple blossoms, and its thickly-clustered red
berries are only small crabs dwarfed by the love of the tree for
mountain [352] heights and bleak windy situations. In the harsh cold
regions of the north it is only a stunted shrub with leaves split up
into many small leaflets, so as to suffer less by any breadth of
resistance to the sharp driving blasts of icy winds.

Confusion has been often made between this tree and the Service
tree (_Sorbus_, or _Pyrus domestica_), which is quite distinct, being
more correctly called Servise tree, from _Cerevisia_, fermented
beer. Formerly this Servise, or Checker-tree, was employed for
making an intoxicating drink. Virgil says:--

        "Et pocula lae
    Fermento atque acidis imitantur vitea _sorbis_."

    "With acid juices from the Service Ash,
    And humming ale, they make their Lemon Squash."

The fruit of the Service tree (or Witten Pear-tree) resembles a small
pear, and is considered in France very useful for dysentery because
of its tannin; but this _Pyrus domestica_ is a rare tree in England.
Sometimes mistaken for it is the wild Service tree (the _Pyrus
torminalis_), much more common in our south country hedges. Its
fruit is threaded on long strings, and carried in procession at village
feasts in Northamptonshire, but is worthless. Evelyn says, "Ale and
beer brewed from the berries, when ripe, of the true Service tree is
an incomparable drink."


The herb Mugwort (_Artemisia vulgaris_), a Composite plant, is
frequent about hedgerows and waste ground throughout Britain; and
it chiefly merits a place among Herbal Simples because of a special
medicinal use in certain female derangements. Its name Mugwort
has [353] been attributed to "moughte," a moth, or maggot, this title
being given to the plant because Dioscorides commended it for
keeping off moths. Its Anglo-Saxon synonym is _Wyrmwyrt_.
Mugwort is named from Artemis the Greek goddess of the moon,
and is also called Maidenwort or Motherwort (womb wort), being
a plant beneficial to the womb.

Macer says, terming it by mistake "Mother of Worts":

    "Herbarum matrem justum puto ponere primo
    Praepue morbis mulieribus illa medetur."

A decoction of the fresh tops acts famously to correct female
irregularities when employed as a bath. _Uterina est, adeoque usus
est creberrimus mulierculis quoe eam adhibent externe, atque
interne ut vix balnea et lotiones parent in quibus artemisia non
contineatur_. Thus writes Ray, quoting from Schroder. Or it may be
that the term Mugwort became popularly applied because this herb
was in demand for helping to preserve ale. The plant was formerly
known as _Cingulum Sancti Johannis_, since a crown made from its
sprays was worn on St. John's Eve, to gain security from evil
possession; also as _Zona divi Johannis_, it being believed that John
the Baptist bore a girdle of it in the wilderness. In Germany and
Holland it has received the name of St. John's Plant, because, if
gathered on St. John's Eve, it is thought protective against diseases
and misfortunes. The Mugwort is also styled "Felon wort," or
"Felon herb." If placed in the shoes, it will prevent weariness. A
dram of the powdered leaves taken four times a day has cured
chronic hysterical fits, which were otherwise intractable.
"Mugwort," says Gerard, "cureth the shakings of the joynts inclining
to the palsie."

The mermaid of the Clyde is said to have exclaimed, [354] when
she beheld the funeral of a young maiden who had died from
consumption and decline:--

    "If they wad drink nettles in March,
    And eat muggins [Mugwort] in May,
    Sae mony braw young maidens
    Wad na' be gang to clay."

Portions of old dead roots are found at the base of the herb, which
go by the name of "coals," and are thought to be preventive of
epilepsy when taken internally, or worn around the neck as an
amulet. Parkinson says: "Mugwort is of wonderful help to women in
risings of the mother, or hysteria." It is also useful against gout by
boiling the tender parts of the roots in weak broth, and taking this
frequently; whilst at the same time the affected limbs should be
bathed and fomented with a hot decoction of the herb. The plant,
without doubt, is decidedly anti-epileptic, its remedial effects being
straightway followed by profuse and fetid perspirations. It is
similarly useful against the convulsions of children in teething. For
preventing disorders, as well as for curing rheumatism, the
Japanese, young and old, rich and poor, indiscriminately, are said to
be singed with a "moxa" made from the Mugwort. Its dried leaves
are rubbed in the hands until the downy part becomes separated, and
can be moulded into little cones. One of these having been placed
over the site of the disease, is ignited and burnt down to the skin
surface, which it blackens and scorches in a dark circular patch.
This process is repeated until a small ulcer is formed when treating
chronic diseases of the joints, which sore is kept open by issue peas
retained within it so that they may constantly exercise a derivative

The flesh of geese is declared to be more savoury when [355]
stuffed with this herb, which contains "absinthin" as its active
principle, and other chemical constituents in common with
Wormwood; but the odour of Mugwort is not fragrant or aromatic,
because it does not possess a volatile essential oil like that of the
_Artemisia absinthium_ (Wormwood).

This Wormwood is also a Composite plant of the same tribe and
character, but with an intensely bitter taste; and hence its name,
_Absinthium_, has been derived from the Greek privative, _a_, and
_psinthos_, "delight," because the flavour is so bitterly distasteful.
It is a bushy plant, which abounds in our rural districts, having silky
stems and leaves, with small heads of dull yellow flowers, the whole
plant being _amara et aromatica_.

The Mugwort, as an allied Wormwood of the same genus, is taller
and more slender than the Absinthium, and is distinguished by being
scentless, its leaves being green above, and white below. The bitter
taste of the true Wormwood is also due to "absinthin," and each
kind contains nitrate of potash, tannin, and resin, with succinic,
malic, and acetic acids.

Old Tusser says:--

    "Where chamber is swept, and wormwood is strown,
    No flea for his life dare abide to be known."

And again:--

    "What savour is better, if physic be true,
    For places infected, than wormwood and rue."

The infusion of Wormwood makes a useful fomentation for inflammatory
pains, and, combined with chamomile flowers and bay leaves,
it formed the anodyne fomentation of the earlier dispensatories.
This infusion, with a few drops of the essential oil of Wormwood,
will serve [356] as an astringent wash to prevent the hair
from falling off when it is weak and thin.

Both Mugwort and Wormwood have been highly esteemed for overcoming
epilepsy in persons of a feeble constitution, and of a sensitive
nervous temperament, especially in young females. Mugwort tea,
and a decoction of Wormwood, may be confidently given for the
purposes just named, also to correct female irregularities.

For promoting the monthly flow, Chinese women make a confection
of the leaves of Mugwort mixed with rice and sugar, which, when
needed to overcome arrested monthly fluxes, or hysteria, they
_instar bellaria ingerunt_, "eat as a sweetmeat."

A drachm of the powdered leaves of the Mugwort, taken four times
a day, has cured chronic hysterical fits otherwise irrepressible. The
true Wormwood (_Artemisia absinthium_) is used for preparing
absinthe, a seductive liqueur, which, when taken to excess, induces
epileptic attacks. Any habitual use of alcohol flavoured with this
herb singularly impairs the mental and physical powers.

"An ointment," says Meyrick, "made of the juice of Mugwort with
hogs' lard, disperses hard knots and kernels about the neck and


The Mulberry tree (_Morus nigra_) has been cultivated in England
since the middle of the sixteenth century, being first planted at Sion
house in 1548. It is now grown commonly in the garden, orchard, or
paddock, where its well-known rich syrupy fruit ripens in
September. This fruit, abounding with a luscious juice of regal hue,
is used in some districts, particularly in Devonshire, for mixing with
cider during [357] fermentation, giving to the beverage a pleasant
taste, and a deep red colour. The juice, made into syrup, is curative
of sore throats, especially of the putrid sort, if it be used in
gargles; also of thrush in the mouth, if applied thereto; and the
ripe fruit is gently laxative.

Horace recommends that Mulberries be gathered before sunset:--

    "AEstatis peraget qui nigris prandia moris
    Finiet ante gravem quae legerit arbore solem."

The generic name, _Morus_, is derived from the Celtic _mor_,
"black." In Germany (at Iserlohn), mothers, in order to deter their
children from eating Mulberries, tell them the devil requires the
juicy berries for the purpose of blacking his boots. This fruit was
fabled to have become changed from white to a deep red through
absorbing the blood of Pyramus and Thisbe, who were slain beneath
its shade.

It is thought by some that "morus" has been derived from the Latin
word _mora_, delay, as shown in a tardy expansion of the buds.
Because cautious not to burst into leaf until the last frost of spring
is over, the Mulberry tree, as the wisest of its fellows, was dedicated
by the ancients to Minerva, and the story of Pyramus and Thisbe
owed its origin to the white and black fruited varieties:--

    "The Mulberry found its former whiteness fled,
    And, ripening, saddened into dusky red."

Shakespeare's famous Mulberry tree, planted in 1609, was of the black
species. It was recklessly cut down at New Place, Stratford-on-Avon,
in 1759. Ten years afterwards, when the freedom of the city
was presented to Garrick, the document was enclosed in a
casket made from the wood of this tree. Likewise a cup was [358]
wrought therefrom, and at the Shakespeare Jubilee, Garrick, holding
the cup aloft, recited the following lines, composed by himself for
the occasion:--

    "Behold this fair goblet: 'twas carved from the tree
    Which, oh, my sweet Shakespeare, was planted by thee!
    As a relic I kiss it, and bow at thy shrine,
    What comes from thy hand must be ever divine."

    "All shall yield to the Mulberry tree;
    Bend to the blest Mulberry:
    Matchless was he who planted thee,
    And thou, like him, immortal shall be."

A slip of it was grown by Garrick in his garden at Hampton Court.
The leaves of the Mulberry tree are known to furnish excellent food
for silk worms.

Botanically, each fruit is a collection of berries on a common pulpy
receptacle, being, like the Strawberry, especially wholesome for
those who are liable to heartburn, because it does not undergo
acetous fermentation in the stomach. In France Mulberries are
served at the beginning of a meal. Among the Romans the fruit was
famous for maladies of the throat and windpipe.

The tree does not bear until it is somewhat advanced in age. It
contains in every part a milky juice, which will coagulate into a sort
of Indian rubber, and this has been thought to give tenacity to the
filament spun by the silkworm.

The juice of Mulberries contains malic and citric acids, with
glucose, pectin, and gum. The bark of the root has been given to
expel tapeworm; and the fruit is remarkable for its large quantity of
sugar, being excelled in this respect only by the fig, the grape, and
the cherry.

We are told in _Ivanhoe_ that the Saxons made a favourite drink,
"Morat," from the juice of Mulberries [359] with honey. During the
thirteenth century these berries were sometimes called "pynes."

In the memorable narrative of the Old Testament, 2 _Samuel_, v.,
24, "When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the
Mulberry trees," the word used (_bekhaim_) has been mistranslated,
really intending the Aspen (_Populus tremula_).


The great Mullein (_Verbascum thapsus_) grows freely in England
on dry banks and waste places, but somewhat sparingly in Scotland.
It belongs to the scrofula-curing order of plants, having a thick
stalk, from eighteen inches to four feet high, with large woolly
mucilaginous leaves, and with a long flower-spike bearing plain
yellow flowers, which are nearly sessile on the stem. The name
"Molayne" is derived from the Latin, _mollis_, soft.

In most parts of Ireland, besides growing wild, it is carefully
cultivated in gardens, because of a steady demand for the plant by
sufferers from pulmonary consumption. Constantly in Irish
newspapers there are advertisements offering it for sale, and it can
be had from all the leading local druggists. The leaves are best when
gathered in the late summer, just before the plant flowers. The old
Irish method of administering Mullein is to put an ounce of the
dried leaves, or a corresponding quantity of the fresh ones, in a pint
of milk, which is boiled for ten minutes, and then strained. This is
afterwards given warm to the patient twice a day, with or without
sugar. The taste of the decoction is bland, mucilaginous, and
cordial. Dr. Quinlan, of Dublin, treated many cases of tubercular
lung disease, even when some were far advanced in pulmonary
consumption, with the Mullein, [360] and with signal success as
regards palliating the cough, staying the expectoration, and
increasing the weight.

Mullein leaves have a weak, sleepy sort of smell, and rather a bitter
taste. In Queen Elizabeth's time they were carried about the person
to prevent the falling sickness; and distilled water from the flowers
was said to be curative of gout.

The leaves and flowers contain mucilage, with a yellowish volatile
oil, a fatty substance, and sugar, together with some colouring
matter. Fish will become stupefied by eating the seeds. Gerard says
"Figs do not putrifie at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein.
If worn under the feet day and night in the manner of a sock they
bring down in young maidens their desired sicknesse."

The plant bears also the name of Hedge Taper, and used to be called
Torch, because the stalks were dipped in suet, and burnt for giving
light at funerals and other gatherings. "It is a plant," says the
_Grete Herball_, "whereof is made a manner of lynke if it be tallowed."

According to Dodoeus the Mullein was called "Candela." _Folia
siquidem habet mollia hirsuta ad lucernarum funiculos apta_. "It
was named of the Latines, _Candela Regia_ and _Candelaria_." The
modern Romans style it the "Plant of the Lord," Other popular
English names of the plant are "Adam's flannel," "Blanket,"
"Shepherd's club," "Aaron's rod," "Cuddie's lungs"; and in
Anglo-Saxon, "Feldwode." Gower says of Medea:--

    "Tho' toke she feldwode, and verveine,
    Of herbes ben nought better tweine."

The name _Verbascum_ is an altered form of the Latin _barbascum_,
from _barba_, "a beard," in allusion to the dense woolly
hairs on both sides of the leaves; and the [361] appellation,
Mullein, is got from the French _molène_, signifying the "scab" in
cattle, and for curing which disease the plant is famous. It has also
been termed Cow's Lung Wort, Hare's Beard, Jupiter's Staff, Ladies'
Foxglove, and Velvet Dock from its large soft leaves. The Mullein
bears the title "Bullock's lung wort," because of its supposed
curative powers in lung diseases of this animal, on the doctrine of
signatures, because its leaf resembles a dewlap; and the term
"Malandre" was formerly applied to the lung maladies of cattle.
Also the "Malanders" meant leprosy, whence it came about that the
epithet "Malandrin" was attached to a brigand, who, like the leper,
was driven from society and forced to lead a lawless life.

An infusion of the flowers was used by the Roman ladies to tinge
their tresses of the golden colour once so much admired in Italy; and
now in Germany, a hair wash made from the Mullein is valued as
highly restorative. A decoction of the root is good for cramps and
against the megrims of bilious subjects, which especially beset them
in the dark winter months. The dried leaves of the Mullein plant, if
smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe, will completely control the
hacking cough of consumption; and they can be employed with
equal benefit, when made into cigarettes, for asthma, and for
spasmodic coughs in general.

By our leading English druggists are now dispensed a _succus
verbasci_ (Mullein juice), of which the dose is from half to one
teaspoonful; a tincture of _Verbascum_ (Mullein), the dose of
which is from half-a-teaspoonful to two teaspoonfuls; and an
infusion of Mullein, in doses of from one to four tablespoonfuls.
Also a tincture (H.) is made from the fresh herb with spirit of wine,
which has been proved beneficial for migraine (sick head-ache) of
long [362] standing, with oppression of the ears. From eight to ten
drops of this tincture are to be given as a dose, with cold water, and
repeated pretty frequently whilst needed.

Mullein oil is a most valuable destroyer of disease germs. If fresh
flowers of the plant be steeped for twenty-one days in olive oil
whilst exposed to the sunlight, this makes an admirable bactericide;
also by simply instilling a few drops two or three times a day into
the ear, all pain therein, or discharges therefrom, and consequent
deafness, will be effectually cured, as well as any itching eczema of
the external ear and its canal. A conserve of the flowers is employed
on the Continent against ringworm. Some of the most brilliant
results have been obtained in suppurative inflammation of the inner
ear by a single application of Mullein oil. In acute or chronic cases
of this otorrhoea, two or three drops of the oil should be made fall
into the ear twice or thrice in the day. And the same oil is an
admirable remedy for children who "wet the bed" at night. Five
drops should be put into a small tumblerful of cold water; and a
teaspoonful of the mixture, first stirred, should be taken four times
in the day.

Flowers of Mullein in olive oil, when kept near the fire for several
days in a corked bottle, form a remedy popular in Germany for
frost-bites, bruises, and piles. Also a poultice made with the leaves
is a good application to these last named troublesome evils. For the
cure of piles, sit for five minutes on a chamber vessel containing
live coals, with crisp dry Mullein leaves over them, and some finely
powdered resin.


Without giving descriptive attention to those Mushrooms (_Agarics_,
_Boleti_, and others) which are edible, and [363] of which
over a hundred may be enumerated, as beyond our purpose when
treating of curative Herbal Simples, notice will be bestowed
here on two productions of the Mushroom nature--the Puff Ball and
the Fly Agaric,--because of their medicinal qualities.

It may be first briefly stated that the _Agaricus campestris_, or field
Mushroom, is the kind most commonly eaten in England, being
highly nitrogenous, and containing much fat. This may be readily
distinguished from any harmful fungus by the pink colour of its
gills, the solidity of its stem, the fragrant anise-like odour which it
possesses, and the separability of its outer skin. Other edible
Mushrooms which grow with us, and are even of a better quality
than the above, are the _Agaricus augustus_ and the _Agaricus
elvensis_, not to mention the _Chanatrelle_, said to be unapproachable
for excellence.

The Greeks were aware of edible fungi, and knew of injurious sorts
which produced a sense of choking, whilst subsequent wasting of
the body occurred. Athenaeus quotes an author who said: "You will
be choked like those who waste after eating mushrooms." The
Romans also esteemed some fungi as of so exquisite a flavour that
these would be stolen sooner than silver or gold by anyone entrusted
with their delivery:--

    "Argentum, atque aurum facile est laenamque togamque.
    Mittere, boletos mittere difficile est."

Mushrooms were styled by Porphry _deorum filii_, and "without
seed, as produced by the midwifery of autumnal thunderstorms, and
portending the mischief which these cause." "They are generally
reported to have something noxious in them, and not without
reason; but they were exalted to the second course of the Caesarean
tables with the noble title 'bromatheon,' [364] a dainty fit for the
gods, to whom they sent the Emperor Claudius, as they have many
since to the other world." "So true it is he who eats Mushrooms
many times, _nil amplius edit_, eats no more of anything."

The poisonous kinds may be commonly recognised by their possessing
permanently white gills which do not touch the stem; and
a thin ring, or frill, is borne by the stem at some distance from
the top, whilst the bottom of the stem is surrounded by a loose
sheath, or volva. If "phalline" is the active poisonous principle, this
is not rendered inert by heat in cooking; but the helvellic acid of
other sorts disappears during the process, and its fungi are thus
made non-poisonous. There is a popular belief that Mushrooms
which grow near iron, copper, or other metals, are deadly; the same
idea obtaining in the custom of putting a coin in the water used for
boiling Mushrooms in order that it may attract and detach any
poison, and so serve to make them wholesome.

In Essex there is an old saying:--

    "When the moon is at the full,
    Mushrooms you may freely pull;
    But when the moon is on the wane,
    Wait till you think to pluck again."

Even the most poisonous species may be eaten with impunity after
repeated maceration in salt and water, or vinegar and water--which
custom is generally adopted in the South of Europe, where the diet
of the poorer classes largely includes the fungi which they gather;
but when so treated the several Mushrooms lose much of their soluble
nutritive qualities as well as their flavour. For the most part,
_Agarics_ with salmon-coloured spores are injurious, likewise fungi
having a rancid or fetid odour, and an acrid, pungent, peppery taste.
Celsus said: "If anyone shall have eaten [365] noxious fungi, let him
take radishes with vinegar and water, or with salt and vinegar."

Wholesome Mushrooms afford nourishment which is a capital
substitute for butchers' meat, and almost equally sustaining. If a
poisonous fungus has been eaten, its ill-effects may nowadays be
promptly met by antidotes injected beneath the skin, and by taking
small doses of strychnia in coffee.

Gerard says: "I give my advice to those that love such strange and
new fangled meats to beware of licking honey among thorns, lest
the sweetness of the one do not countervail the sharpness and
pricking of the other." With regard to Mushrooms generally, Horace

    "Pratensibus optima fungis
    Natura est; aliis male creditur."

    "The meadow Mushrooms are in kind the best;
    'Tis ill to trust in any of the rest."

The St. George's Mushroom, an early one, takes, perhaps, the
highest place as an agaric for the table. Blewits (formerly sold in
Covent Garden market for Catsup), and Blue Caps, each all
autumnal species, are savoury fungi to be fried. They may be served
with bacon on toast.

A very old test as to the safety of Mushrooms is to stew with them
in the saucepan a small carefully-peeled onion. If after boiling for a
few minutes this comes out White, and clean-looking, the
Mushrooms may all be confidently eaten: but if it has turned blue,
or black, there are dangerous ones among them, and all should be

The Puff Ball (_Lycoperdon giganteum bovista_) grows usually on
the borders of fields, in orchards, or meadows, also on dry downs,
and occasionally in gardens. It [366] should be collected as a Simple
in August and September. This Puff Ball is smooth, globose, and
yellowish-white when young, becoming afterwards brown. It
contains, when ripe, a large quantity of extremely fine brown black
powder, which is a capital application for stopping bleeding from
slight wounds and cuts. This also makes a good drying powder for
dusting on weeping eruptive sores between parts which approximate
to one another, as the fingers, toes, and armpits. The powder is very
inflammable, and when propelled in a hollow cone against lighted
spirit of wine on tow at the other end by a sudden jerk, its flash
serves to imitate lightning for stage purposes. It was formerly used
as tinder for lighting fires with the flint and steel.

When the fungus is burnt, its fumes exercise a narcotic property,
and will stupify bees, so that their honey may be removed. It has
been suggested that these fumes may take the place of chloroform
for minor surgical operations. The gas given off during combustion
is carbonic oxide.

Puff Balls vary in size from that of a moderately large turnip to the
bigness of a man's head. Their form is oval, depressed a little at the
top, and the colour is a pure white both without and within. The
surface is smooth at first, but at length cracking, and as the fungus
ripens it becomes discoloured and dry; then the interior is resolved
into a yellow mass of delicate threads, mixed with a powder of
minute spores, about the month of September.

When young and pulpy the Puff Ball is excellent to be eaten, and is
especially esteemed in Italy; but it deteriorates very rapidly after
being gathered, and should not be used at table if it has become
stained with yellow marks. When purely white it may be cut into
thick [367] slices of a quarter-of-an-inch, and fried in fresh butter,
with pepper, salt; and pounded herbs, and each slice should be first
dipped in the yolk of an egg; the Puff Ball will also make an
excellent omelette. Small Puff Balls are common on lawns, heaths,
and pastures. These are harmless, and eatable as long as their flesh
remains quite white. The Society of Amateur Botanists, 1863, had
its origin (as described by the president, Mr. M. C. Cooke), "over a
cup of tea and fried Puff Balls," in Great Turnstile.

Pieces of its dried inner woolly substance, with a profusion of
minute snuff-coloured spores, have been long kept by the wise old
women of villages for use to staunch wounds and incisions; whilst a
ready surgical appliance to a deep cut is to bind a piece of Puff Ball
over it, and leave it until healing has taken place. In Norfolk large
Puff Balls found at the margins of cornfields are known as Bulfers,
or Bulfists, and are regarded with aversion.

In medicine a trituration (H.) is made of this fungus, and its spores,
rubbed up with inert sugar of milk powdered, and it proves an
effective remedy against dull, stupid, sleepy headache, with passive
itchy pimples about the skin. From five to ten grains of the
trituration, diluted to the third decimal strength, should be given
twice a day, with a little water, for two or three weeks.

Sir B. Richardson found that even by smelling at a strong tincture of
the fungus great heaviness of the head was produced; and he has
successfully employed the same tincture for relieving an analogous
condition when coming on of its own accord. But the Puff Ball,
whether in tincture (H.) or in trituration, is chiefly of service for
curing the itchy pimply skin of "tettery" subjects, especially if this
is aggravated by washing. Likewise the remedy is of essential use in
some forms [368] of eczema, especially in what is known as bakers',
or grocers' itch. Five drops of the diluted tincture may be given with
a spoonful of water three times in the day; and the affected parts
should be sponged equally often with a lotion made of one part of
the stronger tincture to four parts of water, or thin strained gruel.
Sometimes when a full meal of the Puff Ball fried in butter, or
stewed in milk, has been taken, undoubted evidences of its narcotic
effects have shown themselves.

Gerard said: "In divers parts of England, where people dwell far
from neighbours, they carry the Puff Balls kindled with fire, which
lasteth long." In Latin they were named _Lupi crepitum_, or Wolfs'
Fists. "The powder of them is fitly applied to merigals, kibed heels,
and such like; the dust or powder thereof is very dangerous for the
eyes, for it bath been observed that divers have been poreblind even
after when some small quantity thereof hath been blown into their
eyes." This fungus has been called Molly Puff, from its resemblance
to a powder puff; also Devil's Snuff Box, Fuss Balls, and Puck Fists
(from _feist, crepitus ani_, and _Puck_, the impish king of the
fairies). In Scotland the Puff Ball is the blind man's e'en, because
it has been believed that its dust will cause blindness; and in
Wales it is the "bag of smoke."

The Fly Agaric, or Bug Agaric (_Agaricus muscarius_) gives the
name of Mushroom to all the tribe of Fungi as used for the
destruction of flies (_mousches_). Albertus Magnus describes it as
_Vocatus fungus muscarum eo quidem lacte pulverisatus interficit
muscas_: and this seems to be the real source of the word, which
has by caprice become transmitted from a poisonous sort to the
wholesome kinds exclusively. The pileus of the Fly Agaric is broad,
convex, and of a rich orange scarlet [369] colour, with a striate
margin and white gills. It gets its name, as also that of Flybane,
from being used in milk to kill flies; and it is called Bug Agaric
from having been formerly employed to smear over bedsteads so as
to destroy bugs. It inhabits dry places, especially birchwoods, and
pinewoods, having a bright red upper surface studded with brown
warts; and when taken as a poisonous agent it causes intoxication,
delirium, and death through narcotism. It is more common in
Scotland than in England. This Mushroom is highly poisonous, and
therefore the remedial preparations are only to be given in a diluted
form. For medicinal purposes a tincture is made (H.) from the fresh
fungus: and a trituration of the dried fungus powdered and mixed
with inert sugar of milk also powdered. These preparations are kept
specially by the homoeopathic chemists: and the use of the Fly
Agaric has been adopted by the school which they represent for
curatively treating an irritable spinal cord, with soreness, twitching
of the limbs, dragging of the legs, unsteadiness of the head,
neuralgic pains in the arms and legs (as if caused by sharp ice),
some giddiness, a coating of yellow fur on the lining mucous
membranes, together with a crawling, or burning, and eruptive skin.
In fact for a lamentably depraved condition of all the bodily health,
such as characterises advanced locomotor ataxy, and allied spinal
degradations leading to general physical failure. Just such a totality
of symptoms has been recorded by provers after taking the fungus
for some length of time in toxical quantities. The tincture should be
used of the third decimal strength, five drops for a dose twice or
three times a day with a spoonful of water; or the trituration of the
third decimal strength, for each dose as much of the powder as will
lie on the flat surface of [370] a sixpence. Chilblains may be
mitigated by taking the tincture of this Agaric, and by applying
some of the stronger tincture on cotton wool over the swollen and
itching parts alt night.

"Muscarin" is the leading active principle of the Fly Agaric, in
conjunction with agaricin, mycose, and mannite. It stimulates, when
swallowed in strong doses, certain nerves which tend to retard the
action of the heart. Both our Fly Agaric and the White Agaric of the
United States serve to relieve the night sweats of advanced
pulmonary consumption, and they have severally proved of supreme
palliative use against the cough, the sleeplessness, and the other
worst symptoms of this, wasting disease, as also for drying up the
milk in weaning. Each of these fungi when taken by mistake will
salivate profusely, and provoke both immoderate, and untimely
laughter. When the action of the heart is laboured and feeble
through lack of nervous power, muscarin, or the tincture of Fly
Agaric, in a much diluted potency will relieve this trouble. The dose
of Muscarin, or Agaricin, is from a sixth to half a grain in a pill.
These medicines increase the secretion of tears, saliva, bile, and
sweating, but they materially lessen the quantity of urine.
Belladonna is found to be the best antidote. From the Oak Agaric,
"touchwood," or "spunk,"--when cut into thin slices and beaten with
a hammer until soft,--is made "Amadou," or German tinder. This is
then soaked in a solution of nitre and dried; it afterwards forms an
excellent elastic astringent application for staying bleedings and for
bed sores. The Larch Agaric is powdered, and given in Germany as
a purgative, its dose being from twenty to sixty grains.

In Belgium the _Polyporus Officinalis_ is used medicinally [371] as
an aperient, and to check profuse sweating. By the Malays the
_Polyporus Sanguineus_ is used outwardly for leprosy.

Truffles (_Tuber cibarium_) may receive a passing notice whilst
treating of fungi, though they are really subterranean tubers of an
edible sort found in the earth, especially beneath beech trees, and
uprooted by dogs trained for the purpose. They somewhat resemble
our English "earth nuts," which swine discover by their scent. The
ancients called the Truffle _lycoperdon_, because supposing it to
spring from the dung of wolves. In Athens the children of Cherips
had the rights of citizenship granted them because their father had
invented a choice ragout concocted of Truffles. But delicate and
weak stomachs find them difficult to digest. Pliny said, "Those
kinds which remain hard after cooking are injurious; whilst others,
naturally harmful if they admit of being cooked thoroughly well,
and if eaten with saltpetre, or, still better, dressed with meat, or
with pear stalks, are safe and innocent."

In Italy these tubers are fried in oil and dusted with pepper. For
epicures they are mixed with the liver of fattened geese in _paté de
foie gras_. Also, greedy swine are taught to discover and root them
out, "being of a chestnut colour and heavy rank hercline smell, and
found not seldom in England." Black Truffles are chiefly used: but
there are also red and white varieties, the best tubers being light of
weight in proportion to their size, with an agreeable odour, and
elastic to the touch.

They are stimulating and heating, insomuch, that for delicate
children who are atrophied, and require a _multum in parvo_ of
fatty and nitrogenous food in a compact but light form, which is
fairly easy of digestion, [372] the _paté de foie gras_ on bread is a
capital prescription. Truffles grow in clusters several inches below
the soil, being found commonly on the downs of Wiltshire,
Hampshire and Kent; also in oak and chestnut forests. Dogs have
been trained to discriminate their scent below the surface of the soil,
and to assist in digging them out. There is a Garlic Truffle of a small
inferior sort which is put into stews; and the best Truffles are
frequently found full of perforations. The presence of the tubers
beneath the ground is denoted by the appearance above of a
beautiful little fly having a violet colour--this insect being never
seen except in the neighbourhood of Truffles. They are subject to
the depredations of certain animalcules, which excavate the tubers
so that they soon become riddled with worms. These, after passing
through a chrysalis state, develop into the violet flies. Gerard called
Truffles "Spanish fussebals." They were not known to English
epicures in Queen Elizabeth's day. Another appellation borne by
them formerly was "Swines' bread," and they were supposed to be
engendered by thunderbolts. In Northern France they were first
popularised four hundred and fifty years ago, by John, Duke of
Berry, a reprobate gambler, third son of John the Good. The
Perigord Truffle has a dark skin, and smells of violets. Piedmontese
truffles suggest garlic: those of Burgundy are a little resinous: the
Neapolitan specimens are redolent of sulphur: and in the Gard
Department (France) they have an odour of musk. The English
truffle is white, and best used in salads. Dr. Warton, Poet Laureate,
1750, said "Happy the grotto'ed hermit with his pulse, who wants no
truffles." A Girton girl under examination described the tuber as a
"sort of sea-anemone on land." When once dug up truffles soon
[373] lose their perfume and aroma, so they are imported bedded in
the very earth which produced them.

The Earth Nut (_Bunium flexuosum_) is also catted Hog Nut, Pig
Nut, Jur Nut, St. Anthony's Nut, Earth Chesnut, and Kipper Nut.
Caliban says, in the Tempest, "I with my long nails-will dig thee Pig
Nuts." They are an excellent diuretic, serving to stimulate the

Pliny talked of fungi in general as a great delicacy to be eaten with
amber knives and a service of silver. But Seneca called them
_voluptuaria venena_. The Russians take some which we think to be
deleterious; but they first soak these in vinegar, which (adds Pliny),
"being contrary to them neutralizes their dangerous qualities; also
they are rendered still more safe if cooked with pear stalks; indeed it
is good to eat pears immediately after all fungi." Almost every
species except the common Mushroom is characterized by the
majority of our countrymen as a toadstool; but this title really
appertains to the large group bearing the subgeneric name of
_Tricholoma_, which probably does not contain a single unwholesome
species. Other rustic names given to this group are "Puckstools"
and "Puckfists." They are further known as "Toad skeps" (toad's cap)
in the Eastern counties.

Puck, the mischievous king of the fairies, has been commonly
identified with _pogge_, the toad, which was believed to sit upon most
of the unwholesome fungi; and the _Champignon_ (or Paddock Stool)
was said to owe its growth to "those wanton elves whose pastime is
to make midnight mushrooms." One of the "toad stoo's" (the
_Clathrus cancellatus_) is said to produce cancerous sores if
handled too freely. It has an abominably disgusting odour, and is
therefore named the "lattice stinkhorn." The toad was popularly
thought to [374] impersonate the devil; and the toad-stool, pixie
stool, or paddock stool was believed to spring from the devil's

The word Mushroom may have been derived from the French _Moucheron_,
or _Mousseron_, because of its growing among moss. The chief
chemical constituents of wholesome Mushrooms are albuminoids,
carbo-hydrates, fat, mineral matters, and water. When salted
they yield what is known as catsup, or ketchup (from the
Japanese _kitchap_). The second most edible fungus of this
nature is the Parasol Mushroom (_Lepcota procera_).

Edible Mushrooms, if kept uncooked, become dangerous: they cannot
be sent to table too soon. In Rome our favourite _Pratiola_ is
held in very small esteem, and the worst wish an Italian can express
against his foe is "that he may die of a _Pratiola_." If this species
were exposed for sale in the Roman markets it would be certainly
condemned by the inspector of fungi.

Fairy rings are produced by the spawn, or mycelium, beginning to
germinate where dropped by a bird or a beast, and exhausting the
soil of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and potash, from the centre
continuously outwards; whilst immediately within the enlarging ring
there is constantly a band of coarse rank grass fed by the manure of
the penultimate dead spawn. The innermost starved ground remains
poor and barren. In this duplicate way the rings grow larger and

Our edible Mushroom is a _Pratella_ of the subgenus _Psalliota_,
and the _Agaricus campestris_ of English botanists. In common
with the esculent Mushrooms of France it contains phosphate of
potassium--a cell salt essentially reparative of exhausted nerve
tissue and energy.

The old practice of testing Mushrooms with a silver [375] spoon,
which is supposed to become tarnished only when the juices are of
an injurious quality (i.e., when sulphur is developed therein under
decomposition) is not to be trusted. In cases of poisoning by
injurious fungi after the most violent symptoms may have been
relieved, and the patient rescued from immediate danger, yet great
emaciation will often follow from the subsequent effects of the
poison: and the skin may exhibit an abundant outbreak of a
vesicular eruption, whilst the health will remain perhaps
permanently injured. Strong alcoholic drinks should never be taken
together with, or immediately after eating Mushrooms, or other
innocent fungi. Experienced fungus eaters (mycophagists) have
found themselves suffering from severe pains, and some swellings
through taking whiskey and water shortly after the meal: whereas
precisely the same fungus, minus the whiskey, could be eaten with
impunity by these identical experimentalists.


The wild Mustard (_Brassica Sinapistrum_), a Cruciferous herb
commonly called Chedlock, from _leac_, a weed, and _kiede_, to
annoy, grows abundantly as a product of waste places, and in newly
disturbed ground.

The Field Mustard (_Arvensis_) is Charlock, or Brassock; its
botanical term, _Sinapis_, being referable to the Celtic _nap_, as a
general name for plants of the rape kind. Mustard was formerly
known as "senvie" in English. It has been long cultivated and
improved, especially in Darham.

Now we have for commercial and officinal purposes two varieties of
the cultivated plant, the black Mustard (_Sinapis nigra_), and the
white Mustard (_Brassica_, or _Sinapis alba_). There is also a plain
plant of the hedges, [376] Hedge Mustard (_Sisymbrium officinale_)
which is a mere rustic Simple. It is the black Mustard which
yields by its seeds the condiment of our tables, and the
pungent yellow flour which we employ for the familiar stimulating
poultice, or sinapism. This black Mustard is a tall smooth plant,
having entire leaves, and smooth seed pods, being now grown for
the market on rich alluvial soil chiefly in Lincolnshire and
Yorkshire. In common with its kindred plants it gets its name from
_mustum_, the "must," or newly fermented grape juice, and
_ardens_, burning, because as a condiment, Mustard flour was
formerly mixed with home-made wine and sugar. The virtues of
black Mustard depend on the acrid volatile oil contained in its seeds.
These when unbruised and macerated in boiling water yield only a
tasteless mucilage which resides in their skin. But when bruised
they develop a very active, pungent, and highly stimulative principle
with a powerful penetrating odour which makes the eyes water.
From thence is perhaps derived the generic name of the herb
_Sinapis_ (_Para tou sinesthai tous hopous_, "because it irritates the
eyes"). This active principle contains sulphur abundantly, as is
proved by the discoloration of a silver spoon when left in the
mustard-pot, the black sulphuret of silver being formed. The
chemical basis of black Mustard is "sinnigrin" and its acid myronic.
The acridity of its oil is modified in the seeds by combination with
another fixed oil of a bland nature which can be readily separated by
pressure, then the cake left after the expression of this fixed oil is
far more pungent than the seeds. The bland oil expressed from the hulls
of the black seeds after the flour has been sifted away, promotes the
growth of the hair, and may be used with benefit externally for
[377] rheumatism. Whitehead's noted Essence of Mustard is made
with spirits of turpentine and rosemary, with which camphor and the
farina of black Mustard seed are mixed. This oil is very little
affected by frost or the atmosphere; and it is therefore specially
prized by clock makers, and for instruments of precision.

A Mustard poultice from the farina of black Mustard made into a
paste with, or without wheaten flour commingled, constitutes one of
the most powerful external stimulating applications we can employ.
It quickly induces a sharp burning pain, and it excites a destructive
outward inflammation which enters much more into the true skin
than that which is caused by an old fashioned blister of Spanish fly.
This has therefore superseded the latter as more promptly and
reliably effective for the speedy relief of all active internal
congestions. If the application of Mustard has caused sores, these
may be best soothed and healed by lime-water liniment.

Mustard flour is an infallible antiseptic and sterilising agent. It is
a capital deodoriser; and if rubbed thoroughly into the bands and nails
will take away all offensive stink when corrupt or dead tissues have
been manipulated.

If a tablespoonful of Mustard flour is added to a pint of tepid water,
and taken at a draught it operates briskly as a stimulating and sure
emetic. Hot water poured on bruised seeds of black Mustard makes
a good stimulating footbath for helping to throw off a cold, or to
dispel a headache; and meantime the volatile oil given out as an
aroma, if not too strong, proves soporific. This oil contains erucic,
and sinapoleic acids. When properly mixed with spirit of wine,
twenty-four drops of the oil to an ounce of spirit, the essential oil
forms, [378] by reason of its stimulating properties and its contained
sulphur, a capital liniment for use in rheumatism, or for determining
blood to the surface from deeper parts. Caution should be used not
to apply a plaster made altogether of Mustard flour to the delicate
skin of young children, or females, because ulcers difficult to heal
may be the result, or even gangrenous destruction of the deeper skin
may follow. The effects of a Mustard bath, at about ninety degrees,
are singular; decided chills are felt at first throughout the whole
body, with some twitchings at times of the limbs; and later on, even
after the skin surface has become generally red, this sense of
coldness persists, until the person leaves the water, when reaction
becomes quickly established, with a glowing heat and redness of the
whole skin.

For obstinate hiccough a teacupful of boiling water should be
poured on a teaspoonful of Mustard flour, and taken when sufficiently
cool, half at first, and the other half in ten minutes if still
needed. For congestive headache a small roll of Mustard paper or
Mustard leaf may be introduced into one or both nostrils, and left
there for a minute or more. It will relieve the headache promptly,
and may perhaps induce some nose bleeding.

Admixture with vinegar checks the development of the pungent
principles of Mustard. This used to be practised for the table in
England, but is now discontinued, though some housewives add a
little salt to their made Mustard.

Claims for the introduction of Mustard at Durham in 1720, have
been raised in favour of a Mrs. Clements, but they cannot be
substantiated. Shakespeare in the _Taming of the Shrew_ makes
Grumio ask Katherine "What say you to a piece of beef and
Mustard?" and speaks, in _Henry IV_., of Poins' wit being "as thick
[379] as Tewkesbury Mustard"; whilst Fuller in his _Worthies of
England_, written only a very few years after Shakespeare's death,
says "the best Mustard in England is made at Tewkesbury in the
county of Gloucester." Coles observes (1657), "in Gloucestershire
about Teuxbury they grind Mustard seed and make it up into balls,
which are brought to London and other remote places as being the
best that the world affords." George the First restored the popularity
of Mustard by his approval of it. Prior to 1720 no such condiment as
Mustard in its present form was used at table in this country. It
is not improbable that the Romans, who were great eaters of
Mustard-seed pounded and steeped in new wine, brought the condiment
with them to our shores, and taught the ancient Britons how to prepare
it. At Dijon in France where the best mixed continental Mustard is
made, the condiment is seasoned with various spices and savouries,
such as Anchovies, Capers, Tarragon, Catsup of Walnuts, or
Mushrooms, and the liquors of other pickles. Philip the Bold
granted armorial ensigns (1382) to Dijon, with the motto _moult me
tarde_ (I wish for ardently). The merchants of Sinapi copied this on
their wares, the middle word of the motto being accidentally
effaced. A well-known couplet of lines supposed to occur in
_Hudibras_ (but not to be found there), has long baffled the research
of quotation hunters:

    "Sympathy without relief
    Is like to Mustard without beef."

Mustard flour moistened with a little water into a paste has the
singular property of dispelling the odours of musk, camphor, and
the fetid gum resins. For deodorising vessels which have contained
the essences of turpentine, creasote, assafetida, or other such drugs,
it [380] will answer to introduce some bruised Mustard-seed, and
then a little water, shaking the vessel well for a minute or more, and
afterwards rinsing it out with plenty of water.

The white Mustard grows when uncultivated on waste ground with
large yellow flowers, and does not yield under any circumstances a
pungent oil like the black Mustard. It is a hirsute plant, with stalked
leaves and hairy seed pods; and when produced in our gardens its
young leaves are eaten as a salad, or as "Mustard, with Cress."

"When in the leaf," says John Evelyn in his _Acetaria_, "Mustard,
especially in young seedling plants, is of incomparable effect to
quicken and revive the spirits, strengthening the memory, expelling
heaviness, preventing the vertiginous palsy, and a laudable cephalic,
besides being an approved antiscorbutic." He tells further that the
Italians, in making Mustard as a condiment, mingle lemon and
orange peel with the (black) seeds. "In the composition of a sallet
the Mustard (a noble ingredient) should be of the best Tewkesbury
or else of the soundest and weightiest Yorkshire seed, tempered a
little by the fire to the consistence of a pap with vinegar, in which
some shavings of the horseradish have been steeped. Then, cutting
an onion, and putting it into a small earthen gally-pot, pour the
Mustard over it and close it very well with a cork. _Note_.--The
seeds should have been pounded in a mortar, or bruised with a
polished cannon bullet in a large wooden bowl dish."

The active principle of white Mustard is "Sinapin," and the seed
germinates so rapidly that it has been said a salad of this may be
grown while the joint of meat is being roasted for dinner. Seeds of
the white Mustard have been employed medicinally from early
times. [381] Hippocrates advised their use both internally, and as a
counter-irritating poultice made with vinegar. When swallowed
whole in teaspoonful doses three or four times a day, they exercise a
laxative effect mechanically, and are voided without undergoing any
perceptible change, only the outer skin being a little softened and
mucilaginous. An infusion of the seed taken medicinally will relieve
chronic bronchitis, and confirmed rheumatism: also for a relaxed
sore throat a gargle of Mustard seed tea will be found of service.

A French expression for trifling one's time away is _s'amuser à la
moutarde_. The essential oil is an admirable deodorant and
disinfectant, especially on an emergency.

But the "grain of Mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds" (_Mark
_iv., 31), "which when it is grown up is the greatest among herbs,"
was a tree of the East, very different from our Mustard, and bearing
branches of real wood.

The Hedge Mustard (_Sisymbrium_, or _Erisymum_) grows by our
roadsides, and on waste grounds, where it seems to possess a
peculiar aptitude for collecting and retaining dust. The pods are
downy, close pressed to the stem, and the leaves hairy with their
points turned backwards. It is named by the French "St. Barbara's
Hedge Mustard," and the Singer's Plant, "_herbe au chantre_," or
"_herbe au chanteur_." Up to the time of Louis XIV, it was
considered an infallible remedy for loss of the voice. Racine writing
to Boileau recommended the syrup of _Erysimum_ to him when
visiting the waters of Bourbonne in order to be cured of
voicelessness. "Si les eaux de Bourbonne ne vous guerissent pas de
votre extinction de voix, le sirop d'Erysimum vous guerirait
infalliblement. Ne l'oubliez pas, et à l'occasion vingt grammes par
litre d'eau en tisane [382] matin et soir." It used to be called Flix,
or Flux weed from being given with benefit in dysentery, a disease
formerly known as the Flix. This herb has been commended for
chronic coughs and hoarseness, using the juice mixed with an equal
quantity of honey, or sugar. It has been designated "the most
excellent of all remedies for diseases of the throat, especially in
ulcerated sore throats, which it will serve to cure when all the advice
of physicians and surgeons has proved ineffectual." A strong
infusion of the herb is excellent in asthmas, and it may be made
with sugar into a syrup which will keep all the year round. The
Hedge Mustard contains chemically a soft resin, and a sulphuretted
volatile oil. This herb with the vervain is supposed to form Count
Mattaei's noted nostrum _Febrifugo_.


No plant is more commonplace and plentiful in our fields and
hedges throughout an English summer than the familiar stinging
Nettle. And yet most persons unknowingly include under this single
appellation several distinct herbs. Actually as Nettles are to be
found: the annual _Urtica dioica_, or true Stinging Nettle; the
perennial _Urtica urens_ (burning); the White Dead Nettle; the
Archangel, or Yellow Weasel Snout, and the Purple Hedge Nettle.
This title "Urtica" comes _ab urendo_, "from burning."

The plant which stings has a round hairy stalk, and carries only a
dull colourless bloom, whereas the others are labiate herbs with
square stems, and conspicuous lipped flowers. As Simples only the
great Stinging Nettle, the lesser Stinging Nettle, and the white Dead
Nettle call for observation. Also another variety of our Stinging
Nettle is the _Urtica pilulifera_, called by [383] corruption the
Roman Nettle, really because found abundantly at Romney in Kent.
But a legend obtains belief with some that Roman soldiers first
brought with them to England the seeds of this plant, and sowed it
about for their personal uses. They heard before coming that the
climate here was so cold that it might not be endured without some
friction to warm the blood, and to stir up the natural heat; and they
therefore bethought them to provide Nettles wherewith to chafe
their limbs when "stiffe and much benummed." Or, again, Lyte says,
"They do call al such strange herbes as be unknown of the common
people Romish, or Romayne herbes, although the same be brought
direct from Sweden or Norweigh." The cure for Nettle stings has
been from early times to rub the part with a dock leaf. The dead
Nettles are so named as having no sting, but possessing nettle-like
leaves. The stinging effect of the true Nettle is caused by an acrid
secretion contained in minute vesicles at the base of each of the stiff
hairs; and _urtication_, or flogging, with Nettles, is an old external
remedy, which was long practised for chronic rheumatism, and loss
of muscular power. _Tacta quod exurat digitos urtica tenentis_.
--Macer. Tea made from the young tops is a Devonshire cure for
Nettle-rash. Gerard says, "the Nettle is a good medicine for them
that cannot breathe unless they hold their necks upright: and being
eaten boiled with periwinkles it makes the body soluble."

The word Nettle is derived from _net_, meaning something spun, or
sewn; and it indicates the thread made from the hairs of the plant,
and formerly used among Scandinavian nations. This was likewise
employed by Scotch weavers in the seventeenth century. Westmacott,
the historian, says, "Scotch cloth is only the [384] housewifery
of the Nettle." And the poet Campbell writes in one of his
letters, "I have slept in Nettle sheets, and dined off a Nettle table
cloth: and I have heard my mother say she thought Nettle cloth
more durable than any other linen." Goldsmith has recorded the
"rubbing of a cock's heart with stinging Nettles to make it hatch
hen's eggs." Some think the word "Nettle" an alteration of the
Anglo-Saxon "Needl," with reference to the needle-like stings. Spun
silk is now made in England from "Ramie" the decorticated fibre of
Nettles after washing away the glutinous juice from under their

The seeds (_dioica_) contain a fine oil, and powerfully stimulate the
sexual functions.

In Russia, as a recent mode of treatment, _urtication_ is now
enthusiastically commended, that is, slapping, or pricking with a
bundle of fresh Nettle twigs for one or more minutes, once, or
several times in the day. It is a superlative method of cure because
harmless (neither irritating the kidneys nor disfiguring the skin),
cleanly, simple in application, rapid in its effects, and cheap, though
perhaps somewhat rude. For sciatica, for incipient wasting, for the
difficult breathing of some heart troubles (where such stimulation
along the backbone affords more prompt and complete relief than
any other treatment), for some coughs palsy, suppression of the
monthly flow in women, rheumatism, and for lack of muscular
energy, this urtication is said to be an invaluable resuscitating
measure which has been successfully resorted to by the peasantry of
Russia from time immemorial. It will sometimes produce a crop of
small harmless blisters.

The analysis of the fresh Nettle shows a presence of formic acid (the
irritating principle of the stinging hairs), with mucilage, salts,
ammonia, carbonic acid, and [385] water. A strong decoction of
Nettles drunk too freely by mistake has produced severe burning
over the whole body, with general redness, and a sense of being
stung. The features became swollen, and minute vesicles appeared
on the skin, which burst, and discharged a limpid fluid. No fever
accompanied the attack, and after five or six days the eruption dried
up. A medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the entire plant with
spirit of wine: and this, as taught by the principle of similars, may
be confidently given in small diluted doses to mitigate such a
totality of symptoms as now described, whether coming on as an
attack of severe Nettle rash, or assuming some more pronounced
eruptive aspect, such as chicken pox. The same tincture also acts
admirably in cases of burns, when the deep skin is not destructively
involved. And again for relieving the itching of the fundament
caused by the presence of threadworms.

"Burns," says Lucomsky, "may be rapidly cured by applying over
them linen cloths well wetted with an alcoholic tincture of the
Stinging Nettle prepared from the fresh plant, this being diluted with
an equal, or a double quantity of cold water. The cloths should be
frequently re-wetted, but without removing them, so as to prevent
pain from exposure." Dr. Burnett has shown conclusively that Nettle
tea, and Nettle tincture (ten drops for a dose in water), are curative
of feverish gout, as well as of intermittent fever and ague. Either
remedy will promote a speedy extrication of gravel through the
kidneys. Again the Nettle was a favourite old English remedy for
consumption, as already mentioned (see _Mugwort_), with reference
to the mermaid of the Clyde, when she beheld with regret the
untimely funeral of a young Glasgow maiden.

[386] Fresh Nettle juice given in doses of from one to two
tablespoonfuls is a most serviceable remedy for all sorts of bleeding,
whether from the nose, the lungs, or some internal organ. Also the
decoction of the leaves and stalks taken in moderate quantities is
capital for many of the minor skin maladies.

An alcoholic extract is made officinally from the entire young plant
gathered in the spring, and some of this if applied on cotton wool
will arrest bleeding from the nose, or after the extraction of a tooth,
when persistent. If a leaf of the plant be put upon the tongue and
pressed against the roof of the mouth, it will stop a bleeding from
the nose. Taken as a fresh young vegetable in the spring, or early
summer, Nettle tops make a very wholesome and succulent dish of
greens, which is slightly laxative; but during Autumn they are
hurtful. In Italy where herb soups are in high favour, "herb knodel"
(or round balls made like a dumpling in size and consistency) of
Nettles are esteemed as nourishing and medicinal. The greater
Nettle (_Urtica dioica_), and the lesser Nettle (_Urtica urens_)
possess stinging properties in common.

A crystalline alkaloid which is fatal to frogs in a dose of one
centigramme, has been isolated from the common Stinging Nettle.
The watery extract has but little effect on mammals: but in the frog
it causes paralysis, beginning in the great nervous centres and
finally stopping the action of the heart. If planted in the
neighbourhood of beehives, the Nettle will serve to drive away

The expressed seeds yield an oil which may be used for burning in
lamps. Nettle leaves, rubbed into wooden vessels, such as tubs, &c.,
will prevent their leaking. The juice of the leaves coagulates, and
fills up the [387] interstices of the wood. When dried the leaves will
often relieve asthma and similar bronchial troubles by inhalation,
although other means have failed. Eight or ten grains should be
burnt, and the fumes inspired at bedtime.

The _Lamium album_ (white dead Nettle), a labiate plant, though
not of the stinging Nettle order, is likewise of special use for
arresting haemorrhage, as in spitting of blood, dysentery, and female
fluxes. Its name _Lamium_ is got from the Greek _laimos_, the
throat, because of the shape of its corollae. If the plant be macerated
in alcohol for a week, then cotton wool dipped in the liquid is as
efficacious for staying bleeding, when applied to the spot, as the
strongly astringent muriate of iron. Also, a tincture of the flowers is
made (H.) for internal use in similar cases. From five to ten drops of
this tincture should be given for a dose with a tablespoonful of cold
water. The Red Nettle, another _Lamium_, is also called Archangel,
because it blossoms on St. Michael's day, May 8th. If made into a
tea and sweetened with honey, it promotes perspiration, and acts on
the kidneys. The white dead Nettle is a degenerate form of this
purple herb as shown by still possessing on its petals the same
brown markings. Nevertheless, having disobeyed the laws of its growth,
it has lost its original colour, and, like the Lady of Shalott, it
is fain to complain "the curse has come upon me." Count Mattaei's
nostrum _Pettorale_ is thought to be got from the _Galeopsis_
(hemp Nettle), another of the labiate herbs, with Nettle-like leaves,
but no stinging hairs, named from _galee_, a cat, or weazel, and
_opsis_, a countenance, because supposed to have a blossom
resembling the face of the animal specified.

[388] NIGHT SHADE, DEADLY (_Belladonna_).

This is a Solanaceous plant found native in Great Britain, and
growing generally on chalky soil under hedges, or about waste
grounds. It bears the botanical name of _Atropa_, being so called
from one of the classic Fates,--she who held the shears to cut the
thread of human life:--

    "Clotho velum retinet, Lachesis net, et atropos occit."

Its second title, _Belladonna_, was bestowed because the Spanish
ladies made use of the plant to dilate the pupils of their brilliant
black eyes. In this way their orbs appeared more attractively
lustrous: and the _donna_ became _bella_ (beautiful). The plant is
distinguished by a large leaf growing beside a small one about its
stems, whilst the solitary flowers, which droop, have a dark full
purple border, being paler downwards, and without scent. The
berries (in size like small cherries) are of a rich purplish black hue,
and possess most dangerously narcotic properties. They are
medicinally useful, but so deadly that only the skilled hands of the
apothecary should attempt to manipulate them; and they should not
be prescribed for a patient except by the competent physician. When
taken by accident their mischievous effects may be prevented by
swallowing as soon as possible a large glass of warm vinegar.

A tincture of allied berries was used of old by ladies of fashion in
the land of the Pharaohs, as discovered among the mummy graves
by Professor Baeyer, of Munich. This had the property of imparting
a verdant sheen to the human iris; and, perhaps by the quaint
colour-effect it produced on the transparent cornea of some wily
Egyptian belle, it gave rise to the saying, "Do you see any
green in the white of my eye?"

[389] At one time _Belladonna_ leaves were held to be curative of
cancer when applied externally as a poultice, either fresh, or dried,
and powdered. It is remarkable that sheep, rabbits, goats, and swine
can eat these leaves with impunity, though (as Boerhaave tells) a
single berry has been known to prove fatal to the human subject;
and a gardener was once hanged for neglecting to remove plants of
the deadly Night Shade from certain grounds which he knew. A
peculiar symptom in those poisoned by _Belladonna_ berries is the
complete loss of voice, together with frequent bending forward of
the trunk, and continual movements of the hands and fingers.
The Scotch under Macbeth sent bread and wine treacherously
impregnated with this poison to the troops of Sweno.

The plant bears other titles, as "Dwale" (death's herb), "Great
Morel," and "Naughty Man's Cherry." The term "Morel" is applied
to the plant as a diminutive of _mora_, a Moor, on account of the
black-skinned berries. The _Belladonna_ grows especially near the
ruins of monasteries, and is so abundant around Furness Abbey that
this locality has been styled the "Vale of Night Shade."

Hahnemann taught that, acting on the law of similars, Belladonna
given in very small doses of its tincture will protect from the
infection of scarlet fever. He confirmed this fact by experiments on
one hundred and sixty children. When taken by provers in actual
toxic doses the tincture, or the fresh juice, has induced sore throat,
feverishness, and a dry, red, hot skin, just as if symptomatic of
scarlet fever. The plant yields atropine and hyoscyamine from all its
parts. As a drug it specially affects the brain and the bladder. The
berries are known in Buckinghamshire as "Devil's cherries."


The spice box is such a constant source of ready domestic comforts
of a medicinal sort in every household that the more important, and
best known of its contents may well receive some consideration
when treating of Herbal Simples; though it will, of course, be
understood these spices are of foreign growth, and not indigenous

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Cloves, claim particular notice in
this respect.

    "Sinament, Ginger, Nutmeg, and Cloves,
    And that gave me my jolly red nose."
        _Beaumont and Fletcher_.

Cinnamon possesses positive medicinal as well as aromatic virtues.
What we employ as this spice consists of the inner bark of shoots
from the stocks of a Ceylon tree, first cultivated here in 1768.

Such bark chemically contains cinnamic acid, tannin, a resin, and
sugar, so that its continued use will induce constipation. The
aromatic and stimulating effects of Cinnamon have been long
known. It was freely given in England during the epidemic scourges
of the early and middle centuries, nearly every monastery keeping a
store of the cordial for ready use. The monks administered it in
fever, dysentery, and contagious diseases. And recent discovery in
the laboratory of M. Pasteur, the noted French bacteriologist, has
shown that Cinnamon possesses the power of absolutely destroying
all disease germs. Our ancestors, it would appear, had hit upon a
valuable preservative against microbes, when they infused
Cinnamon with other spices in their mulled drinks. Mr. Chamberland
says, "no disease germ can long resist the antiseptic powder
of essence of Cinnamon, [391] which is as effective to destroy
microbes as corrosive sublimate."

By its warming astringency, it exercises cordial properties which are
most useful in arresting passive diarrhoea, and in relieving flatulent

Its volatile oil is procured from the bark, and likewise a tincture,
as well as an aromatic water of Cinnamon. For a sick qualmish
stomach either preparation is an excellent remedy, as the virtue of
the bark rests in this essential volatile oil. When obtained from the
_fruit_ it is extremely fragrant, of thick consistence, and sometimes
made into candles at Ceylon, for the sole use of the king. The doses
are of the powdered bark from ten to twenty grains; of the oil from
one to five drops; of the tincture from half to one teaspoonful, and
of the distilled water from one to two tablespoonfuls. Our Queen is
known to be partial to the use of Cinnamon. Keats, the poet, wrote
of "lucent syrups tinct. with Cinnamon." And Saint Francis of Sales
says in his _Devout Life_: "With respect to the labour of teaching, it
refreshes and revives the heart by the sweetness it brings to those
who are engaged in it, as the Cinnamon does in _Arabia Felix_ to
them who are laden with it." In toxic quantities of an injurious
amount, Cinnamon bark has produced haemorrhage from the bowels,
and nose bleeding. Therefore small doses of the diluted tincture
are well calculated to obviate these symptoms when presenting
themselves through illness.

The bark was formerly thought to stimulate the functions of the
womb, and of late it has come again into medical use for this
purpose. To check fluxes from that organ a teaspoonful of the
bruised bark should be infused in half a pint of boiling water, and a
tablespoonful given frequently when cool. Lozenges made [392]
with the essential oil are also medicinally available for the speedy
relief of sickness, and as highly useful against influenza. It is well
known that persons who live in Cinnamon districts have an
immunity from malaria.

Ginger (_Zingiberis radix_) is the root-stock of a plant grown in the
East and West Indies, and is scraped before importation. Its odour is
due to an essential oil, and its pungent hot taste to a resin. It was
known in Queen Elizabeth's reign, having been introduced by the
Dutch about 1566. "Grene Gynger of almondes" is mentioned in the
Paston Letters, 1444. "When condited," says Gerard, "it provoketh

This Green Ginger, which consists of the young shoots of the
rhizome, when boiled in syrup makes an excellent preserve.
Officinally from the dried and scraped _rhizome_ are prepared a
tincture, and a syrup. If a piece of the root is chewed it causes a
considerable flow of saliva, and an application of powdered Ginger,
made with water into paste, against the skin will produce intense
tingling and heat. To which end it may be spread on paper and
applied to the forehead as a means for relieving a headache from
passive fulness. In India, Europeans who suffer from languid
indigestion drink an infusion of Ginger as a substitute for tea. For
gouty dyspepsia the root may be powdered in a mortar: and a
heaped teaspoonful of it should be then infused in boiling milk; to
be taken when sufficiently cool, for supper or at breakfast.

The dose of the powder is from ten to twenty grains; of the tincture
from a third of a teaspoonful to a teaspoonful, in water hot or cold;
of the syrup from one to two teaspoonfuls in water. Either
preparation is of service to correct diarrhoea, and to relieve weakly
chronic bronchitis. Also as admirably corrective of [393] chronic
constipation through general intestinal sluggishness, a vespertine
slice of good, old-fashioned Gingerbread made with brown treacle
and grated ginger may be eaten with zest, and reliance. There is a
street in Hull called "The land of Ginger."

The habitat of the tree from which our Nutmeg comes is the
Molucca Islands, and the part of the nut which constitutes the Spice
is the kernel. This is called generically _Nux moschata_, or Mugget
(French _Musqué_) a diminutive of musk, from its aromatic odour,
and properties. The Nutmeg is oval, or nearly round, of a brown
wrinkled aspect, with an aromatic smell, and a bitter fragrant taste.
Officinally the tree is named _Myristica officinalis_, and the oil
distilled from the Nutmeg in Britain is much superior to foreign oil.

Ordinarily as a condiment of a warming character the Nutmeg is
employed to correct cold indigestible food, or as a cordial addition
to negus: and medicinally for languid digestion, with giddiness and
flatulence, causing oppressed breathing. Its activity depends on the
volatile oil, contained in the proportion of six per cent. in the nut.
This when given at all largely is essentially narcotic. Four Nutmegs
have been known to completely paralyse all nervous sensibility, and
have produced a sort of wakeful unconsciousness for three entire
days, with loss of memory afterwards, and with more or less
paralysis until after eight days.

The Banda, or Nutmeg Islands in the Indian Ocean, are twelve in
number, and the strength of the Nutmeg in its season is said to
overcome birds of Paradise so that they fall helplessly intoxicated.

When taken to any excess, whether as a spice, or as a medicine, the
Nutmeg and its preparations are apt to cause giddiness, oppression
of the chest, stupor, and [394] delirium. A moderate dose of the
powdered Nutmeg is from five to twenty grains, but persons with a
tendency to apoplexy should abstain from any free use of this spice.
From two to six drops of the essential oil may be taken on sugar to
relieve flatulent oppression and dyspepsia, or from half to one
teaspoonful of the spirit of Nutmeg made by mixing one part of the
oil with forty parts of spirit of wine; this dose being had with one
or two tablespoonfuls of hot water, sweetened if desired.

A medicinal tincture is prepared (H.) from the kernel with spirit of
wine (not using the oil, nor the essence). This in small diluted doses
is highly useful for drowsiness connected with flatulent indigestion,
and a disposition to faintness: also for gout retrocedent to the
stomach. The dose is from five to ten drops with a spoonful of water
every half hour, or every hour until the symptoms are adequately
relieved. Against diarrhoea Nutmeg grated into warm water is very
helpful, and will prove an efficient substitute for opium in mild
cases. Externally the spirit of Nutmeg is a capital application to be
rubbed in for chronic rheumatism, and for paralysed limbs. The
"butter of Nutmegs," or their concrete oil, is used in making plasters
of a warming, and stimulating kind. A drink that was concocted by
our grandmothers was Nutmeg tea. One Nutmeg would make a pint
of this tea, two or three cupfuls of which would produce a sleep of
many hours' duration. The worthy old ladies were wont to carry a
silver grater and Nutmeg case suspended from the waist on their
chatelaines. But in any large quantity the Nutmeg may produce
sleep of such a profundity as to prove really dangerous. Two
drachms of the powder have brought on a comatose sleep with some

[395] The Nutmeg contains starch, protein, and other simple
constituents, in addition to its stimulating principles. Mace is the
aromatic envelope of the Nutmeg, and possesses the same qualities
in a minor degree. Its infusion is a good warming medicine against
chronic cough, and moist bronchial asthma in an old person. Mace
is a membranaceous structure enveloping the Nutmeg, having a
fleshy texture, and being of a light yellowish-brown colour. It
supplies an allied essential volatile principle, which is fragrant and
cordial. If given three or four times during the twenty-four hours, in
a dose of from eight to twelve grains, crushed, or powdered Mace
will prove serviceable against long-continued looseness of the
bowels; but this dose should not be exceeded for fear of inducing

Cloves (from _clavus_, a nail), also found in the kitchen spice box,
and owning certain medicinal resources of a cordial sort, which are
quickly available, belong to the Myrtle family of plants, and are the
unexpanded flower buds of an aromatic tree (_Caryophyllus_),
cultivated at Penang and elsewhere. They contain a volatile oil
which, like that of Chamomile, although cordial, lowers nervous
sensibility, or irritability: also tannin, a gum resin, and woody
fibre. This volatile oil consists principally of "eugenin" with a
camphor, "caryophyllin." The "eugenic acid," with a strong odour of
cloves, is powerfully antiseptic and anti-putrescent. It reduces the
sensibility of the skin: and therefore the oil with lanolin is a
useful application for eczema.

Dr Burnett has lately taught (1895) that a too free use of Cloves will
bring on albuminuria; and that when this disease has supervened
from other causes, the dilute tincture of Cloves, third decimal
strength, will frequently do much to lessen the quantity of albumen
[396] excreted by the kidneys. From five to ten drops of this tincture
should be given with water three times a day.

Used in small quantities as a spice the Clove stimulates digestion,
but when taken more freely it deadens the susceptibility of the
stomach, lessens the appetite, and induces constipation. An infusion
of Cloves, made with half an ounce to a pint of water, and drank in
doses of a small wineglassful, will relieve the nausea and coldness
of flatulent indigestion. The oil put on cotton wool into the hollow
of a decayed tooth is a useful means for giving ease to toothache.
The dose of the oil is from one to five drops, on sugar, or in a
spoonful of milk. The odour of Cloves is aromatic, and the taste
pleasantly hot, but acrid. Half a tumbler of quite hot water poured
over half a dozen Cloves (which are to brew for a few minutes on
the hob, and then to be taken out), will often secure a good night to
a restless dyspeptic patient, if taken just before getting into bed. Or
if given cold before breakfast this dose will obviate constipation. In
Holland the oil of Cloves is prescribed with cinchona bark for ague.
Arthur Cecil's German medico in the Play advises his patient to "rub
your pelly mit a Clove."

All-Spice (_Pimento_) is another common occupant of the domestic
spice box. It is popular as a warming cordial, of a sweet odour, and
a grateful aromatic taste; but being a native of South America,
grows with us only as a stove plant. The leaves and bark are full of
inflammable particles, whilst walks between Pimento trees are
odorous with a delicious scent. The name All-Spice is given because
the berries afford in smell and taste a combination of Cloves,
Juniper berries, Cinnamon and Pepper. The special qualities of the
Pimento reside in the rind of these berries; and this tree is the
_Bromelia ananas_, [397] named in Brazil Nana. An extract made
from the crushed berries by boiling them down to a thick liquor, is,
when spread on linen, a capital stimulating plaster for neuralgic or
rheumatic parts. About the physician in "les Francais" it was said
admiringly "c'est lui qui a inventé la salade d'Ananas." The essential
oil, as well as the spirit and the distilled water of Pimento, are
useful against flatulent indigestion and for hysterical paroxysms. This
Spice was formerly added to our syrup of buckthorn to prevent it
from griping. The berries are put into curry powder, and added to
mulled wines.


The Oat is a native of Britain in its wild and uncultivated form, and
is distinguished by the spikelets of its ears hanging on slender
pedicels. This is the _Avena fatua_, found in our cornfields, but not
indigenous in Scotland. When cultivated it is named _Avena
sativa_. As it needs less sunshine and solar warmth to ripen the
grain than wheat, it furnishes the principal grain food of cold
Northern Europe. With the addition of some fat this grain is capable
of supporting life for an indefinite period. Physicians formerly
recommended highly a diet-drink made from Oats, about which
Hoffman wrote a treatise at the end of the seventeenth century; and
Johannis de St. Catherine, who introduced the drink, lived by its use
to a hundred years free from any disease. Nevertheless the Oat did
not enjoy a good reputation among the old Romans; and Pliny said
"Primum omnis frumenti vitium avena est."

American doctors have taken of late to extol the Oat (_Avena
sativa_) when made into a strong medicinal tincture with spirit of
wine, as a remarkable nervine stimulant and restorative: this being
"especially valuable in [398] all cases where there is a deficiency of
nervous power, for instance, among over-worked lawyers, public
speakers, and writers."

The tincture is ordered to be given in a dose of from ten to twenty
drops, once or twice during the day, in hot water to act speedily; and
a somewhat increased dose in cold water at bedtime so as to produce
its beneficial effects more slowly then. It proves an admirable
remedy for sleeplessness from nervous exhaustion, and as prepared
in New York may be procured from any good druggist in England.
Oatmeal contains two per cent. of protein compounds, the largest
portion of which is avenin. A yeast poultice made by stirring
Oatmeal into the grounds of strong beer is a capital cleansing and
healing application to languid sloughing sores.

Oatmeal supplies very little saccharine matter ready formed. It
cannot be made into light bread, and is therefore prepared when
baked in cakes; or, its more popular form for eating is that of
porridge, where the ground meal becomes thoroughly soft by
boiling, and is improved in taste by the addition of milk and salt.
"The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia's food," said Burns, with
fervid eloquence. Scotch people actually revel in their parritch and
bannocks. "We defy your wheaten bread," says one of their
favourite writers, "your home-made bread, your bakers' bread, your
baps, rolls, scones, muffins, crumpets, and cookies, your bath buns,
and your sally luns, your tea cakes, and slim cakes, your saffron
cakes, and girdle cakes, your shortbread, and singing hinnies: we
swear by the Oat cake, and the parritch, the bannock, and the brose."
Scotch beef brose is made by boiling Oatmeal in meat liquor, and
kail brose by cooking Oatmeal in cabbage-water. [399] Crushed
Oatmeal, from which the husk has been removed, is known as
"groats," and is employed for making gruel. At the latter end of the
seventeenth century this was a drink asked-for eagerly by the public
at London taverns. "Grantham gruel," says quaint old Fuller, in his
_History of the Worthies of England_, "consists of nine grits and a
gallon of water." When "thus made, it is wash rather, which one will
have little heart to eat, and yet as little heart by eating." But the
better gruel concocted elsewhere was "a wholesome Spoon meat,
though homely; physic for the sick, and food for persons in health;
grits the form thereof: and giving the being thereunto." In the border
forays of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries all the provision
carried by the Scotch was simply a bag of Oatmeal. But as a food it
is apt to undergo some fermentation in the stomach, and to provoke
sour eructations. Furthermore, it is somewhat laxative, because
containing a certain proportion of bran which mechanically
stimulates the intestinal membranes: and this insoluble bran is rather
apt to accumulate. Oatmeal gruel may be made by boiling from one
to two ounces of the meal with three pints of water down to two
pints, then straining the decoction, and pouring off the supernatant
liquid when cool. Its flavour may be improved by adding raisins
towards the end of boiling, or by means of sugar and nutmeg.
Because animals of speed use up, by the lungs, much heat-forming
material, Oats (which abound in carbonaceous constituents) are
specially suitable as food for the horse.

ONION (_see_ Garlic, _page 209_).


Though not of native British growth, except by way of a luxury in
the gardens of the wealthy, yet the Orange [400] is of such common
use amongst all classes of our people as a dietetic fruit, when of the
sweet China sort, and for tonic medicinal purposes when of the
bitter Seville kind, that some consideration may be fairly accorded
to it as a Curative Simple in these pages.

The _Citrus aurantium_, or popular Orange, came originally from
India, and got its distinctive title of _Aurantium_, either (_ab aureo
colore corticis_) from the golden colour of its peel, or (_ab oppido
Achoeioe Arantium_) from Arantium, a town of Achaia. It now
comes to us chiefly from Portugal and Spain. This fruit is essentially
a product of cultivation extending over many years. It began in
Hindustan as a small bitter berry with seeds; then about the eighth
century it was imported into Persia, though held somewhat
accursed. During the tenth century it bore the name "Bigarade," and
became better known. But not until the sixteenth century was it
freely grown by the Spaniards, and brought into Mexico. Even at
that time the legend still prevailed that whoever partook of the
luscious juice was compelled to embrace the faith of the prophet.
Spenser and Milton tell of the orange as the veritable golden apple
presented by Jupiter to Juno on the day of their nuptials: and hence
perhaps arose its more modern association with marriage rites.

Of the varieties the China Orange is the most juicy, being now
grown in the South of Europe; whilst the St. Michael Orange (a
descendant of the China sort, first produced in Syria), is now got
abundantly from the Azores, whence it derives its name.

John Evelyn says the first China Orange which appeared in Europe,
was sent as a present to the old Condé Mellor; then Prime Minister
to the King of Portugal, when only one plant escaped sound and useful
[401] of the whole case which reached Lisbon, and this became the
parent of all the Orange trees cultivated by our gardeners, though
not without greatly degenerating.

The Seville Orange is that which contains the medicinal properties,
more especially in its leaves, flowers, and fruit, though the China
sort possesses the same virtues in a minor degree. The leaves and
the flowers have been esteemed as beneficial against epilepsy, and
other convulsive disorders; and a tea is infused from the former
for hysterical sufferers.

Two delicious perfumes are distilled from the flowers--oil of neroli,
and napha water,--of which the chemical hydro-carbon "hesperidin," is
mainly the active principle. This is secreted also as an aromatic
attribute of the leaves through their minute glands, causing them to
emit a fragrant odour when bruised. A scented water is largely prepared
in France from the flowers, _l'eau de fleur d'oranger_, which is
frequently taken by ladies as a gentle sedative at night, when
sufficiently diluted with sugared water. Thousands of gallons are
drunk in this way every year. As a pleasant and safely effective help
towards wooing sleep, from one to two teaspoonfuls of the French
_Eau de fleur d'oranger_, if taken at bedtime in a teacupful of hot
water, are to be highly commended for a nervous, or excitably
wakeful person.

Orange buds are picked green from the trees in the gardens of
the Riviera, and when dried they retain the sweet smell of
the flowers. A teaspoonful of these buds is ordered to be infused
in a teacupful of quite hot water, and the liquid to be drunk shortly,
before going to bed. The effect is to induce a refreshing sleep,
without any subsequent headache or nausea. The dried berries may
be had from an English druggist.

[402] A peeled Orange contains, some citric acid, with citrate of
potash; also albumen, cellulose, water, and about eight per cent. of
sugar. The white lining pith of the peel possesses likewise the
crystalline principle "hesperidin." Dr. Cullen showed that the acid
juice of oranges, by uniting with the bile, diminishes the bitterness
of that secretion; and hence it is that this fruit is of particular
service in illnesses which arise from a redundancy of bile, chiefly in
dark persons of a fibrous, or bilious temperament. But if the acids of
the Orange are greater in quantity than can be properly corrected by
the bile (as in persons with a small liver, and feeble digestive
powers), they seem, by some prejudicial union with that liquid, to
acquire a purgative quality, and to provoke diarrhoea, with colicky

The rind or peel of the Seville Orange is darker in colour, and more
bitter of taste than that of the sweet China fruit. It affords a
considerable quantity of fragrant, aromatic oil, which partakes of the
characters exercised by the leaves and the flowers as affecting the
nervous system. Pereira records the death of a child which resulted
from eating the rind of a sweet China Orange.

The small green fruits (windfalls) from the Orange trees of each
sort, which become blown off, or shaken down during the heats of
the summer, are collected and dried, forming the "orange berries" of
the shops. They are used for flavouring curacoa, and for making
issue peas. These berries furnish a fragrant oil, the _essence de petit
grain_, and contain citrates, and malates of lime and potash, with
"hesperidin," sulphur, and mineral salts. The Orange flowers yield a
volatile, odorous oil, acetic acid, and acetate of lime. The juice of
the Orange consists of citric and malic acids, with sugar; [403]
citrate of lime, and water. The peel furnishes hesperidin, a volatile
oil, gallic acid, and a bitter principle.

By druggists, a confection of bitter orange peel is sold; also a syrup
of this orange peel, and a tincture of the same, made with spirit of
wine, to be given in doses of from one to two teaspoonfuls with
water, as an agreeable stomachic bitter. _Eau de Cologne_ contains
oil of neroli, oil of citron, and oil of orange.

The fresh juice of Oranges is antiseptic, and will prevent scurvy if
taken in moderation daily. Common Oranges cut through the middle
while green, and dried in the air, being afterwards steeped for forty
days in oil, are used by the Arabs for preparing an essence famous
among their old women because it will restore a fresh dark, or
black colour to grey hair. The custom of a bride wearing Orange
blossoms, is probably due to the fact that flowers and fruit appear
together on the tree, in token of a wish that the bride may retain the
graces of maidenhood amid the cares of married life. This custom
has been derived from the Saracens, and was originally suggested
also by the fertility of the Orange tree.

The rind of the Seville Orange has proved curative of ague, and
powerfully remedial to restrain the monthly flux of women when in
excess. Its infusion is of service also against flatulency. A drachm
of the powdered leaves may be given for a dose in nervous and
hysterical ailments. Finally, "the Orange," adds John Evelyn,
"sharpens appetite, exceedingly refreshes, and resists putrefaction."

With respect to the fruit, it is said that workpeople engaged in the
orange trade enjoy a special immunity from influenza, whilst a free
partaking of the juice given largely, has been found preventive of
[404]  pneumonia as complicating this epidemic. The benefit is said
to occur through lessening the fibrin of the blood.

In the time of Shakespeare, it was the fashion to carry "pomanders,"
these being oranges from which all the pulp had been scooped out,
whilst a circular hole was made at the top. Then after the peel had
become dry, the fruit was filled with spices, so as to make a sort of
scent-box. Orange lilies, Orangemen, and William of Orange, are all
more or less associated with this fruit. The Dutch Government had
no love for the House of Orange: and many a grave burgomaster
went so far as to banish from his garden the Orange lily, and
Marigold; also the sale of Oranges and Carrots was prohibited in the
markets on account of their aristocratic colour.

There exists at Brighton a curious custom of bowling or throwing
Oranges along the high road on Boxing day. He whose Orange is hit
by that of another, forfeits the fruit to the successful hitter.

In Henry the Eighth's reign Oranges were made into pies, or the
juice was squeezed out, and mixed with wine. This fruit when
peeled, and torn into sections, after removing the white pith, and the
pips, and sprinkling over it two or three spoonfuls of powdered loaf
sugar, makes a most wholesome salad. A few candied orange-flower
petals will impart a fine flavour to tea when infused with it.


Our common English Orchids are the "Early Purple," which is
abundant in our woods and pastures; the "Meadow Orchis"; and the
"Spotted Orchis" of our heaths and commons. Less frequent are the
"Bee Orchis," the "Butterfly Orchis," "Lady's Tresses," and the
"Tway blade."

[405] Two roundish tubers form the root of an Orchid, and give its
name to the plant from the Greek _orchis_, testicle. A nutritive
starchy product named Salep, or Saloop, is prepared from the roots
of the common Male Orchis, and its infusion or decoction was taken
generally in this country as a beverage before the introduction of tea
and coffee. Sassafras chips were sometimes added for giving the
drink a flavour. Salep obtained from the tubers of foreign Orchids
was specially esteemed; and even now that sold in Indian bazaars is
so highly valued for its fine qualities that most extravagant prices
are paid for it by wealthy Orientals. Also in Persia and Turkey it is
in great repute for recruiting the exhausted vitality of aged, and
enervated persons. In this country it may be purchased as a powder,
but not readily miscible with water, so that many persons fail in
making the decoction. The powder should be first stirred with a
little spirit of wine: then the water should be added suddenly, and
the mixture boiled. One dram by weight of the salep powder in a
fluid dram and a half of the spirit, to half-a-pint of water, are the
proper proportions. Sometimes amber, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger
are added.

Dr. Lind, in the middle of the last century, strongly advised that
ships, and soldiers on long marches, should be provided with Salep
made into a paste or cake. This (with a little portable soup added)
will allay hunger and thirst if made liquid. An ounce in two quarts
of boiling water will sufficiently sustain a man for one day, being a
combination of animal and vegetable foods. Among the early
Romans the Orchis was often called "Satyrion," because it was
thought to be the food of the Satyrs, exciting them to their sexual
orgies. Hence the Orchis root became famous as all aphrodisiac
[406] medicine, and has been so described by all herbalists from the
time of Dioscorides.

A tradition is ascribed to the English Orchis Mascula (early Purple),
of which the leaves are usually marked with purple spots. It is said
that these are stains of the precious blood which flowed from our
Lord's body on the cross at Calvary, where this species of Orchis is
reputed to have grown. Similarly in Cheshire, the plant bears the
name of Gethsemane. This early Orchis is the "long Purples,"
mentioned by Shakespeare in Hamlet: and it is sometimes named
"Dead men's fingers," from the pale colour, and the hand-like shape
of its tubers.

    "That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
    But our cold maids do 'dead men's fingers' call them."

It is further styled "Cain and Abel" and "Rams' horns," the odour
being offensive, especially in the evening. It thrives wherever the
wild hyacinth flourishes, and is believed by some to grow best
where the earth below is rich in metal. Country people in Yorkshire
call it "Crake feet," and in Kent "Keat legs," or "Neat legs." The
roots of this Orchis abound with a glutinous sweetish juice, of
which a Salep may be made which is quite equal to any brought
from the Levant. The new root should be washed in hot water, and
its thin brown skin rubbed off with a linen cloth. Having thus
prepared a sufficient number of roots, the operator should spread
them on a tin plate in a hot oven for eight or ten minutes, until they
get to look horny, but without shrinking in size: and being then
withdrawn, they may be dried with more gentle heat, or by exposure
to the air. Their concocted juice can be employed with the same
intentions and in the same complaints as gum arabic,--about which
we read that [407] not only has it served to sustain whole negro
towns during a scarcity of other provisions, but the Arabs who
collect it by the river Niger have nothing else to live upon for
months together.

Salep is a most useful article of diet for those who suffer from
chronic diarrhoea.


Parsely is found in this country only as a cultivated plant, having
been introduced into England from Sardinia in the sixteenth century.
It is an umbelliferous herb, which has been long of garden growth
for kitchen uses. The name was formerly spelt "Percely," and the
herb was known as March, or Merich (in Anglo-Saxon, Merici). Its
adjective title, _Petroselinum_, signifies "growing on a rock." The
Greeks held Parsley in high esteem, making therewith the victor's
crown of dried and withered Parsley, at their Isthmian games, and
the wreath for adorning the tombs of their dead. Hence the proverb,
_Deeisthai selinon_ (to need only Parsley) was applied to persons
dangerously ill, and not expected to live. The herb was never
brought to table of old, being held sacred to oblivion and the

It is reputed to have sprung from the blood of a Greek hero,
Archemorus, the fore-runner of death; and Homer relates that
chariot horses were fed by warriors with this herb. Greek gardens
were often bordered with Parsley and Rue: and hence arose the
saying when an undertaking was in contemplation but not yet
commenced, "Oh! we are only at the Parsley and Rue."

Garden Parsley was not cultivated in England until the second year
of Edward the Sixth's reign, 1548. In our modern times the domestic
herb is associated rather with those who come into the world than
with those [408] who go out of it. Proverbially the Parsley-bed is
propounded to our little people who ask awkward questions, as the
fruitful source of new-born brothers and sisters when suddenly
appearing within the limits of the family circle. In Suffolk there is
an old belief that to ensure the herb coming up "double," Parsley
seed must be sown on Good Friday.

The root is faintly aromatic, and has a sweetish taste. It contains a
chemical principle, "apiin," sugar, starch, and a volatile oil.
Likewise the fruit furnishes the same volatile oil in larger
abundance, this oil comprising parsley-camphor, and "apiol," the
true essential oil of parsley, which may be now had from all leading
druggists. Apiol exercises all the virtues of the entire plant, and is
especially beneficial for women who are irregular as to their
monthly courses because of ovarian debility. From three to six drops
should be given on sugar, or in milk (or as a prepared capsule) twice
or three times in the day for some days together, at the times
indicated, beginning early at the expected date of each period. If too
large a dose of apiol be taken it will cause headache, giddiness,
staggering, and deafness; and if going still further, it will induce
epileptiform convulsions. For which reason, in small diluted doses,
the same medicament will curatively meet this train of symptoms
when occurring as a morbid state. And it is most likely on such
account Parsley has been popularly said to be "poison to men, and
salvation to women." Apiol was first obtained in 1849, by Drs. Joret
and Homolle, of Brittany, and proved an excellent remedy there for
a prevailing ague. It exercises a singular influence on the great
nervous centres within the head and spine. Bruised Parsley seeds
make a decoction which is likewise beneficial against [409] ague
and intermittent fever. They have gained a reputation in America as
having a special tendency to regulate the reproductive functions in
either sex. Country folk in many places think it unlucky to sow
Parsley, or to move its roots; and a rustic adage runs thus: "Fried
parsley brings a man to his saddle, and a Woman to her grave."
Taking Parsley in excess at table will impair the eyesight, especially
the tall Parsley; for which reason it was forbidden by Chrysippus
and Dionysius.

The root acts more readily on the kidneys than other parts of the
herb; therefore its decoction is useful when the urine becomes
difficult through a chill, or because of gravel. The bruised leaves
applied externally will serve to soften hard breasts early in
lactation, and to resolve the glands in nursing, when they become
knotty and painful, with a threatened abscess. Sheep are fond of
the plant, which protects them from foot-rot; but it acts as a
deadly poison to parrots.

In France a rustic application to scrofulous swellings is successfully
used, which consists of Parsley and snails pounded together in a
mortar to the thickness of an ointment. This is spread on coarse
linen and applied freely every day. Also on the Continent, and in
some parts of England, snails as well as slugs are thought to be
efficacious medicinally in consumption of the lungs, even more so
than cod-liver oil. The _Helix pomatia_ (or Apple Snail) is specially
used in France, being kept for the purpose in a snaillery, or
boarded-in space of which the floor is covered half-a-foot deep
with herbs.

The Romans were very partial to these Apple Snails, and fattened
them for the table with bran soaked in wine until the creatures
attained almost a fabulous size. Even in this country shells of Apple
Snails have been [410] found which would hold a pound's worth of
silver. The large Snail was brought to England in the sixteenth
century, to the South downs of Surrey, and Sussex, and to Box Hill
by an Earl of Arundel for his Countess, who had them dressed, and
ate them because of her consumptive disease. Likewise in Pliny's
time Snails beaten up with warm water were commended for the
cure of coughs. Gipsies are great Snail eaters, but they first starve
the creatures, which are given to devour the deadly Night Shade,
and other poisonous plants. It is certain, that Snails retain the
flavour and odour of the vegetables which they consume.

The chalky downs of the South of England are literally covered with
small snails, and many persons suppose that the superior flavour of
South Down mutton is due to the thousands of these snails which
the sheep consume together with the pasture on which they feed. In
1854 a medical writer set forth the curative virtues of _Helicin_, a
glutinous constituent principle derived from the Snail, and to be
given in broth as a remedy for pulmonary consumption. In France
the Apple Snail is known as the "great Escargot"; and the Snail
gardens in which the gasteropods are fattened, and reared, go by the
name of "Escargotoires." Throughout the winter the creatures
hybernate, shutting themselves up by their operculum whilst lying
among dead leaves, or having fixed themselves by their glutinous
secretion to a wall or tree. They are only taken for use whilst in this
state. According to a gipsy, the common English Snail is quite as
good to be eaten, and quite as beneficial as an Apple Snail, but there
is less of him. In Wiltshire, when collected whilst hybernating,
snails are soaked in salted water, and then grilled on the bars of the
grate. About France the Escargots are dried, and prepared as a
lozenge [411] for coughs. Our common garden Snail is the Helix
aspersa. On the Continent for many years past the large Apple Snail,
together with a reddish-brown slug, the Arion Rufus, has been
employed in medicine for colds, sore throats, and a tendency to
consumption of the lungs. These contain "limacine," and eight per
cent. of emollient mucilage, together with "helicin," and uric acid
just under the shell. Many quarts of cooked garden snails are sold
every week to the labouring classes in Bristol; and an annual Feast
of Snails is held in the neighbourhood of Newcastle. Mrs. Delaney
in 1708, recommended that "two or three snails should be boiled in
the barley-water which Mary takes who coughs at night. She must
know nothing of it; they give no manner of taste. Six or eight boiled
in water, and strained off, and put in a bottle would be a good way
of adding a spoonful of the same to every liquid thing she takes.
They must be fresh done every two or three days, otherwise they
grow too thick." The _London Gazette_, of March 23rd, 1739, tells
that Mrs. Joanna Stephens received from the Government five
thousand pounds for revealing the secret of her famous cure against
stone in the bladder, and gravel. This consisted chiefly of eggshells,
and snails, mixed with soap, honey and herbs. It was given in
powders, decoctions, and pills. To help weak eyes in South
Hampshire, snails and bread crust are made into a poultice.

A moderate dose of Parsley oil when taken in health, induces a
sense of warmth at the pit of the stomach, and of general well-being.
The powdered seeds may be taken in doses of from ten to fifteen
grains. The bruised leaves have successfully resolved tumours of
hard (scirrhous) cancer when cicuta, and mercury had failed.

Though used so commonly at table, facts have proved [412] that the
herb, especially when uncooked, may bring on epilepsy in certain
constitutions, or at least aggravate the fits in those who are subject
to them. Alston says: "I have observed after eating plentifully of raw
Parsley, a fulness of the vessels about the head, and a tenderness of
the eyes (somewhat inflamed) and face, as if the cravat were too

The victors at the old Grecian games were crowned with chaplets of
Parsley leaves; and it is more than probable our present custom of
encircling a joint, and garnishing a dish with the herb had its origin
in this practice. The Romans named Parsley _Apium_, either
because their bee (_apis_) was specially fond of the herb, or from
_apex_, the head of a conqueror, who was crowned with it. The
tincture has a decided action on the lining membrane of the urinary
passages, and may be given usefully when this is inflamed, or
congested through catarrh, in doses of from five to ten drops three
times in the day with a spoonful or two of cold water.

Wild Parsley is probably identical with our garden herb. It is called
in the Western counties Eltrot, perhaps because associated with the
gambols of the elves.

The Fool's Parsley (_oethusa cynapium_) is a very common wayside
weed, and grows wild in our gardens. It differs botanically from all
other parsleys in having no bracts, but three narrow leaves at the
base of each umbel. This is a more or less poisonous herb,
producing, when eaten in a harmful quantity, convulsive and
epileptic symptoms; also an inflamed state of the eyelids, just such
as is seen in the scrofulous ophthalmia of children, the condition
being accompanied with swelling of glands and eruptions on the
skin. Therefore the tincture which is made (H.) of Fool's Parsley,
when given in small doses, and diluted, proves [413] very useful for
such ophthalmia, and for obviating the convulsive attacks of young
children, especially if connected with derangement of the digestive
organs. Also as a medicine it has done much good in some cases of
mental imbecility. And this tincture will correct the Summer
diarrhoea of infants, when the stools are watery, greenish, and
without smell. From three to ten drops of the tincture diluted to the
third decimal strength, should be given as a dose, and repeated at
intervals, for the symptoms just recited.

This variety is named oethusa, because of its acridity, from the
Greek verb _aitho_ (to burn). "It has faculties," says Gerard,
"answerable to the common Hemlock," the poisonous effects being
inflamed stomach and bowels, giddiness, delirium, convulsions, and
insensibility. It is called also "Dog's Parsley" and "Kicks."

The leaves of the Fool's Parsley are glossy beneath, with lanceolate
lobes, whereas the leaflets of other parsleys are woolly below.
Gerard calls it Dog's Parsley, and says: "The whole plant is of a
naughty smell." It contains a peculiar alkaloid "cynapina." The
tincture, third decimal strength, in half-drop doses, with a
teaspoonful of water, will prevent an infant from vomiting the breast
milk in thick curds.

Another variety which grows in chalky districts, the Stone Parsley,
_Sison_, or breakstone, was formerly known as the "Hone-wort,"
from curing a "hone," or boil, on the cheek. It was believed at one
time to break a glass goblet or tumbler if rubbed against this article.


The Wild Parsnip (_Pastinaca sativa_) grows on the borders of
ploughed fields and about hedgerows, being generally hairy, whilst
the Garden Parsnip is smooth, [414] with taller stems, and leaves of
a yellowish-green colour. This cultivated Parsnip has been produced
as a vegetable since Roman times. The roots furnish a good deal of
starch, and are very nutritious for warming and fattening, but when
long in the ground they are called in some places "Madnip," and are
said to cause insanity.

Chemically, they contain also albumen, sugar, pectose, dextrin, fat,
cellulose, mineral matters, and water, but less sugar than turnips or
carrots. The volatile oil with which the cultivated root is furnished
causes it to disagree with persons of delicate stomach; otherwise it
is highly nutritive, and makes a capital supplement to salt fish, in
Lent. The seeds of the wild Parsnip (quite a common plant) are
aromatic, and are kept by druggists. They have been found curative
in ague, and for intermittent fever, by their volatile oil, or by its
essence given as a medicine. But the seeds of the garden Parsnip,
which are easier to get, though not nearly so efficacious, are often
substituted at the shops. A decoction of the wild root is good for a
sluggish liver, and in passive jaundice.

In Gerard's time, Parsnips were known as Mypes. Marmalade made
with the roots, and a small quantity of sugar, will improve the
appetite, and serve as a restorative to invalids.

From the mashed roots of the wild Parsnip in some parts of Ireland,
when boiled with hops, the peasants brew a beer. In Scotland a good
dish is prepared from Parsnips and potatoes, cooked and beaten
together, with butter. Parsnip wine, when properly concocted, is
particularly exhilarating and refreshing.

The Water Parsnip (spelt also in old _Herbals_, Pasnep, and Pastnip,
and called Sium) is an umbelliferous plant, [415] common by the
sides of rivers, lakes, and ditches, with tender leaves which are "a
sovereign remedy against gravel in the kidney, and stone in the
bladder." It is known also as _Apium nodiflorum_, from _apon_,
water, and contains "pastinacina," in common with the wild Parsnip.
This is a volatile alkaloid which is not poisonous, and is thought to
be almost identical with ammonia. The fresh juice, in doses of one,
two, or three tablespoonfuls, twice a day, is of curative effect for
scrofulous eruptions on the face, neck, and other parts of children.
Dr. Withering tells of a child, aged six years, who was thus cured of
an obstinate and otherwise intractable skin disease. The juice may
be readily mixed with milk, and does not disagree in any way.


Typical of leguminous plants (so called because they furnish
legumin, or vegetable cheese), whilst furthermore possessing certain
medicinal properties, the Bean and the Pea have a claim to be
classed with Herbal Simples.

The common Kidney Bean (_Phaseolus vulgaris_) is a native of the
Indies, but widely cultivated all over Europe, and so well known as
not to need any detailed description as a plant. Because of the seed's
close resemblance to the kidney, as well as to the male testis, the
Egyptians made it an object of sacred worship, and would not
partake of it as food. They feared lest by so doing they should eat
what was human remaining after death in the Bean, or should
consume a soul. The Romans celebrated feasts (Lemuria) in honour
of their departed, when Beans were cast into the fire on the altar;
and the people threw black Beans on the graves of the deceased,
because the smell was thought disagreeable to any hostile Manes. In
Italy at the present day it is [416] customary to eat Beans, and to
distribute them among the poor, on the anniversary of a death.
Because of its decided tendency to cause sleepiness the Jewish High
Priest was forbidden to partake of Beans on the day of Atonement;
and there is now a common saying in Leicestershire that for bad
dreams, or to be driven crazy, one has only to sleep all night in a
Bean field. The philosopher, Pythagoras, warned his pupils against
eating Beans, the black spot thereon being typical of death; and the
disciples were ever mindful: "_Jurare in verba magistri_." When
bruised and boiled with garlic, Beans have been known to cure
coughs which were past other remedies. But the roots of the Kidney
Bean have proved themselves dangerously narcotic.

The Pea (_Pisum sativum_) is a native of England, first taking its
botanical name from Pisa, a town of Elis, where Peas grew in
plenty. The English appellation was formerly Peason, or Pease, and
the plant has been cultivated in this country from time immemorial;
though not commonly, even in Elizabeth's day, when (as Fuller
informs us) "Peas were brought from Holland, and were fit dainties
for ladies, they came so far, and cost so dear." In Germany Peas are
thought good for many complaints, especially for wounds and
bruises; children affected with measles are washed there
systematically with water in which peas have been boiled. These,
together with Beans and lentils, etc., are included under the general
name of pulse, about which Cowper wrote thus:--

    "Daniel ate pulse by choice: example rare!
    Heaven blest the youth, and made him fresh and fair."

Grey Peas were provided in the pits of the Greek and Roman
theatres, as we supply oranges and a bill of the Play.

[417] "Hot Grey Pease and a suck of bacon" (tied to a string of
which the stall-keeper held the other end), was a popular street cry
in the London of James the First.

Peas and Beans contain sulphur, and are richer in mineral salts, such
as potash and lime, than wheat, barley, or oats; but their constituents
are apt to provoke indigestion, whilst engendering flatulence
through sulphuretted hydrogen. They best suit persons who take
plenty of out-door exercise, but not those of sedentary habits. The
skins of parched Peas remain undigested when eaten cooked, and
are found in the excrements. These leguminous plants are less easily
assimilated than light animal food by persons who are not robust, or
laboriously employed, though vegetarians assert to the contrary.
Lord Tennyson wrote to such effect as the result of his personal
experience (in his dedication of _Tiresias_ to E. Fitzgerald):--

    "Who live on meal, and milk, and grass:--
        And once for ten long weeks I tried
    Your table of Pythagoras,
        And seem'd at first 'a thing enskied'
    (As Shakespeare has it)--airylight,
        To float above the ways of men:
    Then fell from that half spiritual height,
        Until I tasted flesh again.
    One night when earth was winter black,
        And all the heavens were flashed in frost,
    And on me--half asleep--came back
        That wholesome heat the blood had lost."

But none the less does a simple diet foster spirituality of mind. "In
milk"--says one of the oldest Vedas--"the finer part of the curds,
when shaken, rises and becomes butter. Just so, my child, the finer
part of food rises when it is eaten, and becomes mind."

Old Fuller relates "In a general dearth all over [418] England
(1555), plenty of Pease did grow on the seashore, near Dunwich
(Suffolk), never set or sown by human industry; which being
gathered in full ripeness much abated the high prices in the markets,
and preserved many hungry families from famishing." "They do not
grow", says he, "among the bare stones, neither did they owe their
original to shipwrecks, or Pease cast out of ships." The Sea-side Pea
(_pisum maritimum_) is a rare plant.


The Peach (_Amygdabus Persica_), the apple of Persia, began to be
cultivated in England about 1562, or perhaps before then. Columella
tells of this fatal gift conveyed treacherously to Egypt in the first

    "Apples, which most barbarous Persia sent,
    With native poison armed."

The Peach tree is so well known by its general characteristics as not
to need any particular description. Its young branches, flowers, and
seeds, after maceration in water, yield a volatile oil which is
chemically identical with that of the bitter almond. The flowers are
laxative, and have been used instead of manna. When distilled, they
furnish a white liquor which communicates a flavour resembling the
kernels of fruits. An infusion made from one drachm of the dried
flowers, or from half an ounce of the fresh flowers, has a purgative
effect. The fruit is wholesome, and seldom disagrees if eaten when
ripe and sound. Its quantity of sugar is only small, but the skin is

The leaves possess the power of expelling worms if applied outside
a child's belly as a poultice, but in any medicinal form they must be
used with caution, as they contain some of the properties of prussic
acid, as found [419] also in the leaves of the laurel. A syrup
of Peach flowers was formerly a preparation recognised by
apothecaries. The leaves infused in white brandy, sweetened with
barley sugar, make a fine cordial similar to noyeau. Soyer says the
old Romans gave as much for their peaches as eighteen or nineteen
shillings each.

Peach pie, owing to the abundance of the fruit, is as common fare in
an American farm-house, as apple pie in an English homestead. Our
English King John died at Swinestead Abbey from a surfeit of
peaches, and new ale.

A tincture made from the flowers will allay the pain of colic caused
by gravel; but the kernels of the fruit, which yield an oil identical
with that of bitter almonds, have produced poisonous effects with

Gerard teaches "that a syrup or strong infusion of Peach flowers
doth singularly well purge the belly, and yet without grief or
trouble." Two tablespoonfuls of the infusion for a dose.

In Sicily there is a belief that anyone afflicted with goitre, who eats
a Peach on the night of St. John, or the Ascension, will be cured,
provided only that the Peach tree dies at the same time. In Italy
Peach leaves are applied to a wart, and then buried, so that they and
the wart may perish simultaneously.

Thackeray one day at dessert was taken to task by his colleague on
the _Punch_ staff, Angus B. Reach, whom he addressed as Mr.
Reach, instead of as Mr. (_Scotticé_) Reach. With ready
promptitude, Thackeray replied: "Be good enough Mr. Re-ack to
pass me a pe-ack."


The Pear, also called Pyrrie, belongs to the same natural order of
plants (the _Rosacoe_) as the Apple. It is [420] sometimes called
the Pyerie, and when wild is so hard and austere as to bear the name
of Choke-pear. It grows wild in Britain, and abundantly in France
and Germany. The Barland Pear, which was chiefly cultivated in the
seventeenth century, still retains its health and vigour, "the
identical trees in Herefordshire which then supplied excellent
liquor, continuing to do so in this, the nineteenth century."

This fruit caused the death of Drusus, a son of the Roman Emperor
Claudius, who caught in his mouth a Pear thrown into the air, and
by mischance attempted to swallow it, but the Pear was so
extremely hard that it stuck in his throat, and choked him.

Pears gathered from gardens near old monasteries were formerly
held in the highest repute for flavour, and it was noted that the trees
which bore them continued fruitful for a great number of years. The
secret cause seems to have been, not the holy water with which the
trees were formally christened, but the fact that the sagacious monks
had planted them upon a layer of stones so as to prevent the roots
from penetrating deep into the ground, and so as thus to ensure their
proper drainage.

The cellular tissue of which a Pear is composed differs from that of
the apple in containing minute stony concretions which make it, in
many varieties of the fruit, bite short and crisp; and its specific
gravity is therefore greater than that of the apple, so much so that by
taking a cube of each of equal size, that of the Pear will sink when
thrown into a vessel of water, while that of the apple will float. The
wood of the wild Pear is strong, and readily stained black, so as to
look like ebony. It is much employed by wood-engravers. Gerard
says "it serveth to be cut [421] up into many kinds of moulds; not
only such fruits as those seen in my Herbal are made of, but also
many sorts of pretty toies for coifes, breast plates, and such like;
used among our English gentlewomen."

The good old black Pear of Worcester is represented in the civic
arms, or rather in the second of the two shields belonging to the
faithful city; Argent, a fesse between three Pears, sable. The date of
this shield coincides with that of the visit of Queen Elizabeth to

Virgil names three kinds of Pears which he received as a present
from Cato:--

        "Nec surculus idem,
    Crustaneis, Syriisque pyris, gravibusque volemis."

The two first of these were Bergamots and Pounder Pears, whilst the
last-named was called _a volemus_, because large enough to fill the
hollow of the hand, (_vola_).

Mural paintings which have been disclosed at Pompeii represent the
Pear tree and its fruit. In Pliny's time there were "proud" Pears, so
called because they ripened early, and would not keep; and "winter"
pears for baking, etc. Again, in the time of Henry the Eighth, a
"warden" Pear, so named (Anglo-Saxon "wearden") from its
property of long keeping, was commonly cultivated.

    "Her cheek was like the Catherine Pear,
    The side that's next the sun,"

says one of our old poets concerning a small fruit seen often
now-a-days in our London streets, handsome, but hard, and

The special taste of Pears is chemically due for the most part to their
containing amylacetate; and a [422] solution of this substance in
spirit is artificially prepared for making essence of Jargonelle Pears,
as used for flavouring Pear drops and other sweetmeats. The acetate
amyl is a compound ether got from vinegar and potato oil. Pears
contain also malic acid, pectose, gum, sugar, and albumen, with
mineral matter, cellulose, and water. Gerard says wine made of
the juice of Pears, called in English, Perry, "purgeth those that
are not accustomed to drinke thereof, especially when it is new;
notwithstanding, it is as wholesome a drink (being taken in small
quantity) as wine; it comforteth and warmeth the stomacke, and
causeth good digestion."

Perry contains about one per cent. alcohol over cider, and a slightly
larger proportion of malic acid, so that it is rather more stimulating,
and somewhat better calculated to produce the healthful effects of
vegetable acids in the economy. How eminently beneficial fruits of
such sort are when ripe and sound, even to persons out of health, is
but little understood, though happily the British public is growing
wiser to-day in this respect. For instance, it has been lately
discovered that there is present in the juice of the Pine-apple a
vegetable digestive ferment, which, in its action, imitates almost
identically the gastric juices of the stomach; and a demand for
Bananas is developing rapidly in London since their wholesome
virtues have become generally recognised. It is a remarkable fact
that the epidemics of yellow fever in New Orleans have declined in
virulence almost incredibly since the Banana began to be eaten there
in considerable quantities. If a paste of its ripe pulp dried in the
sun be made with spice, and sugar, this will keep well for years.

At Godstone, as is related in Bray's Survey, the water [423] from a
well sunk close to a wild Pear tree (which bore fruit as hard as iron)
proved so curative of gout, that large quantities of it were sent to
London and sold there at the rate of sixpence a quart. Pears were
deemed by the Romans an antidote to poisonous fungi; and for this
reason, which subsequent experience has confirmed, Perry is still
reckoned the best thing to be taken after eating freely of
mushrooms, as also Pear stalks cooked therewith.

There is an old Continental saying: _Pome, pere, ed noce guastano
la voce_--"Apples, pears, and nuts spoil the voice," And an ancient
rhymed distich says:--

    "For the cough take Judas eare,
    With the parynge of a pear;
    And drynke them without feare,
        If ye will have remedy."

All Pears are cold, and have a binding quality, with an earthy
substance in their composition.

It should be noted that Pears dried in the oven, and kept without
syrup, will remain quite good, and eatable for a year or more.

Most Pears depend on birds for the dispersion of their seeds, but one
striking variety prefers to attract bees, and the larger insects for
cross-fertilization, and it has therefore assumed brilliant crimson
petals of a broadly expanded sort, instead of bearing a succulent
edible fruit, This is the highly ornamental _Pyrus Japonica_, which
may so often be seen trained on the sunny walls of cottages.


A plant belonging to the order of Nettles, the Pellitory of the Wall,
or Paritory--_Parietaria_, from the Latin _parietes_, walls--is a
favourite Herbal Simple in many [424] rural districts. It grows
commonly on dry walls, and is in flower all the summer. The leaves
are narrow, hairy, and reddish; the stems are brittle, and the small
blossoms hairy, in clusters. Their filaments are so elastic that if
touched before the flower has expanded, they suddenly spring from
their in curved position, and scatter the pollen broadcast.

An infusion of the plant is a popular medicine to stimulate the
kidneys, and promote a large flow of watery urine. The juice of the
herb acts in the same way when made into a thin syrup with sugar,
and given in doses of two tablespoonfuls three times in the day.
Dropsical effusions caused by an obstructed liver, or by a weak
dilated heart, may be thus carried off with marked relief. The
decoction of _Parietaria_, says Gerard, "helpeth such as are troubled
with an old cough." All parts of the plant contain nitre abundantly.
The leaves may be usefully applied as poultices.

But another Pellitory, which is more widely used because of its
pungent efficacy in relieving toothache, and in provoking a free
flow of saliva, is a distinct plant, the _Pyrethrum_, or Spanish
Chamomile of the shops, and not a native of Great Britain, though
sometimes cultivated in our gardens. The title "Purethron" is from
_pur_, fire, because of its burning ardent taste. Its root is
scentless, but when chewed causes a pricking sensation (with heat,
and some numbness) in the mouth and tongue. Then an abundant flow of
saliva, and of mucus within the cheeks quickly ensues. These effects
are due to "pyrethrin" contained in the plant, which is an acid fixed
resin; also there are present a second resin, and a yellow, acrid oil,
whilst the root contains inulin, tannin, and other substances. When
sliced and applied to the skin it induces heat, [425] tingling, and
redness. A patient seeking relief from rheumatic or neuralgic
affections of the head and face, or for palsy of the tongue, should
chew the root of this _Pyrethrum_ for several minutes.

The "Pelleter of Spain" (_Pyrethrum Anacyclus_), was so styled,
not because of being brought from Spain; but because it is grown

A gargle of _Pyrethrum_ infusion is prescribed for relaxed uvula,
and for a partial paralysis of the tongue and lips. The tincture made
from the dried root may be most helpfully applied on cotton wool to
the interior of a decayed tooth which is aching, or the milder
tincture of the wall Pellitory may be employed for the same
purpose. To make a gargle, two or three teaspoonfuls of the
tincture of _Pyrethrum_, which can be had from any druggist,
should be mixed with a pint of cold water, and sweetened with
honey, if desired. The powdered root forms a good snuff to cure
chronic catarrh of the head and nostrils, and to clear the brain by
exciting a free flow of nasal mucus and tears--_Purgatur cerebrum
mansâ radice Pyrethri_.

Incidentally, as a quaint but effective remedy for carious toothache,
may be mentioned the common lady bird insect, Coccinella, which
when captured secretes from its legs a yellow acrid fluid having a
disagreeable odour. This fluid will serve to ease the most violent
toothache, if the creature be placed alive in the cavity of the hollow

Gerard says this _Pyrethrurn_ (Pellitory of Spain, or Pelletor) "is
most singular for the surgeons of the hospitals to put into their
unctions _contra Neapolitanum morbum_, and such other diseases
that are cousin germanes thereunto." The _Parietaria_, or Pellitory
of the wall, is named Lichwort, from growing on stones.

[426] Sir William Roberts, of Manchester, has advised jujubes,
made of gum arabic and pyrethrum, to be slowly masticated by
persons who suffer from acid fermentation in the stomach, a copious
flow of alkaline saliva being stimulated thereby in the mouth, which
is repeatedly swallowed during the sucking of one or more of the
jujubes, and which serves to neutralise the acid generated within the
stomach. Distressing heartburn is thus effectively relieved without
taking injurious alkalies, such as potash and soda.



There are two British Periwinkles growing wild; the one _Vinca
major_, or greater, a doubtful native, and found only in the
neighbourhood of dwelling-houses; the other _Vinca minor_ lesser,
abounding in English woods, particularly in the Western counties,
and often entirely covering the ground with its prostrate evergreen
leaves. The common name of each is derived from _vincio_, to bind,
as it were by its stems resembling cord; or because bound in olden
times into festive garlands and funeral chaplets. Their title used also
to be Pervinca, and Pervinkle, Pervenkle, and Pucellage (or virgin

This generic name has been derived either from _pervincire_, to
bind closely, or from _pervincere_, to overcome. Lord Bacon
observes that it was common in his time for persons to wear bands
of green Periwinkle about the calf of the leg to prevent cramp.
Now-a-days we use for the same purpose a garter of small new corks
strung on worsted. In Germany this plant is the emblem of
immortality. It bears the name [427] "Pennywinkles" in Hampshire,
probably by an inland confusion with the shell fish "winkles."

Each of the two kinds possesses acrid astringent properties, but the
lesser Periwinkle, _Vinca minor_ or Winter-green, is the Herbal
Simple best known of the pair, for its medicinal virtues in domestic
use. The Periwinkle order is called _Apocynaceoe_, from the Greek
_apo_, against, and _kunos_, a dog; or dog's bane.

The flowers of the greater Periwinkle are gently purgative, but lose
their effect by drying. If gathered in the Spring, and made into a
syrup, they will impart all their virtues, and this is excellent to
keep the bowels of children gently open, as well as to overcome
habitual constipation in grown persons. But the leaves are astringent,
contracting and strengthening the genitals if applied thereto either as
a decoction, or as the bruised leaves themselves. An infusion of the
greater Periwinkle, one part of the fresh plant to ten of water, may
be used for staying female fluxes, by giving a wine-glassful thereof
when cool, frequently; or of the liquid extract, half a teaspoonful for
a dose in water. On account of its striking colour, and its use for
magical purposes, the plant, when in bloom, has been named the
Sorcerer's Violet, and in some parts of Devon the flowers are known
as Cut Finger or Blue Buttons. The Italians use it in making
garlands for their dead infants, and so call it Death's flower.

Simon Fraser, whose father was a faithful adherent of Sir William
Wallace, when on his way to be executed (in 1306) was crowned in
mockery with the Periwinkle, as he passed through the City
of London, with his legs tied under the horse's belly. In
Gloucestershire, the flowers of the greater Periwinkle are called

The lesser Periwinkle is perennial, and is sometimes [428]
cultivated in gardens, where it has acquired variegated leaves. It has
no odour, but gives a bitterish taste which lasts in the mouth. Its
leaves are strongly astringent, and therefore very useful to be
applied for staying bleedings. If bruised and put into the nostrils,
they will arrest fluxes from the nose, and a decoction made from
them is of service for the diarrhoea of a weak subject, as well as for
chronic looseness of the bowels; likewise for bleeding piles, by
being applied externally, and by being taken internally. Again, the
decoction makes a capital gargle for relaxed sore throat, and for
sponginess of the mouth, of the tonsils, and the gums.

This plant was also a noted Simple for increasing the milk of wet
nurses, and was advised for such purpose by physicians of repute.
Culpeper gravely says: "The leaves of the lesser Periwinkle, if eaten
by man and wife together, will cause love between them."

A tincture is made (H.) from the said plant, the _Vinca minor_, with
spirit of wine. It is given medicinally for the milk-crust of infants,
as well as for internal haemorrhages, the dose being from two to ten
drops three or four times in the day, with a spoonful of water.


The "Poor Man's Weather Glass" or "Shepherd's Dial," is a very
well-known and favourite little flower, of brilliant scarlet hue,
expanding only in bright weather, and closing its petals at two
o'clock in the day. It occurs quite commonly in gardens and open
fields, being the scarlet Pimpernel, or _Anagallis arvensis_, and
belonging to the Primrose tribe of plants. Old authors called it
Burnet; which is quite a distinct herb, cultivated now for kitchen
use, the _Pimpinella Saxifraga_, of so cheery and exhilarating a
quality, and so generally commended, [429] that its excellence has
passed into a proverb, "_l'insolata non buon, ne betta ove non é
Pimpinella_." But this Burnet Pimpinella is of a different
(Umbelliferous) order, though similarly styled because its leaves are
likewise bipennate.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is named _Anagallis_, from the Greek
_anagelao_, to laugh; either because, as Pliny says, the plant
removes obstructions of the liver, and spleen, which would
engender sadness, or because of the graceful beauty of its flowers:--

    "No ear hath heard, no tongue can tell
    The virtues of the Pimpernell."

The little plant has no odour, but possesses a bitter taste, which is
rather astringent. Doctors used to consider the herb remedial in
melancholy, and in the allied forms of mental disease, the decoction,
or a tincture being employed. It was also prescribed for
hydrophobia, and linen cloths saturated with a decoction were kept
applied to the bitten part.

Narcotic effects were certainly produced in animals by giving
considerable doses of an extract made from the herb. The flowers
have been found useful in epilepsy, twenty grains dried being given
four times a day. A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared with spirit of
wine. It is of approved utility for irritability of the main urinary
passage, with genital congestion, erotism, and dragging of the loins,
this tincture being then ordered of the third decimal strength, in
doses of from five to ten drops every three or four hours, with a
spoonful of water.

A decoction of the plant is held in esteem by countryfolk as
checking pulmonary consumption in its early stages. Hill says there
are many authenticated cases of this dire disease being absolutely
cured by the herb, [430] The infusion is best made by pouring
boiling water on the fresh plant. It contains "saponin," such as the
Soapwort also specially furnishes.

In France the Pimpernel (_Anagallis_) is thought to be a noxious
plant of drastic narcotico-acrid properties, and called _Mouron--qui
tue les petits oiseaux, et est un violent drastique pour l'homme, et
les grands animaux; à dose tres elevée le mouron peut meme leur
donner la mort_. In California a fluid extract of the herb is given for
rheumatism, in doses of one teaspoonful with water three times a

The _Burnet Pimpinella_ is more correctly the Burnet Saxifrage,
getting its first name because the leaves are brown, and the second
because supposed to break up stone in the bladder. It grows
abundantly in our dry chalky pastures, bearing terminal umbels of
white flowers. It contains an essential oil and a bitter resin, which
are useful as warmly carminative to relieve flatulent indigestion, and
to promote the monthly flow in women. An infusion of the herb is
made, and given in two tablespoonfuls for a dose. Cows which feed
on this plant have their flow of milk increased thereby. Small
bunches of the leaves and shoots when tied together and suspended
in a cask of beer impart to it an agreeable aromatic flavour, and are
thought to correct tart, or spoiled wines. The root, when fresh,
has a hot pungent bitterish taste, and may be usefully chewed for
tooth-ache, or to obviate paralysis of the tongue. In Germany a variety
of this Burnet yields a blue essential oil which is used for colouring
brandy. Again the herb is allied to the Anise (_Pimpinella
Anisum_). The term Burnet was formerly applied to a brown cloth.
Smaller than this Common Burnet is the Salad Burnet, _Poterium
sanguisorba, quod sanguineos fluxus sistat_, a useful [431] styptic,
which is also cordial, and promotes perspiration. It has the smell of
cucumber, and is, therefore, an ingredient of the salad bowl, or often
put into a cool tankard, whereto, says Gerard, "it gives a grace in the
drynkynge." Another larger sort of the Burnet Pimpinella
(_Magna_), which has broad upper leaves less divided, grows in our
woods and shady places.

A bright blue variety of the true Scarlet Pimpernel (_Anagallis_) is
less frequent, and is thought by many to be a distinct species.
Gerard says, "the Pimpernel with the blue flower helpeth the
fundament that is fallen down: and, contrariwise, red Pimpernel
being applied bringeth it down."

The Water Pimpernel (_Anagallis aquatica_) is more commonly
known as Brooklime, or Beccabunga, and belongs to a different
order of plants, the _Scrophulariaceoe_ (healers of scrofula).

It grows quite commonly in brooks and ditches, as a succulent plant
with smooth leaves, and small flowers of bright blue, being found in
situations favourable to the growth of the watercress. It is the _brok
lempe_ of old writers, _Veronica beccabunga_, the syllable _bec_
signifying a beck or brook; or perhaps the whole title comes from
the Flemish _beck pungen_, mouth-smart, in allusion to the pungent
taste of the plant.

"It is eaten," says Gerard, "in salads, as watercresses are, and is
good against that _malum_ of such as dwell near the German seas,
which we term the scurvie, or skirby, being used after the same
manner that watercress and scurvy-grass is used, yet is it not of so
great operation and virtue." The leaves and stem are slightly acid
and astringent, with a somewhat bitter taste, and frequently
the former are mixed by sellers of water-cresses with their

[432] A full dose of the juice of fresh Brooklime is an easy purge;
and the plant has always been a popular Simple for scrofulous
affections, especially of the skin. Chemically, this Water Pimpernel
contains some tannin, and a special bitter principle; whilst, in
common with most of the Cruciferous plants, it is endowed with a
pungent volatile oil, and some sulphur. The bruised plant has been
applied externally for healing ulcers, burns, whitlows, and for the
mitigation of swollen piles.

The Bog Pimpernel (_Anagallis tenella_), is common in boggy
ground, having erect rose-coloured leaves larger than those of the
Poor Man's Weather Glass.


The Clove Pink, or Carnation of our gardens, though found
apparently wild on old castle walls in England, is a naturalised
flower in this country. It is, botanically, the _Dianthus
Caryophyllus_, being so named as _anthos_, the flower, _dios_, of
Jupiter: whilst redolent of _Caryophylli_, Cloves. The term Carnation
has been assigned to the Pink, either because the blossom has the
colour, _carnis_, of flesh: or, as more correctly spelt by our older
writers, Coronation, from the flowers being employed in making
chaplets, _coronoe_. Thus Spenser says:--

    "Bring Coronations, and Sops in Wine,
    Worn of paramours."--_Shepherd's Kalendar_.

This second title, Sops in Wine, was given to the plant because the
flowers were infused in wine for the sake of their spicy flavour;
especially in that presented to brides after the marriage ceremony.
Further, this Pink is the Clove Gilly (or _July_) flower, and gives its
specific name to the natural order _Caryophyllaceoe_. The word
Pink is a corruption of the Greek Pentecost [433] (fiftieth), which
has now come to signify a festival of the Church. In former days the
blossoms were commended as highly cordial: their odour is sweet
and aromatic, so that an agreeable syrup may be made therefrom.
The dried petals, if powdered, and kept in a stoppered bottle, are of
service against heartburn and flatulence, being given in a dose of
from twenty to sixty grains. Gerard says, "a conserve made of the
flowers with sugar is exceeding cordiall, and wonderfully above
measure doth comfort the heart, being eaten now and then. A water
distilled from Pinks has been commended as excellent for curing
epilepsy, and if a conserve be composed of them, this is the life and
delight of the human race." The flower was at one time called
_ocellus_, from the eye-shaped markings of its corolla. It is nervine
and antispasmodic. By a mistake Turner designated the Pink


The Plantains (_Plantaginacecoe_), from _planta_, the sole of the
foot, are humble plants, well known as weeds in fields and by
roadsides, having ribbed leaves and spikes of flowers conspicuous
by their long stamens. As Herbal Simples, the Greater Plantain, the
Ribwort Plantain, and the Water Plantain, are to be specially

The Greater Plantain of the waysides affords spikes of seeds which
are a favourite food of Canaries, and which, in common with the
seeds of other sorts, yield a tasteless mucilage, answering well as a
substitute for linseed. The leaves of the Plantains have a bitter
taste, and are somewhat astringent.

The generic name _Plantago_ is probably derived from the Latin
_planta_, the sole of the foot, in allusion to the [434] broad, flat
leaves lying close on the ground, and ago, the old synonym for wort,
a cultivated plant.

This greater Plantain (_Plantago major_) is also termed Waybred,
Waybread, or Waybroad, "spread on the way," and has followed our
colonists to all parts of the globe, being therefore styled "The
Englishman's Foot" and "Whiteman's Foot." The shape of the leaf in
the larger species resembles a footprint. The root has a sweet taste,
and gives the saliva a reddish tinge.

Dioscorides advised that it should be applied externally for sores of
every kind, and taken internally against haemorrhages. In the
_Romeo and Juliet_ of Shakespeare, Romeo says, "Your Plantain
leaf is excellent for broken shin." Country persons apply these
leaves to open sores and wounds, or make a poultice of them, or
give fomentations with a hot decoction of the same, or prepare a
gargle from the decoction when cold.

The expressed juice of the greater Plantain has proved of curative
effect in tubercular consumption, with spitting of blood. This herb is
said to furnish a cure for the venomous bite of the rattlesnake, as
discovered by the negro Caesar in South Carolina.

It is of excellent curative use against the intermittent fevers of
Spring, but for counteracting autumnal (septic) fevers it is of no

The virtues of the greater Plantain as an application to wounds and
sores were known of old. It possesses a widespread repute in
Switzerland as a local remedy for toothache, the root or leaves being
applied against the ear of the affected side. Those persons who
proved the plant by taking it experimentally in various doses,
suffered much pain in the teeth and jaws. Accordingly, Dr. Hale
found that, of all his remedies [435] for the toothache, none could
compare with the _Plantago major_.

It gives rise to an active flow of urine when taken in considerable
doses, and when administered in small doses of the diluted tincture,
it has proved curative of bed wetting in young children. Gerard tells
that "Plantain leaves stuped stayeth the inordinate flux of the terms,
though it hath continued many years." For inflamed protruding
piles, a broad-leaved Plantain reduced to a pulp, and kept bound to
the parts by a compress, will give sure and speedy relief.
Highlanders call it _Slanlus_, the healing plant.

The Ribwort Plantain (_Plantago lanceolata_), Ribgrass, Soldiers, or
Cocks and Hens, is named from the strong parallel veins in its
leaves. The flower stalks are termed Kemps, from _campa_, a
warrior. The leaves are astringent, and useful for healing sores when
applied thereto, and for dressing wounds. This Plantain is also
named Hardheads, Fighting Cocks, and in Germany, Devil's Head,
being used in divination. Children challenge one another to a game
of striking off the heads.

Toads are thought to cure themselves of their ailments by eating its
leaves. In Sussex, it is known as Lamb's Tongue. The powdered root
of the Ribwort Plantain is of use for curing vernal ague, a
dessertspoonful being given for a dose, two or three times in a day.

The Water Plantain (_Alisma Plantago_), belonging to a different
natural order, is common on the margins of our rivers and ditches,
getting its name from the Celtic _alos_, water, and being called also
the greater Thrumwort, from thrum, the warp end of a weaver's web.
The root and leaves contain an acrid juice, dispersed by heat, which
is of service for irritability of the bladder. After [436] the root is
boiled so as to dissipate this medicinal juice it makes an edible
starchy vegetable.

This plant is commonly classed with the Plantains because its leaves
resemble theirs; but in general characteristics and qualities it more
properly belongs to the _Ranunculaceoe_.

Its fresh leaves applied to the skin will raise a blister, and may be
used for such a purpose, especially to relieve the swollen legs of
dropsical subjects when the vesicles should be punctured and the
serum drawn off. They contain a pungent butyraceous volatile oil.
The seeds dislodged from the dry, ripe plant, by striking it smartly
on a table, are good in decoction against bleedings, and are
employed by country people for curing piles. About the Russian
Empire the Water Plantain is still regarded as efficacious against
hydrophobia. Dr. George Johnston says: "In the Government of
Isola it has never failed of a cure for the last twenty-five years."
Reduced to powder it is spread over bread and butter, and is eaten.
Likewise, cures of rabid dogs by this plant are reported; and in
America it is renowned as a remedy against the bite of the
rattlesnake. The tubers contain a nutritious substance, and are eaten
by the Tartars.

_Apropos_ of this "Water Plantain" a Teesdale proverb says: "He's
nar a good weaver that leaves lang _thrums_."

The small seeds of a Plantain grass which grows commonly in
Southern Europe, the Fleawort, or _Plantago Psyllium_, have been
known from time immemorial as an easy and popular aperient. In
France these Psyllium seeds, given in a dessertspoonful dose, are
widely prescribed as a laxative in lieu of mineral aperient waters,
or the morning Seidlitz. They act after being soaked for some hours
in cold water, by their mucilage, and [437] when swallowed, by
virtue of a laxative oil set free within the intestines. The grass is
well known in some parts as "Clammy Plantain," and it has leafless
heads with toothed leaves. These seeds are dispensed by the London
druggists who supply French medicines.


The Scarlet Poppy of our cornfields (_Papaver Rhoeas_) is one of
the most brilliant and familiar of English wild flowers, being
strikingly conspicuous as a weed by its blossoms rich in scarlet
petals, which are black at the base. The title _Papaver_ has been
derived from pap, a soft food given to young infants, in which it was
at one time customary to boil Poppy seeds for the purpose of
inducing sleep. Provincially this plant bears the titles of "Cop Rose"
(from its rose-like flowers, and the button-like form of its cop, or
capsule) and "Canker Rose," from its detriment to wheat crops.

The generic term _Rhoeas_ comes from _reo_, to fall, because the
scarlet petals have so fragile a hold on their receptacles; and the
plant has been endowed with the sobriquet, "John Silver Pin, fair
without and foul within." In the Eastern counties of England any
article of finery brought out only occasionally, and worn with
ostentation by a person otherwise a slattern, is called "Joan Silver
Pin." After this sense the appellation has been applied to the Scarlet
Poppy. Its showy flower is so attractive to the eye, whilst its inner
juice is noxious, and stains the hands of those who thoughtlessly
crush it with their fingers.

    "And Poppies a sanguine mantle spread,
    For the blood of the dragon St. Margaret shed."

Robert Turner naively says, "The Red Poppy Flower (_Papaver
erraticum_) resembleth at its bottom the settling [438] of the 'Blood
in pleurisie'"; and, he adds, "how excellent is that flower in diseases
of the pleurisie with similar surfeits hath been sufficiently

It is further called Blindy Buff, Blind Eyes, Headwarke, and
Headache, from the stupefying effects of smelling it. Apothecaries
make a syrup of a splendid deep colour from its vividly red petals;
but this does not exercise any soporific action like that concocted
from the white Poppy, which is a sort of modified opiate, suitable
for infants under certain conditions, when sanctioned by a doctor.
Otherwise, all sedatives of a narcotic sort are to be strongly
condemned for use by mothers, or nurses:--

    "But a child that bids the world 'Good-night'
    In downright earnest, and cuts it quite,
        (A cherub no art can copy),
    'Tis a perfect picture to see him lie,
    As if he had supped on dormouse pie,
    An ancient classical dish, by-the-bye,
    With a sauce of syrup of Poppy."

Petronius, in the time of Nero, A.D. 80, "delivered an odd receipt
for dressing dormouse sausages, and serving them up with Poppies
and honey, which must have been a very soporiferous dainty, and as
good as owl pye to such as want a nap after dinner."

The white Poppy is specially cultivated in Britain for the sake of its
seed capsules, which possess attributes similar to opium,
but of a weaker strength. These capsules are commonly known as
Poppyheads, obtained from the druggist for use in domestic
fomentations to allay pain. Also from the capsules, without their
seeds, is made the customary syrup of White Poppies, which is so
familiar as a sedative for childhood; but it should be always
remembered that infants of tender years are highly susceptible to the
influence even of this mild form [439] of opium. The true gum
opium, and laudanum, which is its tincture, are derived from Eastern
Poppies (_Papaver somniferum_) by incisions made in the capsules
at a proper season of the year. The cultivated Poppy of the garden
will afford English opium in a like manner, but it is seldom used for
this purpose. A milky juice exudes when the capsules of these
cultivated flowers are cut, or bruised. They are familiar to most
children as drumsticks, plucked in the garden after the gaudy petals
of the flowers have fallen off. The leaves and stems likewise afford
some of the same juice, which, when inspissated, is known as
English opium. The seeds of the white Poppy yield by expression a
bland nutritive oil, which may be substituted for that of olives, or
sweet almonds, in cooking, and for similar uses. Dried Poppy-heads,
formerly in constant request for making hot soothing stupes, or for
application directly to a part in pain, are now superseded for the
most part by the many modern liquid preparations of opium handy
for the purpose, to be mixed with hot water, or applied in poultices.

For outward use laudanum may be safely added to stupes, hot or
cold, a teaspoonful being usually sufficient for the purpose, or
perhaps two, if the pain is severe; and powdered opium may be
incorporated with one or another ointment for a similar object. If a
decoction of Poppy capsules is still preferred, it should be made by
adding to a quarter-of-a-pound of white Poppy heads (free from
seeds, and broken up in a mortar) three pints of boiling water; then
boil for ten or fifteen minutes, and strain off the decoction, which
should measure about two pints.

Dr. Herbert Snow, resident physician at the Brompton Cancer
Hospital, says (1895) he has found: "after a [440] long experience,
Opium exhibits a strong inhibitive influence on the cancer elements,
retarding and checking the cell growth, which is a main feature of
the disease. Even when no surgical operation has been performed,
Opium is the only drug which markedly checks cancer growth: and
the early employment of this medicine will usually add years of
comfortable life to the otherwise shortened space of the sufferer's
existence." Opium gets its name from the Greek _apos_, juice.

The seeds of the white Poppy are known us mawseed, or balewort,
and are given as food to singing birds. In old Egypt these seeds were
mixed with flour and honey, and made into cakes.

Pliny says: "The rustical peasants of Greece glazed the upper crust
of their loaves with yolks of eggs, and then bestrewed them with
Poppy seeds," thus showing that the seeds were then considered free
from narcotic properties. And in Queen Elizabeth's time these seeds
were strewn over confectionery, whilst the oil expressed from them
was "delightful to be eaten when taken with bread."

White Poppy capsules, when dried, furnish papaverine and
narcotine, with some mucilage, and a little waxy matter. The seeds
contained within the capsules yield Poppy seed oil, with a fixed oil,
and a very small quantity of morphia--about five grains in a pound
of white Poppy seeds. In some parts of Russia the seeds are put into

The Poppy was cultivated by the Greeks before the time of
Hippocrates. It has long been a symbol of death, because sending
persons to sleep. Ovid says, concerning the Cave of Somnus:--

    "Around whose entry nodding Poppies grow,
    And all cool Simples that sweet rest bestow."

[441] The common scarlet Poppy was called by the Anglo-Saxons
"Chesebolle," "Chebole," or "Chybolle," from the ripe capsule
resembling a round cheese.

There is a Welsh Poppy, with yellow flowers; and a horned Poppy,
named after Glaucus, common on our sea coasts, with sea-green
leaves, and large blossoms of golden yellow. Glaucus, a fisherman
of Boeotia, observed that all the fishes which he caught received
fresh vigour when laid on the ground, and were immediately able to
leap back into the sea. He attributed these effects to some herb
growing in the grass, and upon tasting the leaves of the Sea Poppy
he found himself suddenly moved with an intense desire to live in
the sea; wherefore he was made a sea-god by Oceanus and Tethys.
Borlase says: "That in the Scilly Islands the root of the Sea Poppy is
so much valued for removing all pains in the breast, stomach, and
intestines, as well as so good for disordered lungs, whilst so much
better there than in other places, that the apothecaries of Cornwall
send thither for it; and some persons plant these roots in their
gardens in Cornwall, and will not part with them under sixpence a
root." The scarlet petals of the wild Poppy, very abundant in English
cornfields, when treated with sulphuric acid make a splendid red
dye. With gorgeous tapestry cut from these crimson petals, the
clever "drapery bee" (_Apis papaveris_) upholsters the walls of her
solitary cell. Bruised leaves of the wild, or the garden Poppy, if
applied to a part which has been stung by a bee or a wasp, will give
prompt relief.


Our invaluable Potato, which enters so largely into the dietary of all
classes, belongs to the Nightshade tribe of [442] dangerous plants,
though termed "solanaceous" as a natural order because of the
sedative properties which its several genera exercise to lull pain.

This Potato, the _Solanum tuberosum_, is so universally known as a
plant that it needs no particular description. It is a native of Peru,
and was imported in 1586 by Thomas Heriot, mathematician and
colonist, being afterwards taken to Ireland from Virginia by Sir
Walter Raleigh, and passing from thence over into Lancashire. He
knew so little of its use that he tried to eat the fruit, or poisonous
berries, of the plant. These of course proved noxious, and he ordered
the new comers to be rooted out. The gardener obeyed, and in doing
so first learnt the value of their underground wholesome tubers. But
not until the middle of the eighteenth century, were they common in
this country as an edible vegetable. "During 1629," says Parkinson,
"the Potato from Virginia was roasted under the embers, peeled and
sliced: the tubers were put into sack with a little sugar, or were
baked with cream, marrow, sugar, spice, etc., in pies, or preserved
and candied by the comfit makers." But he most probably refers
here to the Batatas, or sweet Potato, a Convolvulus, which was a
popular esculent vegetable at that date, of tropical origin, and to
which our Potato has since been thought to bear a resemblance.

This Batatas, or sweet Potato, had the reputation, like Eringo root,
of being able to restore decayed vigour, and so Falstaff is made by
Shakespeare to say: "Let the sky rain potatoes, hail kissing comfits,
and snow eringoes." For a considerable while after their
introduction the Potato tubers were grown only by men of fortune as
a delicacy; and the general cultivation of this vegetable was strongly
opposed by the public, [443] chiefly by the Puritans, because no
mention of it could be found in the Bible.

Also in France great opposition was offered to the recognised use of
Potatoes: and it is said that Louis the Fifteenth, in order to bring
the plant into favour, wore a bunch of its flowers in the button hole
of his coat on a high festival. Later on during the Revolution quite a
mania prevailed for Potatoes. Crowds perambulated the streets of
Paris shouting for "la liberté, et des Batatas"; and when Louis the
Sixteenth had been dethroned the gardens of the Tuileries were
planted with Potatoes. Cobbett, in this country, exclaimed virulently
against the tuber as "hogs' food," and hated it as fiercely as he hated
tea. The stalks, leaves, and green berries of the plant share the
narcotic and poisonous attributes of the nightshades to which it
belongs; and the part which we eat, though often thought to be a
root, is really only an underground stem, which has not been acted
on by light so as to develop any poisonous tendencies, and in which
starch is stored up for the future use of the plant.

The stalks, leaves, and unripe fruit yield an active principle
apparently very powerful, which has not yet been fully investigated.
There are two sorts of tubers, the red and the white. A roasted
Potato takes two hours to digest; a boiled one three hours and a half.
"After the Potato," says an old proverb, "cheese."

Chemically the Potato contains citric acid, like that of the lemon,
which is admirable against scurvy: also potash, which is equally
antiscorbutic, and phosphoric acid, yielding phosphorus in a
quantity less only than that afforded by the apple, and by wheat. It is
of the first importance that the potash salts should be retained by the
potato during cooking: and the [444] tubers should therefore be
steamed with their coats on; else if peeled, and then steamed, they
lose respectively seven and five per cent. of potash, and phosphoric

If boiled after peeling they lose as much as thirty-three per cent. of
potash, and twenty-three per cent. of phosphoric acid. "The roots,"
says Gerard, "were forbidden in Burgundy, for that they were
persuaded the too frequent use of them causeth the leprosie."
Nevertheless it is now believed that the Potato has had much to do
with expelling leprosy from England. The affliction has become
confined to countries where the Potato is not grown.

Boiled or steamed Potatoes should turn out floury, or mealy, by
reason of the starch granules swelling up and filling the cellular
tissue, whilst absorbing the albuminous contents of its cells. Then
the albumen coagulates, and forms irregular fibres between the
starch grains. The most active part of the tuber lies just beneath the
skin, as may be shown by pouring some tincture of guaiacum over
the cut surface of a Potato, when a ring of blue forms close to the
skin, and is darkest there while extending over the whole cut
surface. Abroad there is a belief the Potato thrives best if planted on
Maundy Thursday. Rustic names for it are: Taiders, Taities, Leather
Coats, Leather Jackets, Lapstones, Pinks, No Eyes, Flukes, Blue
Eyes, Red Eyes, and Murphies; in Lancashire Potatoes are called
Spruds, and small Potatoes, Sprots.

The peel or rind of the tuber contains a poisonous substance called
"solanin," which is dissipated and rendered inert when the whole
Potato is boiled, or steamed. Stupes of hot Potato water are very
serviceable in some forms of rheumatism. To make the [445]
decoction for this purpose, boil one pound of Potatoes (not peeled,
and divided into quarters.) in two pints of water slowly down to one
pint; then foment the swollen and painful parts with this as hot as it
can be borne. Similarly some of the fresh stalks of the plant, and its
unripe berries, as well as the unpeeled tubers cut up as described, if
infused for some hours in cold water, will make a liquor in which
the folded linen of a compress may be loosely rung out, and applied
most serviceably under waterproof tissue, or a double layer of dry
flannel. The carriage of a small raw Potato in the trousers' pocket
has been often found preventive of rheumatism in a person
predisposed thereto, probably by reason of the sulphur, and the
narcotic principles contained in the peel. Ladies in former times had
their dresses supplied with special bags, or pockets, in which to
carry one or more small raw Potatoes about their person for
avoiding rheumatism.

If peeled and pounded in a mortar, uncooked Potatoes applied cold
make a very soothing cataplasm to parts that have been scalded, or
burnt. In Derbyshire a hot boiled Potato is used against corns; and
for frost-bites the mealy flour of baked potatoes, when mixed with
sweet oil and applied, is very healing.

The skin of the tuber contains corky wood which swells in boiling
with the jackets on, and which thus serves to keep in all the juices so
that the digestibility of the Potato is increased; at the same time
water is prevented from entering and spoiling the flavour of the
vegetable. The proportion of muscle-forming food (nitrogen) in the
Potato is very small, and it takes ten and a half pounds of the tubers
to equal one pound of butcher's meat in nutritive value.

The Potato is composed mainly of starch, which [446] affords
animal heat and promotes fatness, The Irish think that these tubers
foster fertility; they prefer them with the jackets on, and somewhat
hard in the middle--"with the bones in." A potato pie is believed to
invigorate the sexual functions.

New Potatoes contain as yet no citric acid, and are hard of digestion,
like sour crude apples; their nutriment, as Gerard says, "is sadly
windy," the starch being immature, and not readily acted on by the
saliva during mastication. "The longer I live," said shrewd Sidney
Smith, "the more I am convinced that half the unhappiness in the
world proceeds from a vexed stomach, or vicious bile: from small
stoppages, or from food pressing in the wrong place. Old
friendships may be destroyed by toasted cheese; and tough salted
meat has led a man not infrequently to suicide."

A mature Potato yields enough citric acid even for commercial
purposes; and there is no better cleaner of silks, cottons, and
woollens, than ripe Potato juice. But even of ripe Potatoes those that
break into a watery meal in the boiling are always found to prove
greatly diuretic, and to much increase the quantity of urine.

By fermentation mature Potatoes, through their starch and sugar,
yield a wine from which may be distilled a Potato spirit, and from it
a volatile oil can be extracted, called by the Germans, _Fuselöl_.
This is nauseous, and causes a heavy headache, with indigestion,
and biliary disorders together with nervous tremors. Chemically it is
amylic ether.

Also when boiled with weak sulphuric acid, the Potato starch is
changed into glucose, or grape sugar, which by fermentation yields
alcohol: and this spirit is often sold under the name of British

A luminosity strong enough to enable a bystander to [447] read by
its light issues from the common Potato when in a state of
putrefaction. In Cumberland, to have "taities and point to dinner," is
a figurative expression which implies scanty fare. At a time when
the duty on salt made the condiment so dear that it was scarce in a
household, the persons at table were fain to point their Potatoes at
the salt cellar, and thus to cheat their imaginations. Carlyle asks in
_Sartor Resartus_ about "an unknown condiment named 'point,' into
the meaning of which I have vainly enquired; the victuals _potato
and point_ not appearing in any European cookery book whatever."

German ladies, at their five o'clock tea, indulge in Potato talk
(_Kartoffel gesprach_) about table dainties, and the methods of
cooking them. Men likewise, from the four quarters of the globe, in
the days of our childhood, were given to hold similar domestic
conclaves, when:--

    "Mr. East made a feast,
    Mr. North laid the cloth,
    Mr. West brought his best,
    Mr. South burnt his mouth
        Eating a cold Potato."

With pleasant skill of poetic alliteration, Sidney Smith wrote in
ordering how to mix a sallet:--

    "Two large Potatoes passed through kitchen sieve,
    Unwonted softness to a salad give."

And Sir Thomas Overbury wittily said about a dolt who took credit
for the merits of his ancestors: "Like the Potato, all that was good
about him was underground."


The Common Primrose (_Primula veris_) is the most widely known
of our English wild flowers, and appears in the Spring as its earliest

[448] It gets its name from the Latin _primus_, first, being named in
old books and M.S. _Pryme rolles_, and in the _Grete Herball_,
Primet, as shortened from Primprint.

In North Devon it is styled the Butter Rose, and in the Eastern
counties it is named (in common with the Cowslip) Paigle, Peagle,
Pegyll, and Palsy plant.

Medicinally also it possesses similar curative attributes, though in a
lesser degree, to those of the Cowslip. Both the root and the flowers
contain a volatile oil, and "primulin" which is identical with
mannite: whilst the acrid principle is "saponin." Alfred Austin, Poet
Laureate, teaches to "make healing salve with early Primroses."

Pliny speaks of the Primrose as almost a panacea: _In aquâ potam
omnibus morbis mederi tradunt_. An infusion of the flowers has
been always thought excellent against nervous disorders of the
hysterical sort. It should be made with from five to ten parts of the
petals to one hundred of water. "Primrose tea" says Gerard, "drunk
in the month of May, is famous for curing the phrensie."

The whole plant is sedative and antispasmodic, being of service by
its preparations to relieve sleeplessness, nervous headache, and
muscular rheumatism. The juice if sniffed up into the nostrils will
provoke violent sneezing, and will induce a free flow of water from
the lining membranes of the nostrils for the mitigation of passive
headaches: though this should not be tried by a person of full habit
with a determination of blood to the head. A teaspoonful of
powdered dry Primrose root will act as an emetic. The whole herb is
somewhat expectorant.

When the petals are collected and dried they become of a greenish
colour: whilst fresh they have a honey-like odour, and a sweetish

[449] Within the last few years a political significance and
popularity have attached themselves to the Primrose beyond every
other British wild flower. It arouses the patriotism of the large
Conservative party, and enlists the favour of many others who
thoughtlessly follow an attractive fashion, and who love the first
fruits of early Spring. Botanically the Primrose has two varieties of
floral structure: one "pin-eyed," with a tall pistil, and short
stamens; the other "thrum-eyed," showing a rosette of tall stamens,
whilst the short pistil must be looked for, like the great Panjandrum
himself, "with a little round button at the top," half way down the
tube. Darwin was the first to explain that this diversity of structure
ensures cross fertilisation by bees and allied insects. Through
advanced cultivation at the hands of the horticulturist the Primula
acquires in some instances a noxious character. For instance, the
_Primula biconica_, which is often grown in dwelling rooms as a
window plant, and commonly sold as such, will provoke an
crysipelatous vesicular eruption of a very troublesome and inflamed
character on the hands and face of some persons who come in
contact with the plant by manipulating it to take cuttings, or in other
ways. A knowledge of this fact should suggest the probable
usefulness of the said Primula, when made into a tincture, and given
in small diluted doses thereof, to act curatively for such an eruption
if attacking the sufferer from idiopathic causes.

The Latins named the Ligustrum (our Privet) Primrose. Coles says
concerning it (17th century): "This herbe is called Primrose; it is
good to 'Potage.'" They also applied the epithet, "Prime rose" to a

The Evening Primrose (_OEnothera biennis_, or _odorata_) is found
in this country on sand banks in the West of England and Cornwall;
but it is then most probably a [450] garden scape, and an alien, its
native habitat being in Canada and the United States of America.
We cultivate it freely in our parterres as a brilliant, yellow, showy
flower. It belongs to the natural order, _Onagraceoe_, so called
because the food of wild asses; and was the "vini venator" of
Theophrastus, 350 B.C. The name signifies having the odour of
wine, _oinos_ and _theera_. Pliny said: "It is an herbe good as wine
to make the heart merrie. It groweth with leaves resembling those of
the almond tree, and beareth flowers like unto roses. Of such virtue
is this herbe that if it be given to drink to the wildest beast that
is, it will tame the same and make it gentle." The best variety of this
plant is the _OEnothera macrocarpa_.

The bark of the Evening Primrose is mucilaginous, and a decoction
made therefrom is of service for bathing the skin eruptions of
infants and young children. To answer such purpose a decoction
should be made from the small twigs, and from the bark of the
larger branches, retaining the leaves. This has been found further of
use for diarrhoea associated with an irritable stomach, and asthma.
The infusion, or the liquid extract, acts as a mild but efficient
sedative in nervous indigestion, from twenty to thirty drops of the
latter being given for a dose. The ascertained chemical principle of
the plant, _OEnotherin_, is a compound body. Its flowers open in
the evening, and last only until the next noon; therefore this plant is
called the "Evening Primrose," or "Evening Star."

Another of the Primrose tribe, the Cyclamen, or Sow-bread (_Panis
porcinus_), is often grown in our gardens, and for ornamenting our
rooms as a pot plant. Its name means (Greek) "a circle," and refers
to the reflected corolla, or to the spiral fruit-stalks; and again,
[451] from the tuber being the food of wild swine. Gerard said it was
reported in his day to grow wild on the Welsh mountains, and on the
Lincolnshire hills: but he failed to find it. Nevertheless it is now
almost naturalised in some parts of the South, and East of England.
As the petals die, the stalks roll up and carry the capsular berries
down to the surface of the ground. A medicinal tincture is made
(H.) from the fresh root when flowering. The ivy-leaved variety is
found in England, with nodding fresh-coloured blossoms, and a
brown intensely acrid root. Besides starch, gum, and pectin, it yields
chemically, "cyclamin," or "arthanatin," with an action like
"saponin," whilst the juice is poisonous to fish. When applied
externally as a liniment over the bowels, it causes them to be
purged. Gerard quaintly and suggestively declares "It is not good
for women with childe to touch, or take this herbe, or to come neere
unto it, or to stride over the same where it groweth: for the natural
attractive vertue therein contained is such that, without controversie,
they that attempt it in manner above said, shall be delivered before
their time; which danger and inconvenience to avoid, I have
fastened sticks in the ground about the place in my garden where it
groweth, and some other sticks also crosswaies over them, lest any
woman should by lamentable experiment find my words to be true
by stepping over the same. Again, the root hanged about women in
their extreme travail with childe, causeth them to be delivered
incontinent: and the leaves put into the place hath the like effect."
Inferentially a tincture of the plant should be good for falling and
displacement of the womb. "Furthermore, Sowbread, being beaten,
and made into little flat cakes, is reputed to be a good amorous
medicine, to make one in love."

[452] In France, another Primula, the wild Pimpernel, occurs as a
noxious herb, and is therefore named Mouron.


The Quince (_Cydonia_) is cultivated sparingly in our orchards for
the sake of its highly fragrant, and strong-smelling fruit, which
as an adjunct to apples is much esteemed for table uses.

It may well be included among remedial Herbal Simples because of
the virtues possessed by the seeds within the fruit. The tree is a
native of Persia and Crete; bearing a pear-shaped fruit, golden
yellow when gathered, and with five cells in it, each containing
twelve closely packed seeds. These are mucilaginous when
unbroken, and afford the taste of bitter almonds.

When immersed in water they swell up considerably, and the
mucilage will yield salts of lime with albumen.

_Bandoline_ is the mucilage of Quince seeds to which some Eau de
Cologne is added: and this mixture is employed for keeping the hair
fixed when dressed by the _Coiffeur_.

The mucilage of Quince seeds is soothing and protective to an
irritated or inflamed skin; it may also be given internally for
soreness of the lining mucous membranes of the stomach and
bowels, as in gastric catarrh, and for cough with a dry sore throat.
One dram of the seeds boiled slowly in half-a-pint of fresh water
until the liquor becomes thick, makes an excellent mucilage as a
basis for gargles and injections; or, one part of the seeds to fifty
parts of rosewater, shaken together for half-an-hour.

From growing at first in Cydon, now Candia, the tree got its name
_Cydonia_: its old English title was Melicotone; and in ancient
Rome it was regarded as a sacred fruit, [453] being hung upon
statues in the houses of the great. Now we banish the tree, because
of its strong penetrating odour, to a corner of the garden.
Lord Bacon commended "quiddemy," a preserve of Quinces, for
strengthening the stomach; and old Fuller said of this fruit, "being
not more pleasant to the palate than restorative to the health, they
are accounted a great cordiall." Jam made from the Quince (_Malmelo_)
first took the name of Marmalade, which has since passed on
to other fruit conserves, particularly to that of the Seville
Orange. In France the Quince is made into a _compôte_ which is
highly praised for increasing the digestive powers of weakly
persons. According to Plutarch Solon made a law that the Quince
should form the invariable feast of the bridegroom (and some add
likewise of the bride) before retiring to the nuptial couch. Columella
said: "Quinces yield not only pleasure but health." The Greeks
named the Quince "Chrysomelon," or the Golden Apple; so it is
asserted that the golden fruit of the Hesperides were Quinces, and
that these tempted Hercules to attack their guardian dragon.
Shakespeare makes Lady Capulet when ordering the wedding feast,

    "Call for dates, and Quinces in the pastry."

In Persia the fruit ripens, and is eaten there as a dessert delicacy
which is much prized. If there be but a single Quince in a caravan,
no one who accompanies it can remain unconscious of its presence.
In Sussex at one time a popular wine was made of Quinces. They
are astringent to stay diarrhoea; and a syrup may be concocted from
their juice to answer this purpose. For thrush and for excoriations
within the mouth and upper throat, one drachm of the seeds should
[459] be boiled in eight fluid ounces of water until it acquires a
proper demulcent mucilaginous consistence. "Simon Sethi writeth,"
says Gerard: "that the woman with child that eateth many Quinces
during the time of her breeding, shall bring forth wise children, and
of good understanding." Gerard says again: "The marmalad, or
Cotiniat made of Quinces and sugar is good and profitable to
strengthen the stomach that it may retain and keep the meat therein
until it be perfectly digested. It also stayeth all kinds of fluxes
both of the belly, and of other parts, and also of blood. Which
cotiniat is made in this manner. Take four Quinces, pare them, cut them
in pieces, and cast away the core: then put into every pound of Quinces
a pound of sugar, and to every pound of sugar a pint of water. These
must be boiled together over a still fire till they be very soft: next
let it be strained, or rather rubbed through a strainer, or a hairy
sieve, which is better. And then set it over the fire to boil again
until it be stiff: and so box it up: and as it cooleth, put thereto
a little rose water, and a few grains of musk mingled together,
which will give a goodly taste to the cotiniat. This is the way
to make marmalad."

"The seed of Quinces tempered with water doth make a mucilage, or
a thing like jelly which, being held in the mouth is marvellous good
to take away the roughness of the tongue in hot burning fevers."
Lady Lisle sent some cotiniat of Quinces to Henry the Eighth by her
daughter Katharine. They were reputed a sexual stimulant. After
being boiled and preserved in syrup, Quinces give a well known
pleasant flavour to apple pie. As the fruit is free from acid, or
almost so; its marmalade may be eaten by the goutily disposed with more
impunity than that made with the Seville orange. An after taste
suggestive of [455] garlic is left on the palate by masticating Quince

In the modern treatment of chronic dysentery the value of certain
kinds of fresh fruit has come to be medically recognised. Of these
may be specified strawberries, grapes, fresh figs, and tomatoes, all
of which are seed fruits as distinguished from stone fruit. It is
essential that they shall be absolutely sound, and in good condition.
Dr. Saumaurez Lacy, of Guernsey, has successfully practised this
treatment for many years, and it has been recently employed by
others for chronic dysentery, and diarrhoea, with most happy


The common garden Radish (_Raphanus sativus_) is a Cruciferous
plant, and a cultivated variety of the Horse Radish. It came
originally from China, but has been grown allover Europe from time
immemorial. Radishes were celebrated by Dioscorides and Pliny as
above all roots whatsoever, insomuch, that in the Delphic temple
there was a Radish of solid gold, _raphanus ex auro dicatus_: and
Moschinus wrote a whole volume in their praise; but Hippocrates
condemned them as _vitiosas, innatantes, acoegre concoctiles._

Among the oblations offered to Apollo in his temple at Delphi,
turnips were dedicated in lead, beet in silver, and radishes in
wrought gold. The wild Radish is _Raphanus raphanistrum_. The
garden Radish was not grown in England before 1548.

Later on John Evelyn wrote in his _Acetaria_: "And indeed (besides
that they decay the teeth) experience tells us that, as the Prince of
Physicians writes, it is hard of digestion, inimicous to the stomach,
causing nauseous eructations, and sometimes vomiting, though
[456] otherwise diuretic, and thought to repel the vapours of wine
when the wits were at their genial club." "The Radish," says Gerard,
"provoketh urine, and dissolveth cluttered sand."

The roots, which are the edible part, consist of a watery fibrous
pulp, which is comparatively bland, and of an external skin
furnished with a pungent volatile aromatic oil which acts as a
condiment to the phlegmatic pulp. "Radishes are eaten with salt
alone as carrying their pepper in them." The oil contained in the
roots, and likewise in the seeds, is sulphuretted, and disagrees with
persons of weak digestion. A young Radish, which is quickly grown
and tender, will suit most stomachs, especially if some of the leaves
are masticated together with the root; but a Radish which is tough,
strong, and hollow, "_fait penser à l'ile d'Elbe: il revient_."

The pulp is chemically composed chiefly of nitrogenous substance,
being fibrous and tough unless when the roots are young and
quickly grown. On this account they should not be eaten when at all
old and hard by persons of slow digestion, because apt to lodge in
the intestines, and to become entangled in their caecal pouch, or in
its appendix. But boiled Radishes are almost equal to asparagus
when served at table, provided they have been cooked long enough
to become tender, that is, for almost an hour. The syrup of radishes
is excellent for hoarseness, bronchial difficulty of breathing,
whooping cough, and other complaints of the chest.

For the cure of corns, if after the feet have been bathed, and the
corns cut, a drop or two of juice be squeezed over the corn from the
fresh pulp of a radish on several consecutive days, this will wither
and [457] disappear. Also Radish roots sliced when fresh, and
applied to a carbuncle will promote its healing. An old Saxon
remedy against a woman's chatter was to "taste at night a root of
Radish when fasting, and the chatter will not be able to harm him."
In some places the Radish is called Rabone.

From the fresh plant, choosing a large Spanish Radish, with a
turnip-shaped root, and a black outer skin, and collected in the
autumn, a medicinal tincture (H.) is made with spirit of wine. This
tincture has proved beneficial in cases of bilious diarrhoea, with
eructations, and mental depression, when a chronic cough is also
liable to be present. Four or five drops should be given with a
tablespoonful of cold water, twice or three times in the day. The
Black Radish is found useful against whooping cough, and is
employed for this purpose in Germany, by cutting off the top, and
then making a hole in the root. This is filled with treacle, or honey,
and allowed to stand for a day or two; then a teaspoonful of the
medicinal liquid is given two or three times in the day. Roman
physicians advised that Radishes should be eaten raw, with bread
and salt in the morning before any other food. And our poet
Thomson describes as an evening repast:--

                    "A Roman meal
    Such as the mistress of the world once found
    Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
    Perhaps by moonlight at their humble doors,
    Under an ancient Oak's domestic shade,
    Enjoy'd spare feast, a RADISH AND AN EGG."


The Ragwort (_Senecio Jacoboea_) is a very common plant in our
meadows, and moist places, closely allied to the [458] Groundsel,
and well known by its daisy-like flowers, but of a golden yellow
colour, with rays in a circle surrounding the central receptacle, and
with a strong smell of honey. This plant goes popularly by the name
of St. James's wort, or Canker wort, or (near Liverpool) Fleawort,
and in Yorkshire, Seggrum; also Jacoby and Yellow Top. The term
Ragwort, or Ragweed, is a corruption of Ragewort, as expressing its
supposed stimulating effects on the sexual organs. For the same
reason the _pommes d'amour_ (Love Apples, or Tomatoes) are
sometimes caned Rage apples. The Ragwort was formerly thought
to cure the staggers in horses, and was hence named Stagger wort,
or because, says Dr. Prior, it was applied to heal freshly cut young
bulls, known as Seggs, or Staggs. So also it was called St. James's
wort, either because that great warrior and saint was the patron of
horses, or because it blossoms on his day, July 25th: sometimes also
the plant has been styled Stammer wort. Furthermore it possesses a
distinct reputation for the cure of cancer, and is known as
Cankerwort, being applied when bruised, either by itself, or
combined with Goosegrass.

Probably the lime which the whole plant contains in a highly
elaborated state of subdivision has fairly credited it with
anti-cancerous powers. For just such a reason Sir Spencer Wens
commended powdered egg shells and powdered oyster shells as
efficacious in curing certain cases under his immediate observation
of long-standing cancer, when steadily given for some considerable

A poultice made of the fresh leaves, and applied externally two or
three times in succession "will cure, if ever so violent, the old ache
in the hucklebone known as sciatica." Chemically the active
principle of the [459] Ragwort is "senecin," a dark resinous
substance, of which two grains may be given twice or three times in
the day.

Also the tincture, made with one part of the plant to ten parts of
spirit of wine (tenuior), may be taken in doses of from five to fifteen
drops, with a spoonful of water three times in the day.

Either form of medicine will correct monthly irregularities of
women where the period is delayed, or difficult, or arrested by cold.
It must be given steadily three times a day for ten days or a fortnight
before the period becomes re-established. In suitable cases the
Senecio not only anticipates the period, but also increases the
quantity: and where the monthly time has never been established the
Ragwort is generally found useful.

This herb--like its congener, the common Groundsel--has lancinated,
juicy leaves, which possess a bitter saline taste, and yield
earthy potash salts abundantly. Each plant is named "Senecio"
because of the grey woolly pappus of its seeds, which resemble the
silvered hair of old age. In Ireland the Ragwort is dedicated to the
fairies, and is known as the Fairies' Horse, on the golden blossoms
of which the good little people are thought to gallop about at


The Raspberry (_Rubus Idoeus_) occurs wild plentifully in the
woods of Scotland, where children gather the fruit early in summer.
It is also found growing freely in some parts of England--as in the
Sussex woods--and bearing berries of as good a quality as that of
the cultivated Raspberry, though not so large in size.

Another name for the fruit is _Framboise_, which is [460] a French
corruption of the Dutch word _brambezie_, or brambleberry.

Again, the Respis, or Raspberry, was at one time commonly known
in this country as Hindberry, or the gentler berry, as distinguished
from one of a harsher and coarser sort, the Hartberry. "Respberry"
signifies in the Eastern Counties of England a shoot, or sucker, this
name being probably applied because the fruit grows on the young
shoots of the previous year. Raspberry fruit is fragrant and cooling,
but sugar improves its flavour. Like the strawberry, if eaten without
sugar and cream, it does not undergo any acetous fermentation in
the stomach, even with gouty or strumous persons. When combined
with vinegar and sugar it makes a liqueur which, if diluted with
water, is most useful in febrile disorders, and which is all excellent
addition to sea stores as preventive of scurvy.

The Latins named this shrub "the bramble of Ida," because it grew
in abundance on that classic mountain where the shepherd Paris
adjudged to Venus the prize for beauty--a golden apple--on which
was divinely inscribed the words, _Detur pulchriori_--"Let this be
awarded to the fairest of womankind."

The fresh leaves of the Raspberry are the favourite food of kids.
There are red, white, yellow, and purple varieties of this fruit. Heat
develops the richness of its flavour; and Raspberry jam is the prince
of preserves.

Again, a wine can be brewed from the fermented juice, which is
excellent against scurvy because of its salts of potash--the citrate
and malate.

Raspberry vinegar, made by pouring vinegar repeatedly over
successive quantities of the fresh fruit, is a capital remedy for sore
throat from cold, or of the [461] relaxed kind; and when mixed with
water it furnishes a most refreshing drink in fevers. But the berries
should be used immediately after being gathered, as they quickly
spoil, and their fine flavour is very evanescent. The vinegar can be
extemporised by diluting Raspberry jelly with hot vinegar, or by
mixing syrup of the fruit with vinegar.

In Germany a conserve of Raspberries which has astringent effects
is concocted with two parts of sugar to one of juice expressed from
the fruit. Besides containing citric and malic acids, the Raspberry
affords a volatile oil of aromatic flavour, with crystallisable sugar,
pectin, colouring matter, mucus, some mineral salts, and water.

Gerard says: "The fruit is good to be given to them that have weake,
and queasie stomackes."

A playful example of the declension of a Latin substantive is given

    _Musa, Musoe_,
    The Gods were at tea:
    _Musoe, Musam_,
    Eating Raspberry jam:
    _Musa, Musah_,
    Made by Cupid's mamma.

RHUBARB (Garden). _see_ Dock, _page_ 159.


Rice, or Ryse, the grain of _Oryza sativa_, a native cereal of India,
is considered here scarcely as a Herbal Simple, but rather as a
common article of some medicinal resource in the store cupboard of
every English house-hold, and therefore always at band as a
vegetable remedy.

Among the Arabs Rice is considered a sacred food: [462] and their
tradition runs that it first sprang from a drop of Mahomet's
perspiration in Paradise.

Being composed almost exclusively of starch, and poorer in
nitrogen, as well as in phosphoric acid, than other cereals, it is less
laxative, and is of value as a demulcent to palliate irritative
diarrhoea, and to allay intestinal distress.

A mucilage of Rice made by boiling the well-washed grain for some
time in water, and straining, contains starch and phosphate of lime
in solution, and is therefore a serviceable emollient. But when
needed for food the grain should be steamed, because in boiling it
loses the little nitrogen, and the greater part of the lime phosphate
which it has scantily contained.

Rice bread and Rice cakes, simply made, are very light and easy of
digestion. The gluten confers the property of rising on dough or
paste made of Rice flour. But as an article of sustenance Rice is not
well suited for persons of fermentative tendencies during the
digestion of their food, because its starch is liable to undergo this
chemical change in the stomach.

Dr. Tytler reported in the _Lancet_ (1833), cases resembling
malignant cholera from what he termed the _morbus oryzoeus_, as
provoked by the free and continued use of Rice as food. And
Boutins, in 1769, published an account of the diseases common to
the East Indies, in which he stated that when Rice is eaten more or
less exclusively, the vision becomes impaired. But neither of these
allegations seems to have been afterwards authoritatively confirmed.

Chemically, Rice consists of starch, fat, fibrin, mineral matter such
as phosphate of lime, cellulose, and water.

A spirituous liquor is made in China from the grain of Rice, and
bears the name "arrack."

[463] Rice cannot be properly substituted in place of succulent
green vegetables dietetically for any length of time, or it would
induce scurvy. The Indians take stewed Rice to cure dysentery, and
a decoction of the grain for the purpose of subduing inflammatory

Paddy, or Paddee, is Rice from which the husk has not been
removed before crushing. It has been said by some that the
cultivation of Rice lowers vitality, and shortens life.

In Java a special Rice-pudding is made by first putting some raw
Rice in a conical earthen pot wide at the top, and perforated in its
body with holes. This is placed inside another earthen pot of a
similar shape but not perforated, and containing boiling water. The
swollen Rice soon stops up the holes of the inner pot, and the Rice
within becomes of a firm consistence, like pudding, and is eaten
with butter, sugar, and spices.

An ordinary Rice-pudding is much improved by adding some
rosewater to it before it is baked.

This grain has been long considered of a pectoral nature, and useful
for persons troubled with lung disease, and spitting of blood, as in
pulmonary consumption. The custom of throwing a shower of Rice
after and over a newly married couple is very old, though wheat was
at first the chosen grain as an augury of plenty. The bride wore a
garland of ears of corn in the time of Henry the Eighth.


Certain curative properties are possessed both by the Briar, or wild
Dog Rose of our country hedges, and by the cultivated varieties of
this queen of flowers in our Roseries. The word Rose means red,
from the Greek [464] _rodon_, connected also with _rota_, a wheel,
which resembles the outline of a Rose. The name Briar is from the
Latin _bruarium_, the waste land on which it grows. The first Rose
of a dark red colour, is held to have sprung from the blood of
Adonis. The fruit of the wild Rose, which is so familiar to every
admirer of our hedgerows in the summer, and which is the common
progenitor of all Roses, is named Hips. "Heps maketh," says Gerard,
"most pleasant meats or banquetting dishes, as tarts and such like,
the concoction whereof I commit to the cunning cook, and teeth to
eat them in the rich man's mouth."

Hips, derived from the old Saxon, _hiupa, jupe_, signifies the Briar
rather than its fruit. They are called in some parts, "choops," or
"hoops." The woolly down which surrounds the seeds within the
Hips serves admirably for dispelling round worms, on which it acts
mechanically without irritating the mucous membrane which lines
the bowels.

When fully ripe and softened by frost, the Hips, after removal of
their hard seeds, and when plenty of sugar is added, make a very
nice confection, which the Swiss and Germans eat at dessert, and
which forms an agreeable substitute for tomato sauce. Apothecaries
employ this conserve in the preparing of electuaries, and as a basis
for pills. They also officinally use the petals of the Cabbage Rose
(_Centifolia_) for making Rose water, and the petals of the Red
Rose (_Gallica_) for a cooling infusion, the brilliant colour of which
is much improved by adding some diluted sulphuric acid; and of
these petals they further direct a syrup to be concocted.

Next in development to the Dog Rose, or Hound's Rose, comes the
Sweetbriar (Eglantine), with a delicate perfume contained under its
glandular leaves. [465] "_Fragrantia ejus olei omnia alia odoramenta
superest_." This (_Rosa rubiginosa_) grows chiefly on chalk as a
bushy shrub. Its poetic title, Eglantine, is a corruption of the Latin
_aculeius_, prickly. A legend tells that Christ's crown of thorns was
made from the Rose-briar, about which it has been beautifully

   "Men sow the thorns on Jesus' brow,
   But Angels saw the Roses."

Pliny tells a remarkable story of a soldier of the Praetorian guard,
who was cured of hydrophobia, against all hope, by taking an
extract of the root of the _Kunoroddon_, Dog Rose, in obedience to
the prayer of his mother, to whom the remedy was revealed in a
dream; and he says further, that it likewise restored whoever tried
it afterwards. Hence came the title _Canina_. "_Parceque elle a
longtemps été en vogue pour guerir de la rage_."

But the term, Dog Rose, is generally thought to merely signify a
flower of lower quality than the nobler Roses of garden culture.

The five graceful fringed leaflets which form the special beauty of
the Eglantine flower and bud, have given rise to the following Latin
enigma (translated):--

    "Of us five brothers at the same time born,
    Two from our birthday always beards have worn:
    On other two none ever have appeared,
    While our fifth brother wears but half a beard."

From Roses the Romans prepared wine and confections, also subtle
scents, sweet-smelling oil, and medicines. The petals of the crimson
French Rose, which is grown freely in our gardens, have been
esteemed of signal efficacy in consumption of the lungs [466] since
the time of Avicenna, A.D. 1020, who states that he cured many
patients by prescribing as much of the conserve as they could
manage to swallow daily. It was combined with milk, or with some
other light nutriment; and generally from thirty to forty pounds of
this medicine had to be consumed before the cure was complete.
Julius Caesar hid his baldness at the age of thirty with Roman Roses.

"Take," says an old MS. recipe of Lady Somerset's, "Red Rose buds,
and clyp of the tops, and put them in a mortar with ye waight of
double refined sugar; beat them very small together, then put it up;
must rest three full months, stirring onces a day. This is good
against the falling sickness."

It is remarkable that while the blossoms of the Rose Order present
various shades of yellow, white, and red, blue is altogether foreign
to them, and unknown among them.

As the Thistle is symbolical of Scotland, the Leek of Wales, and the
Shamrock of Ireland: so the sweet, pure, simple, honest Rose of our
woods is the apt-chosen emblem of Saint George, and the frank,
bonny, blushing badge of Merrie England.

The petals of the Cabbage Rose (_Centifolia_), which are closely
folded over each other like the leaves of a cabbage, have a slight
laxative action, and are used for making Rose-water by distillation,
whether when fresh, or after being preserved by admixture with
common salt. This perfumed water has long enjoyed a reputation for
the cure of inflamed eyes, more commonly when combined with
zinc, or with sugar of lead. Hahnemann quotes the same established
practice as a tacit avowal that there exists in the leaves of the Rose
some healing power for certain diseased conditions of [567] the
eyes, which virtue is really founded on the homoeopathic property
possessed by the Rose, of exciting a species of ophthalmia in
healthy persons; as was observed by Echtius, Ledelius, and Rau.

It is recorded also in his _Organon of Medicine_, that persons are
sometimes found to faint at the smell of Roses (or, as Pope puts it,
to "die of a rose in aromatic pain"); whereas the Princess Maria,
cured her brother, the Emperor Alexius, who suffered from
faintings, by sprinkling him with Rose-water, in the presence of his
aunt Eudoxia.

The wealthy Greeks and Romans strewed Roses on the tombs of
departed friends, whilst poorer persona could only afford a tablet
at the grave bearing the prayer:

    "Sparge, precor, rosas super mea busta, viator."

    "Scatter Roses, I beseech you, over my ashes, O pitiful passer-by."

But nowadays many persons have an aversion to throwing a Rose
into a grave, or even letting one fall in.

Roses and reticence of speech have been linked together since the
time of Harpocrates, whom Cupid bribed to silence by the gift of a
golden Rose-bud; and therefore it became customary at Roman
feasts to suspend over the table a flower of this kind as a hint that
the convivial sayings which were then interchanged wore not to be
talked of outside. What was spoken "sub vino" was not to be
published "sub divo":

    "Est rosa flos veneris, cujus quo facta laterent
    Harpocrati, matris dona, dicavit amor:
    Inde rosam mensis hospes suspendid amicis,
    Conviva ut sub eâ dicta tacenda sciat."

[468] For the same reason the Rose is found sculptured on the
ceilings of banqueting rooms; and in 1526 it began to be placed over
Confessionals. Thus it has come about that the Rose is held to be the
symbol of secrecy, as well as the flower of love, and the emblem of
beauty: so that the significant phrase "sub rosa,"--under the Rose,--
conveys a recognised meaning, understood, and respected by
everyone. The bed of Roses is not altogether a poetic fiction. In old
days the Sybarites slept upon mattresses which were stuffed with
Rose petals: and the like are now made for persons of rank on the

A memorial brass over the tomb of Abbot Kirton, in Westminster
Abbey, bears testimony to the high value he attached during life to
Roses curatively:--

    "Sis, Rosa, flos florum, morbis medicina meoium."

Many country persons believe, that if Roses and Violets are
plentiful in the autumn, some epidemic may be expected presently.
But this conclusion must be founded like that which says, "a green
winter makes a fat churchyard," on the fact that humid warmth
continued on late in the year tends to engender putrid ferments, and
to weaken the bodily vigour.

Attar of Roses is a costly product, because consisting of the
comparatively few oil globules found floating on the surface of a
considerable volume of Rose water thrice distilled. It takes five
hundredweight of Rose petals to produce one drachm by weight of
the finest Attar, which is preserved in small bottles made of rock
crystal. The scent of the minutest particle of the genuine essence is
very powerful and enduring:--

    "You may break, you may ruin, the vase if you will,
    But the scent of the Roses will hang round it still."

The inscription, _Rosamundi, non Rosa munda,_ was graven on the
tomb of fair Rosamund, the inamorata of Henry the Seventh:--

    "Hic jacet in tombâ Rosa Mundi, non Rosa munda;
    Non redolet, sed olet quae redolere solet."

    "Here Rose the graced, not Rose the chaste, reposes;
    The smell that rises is no smell of Roses."

In Sussex, the peculiar excrescence which is often found on the
Briar, as caused by the puncture of an insect, and which is known as
the canker, or "robin redbreast's cushion," is frequently worn round
the neck as a protective amulet against whooping cough. This was
called in the old Pharmacopeias "Bedeguar," and was famous for its
astringent properties. Hans Andersen names it the "Rose King's

The Rosary was introduced by St. Dominick to commemorate his
having been shown a chaplet of Roses by the Blessed Virgin. It
consisted formerly of a string of beads made of Rose leaves tightly
pressed into round moulds and strung together, when real Roses
could not be had. The use of a chaplet of beads for recording the
number of prayers recited is of Eastern origin from the time of the
Egyptian Anchorites.

The Rock Rose (a _Cistus_), grows commonly in our hilly pastures on
a soil of chalk, or gravel, bearing clusters of large, bright, yellow
flowers, from a small branching shrub. These flowers expand only
in the sunshine, and have stamens which, if lightly touched, spread
out, and lie down on the petals. The plant proves medicinally useful,
particularly if grown in a soil containing magnesia. A tincture is
prepared (H.) from the whole plant, English or Canadian, which is
useful for curing shingles, on the principle of its producing, when
taken by healthy provers in doses of various [470] potencies, a
cutaneous outbreak on the trunk of the body closely resembling the
characteristic symptoms of shingles, whilst attended with nervous
distress, and with much burning of the affected skin. The plant has
likewise a popular reputation for healing scrofula, and its tincture is
beneficial for reducing enlarged glands, as of the neck and throat;
also for strumous swelling of the knee joint, as well as of other
joints. It is a "helianthemum" of the Sunflower tribe.

The Canadian Rock Rose is called Frostwort and Frostweed,
because crystals of ice shoot from the cracked bark below the stem
during freezing weather in the autumn.

A decoction of our plant has proved useful in prurigo (itching), and
as a gargle for the sore throat of scarlet fever. For shingles, from
five to ten drops of the tincture, third decimal strength, should be
given with a spoonful of water three times a day.


The Rosemary is a well-known, sweet-scented shrub, cultivated in
our gardens, and herb beds on account of its fragrancy and its
aromatic virtues. It came originally from the South of Europe and
the Levant, and was introduced into England before the Norman
Conquest. The shrub (_Rosmarinus_) takes its compound name
from _ros_, dew, _marinus_, belonging to the sea; in allusion to the
grey, glistening appearance of the plant, and its natural locality, as
well as its odour, like that of the sea. It is ever green, and bears
small, pale, blue flowers.

Rosemary was thought by the ancients to refresh the memory and
comfort the brain. Being a cordial herb it was often mentioned in the
lays, or amorous ballads, of the Troubadours; and was called
"Coronaria" [471] because women were accustomed to make
crowns and garlands thereof.

    "What flower is that which regal honour craves?
    Adjoin the Virgin: and 'tis strewn o'er graves."

In some parts of England Rosemary is put with the corpse into the
coffin, and sprigs of it are distributed among the mourners at a
funeral, to be thrown into the grave, Gay alludes to this practice
when describing the burial of a country lass who had met with an
untimely death:--

    "To show their love, the neighbours far and near
    Followed, with wistful looks, the damsel's bier;
    Sprigged Rosemary the lads and lasses bore,
    While dismally the Parson walked before;
    Upon her grave the Rosemary they threw,
    The Daisy, Butter flower, and Endive blue,"

In _Romeo and Juliet_, Father Lawrence says:--

    "Dry up your tears, and stick your Rosemary
    On this fair corse."

The herb has a pleasant scent and a bitter, pungent taste, whilst
much of its volatile, active principle resides in the calices of the
flowers; therefore, in storing or using the plant these parts must be
retained. It yields its virtues partially to water, and entirely to
rectified spirit of wine.

In early times Rosemary was grown largely in kitchen gardens, and
it came to signify the strong influence of the matron who dwelt

    "Where Rosemary flourishes the woman rules,"

The leaves and tops afford an essential volatile oil, but not so much
as the flowers.

A spirit made from this essential oil with spirit of wine will help to
renovate the vitality of paralyzed limbs, if rubbed in with brisk
friction. The volatile oil [472] includes a special camphor similar to
that possessed by the myrtle. The plant also contains some tannin,
with a resin and a bitter principle. By old writers it was said to
increase the flow of milk.

The oil is used officinally for making a spirit of Rosemary, and is
added to the compound tincture of Lavender, as well as to Soap
liniment. By common consent it is agreed that the volatile oil (or the
spirit) when mixed in washes will specially stimulate growth of the
hair. The famous Hungary water, first concocted for a Queen of
Hungary who, by its continual use, became effectually cured of
paralysis, was prepared by putting a pound and a half of the fresh
tops of Rosemary, when in full flower, into a gallon of proof spirit,
which had to stand for four days, and was then distilled.

Hungary water (_l'eau de la reine d'Hongrie_) was formerly very
famous for gout in the hands and feet. Hoyes says, the formula for
composing this water, written by Queen Elizabeth's own hand in
golden characters, is still preserved in the Imperial Library at

An ounce of the dried leaves and flowers treated with a pint of
boiling water, and allowed to stand until cold, makes one of the best
hair washes known. It has the singular power of preventing the hair
from uncurling when exposed to a damp atmosphere. The herb is
used in the preparation of _Eau de Cologne_.

Rosemary wine, taken in small quantities, acts as a quieting cordial
to a heart of which the action is excitable or palpitating, and it
relieves ally accompanying dropsy by stimulating the kidneys. This
wine may be made by chopping up sprigs of Rosemary, and pouring
on them some sound white wine, which after two or [473] three
days, may be strained off and used. By stimulating the nervous
system it proves useful against the headaches of weak circulation
and of languid health. "If a garlande of the tree be put around the
heade it is a remedy for the stuffing of the head that cometh from

The green-leaved variety of Rosemary is the sort to be used
medicinally. There are also silver and gold-leaved diversities. Sprigs
of the herb were formerly stuck into beef whilst roasting as an
excellent relish. A writer of 1707 tells of "Rosemary-preserve to
dress your beef."

The toilet of the Ancients was never considered complete without
an infusion, or spirit of Rosemary; and in olden times Rosemary
was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride at the altar, being first
dipped in scented water. Anne of Cleves, one of Henry the Eighth's
wives, wore such a wreath at her wedding; and when people could
afford it, the Rosemary branch presented to each guest was richly

The custom which prevailed in olden times of carrying a sprig of
Rosemary in the hand at a funeral, took its rise from the notion of an
alexipharmick or preservative powder in this herb against
pestilential disorders; and hence it was thought that the smelling
thereof was a powerful defence against any morbid effluvia from the

For the same reason it was usual to burn Rosemary in the chambers
of the sick, just as was formerly done with frankincense, which gave
the Greeks occasion to call the Rosemary _Libanotis_. In the French
language of flowers this herb represents the power of rekindling lost
energy. "The flowers of Rosemary," says an old author, "made up
into plates (lozenges), with sugar, [474] and eaten, comfort the
heart, and make it merry, quicken the spirits, and make them more
lively." "There's Rosemary for you--that's for remembrance! Pray
you, love, remember!" says Ophelia in _Hamlet_. The spirit of
Rosemary is kept by all druggists, and may be safely taken in doses
of from twenty to thirty drops with a spoonful or two of water.
Rosemary tea will soon relieve hysterical depression. Some persons
drink it as a restorative at breakfast. It will help to regulate the
monthly flow of women. An infusion of the herb mixed with poplar
bark, and used every night, will make the hair soft, glossy, and

In Northern Ireland is found the Wild Rosemary, or Marsh Tea
(_Ledum palustre_), which has admirable curative uses, and from
which, therefore, though it is not a common plant in England, a
medicinal tincture (H.) is made with spirit of wine.

The herb belongs to the Rock Rose tribe, and contains citric acid,
leditannic acid, resin, wax, and a volatile principle called

This plant is of singular use as a remedy for chilblains, as well as to
subdue the painful effects of a sting from a wasp or bee; also to
relieve gouty pains, which attack severely, but do not cause swelling
of the part, especially as regards the fingers and toes. Four or five
drops of the tincture should be taken for a dose with a tablespoonful
of cold water, three or four times in the day; and linen rags soaked
in a lotion made with a teaspoonful of the tincture added to half a
tumblerful of cold water, should be kept applied over the affected

It equally relieves whitlows; and will heal punctured wounds, if
arnica, or the Marigold, or St. John's Wort is not indicated, or of
use. When tested by provers in large doses, it has caused a
widespread eruption of [475] eczema, with itching and tingling of
the whole skin, extending into the mouth and air passages, and
occasioning a violent spasmodic cough. Hence, one may fairly
assume (and this has been found to hold good), that a gouty,
spasmodic cough of the bronchial tubes, attended with gouty
eczema, and with pains in the smaller joints, will be generally cured
by tincture or infusion of the Wild Rosemary in small doses of a
diluted strength, given several times a day, the diet at the same time
being properly regulated. Formerly this herb was used in Germany
for making beer heady; but it is now forbidden by law.


The wild Rue is found on the hills of Lancashire and Yorkshire,
being more vehement in smell and in operation than the garden Rue.
This latter, _Ruta graveolens,_ (powerfully redolent), the common
cultivated Rue of our kitchen gardens, is a shrub with a pungent
aromatic odour, and a bitter, hot, penetrating taste, having leaves of
a bluish-green colour, and remaining verdant all the year round. It is
first mentioned as cultivated in England by Turner, in his _Herbal_,
1562, and has since become one of the best known and most widely
grown Simples for medicinal and homely uses. The name _Ruta_ is
from the Greek _reuo_, to set free, because this herb is so efficacious
in various diseases. The Greeks regarded Rue as an anti-magical
herb, since it served to remedy the nervous indigestion and
flatulence from which they suffered when eating before strangers:
which infirmity they attributed to witchcraft. This herb was further
termed of old "Serving men's joy," because of the multiplicity of
common ailments which it was warranted to cure. It constituted a
chief ingredient of the famous antidote of Mithridates to poisons,
the formula of which [476] was found by Pompey in the satchel of
the conquered King. The leaves are so acrid, that if they be much
handled they inflame the skin; and the wild plant possesses this
acridity still more strongly.

Water serves to extract the virtues of the cultivated shrub better than
spirit of wine is able to do. The juice of Rue is of great efficacy in
some forms of epilepsy, operating for the most part insensibly,
though sometimes causing vomiting or purging.

Piperno, a Neapolitan physician, in 1625, commended Rue as a
specific against epilepsy and vertigo. For the former malady at one
time some of this herb was suspended round the neck of the
sufferer, whilst "forsaking the devil with all his works, and invoking
the Lord Jesus." Goat's Rue, _Galega_, is likewise of service in
epilepsy and convulsions.

If a leaf or two of Rue be chewed, a refreshing aromatic flavour will
pervade the mouth, and any nervous headache, giddiness, hysterical
spasm, or palpitation, will be quickly relieved. Two drachms of
powdered Rue, if taken every day regularly as a dose for a long
while together, will often do wonders. It was much used by the
ancients, and Hippocrates commended it. The herb is strongly
stimulating and anti-spasmodic; its most important constituent being
the volatile oil, which contains caprinic, pelargonic, caprylic, and
oenanthylic acids. The oxygenated portion is caprinic aldehyde. In
too full doses the oil causes aching of the loins, frequent urination,
dulness and weight of mind, flushes of heat, unsteadiness of gait,
and increased frequency of the pulse, but with diminished force.
Similar symptoms are produced during an attack of the modern
epidemical influenza; as like-wise by oil of wormwood, and some
other essential oils.

[477] Externally, Rue is an active irritant to the skin, the bruised
leaves blistering the hands, and causing a pustular eruption. Gerard
says, "The wild Rue venometh the hands that touch it, and will also
infect the face; therefore it is not to be admitted to meat, or
medicine." It stimulates the monthly function in women, but must
be used with caution.

The decoction and infusion are to be made from the fresh plant, or
(when this plant cannot be got), the oil may be given in a dose of
from one to five drops. Externally, compresses saturated with a
strong decoction of the plant when applied to the chest, have been
used beneficially for chronic bronchitis.

Rue is best adapted to those of phlegmatic habit, and of languid
constitutional energies. It is often employed in the form of tea. The
_Schola Salernitana_ says about this plant:--

    "Ruta viris minuit venerem, mulieribus addit
    Ruta facit castum, dat lumen, et ingerit astum
    Coctaque ruta facit de pulicibus loca tuta."

    "Rue maketh chaste: and eke preserveth sight;
    Infuseth wit, and putteth fleas to flight."

The leaves promote the menses, being given in doses of from fifteen
to twenty grains. "Pliny," says John Evelyn, "reports Rue to be of
such effect for the preservation of sight that the painters of his time
used to devour a great quantity of it; and the herb is still eaten by
the Italians frequently mingled amongst their salads." With respect to
its use in epilepsy, Julius Caesar Baricellus said: "I gave to my own
children two scruples of the juice of Rue, and a small matter of
gold; and, by the blessing of God, they were freed from their fits."
The essential oil of Rue may be used for the same purpose, and in
like manner.

[478] Formerly this plant was thought to bestow second sight; and
so sacred a regard was at one time felt for it in our islands, that the
missionaries sprinkled their holy water from brushes made of the
Rue; for which cause it was named "Herb of Grace."

Gerard tells us: "The garden Rue, which is better than the wild Rue
for physic's use, grows most profitably (as Dioscorides said) under a
fig tree." Country people boil its leaves with treacle, thus making a
conserve of them. These leaves are curative of croup in poultry.

In the early part of the present century it was customary for judges,
sitting at Assize, to have sprigs of Rue placed on the bench of the
dock, as defensive against the pestilential infection brought into
court from gaol by the prisoners. The herb was supposed to afford
powerful protection from contagion.

At the present time the medicinal tincture (H.) is used for the
treatment of rheumatism when developed in the membranes which
invest the bones. If bruised and applied, the leaves will ease the
severe pain of sciatica. The expressed juice taken in small quantities
is a noted remedy for nervous nightmare. A quaint old rhyme says
of the plant:--

    "Nobilis est ruta quia lumina reddit acuta."

    "Noble is Rue! it makes the sight of eyes both sharp and clear;
    With help of Rue, oh! blear-eyed man I thou shalt see far and

This is essentially the case when the vision has become dim through
over exertion of the eyes. It was with "Euphrasy and Rue" the visual
nerve of Adam was purged by Milton's Angel.

As a preserver of chastity Ophelia was made by Shakespeare to give
Rue to Hamlet's mother, the Queen of Denmark.

[479] RUSHES.

The true Rushes (_Juncaceoe_) include the Soft Rush (_effusus_);
the Hard Rush (_glaucus_); and the Common Rush (_conglomeratus_).
The Bulrush (Pool Rush) is a Sedge; the Club Rush is a Typha;
and the flowering Rush, a Butomus. "Rish" was the old method
of spelling the name.

A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the fresh root of the _juncus
effusus_. It will be found helpful against spinal irritability, with
some crampy tightness felt in the arms and legs, together with
headache and flatulent indigestion. Four or five drops should be
given for a dose, with a spoonful of water, three or four times in the

This, the Soft Rush, is commonly used for tying the bines of hops to
the poles; and, as these bines grow larger in size, the rushes wither,
setting the bines free in a timely fashion. To find a green-topped
Seave, or Rush, and a four-leaved Clover, is, in rural estimation,
equally lucky.

The generic title, _Juncus_, has been applied because Rushes are _in
conjunction_ when planted together for making cordage.

The common Rush is found by roadsides in damp pastures, and is
readily known by its long, slender, round, naked stem, containing
pith, and showing about the middle of July a dense globular bead of
brown flowers. Rushes of this sort were employed by our remote
ancestors for strewing, when fresh and green, about the floor of the
hall after discontinuing its big fire at Eastertide. Shakespeare says
in _Romeo and Juliet:_--

    "Wantons, light of heart,
    Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels."

[480] In obedience to a bequest (1494); Rushes are still
strewn about the pavement of Redcliff Church at Bristol every
Whit-Sunday. The common phrase, "not worth a Rush," took its origin
from this general practice. Distinguished guests were honoured in
mediaeval times with clean fresh Rushes; but those of inferior rank
had either the Rushes left by their superiors, or none at all.

The sweet-scented "Flag," or Rush (_Acorus calamus_), was always
used by preference where it could be procured. It is a native of this
country, growing on watery banks, and very plentiful in the river's
of Norfolk, from whence the London market is supplied. The roots
have a warm, bitter taste, and the essential oil is highly aromatic,
this being used for preparing aromatic vinegar. In Norfolk the
powdered dry rhizome is given for ague. With sugar it makes an
agreeable cordial conserve. (See _Flag (Sweet)_, _page_ 201 ). For
preserving the aromatic qualities within the dried rhizome; or root, it
should be kept in stock unpeeled. This contains "oleum calami," and
the bitter principle "acorin." Some of the root may be habitually
chewed for the relief of chronic indigestion. The odorous delights of
a pastoral time passed near these sweetly-fragrant plants have been
happily alluded to in the well-known lines of idyllic verse:--

    "Green grow the Rushes, oh!
    Green grow the Rushes, oh!
    The sweetest hours that e'er I spent
    Were spent among the lasses, oh!"

    "Virent junci fluviales,
    Junci prope lymphas:
    Ah! quain ridet quoe me videt
    Hora inter Nymphas!"

[481] The old saying, "As fit as Tib's Rush for Tom's fore-finger,"
alludes to an ancient custom of making spurious marriages with a
ring constructed from a Rush. Tom and Tib were vulgar epithets
applied in Shakespeare's time to the rogue, and the wanton.

The Bulrush (_Scirpus lacustris_) is a tall, aquatic plant, which
belongs to the Sedge tribe. It name was formerly spelt "Pole Rush,"
and was given because this grows in pools of water, and not like
other Rushes, in mire. Bottoms of chairs are frequently made with
its stems. Its seed is prepared medicinally, being astringent and
somewhat sedative; "So soporiferous," says Gerard, "that care must
be had in the administration thereof, lest in provoking sleep you
induce a drowsiness, or dead sleep." Street hawkers, in Autumn,
offer as Bulrushes the tall, round spikes of the Great Reed Mace,
which is not a true Rush. Artists are responsible in the first instance
for the mistake--notably Paul De la Roche, in his famous picture of
"The Finding of Moses." The future great leader of the Israelites is
there depicted in an ark amid a forest of Great Cat's-tail Reeds.

The flowering Rush, or water gladiole, which grows by the banks of
rivers is called botanically "butomus," from the Greek, _bous_, an
ox, and _temno_, to cut, because the sharp edges of the erect
three-cornered leaf-blades wound the cattle which come in contact with
them, or try to eat them. Its root is highly esteemed in Russia for the
cure of hydrophobia, being regarded by the doctors as a specific for
that disease. Its flowers are large, and of a splendid rose colour. The
seeds promote the monthly flow in women, act on disordered
kidneys, prove astringent against fluxes, and serve to woo sleep in
nervous wakefulness. Gerard tells that "the seed [482] of Rushes
drieth the overmuch flowing of women's termes."

The Reed Mace, or Cat's-tail, is often incorrectly called Bulrush,
though it is a typha (_tuphos_, marsh) plant.

The Bog Asphodel (_Narthecium ossifragum_) grows in bogs, and
bears a spike of yellow, star-like flowers. Its second nominative was
given to signify its causing the bones of cattle which feed thereon
to become soft; but probably this morbid state is incurred rather
through the exhalations arising from the bogs where the cattle are
pastured. To the same plant has been given also the name "Mayden
heere," because young damsels formerly used it for making their
hair yellow.

The Great Cat's-tail (_Typha palustris_), or Great Reed Mace, a
perennial reed common in Great Britain, affords by the tender white
part of its stalks when peeled near the root, a crisp, cooling,
pleasant article of food. This is eaten raw with avidity by the
Cossacks. Aristophanes makes mention of the Mace in his comedy of
frogs who were glad to have spent their day skipping about _inter
Cyperum et Phleum_, among Galingale and Cat's-tail. Sacred
pictures which represent our Saviour wearing the crown of thorns,
place this reed in His hands as given Him in mockery for a kingly
Mace. The same _Typha_ has been further called "Dunse-down,"
from making persons "dunch," or deaf, if its soft spikes accidentally
run into the ears. "_Ejus enim paniculoe flos si aures intraverit,
exsurdat_." It is reasonable to suppose that, on the principle of
similars, a preparation of this plant, if applied topically within the
ear, as well as taken medicinally, will be curative of a like deafness.
Most probably the injury to the hearing caused by the spikes at first
is toxic as well as of the nature of an injury. The Poet Laureate sings
of "Sleepy breath made sweet [483] with Galingale" (_Cyperus
longus_). Other names again are, "Chimney-sweeper's brush";
"Blackheads" until ripe, then "Whiteheads"; and "Water torch,"
because its panicles, if soaked in oil, will burn like a torch.

SAFFRON (Meadow and Cultivated).

The Meadow Saffron (_Colchicum autumnale_) is a common wild
Crocus found in English meadows, especially about the Midland
districts. The flower appears in the autumn before the leaves and
fruit, which are not produced until the following spring. Its corollae
resemble those of the true Saffron, a native of the East, but long
cultivated in Great Britain, where it is sometimes found apparently
wild. They are plants of the Iris order.

From the Meadow Saffron is obtained a corm or bulb, dug up in the
spring, of which the well-known tincture of colchicum, a specific
for rheumatism, is made; and from the true Saffron flowers are
taken the familiar orange red stigmata, which furnish the fragrant
colouring matter used by confectioners in cakes, and by the
apothecary for his syrup of Saffron, etc.

The flower of the Meadow Saffron rises bare from the earth, and is,
therefore, called "Upstart" and "Naked Lady." This plant owes its
botanical name _Colchicum_, to Colchis, in Natalia, which
abounded in poisonous vegetables, and gave rise to the fiction about
the enchantress Medea. She renewed the vitality of her aged father,
AEneas, by drawing blood out of his veins and refilling them with
the juices of certain herbs. The fabled origin of the Saffron plant ran
thus. A certain young man named Crocus went to play at quoits in a
field with Mercurie, when the quoit of his companion happened by
misfortune to hit him on the head, whereby, before long, he died, to
the great sorrow of [484] his friends. Finally, in the place where he
had bled, Saffron was found to be growing: whereupon, the people,
seeing the colour of the chine as it stood, adjusted it to come of the
blood of Crocus, and therefore they gave it his name. The medicinal
properties of Colchicum have been known from a very early period.
In the reign of James the First (1615), Sir Theodore Mayerne
administered the bulb to his majesty together with the powder of
unburied skulls. In France, it has always been a favourite specific
for gout; and during the reign of Louis the Fifteenth, it became very
fashionable under the name of _Eau Medicinale_; but the remedy is
somewhat dangerous, and should never be incautiously used.
Instances are on record where fatal results have followed too large a
medicinal dose, even on the following day, after taking sixty drops
of the wine of Colchicum overnight; and when given in much
smaller doses it sometimes acts as a powerfully irritating purgative,
or as an emetic. The medicine should not be employed except by a
doctor; its habitual use is very harmful.

The acrimony of the bulb may be modified in a measure if it, or its
seeds, are steeped in vinegar before being taken as a medicine.

The French designate the roots of the Meadow Saffron (_Colchicum_)
as "_Tue-chien_"; "_morte aux chiens_," "death to dogs."

Alexander of Tralles, a Greek physician of the sixth century, was
the first to advise Colchicum (_Hermodactylon_) for gout, with the
effect that patients, immediately after its exhibition, found
themselves able to walk. "But," said he, and with shrewd truth, "it
has this bad property, that it disposes those who take it curatively
for gout or rheumatism, to be afterwards more frequently attacked
with the disease than before."

[485] Our druggists supply an officinal tincture of Colchicum
(Meadow Saffron) made from the seeds, the dose of which is from
ten to thirty drops, with a spoonful of water; also a wine infused
from the bulb, of which the dose is the same as that of the tincture,
twice or three times a day; and an acetous extract prepared from the
thickened juice of the crushed bulbs, of which from half to two
grains may be given in a pilule, or dissolved in water, twice or three
times a day, until the active symptoms are subdued, and then less
often for another day or two afterwards. The most important
chemical constituent of the bulb, flowers, and seeds, is "Colchicin."
Besides this there are contained starch, gum, sugar, tannin, and
some fatty resinous matter. There is also a fixed oil in the seeds.

_Crocus vernus_, the True Saffron, grows wild about Halifax, and
in the neighbourhood of Derby; but for commercial uses the supply
of stigmata is had from Greece, and Asia Minor. This plant was
cultivated in England as far back as during the reign of Edward the
Third. It is said that a pilgrim then brought from the Levant to
England the first root of Saffron, concealed in a hollow staff, doing
the same thing at the peril of his life, and planting such root at
Saffron Walden, in Essex, whence the place has derived its name.

The stigmata are picked out, then dried in a kiln, over a hair cloth,
and pressed afterwards into cakes, of which the aromatic quality is
very volatile. The plant was formerly cultivated at Saffron Walden,
where it was presented in silver cups by the Corporation to some of
our sovereigns, who visited Walden for the ceremony. Five guineas
were paid by the Corporation for the pound of Saffron which they
purchased for Queen Elizabeth; and to constitute this quantity forty
[486] thousand flowers were required. The City Arms of Walden
bears three Saffron plants, as given by a Charter of Edward the
Sixth. Saffron Hill, in Holborn, London, belonged formerly to Ely
House, and got its name from the crops of saffron which were
grown there: "_Occult? Spolia hi Croceo de colle ferebant_" (Comic
Latin Grammar).

In our rural districts there is a popular custom of giving Saffron tea
in measles, on the doctrine of colour analogy; to which notion may
likewise be referred the practice of adding Saffron to the drinking
water of canaries when they are moulting.

In England, it was fashionable during the seventh century to make
use of starch stained yellow with Saffron; and in an old cookery
book of that period, it is directed that "Saffron must be put into all
Lenten soups, sauces, and dishes; also that without Saffron we
cannot have well-cooled peas." Confectioners were wont to make
their pastry attractive with Saffron. So the Clown says in
Shakespeare's _Winter's Tale_, "I must have Saffron to colour the
warden pies." We read of a Saffron-tub in the kitchen of Bishop
Swinfield, 1296. During the fourteenth century Saffron was
cultivated in the herbarium of the manor-house, and the castle.
Throughout Devonshire this product is quoted to signify anything

Henry the Eighth forbade persons to colour with Saffron the long
locks of hair worn then, and called Glibbes. Lord Bacon said, "the
English are rendered sprightly by a liberal use of Saffron in
sweetmeats and broth": also, "Saffron conveys medicine to the
heart, cures its palpitation, removes melancholy and uneasiness,
revives the brain, renders the mind cheerful, and generates
boldness." The restorative plant has been termed "_Cor hominis_;"
"_Anima_ [487] _pulmonum_," "the Heart of Man"; and there is an
old saying alluding to one of a merry temper, "_Dormivit in sacco
Croci_," "he has slept in a sack of Saffron." It was called by the
ancients "_Aurum philosophorum_," contracted to "_Aroph_." Also,
_Sanguis Herculis_, and _Rex Vegetabilium_, "being given with
good success to procure bodily lust." The English word Saffron
comes from the Arabian--_Zahafram_--whilst the name Crocus of
this golden plant is taken from the Greek_ krokee_--a thread--
signifying the dry thin stigmata of the flower. Old Fuller wrote "the
Crocodile's tears are never true save when he is forced where
Saffron groweth (whence he hath his name of _Croco-deilos_, or the
Saffron-fearer), knowing himself to be all poison, and it all
antidote." Frequently Marigold stigmata are cheaply used for
adulterating the true Saffron.

Homer introduces Saffron as one of the flowers which formed the
nuptial couch of Jupiter: and Solomon mentioned it as growing in
his garden: "Spikenard and saffron: calamus, and cinnamon"
(_Canticles_ iv., 14). Pliny states that wine in which Saffron was
macerated gave a fragrant odour to theatres about which it was
sprinkled. The Cilician doctors advised Cleopatra to take Saffron for
clearing her complexion.

The medicinal use of Saffron has always obtained amongst the
Orientals. According to a treatise, _Croco-logia_ (1670), by
Hartodt, it was then employed as a medicine, as a pigment, and for
seasoning various kinds of food. The colouring matter of Saffron is
a substance called polychroite, or crocin; and its slightly stimulating
properties depend upon a volatile oil.

Boerhaave said that Saffron possesses the power of liquefying the
blood; hence, "Women who use it too freely suffer from immoderate
menses." A tincture is [488] made (H.) from the Saffron of
commerce, which is of essential use for controlling female
haemorrhages. Four or five drops of the tincture may be given with a
spoonful of water every three or four hours for this purpose. The
same tincture is good for impaired vision, when there is a sense of
gauze before the eyes, which the person tries to wink, or wipe away.
Smelling strongly and frequently at the Hay Saffron of commerce
(obtained from Spain and France), will cause headache, stupor, and
heavy sleep; whilst, during its internal use, the urine becomes of a
deep yellow colour.

Of the syrup of Saffron, which is a slightly stimulating exhilarant,
and which possesses a rich colour, from one to two teaspoonfuls
may be given for a dose, with two tablespoonfuls of cold water. It
serves to energise the organs within the middle trunk of both males
and females; also to recruit an exhausted brain.

In Devonshire, Saffron used to be regarded as a most valuable
remedy to restore consumptive patients, even when far advanced in
the disease, and it was, therefore, esteemed of great worth:--

    "Nec poteris croci dotes numerare, nec usus."

Saffron is such a special remedy for those that have consumption of
the lungs, and are--as we term it--at death's door, and almost past
breathing, "that it bringeth breath again, and prolongeth life for
certain days, if ten, or twenty grains at most, be given in new, or
sweet wine. It presently, and in a moment, removeth away difficulty
of breathing, which most dangerously and suddenly happeneth."

In Westphalia, an apple mixed with Saffron, on the doctrine of
signatures, is given on Easter Monday, against jaundice. Evelyn
tells us: "The German [489] housewives have a way of forming
Saffron into balls; by mingling it with a little honey, which, when
thoroughly dried, they reduce to powder, and sprinkle it over their
sallets for a noble cordial." Those of Spain and Italy, we know,
generally make use of this flower, mingling its golden tincture with
almost everything they eat. But, an excessive use of Saffron proves
harmful. It will produce an intense pain in the head, and imperil the
reason. Half-a-scruple, _i.e._, ten grains, should be the largest dose.
In fuller doses this tincture will provoke a determination of blood to
the head, with bleeding from the nose, and sometimes with a
disposition to immoderate laughter. Small doses, therefore, of the
diluted tincture, ought to relieve these symptoms when they occur as
spontaneous illness. The inhabitants of Eastern countries regard
Saffron as a fine restorative, and nuptial invitations are often
powdered by them with this medicament.

In Ireland women dye their sheets with Saffron to preserve them
from vermin, and to strengthen their own limbs.

    "Green herbs, red pepper, mussels, _Saffron_,
        Soles, onions, garlic, roach and dace;
    All these you eat at Ferre's tavern
        In that one dish of bouillabaisse."


Our garden Sage, a familiar occupant of the English herb bed, was
formerly celebrated as a medicine of great virtue. This was the
_Elalisphakos_ of the Greeks, so called from its dry and withered
looking leaves. It grows wild in the South of Europe, but is a
cultivated Simple in England, France, and Germany. Like other
labiate herbs [490] it is aromatic and fragrant, because containing a
volatile, camphoraceous, essential oil.

All parts of the plant have a strong-scented odour, and a warm,
bitter, astringent taste. The Latin name, _Salvia_, has become
corrupted through _Sauja_, _sauge_, to Sage, and is derived from
_salvere_, "to be sound," in reference to the medicinally curative
properties of the plant.

A well-known monkish line about it ran to this effect: _Cur moriatur
homo cui Salvia crescit in horto_? "Why should a man die whilst
Sage grows in his garden?" And even at this time, in many parts of
England, the following piece of advice is carefully adopted every

    "He that would live for aye
    Must eat Sage in May."

During the time of Charlemagne, the school of Salerno thought so
highly of Sage that they originated the dictum quoted above of
Saracenic old pharmacy, but they wisely added a second line:--

    "Contra vim mortis non est medicamen in hortis."

The essential oil of the herb may be more readily dissolved in a
spirituous than in a watery vehicle. Of this, the active principle is
"salviol," which confers the power of resisting putrefaction on
animal substances; whilst the bitterness and condimentary pungency
of the herb enable the stomach to digest rich, luscious meats and
gravies, if it be eaten therewith.

Hence has arisen the custom of stuffing ducks for the table, and
geese, with the conventional Sage and onions. Or there is no better
way of taking Sage as a stomachic wholesome herb than by eating it
with bread and butter. In Buckinghamshire a tradition maintains
[491] that the wife rules where Sage grows vigorously in the garden:
and it is believed that this plant will thrive or wither, just as the
owner's business prospers or fails. George Whitfield, when at
Oxford (1733), took only Sage-tea, with sugar, and coarse bread.

Old sayings tell of the herb, as _Salvia salvatrix; naturoe
conciliatrix_; and the line runs:--

    "Salvia cum rutâ faciunt tibi pocula tuta."

recommending to plant Rue among the Sage so as to keep away
noxious toads.

The Chinese are as fond of Sage as we are of their fragrant teas;
and the Dutch once carried on a profitable trade with them, by
exchanging a pound of Sage leaves for each three-pound parcel of

It was formerly thought that Sage, if used in the making of cheese,
improved its flavour.

    "Marbled with Sage the hardening cheese she pressed."

"Sage," says Gerard, "is singular good for the head and brain; it
quickeneth the senses and memory; strengtheneth the sinews;
restoreth health to those that hath the palsy; and takes away shaky
trembling of the members." Agrippa called it "the holy herb,"
because women with child, if they be likely to come before their
time, "do eat thereof to their great good."

Pepys, in his well-known Diary says, "between Gosport and
Southampton we observed a little churchyard where it is customary
to sow all the graves with Sage." In _Franche Comte_ the herb is
supposed to mitigate grief, mental and bodily.

    "Salvia comfortat nervos, manuumque tremorem
    Tollit; et ejus ope febris acuta fugit."

    "Sage helps the nerves, and by its powerful might
    Palsy is cured, and fever put to flight."

[492] But if Sage be smelt for some time it will cause a sort of
intoxication, and giddiness. The leaves, when dried and smoked in a
pipe as tobacco, will lighten the brain.

In Sussex, a peasant will munch Sage leaves on nine consecutive
mornings, whilst fasting, to cure ague.

A strong infusion of the herb has been used with success to dry up
the breast milk for weaning; and as a gargle Sage leaf tea, when
sweetened with honey, serves admirably. This decoction, when
made strong, is an excellent lotion for ulcers, and to heal raw
abrasions of the skin. The herb may be applied externally ill bags as
a hot fomentation. Some persons value the Wormwood Sage more
highly than either of the other varieties.

In the Sage flower the stamens swing round their loosely-connected
anther cells against the back of any blundering bee who is in search
of honey, just as in olden days the bag of sand caught the shoulders
of a clumsy youth when tilting at the Quintin.

Wild Meadow Sage (_Salvia verbenaca_), or Meadow Clary, grows
in our dry pastures, but somewhat rarely, though it is better known
as a cultivated herb in our kitchen gardens. The leaves and flowers
afford a volatile oil, which is fragrant and aromatic.

Some have attributed the name _Salvia sclarea_, Clary (Clear eye)
to the fact of the seeds being so mucilaginous, that when the eye is
invaded by any small foreign body, their decoction will remove the
same by acting as an emulsion to lubricate it away. The leaves and
flowers may be usefully given in an infusion for hysterical colic and
similar troubles connected with nervous weakness. Also they make
a pleasant fermented wine. The Wood Sage is the Wood Germander,
[493] _Teucrium scorodinia_, a woodland plant with sage-like
leaves, containing a volatile oil, some tannin, and a bitter principle.
This plant has been used as a substitute for hops. It was called "hind
heal" from curing the hind when sick, or wounded, and was
probably the same herb as _Elaphoboscum_, the Dittany, taken by
harts in Crete. A snuff has been made from its powder to cure nasal
polypi: also the infusion (freshly prepared), should be given
medicinally, two tablespoonfuls for a dose: or, of the powder, from
thirty to forty grains. The name "Germander" is a corruption from
Chamoedrys, _chamai_, ground, and _drus_, oak, because the
leaves are like those of the oak.

SAINT JOHN'S WORT (_see page_ 287)


Savin, the Juniper Savin (_Sabina_), or Saffern, is a herb which
grows freely in our bed of garden Simples, if properly cared for, and
which possesses medicinal virtues of a potential nature. The shrub is
a native of southern Europe, being a small evergreen plant, the twigs
of which are densely covered with little leaves in four rows, having
a strong, peculiar, unpleasant odour of turpentine, with a bitter,
acrid, resinous taste. The young branchlets are collected for
medicinal use. They contain tannin, resin, a special volatile oil, and
extractive matters.

A medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the fresh leaves, and the
points of the shoots of the cultivated Savin. But this is a powerful
medicine, and must be used with caution. In small doses of two or
three drops with a tablespoonful of cold water it is of singular
efficacy for arresting an active florid flux from the [494] womb at
the monthly times of women when occurring too profusely, the
remedy being given every two, three, or four hours. Or from one to
four grains of powdered Savin may be taken instead of each dose of
the tincture.

The stimulating virtues of Savin befit it for cleansing carbuncles,
and for benefiting baldness. When mixed with honey it has removed
freckles with success; the leaves, dried and powdered, serve, when
applied, to dispel obstinate warty excrescences about the genitals.

Rubbed together with cerate, or lard, powdered Savin is used for
maintaining the sores of blisters, and of issues, open when it is
desired to keep up their derivative action.

The essential oil will stimulate the womb to functional activity
when it is passively congested and torpid. As to its elementary
composition this oil closely resembles the spirit of turpentine; and
when given in small well diluted doses as a tincture (made of the oil
mixed with spirit of wine), such medicine does good service in
relieving rheumatic pains and swellings connected with impaired
health of the womb. For these purposes the ordinary tincture (H.) of
Savin should be mixed, one part thereof with nine parts of spirit of
wine, and given in doses of from six to ten drops with a
tablespoonful of water. Dr. Pereira says about the herb: "According
to my own observation, Savin is the most certain and powerful
stimulator of the monthly courses in the whole of our _Materia
Medica_; and I never saw any ill effects result from its
administration." The essential oil may be preferred in a dose of from
one to four drops on sugar, or in milk, when this functional activity
is sought.

Savin was known of old as the "Devil's Tree," and the "Magician's
Cypress," because much affected by witches and sorcerers when
working their spells.


One of the roost useful, but not best known, of the Cruciferous wild
plants which are specifics against Scrofula is our English Scurvy

It grows by choice near the sea shore, or in mountainous places; and
even when found many miles from the sea its taste is Salt. It occurs
along the muddy banks of the Avon; also in Wales, and in
Cumberland, more commonly near the coast, and likewise on the
mountains of Scotland; again it may be readily cultivated in the
garden for medicinal uses. If eaten as a salad in its fresh state it
is the most effectual of all the antiscorbutic plants.

The herb is produced with an angular smooth shilling stem, twelve
or fourteen inches high, having narrow green leaves, and
terminating in thick clusters of white flowers. Its leaves are good
and wholesome when eaten in spring with bread and butter. The
juice, when diluted with water, makes a good mouth-wash for
spongy gums.

The whole plant contains tannin, and a bitter principle, which is
butyl-mustard oil, and on which the medicinal properties depend.
This oil is of great volatility and penetrating power; one drop
instilled on sugar, or dissolved in spirit, communicates to a quart of
wine the taste and smell of Scurvy Grass.

The fresh plant taken as such, or the expressed fresh juice, confers
the benefits of the herb in by far the most effectual way. A distilled
water, and a conserve prepared with the leaves, were formerly
dispensed by druggists; and the fresh juice mixed with that of
Seville oranges went by the name of "spring drinks," or "juices."

The plant is found in large quantities at Lymington [496] (Hants),
on low banks almost dipping into the sea. Its expressed juice was
formerly taken in beer, or boiled in milk as a decoction, flavoured
with pepper, aniseed, etc.

This Scurvy Grass has the botanical name _Cochlearia_, or, in
English, Spoonwort, so named from its leaves resembling in shape
the bowl of an old-fashioned spoon. It is supposed to be the famous
_Herba Britannica_ of the ancients. Our great navigators have borne
unanimous testimony to its never-failing value in scurvy; and it has
been justly noticed that the plant grows most plentifully in altitudes
where scurvy is specially troublesome and frequent. The green herb
bruised may be applied as a poultice.

For making a decoction of the plant as a blood purifier, and against
scurvy, put two ounces of the whole plant and its roots into a quart
jug, and fill up with boiling water, taking care to keep this well
covered. When it is cold take a wineglassful thereof three, or four
times in the day.

Another name for the plant is Scruby grass. The fresh herb has a
strong pungent odour when bruised, and a warm bitter taste. Its
beneficial uses in scurvy, are due to the potash salts which it
contains. Externally, the juice will cleanse and heal foul ulcers,
and ill-favoured eruptions.


Of marine plants commonly found, the Samphire and the Sea Holly
have certain domestic and medicinal uses which give them
a position as Simples; and of the more ordinary Sea Weeds
(cryptogamous, or flowerless plants) some few are edible, though
sparingly nutritious, whilst curative and medicinal virtues are
attributed to several others, as Irish Moss, Scotch Dulse, Sea Tang,
and the [497] Bladderwrack. It may be stated broadly that the Sea
Weeds employed as remedial Simples owe their powers to the
bromine, iodine, and sulphate of soda which they contain. Pliny and
Dioscorides in their days extolled the qualities of various Sea
Weeds; and practitioners of medicine on our sea coasts are now
unanimous in pronouncing Sea Weed liniments, and poultices, as of
undoubted value in reducing glandular swellings, and in curing
obstinate sprains; whilst they administer the Bladderwrack, etc.,
internally for alterative purposes with no little success. Bits of Sea
Weed, called Ladies' trees, are still to be seen as chimney ornaments
in many a Cornish cottage, being fixed on small stands, and
supposed to protect the dwelling from fire, or other mishaps.

Samphire, of the true sort, is a herb difficult to be gathered, because
it grows only out of the crevices of lofty perpendicular rocks which
cannot be easily scaled. This genuine Samphire (_Crithmum
maritimum_) is a small plant, bearing yellow flowers in circular
umbels on the tops of the stalks, which flowers are followed by
seeds like those of the Fennel, but larger.

The leaves are juicy, with a warm aromatic taste, and may be put
into sauce; or they make a good appetising condimentary pickle,
which is wholesome for scrofulous subjects. Persons living by the
coast cook this plant as a pot herb. Formerly, it was regularly cried
in the London streets, and was then called Crest Marine.

Shakespeare alludes in well-known lines to the hazardous
proceedings of the Samphire gatherer's "dreadful trade":--

    "How fearful
    And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!
    The crows and choughs that wing the midway air
    Show scarce so gross as beetles:  half-way down
    _Hangs one that gathers Samphire_:  dreadful trade!
    Methinks he seems to bigger than his head."--_King Lear_.

[498] And Evelyn has praised the plant for excellence of flavour, as
well as for aromatic virtues against the spleen. Pliny says Samphire
is the very herb that the good country wife Hecate prepared for
Theseus when going against the Bull of Marathon.

Its botanic name is from the Greek _crithe_, "barley," because the
seeds are thought to resemble that grain. The title Samphire is
derived from the French _Herbe de St. Pierre_, because the roots
strike deep in the crevices of rocks. St. Peter's Wort has become
corrupted to Sampetre, Sampier, and Samphire.

A spurious Samphire, the _Inula crithmoides_, or Golden Samphire,
is often supplied in lieu of the real plant, though it has a different
flavour, and few of the proper virtues. This grows more abundantly
on low rocks, and on ground washed by salt water. Also a Salicornia,
or jointed Glasswort, or Saltwort, or Crabgrass, is sold as
Samphire for a pickle, in the Italian oil shops.

Gerard says of Samphire: "It is the pleasantest sauce, most familiar,
and best agreeing with man's body." "Preferable," adds Evelyn, "for
cleansing the passages, and sharpening appetite, to most of our
hotter herbs, and salad ingredients."

The Sea Holly (_Eryngium maritimum_), or Sea Hulver, is a
well-known prickly sea-green plant, growing in the sand on many parts
of our coasts, or on stony ground, with stiff leaves, and roots which
run to a great length among the sand, whilst charged with a sweetish

A manufactory for making candied roots of the Sea Holly was
established at Colchester, by Robert Burton, an apothecary, in the
seventeenth century, as they were considered both antiscorbutic, and
excellent for health.

[499] Gerard says: "The roots, if eaten, are good for those that be
liver sick; and they ease cramps, convulsions, and the falling
sickness. If condited, or preserved with sugar, they are exceeding
good to be given to old and aged people that are consumed and
withered with age, and which want natural moisture." He goes on to
give an elaborate receipt how to condite the roots of Sea Holly, or
Eringos (which title is, according to Liddell and Scott, the
diminutive of _eerungos_, "the beard of a goat." Or, Eryngo has
been derived from the Greek _eruggarein_, to eructate, because the
plant is, according to herbalists, a specific against belching). With
healthy provers, who have taken the Sea Holly experimentally in
toxical doses of varying strength the sexual energies and instincts
became always depressed. This accounts for the fact that during the
Elizabethan era, the roots of the plant used _in moderation_ were
highly valued for renovating masculine vigour, such as Falstaff
invoked, and which classic writers have extolled:--

    "Non male turn graiis florens eryngus in hortis
    Quaeritur; hunc gremio portet si nupta virentem
    Nunquam inconcessos conjux meditabitur ignes."

These Eryngo roots, prepared with sugar, were then called "Kissing
Comfits." Lord Bacon when recommending the yolks of eggs for
giving strength if taken with Malmsey, or sweet wine, says: "You
shall doe well to put in some few slices of Eringium roots, and a
little Ambergrice: for by this means, besides the immediate facultie
of nourishment, such drinke will strengthen the back."

Plutarch writes: "They report of the Sea Holly, if one goat taketh it
into her mouth, it causeth her first to stand still, and afterwards the
whole flock, until such [500] time as the shepherd takes it from her."
Boerhaave thought the root "a principal aperient."

Irish Moss, or _Carraigeen_, is abundant on our rocky coasts, and is
collected on the north western shores of Ireland, while some of it
comes to us from Hamburg. Its chief constituent is a kind of
mucilage, which dissolves to a stiff paste in boiling water, this
containing some iodine, and much sulphur. But before being boiled
in water or milk, the Moss should be soaked for an hour or more in
cold water. Officinally, a decoction is ordered to be made with an
ounce of the Moss to a pint of water: of which from one to four fluid
ounces may be taken for a dose.

This Lichen contains starchy, heat-giving nourishment, about six
parts of the same to one of flesh-forming food; therefore its jelly is
found to be specially sustaining to persons suffering from
pulmonary consumption, with an excessive waste of the bodily heat.
At one time the Irish Moss fetched as high a price as half-a-crown
for the pound. It bears the botanical name of _Chondrus crispus_,
and varies much in size and colour. When growing in small pools, it
is shallow, pale, and stunted; whilst when found at the bottom of a
deep pool, or in the shadow of a great rock, it occurs in dense
masses of rich ruddy purple, with reddish green thick fronds.

Iceland Moss contains the form of starch called "lichenin." It is a
British lichen found especially in Wales and Scotland. Most
probably the Icelanders were the first to learn its helpful properties.
In two kinds of pulmonary consumption this lichen best promotes a
cure-that with active bleeding from the lungs, and that with profuse
purulent expectoration. The Icelanders boil the Moss in broth, or dry
it in cakes used as bread. They likewise make gruel of it mixed
[501] with milk: but the first decoction of it in water, being
purgative, is always thrown away. An ounce of the Iceland Moss
boiled for a quarter-of-an-hour in a pint of milk, or water, will yield
seven ounces of thick mucilage. This has been found particularly
useful in dysentery. Also contained in the Moss are cetrarin,
uncrystallizable sugar, gum, and green wax; with potash, and
phosphate of lime. It affords help in diabetes, and for general
atrophy; being given also in powder, or syrup, or mixed with
chocolate. Francatelli directs for making _Iceland Moss Jelly_. Boil
four ounces of the Moss in one quart of water: then add the juice of
two lemons, and a bit of the rind, with four ounces of sugar (and
perhaps a gill of sherry?). Boil up and remove the scum from the
surface. Strain the jelly through a muslin bag into a basin, and set it
aside to become cold. It may be eaten thus, but it is more efficacious
when taken warm. A Sea-Moss, the _Lichen marinum_, is "a singular
remedy to strengthen the weakness of the back." It is called

In New England the generic term "Moss" is a cant word signifying
money: perhaps as a contraction of Mopuses, or as a play on the
proverb, "a rolling stone gathers no moss."

The Dulse is used in Scotland and Ireland both as food and
medicine. Botanically it bears the name of _Iridea edulis_, or
_Rhodymenia palmata_ (the sugar _Fucus_ of Iceland).

There is a saying in Scotland: "He who eats of the Dulse of Guerdie,
and drinks of the wells Kindingie, will escape all maladies except
black death." This marine weed contains within its cellular structure
much iodine, which makes it a specific remedy for scrofulous
glandular enlargements, or morbid deposits.

[502] In Ireland the Dulse is first well washed in fresh water, and
exposed in the air to dry, when it gives out a white powdery
substance, which is sweet and palatable, covering the whole plant.
The weed is presently packed in cases, and protected from the air, so
that being thus preserved, it may either be eaten as it is, or boiled
in milk, and mixed with flour of rye. The powdery substance is
"mannite," which is abundant likewise on many of our Sea Weeds.

Cattle and sheep are very fond of Dulse, for which reason in
Norway it is known as Soudsell, or Sheep's Weed. This _Iridea
edulis_ is pinched with hot irons by the fishermen in the south west
of England, So as to make it taste like an oyster. In Scotland it is
roasted in the frying-pan.

The Maritime Sea Tang (_Laminaria digitata_) was belauded in the
_Proverbial Philosophy_ of Martin Tupper:--

    "Health is in the freshness of its savour; and it cumbereth the
    beach with wealth;
    Comforting the tossings of pain with its violet tinctured Essence."

Tang signifies Anglo-Saxon "thatch," from Sea Weed having been
formerly used instead of straw to cover the roofs of houses. When
bruised and applied by way of a poultice to scrofulous swellings and
glandular tumours, the Sea Tang has been found very valuable. The
famous John Hunter was accustomed to employ a poultice of sea-water
and oatmeal.

This weed is of common marine growth, consisting of a wide
smooth-brown frond, with a thick round stem, and broad brown
ribbons like a flag at the end of it. It is familiarly known as
Seagirdles, Tangle, Sea Staff, Sea Wand, and Cows' Tails. Fisher
boys cut up the stems as handles for knives, or hooks, because, after
the haft of [503] the blade is inserted within the stem, this dries,
and contracts on the iron staple, becoming densely hard and firm.

The absorbent stem power of the _Laminaria_ for taking up iodine
is very large; and this element is afterwards brought out by fire in
the kelp kilns of Ireland and Scotland. Sea Tang acts most
beneficially against the various forms of scrofulous disease; and
signally relieves some rheumatic affections. It is also used largely
in the making of glass.

Likewise for scrofula, seawater, being rich in chlorides and iodides,
has proved both curative and preventive. Dr. Sena, of Valencia,
gave bread made with sea-water in the Misericordia Hospital for
cases of scrofulous disease, and other states of defective nutrition,
with singular success.

Another Laminaria (_Saccharina_), with a single olive yellow
semi-transparent frond, yields an abundance of sweet "mannit" when
boiled and evaporated.

The Bladderwrack (_Fucus vesiculosus_), Kelpware, or Our Lady's
Wrack, is found on most of our sea coasts in heavy brown masses of
coarse-looking Sea Weed, which cover, and shelter many small
algae. Kelp is an impure carbonate of soda containing sulphate, and
chloride of sodium, with a little charcoal.

By its characteristic bladders, or vesicles studded about the blades
of the branched narrowish fronds, this Sea Weed may be easily

These bladders are full of a glutinous substance, which makes the
weed valuable both as a remedy for the glandular troubles of
scrofula, and, when bottled in rum, as an embrocation, such as is
specially useful for strengthening the limbs of rickety, or
bandy-legged children. Against glandular swellings also the weed is
[504] taken internally as a medicine, when burnt to a black powder.
An analysis of the Bladderwrack has shown it to contain an
empyreumatic oil, sulphur, earthy salts, some iron, and iodine
freely. Thus it is very rich in anti-scrofulous elements.

The fluid extract of this Sea Weed has the long standing reputation
of safely diminishing an excess of personal fat. It is given for such
a purpose three times a day, shortly after meals, in doses of
from one to four teaspoonfuls. The remedy should be continued
perseveringly, whilst cutting down the supplies of fat, starchy foods,
sugar, and malt liquors. When thus taken (as likewise in the
concentrated form of a pill, if preferred) the Bladderwrack will
especially relieve rheumatic pains; and the sea pod liniment
dispensed by many druggists at our chief marine health resorts,
proves signally efficacious towards the same end. Furthermore, they
prepare a sea-pod essence for applying on a wet compress beneath
waterproof tissue to strumous tumours, goitre, and bronchocele; also
for old strains and bruises.

This Sea Weed should not be obtained when too fully matured, as it
quickly undergoes decomposition.

Wrack is Sea Weed thrown ashore, from _Vrage_, to reject. Wrack
Grass (_Zostera Marina_), is a marine plant with long grass-like

There are four common Fuci on our coasts--the _Nodosus_ (Knobbed
Wrack), the _Vesiculosus_ (Bladder Wrack), the _Serratus_
(Saw-edged Sea Weed), and the _Caniculatus_ (Channeled Sea Weed).

It is by reason of its contained bromine and iodine as safe medicinal
elements, the _Fucus vesiculosus_ acts in reducing fatness; these
elements stimulating all the absorbent glands of the body to
increased activity. [505] In common with the other Fuci it furnishes
mannite, an odorous oil, a bitter principle, mucilage, and ash, this
last constituent abounding in the bromine and iodine.

For internal use, a decoction may be made with from two to four
drachms of the weed to a pint of water, boiled together for a few
minutes; and for external application to enlarged or hardened
glands, the bruised weed may be applied as a cold poultice.

This Bladder Wrack is reputed to be the _Anti-polyscarcique_
nostrum of Count Mattaei.

Although diminishing fat it does no harm by inducing any atrophied
wasting of the breast glands, or of the testicles.

The Bladderwrack yields a rich produce to the seaside agriculturist
highly useful as manure for the potato field and for other crops: and
it is gathered for this purpose all along the British coast. In Jersey
and Guernsey it is called _vraic_. Among the Hebrides, cheeses,
whilst drying, are covered with the ashes of this weed which
abounds in salt. Patients who have previously suffered much from
rheumatism about the body and limbs have found themselves
entirely free from any such pains or trouble whilst taking the extract
of _Fucus Vesiculosus_ (Bladderwrack). This Sea Weed is in
perfection only during early and middle summer. For fresh sprains
and bruises a hot decoction of the Bladderwrack should be used at
first as a fomentation; and, afterwards, a cold essence of the weed
should be rubbed in, or applied on wet lint beneath light thin
waterproof tissue, or oiled silk, as a compress: this to be changed as
often as hot or dry.

Laver is the popular name given to some edible Sea Weeds--the
_Porphyra lanciniata_, and the _Ulva latissima_. The same title was
formerly bestowed by Pliny on an [506] aquatic plant now
unknown, and called also Sloke, or Sloken.

_Porphyra_, from a Greek word meaning "purple," is the true Laver,
or Sloke. It is slimy, or semi-gelatinous of consistence when served
at table, having been stewed for several hours until quite tender, and
then being eaten with butter, vinegar, and pepper. At the London
Reform Club Laver is provided every day in a silver saucepan at
dinner, garnished with lemons, to flank the roast leg of mutton.
Others prefer it cooked with leeks and onions, or pickled, and eaten
with oil and lemon juice. The Englishman calls this Sea Weed,
Laver; the Irishman, Sloke; the Scotchman, Slack; and the student,
_Porphyra_. It varies in size and colour between tidemarks, being
sometimes long and ribbon-like, of a violet or purple hue;
sometimes long and broad, whilst changing to a reddish purple, or

It is very wholesome, and preventive of scurvy, being therefore
valuable on sea voyages, as it will keep good for a long time in
closed tin vessels.

The _Ulva latissima_ is a deep-green Sea Weed, called by the
fishermen Oyster Green, because employed to cover over oysters.
This is likewise known as Laver, because sometimes substituted by
epicures for the true Laver (_Porphyra_) when the latter cannot be
got; but it is not by any means as good. The name _Ulva_ is from
_ul_, meaning "water."

Sea Spinach (_Satsolacea--Spirolobea_) is a Saltwort found growing
on the shore in Hampshire and other parts of England, the best of all
wild vegetables for the table, having succulent leaves shaped like
worms, and being esteemed as an excellent antiscorbutic.

The Sea Beet--a Chenopod--which grows plentifully on our shores,
gave origin to the cultivated Beetroot of [507] our gardens. Its name
was derived from a fancied resemblance borne by its seed vessels
when swollen with seed to the Greek letter B (_beta_).

    "Nomine cum Graio cui litera proxima primoe
    Pangitur in cerâ doeti mucrone magistri."

    "The Greeks gave its name to the Beet from their alphabet's
    second letter,
    As an Attic teacher wrote it on wax with a sharp stiletto."

By the Grecians the Beet was offered on silver to Apollo in his
temple at Delphi. A pleasant wine may be made from its roots, and
its juice when applied with a brush is an excellent cosmetic. The
Mangel Wurzel, also a variety of Beet, means literally, "scarcity

Another Sea Weed, the Bladderlocks (_Alaria esculenta_),
"henware," "honeyware," "murlins," is edible, the thick rib which
runs through the frond being the part chosen. This abounds on the
Northern coasts of England and Scotland, being of a clear olive
yellow colour, with a stem as thick as a small goosequill, varying in
length, with its fronds, from three to twenty feet. The fruit appears
as if partially covered with a brown crust consisting of transparent
spore cases set on a stalk in a cruciform manner.

Common Coraline (_Corallina Anglica_), a Sea Weed of a whitish
colour, tinged with purple and green, and of a firm substance, is
famous for curing Worms.

The presence of gold in sea water, even as surrounding our own
islands, has been sufficiently proved; though, as yet, its extraction
is a costly and uncertain process. One analyst has estimated that the
amount of gold contained in the oceans of the globe must be ten
million tons, without counting the possible quantity locked up in
floating icebergs about the Poles.

Professor Liveredge, of the Sydney University, [508] examined sea
water collected off the Australian coast, as also some from Northern
shores, and obtained gold, from five-tenths to eight-tenths of a grain
per ton of the sea water. It occurs as the chloride, and the bromide of
gold; which salts, as recently shown by Dr. Compton Burnett, when
administered in doses almost infinitesimally small, are of supreme
value for the cure of epilepsy, secondary syphilis, sexual debility,
and some disorders of the heart.

Dr. Russell wrote on the uses of sea water in diseases of the glands.
He found the soapy mucus within the vesicles of the Bladderwrack
an excellent resolvent, and most useful in dispersing scrofulous
swellings. He advises rubbing the tumour with these vesicles
bruised in the hand, and afterwards washing the part with sea water.


Several Herbal Simples go by the name of Selfheal among our wild
hedge plants, more especially the Sanicle, the common Prunella,
and the Bugle.

The first of these is an umbelliferous herb, growing frequently in
woods, having dull white flowers, in panicled heads, which are
succeeded by roundish seeds covered with hooked prickles: the
Wood Sanicle (_Europoea_).

It gets its name Sanicle, perhaps, from the Latin verb _sanare_, "to
heal, or make sound;" or, possibly, as a corruption of St. Nicholas,
called in German St. Nickel, who, in the _Tale of a Tub_, is said to
have interceded with God in favour of two children whom an
innkeeper had murdered and pickled in a pork tub; and he obtained
their restoration to life.

Anyhow, the name Sanicle was supposed in the middle ages to
mean "curative," whatever its origin: [509] thus, _Qui a la Bugle, et
la Sanicle fait aux chirurgiens la nicle_--"He who uses Sanicle and
Bugle need have no dealings with the doctor." Lyte and other
herbalists say concerning the Sanicle: "It makes whole and sound all
wounds and hurts, both inward and outward."

    "Celui qui Sanicle a
    De plaie affaire il n'a."

    "Who the Sanicle hath
    At the surgeon may laugh."

The name Prunella (which belongs more rightly to another herb) has
been given to the Sanicle, perhaps, through its having been
originally known as Brunella, Brownwort, both because of the
brown colour of its spikes, and from its being supposed to cure the
disease called in Germany _die braune_, a kind of quinsy; on the
doctrine of signatures, because the corolla resembles a throat with
swollen glands.

The Sanicle is popularly employed in Germany and France as a
remedy for profuse bleeding from the lungs, bowels, womb, and
urinary organs; also for the staying of dysenteric diarrhoea. The
fresh juice of the herb may be given in tablespoonful doses.

As yet no analysis has been made of this plant; but evidence of
tannin in its several parts is afforded by the effects produced when
these are remedially applied.

The _Prunella vulgaris_ is a distinct plant from the Self Heal, or
Sanicle, and belongs to the labiate order of herbs. It grows
commonly in waste places about England, and bears pink flowers,
being sometimes called Slough heal. This is incorrect, as the
surgical term "slough" was not used until long after the Prunella and
the Sanicle became named Self-heal. Each of these was applied as a
vulnerary, not to sloughing sores, but to fresh cut wounds.

[510] The _Prunella Vulgaris_ has a flattened calyx, and whorls of
purplish blue flowers, which are collected in a head. It is also
known as Carpenter's Herb, perhaps, from its corolla, when seen in
profile, being shaped like a bill hook; and therefore, on the doctrine
of signatures, it was supposed to heal wounds inflicted by edge
tools; whence it was likewise termed Hook-heal and Sicklewort,
arid in Yorkshire, Black man.

By virtue of its properties as a vulnerary it has also been called
_Consolida_; but the daisy is the true _Consolida minor_.

"The decoction of Prunell," says Gerard, "made with wine and
water, doth join together and make whole and sound all wounds,
both inward and outward, even as Bugle doth. To be short, it serveth
for the same that the Bugle serveth; and in the world there are not
two better wound herbs, as bath been often proved."

The Bugle, or middle Comfrey, is also a Sanicle, because of its
excellence for healing wounds, in common with the Prunella and the
true Sanicle. It grows in almost every wood, and copse, and moist
shadowy place, being constantly reckoned among the Consounds.

This herb (_Ajuga reptans_) is of the labiate order, bearing dark
blue or purple flowers, whorled, and crowded into a spike. Its
decoction, "when drunk, healeth and maketh sound all wounds of
the body." "It is so singular good for all sorts of hurts that none who
know its usefulness will be ever without it. If the virtues of it make
you fall in love with it (as they will if you be wise), keep a syrup of
it, to take inwardly, and an ointment and plaister of it to use
outwardly, always by you."

The chemical principles of the Prunella and the Bugle [511]
resemble those of other Labiate herbs, comprising a volatile
oil, some bitter principle, tannin, sugar, and cellulose. The
Ladies' Mantle, Alchemilla--a common inconspicuous weed, found
everywhere--is called Great Sanicle, also Parsley-breakstone, or
Piercestone, because supposed to be of great use against stone in the
bladder. It contains tannin abundantly, and is said to promote quiet
sleep if placed under the pillow at night. "_Endymionis somnum


The small Shepherd's Purse (_Bursa Capsella Pastoris_) is one of
the most common of wayside English weeds. The name _Capsella_
signifies a little box, in allusion to the seed pods. It is a
Cruciferous plant, made familiar by the diminutive pouches, or
flattened pods at the end of its branching stems. This herb is of
natural growth in most parts of the world, but varies in luxuriance
according to soil and situation, whilst thickly strewn over the
whole surface of the earth, facing alike the heat of the tropics,
and the rigours of the arctic regions; even, if trodden underfoot,
it rises again and again with ever enduring vitality, as if
designed to fulfil some special purpose in the far-seeing economy
of nature. It lacks the winged valves of the _Thlaspi_.

Our old herbalists called it St. James's Wort, as a gift from that
Saint to the people for the cure of various diseases, St. Anthony's
Fire, and several skin eruptions. In France, too, the plant goes by
the title of _Fleur de Saint Jacques_. It flowers from early in
Spring until Autumn, and has, particularly in Summer, an acrid
bitter taste. Other names for the herb are, "Case weed," "Pick
pocket," and "Mother's heart," as called so by [512] children.
If a pod is picked they raise the cry, "You've plucked out
your mother's heart." Small birds are fond of the seeds.

Bombelon, a French chemist, has reported most favourably about
this herb as of prompt use to arrest bleedings and floodings, when
given in the form of a fluid extract, one or two teaspoonfuls for a
dose. He explains that our hedge-row Simple contains a tannate, an
alkaloid "bursine," (which resembles sulphocyansinapine), and
bursinic acid, this last constituent being the active medicinal
principle. English chemists now prepare and dispense the fluid
extract of the herb. This is given for dropsy in the U. S. America as
a diuretic; from half to one teaspoonful in water for a dose.

Dr. Von Ehrenwall relates a recent case of female flooding, which
had defied all the ordinary remedies, and for which, at the
suggestion of a neighbour, he tried an infusion of the Shepherd's
Purse weed, with the result that the bleeding stopped after the first
teacupful of the infusion had been taken a few minutes. Since then
he has used the plant in various forms of haemorrhage with such
success that he considers it the most reliable of our medicines for
staying fluxes of blood. "Shepherd's Purse stayeth bleeding in any
part of the body, whether the juice thereof be drunk, or whether it be
used poultice-like, or in bath, or any way else."

Besides the ordinary constituents of herbs, it is found to contain six
per cent. of soft resin, together with a sulphuretted volatile oil,
which is identical with that of Mustard, as obtained likewise from
the bitter Candytuft, _Iberis amara_.

Its medicinal infusion should be made with an ounce of the plant to
twelve ounces of water, reduced by [513] boiling to half-a-pint; then
a wineglassful may be given for a dose.

The herb and its seeds were employed in former times to promote
the regular monthly flow in women.

It bears, further, the name of Poor Man's Permacetty (or
Spermaceti), "the sovereignst remedy for bruises;"--"perhaps," says
Dr. Prior, "as a joke on the Latin name _Bursa pastoris_, or 'Purse,'
because to the poor man this is always his best remedy." And in
some parts of England the Shepherd's Purse is known as Clapper
Pouch, in allusion to the licensed begging of lepers at our crossways
in olden times with a bell and a clapper. They would call the
attention of passers-by with the bell, or with the clapper, and would
receive their alms in a cup, or a basin, at the end of a long pole. The
clapper was an instrument made of two or three boards, by rattling
which the wretched lepers incited people to relieve them. Thus they
obtained the name of Rattle Pouches, which appellation has been
extended to this small plant, in allusion to the little purses which it
hangs out by the wayside. Because of these miniature pockets the
herb is also named Toy Wort; and Pick Purse, through being
supposed to steal the goodness of the land from the farmer. In
Queen Elizabeth's time leper hospitals were common throughout
England; and many of the sufferers were banished to the Lizard, in

The Shepherd's Purse is now announced as the chief remedy of the
seven "marvellous medicines" prepared by Count Mattaei, of
Bologna, which are believed by his disciples to be curative of
diseases otherwise intractable, such as cancer, internal aneurism,
and destructive leprosy.

Count Mattaei professed to extract certain vegetable [514]
electricities found stored up in this, and some other plants, and to
utilize them for curative purposes with almost miraculous success.
His other herbs, as revealed by a colleague, Count Manzetti, are the
Knotgrass, the Water Betony, the Cabbage, the Stonecrop, the
Houseleek, the Feverfew, and the Watercress. Lady Paget, when
interviewing Count Mattaei, gathered that Shepherd's Purse is the
herb which furnishes the so-called "blue electricity," of
extraordinary efficacy in controlling haemorrhages. Small birds are
fond of the seeds: and the young radical leaves are sold in
Philadelphia as greens in the Spring.


Two _Potentillas_ occur among our common native plants, and
possess certain curative virtues (as popularly supposed), the
Silverweed and the Cinquefoil. They belong to the Rose tribe, and
grow abundantly on our roadsides, being useful as mild astringents.

The _Potentilla anserina_ (Silverweed) is found, as its adjective
suggests, where geese are put to feed.

Country folk often call it Cramp Weed: but it is more generally
known as Goose Tansy, or Goose Gray, because it is a spurious
Tansy, fit only for a goose; or, perhaps, because eaten by geese.
Other names for the herb are Silvery Cinquefoil, and Moorgrass. It
occurs especially on clay soils, being recognised by its pinnate
white silvery leaves, and its conspicuous golden flowers.

In Yorkshire the roots are known as "moors," which boys dig up and
eat in the winter; whilst swine will also devour them greedily. They
have then a sweet taste like parsnips. In Scotland, also, they are
eaten roasted, or boiled; and sometimes, in hard seasons, [515]
when other provisions were scanty, these roots have been known to
support the inhabitants of certain islands for months together.

Both the roots and the leaves are mildly astringent; so that their
infusion helps to stay diarrhoea, and the fluxes of women; making
also with honey a useful gargle. The leaf is of an exquisitely
beautiful shape, and may be seen carved on the head of many an old
stall in Church, or Cathedral. By reason of its five leaflets, this
gives to the plant the title "five leaf," or five fingered grass,
_Pentedaktulon_. _Potentilla_ comes from the Latin _potens_, as
alluding to the medicinal virtues of the species.

In former days the Cinquefoil was much affected as a heraldic
device through the number of the leaflets answering to the five
senses of man; whilst the right to bear Cinquefoil was considered an
honourable distinction to him who had worthily mastered his senses,
and conquered his passions.

Silverweed tea is excellent to relieve cramps of the belly; and
compresses, wrung out of a hot decoction of the herb, may at the
same time be helpfully applied over the seat of the cramps. A potent
Anglo-Saxon charm against crampy bellyache was to wear a gold
ring with a Dolphin engraved on it, and bearing in Greek the mystic
words:--"Theos keleuei mee keneoon ponois," "_God forbids the
pains of colic_." This acted doubtless by mental suggestion, as in
the cure of warts. The knee-cap bone, or patella, of a sheep, known
locally as the "cramp-bone," is worn in Northamptonshire for a like
purpose; also the application of a gold wedding ring (first wetted
with saliva, an ingredient in the holy salve of the Saxons), to a stye
threatened in an eyelid is often found to disperse the swelling; but in
this case [516] it may be, that a sulphocyanide of gold is formed
with the spittle, which promotes the cure by absorption.

A strong infusion, if used as a lotion, will check the bleeding of
piles, the ordinary infusion being meantime taken as a medicine.

The good people of Leicestershire were accustomed in bygone days
to prevent pitting by small-pox with the use of Silverweed
fomentations. A distilled water of the herb takes away freckles,
spots, pimples in the face, and sunburnings; whilst all parts of the
plant are found to contain tannin.

The Creeping Cinquefoil (_Potentilla replans_) grows also
abundantly on meadow banks, having astringent roots, which have
been used medicinally since the times of Hippocrates and

They were found to cure intermittent fevers, such as used to prevail
in marshy or ill-drained lands much more commonly than now in
Great Britain; though country folk still use the infusion or decoction
for the same purpose in some districts; also for jaundice.

Likewise, because of the tannin contained in the outer bark of the
roots, their decoction is useful against diarrhoea; and their infusion
as a gargle for relaxed sore throats. But, except in mild cases, other
more positively astringent herbs are to be preferred. The roots afford
a useful red dye.


A useful medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the Skullcap
(_Scutellaria_), which is a Labiate plant of frequent growth on the
banks of our rivers and ponds, having bright blue flowers, with
a tube longer than the calyx. This is the greater variety
(_Galericulata_). There is a lesser variety (_Scutellaria minor_),
which is [517] infrequent, and grows in bogs about the West of
England, with flowers of a dull purple colour. Each kind gets its
name from the Latin _scutella_, "a little cap," which the calyx
resembles, and is therefore called Hood Wort, or Helmet flower.
The upper lip of the calyx bulges outward about its middle, and
finally closes down like a lid over the fruit. When the seed is ripe
it opens again.

Provers of the tincture (H.) in toxic doses experienced giddiness,
stupor, and confusion of mind, twitchings of the limbs, intermission
of the pulse, and other symptoms indicative of the epileptiform
"petit mal"; for which morbid affection, and the disposition thereto,
the said tincture, of a diluted strength, in small doses, has been
successfully given.

The greater Skullcap contains, in common with most other plants of
the same order, a volatile oil, tannin, fat, some bitter principle,
sugar, and cellulose.

If a decoction of the plant is made with two ounces of the herb to
eight ounces of water, and is taken for some weeks continuously in
recent epilepsy, or when the disease has only functional causes, it
will often prove very beneficial. Likewise, this decoction, in
common with an extract of the herb, has been given curatively for
intermittent fever and ague, as well as for some depressed, and
disordered states of the nervous system.

A dried extract of the lesser Skullcap (_Lateriflora_) is made by
chemists, and given in doses of from one to three grains as a pill to
relieve severe hiccough, and as a nervine stimulant; also for the
sleeplessness of an exhausted brain.


The parent tree which produces the Sloe is the Blackthorn, our
hardy, thorny hedgerow shrub (_Prunus_ [518] _spinosa_), Greek
_Prounee_, common everywhere, and starting into blossom of a
pinky white about the middle of March before a leaf appears, each
branchlet ending in a long thorn projecting beyond the flowers at
right angles to the stem. From the conspicuous blackness of its rind
at the time of flowering, the tree is named Blackthorn, and the spell
of harsh unkindly cold weather which prevails about then goes by
the name of "blackthorn winter."

The term Sloe, or Sla, means not the fruit but the hard trunk, being
connected with a verb signifying to slay, or strike, probably because
the wood of this tree was used as a flail, and nowadays makes a

In the Autumn every branch becomes clustered with the oval
blue-black fruit presently covered with a fine purple bloom; and
until mellowed by the early frosts, this fruit is very harsh and

The leaves, when they unfold late in the spring, are small and
narrow. If dried, they make a very fair substitute for tea, and when
high duties were placed on imported tea, it was usual to find the sloe
trees stripped of their marketable foliage.

Furthermore, the dark ruby juice of Sloes enters largely into the
manufacture of British port wine, to which it communicates a
beautiful deep red colour, and a pleasant sub-acid roughness. Letters
marked upon linen fabric with this juice, when used fresh, will not
wash out.

If obtained by expression from the unripe fruit, it is very useful as
an astringent medicine, and is a popular remedy for stopping a flow
of blood from the nose. It may be gently boiled to a thick
consistence, and will then keep throughout the year without losing
its virtues. Winter-picks is a provincial name for the Sloe fruit,
[519] and winter-pick wine takes the place of port in the rustic
cellar. The French call them Prunelles.

Sloe-blossoms make a safe, harmless, laxative medicine. To use
these, "Boil them up, and drink a cup of the tea daily for three or
four days; it will act gently, painlessly, but thoroughly." The syrup
is especially useful for children.

Country people bury the Sloes in jars to preserve them for winter
use; and the bush which bears this fruit is sometimes called,
provincially, Scroggs.

Sloes may be gathered when ripe on a dry day, picked clean, and put
into jars or bottles, without any boiling or other process, and then
covered with loaf sugar; a tablespoonful of brandy should presently
be added, and the jar sealed. By Christmas, the syrup formed from
the juice, the sugar, and the spirit, will have covered and saturated
the fruit, and then a couple of tablespoonfuls will not only make an
agreeable dessert liqueur, but will act as an astringent cordial of a
very pleasant sort.

In Somersetshire the Sloe is named Snag (as corrupted from "Slag,"
i.e., Sloe). The juice is viscid, and when thickened to dryness, is the
German Gum Acacia.

Those provers who have taken experimentally a tincture made from
the wood and bark and leaves of the Blackthorn, all had to complain
of sharp pains in the right eyeball and accordingly the diluted
tincture is found, when administered in small quantities, to give
signal relief for ciliary neuralgia, arising from a functional disorder
of the structures within the eyeball. Dr. Hughes says: "It not only
relieves such pains, but also checks the inflammation, and clears the
vision." The medicinal tincture is made (H.) with proof spirit of
wine from the flower buds collected in early spring [520] before
they expand. The Sloe has been employed as a styptic ever since the
time of Dioscorides. "From the effects," says Withering, "which I
have repeatedly observed to follow a wound from the thorns, I find
reason for believing that there is something poisonous in their
nature, particularly in the autumn."

Next to the Sloe in order of development comes the Bullace
(_Prunus insititia_), a shrub with fewer thorns, and bearing its
flowers after the leaves have begun to unfold.

The fruit is five times as big as the Sloe, but likewise of a delicate
bluish colour. It is named from the Latin plural bullas, meaning the
round bosses which the Romans put on their bridles. Lydgate (1440)
used the phrase, "As bright as Bullaces," in one of his poems. In
Lincolnshire the blossom is known as "Bully bloom," and the fruit
are "Bullies." After harvest the women and children go out
gathering them for Bullace-wine. Boys in France call Slot's
"_Sibarelles_," because it is impossible to whistle immediately after
eating them. Some writers say the signification of "Sloe" is "that
which sets the teeth on edge."

Finally comes the true Wild Plum (_Prunus domestica_), which is
far less common than the two preceding sorts. Its flowers are large,
and in small clusters, whilst the leaves unfold with the blossom. The
fruit is a small brownish plum, intensely sharp and acrid to the taste,
and the tree is thorny. Only in this latter respect does it differ from
an inferior kind of garden plum of which the cultivation has been

The cultivated Plum has been developed from the Wild Plum, and
has been made to exhibit some fifty varieties of form and character.
The fruit of Damascus was formerly much valued, being now
known as Damascenes, (damsons), Damasin, or Damask prune.

[521] All the Wild Plums develop thorns; but the cultivated kinds
have entirely cast them off. The Plum, as a fruit, was known to the
Romans in Cato's time, but not the tree.

"Little Jack Horner," says the familiar nursery rhyme, "sat in a
corner, eating a Christmas pie; he put in his thumb, and he pulled
out a plum, and said 'What a good boy am I.'"

    "Inquit, et unum extraheus prunum,
    Horner, quam fueris nobile pueris
            Exemplar imitabile"!

When ripe, cultivated Plums are cooling and slightly laxative,
especially the French fruit, which is dried and bottled for dessert.
They are useful for costive habits, and may be made into an
electuary; but, when unripe, Plums provoke choleraic diarrhoea. The
garden fruit contains less sugar than cherries, but a large amount of
gelatinising pectose. Dr. Johnson was specially fond of veal pie with
plums and sugar. He taunted Boswell about the need of gardeners to
produce in Scotland what grows wild in England. "Pray, Sir," said
he, "are you ever able to bring the Sloe to perfection there?" On
Change a hundred thousand pounds are whimsically known as "a
plum," and a million of money is "a marigold." Lately a Chicago
physician whilst officiating at a Reformatory found that the boys
behaved themselves much better when taking prunes in their diet
than at any other time. These act, he supposes, on certain organs
which are the seats, and centres of the passions.

From France comes the Greengage, named in that country (out of
compliment to the Queen of Francis the First) _La Reine Claude_. It
was brought to England from [522] the Monastery of La Grande
Chartreuse, about the middle of the eighteenth century, by the Rev.
John Gage, brother to the owner of Hengrave Hall, near Coldham,
Suffolk; and taking his name this fruit soon became diffused
throughout England.

French Prunes are conveyed to England in their dried state from
Marseilles. With their pulp, figs, tamarinds, and senna, the officinal
"lenitive electuary" is made; and apothecaries prepare a medicinal
tincture from the fresh flower-buds of the Blackthorn.

Culpeper says: "All Plumbs are under Venus, and are like women--
some better, some worse."

In Sussex and some other counties, a superstitious fear attaches
itself to the Blackthorn in bloom, because of the apparent union of
life and death when the tree is clothed in early Spring with white
flowers, but is destitute of leaves; so that to carry, or wear a piece
of Blackthorn in blossom, is thought to signify bringing a death token.


The Soapwort (_Saponaria officinalis_) grows commonly in
England near villages, on roadsides, and by the margins of woods,
in moist situations. It belongs to the _Caryophyllaceoe_, or Clove
and Pink tribe of plants; and a double flowered variety of it is met
with in gardens. This is Miss Mitford's "Spicer" in _Our Village_. It
is sometimes named "Bouncing Bet," and "Fuller's herb."

The root has a sweetish bitter taste, but no odour. It contains resin
and mucilage, in addition to saponin, which is its leading principle,
and by virtue of which decoctions of the root produce a soapy froth.
Saponin is likewise found in the nuts of the Horse-chestnut tree, and
in the Scarlet Pimpernel.

[523] A similar soapy quality is also observed in the leaves, so
much so that they have been used by mendicant monks as a
substitute for soap in washing their clothes. This "saponin" has
considerable medicinal efficacy, being especially useful for the
cure of inveterate syphilis without giving mercury. Several writers
of note aver that such cases have been cured by a decoction of
the plant; though perhaps the conclusion has been arrived at
through the resemblance between the roots of Soapwort and those of

Gerard says: "Ludovicus Septalius, when treating of decoctions in
use against the French poxes, mentions the singular effect of the
Soapwort against that filthy disease"; but, he adds, "it is somewhat
of an ungrateful taste, and therefore must be reserved for the poorer
sort of patients." He employed it _soepe et soepius_.

The _Pharmacopoeia Chirurgica_ of 1794, teaches: "A decoction of
this plant has been found useful for scrofulous, impetiginous, and
syphilitic affections. Boil down half a pound of the bruised fresh
herb in a gallon of distilled water to two quarts, and give from one
to three pints in the twenty-four hours."

Formerly the herb was called Bruisewort, and was thought of
service for contusions. It will remove stains, or grease almost as
well as soap, but contains no starch.

Saponin, when smelt, excites long-continued sneezing; if injected or
administered, it reduces the frequency and force of the heart's
pulsations, paralyzing the cardiac nerves, and acting speedily on the
vaso-motor centres, so as to arrest the movements of the heart, on
which principle, when given in a diluted form, and in doses short of
all toxic effects, it has proved of signal use in low typhoid
inflammation of the lungs, where restorative stimulation of the heart
is to be aimed at.

[524] Also, likewise for passive suppression of the female monthly
flow, it will act beneficially as a stimulant of the womb to incite its
periodical function.

In a patient who took a poisonous quantity of Saponin at Saint
Petersburg all the muscular contractile sensitiveness was completely
abolished; whilst, nevertheless, all the bodily functions were
normally performed. Per contra, this effect should be a curative
guide in the use of Soapwort as a Simple.

Saponin is found again in the root and unripe seeds of the Corn
Cockle, and in all parts of the Nottingham Catch-fly except the
seeds; also in the wild Lychnis, and some others of the Pink tribe.


The Solomon's Seal (_Convallaria polygonatum_) is a handsome
woodland plant by no means uncommon throughout England, particularly
in Berkshire, Bucks, Rants, Kent, and Suffolk.

It grows to the height of about two feet, bearing along its curved
drooping branches handsome bells of pure white, which hang down
all along the lower side of the gracefully weeping flower stalks.

The oval leaves are ribbed, and grow alternately from the stem, for
which reason the plant is called Ladder-to-heaven; or, "more
probably," says Dr. Prior, "from a confusion of _Seal de notre
Dame_ (our Lady's Seal), with _Echelle de notre Dame_ (our Lady's
Ladder)." The round depressions resembling seal marks, which are
found on the root, or the characters which appear when it is cut
transversely, gave rise to the notion that Solomon, "who knew the
diversities of plants, and the virtues of roots," had set his seal upon
this in testimony of its value to man as a medicinal root. The
rhizome and [525] herb contain convallarin, asparagin, gum, sugar,
starch, and pectin.

In Galen's time the distilled water was used by ladies as a cosmetic
for removing pimples and freckles from the skin, "leaving the place
fresh, fair, and lovely." During the reign of Elizabeth it had great
medical celebrity, so that, as we learn from a contemporary writer,
"The roots of Solomon's Seal, stamped whilst fresh and green, and
applied, taketh away, in one night, or two at the most, any bruise,
black or blue spots gotten by falls, or woman's wilfulness in
stumbling upon their hasty husband's fists, or such like," and "that
which might be trewly written of this herb as touching the knitting
of bones, would seem to some well nigh incredible; yea, although
they be but slenderly, and unhandsomely wrapped-up; but common
experience teacheth that in the worlde there is not to be found
another herbe comparable for the purpose aforesaid. It was given to
the patients in ale to drink--as well unto themselves as to their
cattle--and applied outwardly in the manner of a pultis."

The name Lady's Seal was conferred on this plant by old writers, as
also St. Mary's Seal, _Sigillum sanctoe Marioe_.

The Arabs understand by Solomon's Seal the figure of a six-pointed
star, formed by two equilateral triangles intersecting each other, as
frequently mentioned in Oriental tales. Gerard maintains that the
name, _Sigillum Solomunis_, was given to the root "partly because
it bears marks something like the stamp of a seal, but still more
because of the virtue the root hath in sealing or healing up green
wounds, broken bones, and such like, being stamp't and laid

The bottle of brass told of in the _Arabian Nights_ as fished up was
closed with a stopper of lead bearing the [526] "Seal of our Lord
Suleyman." This was a wonderful talisman which was said to have
come down from heaven with the great name of God engraved upon
it, being composed of brass for the good genii, and iron for the evil

The names _Convallaria polygonatum_ signify "growth in a valley,"
and "many jointed." Other titles of the plant are Many Knees,
Jacob's Ladder, Lily of the Mountain, White wort, and Seal wort.

The Turks eat the young shoots of this plant just as we eat

(_See_ "Dock," _page_ 157.)


Southernwood, or Southern Wormwood, though it does not flower
in this country, is well known as grown in every cottage garden for
its aromatic fragrance. It is the _Artemisia Abrotanum_, a
Composite plant of the Wormwood tribe, commonly known as "Old
Man." Pliny explains that this title is borne because of the plant
being a sexual restorative to those in advanced years, as explained
by Macer:--

"Hoec etiam venerem pulvino subdita tantum Incitat."

Pliny says further that this herb is potent against syphilis, and
_veneficia quibus coitus inhibeatur_. Its odour is lemon-like, and
depends on a volatile essential oil which consists chiefly of
absinthol, and is common to the other Wormwoods. "Abrotanum" is
a Greek term. Another appellation of this plant is "Lad's love," and
"Boy's love," from the making of an ointment with its [527] ashes,
to be used by youngsters for promoting the growth of the beard.
"Cinis Abrotani barbam segnius tardiusque enascentem cum aliquo
dictorum oleorum elicit." The plant is found in Spain and Italy as an
indigenous herb. Its leaves and tops have a strong aromatic odour,
and a penetrating warms bitterish taste which is rather nauseous. An
infusion, or tea, of the herb is agreeable: but a decoction is
distasteful, having lost much of the aroma. The plant was formerly
in great repute as a cordial against hysterics, and to strengthen the
stomach of a weakly person. It will expel both round worms and
thread worms, whilst its presence is hostile to moths; and hence has
been got one of its French names, "Garde robe." Externally it will
promote the growth of the hair. In Lincolnshire it is known as

(_See page_ 450, "Primrose.")


This little plant, with its exquisite flowers of celestial blue, grows
most familiarly in our hedgerows throughout the Spring, and early
Summer. Its brilliant, gemlike blossoms show a border of pale
purple, or delicate violet, marked with deeper veins or streaks. But
the lovely circlet of petals is most fragile, and falls off at a touch;
whence are derived the names Speedwell, Farewell, Good-bye, and

Speedwell is a Veronica (_fero_, "I bring," _nikee_, "victory"),
which tribe was believed to belong especially to birds. So the plant
bears the name "Birds' Eyes," as well as "Blue Eyes," "Strike Fires,"
and "Mammy Die" (because of the belief that if the herb were
brought [528] into a family the mother would die within the year).
Turner calls the plant "Fluellin," or "Lluellin," a name "the
shentleman of Wales have given it because it saved her nose, which
a disease had almost gotten from her." Further, it is the Paul's
Betony, called after Paulus OEgineta. The plant belongs to the
Scroflua-curing order.

It is related that a shepherd observed how a stag, whose
hind-quarters were covered with a scabby eruption brought about through
the bite of a wolf, cured itself by rolling on plants of the Speedwell,
and by eating its leaves. Thereupon he commended the plant to his
king, and thus promoted his majesty's restoration to health.

In Germany it bears the title _Grundheele_, from having cured a
king of France who suffered from a leprosy for eight years, which
disease is named _grund_ in German. At one time the herb was held
in high esteem as a specific for gout in this country, but it became
adulterated, and its fame suffered a downfall.

The only sensible quality of the Speedwell is the powerful
astringency of its leaves, and this property serves to protect it
from herbivorous foes.

It has been long held famous among countryfolk as an excellent
plant for coughs, asthma, and pulmonary consumption. The leaves
are bitter, with a rough taste; and a decoction of the whole plant
stimulates the kidneys. The infusion promotes perspiration, and
reduces feverishness. The juice may be boiled into a syrup with
honey, for asthma and catarrhs.

When applied outwardly, it is said to cure the itch; and by some it
has been asserted that a continued use of the infusion will overcome
sterility, if taken daily as a tea. The French still distinguish the
plant as the [529] _Thé d'Europe_; and a century ago it was used
commonly in Germany in substitution for tea. As a medicine, by
reason of its astringency, it became called _Polychresta herba

"My freckles with the Speedwell's juices washed," says Alfred
Austin, our Poet Laureate.

The Germans also name this plant _Ehren-preis_, or Prize of
Honour; which fact favours the supposition of its being the true
"Forget-me-not," or _souveigne vous de moy_, as legendary on
knightly collars of yore to commemorate a famous joust fought in
1465 between the most accomplished champions of England and

The present Forget-me-not is a _Myosotis_, or Mouse Ear, or
Scorpion Grass.

In Somersetshire, the pretty little Germander Speedwell is known as
Cat's Eye: and because seeming to reflect by its azure colour the
beautiful blue firmament above, this pure-tinted blossom has got its
name of _veron eikon_, the "true image" (_Veronica_); just as the
napkin with which a compassionate maiden wiped the face of Christ
on the morning of His crucifixion, held imprinted for ever on its
fabric a miraculous portrait, which led to her being afterwards
canonised on this account as Saint Veronica.

The Emperor Charles the Fifth of Spain is said to have derived
much relief to his gout from the use of this herb. It contains
tannin, and a particular bitter principle.


Spinach (_Lapathum hortense_) is a Persian plant which has been
cultivated in our gardens for about two hundred years; and
considerably longer on the Continent. Some say the Spinach was
originally brought [530] from Spain. It was produced by monks in
France at the middle of the 14th century.

This is a light vegetable, easily digested, and rather laxative,
besides having some wonderful properties ascribed to its use. Its
sub-order, the Saltworts (_Salsolaceoe_), are found growing in
marshes by the seashore, and as weeds by waste places, serving
some of them to expel worms.

"Spinach," says John Evelyn, "if crude, the oft'ner kept out of
Sallets the better; but being boiled to a pulp; and without other
water than its own moisture, is a most excellent condiment with
butter, vinegar, or lemon, for almost all sorts of boiled flesh, and
may accompany a sick man's diet. 'Tis laxative and emollient, and
therefore profitable for the aged." Spinach is richer in iron than the
yolk of the egg, which contains more than beef. Its juice produced
in cooking the leaves without adding any water is a wholesome
drink, and improves the complexion.

It was with a delicate offering of "gammon and spinach" in his
hands, Mr. Anthony Roley, of nursery fame, went so sadly a

    "Ranula furtivos statuebat quaoerere amores:
        Me miserum! tristi Rolius ore gemit.
    Ranula furtivos statuebat quoerere amores,
        Mater sive daret, sive negaret iter."

A wild species of Spinach, the "Good King Henry," grows in
England, and is popular as a pot herb in Lincolnshire.

SPINDLE TREE (Celastracoe).

During the autumn, in our woody hedgerows a shrub becomes very
conspicuous by bearing numerous rose-coloured floral capsules,
strikingly brilliant, each with a [531] scarlet and orange-coloured
centre. This is the Spindle Tree (_Euonymus_), so called because it
furnishes wood for spindles, or skewers, whence it is also named
Prickwood, Skewerwood, and Gadrise, or Gad Rouge. The word
"gad" is used in our western counties for a stick pointed at both ends
to fasten down thatch. The Spindle Tree has a green bark, and
glossy leaves, producing only small greenish flowers: whilst the
pendulous ornaments so brilliantly borne in autumn are four-lobed
capsules of a pale red hue, which open out and disclose ruddy
orange-coloured seeds wrapped in a scarlet arillus. It is further
known as the Louseberry Tree, from the fruit being applied to
destroy lice in children's heads, whilst its powdered bark will kill
nits, and serve to remove scurf. Other popular titles owned by this
shrub are "gatter," "gatten," and "gatteridge." The ripe fruit, from
which a medicinal tincture is prepared, furnishes euonymin, a
golden resin, which is purgative and emetic. This acts specially on
the liver, and promotes a free flow of bile. The plant also yields
asparagin, and euonic acid. An ointment is made with the fruits: and
the powdered resin is given in doses of from half-a-grain to two

In the United States of America, this tree is the Wahoo, or Burning
Bush. The green leaves of one species are eaten by the Arabs to
induce watchfulness. In allusion to the actively irritating properties
of the shrub, its name, _Euonymus_, is associated with that of
Euonyme, the Mother of the Furies. The bark is mildly aperient and
causes no nausea, whilst at the same time stimulating the liver
somewhat freely. To make its decoction add an ounce to a pint of
water, and boil together slowly. A small wineglassful may be given,
when cool, for a dose two or three times in the day. Of the
medicinal tincture made from the bark with spirit [532] of wine, a
dose of from five to ten drops may be taken with water in the same
way. French doctors call the shrub Fusain, or _bonnet de prètre_
(birretta). They give the fruit, three or four for a dose, as a
purgative in rural districts: and employ the decoction, whilst
adding some vinegar, as a lotion against mange in horses and cattle.
Also, they make from the wood when slightly charred a delicate
crayon for artists.


Conspicuous in Summer by their golden green leaves, and their
striking epergnes of bright emerald blossoms, the Wood Spurge, and
the Petty Spurge, adorn our woodlands and gardens commonly and
very remarkably. Together with many other allied plants, foreign
and indigenous, they yield from their severed stems a milky juice of
medicinal properties. The name _Euphorbioe _has been given to
this order from Euphorbus, the favourite physician of Juba, King of
Mauritania. All the Spurges possess the same poisonous principle,
which may, however, be readily dissipated by heat; and then, in
many instances, the root becomes a nourishing and palatable food.
For example, the Manioc, a South American Spurge, furnishes a
juice which has been known to kill in a few minutes. Nevertheless,
its root baked, after first draining away the juice, makes a
wholesome bread: and by washing the fresh pulp a starch is
produced which we know as Tapioca for our table. This is so
sustaining that half-a-pound a day is said to be sufficient of itself
to support a healthy man. The Indian rubber and Castor oil plants
belong also to this order of Euphorbioe.

The Wood Spurge, seen so frequently during our country rambles,
suggests by its spreading aspect a [533] clever juggler balancing on
his upturned chin a widely-branched series of delicate green saucers
on fragile stems, which ramify below from a single rod. Each saucer
is the bearer again of sub-divided pedicels which stretch out to
support other brightly verdant little leafy dishes; so that the whole
system of well poised flowering perianths forms a specially
handsome candelabrum of emerald (cup-like) bloom. The botanical
title Spurge is derived from _expurgare_, to act as a purgative,
because of the acrid juice possessing this property. Gerard says "the
juice of the Wood Spurge, if given as physic, must be ministered
with discretion, and prepared with correctories by some honest
apothecary." Furthermore, this juice, "if mixed with honey causeth
hair to fall from that part which is anointed therewith, if it be done
in the sun." Therefore, what better place may there be than a
wooded English meadow on a sunny day for a clean and convenient
natural shave by those of the fair sex who, unhappily, own hirsute
facial appendages of which they would gladly be rid? _Euphorbia
Peplus_, the Petty Spurge, is equally common, and often called
"wart weed." It signifies, "Welcome to our house," and turns its
flowers towards the sun. The Irish Spurge (_Hiberna_), is so powerful
that a small bundle of its bruised plant will kill the fish for
several miles down a river. Yet another Spurge (_Lathyris_), a twin
brother, bears caper-like seeds which are sometimes dishonestly
pickled and sold as a (dangerous) substitute for the toothsome
flowerbuds taken in sauce with our boiled mutton. The whole tribe
of Spurges contains two hundred genera, and forms, what we call
now-a-days, "a large order." The roots of several common kinds are
used in making quack medicines, which are unsafe, [534] and
violent in action. Because of its milk-white sap the Wood Spurge
bears the name in Somersetshire of Virgin Mary's Nipple: and yet in
other parts, for the like reason, this plant is known as Devil's Milk.
Chemically, most of the Spurges contain caoutchouc, resin, gallic
acid, and their particular acrid principle which has not been fully
defined. In France the rustics sometimes purge themselves with a
dose of from six to twelve grains of the dried Wood Spurge: and its
juice is used in this country as an application to destroy warts;
also, to be rubbed in behind the ear for ear-ache, or face-ache. The
famous surgeon, Cheselden, employed a noted plaster made with the
resin of Spurge for relieving disease of the hip joint by
counterstimulation. But, to sum up, I would say with wise Gerard,
"these herbes by mine advice should not be received into the body,
considering there be so many other good and wholesome potions to
be made with other herbes that may be taken without peril."
Nevertheless, a tincture prepared (H.) from the Wood Spurge, with
spirit of wine, may be given admirably in much diluted doses for
curing the same severe symptoms which the plant produces when
taken to a toxical degree. Offensive diarrhoea, with prolapse of the
lowest bowel, will be certainly remedied by four or five drops of
this tincture, first decimal strength, with water, every two or three
hours: especially if, at the same time, there be a burning and
stinging soreness of the throat. Said young Rosamond Berew
(1460), in _Malvern Chase_, concerning "a tall gaunt figure," noted
for her knowledge of herbs, sometimes called the Witch, but
worshipped by the hinds and their children:--"There is Mary, of
Eldersfield; I expect she has been on Berthill after Nettles to make a
capon sit, or to gather Spurges for ointments." [535]


The Stitchworts, greater and less (_Stellaria holostea_), grow very
abundantly as herbal weeds in all our dry hedges and woods, having
tough stems which run closely together, and small white star-like
(_stellaria_) blossoms.

These plants are of the same order (Chickweed) as the Alsine and
the small Chickweed. Their second name, Holostea, signifies "all
bones," because the whole plant is very brittle from the flinty
elements which its structures contain.

As its title declares, the great Stitchwort has a widespread reputation
for curing the stitch, or sharp muscular pain, which often attacks one
or other side of the body about the lower ribs.

In the days of the old Saxon leechdoms it was customary against a
stitch to make the sign of the cross, and to sing three times over the

    "Longinus miles lanceâ pinxit dominum:
    Restet sanguis, et recedat dolor!"

    "The spear of Longinus, the soldier, pierced our Saviour's side:
    May the blood, therefore, quicken: and the pain no longer abide!"

Or some similar form of charm.

Gerard said of folk, in his day: "They are wont to drink it in wine
(with the powder of acorns) against the pain in the side, stitches, and
such like." But according to Dr. Prior, the herb is named rather
because curing the sting (in German _stich_) of venomous reptiles.
In country places the Stitchwort is known as Adder's meat, and the
Satin Flower: also Miller's Star, Shirtbutton, and Milk Maid, in
Yorkshire: the early English name was Bird's Tongue.

[536] About, Plymouth, it is dedicated to the Pixies; whilst the
lesser variety is called White Sunday, because of its delicate white
blossoms, with golden-dusted stamens. These were associated with
the new converts baptised in white garments on Low Sunday--the
first Sunday after Easter--named, therefore, White Sunday.

But in some parts of Wales the Stitchwort bears the names of
Devil's-eyes and Devil's-corn. Boys in Devonshire nickname the
herb Snapjack, Snapcrackers, and Snappers.

Parkinson tells us that in former days it was much commended by
some to clear the eyes of dimness by dropping the fresh juice into
them. Again, Galen said: "The seed is sharp and biting to him that
tastes it."

As a modern curative Simple, the Stitchworts, greater and less,
stand related to silica, a powerfully remedial preparation of highly
pulverised flint. This is because of the exquisitely subdivided flint
found abundantly dispersed throughout the structures of Stitchwort
plants; which curative principle is eminently useful in chronic
diseases, such as cancer, rickets, and scrofula. It exercises a deep
and slow action, such as is remedially brought to bear by the
Bethesda waters of America, and the powdered oyster shells of Sir
Spencer Wells.

The fresh infusion should be steadily taken, a tea-cupful three times
daily, for weeks or months together. It may be made with a pint of
boiling water to an ounce of the fresh herb. Likewise, the fresh plant
should be boiled and eaten as "greens," so as to secure medicinally
the insoluble parts of the silica. This further serves against albumen,
and sugar in the urine.

[537] STONE CROP (_See House Leek, page 273_).


Properly, our familiar Strawberry plant is a native of cold climates,
and so hardy that it bears fruit freely in Lapland. When mixed with
reindeer cream, and dried in the form of a sausage, this constitutes
Kappatialmas, the plum pudding of the Polar regions.

"Strawberry" is from the Anglo-Saxon _Strowberige_, of which the
first syllable refers to anything strewn. The wild woodland
Strawberry (_Fragaria vesca_) is the progenitor of our highly
cultivated and delicious fruit. This little hedgerow and sylvan plant
has a root which is very astringent, so that when held in the mouth it
will stay any flow of blood from the nostrils. Its berries are more
acid than the garden Strawberry, and make an excellent cleanser of
the teeth, the acid juice dissolving incrustations of tartar without
injuring the enamel.

A medicinal tincture is ordered (H.) from the berries of this
Woodland Strawberry, which is of excellent service for nettle rash,
or allied erysipelas: also for a suffocative swelling of the
swallowing throat. "_Ipsa tuis manibus sylvestri nata sub umbrâa:
mollia fraga leges_," says Ovid. An infusion of the leaves is of
excellent service in Dysentery.

It is incorrect to call the fruit a berry, because the edible,
succulent pulp is really a juicy cushion over which numerous small
seeds are plentifully dotted; whilst the name Strawberry is a
corruption of Strayberry, in allusion to the trailing runners,
which stray in all directions from the parent stock.

Being of very ancient date, the Strawberry is found widely diffused
throughout most parts of the world. [538] Among the Greeks its
name _Komaros_, "a mouthful," indicated the compact size of the
fruit. By the Latins it was termed _Fragaria_, because of its delicate

Virgil ranked it with sweet-smelling flowers; Ovid gave it a tender
epithet; Pliny mentions the Strawberry as one of the native fruits of
Italy; Linnaeus declared he kept himself free from gout by eating
plentifully of the fruit; and Hoffman says he has known consumption
cured by the same means.

From Shakespeare we learn that in his day the fruit was grown in
Holborn, now the centre of London. Gloster, when contemplating
the death of Hastings, wishes to get the Bishop of Ely temporarily
out of the way, and thus addresses him:--

    "My Lord of Ely--when I was last in Holborn
    I saw good Strawberries in your garden there;
    I do beseech you send for some of them."

In Elizabeth's time doctors made a tea from the leaves to act on the
kidneys, and used the roots as astringent.

All former Herbalists agreed in pronouncing strawberries
wholesome and beneficial beyond every other English fruit. Their
smell is refreshing to the spirits; they abate fever, promote urine,
and are gently laxative. The leaves may be used in gargles for
quinsies and sore mouths, but, "if anyone suffering from a wound in
the head should partake of this fruit, it would certainly prove fatal,"
in accordance with a widespread superstition.

So wholesome are Strawberries, that if laid in a heap and left by
themselves to decompose, they will decay without undergoing any
acetous fermentation; nor can their kindly temperature be soured
even by exposure to the acids of the stomach. They are constituted
entirely of soluble matter, and leave no residuum to [539] hinder
digestion. It is probably for this reason, and because the fruit does
not contain any actual nutriment as food, that a custom has arisen of
combining rich clotted cream with it at table, whilst at the same time
the sharp juices are thus agreeably modified.

    "Mella que erunt epulis, et lacte fluentia fraga":--

    "Then sit on a cushion, and sew up a seam;
    And thou shalt have Strawberries, sugar, and cream."

Cardinal Wolsey regaled off this delicate confection with the Lords
of the Star Chamber; and Charles Lamb is reported to have said,
"Doubtless, God Almighty could have made a better berry, but He
never did."

Parkinson advised that water distilled from strawberries is good for
perturbation of the spirits, and maketh the heart merry.

The fruit especially suits persons of a bilious temperament, being "a
surprising remedy for the jaundice of children, and particularly
helping the liver of pot companions, wetters, and drammers." "Some
also do use thereof to make a water for hot inflammations in the
eyes, and to take away any film that beginneth to grow over them.
Into a closed glass vessel they put so many strawberries as they
think meet for their purpose, and let this be set in a bed of hot horse
manure for twelve or fourteen days, being afterwards distilled
carefully, and the water kept for use."

The chemical constituents of the Strawberry are--a peculiar volatile
aroma, sugar, mucilage, pectin, citric and malic acids in equal parts,
woody fibre, and water.

The fruit is mucilaginous, somewhat tart and saccharine. It
stimulates perspiration, and imparts a violet scent to the urine.
When fermented for the purpose it yields an ardent spirit. If beaten
into a pulp [540] when ripe, and with water poured thereupon, it
makes a capital cooling drink which is purifying, and somewhat

Strawberries are especially suitable in inflammatory and putrid
fevers, and for catarrhal sore throats. French herbalists direct that
when fresh, and recently crushed, the fruit shall be applied on the
face at night for heat spots and freckles by the sun. From the juice,
with lemon, sugar, and water, they concoct a most agreeable drink,
_Bavaroise à la grecque_; also they employ the roots and leaves
against passive hemorrhages, and in chronic diarrhoea.

In Germany, stewed strawberries, and strawberry jam are taken at
dinner with roasted meats, or with chicken. This jam promotes a
free flow of urine.

It is to be noticed that though most commonly wholesome and
refreshing, yet with some persons, particularly those of a strumous
bodily habit, Strawberries will often disagree. The late Dr.
Armstrong held a very strong opinion that the seed grains which lie
sprinkled allover the outer surface of each pulpy berry are prone to
excite much intestinal irritation, and he advised his patients to suck
their Strawberries through muslin, in order to prevent these
diminutive seeds from being swallowed.

German legends dedicate Strawberries to the Virgin, with whom
they are reputed to have been a favourite fruit. She went a berrying
with the children on St. John's morning; and therefore no mother
who has lost a young child, will taste the delicacy then. The
Strawberries symbolise little children who have died when young,
and the mothers suppose they ascend to heaven concealed in the
fragrant pulp.

From the French, _fraise_, signifying the Strawberry [541] leaves
borne on the family shield, is derived in Scotland the name of the
Frazers. And eight of these (so called) leaves wrought in ornamental
gold form a part of the coronet which our English dukes claim as
one of their proud insignia, conferred by Henry the Fourth. Being
desirous of adding fresh splendour to the Coronation of a
Lancastrian Prince he introduced these leaves into the regal Crown.
An earl's coronet has eight leaves: that of a marquis four.


The Wild Succory (_Cichorium intybus_) is a common roadside
English plant, white or blue, belonging to the Composite order, and
called also Turnsole, because it always turns its flowers towards the

It blows with a blue blossom somewhat paler than the Cornflower,
but "bearing a golden heart."

Its fresh root is bitter, and a milky juice flows from the rind, which
is somewhat aperient and slightly sedative, so that this specially
suits persons troubled with bilious torpor, and jaundice combined
with melancholy. An infusion of the herb is useful for skin eruptions
connected with gout. If the root and leaves are taken freely, they
will produce a gentle diarrhoea, their virtue lying chiefly in the
milky juice; and on good authority the plant has been pronounced
useful against pulmonary consumption. In Germany it is called
Wegwort, or "waiting on the way." The Syrup of Succory is an
excellent laxative for children.

The Succory or Cichorium was known to the Romans, and was
eaten by them as a vegetable, or in salads. Horace writes (_Ode_

        "Me pascunt olivae,
    Me chicorea, levesque malvae."

[542] And Virgil, in his first _Georgic_, speaks of _Amaris intuba
fibris_. When cultivated it becomes large, and constitutes Chicory,
of which the taproot is used extensively in France for blending with
coffee, being closely allied to the Endive and the Dandelion.

This is the _Chicorée frisée_ when bleached, or the _Barbe de
Capucin_. The cortical part of the root yields a milky saponaceous
juice which is very bitter and slightly sedative. Some writers
suppose the Succory to be the Horehound of the Bible. In the
German story, _The Watcher of the Road_, a lovely princess,
abandoned for a rival, pines away, and asking only to die where she
can be constantly on the watch, becomes transformed into the
wayside Succory.

This Succory plant bears also the name of _Rostrum porcinum_. Its
leaves, when bruised, make a good poultice for inflamed eyes, being
outwardly applied to the grieved place. Also the leaves when boiled
in pottage or broths for sick and feeble persons that have hot, weak,
and feeble stomachs, do strengthen the same.

It is said that the roots, if put into heaps and dried, are liable to
spontaneous combustion. The taproot of the cultivated plant is
roasted in France, and mixed with coffee, to which, when infused, it
gives a bitterish taste and a dark colour.

The chemical constituents of Succory and Chicory are--in addition
to those ordinarily appertaining to vegetables--inulin, and a special
bitter principle not named.

Chicory, when taken too habitually or too freely, causes venous
passive congestion in the digestive organs within the abdomen, and
a fulness of blood in the head. Both it and Succory, if used in excess
as a medicine, will bring about amaurosis, or loss of visual power in
[543] the retina of the eyes. Therefore, when given in a much
diluted form they are remedial for these affections.

The only benefit of quality which Chicory gives to coffee is by
increase of colour and body, with some bitterness, but not by
possessing any aroma, or fragrant oil, or stimulating virtue. French
writers say it is _contra-stimulante_, and serving to correct the
excitation caused by the active principles of coffee, and therefore it
suits sanguineo-bilious subjects who suffer from habitual tonic
constipation. But it is ill adapted for persons whose vital energy
soon flags; and for lymphatic, or bloodless people its use should be
altogether forbidden.

The flowers of Succory used to rank among the four cordial flowers,
and a water was distilled from them to allay inflammation of the
eyes. The seeds contain abundantly a demulcent oil, whilst the
petals furnish a glucoside which is colourless unless treated with
alkalies, when it becomes of a golden yellow.


The Sundew (_Ros solis_, or _Drosera rotundifolia_) is a little plant
always eagerly recognised in marshy and heathy grounds by ardent
young botanists. In the sun its leaves seem tipped with dew
(_drosos_). It grows plentifully in Hampshire and the New Forest,
bearing a cluster of hairy leaves in a stellate form, at the top of a
slender stem. These leaves either from lack of other sustenance in so
barren a soil, or more probably as an advance in plant evolution to a
higher grade of development, excrete a sticky moisture or dew,
which entangles unwary flies settling on the plant, and which serves
to digest these victims therewith. Each of the long red [544] hairs on
the leaves is viscid, and possesses a small secreting gland at its top.

Some writers say the word Sundew means "sin" ever, moist (dew).
The plant is also called Redrot, and Moor Grass, because the soil in
which it grows is unwholesome for sheep.

It goes further by the additional names of Youthwort, and
Lustwort--_quia acrimonia sua sopitum veneris desiderium excitat_
(Dodoeus). The fresh juice of the herb contains malic acid in a free
state, various salts, and a red colouring matter; also glucose, and a
peculiar crystallisable acid. Cattle of the female gender are said to
have their copulative instincts excited by eating even a small
quantity of the plant. Throughout Europe it has long been esteemed
a remedy of repute for chronic bronchitis and asthma; and more
recently, in the hands of homoeopathic practitioners, it has acquired
a fame for specifically curing whooping cough in its spasmodic
stages, after the first feverishness of this malady has become
subdued. It signally lessens the frequency and force of the
spasmodic attacks, besides diminishing the sickness.

Provers who have pushed on themselves the administration of the
Sundew in toxical quantities, developed hoarseness, with
expectoration of yellow mucus from the throat and upper lungs, as
well as a hacking cough, and loss of flesh, this combination of
symptoms closely resembling the form of tubercular consumption
which begins in the throat, and extends mischievously to the lungs.
Regarded from such point the Sundew may be justly pronounced a
homoeopathic antidote to consumptive disease of the nature here
indicated, when attacking spontaneously from constitutional causes.

[545] Moreover, country folk notice that sheep who eat the Sundew
in their pasturage have often a violent cough, and waste away. Dr.
Curie, of Paris, fed cats with this plant, and they died subsequently
with all the symptoms of lung consumption, their chest organs being
afterwards found studded with tubercular deposit though cats are not
ordinarily liable to tubercle.

So the Sundew may fairly be accepted as a medicinal Simple for
laryngeal and pulmonary consumption in its early stages, as well as
for whooping-cough, after the manner already explained. A tincture
is made (H.) from the entire fresh plant, with spirit of wine, of
which a couple of drops may be given in water several times a day,
to a child of from four to eight years old, for confirmed
whooping-cough; and if this dose seems to aggravate the paroxysms,
or to provoke sickness, it must be reduced in strength, and dilution.

Also from four to ten drops of the tincture may be administered with
a tablespoonful of cold water, two or three times a day, for several
consecutive weeks, to a consumptive adult, in the early stages of
this disease. Dr. Hughes (Brighton) has employed a diluted tincture
of the Sundew (one part of this tincture admixed with nine parts of
spirit of wine) in doses of from three to five drops with water,
to a child of from three to eight years of age, for spasmodic
whooping-cough, several times in the day, with marked success; whilst
a larger dose or the stronger tincture served only to increase the
cough in violence and frequency. The same results may perhaps follow
too strong or full a dose to a consumptive patient, so that it must be
regulated by the effects produced. Externally, the juice [546] of the
fresh Sundew has been used for destroying warts.


The Sunflower (_Helianthus annuus_) which is so popular and
brilliant an ornament of cottage gardens throughout England in
summer and autumn, is an importation of long standing, and has
been called the Marigold of Peru.

Its general nature and appearance are so well known as scarcely to
need any description. The plant is of the Composite order,
indigenous to tropical America, but flourishing well in this country,
whilst bearing the name of _Heli-anthus_ (Sunflower), and smelling
of turpentine when the disc of the flower is broken across.

The growing herb is highly useful for drying damp soils, because of
its remarkable power of absorbing water; for which reason several
acres of Sunflowers are now planted in the Thames Valley. Swampy
districts in Holland have been made habitable by an extensive
culture of the Sunflower, the malarial miasmata being absorbed and
nullified, whilst pure oxygen is emitted abundantly.

An old rhyme declares, for some unknown reason:--

    "The full Sunflower blew
    And became a starre of Bartholomew."

The name Sunflower has been given as most persons think because
the flowers follow the sun by day turning always towards its shining
face. But Gerard says, about this alleged fact, he never could
observe it to happen, though he spared no pains to observe the
matter; he rather thought the flower to have got its title because
resembling the radiant beams of the sun. Likewise, [547] some have
called it Corona Solis, and Sol Indianus, the Indian Sunne-floure: by
others it is termed Chrysanthemum Peruvianum. In Peru this flower
was much reverenced because of its resemblance to the radiant sun,
which luminary was worshipped there. In their Temples of the Sun
the priestesses were crowned with Sunflowers, and wore them in
their bosoms, and carried them in their hands. The early Spanish
invaders found in these temples numerous representations of the
Sunflower wrought in pure virgin gold, the workmanship of which
was so exquisite that it far out-valued the precious metal whereof
they were made. Some country folk call it "Lady eleven o'clock."

If the buds of the Sunflower before expanding be boiled, and eaten
with butter, vinegar and pepper, after the manner of serving the
Jerusalem Artichoke, they are exceeding pleasant meat, surpassing
the artichoke moreover in provoking the _desiderium veneris_. The
Chinese make their finest yellow dye from the Sunflower, which
they worship because resembling the sun.

All parts of the plant contain much carbonate of potash; and the
fruit, or seed, furnishes a fixed oil in abundance. The kernels of the
seeds contain helianthic acid, and the pith of the plant will yield
nine per cent. of carbonate of potash. The oil of the Sunflower may
be used as olive oil, and the cake after expressing away this oil
makes a good food for cattle. A medicinal tincture (H.) is prepared
from the seed with rectified spirit of wine; also from the fresh juice
with diluted spirit. Each of these serves admirably against
intermittent fever and ague, instead of quinine. The Sunflower is
adored by the Chinese as the most useful of all vegetables. From its
seeds the best oil is [548] extracted, and an excellent soap is made.
This oil burns longer than any other vegetable oil, and Sunflower
cake is more fattening to cattle than linseed cake.

The flowers furnish capital food for bees, and the leaves are of use
for blending with tobacco. The stalk yields a fine fibre employed in
weaving Chinese silk, and Evelyn tells of "The large Sunflower, ere
it comes to expand and show its golden face, being dressed as an
artichoke, and eaten as a dainty."

The plant is closely allied in its species to the Globe Artichoke, and
the Jerusalom Artichoke (_girasole_), so named from turning _vers
le soleil_, or _au soleil_, this being corrupted to "Jerusalem," and
its soup by further perversion to "Palestine" soup. The original
Moorish name was Archichocke, or Earththorn.

The Globe Artichoke (_Cinara maxima anglicana_) of our kitchen
gardens, when boiled and brought to table, has a middle pulp which
is eaten as well as the soft delicate pulp at the base of each prickly
floret. "This middle pulp," says Gerard, "when boiled with the broth
of fat flesh, and with pepper added, makes a dainty dish being
pleasant to the taste, and accounted good to procure bodily desire.
(It stayeth the involuntary course of the natural seed)." Evelyn tells
us: "This noble thistle brought from Italy was at first so rare in
England that they were commonly sold for crowns apiece." Pliny
says: "Carthage spent three thousand pounds sterling a year in
them." The plant is named Cinara, from _cinis_, "ashes," because
land should be manured with these. It contains phosphoric acid, and
is, therefore, stimulating.

The leaves of the Globe Artichoke afford somewhat freely on
expression a juice which is bitter, and acts as [549] a brisk diuretic
in many dropsies. Such a constituent in the plant was known to the
Arabians for curdling milk.

The Jerusalem Artichoke (_Helianthus tuberosus_) is of the
Sunflower genus, having been brought at first from Brazil, and
being now commonly cultivated in England for its edible tubers.
These are red outside, and white within; they contain sugar, and
albumen, with all aromatic volatile principle, and water. The tuber is
the _Topinambour_, and _Pois de terre_ of the French; having been
brought to Europe in 1617. It furnishes more sugar and less starch
than the Potato.

In 1620 the Jerusalem Artichoke was quite common as a vegetable
in London: though, says Parkinson, when first introduced, it was "a
dainty for a queen." Formerly, it was baked in pies with beef
marrow, dates, ginger, raisins, and sack. The juice pressed out
before the plant blossoms was used by the ancients for restoring the
hair of the head, even when the person was quite bald.

The Sunflower has been from time immemorial a popular remedy
for malarial fevers in Russia, Turkey, and Persia, being employed as
a tincture made by steeping the stems and leaves in brandy. It is
considered even preferable to quinine, sometimes succeeding when
this has failed, and being free from any of the inconveniences which
often arise from giving large doses of the drug: whilst the pleasant
taste of the plant is of no small advantage in the case of children.

Cases in which both quinine and arsenic proved useless have been
completely cured by the tincture of Sunflower in a week or ten days.

Golden Sunflowers are introduced at Rheims into the stained glass
of an Apse window in the church of St. Remi, with the Virgin and
St. John on either side of [550] the Cross, the head of each being
encircled with an aureole having a Sunflower inserted in its outer
circle. The flowers are turned towards the Saviour on the Cross as
towards their true Sun.


The Tamarind pod, though of foreign growth, has been much valued
by our immediate ancestors as a household medicinal Simple; and a
well stocked jar of its useful curative pulp was always found in the
store cupboard of a prudent housewife. But of late years this
serviceable fruit has fallen into the background of remedial
resources, from which it may be now brought forward again with
advantage. The natives of India have a prejudice against sleeping
under the Tamarind; and the acid damp from the trees is known to
affect the cloth of tents pitched under them for any length of time.
So strong is this prejudice of the natives against the Tamarind tree
that it is difficult to prevent them from destroying it, as they
believe it hurtful to vegetation. The parent tree, Tamar Hindee,
"Indian date," is of East, or West Indian growth; but the sweet pulpy
jam containing shining stony seeds, and connected together by tough
stringy fibres, may be readily obtained at the present time from the
leading druggists, or the general provision merchant. It fulfils
medicinal purposes which entitle it to high esteem as a Simple for
use in the sick-room. Large quantities of this luscious date are
brought to our shores from the Levant and Persia, but before
importation the shell of the pod is removed; and the pulp ought not
to exhibit any presence of copper, as shown on a clean steel
knife-blade held within the same, though the fruit by nature possesses
traces of gold in its composition. Chemically, this pulp contains
citric, tartaric, [551] and malic acids, as compounds of potassium;
with gum, pectin and starch. Boiled syrup has been poured over it as
a preliminary. The fruit is sharply acid, and may be made into an
excellent cooling drink by infusion with boiling water, being
allowed to become cold, and then strained off as an agreeable tea,
which proves highly grateful to a fevered patient.

The Arabians first taught the use of Tamarinds, which contain an
unusual proportion of acids to the sweet constituents. They are
anti-putrescent, and exert a laxative action corrective of bilious
sluggishness. A capital whey may be made by boiling two ounces of
the fruit with two pints of milk, and then straining. Gerard tells that
"travellers carry with them the pulp mixed with sugar throughout
the desert places of Africa."

Tamarinds are an efficient laxative if enough (from one to two
ounces) can be taken at a time: but this quantity is inconvenient, and
apt to clog by its excess of sweetness. Therefore a compressed form
of the pulp is now in the market, known as Tamar Indien lozenges,
coated with chocolate. These are combined, however, with a
purgative of greater activity, most probably jalap.

The fruit of the Tamarind is certainly antibilious, and by the virtue
of its potash salts it tends to heal any sore places within the mouth.
In India it is added as an ingredient to punch; but the tree is
superstitiously regarded as the messenger of the God of death.

When acids are indicated, to counteract septic fever, and to cool the
blood, whilst in natural harmony with the digestive functions, the
Tamarind will be found exceptionally helpful; and towards
obviating [552] constipation a dessertspoonful, or more, of the pulp
may be taken with benefit as a compôte at table, together with
boiled rice, or sago. The name Tamarind is derived from _tamar_,
the date palm; and _indus_, of Indian origin. Formerly this fruit was
known as Oxyphoenica (sour date). Officinally apothecaries mix the
pulp with senna as an aperient confection. It is further used in
flavouring curries on account of its acid.


The Tansy (_Tanacetum vulgare_--"buttons,"--bed of Tansy), a
Composite plant very familiar in our hedgerows and waste places,
being conspicuous by its heads of brilliant yellow flowers, is often
naturalized in our gardens for ornamental cultivation. Its leaves
smell like camphor, and possess a bitter aromatic taste; whilst young
they were commonly used in times past, and are still employed,
when shredded, for flavouring cakes, puddings, and omelets. The
roots when preserved with honey, or sugar, are reputed to be of
special service against the gout, if a reasonable quantity thereof be
eaten fasting every day for a certain space. The fruit is destructive
to round worms.

The seed also of the Tansy is a singular and appropriate medicine
against worms: for "in whatsoever sort taken it killeth and driveth
them forth." In Sussex a peasant will put Tansy leaves in his shoes
to cure ague; and the plant has a rural celebrity for correcting female
irregularities of the functional health. The name Tansy is
probably derived from the Greek word _athanasia_ which signifies
immortality, either, as, says Dodoeus, _quia non cito flos
inflorescit_, "because it lasts so long in flower," or, _quia ejus
succus, vel oleum extractum cadavera a putredine conservat_ (as
Ambrosius writes), "because it is so capital [558] for preserving
dead bodies from corruption." It was said to have been given to
Ganymede to make him immortal. The whole herb contains resin,
mucilage, sugar, a fixed oil, tannin, a colouring matter, malic or
tanacetic acid, and water. When the camphoraceous bitter oil is
taken in any excess it induces venous congestion of the abdominal
organs, and increases the flow of urine.

If given in moderate doses the plant and its essential oil are
stomachic and cordial, whether the leaves, flowers, or seeds be
administered, serving to allay spasm, and helping to promote the
monthly flow of women; the seeds being also of particular use
against worms, and relieving the flatulent colic of hysteria. This
herb will drive away bugs from a bed in which it is placed. Meat
rubbed with the bitter Tansy will be protected from the visits of
carrion flies.

Ten drops of the essential oil will produce much flushing of the
head and face, with giddiness, and with beat of stomach; whilst half
a drachm of the oil has been followed by a serious result. But from
one to four drops may be safely given for a dose according to the
symptoms it is desired to relieve. Cases of epilepsy (not inherited)
have been successfully treated with the liquid extract of Tansy in
doses of a drop with water four times in the day. The essential oil
will toxically produce epileptic seizures.

The plant has been used externally with benefit for some eruptive
diseases of the skin; and a hot infusion of it to sprained, or
rheumatic parts will give relief from pain by way of a fomentation.
In Scotland the dried flowers are given for gout, from half to one
teaspoonful for a dose two or three times in the day; or an infusion
is drank prepared from the flowers and seeds. This has kept
inveterate gout at bay for years.

[554] A medicinal tincture is made (H.) from the fresh plant with
spirit of wine. From eight to ten drops of the same may be given
with a tablespoonful of cold water to an adult twice or three times in
the day.

Formerly this was one of the native plants dedicated to the Virgin
Mary; and the "good wives" used to take a syrup of Tansy for
preventing miscarriage. "The Laplanders," says Linnoeus, "use
Tansy in their baths to facilitate parturition."

At Easter also it was the custom, even, by the Archbishops, the
Bishops, and the clergy of some churches, to play at handball (so
say the old chroniclers), with men of their congregations, whilst a
Tansy cake was the reward of the victors, this being a confection
with which the bitter herb Tansy was mixed. Some such a corrective
was supposed to be of benefit after having eaten much fish during

The Tansy cake was made from the young leaves of the plant mixed
with eggs, and was thought to purify the humours of the body. "This
Balsamic plant" said Boerhaave, "will supply the place of nutmegs
and cinnamon." In Lyte's time the Tansy was sold in the shops
under the name of Athanasia.


The kitchen herb Tarragon (_Artemisia dracunculus_) is cultivated
in England, and more commonly in France, for uses in salads, and
other condimentary purposes. It is the "little Dragon Mugwort: in
French, _Herbe au Dragon_"; to which, as to other Dragon herbs,
was ascribed the faculty of curing the bites and stings of venomous
beasts, and of mad dogs. The plant does not fructify in France.

It is of the Composite order, and closely related to [555] our
common Wormwood, and Southernwood, but its leaves are not
divided. This herb is a native of Siberia, but has been long grown
largely by French gardeners, and has since become widespread in
this country as a popular fruit, also for making a vinegar, and for
adding to salads. The word Tarragon is by corruption "a little
dragon." French cooks commonly mix their table mustard with the
vinegar of the herb.

Many strange tales have been told about the origin of the plant, one
of which, scarce worth the noting, runs that the seed of flax put into
a radish root, or a sea onion, and being thus set doth bring forth this
herb Tarragon (so says Gerard).

In Continental cookery the use of Tarragon is advised to temper the
coldness of other herbs in salads, like as a Rocket doth. "Neither,"
say the authorities, "do we know what other use this herb hath."

The volatile essential oil of Tarragon is chemically identical with
that of Anise, and it is found to be sexually stimulating. Probably by
virtue of its finely elaborated camphor it exercises its specific
effects, the fact being established that too much camphor acts in the
opposite direction.

John Evelyn says of the plant "'Tis highly cordial and friendly to the
head, heart, and liver."


Thistles are comprised in a large mixed genus of our English weeds,
and wild plants, several of them possessing attributed medicinal
virtues. Some of these are Thistles proper, as the _Carduus_, the
_Cnicus_, and the _Carlina_: others are Teasels, Eryngiums, and
Globe Thistles, etc. Consideration should be given here to the
_Carduus marianus_, or Lady's Thistle, the common [556] Carline
Thistle, the _Carduus benedictus_ (Blessed Thistle), the wild Teasel
(_Dipsacus_), and the Fuller's Teasel, as Herbal Simples; whilst
others of minor curative usefulness are to be incidentally mentioned.

As a class Thistles have been held sacred to Thor, because, say the
old authors, receiving their bright colours from the lightning, and
because protecting those who cultivate them from its destructive

In Devon and Cornwall Thistles are commonly known as Dazzels,
or Dashel flowers. As a rule they flourish best in hot dry climates.

The _Carduus marianus_ (Lady's Thistle), Milk Thistle, or Holy
Thistle, grows abundantly in waste places, and near gardens
throughout the British Isles, but it is not a native plant. The term
_Carduus_, or Cardinal, refers to its spring leaves, and the
adjectives "Marianus," "Milk," and "Holy," have been assigned
through a tradition that some drops of the Virgin Mary's milk fell on
the herb, and became exhibited in the white veins of its leaves. By
some persons this Thistle is taken as the emblem of Scotland.

Dioscorides told of the Milk Thistle, "the seeds being drunk are a
remedy for infants that have their sinews drawn together." He
further said: "The root if borne about one doth expel melancholy,
and remove all diseases connected therewith." Modern writers do
laugh at this: "Let them laugh that win! My opinion is that this is the
best remedy that grows against all melancholy diseases."

The fruit of the _Carduus marianus_ contains an oily bitter seed: the
tender leaves in spring may be eaten as a salad; and the young
peeled stalks, after being soaked, are excellent boiled, or baked in
pies. The heads of this Thistle before the flowers open may be [557]
cooked like artichokes. The seeds were formerly thought to cure
hydrophobia. They act as a demulcent in catarrh and pleurisy, being
also a favourite food of Goldfinches. A decoction of the seeds when
applied externally is said to have proved beneficial in cases of

Thistle down was at one time gathered by poor persons and sold for
stuffing pillows. It is very prolific in germination, and an old saying
runs on this score:--

    "Cut your Thistles before St. John,
    Or you'll have two instead of one."

This Milk Thistle (_Carduus marianus_) is said to be the empirical
nostrum, _anti-glaireux_, of Count Mattaei.

"Disarmed of its prickles," writes John Evelyn, "and boiled, it is
worth esteem, and thought to be a great breeder of milk, and proper
diet for women who are nurses."

In Germany it is very popular for curing jaundice and kindred
biliary derangements. When taken by healthy provers in varying
quantities to test its toxic effects the plant has caused distension of
the whole abdomen, especially on the right side, with tenderness on
pressure over the liver, and with a deficiency of bile in hard knotty
stools, the colouring matter of the faeces being found by chemical
tests present in the urine: so that a preparation of this Thistle
modified in strength, and considerably diluted in its doses proves
truly homoeopathic to simple obstructive jaundice through inaction
of the liver, and readily cures the disorder. A tincture is prepared
(H.) for medicinal use from equal parts of the root, and the seeds
(with the hull on) together with spirit of wine.

The _Carduus benedictus_ (Blessed Thistle) was first [558]
cultivated by Gerard in 1597, and has since become a common
medicinal Simple. It was at one time considered to be almost a
panacea, and capable of curing even the plague by its antiseptic

This Thistle was a herb of Mars, and, as Gerard says: "It helpeth
giddiness of the head: also it is an excellent remedy against the
yellow jaundice. It strengthens the memory, cures deafness, and
helps the bitings of mad dogs and venomous beasts." It contains a
bitter principle "cnicin," resembling the similar tonic constituent of
the Dandelion, this being likewise useful for stimulating a sluggish
liver to more healthy action.

The infusion should be made with cold water: when kept it forms a
salt on its surface like nitre. The herb does not yield its virtues to
spirit of wine as a tincture. Its taste is intensely bitter.

The Carline Thistle (_Carlina vulgaris_) was formerly used in
magical incantations. It possesses medicinal qualities very like those
of Elecampane, being diaphoretic, and in larger doses purgative.
The herb contains some resin, and a volatile essential oil of a
camphoraceous nature, like that of Elecampane, and useful for
similar purposes, as cordial and antiseptic. This Thistle grows on
dry heaths especially near the sea, and is easily distinguished from
other Thistles by the straw-coloured glossy radiate long inner scales
of its outer floral cup. They rise up over the florets in wet weather.
The whole plant is very durable, like that of the "everlasting
flowers:" Cudweed (_Antennaria_).

The name Carlina was given because the Thistle was used by
Charles the Great as a remedy against the plague. It was revealed to
him when praying for some means to stay this pestilence which was
destroying his army. In his sleep there appeared to him an angel
who shot [559] an arrow from a cross bow, telling him to mark the
plant upon which it fell: for that with such plant he might cure his
soldiers of the dire epidemic: which event really happened, the herb
thus indicated being the said thistle. In Anglo-Saxon it was the
ever-throat, or boar-throat.

On the Continent a large white blossom of this species is nailed
upon cottage doors by way of a barometer to indicate the weather if
remaining open or closing.

The wild Teasel (_Dipsacus sylvestris_) grows commonly in waste
places, having tall stems or stalks, at the bottom of which are leaves
(like bracts) united at their sides so as to form a cup, open upwards,
around the base of the stalk, and hence the term "_Dipsacus_,"
thirsty. This cup serves to retain rain water, which is thought to
acquire curative properties, being used, for one purpose, to remove
warts. The cup is called Venus' basin, and its contents, says Ray, are
of service _ad verrucas abigendas_; also it is named Barber's Brush,
and Church Broom.

The Fuller's Teasel, or Thistle (_Dipsacus fullonum_) is so termed
from its use in combing and dressing cloth,--_teasan_, to tease,--
three Teaselheads being the arms of the Cloth Weavers' Company.
This is found in the neighbourhood of the cloth districts, but is not
considered to be a British plant. It is probably a cultivated variety of
the wild Teasel, but differs by having the bristles of its receptacles

The Sow Thistle (_Sonchus oleraceus_), named _sonchus_ because
of its soft spikes instead of prickles, grows commonly as a weed in
gardens, and having milky stalks which are reputed good for
wheezy and short-winded folk, whilst the milk may be used as a
wash for the face. It is named also "turn sole" because always facing
the sun, and Hare's Thistle (the hare's panacea, [560] says an old
writer, is the Sow Thistle), or Hare's Lettuce because "when fainting
with the heat she recruits her strength with the herb; or if a hare eat
of this herb in the summer when he is mad he shall become whole."
Another similar title of the herb is Hare's palace, since the creature
was thought to get shelter and courage from it. Some suppose that
the botanical term _Sonchus_ signifies _apo ton soon ekein_, from
its yielding a salubrious juice.

The Sow thistle has been named also Milkweed. According to
tradition it sometimes conceals marvels, or treasures; and in Italian
stories the words, "Open Sow Thistle" are used as of like
significance with the magical invocation "Open sesame." Another
name is "Du Tistel" or Sprout Thistle; because the plant may be
used for its edible sprouts, which Evelyn says, were eaten by Galen
as a lettuce. And Matthiolus told of the Tuscans in his day "_Soncho
nostri utuntur hyeme in acetariis_."

The Melancholy Thistle (_Carduus heterophyllus_) has been held
curative of melancholy. It grows most frequently in Scotland and
the North of England, and is a non-prickly plant.


The Wild English thyme (_Thymus serpyllum_) belongs to the
Labiate plants, and takes its second title from a Greek verb
signifying "to creep," which has reference to the procumbent habit
of the plant. It bears the appellation "Brotherwort."

Typically the _Thymus serpyllum_ flourishes abundantly on hills,
heaths, and grassy places, having woody stems, small fringed
leaves, and heads of purple flowers which diffuse a sweet perfume
into the surrounding air, [561] especially in hot weather.
Shakespeare's well known line alludes to this pleasant fact: "I know
a bank where the wild Thyme grows."

The name Thyme is derived from the Greek _thumos_, as identical
with the Latin _fumus_, smoke, having reference to the ancient use
of Thyme in sacrifices, because of its fragrant odour; or, it may be,
as signifying courage (_thumos_), which its cordial qualities inspire.
With the Greeks Thyme was an emblem of bravery, and activity;
also the ladies of chivalrous days embroidered on the scarves which
they presented to their knights the device of a bee hovering about a
spray of Thyme, as teaching the union of the amiable and the active.

Horace has said concerning Wild Thyme:--

    "Impune tutum per nemus arbutos
    Quaerunt latentes, et thyma deviae
            Olentis uxores mariti."

Wild Thyme is subject to variations in the size and colour of its
flowers, as well as in the habits of the varieties.

This wild Thyme bears also the appellation, "Mother of Thyme,"
which should be "Mother Thyme," in allusion to its medicinal
influence on the womb, an organ which the older writers always
termed the "Mother." Isidore tells that the wild Thyme was called
in Latin, _Matris animula, quod menstrua movet_. Platearius
says of it: _Serpyllum matricem comfortat et mundificat. Mulieres
Saliternitanoe hoc fomento multum utuntur_.

Dr. Neovius writes enthusiastically in a Finnish Journal on the
virtues of common Thyme in combating whooping cough. He has
found that if given _fresh_, from an ounce and a half to six ounces a
day, mixed [562] with a little syrup, regularly for some weeks, it is
practically a specific. If taken from the first, the symptoms vanish in
two or three days, and in a fortnight the disease is expelled. The
simplicity, harmlessness, and cheapness of this remedy are great
supporters of its claims.

Other titles of the herb are Pulial mountain, and creeping Thyme. It
is anti-spasmodic, and good for nervous or hysterical headaches, for
flatulence, and the headache which follows inebriation. The infusion
may be profitably applied for healing skin eruptions of various

Virgil mentions (in _Eclogue_ xi., lines 10, 11) the restorative value
of Thyme against fatigue:--

    "Thestylis et rapido fessis messoribus oestu
    Allia, Serpyllumque herbas contundit olentes."


    "Thestlis for mowers tired with parching heat
    Garlic and Thyme, strong smelling herbs, doth beat."

Tournefort writes: "A conserve made from the flowers and leaves of
wild Thyme (_Serpyllum_) relieves those troubled with the falling
sickness, whilst the distilled oil promotes the monthly flow in

The delicious flavour of the noted honey of Hymettus was said to be
derived from the wild Thyme there visited by the bees. Likewise the
flesh of sheep fed on pasturage where the wild Thyme grows freely
has been said to gain a delicate flavour and taste from this source:
but herein a mistake is committed, because sheep are really averse
to such pasturage, and refuse it if they can get other food.

An infusion of the leaves of Thyme, whether wild, or cultivated,
makes an excellent aromatic tea, the odour of which is sweet and
fragrant, whilst the taste of the [563] plant is bitter and
camphoraceous. There is in some districts an old superstition that to
bring wild Thyme into the house conveys severe illness, or death to
some member of the family.

In Grecian days the Attic elegance of style was said to show an
odour of Thyme. Shenstone's schoolmistress had a garden:--

    "Where herbs for use and physic not a few
    Of grey renown within those borders grew,
    The tufted Basil,--_pun provoking_ Thyme,
    The lordly Gill that never dares to climb."

Bacon in his _Essay on Gardens_ recommends to set whole alleys
of Thyme for the pleasure of its perfume when treading on the plant.
And Dioscorides said Thyme used in food helps dimness of sight.

Gerard adds: "Wild Thyme boiled in wine and drunk is good against
the wamblings and gripings of the belly": whilst Culpeper describes
it as "a strengthener of the lungs, as notable a one as grows." "The
Thyme of Candy, Musk Thyme, or Garden Thyme is good against
the sciatica, and to be given to those that have the falling sickness,
to smell to."

The volatile essential oil of Wild Thyme (as well as of Garden
Thyme) consists of two hydrocarbons, with thymol as the fatty base,
this thymol being readily soluble in fats and oils when heated, and
taking high modern rank as an antiseptic. It will arrest gastric
fermentation when given judiciously as a medicine, though an
overdose will bring on somnolence, with a ringing in the ears.
Officinally Thymol, the stearoptene obtained from the volatile oil of
_Thymus vulgaris_, is directed to be given in a dose of from half to
two grains.

[564] Thymol is valued by some authorities more highly even than
carbolic acid for destroying the germs of disease, or for disinfecting
them. It is of equal service with tar for treating such skin affections
as psoriasis, and eczema. When inhaled thymol is most useful
against septic sore throat, especially during scarlet fever. At the
hospital for throat diseases the following formula is ordered:
Thymol twenty grains to rectified spirit of wine three drachms, and
carbonate of magnesia ten grains, with water to three ounces; a
teaspoonful to be used in a pint of water at 150° Fahrenheit for each

Against ringworm an ointment made with one drachm of thymol to
an ounce of soft paraffin is found to be a sure specific.

The spirit of thymol should consist of one part of thymol to ten parts
of spirit of wine; and this is a convenient form for use to medicate
the wool of antiseptic respirators. As a purifying and cleansing
lotion for wounds and sores, thymol should be mixed in the
proportion of five grains thereof to an ounce of spirit of wine, an
ounce of glycerine, and six ounces of water.

The common Garden Thyme is an imported sort from the South of
Europe. Its odour and taste depend on an essential oil known
commercially as oil of origanum.

Another variety of the Wild Thyme is Lemon Thyme (_Thymus
citriodorus_), distinguished by its parti-coloured leaves, and by its
lilac flowers. Small beds of this Thyme, together with mint, are
cultivated at Penzance, in which to rear millepedes, or hoglice,
administered as pills for several forms of scrofulous disease. The
woodlouse, sowpig, or hoglouse abounds with a nitrous salt which
has long found favour for curing scrofulous [565] disease, and
inveterate struma, as also against some kinds of stone in the bladder.

The Hoglouse, or Millepede was the primitive medicinal pill. It is
found in dry gardens under stones, etc., and rolls itself up into a
ball when touched. These are also called Chiselbobs, and Cudworms.
From three to twelve were formerly given in Rhenish wine for a
hundred days together to cure all kinds of cancers; or they were
sometimes worn round the neck in a small bag (which was absurd!).
In the Eastern counties they are known as "Old Sows," or "St.
Anthony's Hogs." Their Latin name is _Porcellus Scaber_. The
Welsh call this small creature the "withered old woman of the
wood," "the little pig of the wood," and "the little grey hog," also
"Grammar Sows." Their word "gurach" like "grammar" means a
dried up old dame.

Cat Thyme (_Teucrium marum verum_) was imported from Spain,
and is cultivated in our gardens as a cordial aromatic herb, useful in
nervous disorders. Its flowers are crimson, and its bark is astringent.
The dried leaves may be given in powder or used in snuff. A
tincture (H.) is made from the whole herb which is effectual against
small thread worms. Provers of the herb in material toxic quantities
have experienced troublesome itching and irritation of the
fundament. For similar conditions, and to expel thread worms, two
or three drops of the tincture diluted to its first decimal strength
should be given with a spoonful of water three or four times in the
day to a child of from four to six years.


The Toadflax, or Flaxweed (_Linaria vulgaris_) belongs to the
scrofula-curing order of plants, getting its name from _linum_, flax,
and being termed "toad" by a [566] mistaken translation of its Latin
title _Bubonio_, this having been wrongly read _bufonio_,--
belonging to a toad,--or because having a flower (as the
Snapdragon) like a toad's mouth: whereas "bubonio" means "useful
for the groins."

It is an upright herbaceous plant most common in hedges, having
leaves like grass of a dull sea green aspect, and bearing dense
clusters of yellow flowers shaped like those of the garden
Snapdragon, with spurs at their base. It continues in flower until the
late autumn. The Russians cultivate the Snapdragon for the oil
yielded by its seeds.

The Toadflax has a faint disagreeable smell, and a bitter saline taste.
It acts medicinally as a powerful purge, and promoter of urine, and
therefore it is employed for carrying off the water of dropsies, being
in this respect a well known rural Simple. Waller says: "Country
people boil the whole plant in ale, and drink the decoction; but the
expressed juice of the fresh plant acts still more powerfully."

In many districts the herb is familiarly known as "butter and eggs;"
and in Germany though dedicated to the Virgin it is called "devil's

Again in Devonshire it goes by the names of "Rambling," or
"Wandering Sailor," "Pedler's Basket," "Mother of Millions" (the
ivy-leaved sort), "Lion's Mouth" and "Flaxweed."

When used externally an infusion of the herb acts as an anodyne to
subdue irritation of the skin, and it may be taken as a medicine to
modify skin diseases. The fresh juice is attractive to flies, but at
the same time it serves to poison them: so if it be mixed with milk,
and placed where flies resort they will drink it and perish at the
first sip.

[567] As promoting a free flow of urine, the herb has been named
"Urinalis," or sometimes "Ramsted." The flowers contain a yellow
colouring matter, mucilage, and sugar. In Germany they are given
with the rest of the plant for dropsy, jaundice, piles, and some
diseases of the skin. Gerard says: "The decoction openeth the
stoppings of the liver, and spleen: and is singular good against the
jaundice which is of long continuance." He advises an ointment
made from the plant stampt with lard for certain skin eruptions, and
a decoction made with four drachms of the herb in eight ounces of
boiling water. The bruised leaves are useful externally for curing
blotches on the face, and for piles.

An old distich says of the Toadflax as compared with the

    "Esula lactescit: sine lacte Linaria crescit;"


    "Larkspur with milk doth flow:
    Toadflax without milk doth grow,"

(alluding to the dry nature of the toadflax). To which the Hereditary
Marshal of Hesse added the following line:--

    "Esoula nil nobis, sed dat linaria _taurum_,"

implying that the herb was of old valued for its good effects when
applied externally to piles as an ointment, a fomentation, or a
poultice, each being made from the leaves and the flowers. The
originator of this ointment was a Dr. Wolph, physician to the
Landgrave of Hesse, who only divulged its formula on the prince
promising to give him _a fat ox_ annually for the discovery.


Though only of recent introduction as a common vegetable in this
country, and though grown chiefly [568] under glass for the table in
England, yet the Tomato is so abundantly imported, and so
extensively used by all classes now-a-days throughout the British
Isles that it may fairly take consideration for whatever claims it can
advance as a curative Simple. Imported early in the present century
from South America it remained for a while an exclusive luxury
produced for the rich like pine apples and melons. But gradually
since then the Tomato has steadily acquired an increasing
popularity, and now large crops of the profitable fruit are brought
from Bordeaux and the Channel Islands, to meet the demands of our
English markets. Much of the favour which has become attached to
this ruddy, polished, attractive-looking fruit is due to a widespread
impression that it is good for the liver, and a preventive of
biliousness. Nevertheless, rumours have also gone abroad that
habitual Tomato-eaters are especially liable to cancerous disease in
this, or that organ.

Belonging to the Solanums the Tomato (_Lycopersicum_) is a plant
of Mexican origin. Its brilliant fruit was first known as _Mala
oethiopica_, or the Apples of the Moors, and bearing the Italian
designation _Pomi dei Mori_. This name was presently corrupted in
the French to _Pommes d'amour_; and thence in English to the
epithet Love Apples, a perversion which shows by what curious
methods primary names may become incongruously changed. They
are also called Gold Apples from their bright yellow colour before
getting ripe. The term _Lycopersicum_ signifies a "wolf's peach,"
because some parts of the plant are thought to excite animal

The best fruit is supposed to grow within sight, or smell of the sea.
It needs plenty of sunlight and heat. The quicker it is produced the
fewer will be the seeds discoverable in its pulp.

[568] Green when young, Tomatoes acquire a bright yellow hue
before reaching maturity, and when ripe they are smooth, shining,
furrowed, and of a handsome red.

Chemically this Love Apple contains citric and malic acids: and it
further possesses oxalic acid, or oxalate of potash, in common with
the Sorrel of our fields, and the Rhubarb of our kitchen gardens. On
which account each of this vegetable triad is ill suited for gouty
constitutions disposed to the formation of irritating oxalate of lime
in the blood. With such persons a single indulgence in Tomatoes,
particularly when eaten raw, may provoke a sharp attack of gout.

Otherwise there are special reasons for supposing the Tomato to be
a wholesome fruit of remarkable purifying value.

Dr. King Chambers classifies it among remedies against scurvy,
telling us that Tomatoes mixed with brown bread make a capital
sauce for costive persons. And the fruit owns a singular property in
connection with diseases of plants, suggesting its probable worth as
protective against bacterial germs, and microbes of disease in our
bodies when it is taken as food, or medicinally. If a Tomato shrub
be uprooted at the end of the summer, and allowed to wither on the
bough of a fruit tree, or if it be burnt beneath the fruit tree, it
will not only kill any blight which may be present, but will also
preserve the tree against any future invasion by blight. The hostility
thus evinced by the plant to low organisms is due to the presence of
sulphur, which the Tomato shrub largely contains, and which is
rendered up in an active state by decay, or by burning. Now
remembering that digestion likewise splits up the Tomato into its
chemical constituents, and releases its sulphur within us, we may
fairly assume that persons [570] who eat Tomatoes habitually are
likely to have a particular immunity from bacterial and putrefactive

Wherefore it is altogether improbable that Tomatoes will engender
cancer, which is essentially a disease of vitiated blood, and of
degenerate cell tissue. Possibly the old exploded doctrine of
signatures may have suggested, or started this accusation against the
maligned, though unguarded Tomato: for it cannot be denied the
guileless fruit bears a nodulated tumour-like appearance, whilst
showing, when cut, an aspect of red raw morbid fleshy structure
strangely resembling cancerous disease.

Vegetarians who eat Tomatoes constantly and freely claim that
cancer is a disease almost unknown among their ranks; but an
Italian doctor writing from Rome gives it as the experience of
himself and his medical brethren that cancer is as common in Italy
and Sicily among vegetarians as with mixed eaters. Most of our
American cousins, who are the enterprising fathers of this medicinal
fruit, persuade themselves that they are never in perfect health
except during the Tomato season. And with us the ruddy Solanum
has obtained a wide popularity not simply at table as a tasty cooling
sallet, or an appetising stew, but essentially as a supposed
antibilious purifier of the blood. When uncooked it contains a
notable quantity of Solanin, and it would be dangerous to let
animals drink water in which the plant had been boiled. The Staff of
the Cancer Hospital at Brompton have emphatically declared "they
see no ground whatever for supposing that the eating of Tomatoes
predisposes to cancer."

Nevertheless some country people in the remote American States
attribute cancer to an excessively free use of the wild uncultivated
tomato as food.

[571] The first mention of this fruit by the London Horticultural
Society occurred in 1818.

Chemically in addition to the acids already named the Tomato
contains a volatile oil, a brown resinous extractive matter very
fragrant, a vegeto-mineral matter, muco-saccharin, some salts, and
in all probability an alkaloid. The whole plant smells unpleasantly,
and its juices when subjected to heat by the action of fire emit a
vapour so powerful as to provoke vertigo and vomiting.

The specific principles furnished by the Tomato will, when
concentrated, produce, if taken medicinally, effects very similar
to those brought about by taking mercurial salts, viz., an
ulcerative-state of the mouth, with a profuse flow of saliva, and
with excessive stimulation of the liver: peevishness also on the
following day, with a depressing backache in men, suggesting
paralysis, and with a profuse fluor albus in women. When given
in moderation as food, or as physic, the fruit will remedy
this chain of symptoms.

By reason of its efficacy in promoting an increased flow of bile if
judiciously taken, the Tomato bears the name in America of
Vegetable Mercury, and it has almost superseded calomel there as a
biliary medicinal provocative. Dr. Bennett declares the Tomato to
be the most useful and the least harmful of all known medicines for
correcting derangements of the liver. He prepares a chemical extract
of the fruit and plant which will, he feels assured, depose calomel
for the future.

Across the Atlantic an officinal tincture is made from the Tomato
for curative purposes by treating the apples, and the bruised fresh
plant with alcohol, and letting this stand for eight days before it
is filtered and strained.

A teaspoonful of the tincture is a sufficient dose with one or two
tablespoonfuls of cold water, three times in the day.

[572] The fluid extract made from the plant is curative of any
ulcerative soreness within the mouth, such as nurses' sore mouth, or
canker. It should be given internally, and applied locally to the
sore parts.

Spaniards and Italians eat Tomatoes with pepper and oil. We take
them as a salad, or stewed with butter, after slicing and stuffing
them with bread crumb, and a spice of garlic.

The green Tomato makes a good pickle, and in its unripe state is
esteemed an excellent sauce with rich roast pork, or goose. The fruit
when cooked no longer exercises active medicinal effects, as its
volatile principles have now become dispelled through heat.

By the late Mr. Shirley Hibberd, who was a good naturalist, it was
asserted with seeming veracity that the cannibal inhabitants of the
Fiji Islands hold in high repute a native Tomato which is named by
them the _Solanum anthropophagorutm_, and which they eat, _par
excellence_, with "Cold Missionary." Nearer home a worthy dame
has been known with pious aspirations to enquire at the stationer's
for "Foxe's book of To-Martyrs."

"Chops and Tomato sauce" were ordered from Mrs. Bardell, in
Pickwick's famous letter. "Gentlemen!" says Serjeant Buzfuz, in his
address to the jury, "What does this mean?" But he missed a point in
not going on to add--"I need not tell you, gentlemen, the popular
name for the Tomato is _love apple_! Is it not manifest, therefore,
what the base deceiver intended?"

    "A cucumber in early spring
        Might please a sated Caesar,
    Rapture asparagus can bring,
        And dearer still green peas are:
    Oh! far and wide, where mushrooms hide,
        I'll search, as wide and far too
    For watercress; but all their pride
        Must stoop to thee,--Tomato!"


The Tormentil (_Potentilla Tormentilla_) belongs to the tribe of
wild Roses, and is a common plant on our heaths, banks, and dry
pastures. It is closely allied to the _Potentilla_, but bears only four
petals on its flowers, which are of bright yellow. The woody roots
are medicinally useful because of their astringent properties.
Sometimes the stem is trailing, making this the _Tormentilla
Reptans_, but more commonly it ascends. The name comes from
_tormina_, which signifies such griping of the intestines as the herb
will serve to relieve, as likewise the twinges of toothache. The root
is employed both for tanning leather, and for dyeing it by the
thickened red juice. Furthermore through its astringency this root is
admirable for arresting bleedings. Vesalius considered it to be as
useful against syphilis as Guiacum, and Sarsaparilla. A decoction of
Tormentil makes a capital gargle, and will heal ulcers of the mouth
if used as a wash. If a piece of lint soaked therein be kept applied to
warts, they will wither and disappear. Chemically the herb contains
"_Tormentilla Red_," identical with that of the Horse Chestnut, also
tannic, and kinoric acids. The decoction should be made with four
drams to half-a-pint of water boiled together for ten minutes, adding
half a dram of Cinnamon stick at the end of boiling; one or two
tablespoonfuls will be the dose, or of the powdered root (dried) the
dose will be from five to thirty grains.

"_In fluxu sanguinis, fluore albo, et mictu involuntario Tormentilla
valet_." Dr. Thornton (1810) tells of a labouring botanist who learnt
the powers of this root, and by its decoction, sweetened with honey,
cured intractable agues, severe diarrhoeas, and scorbutic ulcers
(which had been turned out of hospitals as inveterate), [578] also
many fluxes. Lord William Russell heard about this, and allowed
the poor man a piece of his park in which to cultivate the herb,
"_Non est vegetabile quod in fluxionibus alvi efficacius est_." The
root is so rich in tannin that it may be used instead of oak bark.


The Turnip (_Brassica Rapa_) belongs to the Cruciferous Cabbage
tribe, being often found growing in waste places, though not truly
wild. In this state it is worth nothing to man or beast; but, by
cultivation, it becomes a most valuable food for cattle in the winter,
and a good vegetable for our domestic uses. It exercises some
aperient action, and the liquid in which turnips are boiled will
increase the flow of urine. It is called also "bagie," and was the
"gongyle" of the Greeks, so named from the roundness of the root.

When mashed, and mixed with bread and milk, the Turnip makes an
excellent cleansing and stimulating poultice for indolent abscesses
or sores.

The Scotch eat small, yellow-rooted Turnips as we do radishes.
"Tastes and Turnips proverbially differ." At Plymouth, and some
other places, when a girl rejects a suitor, she is said to "give him
turnips," probably with reference to his sickly pallor of

The seventeenth of June--as the day of St. Botolph, the old turnip
man,--is distinguished by various uses of a Turnip, because in the
Saga, which figuratively represents the seasons, the seeds were
sown on that day.

It is told that the King of Bithynia in some expedition against the
Scythians during the winter, and when at a great distance from the
sea, had a violent [575] longing for a small fish known as _aphy_--a
pilchard, or anchovy. His cook cut a Turnip to a perfect imitation of
its shape, which, when fried in oil, well salted, and powdered with
the seeds of a dozen black poppies, so deceived the king that he
praised the root at table as an excellent fish.

Being likely to provoke flatulent distension of the bowels, Turnips
are not a proper vegetable for hysterical persons, or for pregnant
women. The rind is acrimonious, but the tops, when young and
tender, may be boiled for the table as a succulent source of potash,
and other mineral salts in the Spring.

The fermented juice of Turnips will yield an ardent spirit. When
properly cooked they serve to sweeten the blood. An essential
volatile oil contained in the root, chiefly in the rind, disagrees, by
provoking flatulent distension. This root is sometimes cut up and
partly substituted for the peel and pulp of oranges in marmalade.

If Turnips are properly grown in dry, lean, sandy earth, a
wholesome, agreeable sort of bread can be made from them, "of
which we have eaten at the greatest persons' tables, and which is
hardly to be distinguished from the best of wheat." Some persons
roast Turnips in paper under the embers, and serve them with butter
and sugar. The juice made into syrup is an old domestic remedy for
coughs and hoarseness.

A nice wholesome dish of Piedmontese Turnips is thus prepared:
Half boil your Turnip, and cut it in slices like half-crowns; butter a
pie dish, and put in the slices, moisten them with a little milk and
weak broth, sprinkle over lightly with bread crumbs, adding pepper
and salt; then bake in the oven until the Turnips become of a light
golden colour.

[576] The Turnip, a navew, or variety of Rape (_navus_), should
never be sown in a rich soil, wherein it would become degenerate
and lose its shape as well as its dry agreeable relish. Horace advised
field-grown Turnips as preferable at a banquet to those of garden
culture. They may be safely eaten when raw, having been at one
time much consumed in Russia by the upper classes.

Turnips have been introduced into armorial bearings to represent a
person of liberal disposition who relieves the poor.

Dr. Johnson's famous illustration of false logic ran thus:--

    "If a man fresh Turnips cries:
    But cries not when his father dies,
    Is this a proof the man would rather
    Possess fresh Turnips than a father?"


From our English Pines, if their stems be wounded, the oleo-resin
known as Turpentine, can be procured. This is so truly a vegetable
product, and so readily available for medical uses in every
household, being withal so valuable for its remedial and curative
virtues that no apology is needed for giving it notice as a Herbal
Simple. The said oleo-resin which exudes on incising the bark
furnishes our oil, or so-called spirit of Turpentine. But larger
quantities, and of a richer resin, can be had from abroad than it is
practicable for England to provide, so that our Turpentine of
commerce is mainly got from American and French sources.

The oleo-resin consists of a resinous base and a volatile essential
oil, which is usually termed the spirit.

The _Pinus Picra_, or Silver Fir-tree, yields common [577]
Turpentine; and to sleep on a pillow made from its yellow shavings
is a capital American device for relieving asthma. Fir cones are
called "buntins," and "oysters."

"Tears," or resin drops, which trickle out on the stems of the Pine, if
taken, five or six of these tears in a day, will benefit chronic
bronchitis, and will prove useful to lessen the cough of

When swallowed in a full dose, Turpentine gives a sensation of
warmth, and excites the secretion of urine, to which it imparts a
violet hue. It also promotes perspiration, and stimulates the
bronchial mucous membrane. From eight to twenty drops may be
given as a dose to produce these effects; but an immoderate dose
will purge, or intoxicate, and stupefy, causing strangury, and
congestion of the kidneys.

For bleeding from the lungs, five drops may be given, and repeated
at intervals of not less than half-an-hour, whilst needed. The dose
may be taken in milk, or on sugar, or bread.

With the object of meeting for a curative purpose such symptoms
occurring as disease which large doses of this particular drug will
produce, as if by poisoning, in a healthy person, quite small doses of
Turpentine oil will promptly relieve simple congestion of the
kidneys, when occurring as illness, it may be from exposure to cold,
and accompanied by some feverishness, with frequent urination, as
well as a dragging of the loins. On which principle three or four
drops of a diluted tincture of Turpentine (made with one part of
Turpentine to nine parts of spirit of wine), given in a spoonful of
milk every four hours, will speedily dispel the congestion, thus
acting as an infallible specific, and a similar dose of the same
tincture will quickly subdue rheumatic inflammation of the eyes.

[578] A pleasant form in which to administer Turpentine, whether
for chronic bronchitis or for kidney congestion from cold, is a
confection. This may be made by rubbing up one part of oil of
turpentine, with one part of liquorice powder, and